MLB Trade Deadline: What Phil Hughes' Struggles Mean for the New York Yankees

Rich StoweAnalyst IIIJuly 28, 2011

Has never pitched a full season worthy of the hype when he was in the Minors
Has never pitched a full season worthy of the hype when he was in the MinorsNick Laham/Getty Images

For those New York Yankees fans like myself, the return of Phil Hughes to the rotation gave hope that the Yankees wouldn't mortgage the future in an attempt to find a starting pitcher on the trade market by July 31.

Sadly, his return hasn't given us the hope we wished for. Yesterday against the Seattle Mariners, Hughes gave up nine hits and two runs in six innings. In his previous start, he gave up seven runs in just four innings against the Oakland Athletics and their statistically inept offense.

In July, Hughes has pitched in 21.1 innings and has given up 28 hits, 13 runs (all earned), 9 walks and striking out 13. His WHIP has been an atrocious 1.73 and his ERA has been a dismal 5.48. These are not the numbers of the projected number two starting pitcher entering this season.

Yes, all pitchers have a bad month, but when you look at his 2011 numbers it gets worse. For the season as a whole, he's pitched 31.2 innings and given up 47 hits, 29 runs (all earned), walked 13 and struck out 16. His WHIP for the season is 1.89 and his ERA is 8.24. His July, as sad and terrible as it's been, is the reason his season stats are even as good as they are (which shows just how bad he was before going on the DL).

What does this mean? I now believe the Yankees will be making a big push to obtain either Ubaldo Jimenez or Hideki Kuroda, and in doing so may have to give up one of their prized pitching prospects in Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances along with Jesus Montero and probably Ivan Nova. With the Red Sox possibly having to go after the same pitchers due to Clay Buchholz's injury, the price for these pitchers probably just went up.

I do not think either Jimenez or Kuroda are the answer the Yankees are looking for, however, especially at the price that will be asked. Jimenez has had one good half a season in his career (2010) and Kuroda is already in his mid-30s. Both pitchers are having a hard time this season pitching in the NL West, so just how good can they be against the much tougher AL East?

I also realize that in order for the Yankees to win the World Series this year, they need to find a consistent number two starter. Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have performed admirably this season, Ivan Nova has had flashes of brilliance (but recently got put on the DL) and A.J. Burnett is the inconsistent pitcher he's always been.

I don't want the Yankees to get either of the big name pitchers available, but I realize they will likely get one of them. The only hope is that they end up being worth the price the Yankees will pay.