Thursday, April 10, 2008

Goose Wants Joba In Bullpen

The NY Post ran a story today in which Goose Gossage talked about where Joba fits into the team and how moving him around will be a bad thing.

Goose's main points were that moving a guy around from the bullpen to the starting rotation can cause problems and get a player off his game. He also lamented the lack of a clear plan for Joba from the Yankees. Finally, Rich said his preference would be for Chamberlain to stay in the bullpen, where he would be better off.

I'll buy that moving a guy around a lot could  be a bad thing. Pitchers are a fickle bunch and like to know when they are pitching, or at the very least when they could be pitching. They like to know about how many innings they should be expecting. I don't doubt that moving back and forth between starting and relief can put extra pressure on a guy.

Where I diverge from Goose's opinion is on the latter points. The Yankees have a plan for Joba. Perhaps Gossage didn't get the memo. Girardi doesn't think Chamberlain is ready for a full season in the starting rotation, and he's targeting approximately 150 innings of play this year. Joba has had some injury issues in the past and hasn't pitched a full starter's schedule lately. To get him into the starters role, he's going to have to go slowly. The Yankees have 5 starters penciled in right now. Other than Wang, there are two youngsters and two aging veterans. Odds are pretty good that someone will get injured or someone just won't have the stuff to stay in the rotation. Enter Joba. After hanging out in the bullpen for a while, later in the season Chamberlain will be able to step into the starting rotation and finish out the season, staying under his 150 inning cap.

Gossage's claim that Joba is more valuable in the bullpen is nonsense. Getting 6-7 quality innings out of Joba per start is much more valuable than 1-2 relief innings. If he spends time in the starting rotation and it turns out that he doesn't have what it takes, that in the end he doesn't have a sufficient number of effective pitches to throw or he begins to have injury problems with the starting workload, then it's time to relinquish him to the bullpen. If you can pitch effectively as a starter, you do.

It may be that Joba ends up being a more effective reliever than starter, but until he gets a real chance in the rotation, we'll never know.

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