Sunday, December 1, 2013
For a fly ball pitcher, Phil Hughes picked a new team that plays its home games in a place where home runs don't leave the park so easily. According to the Star Tribune's La velle E. Neill, the former 1st round pick (23rd overall in the 2004 amateur draft) of the New York Yankees has agreed to a three-year, $24MM deal with the Minnesota Twins.
Hughes had been a disappointment with the Yankees; he was never able to live up the hype or potential that was expected of him. The product of Foothill High School in California, Hughes made his Yankees debut at age 20 in April, 2007. His second big league start saw him throw 6.1 no-hit innings against the Texas Rangers at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. But with then Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira at the plate, Hughes pulled a hamstring when he tried to get extra torque on his curveball and had to leave the game.
It was his first Major League win, but he wouldn't get a second until August due an injured ankle that occurred while he treated his hamstring. Various injuries (rib cage) and "situations" (dead arm) followed him for the rest of his Yankees career, but that potential was still there. He was a big reason the Yankees won the World Series in 2009 after he moved to the bullpen in the second of the season and was outstanding.
It seemed to carry over a year later when he was back in the rotation and made the All-Star team. Though he finished with 18 wins, he struggled in the second half and was routed by the Rangers in a pair of post-season starts. The Yankees still had high hopes for Hughes after a strong finish in the 2012 season. But this past season was more of the same - too many home runs allowed (59 over the last 2 years), too much inconsistency, and too many losses. His days in the Bronx officially came to a close when the team didn't make him a qualifying offer in early November.
His final numbers for the team in the Bronx read 56-50, 4.54 ERA in 132 starts and 50 relief appearances.
Still just 27-years old, Hughes will get a fresh start at Target Field, which yielded an AL low 1.75 home runs per game in 2013.