Time to end the Experiment; Joba Needs to Start
By Bob Owens
While baseball has generated a sizable number of debates and arguments over the course of its long history, there are at least two truths to the sport which have remained true and constant;
1. No team can ever have enough pitching.
2. Starting pitching is more valuable than relief pitching.
After the Yankees were ousted by the Texas Rangers in October, every one knew the Yankees needed to improve their starting pitching. But after being spurned by Mrs. Cliff Lee, the retirement of Andy Pettitte, and Zach Grienke believing his chances of winning to be better in Milwaukee, the Yankees only moves so far were to upgrade their bullpen.
Since the Hot Stove league commenced in early November, the Yankees have re-signed aging future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, brought in 2010 AL saves leader Rafael Soriano from Tampa to pitch the eighth inning (and pay him twelve million per season in the process), and selected two relievers in the Rule 5 draft.
In addition to righthander Daniel Turpin (from Boston) and lefty Robert Fish (Angels), the Yankees signed Pedro Feliciano and will be forced to keep 2007 first rounder Andrew Brackman on the roster due to terms set forth in his contract.
All of these moves seem to point to the demotion of Joba; keeping Chamberlain in the bullpen with, Mo, Soriano, David Roberton, Feliciano and Brackman probably forces the Yankees to return one or both of the Rule V guys back to their original teams.
You hoard pitching.Instead, they appear to be frittering it away.
The travesty of it all is the Yankees have a potential answer to their now over-crowded bullpen and shortage of starter candidates right in front of them.
And I’m not talking about Sergio Mitre.
Why not Joba?
In Chamberlain, who started at starred for Nebraska and did well enough that the Yankees drafted him as the 41st overall selection in the 2006 draft.
Chamberlain began his professional career as a starter, posting a 9-2 record in his only minor league season. Chamberlain found himself relegated to the bullpen when the Yankees featured a major league rotation which included Roger Clemens, Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and two other young arms in Phil Hughes and the since-traded Ian Kennedy.
Contrast that to the current core group of C.C. Sabathia, Hughes, A.J.Burnett, and possibly Sergio Mitre and the unproven Ivan Nova, and one can certainly see the need to rapidly upgrade and augment that staff.
Moreover, it is my contention that starting is actually easier than relieving, as you know what day(s) you are going to be used and can more easily devise a routine for your off-days.
A reliever is not afforded that luxury. Barring any rain-shortenend or extra innings games, the Yankees will play 162 games and 1458 innings of baseball this year.
I’m saying here Joba Chamberlain needs to start 25 of those games and pitch at least 158 of those innings.