Expect Joba to start in the bullpen

When George bought the Yanks for $10 million
The Scranton 2007 edition of 'Where Are They Now?'

This is something that many of us simply do not want to hear. Yet, it’s going to be a topic explored throughout Spring Training. Yes, those of us who stand adamantly in favor of Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation are going to have to deal with him coming out of the bullpen, at least temporarily. Brian Cashman even says so:

“We’ll prepare him as a starter, get through spring training and then determine where he starts,” Cashman said. “He has an innings limit and won’t go start to finish as a starter. That won’t be allowed.

“It wouldn’t be safe, that’s our belief. You have to put the brakes on and make sure he stays healthy.”

As long as everyone stays healthy — far from a certainty, of course — the Yanks will enter the season with six starters: Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes, Kennedy, Joba. While there have been whispers of starting Kennedy in the minors, that makes little sense. He is poised to pitch more innings than either Joba or Hughes, so he’d fit best into the long-term rotation plan. He could go wire-to-wire as a starter.

There are options for both Hughes and Chamberlain. They could fit into some kind of faux six-man rotation, where Pettitte and Wang pitch every fifth day, and the other four battle for the three remaining spots. That could duly serve to limit the wear and tear on Mike Mussina — or just limit the number of poor innings he throws.

As we know, there are probably four bullpen spots up for grabs beyond those held down by Mo, Farns, and LaTroy. Yes, we could certainly see Joba slot in here. However, if this is done, it should not be as an 8th inning guy.

(Insert angry masses here, asking me sarcastically if I think Kyle Farnsworth should pitch that inning.)

The problem with inserting Joba into the 8th inning is comfort. We got real comfortable with him in that role last year, to the point where his previous accomplishments as a starter — you know, the entire reason he got a shot in the bullpen — were ignored. People saw him as the missing bullpen link for the Yanks. to the masses, he’s the Mike Stanton we’ve been missing.

So how do the Yanks best utilize him in the bullpen, while retaining the overall goal of inserting him into the starting rotation? I’ve said this before in comment threads, but I’m presenting it for all to see: Johan Santana in 2003.

Santana started 2003 in the bullpen, though not as the primary setup man to closer Eddie Guardado. Actually, that was the job of one LaTroy Hawkins — who posted a disgusting 1.86 ERA over 77.1 innings, walking only 15 goddamn guys all year. So Santana was deployed strategically. For his first four appearances of the year, nine innings of presumably warm-up ball, he came in fresh to start an inning. However, after that, he was usually called upon with men on base in sticky situations.

Then, on May 9, he was finally handed the ball as a starter, and pitched five innings of scoreless ball. He then went back to the bullpen for another month, getting the ball again on June 7, giving up one run over six innings — good enough to get the next start on June 13, when he also pitched excellently. After a few more relief appearances, he took the ball on July 11th, and never returned to the bullpen again.

Santana ended the season with 158.1 innings, a total I’m sure the Yankees brass would be thrilled with. He added another 7.2 IP in the playoffs — if you’ll remember, it was two starts against the Yanks in which he gave up six runs total.

So of course, if the Yanks plan to go deep into the playoffs, they’ll have to tweak Minnesota’s plan a bit. Joba probably wouldn’t hit the rotation full-time until late-late July or early August. This is 1) because of the playoff implications and 2) because he’d presumably pitch more frequently out of the pen than Johan did (He pitched in 27 games through July 11 as a reliever).

If the Yanks can commit to this, then I am fine with Joba starting the season in the pen. The team is going to have to get creative with his usage this year, and I think this is the best possible solution. However, I think that sticking him in the 8th inning role will make it all the more difficult to remove him from the bullpen.

The first step in solving this problem is to not allow yourself to become attached to him in any one role. This applies to him as a starter, too. He might hit some bumps in the road. If those bumps are serious, perhaps the Yanks should consider moving him back to the pen for the rest of the 2008 season. But that’s something we can address in August.

Observations of Johan’s 2003

Before I wrap up, I’d like to point out some things I noticed about Johan with the Twins in 2003. First, he pitched better as a starter. Over 110.1 innings, he posted a 2.85 ERA with 109 strikeouts and just 27 walks. As a reliever, he pitched to a 3.56 ERA over 48 innings, striking out 60 and walking 20.

