New York Yankees: Phil Hughes announces his retirement from baseball

New York Yankees

A former New York Yankees pitcher, in fact one of the best pitching prospects of the mid-2000s, has decided to call it a career. Phil Hughes, who contributed with the 2009 team that won the World Series as a setup man, announced via Twitter that he is retiring from baseball.

Hughes, a first-round pick out of high school by the Yankees in 2004, hadn’t pitched in the majors in a couple of years, which is why his announcement is seen as more of a formality.

During a successful 12-year career in MLB, Hughes pitched with the New York Yankees, the Minnesota Twins, and the San Diego Padres, which is the last uniform he wore back in 2018.

“While it’s been fairly apparent to most over these last couple years, I’d like to officially announce my retirement from baseball. Through many ups and downs over 12 years, I look back and am incredibly proud of what I was able to accomplish,” he wrote in his official Twitter account.

Expected to dominate in MLB when he was a prospect and fooling minor league hitters, he wasn’t quite a star but was able to carve a successful career. He finished with a 4.52 ERA (4.22 FIP) in 1291 innings, most of them with the Yankees and Twins.

The Yankees’ best young pitchers back in the 2000s

Yankees fans of the 2000s will remember him for being perhaps the best prospect of that time, together with Joba Chamberlain. Both carried the future of the franchise on their backs at one point.

During New York’s 2009 title run, Hughes posted a 3.03 ERA/3.22 FIP in 86 innings, including nine appearances in the postseason. He worked as one of Mariano Rivera’s setup men, and was very good.

Hughes had his best season with the Twins in 2014, after pitching to a 7th place Cy Young finish thanks to a 3.52 ERA/2.65 FIP and an MLB-leading 11.63 K/BB rate in 209 2/3 innings.

While he wasn’t what most Yankees fans expected him to be in the end, they will likely remember his playing days fondly.

On this day in New York Yankees history, two players went down the tube

New York Yankees, Larry Rothschild

When someone flops in a New York Yankees, oh mein GOT, (That’s German for OH MY GOD!) it is a spectacular flop. While it may be meant to bring light to the suffering and misfortune of one former Yankee, this decision ultimately lead to the downward spiral of two once-promising careers. Not just as Yankees, but promising careers as major league pitchers that went kersplat.

Ten Years Ago, Phil Hughes Replaced Joba Chamberlain in the Rotation

God do I feel old.

Ten years ago today, while I was halfway through the spring semester of my junior year at college, the Yankees sent Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen in favor of Phil Hughes. Hughes, who was valuable as hell during their run to the championship a year ago, was ELECTRIC out of the pen since 2007. Joba, meanwhile, had one of his most lackluster seasons at that point in 2009, going 9-6 in 31 starts, with an ERA well above 4.

Hughes would have an All-Star season in 2010, going 18-8, with 146 K’s in 176.1 innings pitched, to an ERA of 4.19 (not great, but very few have the ability to maintain excellence throughout the entirety of a season. Look at Severino’s 2017 and 2018). Joba would pitch his final full season before needing Tommy John surgery. After that, he was never the same pitcher. Even with the Tigers, Royals, and Indians

What I firmly believe screwed up Phil Hughes was the Yankees insisting on following “the Joba Rules” to try and preserve Hughes as much as possible. The point remains, you don’t shut down someone with double-digit wins on the season because you’re “worried about his arm” or any poor excuse. Hughes, when it was announced his season would end early in 2010 (his only All-Star season) was never the same again. He was inconsistent at best the remainder of his time in New York.

So, 10 years ago today, the Yankees may have had an unspeakable negative impact on not just one, but two promising major league pitchers.

New York Yankees: What Could Aaron Judge’s Future Entail if he Removes Rib?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Well, New York Yankees fans, we finally have an answer for Aaron Judge’s injury. A stress fracture in one of his ribs. And it was sustained on September 19th, 2019.

… is it just me, or are the Yankees looking REALLY bad right now? Paxton, Severino, now Judge all having lingering injuries from 2019, resulting in ALL OF THEM missing part (or all) of the 2020 season.

The worst-case scenario is Judge could surgically have that problem rib removed. But what would that do for the 27-year-olds career in professional baseball?

It Doesn’t Look Good

The most notable examples of players having ribs removed were pitchers to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Former Met Matt Harvey, former New York Yankees Phill Hughes and Jaime Garcia, and Chris Carpenter are all pitchers who’ve undergone the procedure. Garcia got his rib removed in 2014, and was an above .500 pitcher. Since… not so much. Chris Carpenter’s 2012 was cut short by the procedure, and he never came back. Harvey’s decline was already evident when he underwent the procedure and was only exacerbated after the surgery in 2017. And Phil Hughes would have one more season, split between Minnesota and San Diego, after having a rib removed from TOS. No record, 62 innings pitched, and an ERA above 6.

The sobering reality about this stress fracture in Judge’s rib is that it directly affects his throwing arm. Should he get the rib surgically removed, he’d have the same road back that these pitchers had. While he wouldn’t be throwing nearly as consistent throughout a game as Harvey or Hughes, he’s known for his cannon of an arm in right field. If that is at all diminished, at just 28 years old… he’s facing very limited prospects in baseball if he wants to play past 30.

My preliminary research only shows pitchers being the most frequent baseball player having ribs removed. So how this affects his swing remains murky. Most of the velocity through the strike zone Judge generates still comes from his hips and would be aided by the wrists more so than his arm. His right arm isn’t as dominant in the swing as his left. So his future as a slugger is more cemented than no.

But, why would you play him, even as a DH, if he’s not fully physically comfortable at the plate? It’s troubling that this is befalling someone as prominent, and as likable as Judge. But… this is all we know so far.