Various Baseball Noticings

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Various Baseball Noticings
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

When Johan Santana went on the DL with elbow surgery, one ESPN commentator said this could have been predicted: one reason the Yankees and Red Sox dropped out of the Santana sweepstakes last year was that scouts noticed he stopped throwing his slider toward the end of the season. This omen steered the teams away from paying too much for a pitcher they feared could break down.

This very well may be true, but I think there's another reason why they dropped out: the asking price. I can't speak for Boston, as I'm not sure exactly what they were willing to give up, but I know the Yankees at one point were willing to deal Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, and at least one other prospect. The Twins said no.

Hughes is a projected ace, and is currently on the major league roster. Cabrera is a productive (not great, but productive) starting center fielder. Kennedy's career has been put on hold thanks to an aneurysm, but that was unpredictable, and he had pitched in the majors prior to that event. But this wasn't good enough for the Twins, and the Yankees backed out. The Twins ended up getting stuck with Phil Humber, Carlos Gomez, and two pitchers no one's ever heard of.

So yes, I'm sure the elbow thing had something to do with it. But it also probably has something to do with Minnesota's horrific bargaining skills.

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The Yankees should move Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen for the rest of this season. No, this is not a long term decision: Joba is a starter, and I've reiterated that point. But he's been awful his last two starts, as he continues to rack up innings.

He's a young pitcher, and the Yankees don't want to blow out his arm. They set up the Joba Rules for precisely that purpose. They're already planning on limiting his starts down the stretch, but I think it's time to shut him down entirely. Sort of.

It stands to reason that Joba is tired, and to give him a rest, they should put him in the bullpen for the rest of the year. That's already the plan for the playoffs, even if that means their postseason rotation will have to include either Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre. Moving Joba to the pen now could keep his arm fresh for the postseason, and may even have a positive effect on his entire career. And after his last two starts, maybe this is something that could even help the team right now.

Again, I don't think Joba will or should end up as a reliever. He's a starter, and that's where he will end up. But it's typical for teams to shut down young starters at the end of the season, and the Yankees should do exactly that, rather than play their current middling approach.

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The Colorado Rockies are now within two games of first place in the NL West. Might this team be for real? Remember, the Rockies came out of nowhere in 2007 to make it to the World Series, and here they are again just two years later, seemingly headed for the playoffs again. Some may have called 2007 a fluke, but when this happens two out of three years, it's hard to deny.

Remember, the Red Sox missed the playoffs (in fact, they finished third in the AL East) in 2006, but came right back and won the World Series in 2007. Obviously, no one thought they were a fluke. The two teams are pretty incomparable, but the point is that a team can miss the playoffs one season and still be legitimately good. The Rockies may be the real deal, and perhaps 2008 was the fluke, much like the 2006 Red Sox.

Can you imagine where this team might be with Matt Holliday?

***

As a Yankee fan, I kinda hoped the Red Sox would land Billy Wagner (which they ultimately did). Even Jonathan Papelbon stated my thoughts: could this be the second coming of Eric Gagne?

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