In relief, his worst outings were those in which he pitched the longest. He hadn’t allowed a run until April 26, where he allowed two in 2.2 innings. Then again, he had pitched four innings on April 10 (against the Yanks), allowing no runs and striking out eight. But he had problems with longer relief outings later on, giving up four runs in three innings on May 15, three runs in 1.1 innings on June 27, and four runs over three innings on July 5, his final relief appearance of the year.

He did hit some bumps as a starter, too. Five runs over 5.1 innings on July 23, and then another five runs in 5.2 innings in his next start. And then he let up seven runs in four innings on September 5. Other than that, though, he was brilliant, hitting double-digit strikeouts in consecutive starts — and one of them was in just six innings. He preceded those starts by striking out eight over eight innings, allowing just four hits and walking one while giving up no runs.

Clearly, this guarantees nothing. But it’s an apt comparison, and one I think the Yanks can benefit from greatly.

When George bought the Yanks for $10 million
The Scranton 2007 edition of 'Where Are They Now?'
  • Mr. Yankee!

    Why is everyone against Joba in the bullpen? Unless you believe the starting rotation is garbage and they NEED Joba, having him in the bullpen is a blessing most teams wish they had. I agree Joba will pitch more innings as a starter and you’ll get more out of his arm. However, that also vastly increases the injury risk, and for a pitcher like him I think this is worth considering. Additionally, if you think the starting rotation can handle the load, Joba is worth more to the Yankees as a late inning reliever in the playoffs, where he can impact every game. Joba’s already proven he can be a successful reliever and should be able to take over Rivera’s role when he retires. Now if your pitching stinks and you don’t think it can get to you the playoffs, I agree that Joba is more useful as a starter, but I think his relative value is greater as a reliever. I also believe that IPK will be very good, so take that for what it’s worth.

  • Count Zero

    Good analysis. I’m with you 100% on this. If they anoint him the setup man, not only will it be difficult to pry him out of the role, but he will also get too much high-stress work in the first half — thus decreasing the value of why you put him there in the first place. I would like to see him as a spot starter, occasional reliever.

  • keith

    Why don’t Beckett, Verlander, Sabathia, Halladay, Bedard, Santana, etc, etc,etc come out of the bullpen? What good was Joba in game 1 of the ALDS this year? Stop.

  • Travis

    It’s the old argument that I agree with: If you can throw 200 innings as a starter (eventually), it’s more valuable than 70 innings in the bullpen.

    • TurnTwo

      but you arent going to get 200 innings this year.

      • steve (different one)

        so what do you advise? putting him in the bullpen all year?

        he needs to get to 150 IP this season, SOMEHOW.

        otherwise he’ll NEVER become a starter.

        their current plan seems to make the most sense, as long as you can seperate the emotion out of it when the time comes to take away that security blanket from your bullpen.

        but that’s what needs to happen. he needs to be a starter long term.

        • TurnTwo

          i dont think anyone is arguing against the fact that Joba needs to be in the rotation long term.

          and if i knew the answer, id be the GM or Manager of a ballclub right now. its not an easy situation, and it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to figure it out.

          i think a lot of their decision hinges on the performance of IPK this spring. If he doesnt have a good spring, than Joba HAS to be in the rotation… then you have to figure out how to limit his innings in a different way than if IPK continued to be very effective, in which case you have more options, among which include starting him the bullpen, or even at Scranton.

  • Ivan

    Why won’t the Yanks do with Joba that the Twins did with Liriano in 06 or what the dodgers did with Billingsley. Start him in the bullpen and then if he’s ready let him START. Joba Chamberlain is arguebaly the best pitching prospect in baseball and shouldn’t be bread to be a releiver period.

    • TurnTwo

      did anyone from the Front Office say they werent going to take this approach, or an approach like this?

  • Pag’s Moustache

    As most loyal patrons of this website clamor, Joba has the greatest value to the Yankees long term as a starter. The sheer number of posts demonstrate not only this desire but more importantly fans complete lack of faith in the Yankee brass. Objectively I should point to the streak of playoff births and all-of-sudden ample farm system as proof that maybe, just maybe, there is sound and rational decisions being made. However, I think the issue I have is that given almost unlimited resources and the support of a rabid fan base that is the minimum requirement, not an achievement. It makes no sense to be so conscious of the future (not trading for Santana, severe and appropriate inning caps on the Big Three) but simultaneously putting Joba in a set up role part time in the belief that two months into the season we will not become completely depended on him. Have him pitch long relief till the all-star break then bring him in as a starter. If he stinks, we know he can get it done in the bullpen come October.

