Phil Hughes

The Yankees face former-prospect Phil Hughes tonight in Minnesota and that got me to thinking about eight years ago and the summer of 2007.

Back then we liked our mortgages big and undocumented, our investment banks as investment banks only, and we were positive that it would be Hillary Clinton versus Rudy Giuliani facing off to become the President in 2008. A-Rod had not been discovered as a cheater and he hadn’t even opted-out of his original contract. Were we ever truly that young?

For Yankee fans that will also be the summer of the three great prospects. The first was Hughes who came up in April, got roughed up a bit, and then was in the middle of a no-hitter when he got hurt. He returned in August, just as the Yankees brought their second big pitching prospect, Joba Chamberlain, to the big league bullpen. In September, we got to see the third guy, Ian Kennedy, join the other two and our dreams went into overdrive. Here were three incredibly young (Kennedy was the oldest at 22) guys who looked like they would make up the top of the rotation for years to come. In fact, if I had bet you that the trio would finish their Yankees’ careers healthy, but with only 80 wins combined, you would have laughed me out of the room.

Yet, that is exactly what happened. For various reasons, none of them came close to being what the Yankees thought they would. In fact, they were all generally disappointments. Hughes came closest to fulfilling his potential leading the trio with 56 wins as a Yankee, but that took seven seasons of very inconsistent results.

I thought about this and I write about it because it is a memory worth keeping this upcoming week. We hear the names, Judge, Severino, Bird, Refsnyder, and we expect to see four superstars in the next few years. That is foolish, it simply won’t happen. If two of those guys become regular and productive big-leaguers, the Yankees will be ahead of the curve. I am not advocating giving up any of those guys in trades, but the Yankees have a legitimate chance to win this year and if increasing those odds requires some prospects to be sacrificed to get increase those chances, the Yankees should do it. As the saying goes, flags fly forever.