Phil Hughes made his first start of the spring this afternoon and was solid through two innings of work. The young righty walked one, but thanks to a double play, faced the minimum six batters. The talk of the day seemed to be the lack of his use of the change up during his short stint, as he threw only three to the six batters he faced.
Hughes needs to get his change working this year. The cutter is a devastating pitch and his fastball can be sneaky good. Still, he needs another off-speed pitch besides his curve to keep hitters honest. If that fourth pitch can be developed into something at least average then 18 wins will be just the beginning for him.
There were two other pitchers in the news today that could effect the Yankees rotation of the future. Speculation has run rampant since New York lost out on Cliff Lee that the Yanks would make a play for the Cardinals Chris Carpenter. The odds of that happening took a couple of hits, first when Albert Pujols failed to sign an extension, and then when Adam Wainwright went down for the year. Now Carpenter is out with a strained hamstring. Though it may not be really severe, Carpenter's health has never really been more than a house of cards. Any little breeze will threaten to send him to the DL. It will definitely be something the Yankees will have to monitor.
Rumors have also spread that the Yankees are pursuing the Twins Fransisco Liriano. It has also been said that the Yankees would only need to offer a package headlined by either Ivan Nova or Joba Chamberlain. I'd have to believe Brian Cashman wouldn't hesitate to send either if not both of those players if that is what Minnesota GM Bill Smith requested. Sadly though Yankee fans dreams of Liriano in pinstripes will have to wait. Buster Olney reported earlier today that the Twins aren't thinking of moving Liriano... yet.
As always, the Yankees will show patience and let the market develop. Tomorrow's starter may have a big impact on that discussion. If A.J. Burnett can bounce back to his 2008 form, or at least his 2009 form, then the Yankees may not be desperate for pitching help come July 31st. That doesn't mean the wont be looking to improve, but a solid Burnett could keep teams from trying to play on Yankee desperation to raise their prices.