  • marc

    i know its the Yankees… but maybe we’re all a little too concerned with 08, when 09-? are euqally important.

  • aroy025

    Mr. Yankee!,

    Joba has proven himself a good reliever in the majors because he was given the opportunity to prove himself as a good reliever in the majors. If 8th inning men are so valuable why aren’t Johan Santana and Josh Beckett pitching as set up men? Joba has the potential to be a front of the line ace and to squander that because you saw him pitch 20 or so innings last season as a reliever should not discount what he did in the minors as a starter. Keep that in mind.

    • TurnTwo

      Joba’s situation is also alot different, in terms of individual talent and team needs, to what Verlander and Bedard and Beckett were introduced to.

  • Malcard89

    I remember in a chat with Kevin Goldstein last year while Joba was dominating in which he said the right plan should be to finish Joba’s 2007 in the bullpen (which he did), and then start him in 2008, but in AAA. I think that makes more sense than putting him in the bullpen. Hughes and Kennedy are each probably going to throw 180 innings, so they can slot in fine at the beginning of the season. Joba can have a short starter’s leash in AAA while refining his curveball, which he wouldn’t get the chance to use in the bullpen because his other two pitches are more than good enough for that role. In June, the Yankees can bring him up permanently as a starter with a 6 inning limit, or maybe none at all.

    • ceciguante

      good point — in-game work on his curve and change could be invaluable. but isn’t his IP cap pretty low this year? would a 5 inning limit in AAA leave him with enough in the tank to take on a full SP role in the bronx by, say, june? i wouldn’t want the yanks to miss out on his contribution for 2 or 3 months just so he could take on a full SP load in the 2d half. wouldn’t he be more valuable working on his 2dary pitches down in the BP, and getting MLB guys out in 2 or 3 inning appearances first, then making the switch?

      btw, anyone know or have a fair estimate of what the IP caps are for the big 3 this year? 180 IP sounds pretty high for hughes, what with his injury last season.

  • jason

    I agree that Joba is a starter long term. Read anyone’s scouting report – two incredible pitches and two more coming along. However, if it preserves his health, I am all for being careful with Joba in the spring and early summber. Another interesting point is that if Joba begins the season in the bullpen this buys the Yankees some time to work out their relief corp for the stretch run and hopefully playoffs. By mid-year the Yankees will have a good read on what they have from the veterans (Hawkins and Farnsworth), kids (Ohlendorf, Veras, Ramirez), and others. It will also allow for some of the top young arms to work their way into the big leagues. By then one of Sanchez, Cox, Melancon, Horne, Kontos, Whelan may be ready to play Joba of ’08. If all else fails there may be players available at the trade deadline.

  • ceciguante

    put joba in the pen to start the season. use him as a mid to late inning guy, rotating with latroy and farnsworth (b/c those guys kinda have to get shots at the later innings, per their contracts/experience). this also works b/c april always seems to have lots of off days, so the load on our SPs will be lighter. then start stretching joba’s outings in preparation to start, hopefully as someone else in the pen has asserted himself. but it has to be based on need — there’s no way to know, today, whether we’ll need joba more in the pen or the rotation in august. either unit could be overperforming or decimated, but both are light on top talent again this year. players and management will have to be flexible in this transition year of sorts.

    i’m choosing to be optimistic that an extra ~250 IP from the big 3 will make a significant difference this year. i’m also hoping that some luck will play out, and SOMEBODY will have an unexpectedly strong year in the BP.

  • Bo

    People are against the idea of Joba in the pen because you dont put ace starters in relief.

    Pretty simple.

    • ceciguante

      i respect that principle, and it is pretty simple. but it’s in a vacuum. every player and team is different, and if our SPs are doing surprisingly well, but latroy / farns / et al are blowing games late in new and exciting ways…to me, that’s cause to rethink half a year of joba’s role. doesn’t mean you condemn him to the BP forever, or that he’ll forget how to start at age ~22, or that he has to be tagged the next mariano. i have a feeling that cash and girardi are more open minded than that. hank?….eh.

      best case scenario, joba’s a SP by june or july b/c the mud in our BP is sticking.

  • CB

    If Joba starts the season in the pen there is a good chance he’ll finish the season in the pen. It’s not the most probably outcome – but it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see it happening.

