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Article: End of the Road for Phil Hughes and the Twins

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 10:43 PM

He gave it his all. No one could deny that Phil Hughes did everything in his power to battle through major health woes in efforts to provide some return on Minnesota's investment in him.

Ultimately, he couldn't fend off the inevitable. His twice-repaired shoulder just didn't have enough to give anymore. And on Monday night, the Twins announced they have designated the veteran right-hander for assignment, effectively ending his tenure with the team and leaving ownership on the hook for around $20 million still owed through 2019.There's no question. Terry Ryan's extension for Hughes in December of 2014, with two years still remaining on the pitcher's contract, was an ill-advised one.

It now will cost the Pohlads, who may be able recoup some of the money through insurance (though I've seen nothing to that effect as of yet).

But if ever a guy was deserving of such a leap of faith, it was Hughes. Let's not forget: this was a 27-year-old free agent, a former first-round draft pick and elite young talent coming off a down season, who – rather than taking the usual make-good-and-move-on route – signed for three years at a stunningly reasonable rate in Minnesota.

Then, Hughes went on to deliver one of the top three seasons by a Twins starter in the past decade. And at the end of it, when he came one out short of reaching a $500K contract escalator at 210 IP, he turned down the team's offer to pony it up. Said it would set a bad precedent. Even for a millionaire pro athlete, that is a lot of money to walk away from.

It added to a respect that I'd already built up for Hughes. I enjoyed watching him early in his career from afar, even as a member of the hated Yankees. I was a huge fan of his contract with the Twins – to this day, I consider it the finest Ryan ever signed (even if the extension negated that brilliant stroke).

And watching Hughes pitch in 2014 was a true delight. He was at the pinnacle of his craft, consistently hitting spots with lethal precision while setting the all-time MLB record for K/BB ratio.

For what it's worth, according to FanGraphs, Hughes was worth $44.7 million in that season alone, accounting for about two-thirds of the $66 million he'll make in his tenure with the club. And while he's never come close to approximating that performance in four seasons since, he has tried.

After throwing a career-high 209 innings in 2014, Hughes saw a serious velocity drop in 2015. He fought through and tossed 155 innings with a respectable 4.40 ERA. We all hoped his arm would rebound the next year; he was still under 30, after all.

It didn't. Hughes lost more arm strength in 2016 and his performance became untenably bad. A line drive to the leg ended his season, but only beat to the punch the real culprit: a bum shoulder. He underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome a few weeks later.

Hughes rehabbed and came back to spring training in 2017 feeling optimistic. But it quickly became apparent he still didn't have it. The Twins tried him as a reliever for a while and then, realizing the same symptoms were inhibiting him as before, had him go under the knife for a second time to relieve his enduring shoulder condition.

The success rate for two-time TOS surgery recipients is very low. Hughes recognized that. Through it all, he kept trying to tinker and find some way to get major-league hitters out. Even in my brief interactions with Hughes while covering spring training in Ft. Myers, it was obvious the man experiments relentlessly to find any kind of edge.

No amount of tinkering, however, can offset a nonfunctional shoulder. The decision to move on was sadly long overdue, and allows the new front office leadership to move on uninhibited by his burdensome presence on the roster.

Hughes is still only 31 years old. It's very possible he'll find his way back after a lengthy period to rest and strengthen his shoulder. I really hope he does.

But it wasn't going to happen here. And now that chapter is closed.

As of Monday night, the Twins had not announced a replacement for Hughes on the 25-man roster, though we're hearing it'll likely be Ryan LaMarre. The vacant 40-man spot should soon be filled by Trevor May, eligible to come off the 60-day DL in a week.

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#2 curt1965

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 11:25 PM

Like most Twins fans, I hated the extension, and still do not understand it. But there is no denying Hughes is a warrior. I respect what he accomplished in his major league career, and understand that, although part of the game, career threatening injuries don’t always happen to the other team’s players.
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#3 h2oface

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 01:59 AM

The best decision I have seen the FO make, in their short tenure. I am proud of them. I would be even prouder if they did the same with Lynn, and brought up Gonsalves. 

 

I think Phil knew this was coming before the season started. I would feel sad for him, but there are still 20 million reasons that it isn't that sad.

 

Worth $44.7 million for one season? FanGraphs has some fuzzy math.

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#4 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 03:17 AM

Phil Hughes has my respect as does the FO for making this move.
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#5 ewen21

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 04:08 AM

I was ready to say.....That's a cheap shot!

