Thursday, June 05, 2008
If you listened to any media outlet talking about Joba's first night in the rotation than chances are you heard criticism of how the Yankees handled it. You probably heard that its a big distraction or that the Yankees lost on Tuesday because of Joba or that a starter doesn't go 3 innings basically you heard the media throw out a lot of crap.
Before I get into dismantling the arguments of the media I would just like to point back to my post the day after the Yankees announced they were going to move Joba into the starting rotation. This is what I said then:
Basically the only way I can see the Yankees stretching him out is either A) Send him to the minors (this is a miserable idea) or B) Just start him and have him pitch the alloted innings than after his allotted innings just bring in the corresponding long reliever. Will it put your team in some odd spots? Sure. If Kennedy or Igawa or whatever long reliever was any good they would be in the rotation. But at the very least this guarantees that every inning that Chamberlain pitches is a relevant one.
For the purpose of this post I will focus on one man who criticized the move, Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay. Now Michael of course did this on his radio gig because how could he possibly criticize the Yankees during a broadcast but his point was generally that the Yankees should stretch out Joba in the minors and that by doing so in the majors they are taxing the bullpen and creating a major distraction. He also went so far as to say that Joba was the reason the Yankees lost on Tuesday. In typical fashion Michael proves himself to be, well not very bright so let's pick a part every portion of Michael's argument.
By moving him into the starting rotation (which you could argue is or is not a good move) you can't stretch him out in the bullpen. He needs to get used to coming out of the gates in the first inning. He needs to get used to coming into a 0-0 game when the crowd is still entering the stadium. And mostly he needs to get stretched out against live competition and not pitch one inning against at bats and then throw 40 more pitches in the bullpen. That's not simulating a start, that's working out your arm.
Let's undervalue Joba and say that he is currently the 4th or 5th best pitcher on the Yankees roster behind Mo, Wang, Pettitte and perhaps Mussina (who surprisingly doesn't suck this year). Advocating putting Joba in the minors for a month is saying that you do not want one of your best pitchers to contribute to your major league roster for a month because he can't contribute in the typical 5+ inning starters role you would like him to. If he throws 20 innings in the minors that is essentially 20 wasted innings. The Yankees sitting below .500 can not afford to waste innings from one of their best pitchers.
Saying that Joba cost the team the game on Tuesday is simply moronic. The reason why the Yankees lost the game on Tuesday is due to the fact their bullpen sucks. They have no long relievers worth a grain of salt. If they did have any value than the problem would be simplistic. Throw Joba for his specified innings and then bring in that long reliever, think of him as the 5th & 1/2 starter. Saying that Joba should not start is essentially advocating the Yankees to start Kei Igawa instead. He'll give you 3 innings too, just he'll come out of the game down 5.
And finally the distraction that this is all creating. To me this is the only argument with any validity. The media talks about this non stop and perhaps the Yankees are sick of answering questions about Joba. But if it wasn't Joba it would be something else. This is New York City, this is the Yankees they always have distractions. They always have media scrutiny. This is no different than any other year and certainly not more than the A-Rod criticism in its prime stages. To me any one that argues that this is creating a significant detrimentally distraction for the roster is completely blowing this out of proportion.
Argue whether or not moving Joba from the Bullpen to the Starting Rotation is a good idea or not all you want but how they are doing it is the right way to go about it. They need Joba, one of their best pitchers, to throw meaningful innings on the major league level. By starting him every inning, every pitch he throws will be a meaningful pitch for the New York Yankees. The consequences of the decision do not closely stack up to the consequences of starting Kei Igawa instead.