    Boston is coming off a WS championship. Girardi is in his first season replacing a legend. Hank has already made half baked comments about the yankees needing to win this year. You know the veteran players on the team want to win this year.

    The short term pressure to keep him in the pen from ownership, Girardi’s need to do well his first year, the press and the fans will be intense. If the yankees take Joba out of the pen and Farnsworth or Veras blow a few games how is Andy Pettite or Posada going to react?

    Make no mistake about it – he’s in the pen he’s going to be used to pitch high leverage situations – most likely the 8th. He may not start there but a few Farnsworth failures and there you go.

    Joba will be their best relief pitcher besides Mo and it won’t even be close. Now until he gets a chance to start and dominate people are going to be stuck to the idea that he is “dominant” in the bullpen that he was “born for the role”, etc. All that garbage. Look at the comments Gossage made about Joba being a reliever at heart, etc.

    Joba has the best stuff on the entire staff right now. He could be the shut down ace they need so desperately to win again.

    Game 1 in the playoffs who do you want to have the ball in his hand against Sabathia or Becket or Lackey? I’d take my chances on Joba.

    But if he winds up in the pen for this entire year – while it may help the yankees short term – it is a major problem long term. Out of the pen he’ll throw 70-80 innings this year. That will be less than what he threw last year! If he only throws 70 innings this year we’ll be in exactly the same situation at the start of next season – Joba will have an innings cap of 150 – what do we do – start him in the bull pen or put him in the rotation?

    Now I know they say he’ll only be in the pen for part of the season but I can just see that plan falling apart quickly after a few blown leads.

    For a very good analysis of why Joba should definitely be in the rotation see Steve Goldman’s recent take on the pinstripe blog (entry for monday Jan 21):


  • Bo

    They just have to find a way to get him to 160 innings. Which I think they got covered and I think they’ll take the Johan route.

  • Jeff

    I think the post which quoted Cashman’s words were pretty straight forward… Joba can’t log enough innings to go a whole season as a starter (which is the role they intend for him) so he starts in the pen, where quite frankly they need him right now.
    This is a good move to stabalize the team a bit more in the early part of the season. They should be able to give Joba a couple of long relief outings with plenty of rest between then a short start and work from there. If this gets done around the all star break I don’t see what the major problem would be.
    I hope we get lucky and Sanchez can pick up where Joba left off. Sanchez is a big guy that could bring a lot of heat if he can just get himself healthy.

  • Bo

    Everyone knows his future is in the rotation. That future is prob August. But they won’t put 3 rookies who are all on pitch counts into the rotation. Especially when you get a 250 game winner as the 6th starter.

  • Rob_in_CT

    I read Cashman’s comments to say that Joba will do some starting and some relieving. Beyond that, it’s not clear what the plan is (if they even have a plan at this point). So he coulds start the year as a starter and transition to the bullpen (seems to me it’s easier to go from starting to relief than the other way ’round), start in the ‘pen and move to the rotation (doesn’t make sense to me), or something even more creative (JobaPhil for 4th starter!).

  • Patch

    you guys gonna update the “save the three” t-shirts with the new numbers?

  • mustang

    First, we don’t know if Joba is a “ace starter” we do know he his a great relief pitcher. Has anyone here seen what are pen looks like right now without Joba in it. Bad is not even the word. If Kennedy turn out to be what we think he is then Joba might be better in the pen. I agree that a ace starter is better than and ace closer/ relief, but you have to look at need here. With the Mariano era coming to end and other young starters in our system I don’t see anyone other than Joba that can keep the closer role as strong as it has been. Remeber guys Mariano wanted to be a starter too before he found his true calling.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      But Mariano had only one pitch. Joba has two excellent pitches and two currently average ones.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        Three excellent pitches and one above-average one. His curveball is filthy, better than his slider. He just used the slider in relief because it worked better of his fastball in short outings.

    • steve (different one)

      Has anyone here seen what are pen looks like right now without Joba in it.

      no, and neither have you.

      the bullpen could be just fine. you have no idea.

      it’s ridiculous to call it horrible before the season even starts.

  • maximumpotential

    6man rotation is the key. Wang & Pettite 1-2. then figure you need 600in from the last 3 slots. 4 guys, 150in each. work the rotation in 5 week cycles:

    wk1: Wang, Pettite, Joba, Hughes, Kennedy
    wk2: Wang, Pettite, Moose, Hughes, Kennedy
    wk3: Wang, Pettite, Joba, Moose, Kennedy
    wk4: Wang, Pettite, Joba, Hughes, Moose
    wk5: Wang Pettite, Joba, Hughes, Kennedy

    what they need is lefty reliever.

