Luckily, it worked better than when the Yankees tried to establish a set of Joba Rules; Hughes rode his riding fastball up in the zone to 96 Ks in 86 innings alongside a 3.03 ERA, running out of steam in October, but not enough to detract from his teammates' title-winning work (shoutout to Damaso Marte).
That iteration of the Yankees was utterly stacked. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira is a fairly sound way to construct an infield, and the World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, managed to do David Ortiz-level of damage despite being squeezed out of the lineup for road games at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
But yes, even those Yankees started slow, going 13-15 through May 7 and experimenting with bullpen roles/Chien-Ming Wang/Cody Ransom while waiting for Rodriguez to return from his offseason suspension (in fact, Hughes' move from the rotation to the 'pen was part of this adjustment period).
It was obvious watching that team how much they missed Rodriguez and how much they needed to beef up the back end of the rotation, and it likely bothered Hughes to hear those narratives parrotted repeatedly by national experts as original thoughts. This year? It's the injuries. The injuries have thinned the rotation. The injuries have messed with the lineup. The GM constructed an injured roster, and it got injured.
And, before we go any further, Hughes wants to make sure you've heard about the injuries.
Former Yankees prospect Phil Hughes thinks the Yanks need to get healthy
I'm not sure, Phil. Is it good and/or normal to have three-fifths of the projected rotation on the shelf, as well as both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in tandem?
Logic dictates the team will be better when at least three of those five problems resolve themselves. Unfortunately, logic left town a long time ago. Sometime around '09. Hughes is probably going to be hearing about these issues for a while longer, likely into 2024 and beyond.