 

 

....then I read the article


#6 Thrylos

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 04:54 AM

This front office has shown the willingness to make necessary moves despite bad investments of the previous front office, as well as managing the DL and the 25-man roster pretty well.This is one of these moves. 

 

Unfortunately Hughes got hurt and he has never been the same pitcher since.Glad to see that someone who will give the Twins better chance of winning will take his place.

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#7 Sconnie

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:26 AM

Phil Hughes has my respect as does the FO for making this move.

this, Phil’s a stand up guy who earned his money. I’m glad he got it, because it would have just lined JPs pocket otherwise.

Glad Falvine has the courage to part ways. I’m sure these have been difficult conversations with Pohlad and Hughes.
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#8 The Wise One

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:27 AM

 

The best decision I have seen the FO make, in their short tenure. I am proud of them. I would be even prouder if they did the same with Lynn, and brought up Gonsalves. 

 

I think Phil knew this was coming before the season started. I would feel sad for him, but there are still 20 million reasons that it isn't that sad.

 

Worth $44.7 million for one season? FanGraphs has some fuzzy math.

for 2015 Phil Hughes had a fWAR of 5.95 If you take the costs of the contracts signed that year dived by the total WAR of the players you come upwith the they consider thetrue cost of WAR when multiplied by 5.95. gives you 44 million. Now a bunch of teams spent money on player expecting huge returns. Of course the duds free agents like Bronson Arroyo Ubaldo Jimenezand Sin Soo Choothat are getting 13-14 millionto produce very little WAR eachit really drives up the cost. 


#9 wsnydes

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:32 AM

This move was long overdue.Glad that the cord has finally been cut.

 

That said, I wish Hughes well in the future wherever or whatever he ends up doing.

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#10 Doctor Wu

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:39 AM

Not much more to say; getting released is one of those unfortunate aspects of baseball life. But injuries such as the ones Hughes had to deal with are extremely difficult to recover from. Alexi Ogando, another pitcher who once showed lots of promise and got derailed by arm trouble (he was an All-Star for Texas back in 2011), was released by the Cleveland organization this week. He's 34, a few years older than Hughes, but earlier in this decade he looked terrific..

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#11 ThejacKmp

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:57 AM

 

I would be even prouder if they did the same with Lynn, and brought up Gonsalves. 

 

This is crazy talk, an absurd hot take.

 

Lance Lynn has no injury and has a long track record of success. He's been bad but it would be really shocking if he just all of a sudden forgot how to pitch at age 31. He's also not signed for next year so if you want to build his trade value, you have to start him. If nothing else, it's be insane to release him since he'd be a nice arm for the bullpen as he's always had a reasonably high strikeout rate.

 

You'd also be bringing Gonsalves up and starting his MLB Clock in order to get maybe 1-2 starts before May and Santana are back. This would be the definition of a move with no point.

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#12 Vanimal46

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:04 AM

This move is loooong overdue. I'm a proud, happy fan today.

#13 rv78

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:05 AM

 

 

 

You'd also be bringing Gonsalves up and starting his MLB Clock in order to get maybe 1-2 starts before May and Santana are back. This would be the definition of a move with no point.

Twinks are always reluctant to "start the clock" on their prospects. I highly doubt Gonsalves will be the callup for the very 2 reasons you mentioned, Santana and May. A relief pitcher will get the call.


#14 spycake

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:06 AM

It now will cost the Pohlads, who may be able recoup some of the money through insurance (though I've seen nothing to that effect as of yet).


Beware the insurance trolls!

This DFA almost certainly puts to rest the idea that the Twins could expect to recoup any meaningful portion of Hughes's salary through insurance.
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#15 ThejacKmp

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:15 AM

 

Like most Twins fans, I hated the extension, and still do not understand it. But there is no denying Hughes is a warrior. I respect what he accomplished in his major league career, and understand that, although part of the game, career threatening injuries don’t always happen to the other team’s players.

 

1.) Most Twins fans now claim to hate the move but back then, the reaction was decidedly more mixed. This is the TD version of the "I was at the Bill Mazeroski Shot Heard Round the World game."

 

2.) I was one of many people who liked the move back then and I like it still today. The move was reasonable (Phil Hughes salary has not hamstrung the Twins and he has not blocked any ready prospects) and just didn't work out. Sometimes the end result is bad but it doesn't mean the process was bad. The Twins got a great season out of Hughes and because of the two years left on his deal, they had the leverage to get a team-friendly extension. That involves a gamble but it was a reasonable one, especially when you think about how hard it is to find an ace.

