"On another note, I have been pain free for about a week and hope to be throwing again soon. I also received my new Oakley prescription glasses for when I’m back on the mound. Should be pretty intimidating."The phrase goes you can never have too much pitching. Hughes is a nice insurance plan to have on tap should Darrell Rasner or Mike Mussina suddenly come back to earth. It's amazing how quickly a 21 year-old can transform from the future of the franchise into an injury-prone disappointment in the minds of some fans.
No one is delusional enough to laud Hughes for his horrific start to the '08 season, but if this is what passes as patience for the Yankees fanbase, I'd hate to see them at the DMV. As someone who's seen him in person at Trenton and in the Bronx, few times have I been more confident about the future of a young player.
We could throw out the "struggling young pitcher" caveat which includes countless starting pitchers like Tom Glavine [7-17 in his first full season] and Greg Maddux [6-14 with 5.61 ERA in his], but we already know 21 year-old pitchers take time to adjust to the big league level of difficulty.
This is not to suggest Hughes will become a 300 game winner or a first ballot HOFer, but it allows for a bit of sanity within an insane conversation. Just remember this kid's arm possesses a 91-95 mph plus fastball, 75 mph plus hammer curve, 80 mph slidepiece and a developing changeup. This is not Nook LaLoosh we're talking about here - i.e. fastball, fastball and more fastball.
To suggest we've seen the peak of Hughes' abilities is just as knee jerk a reaction as it would have been had the Braves and Cubs organizations not allowed 21 year-olds Glavine, Maddux and 22 year-old John Smoltz develop. A World Series, a playoff streak and seven Cy Youngs later, it appears to have worked out pretty well for them.
Knowing how competitive, determined and proud a guy Hughes is, I will be very interested to see how he responds to his second consecutive injury impacted season.