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Once again, The Joba Debate

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Brought to you by Justin Sablich of the Times -

If you don't know my position, it's thus: Joba has to be given a fair chance to succeed as a starter before Cash and Co. even think about putting him in the pen. That means at least through the 2010 season.

Justin feels Joba should be a reliever. I vehemently disagree. So let's refute each point one by one:

A Chamberlain bridge would make life easier for Rivera, who turned 39 in November and may not be able to crank out a two-inning save with as much ease as in the past.

If Justin didn't notice, the Yanks' bullpen was actually great last year (4th in all MLB) without Joba for five months; Rivera pitched his fewest innings since his injujry shortened 2002 and had his best ERA+ ever. Maybe now that Torre has gone to Hollywood, our relievers won't be abused.

His numbers as a starter last season (2.75 ERA and 10.3 K/9) were almost identical to his stats as a reliever (2.31 ERA and 11.1 K/9). But his shoulder injury came about as a starter, and fewer innings could only help him keep his shoulder strong.

Yes, it's possible Joba would remain healthier as a reliever, but we have far too little information to base that on. One injury on a 100-degree night in Texas (when a pitcher is more susceptible to tendinitis) doesn't mean he's incapable of shouldering (no pun intended) a starter's workload.

A popular argument for having Chamberlain start is that you should not waste a player with such ability as a reliever because the more innings he can pitch the better. Wouldn’t you rather have 230 innings of Chamberlain rather than 90?

The problem with that argument is that you can say the same thing about Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon or a number of other great relievers. Are the Red Sox wasting Papelbon’s talent by limiting his innings and not converting him back to a starter?

Again, yes, you would definitely rather have 230 innings than 90 (which is overly optimistic for a reliever).

Regarding the Papelbon argument, the reason he doesn't start is that he doesn't have the repertoire or pedigree of Joba, and has already proven he can't handle the workload.

If the Yankees used Chamberlain to shorten games to six innings, is that really a waste of talent? It sounds more like an incredible advantage to me.

Yes, it's a waste of talent. First off, this argument has two huge holes because it assumes that 1) the starter is good enough to pitch six innings and the Yankees have a lead, and 2) that Joba can pitch two innings that often.

Anyway, it's fun to debate.


- Elsewhere, the Yankees are sending five instructional coaches to Taiwan to teach high-schoolers the basics of baseball. They have a huge following there thanks to Chien Ming-Wang.