It was not too long ago when Phil Hughes was viewed as the future ace for the New York Yankees. The organization believed in him so much, that GM Brian Cashman refused to include him in a deal for stud pitcher Johan Santana. He was ranked as the Yankees' best prospect and the second-best prospect in all of baseball in 2006, according to Baseball Digest (h/t Star-Ledger).
Oh how far he has fallen since then.
Despite an 18-win season in 2010, Hughes has yet to find any form of consistency throughout his career. His career ERA is over 4.50 and it would be considerably higher if it weren't for a lights out showing in the bullpen in 2009.
Hughes shows flashes of his potential every now and then, but they remain few and far between. And so far this year, it seems as if the 18-win pitcher he was in 2010 is long gone.
After getting lit up by an Angels team struggling with expectations for seven earned runs in 5.1 innings, Hughes' ERA ballooned to an exorbitant 5.64. Hughes will stay in the rotation for the foreseeable future as manager Joe Girardi almost has no choice with big free agent signing Hiroki Kuroda and fellow young gun Ivan Nova also struggling.
But he clearly does not belong in the Yankee rotation any longer.
With Michael Pineda ruled out for the season and super prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances not coming up anytime soon, Cashman must make a move for a stable consistent starting pitcher.
Hughes' form is perhaps the reason for the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda swap, as Cashman has seen first hand just how much of a crap-shoot pitching prospects are. Taking a proven commodity in Pineda seems a lot more defensible in my eyes, than waiting for a young prospect to possibly pan out.
Should Hughes remain with the Yankees, his position should be in the bullpen.
As mentioned before Hughes was lights out coming out of the pen in 09, helping the Yankees will their 27th World Series. Unless he undergoes a radical improvement, which at his younger age seems plausible, his only position should be in spot duty out of the bullpen.