The crazy eighth

THE EIGHTH INNING IS JUST ANOTHER INNING UNLESS YOU’RE JOBA CHAMBERLAIN
In today’s New York Post, Joel Sherman suggests that we’ve been on the right path about Joba Chamberlain being no lock for the eighth inning:

As for Chamberlain, the road is not quite as clear. There is not quite as much trust in Chamberlain as a pitcher or a person. He is not going to just be handed the eighth inning.

In fact, the more and more I talked with Yankee people the more and more I got the vibe that Joe Girardi either will mix and match the eighth inning by using lefty Damaso Marte in spots or go with Chan Ho Park … Or maybe there fixation with Park is just one more motivational tool to get the full attention of Chamberlain.

Sounds ominous. What I wonder is this: if the Yankees had such doubts about Chamberlain’s ability to focus, why did they think he would be able to pitch through an ever-changing set of rules? Second question: Were the conflicting opinions regarding Joba’s future that came out of the Yankees organization a reflection of the annoyance that some feel with him?

ONE LAST JOBA BIT FOR AWHILE
A reader (I apologize for not naming you—I seem to have misplaced the note) asks if the real issue with Jobakins is the rotator cuff tendinitis he suffered back in 2008, and if his velocity has been down since then maybe our expectations need to be realigned. I hesitate to give this position a complete endorsement because I haven’t tracked his velocity start by start since that moment in August. He also pitched fairly well that September, albeit in relief. In addition, if the injury was more serious than the team let on, how was it he came back in a month?

Until we see him get a good sample of work under his belt this season, this is all just useless speculation. Joba is Joba is Joba, but we don’t know what that actually means yet.

GRANDERSON IN CENTER…
…Is probably the biggest bit of non-news of the spring, especially since it’s something the Yankees can revisit at any time. We’re not talking about the direct heir to Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle here; it’s not a ceremonial position. Brett Gardner will cover a lot of ground in left field and not be forced to stress his arm with the big heave from deep center, so that’s a positive. Granderson won’t be Classic-Model Andruw Jones in center, but he’ll be more than good enough.

The real question about Granderson is whether he can make any progress against left-handers. Right now the Yankees are talking about their only platoon (and a half-hearted one at that) being Gardner and Marcus Thames in left. They will probably need right-handed help in center as well, but they’ll give Granderson a chance to show that things have changed at 29. Hope springs eternal and in most cases is eternally dammed. That said, it’s not like the club has any great platoon options right now, so Granderson will get some rope. It seems unlikely that a defensively viable right-handed outfielder will be cut today… This is the main reason that the Yankees couldn’t go with Gardner in center, a slightly more advantageous defensive alignment, at least based on small-sample impressions—Thames can barely play left, so he’s not going to be a center field platoon guy, and the club didn’t want to send Granderson bouncing between the two positions…

Heck, it was good enough for Babe Ruth. He split every season shifting from left field to right field and back again. Imagine if the stress held down his hitting… But no, it was his idea.

MORE FROM ME
Dead Player of the Day No. 4 is up (no sub required).

• I’ll be live-chatting today today at 1 p.m. Open to all, get your questions in any time.

Wholesome Reading is up to date, with more to come (Warning: politics, baseball scouts).

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