 

And Phil Hughes had an ace season. He was 27 with the stuff to make it seem like it could be legit. Potentially having an ace for 5 years is worth what the Twins paid. I know this because the Twins are still looking for an ace. It's hard to lure one away (Darvish showed us that non-elite markets and teams need to pay way extra to get top pitchers) and it's hard to develop one (Berrios is likely a #2, Romero might be it but it's early and Graterol looks like one but throws 100 which is scary injury-wise).

 

I thought it was a good move then and I stand by that today. It's easy to hate on the decision because it didn't work out but 2014 Phil Hughes was probably the best shot the Twins have had to find an ace or near-ace pitcher. They took that shot and I don't fault them for it - you miss 100% of shots you don't take.

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#16 Vanimal46

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:20 AM

You'd also be bringing Gonsalves up and starting his MLB Clock in order to get maybe 1-2 starts before May and Santana are back. This would be the definition of a move with no point.


Gonsalves is going to turn 24 in July... How much longer do we have to wait to start the clock?
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#17 Carole Keller

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:23 AM

Good luck to Phil.

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#18 ThejacKmp

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:33 AM

 

Gonsalves is going to turn 24 in July... How much longer do we have to wait to start the clock?

 

The clock is not dependent on age so that really has little to do with it.

 

I think they'd have no issue if Santana/May weren't in the mix. Gonsalves would have a shot to grab the open spot. But that spot isn't open, it's a temporary one.

 

It'd be shortsighted to bring Gonsalves up for 2-3 starts when you know that barring injury, he's going to head back down. If you were starting Sam Deduno instead, it's be one thing. But Lance Lynn is a vet with a track record of success and it's not unreasonable to give him a bit more rope.

 

Finally, Gonsalves has only 9 starts in AAA. Not crazy to give him some more time, especially because he's not a stuff pitcher. I could be totally making this up but it seems like a guy with great stuff would have an easier time adjusting to a level change than a guy who is more about pitching like Gonsalves. again, total conjecture.

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#19 ThejacKmp

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:34 AM

Any chance Phil ends up in the Twins minor league system? I wouldn't hate letting him get some AAA work in as a reliever to see if he can find something.


#20 h2oface

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 06:39 AM

 

This is crazy talk, an absurd hot take.

 

Lance Lynn has no injury and has a long track record of success. He's been bad but it would be really shocking if he just all of a sudden forgot how to pitch at age 31. He's also not signed for next year so if you want to build his trade value, you have to start him. If nothing else, it's be insane to release him since he'd be a nice arm for the bullpen as he's always had a reasonably high strikeout rate.

 

You'd also be bringing Gonsalves up and starting his MLB Clock in order to get maybe 1-2 starts before May and Santana are back. This would be the definition of a move with no point.

 

Maybe. But the assumption that either Santana, coming back from a hand surgery on his pitching hand, or May, coming back from TJ, will be as effective as before the surgeries might be as shocking as Lynn having reached the beginning of the end of his track. The Cards had absolutely no interest. That says a lot to me.

 

This is a quarter of the season gone, and in only 37.1 innings on the mound, and regardless of his 41 K's, he has given up 29 walks, 47 hits, 31 earned runs, which has made every team he faces a team of .313 hitters, with an OBP of .422 and an OPS of .929! Trade value? I don't think any GM is gonna ignore that, even if he rattles off a few usable starts. He is torching the pen. Letting MLB ready players age in the minors, reducing their possible prime years, never makes a lot of sense to me. That clock is ticking, too.

 

It is also not unusual for a 31 year old pitcher, or any age pitcher for that matter, to have lost his effectiveness, regardless of his track record. Plus he missed all of 2016 with TJ surgery, so I don't feel that saying he has no injury is all that accurate. Matt Harvey comes to mind, as a recent example. His first year back was similar to Lynn's 2017. Lynn also faded big time in September of last year, so this is now about a 3 month history, with the one start a couple starts ago the outlier.

 

So I stand by my crazy take, and would love to see this team advance with youth that is looking more than ready for having a go at it. I said on another post a couple days ago... would you rather pay Hughes millions to lose games for the Twins, or to lose games for another team? And I feel the same about Lynn. We will see if the FO has the same courage to jettison one of their own decisions, as they just have with one that wasn't theirs.

Edited by h2oface, 22 May 2018 - 07:18 AM.




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