MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Looking for Pitching Spells Trouble for Phil Hughes

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IJune 21, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20:  Phil Hughes #65 of the New York Yankees sits in the dugout after being removed from the game in the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves during their game on June 20, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Yankees are still looking for starting pitching despite the recent success of their starting rotation and that could leave Phil Hughes the odd man out of the Bombers' rotation.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Yanks are now scouting Wandy Rodriguez of the Houston Astros. The team's scouts were present when Rodriguez took the mound in his last start against the Kansas City Royals.

But this wasn't the only time rumors have linked the Yankees to potential available starters.

Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times linked the Bombers to Chicago Cubs' starter, Ryan Dempster. Before that, it was reported that the Yankees were also interested in another Cubs' arm, Matt Garza, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Hughes is no stranger to being considered the dark horse to stay in the Yanks' rotation. Before the season, Hughes had to battle to get his rotation spot and thanks to an injury to Michael Pineda, he and fellow starter, Freddy Garcia, became locks to make the rotation.

However, the 25-year-old hasn't been so great for the Yankees this season. He's been mostly inconsistent and although it looked like he would begin to right the ship after three strong showings—one of them a complete game—Hughes is back to his old troubles.

In his last start against the Atlanta Braves, Hughes' inconsistency reared its ugly head after the right-hander allowed four homers and six earned runs in the losing effort. It was a harsh reminder that Hughes is not firmly supplanted as a reliable starter in this rotation.

The only other starter who has been close to struggling like Hughes has been Ivan Nova. Nova has begun to pitch well as of late and thanks to incredible second half success in 2011, the Bombers are expecting Nova to repeat that again in 2012.

Bottom line: The leash on Hughes is far shorter than any other starter in the Yanks' rotation.

Clearly, the fact that New York is still looking for pitching means they aren't satisfied with their current situation. And if there is any fixing needed in this starting five, Hughes is the most likely candidate to be taken out of the rotation.

So where would that leave Hughes?

Well, it is quite possible the Bombers use him in any deal with the Cubs or Astros. Both of those teams are rebuilding and both would love to take a chance on a 25-year-old who has yet to hit his potential. Plus, a switch to the National League could greatly benefit Hughes' numbers since he would be pitching in the inferior offensive league.

Or the Yanks could look to move him to the bullpen. Since the injury of Mariano Rivera, the Yanks have been a little short in the back-end of the 'pen, namely the seventh inning role. Cory Wade has struggled and considering Hughes' past success in the bullpen, he could be the perfect man to take the seventh inning job.

No matter what happens, it certainly isn't looking good for Phil Hughes' future as a member of the Yankees' starting rotation.