Its A Big Year For Yankees SP Phil Hughes And RP Joba Chamberlain
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By Chuck Booth (Yankees Correspondent/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
Phil Hughes represents a nice #3 or #4 starter for the New York Yankees – and Joba Chamberlain will be counted on more than ever with Rafael Soriano not being back in the bullpen for 2013. This will be his 7th season in the ‘Bronx for both Pitchers. The 6 Foot 5 native (Hughes) of California, is coming off a decent season in 2012 – after he struggled with arm fatigue in 2011. Chamberlain has had a litany of injuries pile up on his 6 Foot 2, 250 LBS frame over the last several years. Yankees fans all know too well how this man and Joba Chamberlain have been bounced to and from the Starting Rotation to the Relief Corps. I think it is safe to say the Yankees finally have it right. Joba is a reliever and Hughes is a Starting Pitcher.
The Yankees have them both locked up on one year deals for 2013. Chamberlain will make 1.88 Million Dollars – while Hughes will make 7.15 Million Dollars. With an aging offense this year, the Yankees will be counting on several internal improvements amongst their pitching staffs. These two veterans will need to take it to the next level based on their projections of talent.
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Hughes and Chamberlian Career Highlights and Breakdowns:
Phil Hughes was taken in the 1st Round of the 2004 Amateur Draft. He was in the Major Leagues by 2007 (Age 20). After a decent rookie season in 2007, where he finished 5-3, with a respectable 4.46 ERA in 13 Games Started, he battled several control problems – and a lack of patience from the New York management for the next few years. He was part of a movement towards starters in 2008 – that featured Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain - all holding onto Starting Pitcher Positions in the rotation at various points in the season. Chamberlain was the only guy that did okay for that year. Hughes and Kennedy both went 0-4 with 6.62 and 8.17 ERA respectively. The Yankees could never recover from their poor start to their season, that was only highlighted by the struggles of their young pitchers. They finished 89-73 for the year. This record placed them behind Tampa Bay and Boston in the division. Chamberlain started the year in the bullpen and was soon stretched out to become a Starter by June. While Hughes and Kennedy struggled, Chamberlain was pretty good.
The whole MLB watched with intrigue as the Yankees imposed the “Joba rules” with Chamberlain. It would later be brought up that the Yankees mishandled the kid. Now we even had the same kind of comparisons when the Nationals brought up Stephen Strasburg to the Major Leagues. It was thought by many experts that Chamberlain was better suited for the bullpen because he ran through his pitching appearances ‘full of adrenaline’. The type of mentality that is more conducive to throwing in the later Innings. With pitching well in the rotation, Chamberlain still suffered soreness in his arm by August – and was shut down for a month. Chamberlain returned to the pen for the rest of the campaign before placing 8th in AL Rookie Of The Year Voting at the end of the year. In contrast, Phil Hughes was sent to the Minor Leagues for the rest of that 2008 year after his slow start.
Heading into the 2009 season, the idea was still to have the 2 spend the whole year in the Starting Rotation. However, both of them would be on a shorter leash with the additions of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett joining the pitching rotation as Free Agents. Andy Pettitte was still the club’s number 3 Starter. The club did see Mike Mussina retire after the 2008 year, so the two youngster would be counted on to throw innings again. Chien-Ming Wang was also recovering from a brutal injury he sustained to his ankle while running the bases in Interleague the year before. Chamberlain pitched decently for the whole year as the 4th Starter, posting a 9-6 record, although he was being capped on a continual pitch count. Chamberlain would seem to rattle as games went on. In 32 Games Started, the man only pitched 157.1 IP. By the Post Season, he was put back into the Bullpen once more.
Hughes struggled in 2009 during the 1st 2 months. So much so, that the franchise placed him in the bullpen for the rest of the year. Hughes thrived in his new role. In 44 games as a reliever, he went 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA in 44 Appearances. His performance helped the Yankees clinch a playoff spot. Hughes only allowed 45 runners on for his 51.1 IP. Hughes did struggle in the 2009 Post Season despite the team winning the World Series. The team was staff confident enough that Hughes could compete for a rotation spot in 2010. Prior to the yearn they Yankees announced that Chamberlain would permanently remain in the bullpen.
2010 was where Hughes took the bull by the horns – by winning 18 games (4th in the AL) against 8 losses. He yielded a 4.19 ERA for the year. Chamberlain would struggle in adapting back to the bullpen permanently, with a 4.40 ERA in 73 Games. Towards the end of the year, Chamberlain begun to regain his composure and effectiveness.
