While the Yankees waited for Derek Jeter and Cliff Lee to make their decisions, the few quality starters available this offseason signed with other teams. Jeff Francis signed with the Royals yesterday, leaving Justin Duchscherer and Freddy Garcia as the next best candidates for the Yankees’ rotation. Neither of those two are very appealing. I think the Yankees are better off waiting for Brian Cashman to make a move midseason.
So where does this leave Joba Chamberlain? He lies deep in the Yankees’ bullpen, where he looks to regain his reputation as a dominant pitcher.
Scranton Yankees beat writer Donnie Collins looked into the Yankees’ April schedule and concluded this:
If Cashman, Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild want to, they can conceivably start CC Sabathia seven times on full rest before the end of April thanks to the positioning of the off days. Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett would get six starts. The fourth starter, presumably Ivan Nova, would get five and the fifth starter would have to fill in three times.On top of that, as Collins says, now the Yankees’ bullpen is deep enough with Rafael Soriano that they could probably afford to let a middle reliever — like Joba — start the season in the minors to build his arm strength and work into a starting pitcher’s mentality.
The opportunity is there, but still, is it a smart move to mess around with Joba again? In a popular post on RAB, Mike Axisa argues there is no excuse for leaving Chamberlain in the bullpen.
Heck, Joba’s shoulder could be shredded for all I know. If it is, then they need to trade him as soon as possible and make it someone else’s problem.If his arm really is shredded, which very well might be the case considering his dip in velocity since 2008, then what team is going to offer much in exchange for a damaged arm? That's why players take physicals.
Last season’s 4.40 ERA and 1.30 WHIP do not scream “I deserve a promotion” in my book. Plus, check out Joba’s starter-reliever career splits at the end of Collins’ article. He’s had more success in the bullpen than in the rotation.
The Yankees’ bullpen looks very sturdy with Soriano and Mariano Rivera at the end, but if the Yankees really think a deep bullpen can make up for a shallow rotation they are going to need one other reliever to step up. Joba could be that guy, therefore providing great value.
Or the Yankees could just trade Joba for a starter. Take your pick.