Clueless media analysis (Phil Hughes)

so yesterday the Yanks had thier much hyped pitching prospect Phil Hughes pitch a litte in a spring training game.

On the Yankee TV broadcast, announcers Michael Kay and Ken Singleton were absolutely fawning over the kid. They did a slow mo of his motion, and Singleton is like “oh, what a great motion. Very compact. He doesn’t long-arm the ball”

Hughes struggled. He gave up two walks and a double.

And what do I read in the paper today? Hughes said “I wasn’t getting back properly so I never really had full command on either my fastball or my curve”

… I take that to mean he was being too compact and tight with his arm action, and yet the announcers were saying it was perfect. LOL

What’s even more laughable is that NY Post columnist Mike Vaccaro wrote that “Hughes was good” yesterday in his debut. The headline writers went so far as to deem it a “Wonder-Phil” performance.

Lemme get this straight: throwing 34 pitches to 7 hitters, only four of which you retire while giving up two walks and a double is “good” ?

First, I agree that they are contradicting themselves. It shows how little they know.

Second, it sounds like his cutting his arm swing short was causing timing problems. Do you know where he was missing when he was walking guys?

Third, does anyone know what the supposed problem is with guys who long-arm the ball? Both Roy Oswalt and Jeff Weaver could be classified as long-armers.

Here’s Weaver…

Here’s some video of Hughes from a start last year…

He’s definitely not a long-armer (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, his motion is a lot like Maddux’s when he first came up. However Hughes’ PAS elbow gets up higher (which I don’t like).

Check out the second pitch. Looks like a either a screwball or a screw-change like Capuano’s (circle change thrown with pronation so it moves like a screwball). Great pitch for a RHP to throw against a lefty since it moves down and away.

He wasn’t really wild high or low, he just looked to me like he was nibbling, trying to be too fine on the corners. Not missing by much.

You can see in that video that his arm action is somewhat abbreviate, for lack of a better term.

That second pitch he throws to the first batter is n a s t y. The announcer says its a changeup, but it might be a sinker.

As I added above, it’s probably a circle change thrown with pronation so it moves like a screwball (down and away from a LHB). Mike Marshall developed his screwball for the same reason; so that he’d had the equivalent of a slider to use against lefties (it can be dangerous to throw a slider against lefties since some guys love balls down and in).

Chris Capuano throws the same pitch.

I watched Hughes pitch yesterday as well. I think nibbling was Hughes’ problem, trying to be too fine. Many of his misses were around the zone. He throws a solid fastball on a good downhill plane. I heard that he said that he was trying too hard, and that goes along with our assessment that he was nibbling.

Also, because it was a spring training game, he was pitching differently than he normally would. Most guys work on their change ups, and Hughes was doing the same thing. It was obviously he didn’t have a feel for his curve when he broke it out, which is common at this time or spring training.

The announcers mentioned that he was “not staying back over the rubber” which goes right along with everyone here saying to get the hips going early. The slow mo side view showed his hips going nicely.

Chris–The problem with long arming is when guys really have a long, long arm action. Oswalt and Weaver and other long armers that you cite have long arm actions in the back–they bring their hand down farther than most–but after that point they have an efficient arm action. Now with many young kids that have a huge arm action in the back, it takes them forever to bring their hand forward. THAT is why people discourage long arming, to make young pitcher’s arm actions more efficient.

I used to throw in this manner. If you slowed me down on video, you would see my arm go back and when you went frame by frame, when my arm should have started coming forward, it kept taking a roundabout route to the plate. My arm action was way too long.

Finally, Chris: screw-change??? Come on, stop inventing pitches. It was a change up. A filthy change up in that video. MOST change ups fade like that. Most guys pronate their change at least somewhat.

I don’t know if i’m seeing things but it looks like when he turns his front foot it doesn’t go all the way at the plate…in other words it seems like its pointing more towards 3rd base…anyone else see this??

TJ: yes i can see it. this kind of position might help people who have a tendencie to get out of balance after a pitch like bob gibson used to do. barry zito used to have that kind of foot landing when he first came out. i don’t know if he still has it.

Chris: Capuano’s change-up is coming from a very low arm angle which might explain the natural tailing action of his change-up ala pedro martinez. Hughes’ change-up couldn’t be compaired to that because the movement is more unexpected coming from that angle.

I agree that he doesn’t point the toe directly at the target. Instead, it’s something like 15 degrees toward 3B.

Many other pitchers do this.