Use 'Em or Lose 'Em 

Steve Goldman, who writes a Yankees blog for the Yes Network, takes up the debate I highlighted a couple days ago: should phenom pitchers be forced to hone their craft in the minors even if they're pretty damn good already? Goldman applies the question to Yankees' wunderkind, 20-year-old Phil Hughes. His answer: Bring him on.

The Yankees will expend a great deal of mental energy on trying to figure out when Hughes is "ready" — he has yet to pitch above Double-A — and yet he probably is ready, an anxious spring training debut last Thursday notwithstanding. Ninety-nine percent of pitching prospects go through their entire professional lives without having a month resembling Hughes's career line. Expecting further progress is a bit like saying, "We have Tom Seaver right now, but we think we could get Roger Clemens."

So the rumble builds to bring Tim Lincecum north in three weeks, an anxious spring training debut yesterday notwithstanding. In the article hereby linked, note that Craig Counsell was not impressed.

"He's got a good arm. I don't think he was that good today," Counsell said. "I've heard some people talking about him. You can see it, but I don't think he was on top of his game."

Asked if he was surprised to see so much power from such a little body, Counsell said, "There are no bonus points for throwing hard because you're small. You've got to make pitches. Guys who make pitches get outs."

Let's see how Lincecum fares the next two or three times out. Strikeouts against the opposing pitcher don't count. If he seems ready, the big question becomes: starter or reliever? I open the floor to debate.


SMALL PRINT UPDATE: Just added to the link list is Joe Posnanski's The Soul of Baseball. Posnanski covers -- or used to cover, I'm not quite sure -- the Royals for the K.C. Star and is using the blog to promote his new book of the same name. He's also one of the best baseball writers in the land.

Now reading: Absurdistan, by Gary Shteyngart. So far it's total farce, which is great. John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my faves. In fact, Shteyngart's protagonist, the obese, Hamlet-esque, bicultural Misha (a.k.a. Snack Daddy), reminds me of Ignatius J. Reilly transported into a tale of post-Soviet, post-9/11 misadventure capitalism. Like Toole, Shteyngart makes me laugh out loud at least once every few pages. But to make farce work over the length of a novel, it needs depth, darkness, complexity, and nearly 100 pages in, I'm starting to feel the fabric stretch a bit thin.


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