Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Poll: A Split Decision

After approximately 200 votes were cast, BL visitors created a split decision regarding how the Yankees should use Joba Chamberlain this season. Each choice had its own reasonable justification. Some believe Joba is the heir-apparent to Mariano Rivera and should serve as his setup man until succeeding him - much like Rivera's role when John Wetteland closed in 1996.

Some believe Joba has the ability to become an ace starting pitcher and effect games in the same fashion which Josh Beckett dominated last year. After seeing Chamberlain pitch in Trenton, and observe he could carry his velocity into the later innings - still hitting 97 mph in the sixth and seventh innings - this argument holds just as much credence in my mind.

The major concern for the Yankees is to keep his innings totals under control, something that will be done with greater ease than many may believe. Nardi Contreras has already worked out his plans for Chamberlain - as well as for Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy - and his recommendations will be explored by Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi. Expect to see Chamberlain pitch between 140-150 innings as has already been reported on numerous occasions.

Though the Yankees seem intent on starting the year with Chamberlain in the bullpen, there is a strong belief they will stretch him out after the all star break before joining the rotation down the home stretch. This was my choice, and received 21 percent of the vote. Receiving only 2 percent more votes was the desire to keep Chamberlain in the bullpen all season.

The most popular decision - and by far the most reckless for health reasons - had BL voters hoping Chamberlain would start and end the 2008 season in the rotation. Considering the "plus 30 rule" for starting pitchers, Joba should not throw more than 150 innings next season, and using him all season as a starter could pile up 180-200 innings. This could bring about serious arm issues by the summer and even more likely cause injury at some point during the 2009 season.

All things considered, the poll results in a true split decision. Of the first four choices, two place more value on Joba in the bullpen and two more so in the rotation. If you add up the total votes for each facet, 44 percent believe Chamberlain better serves the Yankees as a reliever and 44 percent believe he is more valuable as a starting pitcher.

Conclusion? There is none, other than this is a very separative issue amongst Yankee fans, media members and [probably] organization officials.

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