Joel Sherman of the N.Y. Post reported this morning that team officials confirmed that Joba Chamberlain will start the season in the bullpen. I do wonder who those team officials are, since it wasn’t Brian Cashman, who still states that Joba will train as if he is going to start. The plan is for Joba to pitch no more than 140 innings in 2008, and apparently the plan is to start him in the bullpen, send him down to the minors in June to increase his innings, then bring him back once he is up to 6 innings a start in order to start in the second half of the season. So the first two months the Yanks would have a Joba-Mo killer endgame duo while other pitchers basically stretch what is basically an audition for bullpen jobs in spring training right through to Memorial Day.
Then, the plan is, the guy who proves himself in the first two months sets up Mo while Joba spends June in Scranton stretching out his arm. The guy who proves himself doesn’t necessary have to be a reliever. If they think someone like a Karstens or Horne has proved himself and is best suited for the role, so be it. They will convert a starter if necessary.
Now this raises questions. First of all, this supposedly would set the rotation as Wang, Andy, Hughes, Moose and Kennedy. Supposedly. Remember that many times a manager doesn’t have to make the decision that all fans and blogs are all worried about. Many times, because of performance and/or injury, the decision is made for you. All you need to confirm that is to look at the end of last year’s spring training where Wang and Karstens received minor injuries and couldn’t go north with the team. Hence the opening day starter was Pavano. Who knows if an injury, God forbid, puts Kei Igawa into the rotation?
Anyway, here are some questions. First off, if Joba is kicking butt in April and May, who replaces him in June when he is sent down to stretch out his arm? Dave Pinto of Baseball Musings makes a good point in asking, “if he will be limited to 140 IP, why have some of those innings [wasted] in the minors?” Another question is this: when Joba is ready to start the second half, who does he replace in the rotation? Will the Yanks then go to a six-man rotation, or do they then move Hughes or Kennedy to the bullpen in order to restrict their innings and protect their arms?
One thing to keep in mind is that the Yanks have just two off-days between the opener on March 31st and May 4th. In prior years, the Yanks had enough off days in April to “hide” the 5th starter such as a Jaret Wright or Igawa. They could go with more or less a 4-man rotation in April. Not this year. It means the kids (and Mussina) have to be ready to go. With the lack of off-days, maybe that six-man rotation may be necessary later on due to snow or cold postponements in April. Remember how many games Seattle had to make up last year and how one Cleveland/Seattle game had to be played in Milwaukee?
Lastly, Sherman writes that the Yanks are enamored with the recovery (TJ surgery) arm and makeup of Mark Melancon. Last year very few fans, other than myself, heard of Joba. I was touting him as someone to watch. Never in my wildest dreams however, did I think he would start at A ball and rocket right up to the majors. Melancon only has 6 2/3 pro innings under his belt. He’ll be 23 at the end of March, and some think he could rocket through the minors ala 2007 Joba.
As always, only time will tell–with the “Joba Plan” and with Melancon.
Livan Hernandez signed with the Twins, and I don’t think it’ll work out. As I wrote before, in each of the past four years Livan’s numbers in four major categories have gotten worse: IP, WHIP, ERA and K’s. Now he’s coming from the NL to the AL, and that could be further trouble.
The Astros are looking at Shawn Chacon. Chacon, 30, was 5-4, 3.94 (ERA+ 110) for the Pirates last year in 64 games (4 starts). Ironically, his career has been a heads and tails one. Good year/Bad year/Good year/Bad year….the good years have been the odd years and the bad ones the even years. Buyer beware, Astros. Chacon is 43-58 in his career with an ERA of 4.98 (ERA+ 96).
Funny, I heard a trivia question on the radio and no one was answering it correctly. I knew this one right away. There are only two QBs who have won both the Heisman trophy and a Super Bowl MVP.
Roger Staubach and Jim Plunkett.
No, due to work I won’t be able to catch up with the “festivities” that will be going on in Congress tomorrow. I catch up on those when I get home.