The irrepressible Michael Kay brought up something that Jorge Posada said while being interviewed for YES' Centerstage: "I don't see [Joba] as a starter." To top that off, both John Flaherty and Al Leiter agreed with Posada. To paraphrase Flaherty: (1) 'As a catcher, I want a great pitcher who can pitch everyday. (2) His ERA shows he's better as a reliever. (3) He also seems too fired up to start. (4) The tendinitis proves he can't handle starting.'
Let's refute these one by one.
1) If pitching everyday was so great, why not make Chien-Ming Wang a reliever? Or better yet, sign CC Sabathia to be the set-up guy! He'd only pitch 100 innings max, but he could pitch in every other game.
This is wrong on several levels, as I'm sure you can tell by the absurdity of making a front line starter a reliever. That's what Joba was when he started (65.1 ip, 60 h, 25 bb, 74 k, 2.76 ERA). He'll pitch in fewer games, but far more innings. The top relievers nowadays pitch 80-90 innings, while the top starters pitch 250 innings. So a starter will have an impact on thrice as many at-bats - in other words, a starter is three times more important than a reliever. The convincing moment should have been the 1-0, seven inning shutout Joba pitched in Boston.
2) The ERA comment is just dumb. Every single pitcher in MLB would fare better as a reliever than a starter. Does anyone think Mo Rivera would have a career ERA of 2.30 if he started his whole career, and had to face batters three times a game? There's a reason he's a reliever: he doesn't have the repertoire to start, while Joba has four quality pitches.
Best of all (as we saw with Mo), you can always go from starting to relieving, but not the other way around.
3) Ah yes, the 'emotions won't allow him to give less than 110% on every pitch' argument. Considering he was a starter his entire college career (over 200 innings), and for 95% of his minor league career (over 100 innings), why are his emotions a barrier to starting? First off, he did tone down his emotions. Did they watch the same games I watched? The fist pump/inning ratio went way down when he started. Second, emotions don't hurt Carlos Zambrano, Randy Johnson and Jake Peavy (some very emotional and very good pitchers that come to mind).
4) Has any pitcher not suffered tendinitis at some point? One three week DL stint should not be enough to permanently declare Joba a reliever. His shoulder got overheated during a 101 degree night in Texas. That's not so unusual.
Posada should never have said anything. Now we'll have to deal with this the entire offseason (again). When he did become a scout? I trust Brian Cashman, Damon Oppenheimer and Nardi Contreras a lot more than Jorge when it comes to determining a pitcher's future.
If over time his body cannot stand up to the stresses of starting, then a permanent move to the bullpen is understandable... but not until then. And that won't be determined for a couple years.
- Posada just tickes me off the more he talks. While Joba continues to say he'll do whatever the Yankees want him to do and anything to help the team win, Posada says "I don't want to play first base. I want to be a catcher," and "Pudge, he's my friend, but he's going to have to go somewhere else." Real friendly, and thanks for being flexible Jorge.