Kat O’Brien sure is full of conflicting information these days, and it all relates back to that ace in the hole from Nebraska that the Yankees hold.
To recap: At the end of last week, Buster Olney heard that Joba would head to the pen. Then, Newsday’s Kat O’Brien reported that sources within the Yankee organization said that Joba is expected to be in the started rotation. The back and forth continued when O’Brien issued a report that, when you think about it, basically supports Olney’s unsourced report and contradicts O’Brien’s own sources.
One of the concerns for the Yankees as they prepare for 2008 – particularly if they don’t reverse course and nab Johan Santana – is keeping a handle on the innings totals of young pitchers Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy.
The plan is for the three to compete for two spots in the starting rotation in spring training, with Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina likely to fill the other three rotation slots. But not one of the young trio was at or near the 200-inning mark in 2007. That means it will require careful watch to keep them in the rotation (if they earn it) without raising their innings an alarming amount.
According to Yanks GM Brian Cashman, all three of the youngsters will have innings caps, and the Yanks will be creative in their efforts at ensuring that these pitchers do not exceed their innings limits. While O’Brien once again reiterates the Yankee party line concerning Joba’s spot in the rotation, isn’t it obvious how this will shake down?
Chamberlain, Kennedy and Hughes will all pitch rather impressively during Spring Training, and Cashman and Girardi will have to make “a tough choice.” With Mike Mussina somehow guaranteed a spot in the rotation, the Yanks will be “forced” to do what’s best for the team, and Joba will head to the bullpen.
Right now, I don’t buy the line that Joba’s ticketed to the rotation. There are too many convenient excuses in place for the Yanks to use in order to move Joba to the pen. And for the first part of the season, that might not be a terrible move.