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If you're gonna put Joba in the pen, make it count

Feb 4, 2010, 10:58 AM EDT

Joba.jpgIf the Yankees are hellbent on keeping Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in the pen, David Pinto has a great idea of how to maximize their value:

It strikes me that both in the pen could radically alter the Yankees
roster. The Yankees would only need nine pitchers, maybe ten. The
starting staff is more than capable of going six or seven innings, and
in the case of Sabathia, eight. Joba and Hughes take turns going two
innings when needed, so they build up a decent amount of innings during
the season (both getting over 100). They’re not one-inning setup men,
they’re in for however long it takes to get to the ninth. New York can
then afford to carry a third catcher and two slick fielding
infielders to rest A-Rod and Jeter late in games.

This is an outstanding idea. Sure, I’d like to see Chamberlain get a chance to start without being subject to the Joba Rules, but I’m much more invested in seeing teams break out of La Russian bullpen habits and make the most out of the 25 roster slots they’re given, and this sort of thing would give La Russa a heart attack.

If the Yankees turned Hughes and Chamberlain into a couple of mini-Gossages and were in turn able to add a couple more guys to the bench, the Yankees would be sitting really, really pretty, strategically speaking. And it would be great for Chamberlain and Hughes too. More innings out of the pen would make it much easier for them to transition into starters one day.

The real question is whether it’s the sort of thing Joe Girardi would be capable of managing properly. I have my doubts — Girardi is nothing if not conventional, and this would be fairly unconventional — but if Cashman bought into it, he could dictate it to Girardi.

I like this idea so much that I’m already sad that it probably won’t happen.

  1. YankeesfanLen - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    This is a great idea-Gaudin, if not Mitre, could go the six and then Phil and the Fat Toad could bring it to Mo.
    Since the Universe revolves around offense anyway, all those throwers need to do is keep it down to a dull roar- hey, maybe we can have TWO DHs!!!!(said just to piss people off)

  2. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Smells good to me.Sell it to Cash, maybe he is thinking this too.

  3. Preston - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    This could be a good idea, but I don’t think it’s worth it for the Yankees. After all, the purpose of a longer bench is to have more pinch-hitting options or late game defensive replacements. Well, the Yankees don’t really have much need for any defensive replacements – ok, Jeter or ARod could be replaced, but neither is all that bad out there at this point, and I think you lose too much if you risk taking them out in a 2 or 3 run game. And I hate the useless third catcher far more than the 12 man bullpen. Furthermore, Granderson and Gardner/Winn are the only spots where they’d consider pinch-hitting, so how long a bench do they need? As much as I dislike the LaRussa bullpen, I’d rather have a couple more pitchers in case of blowouts, extra inning games, or AJ Burnett throwing 100 pitches in 4 innings.

  4. Ken - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Great idea! A great way to boost the bench with more speed and keep solid pitching on the mound–no sense in paying huge salaries for such a small inning count, a good way to give the studdly Robertson a little more experience too.
    “I like this idea so much that I’m already sad that it probably won’t happen.”

  5. Joey B - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    The first thing that comes to mind is, if having RPs go over 100 IPs is a good idea, then why doesn’t everyone do it? They’re not special because they’re Yankees, and they’re not special since they are converted starters, as are many other RPs.
    The second thing is, why a 3rd catcher? If Posada needs time off, you could Cervelli 80 games without wearing him out. 6 RPs v 7 RPs is a fun discussion, and you’re talking about having only 4-5, but you also need to weigh the benefits from the replacement players. Having only 9 pitchers, means Mo, Joba, Hughes, and one other. Even if you included two others, it’s not going to happen. The first time someone gets knocked out in the 2nd inning, you’d have to use Joba, Hughes, and your two others for 2 innings each, leaving no BP for a couple of days. All that so that you can carry a 3rd catcher that wouldn’t play?

  6. Charles Gates - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    It’s an interesting concept. As far as IP targets are concerned, it might even work. What I fear, as a NYY fan, is that this strategy will increase the mix of low leverage innings that Jobs/Phil would pitch.
    If they come in after a Burnett 4 IP performance, chances are they will be pitching against a big run deficit. On the flip side, if they come in the 8th to finish the game, it means that the Yankees are up at least 4 runs…because if it were

  7. YankfanDean - Feb 4, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    I too,agree that it’s an interesting concept.I also agree that we don’t need a 3rd catcher.We do need some quality PH’s though,who can also play the field when needed.Harriston Jr. comes to mind…

  8. Charles Gates - Feb 4, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    …three or greater, it would mean that Mo would come in to pitch the 9th.
    (HTML doesnt like when greater_than and less_than signs actually mean ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’)

  9. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 4, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    Jeter won a gold glove, A-Rod plays a mean third base, if you want them to stay fresh with late inning replacements that is fine but they are not liabilities.I do like the options.

  10. Joey B - Feb 4, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    “Jeter won a gold glove, A-Rod plays a mean third base, if you want them to stay fresh with late inning replacements that is fine but they are not liabilities.I do like the options.”
    He might improve if his injury improves, but watching ARod at 3B last year made the game look like it was in slow-motion.

  11. John Willumsen - Feb 4, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Maybe you’ve seen this Dave Cameron piece ( maybe you haven’t. My kneejerk reaction has always been that bullpens are way way too big, but Cameron’s piece got me to rethink it a bit. I agree, if the Yankees are going to stick the two of those guys (or either one) in the ‘pen, they should use them as more than your average one inning guy, but I’m not too sure if the marginal gain on the defensive side of adding a couple slick fielding bench players is really going to be all that considerable. (And yes, I realize Cameron is talking about pinch hitting when talking about bench players, not fielding, but if there’s a measurable decrease in hitting ability from sitting on the bench for most of the game, isn’t it at least possible that there will be an equivalent loss of skill on the defensive side?)

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