The Joba Chamberlain Rules Part Deux
Total Pro Sports – Hello TPS readers! Anders again. I feel the need to chime in on the Yankees. Specifically the handling of their rising star, Joba Chamberlain. Joba the young pitching phenom who set New York on fire the second half of the ‘ 07 season. The Yankee fans are really passionate about this guy (they love their home grown players), and a lot of the debate revolves around whether Joba should be a starter or reliever.
Here is the thing with Chamberlain (and I don’t blame him for this), the Yankees seem to really baby this kid. Last year he started off in the bullpen, then about mid season they started stretching him out (during live MLB games might I add), and put him in the starting rotation. These actions, as unique as they may be , were all part of a plan that was conjured up during last years spring training. The ” Joba Rules ” as they were later dubbed, were designed to protect young Joba from injury by limiting his innings and pitch counts. I didn’t necessarily agree with the plan, but I understood the desire to protect this young arm (Francisco Liriano anyone?). The plan didn’t work too well however, as Joba missed the end of last season with an injured right shoulder (if I remember correctly).
Joba has what I consider to be a violent delivery. History in baseball shows us that once a player (especially pitchers) it seems to become a recurring problem. This has lead to the Yankees to state a couple of things in this spring training so far. First Joba is slated to be the fifth starter (must be nice to be the Yankees). Secondly, and this is the thing that is driving me nuts, they have stated that Joba will be limited to five or six innings per start. Over the course of a season, barring injury, will probably put him in the 150 to 180 innings pitched range. My question is this: when do they take the kid gloves off this guy?
Getting back to my opening paragraph, the huge debate among fans seems to be whether or not this kid should be a starter or reliever. Really? Is this really even a legitimate question? Given the way the Yankees limit this kid, the way they limit his pitch counts and innings, isn’t the solution obvious? He belongs as the eighth inning guy. Not only do the Yankees have a wealth of studs in the rotation, making Chamberlain a serious luxury, he has had most of his success as the set up guy to Mariano Rivera. The Yankees have plenty of guys to throw in that fifth spot (Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy), and the bullpen is much stronger with Joba than without him. Not to mention ( and I know we say this every year ) how many more years does Mo have on that arm? When Mo retires you can slide Joba right into the closers role. It’s a no brainer to me.
That’s the situation people. On another team I can understand wanting this guy as a starter, he has ace kind of stuff. The Yankees are not any other team. I don’t have a problem with him starting , but if that’s the route they are going to take with him, then stop the coddling and let him pitch! How long are they going to continue babying this guy? Like I said, if the babying is out of concern for his durability, then the answer is clear, put him in the pen and ensure yourself a spot in October.