  • http://aroundthemajors.blogspot.com/ aroundthemajors

    Without question I believe Joba should start. Mussina won’t last long in the rotation, and a rotation with the big three, in my opinion, would be dominant by the end of the year. I just hope the inning limits don’t screw us too much.


  • The Fallen Phoenix

    mustang, let me posit a hypothetical to you.

    Let us assume that you are looking to buy a $50 CD player. You need a CD player, and that $50 CD player is the best one available to you. Now, let us assume that you have a generous benefactor, a cash man, if you would, who is willing to spot you the $50 you need for your CD player. However, he decides to offer you a choice: he says you can have a $50 bill, which would fit your need for a CD player, *or*, he says, he can offer you a $100 bill, which doesn’t precisely fit your needs, but certainly seems to be pretty damned valuable.

    Now, you’ll stop me and say, “but that hypothetical [analogy] doesn’t really work, since bills are liquid, and I can turn that $100 into a $50 CD player no problem.” I concede, it’s not a perfect analogy. But this is the sort of situation we’re in with Joba Chamberlain: sure, we are in need of a $50 bill, for whatever reason, and Joba can certainly offer those precise services, but he can also be a $100 bill, and that’s just more valuable, period.

    Of course…to take it a step further, if Joba’s potential is really an ace starter, along the lines of a top-five pitcher in the AL…are you really going to say the Yankees don’t have a need for that?

    • Mr. Yankee!

      Your analogy doesn’t hold. The fact is the Yankees may not need Joba in the bull pen. If they don’t get screwed with injuries, an 8th inning Joba is better than a 4th or 5th starter who is an uncertainty.

      • Mr. Yankee!

        Sorry I mis-spoke… the Yankees may not need Joba in the rotation is what I meant to say.

        • steve (different one)

          what team doesn’t need a potential #1 starter? that just doesn’t make sense.

          • Mr. Yankee!

            Steve, are you an idiot? You are right… what team doesn’t need a #1. However, you are talking about a guy who has started what, 1 game over AA? You don’t know what he is… he could flame out as a starter, or more likely be a #3 or 4. That’s a reasonable assumption. Given that, what’s more valuable, a # 3 or 4 starter (which Joba will likely be), or a shut down set up man?

            • steve (different one)

              hence the word “potential”.

              but yes, i am an idiot. no one is debating that.

              what is up for debate is that it is “likely” that Joba will be a #3/4 starter.

              if it is “likely” that Joba Chamberlain is a #3/4 starter, than there will never be a pitching prospect that will be projected higher than a back of the rotation starter. Joba is the #1 pitching prospect in all of baseball.

              if Joba isn’t a potential #1 starter, no one will ever be.

              • Mr. Yankee!

                Sorry Steve I was a bit harsh, shouldn’t have called you an idiot. But in all seriousness, Joba hasn’t started above AA. This year it is not unreasonable to say that the #1 prospect in baseball will project to a 3 or 4 in the Yankees rotation. Do you honestly think a pitcher who hasn’t pitched above AA will outperform Petitte, Wang, Hughes, and IPK? Even if Joba is able to outperform 2 of them, he’s still only a #3. For this year, is it worth it to have a #3, or a shut down 8th inning guy? I say the latter, and that’s my reasoning.

                • steve (different one)

                  right, but that is extremely shortsighted. yes, Joba will likely be a #3-4 in 2008. and with those innings under his belt, he could be a #2 in 2009, and a lights out ace in 2010.

                  if you keep him in the bullpen for all of 2008, he will be in the exact same boat next year. frankly i am a bit surprised how anyone can miss this crucial and extremely obvious point.

                  you have essentially committed him to be a reliever for the rest of his career, which is a trememdous waste.

                  so yes, he *could* have more value in 2008 relieving.

                  but this isn’t about just 2008. it’s about 2009-2015.

                  looking at things one season at a time is a horrible way to run a team.

                  • Mr. Yankee!

                    No, I do not believe it it short-sited. I think Joba could make the transition next year. I do not believe he is dedicated to being a bull pen guy the rest of his career, why do you think this? Convince me that he cannot make it to the rotation next year if he’s in the bullpen this year and I’ll agree with your initial point.

