Hank Steinbrenner: "You Have to Be an Idiot...!"

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Hank Steinbrenner:

I want him as a starter and so does everyone else, including him, and that is what we are working toward and we need him there now. There is no question about it, you don’t have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy. You just don’t do that. You have to be an idiot to do that.

-- Hank Steinbrenner on Joba Chamberlain in Monday's NY Times



More deep thoughts from the great Hank Steinbrenner. It's funny because I always thought that a guy who can throw gas like Joba does indeed belong in the bullpen as a setup man or even a closer-- once Mariano Rivera is done. The Red Sox faced a similar dilemma with Jonathan Papelbon,  although they wanted to make a starter due to health concerns, they eventually decided to keep him in the closer role after he approached them.  I think the Yankees of post-2004 can learn a few things from that team up north.

Hank Steinbrenner is an owner, not a GM or a Manager. We see teams that are run by their owners like the Oakland Raiders, and they are a complete mess. Owners do not need to be heavily operated in the day to day operations.  Sure, it is their team, but they often feel as they have more knowledge about these matters than they really do.  Hank has people in place to do the evaluating, and if he doesn't trust them, he should re-evaluate his staff (although this would be shortsighted given how Brian Cashman has revamped the organization at the minor league level). 

Hank is also acting like an everyday fan. He sees the same thing we see from the rotation and begins to panic. These Yankees have to win today, tomorrow is too far away! No fan in NY has patience anymore and it seems that the late 90s have spoiled them. Hank should be above that as the owner.

Wait, and is he officially the owner? I'm not even sure that was made clear yet. Where is George? Whats wrong with the other son, Hal? Oh the drama!

With Kennedy and Hughes both being so young, the Yankees need to be patient. These are two guys that any team would love to have. However, they need some time to develop. It is not the end of the world if the Yankees miss the 2008 playoffs. What needs to be done is establishing these 2 as a solid 1-2 punch for the future.

Heck, the Red Sox missed the playoffs in 2005 after breaking the curse in 2004, and came back to win in 2007. You can take 1 step back in order to take 2 steps forward.

With all that being said, I believe that it is harder to find a solid closer then a solid starter. Four World Series Championship in the late 1990s could have easily been 2 or less had Mariano not been what he is now known as, the best closer of all time.

There are 30 closer jobs in the majors. I think it is safe to say that less then half are reliable closers, let alone guys who are lights out like Mariano or Papelbon.

On the other hand there are 150 (30 teams x 5 starters) starting positions in the majors. Most teams have at least 2 to 3 decent starters who are capable of winning 10-15 games and maintaining under a 4.00 ERA, if not better then that.

However, a mediocre starter with stats mentioned above cannot get his wins if the bullpen and closer cannot hold the lead that the he left with. Given that most pitchers are not all-star caliber, I would say the need for a top tier bull pen and closer is even more urgent. However, the same rules can apply to an all star starting pitcher. He needs a solid bull pen and closer behind him.

Based on the sheer sample size of the two pools of pitchers, a quality closer is much harder to find.

In addition, if they do chose to move Joba to the rotation, this is something that should wait till either late in the season when/if the Yankees are out of the playoff race (which probably won't happen), or until next season. If they decide to move him mid season, that would mean Joba would be in AAA for about a month before becoming part of the rotation. A month without Joba in the bull pen, and not being a starter would be extremely detrimental to any playoff hopes the Yankees may have.

I was not born until the early 1980s so I was not here for the chaos that was George Steinbrenner of the late 1970s and Billy Martin drama that took place on a daily basis. I know that those late 70s brought Reggie Jackson and 2 World Series Championships. However, I also know that it was followed by a decade of bad baseball. I hope Hank of 2008 does not turn into what George was in 1978. However, I fear that the Yankees are on a similar path to that of 30 years ago.

My message to Hank: Hank, let Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi do their jobs! They can be the brains of the operation and you can just provide the deep pockets.

Let's keep Joba in the Bull Pen and hope that the Yankees have found the next Mariano Rivera.
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