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Phil of the future (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday April 24, 2007 11:58AM; Updated: Tuesday April 24, 2007 2:51PM
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The Yankees have been every bit the offensive power that people expected. Through 18 games they led the AL in scoring (116 runs), had scored more runs to that point than all but 11 Yankee teams in history (nine of whom were pennant-winning teams) and featured one player, Alex Rodriguez, having the greatest April the game ever has seen. And even with all that offense, the Yankees somehow were a losing team: 8-10.

Chien-Ming Wang will make his first start of the season on Tuesday against the Devil Rays.
Chien-Ming Wang will make his first start of the season on Tuesday against the Devil Rays.
Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

No team since the 1994 A's had managed to score as many as 116 runs in its first 18 games and still post a losing record.

Yes, the Yankees' rotation should get some stability with Chien-Ming Wang back on Tuesday and Mike Mussina perhaps next week from the epidemic of muscle strains and pulls around this club (perhaps traceable to Cashman's call to change the club's strength training program and instructors). New York is bound to pitch better sooner rather than later.

But even with those two veterans coming back Cashman needed Hughes now, his version of "Break Glass in Case of Emergency." It wasn't what he wanted, not this early, and it threatens to blow up the conservative growth schedule for Hughes. (See Prior, Mark and Wood, Kerry for how badly such accelerated workloads for pitchers can turn out.) But it's a move Cashman needed to make.

Next up: the call on Clemens. Cashman whiffed on Matsuzaka because he was rightly fixated on removing bloat from the payroll -- but his mistake was not realizing that Matsuzaka was the outlier, the exception who was worth the expenditure, especially at 26, to ride in the rotation with Hughes and Wang for years. Clemens, too, is an outlier. On the face of it he does not fit with Cashman's goal to run a leaner and younger organization, but Cashman must step outside his own chalk lines to swing the power in the division back to his side. It took 18 games for Hughes to get here. We'll know in another 30 games or so if Cashman steps up again.

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