Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hughes in 2012!

Don't make me eat my words, Phil.

I've said in the past that I believe the Yankees are just fine going with guys like Andruw Jones, Jorge Vazquez, and others as the DH heading into the 2012 season. That's not to say that I think they won't have to, or want to, make a move sometime during the season. But as of right now their offense has enough firepower to contend.

There was some talk of trading Phil Hughes for Billy Butler, but it wasn't anything serious (I believe I read that it was started by somebody at Bleacher Report, and there were no sources behind the rumor). I'm against that idea, or trading Hughes at all. For one, we don't know where Phil's ceiling is. He's only 25 years old, after all. We're not talking about a 30 year old guy that's had more than his fair share of starting opportunities in MLB. And secondly, it's really selling low on the guy. I mean, Hughes' value was way higher when the guy was still in AAA. I'm not saying that he'll ever be an ace, like some believed was in his future back in 2006. I can't even say for sure he'd be a decent bottom of the rotation starter. But due to what the team already has, there's no reason to give up on him. Even if he flames out and goes 0-5 in April, the team hasn't missed out on anything big.

I want to see what the Yankees can get from Phil, either as a starter for them all season, or in a trade by mid-season once he's shown the ability to be a solid starter. Simply put, he has a higher ceiling than either Freddy Garcia or AJ Burnett.

I've all but given up on AJ Burnett. There's still a sliver of optimism inside me, regarding what he could do for us, but I'm not about to bet even a penny on it. It's been shown that he was a bit unlucky last season, as evidenced by a BABIP of .376 in the 2nd half of 2011 (.293 throughout his career) and HR/FB ratio of 12.4% (8.3% average, with MLB average of 7.9%). And the guy has given the team an average of 194 innings a season. But when we have a 1-4 as good as we do, I see no reason to settle on AJ. It would be different if we didn't have any other option, but the Yankees actually have two other options. So... yeah.

Freddy Garcia would probably make a fine #5. I don't expect him to repeat that 3.62 ERA (career average of 4.09), but even a repeat of the 4.64 ERA he put up as a White Sox pitcher in 2010 wouldn't be awful. The problem here is "upside". Not just when comparing him to what Burnett or Hughes could do, but "upside" for what he could give the team. The salary relief of dealing Burnett, should he show the capability to be a decent starter, is worth more to the team than Freddy in my opinion. And what Hughes could net the team in a trade is worth more than Garcia as well.

In all, if it wasn't for a very large part of me saying "forget about AJ ever doing something for the team", I'd say start Burnett at the beginning of 2012. But I would rather just eat the $16.5 million he'll make this season, and hope to pawn him off on somebody else and save a few million bucks next offseason. Because I truly believe Hughes will not only be a better starter, but could also get the Yankees the largest return via trade.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)