Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Is Hank right about Joba?

A Steinbrenner stirring up the pot in New York City?

Where have we heard this before?

Only this time it's not George, rather, his son and Yankee co-owner Hank, who told the New York Times that only "an idiot" would keep a guy like Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen as a setup man.

That "idiot" at large, is the Yankees GM Brian Cashman who is paid to see the big picture - which is to ease Chamberlain into the starting roll, at midseason, to save his arm from the rigors of a 200-inning season.

As a fantasy owner, where the fire power of Chamberlain looms ominously on our wire, you have to wonder how this is all going to end.

Personally, I wouldn't move the flame-throwing Chamberlain to the rotation, unless there was a pressing need because of injury or simply lack of effectiveness between Ian Kennedy, Phillip Hughes or Mike Mussina. Obviously, with a combined ERA over 7.00 this year, there has been signs of ineffectiveness. But we're not even out of April.

Chamberlain, as Hank may or may not realize, came out of college with some very sketchy medical records. Those red flags dropped him into the supplemental round, where the Yankees took him in 2006. An increased workload would only increase the chances of Chamberlain breaking down.

As it is now, Chamberlain is not just a cult hero in Yankees Stadium (check video below), but he's also an extremely effective bridge to Mariano Rivera and until the Yankees feel comfortable with a replacement, Chamberlain can be an impact in 70-75 games this year, or about triple the number of starts he would make.

Fantasy owners, remember that even if Hank gets his way, the Yankees would have to send Chamberlain to the minors to stretch his arm out, which would take 3-4 weeks before he would reappear in the rotation.

Some scouts compare Chamberlain's array of pitches to Johan Santana, with four nasty pitches, although as an 8th-inning guy, you rarely see anything but his 100-mph heater.

For now, Cashman is holding his ground. Chamberlain's staying in the bullpen.

Chamberlain makes for a nice pickup, if you have a bench spot in your league, or if the infamous "holds" is a category. In AL-only and deep mixed leagues, he's probably long gone.

And if this Steinbrenner-Cashman feud continues, the same could be said for the Yankees GM. Especially if the the pinstripes don't deliver a World Series title soon.


  • Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez is nursing a sore hamstring and while he's scheduled to rejoin the Yankees in Chicago today, he likely won't play. The Yankees haven't ruled out a DL trip. His wife in Miami is due to deliver their second child any day now, so those of you in daily leagues will need to look for an alternative this week.
  • Red Sox SP Clay Bucholz continued his on-again, off-again season, pitching 6 scoreless innings against the Rangers. He struggled in his first and third outings. Perhaps a little worrisome for fantasy owners is Bucholz was lit up on the road and dominated at home. I'm not calling him Ervin Santana East quite yet, but for now, owners may want to bench him away from Fenway.
  • Astros CF Michael Bourn picked up his 12th and 13th stolen bases against San Diego Monday night and is on pace to swipe over 100 this year. I wouldn't flat out tell you to sell high here, but with a .216 average, you have to wonder how long he'll keep that leadoff job in Houston. Just like free candy from a faulty vending machine, enjoy it while it lasts.
  • Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez hit his 6th HR. After dropping him in my preseason rankings to near the end of the first round, because the Marlins lineup sans Miguel Cabrera was supposed to be weak, I'm starting to think I was wrong about Hanley. The way his power keeps developing, Hanley may soon join the elusive 40/40 club, which coming from a SS, would make him the best fantasy chip in the land, regardless of what uniform he wears.
  • Chase Utley. (explitive of your choice). This is starting to get absurd.
  • Arizona OF Eric Byrnes shaved his mustache after going hitless on Sunday against the Giants. Byrnes, who ragged on himself during his Saturday XM show "Hustle," because he can't grow facial hair, decided not to shave during his 14-game hitting streak. With no impediment on his upper lip, the clean-shaven Byrnes started a new hitting streak with a 2-run HR Monday night.
  • Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki went 0-for-5 and is now hitting a robust .165. If you're an owner, the lowball offers are probably flooding in right now. But don't sell too low. Tulo's a slow starter (.244 last April) and there's too much talent there. If you need a decent SS, now's the time to pounce. But it might take an Orlando Cabrera or Edgar Renteria to land the preseason top-5 shortstop.


Anonymous said...

I think everyone agrees that Hank is an idiot. He hasn't said anything yet as an owner that makes you like this guy. I have a feeling we're dealing with George Jr. (of the 80's and earlier this decade)...only this guy doesn't really understand baseball.

You could argue this point for hours, but a few things to remember...
1.) Chamberlain only really uses 2 pitches now. Because that's all he's needed...so his other 2 good pitches still need developing.
2.) Joba brings an intensity and stability to the bullpen that will be gone faster than you can say "Jeff Nelson."
3.) Joba is going to be less effective when he has to see guys 2-3 times in a game. They will figure him out A 100mph heater is nice, but you can't use it for 6 innings (just ask the Cubs how that worked out for them).
4.) Joba is what every fan wants in a closer and is being primed to be the perfect replacement for Mo. Every Yankee fan sees it, so why can't Hank?
5.) I think Joba may want to be a starter for simple reason of the Benjamins...he isn't going to get a big deal if he only the "set-up man". I don't blame him, but he's got to see his long-term value as a closer.

I for one am glad I have him on my fantasy team (holds), but will hate to see him down in Wilkes-Barre for 3 weeks in July. Do us a favor Hank and think about how many of these games when you don't have great pitching (which we don't have) that we're going to lose when we have no bridge to Mariano. We have a good offense (or at least they should warm up), so you need someone to hold those 9-7 leads in the 8th. Just look at the teams of the 90's and why they had success. Doesn't take an idiot to figure that one out. (PS...it's called a 7-inning game)

Anonymous said...

Hank just needs Castanza to get him a calzone like his dad.