Why the Yankees should give Phil Hughes time, despite the ugly record
Note: This is a column about New York sports. I am not a professional stockbroker, and these aren't actual stocks.
Buy: Phil Hughes.
Sure, the results weren't great last night—four runs in 5 2/3 innings—but the components to his performance were impressive, with only one walk and six strikeouts. And his numbers after five starts are unsightly: a 1-4 record, 7.48 E.R.A. But by another statistical measure, he hasn't been quite that bad: His peripheral stats are in line with an xFIP—an E.R.A. measurement that eliminates defense from the equation—of 4.48. The biggest culprit has been the number of fly balls he's given up that have turned into home runs, with an astonishing 19.4 percent of all his fly balls leaving the ballpark. That will almost certainly come down, and in the long run, trading line drives for fly balls will mean many more outs. The Yankees ought to be patient with Hughes, and I suspect they will be.
Sell: Eduardo Nunez in left field.
Look, I get it—good shortstop prospect in the Yankees organization is blocked by Derek Jeter's apparent decision to play at an elite level until he's 50 years old. You want to find a spot for him. Brett Gardner is hurt. Why not left field? Well, here's why. Asking Nunez, who hadn't logged a single professional game out of the infield, to learn the position in-season is a recipe for failure. Ask Daniel Murphy. This is not to suggest that he can't learn to play the outfield, but he ought to do it properly if there's a real future for him there, by going to the minors to do so, or at the bery least, coming into next spring and working on it for a full exhibition schedule first. Otherwise, Nunez will end up a lot like a big time shortstop prospect who ultimately couldn't stick anywhere defensively: Jose Offerman.
Sell: Mets Bullpen.
The Mets had little to spend this winter, and what money they did throw at new players went to the bullpen. Frank Francisco was signed to a two-year, $12 million deal, Jon Rauch came in on a one-year, $3.5 million deal, and Ramon Ramirez came to New York in the Angel Pagan trade. The idea was to build a floor on team results—whatever they got from the limited roster, they wouldn't blow late in games. The result has been far different, with the bullpen pitching to a 4.81 E.R.A. so far. Francisco's E.R.A. is 7.71, Ramirez walked in a run last night and has been largely ineffective, and while Rauch has a 2.31 E.R.A., he's struck out just four hitters in 11 2/3 innings, so that E.R.A. is likely to come crashing back to earth soon. In fact, the team's xFIP from relievers is 4.31, which is fifth-worst in baseball, precisely the rank of their E.R.A. The early returns suggest that however the Mets perform this season, the bullpen isn't likely to provide that floor the Mets were hoping for.