Pitchers and catchers reported a few days ago, and as expected nothing happened. The beat writers were around to give us updates on who was throwing and who was at the minor league complex working out, but that’s about it. Still, there has to be something to talk about, and it seems the theme of the day is Mariano Rivera and his eventual retirement. It’s a subject no one really wants to think about, yet it’s addressed in a number of the New York papers.
Kat O’Brien opens with an ominous quote: “The end is coming. Sooner or later, it’s going to come.” My only follow-up would be, does this mean the end as in the end of his career, or the end as in the end of days, since we know Mo moonlights as the creator of the universe? Either way it doesn’t bode well for Yankees fans.
Pete Abraham, writing in his newspaper and not on his blog, focuses more on Mo’s injury last year, which started far before most of us imagined. Yet he still managed, despite feeling pain in his sleep, to produce one of the finest years of his career, tallying a WHIP below 0.70. And when it comes to this season, Mo knows he’s ready:
“It will be there,” he said. “It will be there. I don’t have those thoughts in my mind. When I go on the mound, I know that everything is going to be there. And if it’s not there that day, I know that the next time it’s going to be there. I don’t worry about those things.”
Of course, not every story focused on Mo himself. John Harper, who I like a lot less after he wasted my time by writing this article which I would inevitably read, opens up the same old can of worms “On the other hand, the start to spring training provides just as much reason to argue the other way on the Great Joba Debate: starter or reliever?”
Call it a debate if you will, but it is certainly not great. I know there are still some people reading RAB who believe that Joba should be in the pen. We’ve had this argument numerous times, and I feel that the Joba as a starter crew has met the burden of proof dozens of times over. Yet Harper still clamors for Joba to the bullpen, based on something he calls “logic.”
At least Harper invokes the one argument I find remotely acceptable for moving Joba to the pen: “Look at it this way: where would the drop-off without him be more dramatic this season, in the rotation with Phil Hughes as the No. 5 starter, or in the bullpen with Brian Bruney as Rivera’s set-up man?” That’s a well-reasoned, team-need-based argument. But because we can’t answer the question, it’s best for the Yankees to stick to what they’re doing.
They went out this off-season and signed two top of the rotation starters because they didn’t want to guarantee Phil Hughes a rotation spot this spring. I’m assuming nothing has changed between now and then. The Yankees will check out Hughes in Spring Training, obviously, and will have to take some time during the season to determine the drop-off from Joba to him. Similarly, the team will have to evaluate how well Brian Bruney can handle his role. Not only that, but they’ll have a good long look at Mark Melancon and determine how he can fit into the bullpen.
While I applaud Harper for making a reasonable argument, I also scold him for wasting time with it. The Yankees are bringing Joba along as a starter. That’s not going to change unless something else changes first. Spring Training itself should not evoke this debate.Call me when something changes. Even then, chances still are that Joba’s ideal role will be in the rotation.