Will Hughes rule after layoff?
As if having most-likely-to-be- traded Cliff Lee in Yankee Stadium and on the mound tonight isn't enough of a story, the Yankees have their own drama unfolding as Phil Hughes starts for the first time in 10 days. Hughes (10-1, 3.17) was held out his last turn to limit his total innings. He has thrown 82 1/3 this season and will be kept between an estimated 175-180 during the regular season.
If Hughes pitches well--and why shouldn't he against the last place Mariners--the volume of noise created by altering his routine will be muted. If Hughes isn't sharp, it's open season on the organization as everyone will point to the failed Joba Chamberlain Rules of a year ago.
The big difference between this event and the Joba experiment is that the Yankees limited Chamberlain by innings per start. That was an abject failure. Hughes will miss a few starts, he will not necessarily be limited by innings in his starts.
As for Lee, the lefthander (6-3, 2.39) is at the top of his game and every day another team seems to be interested in the former Cy Young Award winner. The hot contenders appear to be the Mets, Cardinals and Phillies, who traded him away for prospects after last season.
The Mariners' trade demands would suggest some big league talent in return, but the price will drop the longer they wait. Angel Pagan is said to be on their radar but the Mets wouldn't move him until and unless they were sure Carlos Beltran is able to return as the everyday centerfielder. There's not enough time for that to be determined. The Mets also lost a trading chip with the injury to 20-year-old pitcher Jenrry Mejia.
If you wanted to speculate on a Yankee deal, they would gladly include Javier Vazquez or A.J. Burnett but the Mariners are not close to declaring that kind of fire sale. If you are thinking Curtis Granderson, that is a nice thought but the Yankees can't replace him with the Rays' Carl Crawford until free agency starts after the World Series.