  • maximumpotential

    i think Joba is an ace, along the Beckett, Santana, lines. just not yet. think of him as our Verlander (but better IMO). i think the 5 week/6 man rotation i proposed is the best option this year. ’09: Joba, Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, veteran inning eater.

  • mustang

    I totally understand where you are coming from The Fallen Phoenix, but you win in this league with a strong pen ie the Red Sox. Lets say Joba starters and is good or better and leaves in the 7th inning with a 4 to 2 lead. What are the chance of him winning that game with Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins coming in relief. Forget Mariano you wouldn’t even see him. I can put anyone of our starters in the same situation with the same results. When we won we won with good pitching and a strong pen. However, if guys are ok with watching Joba pitch lights out every 5 days and watch the pen blow up everyday, then ok. Lets not get caught up in Joba mania guys 24 innings and half a season. That’s all.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Dude, the consensus before last year was that the Sox pen sucked. Basically, they got a dark horse in Okajima, and then some help from vets and youngsters. I posted about this last week.

      Point is, our pen now is as strong as the Sox’s was projected to be heading into last year, if not stronger.

  • TurnTwo

    i know its blasphemy, but if everyone is so hell bent on keeping Joba in the rotation, is it really out of the question to think about starting him in Scranton?

    that was the plan for Hughes last year, until the ridiculous amount of injuries forced the organization’s hand… keep him stretched out, but limit innings at the AAA level so he’s ready to go for mid-end of May.

    i’m not saying this is what i would do, but for all those who think he’d wind up getting stuck in the bullpen, is this a better option in your minds?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      My beef with that is that minor league innings aren’t as competitive as their major league counterparts. So while you have the positive of him using all four of his pitches, you really don’t know how hard he’s taxing his arm.

  • Chip

    The whole 6 man rotation just won’t happen. These guys need to get on a system and stick with it. Cashman was pretty clear that Joba will start the year in the bullpen and move into the starters role mid season when they feel they don’t have to worry about inning counts. I too am concerned that he may not use his curve as much if he’s the 8th inning man which is why I see him pitching the 6th and 7th either a few runs ahead or behind so he can throw his curve and change more to get a feel for it and doesn’t think he has to strike everybody out.

    Mussina will do fine at the beginning of the season doing his 5th starter thing of a 4.50 ERA or so. Even if he can’t take it, you still have Karstens and Rasner who can hold down a 5th starter gig for awhile.

  • maximumpotential

    going into last season the Sox ‘pen wasn’t looked at as strong. lots of times a good ‘pen comes from luck, throwing arms out there and seeing what sticks. Yanks have plenty of arms to do that with. sure it would be nice to have that Gordon/Joba guy to know is going to lock down the 8th, but that guy might be here already: Bruney still has the potential to dominate (’06) if he can find his control, Albaladejo has a live arm, and lets not forget Olendorf, Ramirez, Britton, Sanchez. any one of those guys “could” turn out to be top-notch relievers. only problem is, they’re all right-handed lol. Wright and Henn? SCARY

  • maximumpotential

    “Chip says:
    February 11th, 2008 at 2:04 pm (Reply)

    The whole 6 man rotation just won’t happen. These guys need to get on a system and stick with it. ”

    i presented a system to stick with that gives all 4 150in. plus like you said, there’s still Rasner and Karstens to fill to holes.

  • maximumpotential

    anybody think Igawa has a chance to stick as the lefty out the ‘pen? if i remember correctly, didn’t he pitch better from the stretch last year?

  • Bo

    The less I think of Igawa the better.

  • mustang

    Come on maximumpotentia look at the names that your putting out there. They are all SCARY . I do agree with both your points especially on the lefties. But Bruney was real bad choice for potential to dominate. I think we are going to find out real quickly that we aren’t going to have a choice but to keep Joba in the pen.

    PS- Please can know one bring up the bull pen list again i just ate. LOL
    Wow…Sanchez can’t even pitch until May… SCARY is right….

  • mustang

    I second that Bo

  • Bo

    Building a pen doesnt come thru luck. It comes by talent and having at least one legit shutdown guy. Which we have in Mo.

    The Sox pen last yr was considered good because of two guys. Papelbon and Okie. Timlin was hurt most of the yr. Gagne was awful. Delcarmen was never brought into a pressure situation.

