Joba to Relieve and Start in 2008?

With Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes, and Kennedy (assuming no trades), does it make more sense to put Joba in the bullpen next year and insert him into the rotation when one of those guys either goes down or is ineffective?

Good, brief analysis on this issue by River Ave. Blues.

My vote:  no.  If the Yanks want Joba in the ‘pen next year, I think you keep him there all year.   If he’s coming in to get 3 batters out during spring training and part of the season (possibly every other game per Joba Rules), I see little upside in putting him into the starter role where he’ll probably have trouble lasting longer than 5 innings.



6 responses to “Joba to Relieve and Start in 2008?

  1. I’m very torn on the issue. My thoughts:

    This proposal somewhat reminds me of the Johan Santana plan, circa 2002. That season, the Twins used Santana out of the bullpen at the beginning of the year, but not as a traditional setup man. Instead, they used him for “mini-starts”, giving him a 4-5 inning assignment once a week until they promoted him to the rotation.

    Based on Olney’s unsubstantiated rumor, however, it doesn’t appear that the Yankees are going about this with the same mindset as the Twins. If anything, it seems as though the Yanks would treat Joba as they did last year — as a bridge to Mariano — and only “return to the rotation sometime in the middle of the season, depending on the Yankees’ needs.”

    Given the point above, I would say that the Yanks are plotting a dangerous course. On the one hand, it’s appropriate to want to protect the organization’s best arm so as not to overtax it. Given that Chamberlain pitched approximately 100 IP in his first professional season, 130-140 IP would seem to be an appropriate cap. On the other hand, will the Yanks be able to wean (sp?) themselves off their best 8th inning bridge since Rivera himself back in 1996? Given baseball’s slavish devotion to formula, I highly doubt it.

    Further, what to make of the idea that Joba’s return to the rotation in 2008 would be based on need? That implicitly says that he won’t return to the rotation in ’08. Would that affect 2009 as well? Would protecting him in 2008 affect his arm strength for 2009 and beyond?

  2. I agree that if Joba is used as he was last year, and is every bit as dominant, the Yankees are never going to move him to the rotation. That’s why the time to start him is now.

  3. “That’s why the time to start him is now.”

    Only if they cap his innings at the appropriate level. We don’t want another Mark Prior on our hands.

    It’s very tricky to figure out how to best deploy Joba. If he is to become the starter people project him to be, I believe he has to be a part of the rotation in 2008.

    If we can get past Olney’s “depending on the Yankees’ needs” bit, maybe we can be optimistic that Joba earns a few starts. Maybe it’s safe to assume that and we’re only splitting hairs because of the words Olney chose? After all, it’s an unsubstantiated rumor. Buster’s been wrong lots of times before…

  4. True that. Moral of the story:

    – Start Joba right away in 2008
    – Limit his innings (not by putting him the the bullpen)

  5. Its laughable that you think the Yanks have a surplus of starters. Mussina is a proven bust. He’ll last until April 13th. Kennedy is no proven anything yet, either. yes, he flew through your system last year, but I’d be a little more concerned about pushing him too hard too early. The kid is 22 and started at A+ last year. To think he’s going to be a solid part of your rotation is extremely positive thinking. Hughes was awesome before his injury, but appears to lost his killer velocity. Does he get it back? Who knows.

    I think you absolutely put Joba in the starting rotation and hope that Windbag Jr is smart enough to ship Hughes and Kennedy to Minny for Johan before their cracks start to show.

  6. Gnopple, John Stevens told me you were a knowledgeable baseball fan. Reading your comment (directly above) disappointed me. In no particular order:

    1) On Hughes “losing” his velocity, I ask you to find me such evidence. Please note that sending me links to what the NY Post or Peter Gammons might say on the subject is not evidence, it is merely a rehashing of “conventional wisdom” which, if uttered frequently enough, becomes truth.

    I would refer you to the following website (below) so that you can see that, even with a torn hamstring and a sprained ankle — which took several months of recovery — Hughes was AVERAGING 92 on his heater.

    2) On Kennedy being unproven, I don’t completely disagree. But you seem to contradict yourself. Both Chamberlain and Kennedy started 2007 in High-A ball and both moved quickly through the system. Why would you “absolutely” put Joba in the rotation but worry about Kennedy? If anything, Kennedy’s arm is more major league ready, based on the number of innings Kennedy pitched in 2007.

    3) On trading for Santana, I’m not sure how that strengthens the Yankee rotation. It makes the rotation more top-heavy, but it doesn’t deepen it in any way. Wang-Pettitte-Mussina-Hughes-Chamberlain-Kennedy vs. Santana-Wang-Pettitte-Mussina-Chamberlain. By clipping Hughes and Kennedy from the roster, the Yanks would be sacrificing roughly 300 IP and would be forced to expect greater output from Mussina and potentially overtax Chamberlain, with only Igawa in reserve.

    The Yanks shouldn’t be motivated to re-empty their farm system now that it is partially-restocked. Santana provides them no guarantees in the playoffs and comes at a substantial price in both prospects and financial cost. The alarmists in the media make the Santana sweepstakes out to be both a golden ticket to the World Series (total fallacy) and another competition between the Yankees and the Red Sox (totally ridiculous). The Yankee offer (Hughes) is far superior to the Red Sox offer (Lester) and if that were not the case, Santana would be in Boston already. That he isn’t tells me that Boston is only in the market to drive up the price and Minnesota isn’t at all interested in the slop Boston is slinging.

    Boston was 2 games better than the Yankees last season, and that was with a career year from Josh Beckett and a mini-renaissance from Curt Schilling. Chamberlain/Hughes/Kennedy’s continued development represents a real threat to Boston and having Santana will only diminish the upward momentum of the Yankee franchise.

    Whatever “cracks” might show, you should worry about those in Boston…namely the rapid aging of Manny Ramirez, the fact that JD Drew is still clogging up a spot in that lineup, and the very real possibility that Jacoby Ellsbury’s value might never be higher than it is right now (.380 SLG in 363 Triple-A AB’s).

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