Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy have not won a game this season. Joba Chamberlain lasted 2 1/3 innings in his first major league start. Chamberlain and Hughes have the potential to become top flight starting pitchers, and Kennedy, although less spectacular, has the skills to become a solid major leaguer. So, what is wrong?

Hughes Has 5 Starts in AAA

Philip Hughes has been in the Yankees’ organization since 2004, when he broke in with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Yankees. Hughes has spent four seasons in the minors, but has made only 5 starts in Triple A, for a total of 28 2/3 innings. He has 23 Double A starts, and while it must be noted that many teams stock their Double A, not their Triple A teams with their best prospects, Triple A lineups are probably stronger.

Kennedy Has Pitched 43 Innings in Triple A

Ian Kennedy started out with the short season A- Staten Island Yankees in 2004. He has made 28 minor league starts, working a total of 157 1/3 innings. Kennedy made 6 Triple A starts in 2007 and 2 more this season. He has pitched 43 innings in Triple A, striking out 42 batters.

Joba Has But 1 Triple A Start

Joba Chamberlain has spent part of one season in the minors. He made his debut with Tampa of the Florida Coast League (A+), where he started 7 games and pitched 40 innings. He was promoted to Double A Trenton, started 7 games, and worked 40 1/3 innings, which earned him a shot with Triple A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. After 1 start and 8 innings pitched, Joba became a Yankee.

Seaver, Guidry, and Koufax

This is crazy. Pitchers, even in 2008, must learn their trade in the minor leagues. Granted, this is not your grandfather’s baseball game, but even Tom Seaver, who was in the minors one season, made 34 starts and pitched 210 innings at Triple A. Ron Guidry pitched over 400 innings in the minors. Sandy Koufax signed with Brooklyn in 1955 as a bonus baby, which meant the Dodgers had to keep on the 25-man roster. He didn’t become Sandy Koufax until 1961 because he had to develop in the majors.

New York Pressure

It might be possible for a young pitcher with college but little professional experience to develop in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Minnesota because they are not New York. The list of highly experienced and fairly successful pitchers who met little success in New York is enormous. From the days of John “the Count” Montefusco and Ed Whitson to the more recent Jared Wright, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano, New York has been a problem for many pitchers signing with the Yankees. When that is taken into consideration, how can the Yankees put pitchers in their early twenties under such pressure and expect them to develop?

Roy Halladay and the Minor Leagues

Roy Halladay was Toronto’s first draft pick in 1995. In 2000, Halladay had started 13 games, appeared in 6 games in relief, and had a 10.64 ERA. He went to the minors and pitched in Dunedin under the tutelage of pitching coach Mel Queen, where he worked on correcting his delivery. Halladay stopped relying on trying to throw the ball past every hitter, refined his arm angle to get more movement on the ball. He was promoted to Double A Tennessee after about six weeks, and then to Triple A Syracuse, where he spent six more weeks, and then back to Toronto. Roy was 23 years old at the time.

Joba is a Different Situation

The Joba Chamberlain situation is different since he has shown, at least on a limited basis, that he can succeed pitching an inning or two in relief, but the Yankees objective is to have Joba become a top starting pitcher, which is a realistic objective. What is unrealistic is having him learn and develop at Yankee Stadium.