  • mustang

    Your right Bo. That all i want is two guys Joba and Mo. Game over. Just like 1996

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Yanks record when leading after the 5th inning, 2007: 73-9
    When leading after the 6th inning: 80-9
    When leading after the 7th inning: 81-4

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Also remember that Mo was responsible for one of those four losses when we were leading after the 7th.

    • bkight13

      It seems to me that getting the lead before the 6th or 7th inning is the key. That is why a starter is much more valuable. How about having Joba serve as Mussina’s long man for the 1st half of the season, then let him start the 2nd half. They have to get him 150 IP this year somehow.

  • mustang

    But now instead of having it for 1 year i can have for 3 years until Mo retires.

  • Michael

    Im new to the site and think its great. I dont know much about this but just wanted to throw my (humble) opinion out there:

    Why not start the season with Joba in the starting rotation and IPK in AAA?

    Open the season with the following rotation:


    Isn’t there usually less work for a 5th starter in April anyway? Joba can be a starter and keep the innings down simultaneously and the bonus is that Joba (with inning restrictions) would be followed immediately by innings eater Wang so the pen wont be over taxed. IPK can work out what little he still has to, and maybe get some rest by facing AAA-level competition (if there are still any innings concerns, though the winter league IP number seems to have him right at the +30 mark, i think). Karstens or Igawa (hoping) should be fine in the long relief role. Having IPK start in AAA would also allow Girardi and Eiland to use Kennedy’s roster spot for another arm from the Ohlendorf/ Veras/ Albaladejo/ Marquez/ Horne/ Britton /Patterson /Ramirez/Henn group. If Mussina cant hack it initially, bring up IPK and we’re no worse off then we would be under the other scenarios being thrown around.

    Then midseason, shift Joba to the pen and bring up IPK to the rotation which looks like this headed into the homestretch:


    Our bullpen is strengthened headed into the most crucial parts of the season, our rotation is fresh with Kennedy having faced AAA-level competition and all three of the young pitchers should be where we want their innings to be. You could even switch Kennedy and Hughes if Hughes’ innings are getting to be a problem allowing him to take a day off when there isnt a need for the 5th starter (as i said i dont know much but dont some pitchers like Wang and Pettitte not like an extra day off because it throws them off their schedule?)

    Is this possible? Anyway…just my thoughts.

  • jason

    I agree Bo. I now live in enemy territory but have been a lifelong Yankee fan.
    All of Boston was worried about the pen last year – they were hoping Brendan Donnelly or JC Romero would step up. Okajima comes in and the Boston pen is considered great. Okajima wasn’t even good in Japan prior to last year. It was from Back to front Papelbon, Okajima, then a variety of fill-ins who the Yankees can match.
    The Yankees have a roughly equal (for the 2008 season – not lifetime achievement) closer. If one person steps up as the set-up man, the Yankees will then have more than enough arms to have a very strong bullpen.
    In my opinion we have the first half of the year to see who will step up – Farnsworth – who has done it before under Girardi; Hawkins – who has had a year or two in the past as an absolute shutdown guy; Ohlendor or Veras or Bruney – who have shown flashes but also have show warts; Ramirez or Patterson or Melancon or Cox or Sanchez or Horne or Kontos or McCutheon or plug in several other options – who may emerge as Joba ’08.
    Joba may keep the seat warm while a longer term solution emerges.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Boston’s bullpen did well last year in no small part due to the success of their starting rotation. Thus, their ‘pen wasn’t overexposed. They also got a little lucky with Okajima.

    What the Yankees need, more than anything, is the starters to be healthy and effective so the bullpen isn’t needed in the 4th freaking inning.

    As for the non-Mo bullpen… Farnsworth is irritating as hell, but he’s not entirely awful (I loathe watching him pitch, but I’m not objective with him). Hawkins is ok, but any advantage from leaving Coors is cancelled out by the defensive difference (huge) and joining the big-boy league. Our hope, I think, must be placed in the cadre of unknowns. Edwar. Ohlendorf. Horne. Bruney (this would involve lucking into a spate of decent control). Veras (see Bruney).

    It certainly *could* go very badly. But I don’t see any way around it that makes sense for the team. Restricting Joba to “set up man” means ~80 innings of work, which sets back his development as a starter. Unacceptable.

