"We're putting a great arm in the rotation that we believe is going to win games," [Joe Girardi] argued in response to the veteran outfielder's comments in yesterday's Daily News. "I want to know the games that we've sacrificed by doing what we did. Everyone is assuming that we would have won that game in Baltimore if we had Joba in the bullpen that night. You're pretty smart if you know that. Everyone is assuming we would have won the game in Minnesota if we had Joba in the bullpen that night. It doesn't always work that way.
"I think people make the assumption that if he's in the bullpen, you're going to win every game. That's not the case." (N.Y. Daily News)
More than a few panicky Yankee fans are not pleased about Joba Chamberlain becoming a starter. I've encountered several over the past few days. I am not one of them. I think it's great that Chamberlain is returning to his original pitching position. Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus agrees:
I have to give the Yankees full credit here. I insisted that once they started the year with Chamberlain in the bullpen, they wouldn't move him midseason. Given the dropoff from Chamberlain to the next-best reliever in that pen (Kyle Farnsworth or Edwar Ramirez or LaTroy Hawkins), I expected that the team wouldn't deny Joe Girardi his eighth-inning security blanket in the middle of a pennant race. I remain surprised by the decision. It's driven by the failures of Hughes and Kennedy (as well as Kei Igawa in a cameo role) to provide quality pitching at the back end of the rotation as much as it is by the desire to maximize the long-term value of Chamberlain. Nevertheless, the right decision for the wrong reasons has its appeal.
The move will work out for both parties. Chamberlain has the build and the repertoire to be a good starter, especially now that he'll be more than a fastball/slider pitcher. The Yankees have been extremely conservative with his arm and his workloadI actually wonder if some day we'll look back at the handling of Joba Chamberlain as some kind of peak in the handling of young pitchers, where the industry eventually backed away a bit from being quite so cautious with them. Chamberlain has thrown fewer than 800 pitches since being called to the majors last August, and he had a pitch count in last night's game of around 60 tosses. There's a wide, wide gulf between that and what Chamberlain can safely manage, and the Yankees have to start closing that gap to maximize both his potential and their chance of getting back into the AL East race.
Chamberlain will make his second start on Sunday against the Royals. It is supposed to be in the mid-90s in New York this weekend.