2011 saw both men have raised expectations. Hughes started the year with a ‘dead arm’ – and never recovered from injuries, finishing with a record of 5-5, with a 5.79 ERA. Chamberlain was back to his better stuff that year, with a 2.83 ERA for his first 27 games. Again, the injury bug smacked the Reliever down as he ended up out for the season and requiring Tommy John Surgery.
2012 was supposed to be a redemption year for both men. Chamberlain didn’t even make it to the regular season, when he injured his leg during Spring Training while jumping on a Trampoline. Nursing both of his recovery from TJ Surgery and his ankle, Chamberlain made it into the lineup by only August. He registered a 4.33 ERA in 22 games. The bizarre injuries hit the big fella again during the ALDS, when shrapnel from the bat of Matt Wieters pierced his arm, forcing him out of action for about a week. He did return for the 3 appearances during the ALCS loss to the Tigers. Chamberlain is healthy heading into Spring Training next week.
Phil Hughes posted a workmanlike campaign in 2012. The 2010 ALL-Star, comprised career highs with IP (191.1) and SO (165). His 16 victories were also good for 6th in the AL.
Joba Chamberlain should see some time back in his old role as a 7th Inning and beyond reliever. With David Robertson being the premiere setup man for Mariano Rivera in 2013, Chamberlain will not have all of the pressure. The Yankees are hoping he can alleviate the injuries that he has been prone to in the last several years. Chamberlain could really bring up his value with the team going forward with a decent campaign. This is Rivera’s last year – so someone will have to assume the Closers role in 2014. If Chamberlain can have a great 2013, he might net himself a new contract in Pinstripes – and toss his name in the mix to shut down games for New York in future seasons. If healthy, I believe that Chamberlain will have an awesome year. He is only 27 Years Old himself. He could have another 10 years left in the league if he can correct some of his early career problems.
Phil Hughes will be the #4 Starter to begin the year behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. He should be listed ahead of Ivan Nova to at least start Spring Training. At only 26 Years Old, the Yankees are hoping that Hughes is just entering the prime of his career. In a contract year – with potential Free Agency looming in 2014, the RHP may actually price himself out of the Yankees price range. Brian Cashman has let it be known that he wants the franchise to be under the 189 Million Dollar Salary Tax Threshold for next season. If Phil Hughes puts up another 16-18 win campaign, he will be able to command some serious cake in going forward with a new contract deal.
However, beyond this year only CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are under club control out of the Starters. Pettitte and Kuroda will likely be gone next year. Also the team will see their entire financial (Pirates Subsidy) commitment to A.J. Burnett finally come of the books (8.5 Million this year). The Yankees will still need someone to fill the Starting rotation in moving forward, so the Yankees could afford the money that Hughes will be seeking in a future deal.
Whether they have lasting legacies or not in New York is left to be answered in the future with the club. The mid 20′s Pitchers are veterans of 6 seasons apiece. They are New York Draft selections that have weathered through some trying times and are still on the Active 25 Man Roster – which is to say a lot more than other Pitchers that have fallen by the wayside in the organization – with only a few pitchers actually making contributions to the staff that are homegrown talent. These guys have also pitched well in the city of New York, which never happened for the likes of former pitchers: Carl Pavano, Ed Whitson, Javier Vazquez, A.J. Burnett (post 2009) and Hideki Irabu. To have the mentality in order to throw in New York takes a rare personnality. It is too bad that Cashman did not roll the dice on Hughes and Chamberlain long-term already for a discount, because they better they pitch this year – the more cash it will cost the team to retain their services next year.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners ***
Chuck Booth- Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames: To learn more about my “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here . You can also follow my Guinness Book of World Record Successful Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 Days- click here. I am happy to be part of such an awesome Magazine-Style Baseball Website and am looking forward to talking to all of the fans of the MLB. You can reach me on Twitter here Follow @mlbreports
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Posted on February 4, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2009 World Series, 2012 ALCS, 2012 ALDS, @chuckbooth3024 on twitter, a.j. burnett, AL ALL-Star Appearances, AL East, Al rookie of the year, American league, andy pettitte, brian cashman, carl pavano, cc sabathia, chien-ming wang, Chuck Booth. fastest 30 ballgames, david robertson, ed whitson, hideki irabu, hiroki kuroda, ian kennedy, ivan nova, joba chamberlain, JOBA Rules, mariano rivera, matt wieters, mike mussina, phil hughes, stephen strasburg, Tommy John Surgery, yankee stadium, yankees relievers, Yankees starters. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.