Joba The Starter?

It’s been a slow Saturday in the rumor mill so as it grinds down, I thought I’d see where everyone would put Joba Chamberlain next season if you were the Yankees.

Experts and statisticians feel that Joba must be in the rotation because 180 innings of Joba next year is more valuable than around 60.  Frank Neville for The Sporting News thinks "health permitting, [Joba] can be a 20-game winner and rack up 200-plus strikeouts a year."  Now wait, where have we heard that argument before?  Ah yes, with Jonathan Papelbon

Papelbon has become the most dominant closer in the majors with a 13.3 k/9 and I wonder if everyone still feels that 180-200 "starter" innings are as valuable to the Sox as his 56.1 "closer" innings have been.  Nobody seems to be suggesting otherwise!  Most if not all projections have Papelbon slated to close in ’08, not start, and they’re probably right.  With the emergence of Clay Buchholz, the Sox have remained mum.  And fans/reporters don’t seem to bring it up as if Papelbon might overhear and remember that he actually once wanted to start.   Well that story has come full circle and Paps wants to close now.  Chamberlain, meanwhile, seems to be running the same hamster wheel with one major difference:  the Yankees actually have a closer.

It’s an interesting conundrum.  In a way, Mariano Rivera is the reason to put him in the rotation while on the other hand Mariano Rivera is the reason to continue his development in relief.  The presence of Rivera provides reasoning to both keep him in the bullpen to be his successor or move him out because, hey, they already have Rivera.  There’s an obvious divide in thought here.

I’m of the belief that if Todd Jones can close, Rivera is not done.  Therefore Rivera, Luis Vizcaino, and Edwar Ramirez (in due time) plus one or two more effective relievers (and specialists, etc)  would be solid for 2008.  And I think everyone would be impressed by a sudden rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Kennedy, and Joba the Starter.

Posted by: Nat Boyle

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