  • maximumpotential

    jason, you summed up the pen perfectly

  • jason

    Thank you maximumpotential.
    And one more thing – don’t underestimate Joe Girardi’s influence. Part of the reason Boston was as good as they were, is because they had a clear and consistent plan.
    The Yankees, and some of this was a result of poor choices, did not quite have that same clarity in their actions. Most people (just ask Mussina) thrive when they know what is expected.
    I really do think that Cashman and Girardi will work very well together and can map out a successful plan not only for the bullpen but for Joba as well.
    Give these guys a bit of credit – didn’t they (Cashman) put Joba in the pen last year. It may take some time to play out, and unforseen events may cause a change in path, but I am willing to give them at least until April 2nd (or just maybe a bit longer).

  • Old Ranger

    Joba is a starter at the beginning of the season, one can’t start in the BP then SEMLESSLY go to starting. One has to stretch out their innings going from BP to starter. If he is to be a starter next year, he needs to get at minimum of 150 ins. this year(as others have pointed out).
    If the other pitchers work out well, he can go to the BP for the playoffs…if needed. I would keep him in the starting rotation …if he is one of the 3 best pitchers we have at the time…that’s when we need him the most. All will play out this ST. What do we most…a shut down starter! If he can be close to that (as others think, not me) then he has to start in the playoffs.
    Don’t forget, we will use 6/8 starters this year anyhow, just like everyone else. He will also be skipped over on rain-outs, and as needed to keep innings down. Joe/Cash know what they are doing, they won’t let it get away from them. 27/08.

  • bkight13

    If they keep Joba under 50-60 IP during the first half, using him as the long man(esp. for Moose’s short outings) and spot starter, then they can easily stretch him out in August so he can be ready for the pennant race.

  • maximumpotential

    /\ that would be nice and ideal indeed

  • zack

    Just remember, last season started out with our starters unable to go more than 5 innings consistently, thus overtaxing the BP early on. There is an equal possibility of that again this year with Moos, IPK, and Hughes (well, maybe not equal, but still a possibility). That poses two problems. 1) Joba won’t be able to help very much there if the Joba rules still exist, which they should to a degree, and 2) the BP will suck no matter what if it gets overexposed as it did last season, thus the added importance of a good rotation. Joba in the pen is only as good as the Yanks having the lead…

  • Bob

    The idea of Wang and Pettitte pitching every fifth day no matter what is a wonderful idea, because over the course of the season that gives the young pitchers much more rest and lowers the pressure on them to perform. So much is being made about the limit of Joba, but Phil is going to be about the same. Neither of them pitched a lot of innings last year. I would start the season by piggybacking them; Joba 6-Phil 3, Phil 6-Joba-3, etc.. Added to keeping Wang and Pettitte on a consistent fifth day schedule, this approach will keep their innings down and also theoretically give the bullpen a day off once or twice a week. If they do this for 20 starts, they will have each pitched only 90 innings. At that point, both can be added to the rotation with work load to spare in the face of a late season run and/or playoff starting assignments. They will also both end up pitching 140 innings or so and be set for increasing that total to 170 in 2009 and 200 in 2010.

  • pete

    I think the key here is to remember how bad torre was at handling the bullpen. Maybe for the innings limit it would be better to start joba in the pen, but it’s important to remember that while there may not be another joba or mo on the roster in terms of bullpen dominance, there are about 15 guys between the ML and AAA rosters who can do a good job in the bullpen with regular use. The reason they all seemed to have ERAs around infiniti is because torre had them all pitching on some strange lunar cycle that saw maybe one or two appearances in a row and then a couple of weeks off. If Girardi is smart, our bullpen could be excellent even without joba, and the rotation with joba could be dominant. Because of the surplus of bullpen arms, he could limit joba to 80 pitches per start, barring a no-hitter or something like that, and could even limit hughes and mussina to 90 or 95. By the end of the year, if Girardi is smart and patient, we will have a dominant bullpen of Mo being set up by Sanchez, Ramirez, Melancon, and Wordekemper.

    • steve (different one)

      amen pete.

  • Realist

    To setup or not to setup…………that is the question!

    Aaaarghhh! I can’t see how he could setup in the first half and have the stamina needed to start in the second half? It is backwards logic but sometimes it works?

    How many days til pitchers and catchers??????


    Joba will be fine no matter where he pitches. I think we need more help out of the pen, and we know he can and will lock down the 8th to build the bridge to Mo. We’ve got some depth in the rotation, so I’d like to see Joba out of the pen for one more year.

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