December 7, 2009

Piliere on the Yanks: Get rid of Joba, hold onto Hughes

If you are looking for a great analysis of the possibility of the Blue Jays dealing Roy Halladay to the Yankees, look no further then this article by Frankie Piliere from MLB Fanhouse.

Why it’s so good? Well, he agrees with me, completely, about the asking price. He explains how the Blue Jays cannot get ripped off like the Twins did for Johan Santana. They need a headline prospect like Matt LaPorta in the CC Sabathia deal in 2008, he cites.

First key point he correctly states:

Toronto will have a handful of names that would have to be included in any deal for Halladay. From the Yankees, they should receive one of Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson, or Jesus Montero.

And now he focuses in on Hughes:

You can say it was because he was working out of the bullpen, but Hughes found a comfort level in 2009 that we hadn't yet seen from him as a big-leaguer. The curveball was sharper, the aggressive demeanor he had shown in the minors returned, and his velocity was better. Hughes is now a stronger, more confident pitcher still possessing the stuff to be a frontline starter.

That’s right, he still does have the potential of a frontline starter.

And here’s why Hughes has more potential than Joba Chamberlain:

There's a good reason that Chamberlain shows flashes of brilliance but rarely maintains it for long stretches. When he has his good stuff, especially out of the bullpen, he has two above-average pitches, including a 7 slider on the 2-8 scouting scale. The problem is when things aren't going his way and his high-effort delivery gets out of sync. Therein lies the difference between him and Hughes. Hughes has shown the ability to change his strategy, make adjustments and rely purely on command at times.

Very few times in 2009 did we see the type of fastball command from Chamberlain that Hughes can often display. The moral of the story here is, when evaluating young pitchers, you are better off taking the pitcher who has more than one gear and has shown a learning curve over his time in the majors. Chamberlain's raw stuff grades out better than Hughes' but can you really point to many improvements that Chamberlain has made since arriving in the big leagues?

And the icing on the cake?

If you're the Yankees, Chamberlain is the young arm you part with, not Hughes, if a deal is put on the table for Halladay. Of course, if you are the Blue Jays you have to hope you can pry Hughes away.

Well put, Mr. Piliere. Well put.

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