To Start or Not To Start: What Is His Joba?

Gershon RabinowitzContributor IApril 22, 2008

Twenty games into the 2008 season, the New York Yankees are struggling to stay over .500.

One contributing factor to this is the disastrous starting pitching from the bottom of the starting rotation, mainly from the youngsters, Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes.

If the back end of the Yankees rotation falters, the team would have to live with it, with their only other options being, the "$46 million bust," Japanese import Kei Igawa and the unproven Darrell Rasner.

To address the unstable pitching rotation, Yankees Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner released a statement saying that Joba Chamberlain should be in the rotation and whoever thinks that a "pitcher with a 100 mile-per-hour fastball should be a setup man is an idiot."

Steinbrenner is basically calling Yankees GM Brian Cashman an idiot because he wants to leave the 22-year-old in the bullpen where he has had major success.

Joe Girardi, Cashman, and the baseball people in the Yankees organization are making the right decision leaving Joba as Mariano Rivera's setup man. Chamberlain took New York by storm last year as a rookie, rapidly advancing through the farm system and finishing up in the Bronx and having a major impact on the Yankees success.

Joba's numbers last year were excellent.

In 24 innings pitched, he whiffed 38 batters, almost 1.5 strikeouts per inning. Joba allowed only one earned run in 19 games while posting a microscopic ERA of 0.38.

Chamberlain has been the Yankees’ best setup man since the championship years when Ramiro Mendoza, Mike Stanton, and Jeff Nelson were bridging the gap to Mo. Yankees fans could even go back to 1996 when a young Rivera was setting up John Wetteland.

If Joba becomes a starter, who would take over his role? Brian Bruney, LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth, or Ross Ohlendorf?

All of those pitchers have spotty track records, with the exception of Bruney who is unproven.

Since 2001, the Yankees have had trouble acquiring solid bullpen help, spending large amounts of money on substandard relief pitching. For instance, Steve Kasay, Paul Quantrill, and Tanyon Sturtze.

Remember that, Hank, when those pitchers will blow leads for Joba or any starting pitcher for that matter. Even if Joba is placed in the starting rotation, his success in the minors may not translate to the major league level.

If Joba struggles, what would happen to his confidence and what would Hank Steinbrenner say if the experiment fails miserably.

It has taken nearly eight years to get a decent setup man. Steinbrenner should not mess with the success and formula for a championship.