Joba Chamberlain in the 'Pen or Rotation?

Erik DianaCorrespondent IMay 15, 2008

First of all, let me say this: I can't stand Hank Steinbrenner. I think the man is a moron who lucked out in having a very ill father who happens to own the Yankees. Hank is the quintessential son of a rich man that can never, ever live up to his old man's standards and success. Mark my words, Hank will never be Mr. Steinbrenner as much as he tries to be George. (It would bring me great delight if his voice box were crushed with a Joba Chamberlain fastball and he had to sign all of his media segments to the press, but I digress.)

I also completely disagree with the notion that Joba Chamberlain should be in the starting rotation.

Pop quiz, who's been the most valuable Yankee over the last 12-13 years?

Jeter? Close, but no.

Torre? you could make a case that his calming influence led the Yankees to the playoffs the years they didn't deserve to get in (think of '05 and '07.) Plus it'll be interesting to see how Girardi handles a full season of the Yankees being grossly overrated like Torre had to deal with in '05 & '07. But by far, the most valuable, indispensable Yankee has been Mariano Rivera.

When Rivera has failed the Yankees have flamed out of the postseason (think '97, '01 and '04). When he has been brilliant, the Yankees simply shortened games because they had their closer choke the life and hope out of the teams he faces.

Maybe it was so long ago that we can't think of it, but remember when Mariano Rivera pitched against the Braves in the 1999 World Series? Remember how each Atlanta hitter walked to the plate knowing they were defeated? I remember Mo breaking Ryan Klesko's bats during one at bat. If you couldn't get the lead and hold the lead against the Yankees back then, it was over. And now, that is what Joba Chamberlain provides Yankees fans.

For the next 3 years the Yankees could have a shutdown 8th and 9th inning the likes of which they've never seen. If you recall correctly, John Wetteland was a little shaky at times, not like a Todd Jones, but could still make things interesting nonetheless.

So why would the Yankees transplant a brilliant setup man into a role of a starter?

Because Hank Steinbrenner thinks that the Yankees are one starter away from really contending. In actuality, they are at about three away at the minimum and then if Joba is in that mix now you have to find a shutdown, suffocating 8th inning man that can also take innings away from Mariano Rivera. Remember he's 38, no young pup anymore, and he needs to be protected. 

If the Yankees were one starter away, I'd be all for Joba in the rotation, but now that Hughes (officially fragile) is on the DL, Ian Kennedy nibbling at hitters, and Pettitte getting pounded occasionally, it makes no sense to take away an almost guaranteed win from the Yankees. Besides, who's to say that Joba in the rotation would be the next Beckett anyways?

Let me say for the record that I hate the way this team in made up. Wang is an ace, but other than that, Mussina is pitching well (for now), Pettitte is shaky but should improve, Rasner could provide some great innings if he stays healthy, Igawa is an abortion and should be cut. Hawkins and Farnsworth are just frightening to watch.

Giambi should have been released a while back and Cano has been struggling mightily. They gave A-Rod 10 years (he'll be 42 when his contract runs out). Damon and Matsui are aging right before our eyes. I know Matsui is hitting well, but he can't play a decent left anymore and still rolls his top hand over way too much against lefties.

The Yankees need to blow up a bit of this roster up and start over. They need to find roles for their young guys, and the one that should definitely stick is Joba Chamberlain. In 3 years, Joba Chamberlain should be the closer.