- The biggest problem with the Yankees and Joba Chamberlain:
This debate regarding Joba Chamberlain is going to go on until the Yankees make a definitive decision to put him either in the starting rotation or the bullpen and leave him in either place, and that’s the problem. They’re not making a definitive decision; there is dissent within the organization as to where Chamberlain is best suited and where his value is at his highest for the team; and the wishy-washy nature in which the Yankees are going about their usage of the young righty is only making things worse and creating debate as is currently underway and will continue to be so until someting iron clad is decided upon and stuck to no matter what.
If he’s going to be a starter, then make him a starter; none of this 80 pitch limit on one day; 85 the next day; 92 the day after. There should be no limits on innings other than what they’d do with a pitcher who they didn’t value as highly. What they’re doing with these stupid, nonsensical rules (with numbers that they’re pulling out of their behinds) is putting Chamberlain in a plastic bubble hoping that he doesn’t get hurt; and it’s not that they don’t want him to get hurt because they need him so badly; it appears as if they don’t want him to get hurt because they don’t want to be criticized. This is not the way to handle a young pitcher no matter what kind of data they’re producing for whichever sources.
My problem with the whole essence of the Joba Rules is that they’re tying their manager’s hands with these random edicts; they’re making this a continuing story where there shouldn’t be one; and they’re creating a mess and controversy when they don’t have to. Chamberlain is 23-years-old; he needs to pitch in whatever role they choose for him. If he’s a starter, no one’s telling them to let him throw 260 innings this year; if he’s pitching well and keeping himself and his arm in shape with the proper maintenance exercises and feeling healthy, there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be able to log 190-215 innings this year. If this were twenty years ago, would there even be this debate? No one’s telling the Yankees to let Chamberlain throw 150 pitches in a start; no one’s telling them to abuse Chamberlain’s young arm; but eventually the time is going to come that they’re going to have to stop being so overprotective, take the training wheels off and let him ride. The ambiguity is probably worse for Chamberlain than just letting him pitch would be.
Roger Clemens—-the pitcher that Chamberlain has most often been compared to in style, body-type and motion—-threw 254 innings at age 23 and won the Cy Young Award and the MVP as he almost led the Red Sox to a World Series win; and Clemens came out of a college program at the University of Texas under coach Cliff Gustafson in which a pitch count and babying the pitchers in the early 80s would’ve been laughable and met with a shower of tobacco juice as the theorist and his printouts of optimal pitch counts was chased from the field with a bat.
Nolan Ryan, at the age of 25, threw 284 innings; then at 26, he threw 326; and at 27, 332; and there weren’t pitch counts observed then either as Ryan was striking out 330+ batters year-after-year.
Tom Seaver, at age 23, threw 277 innings; then at 24, he threw 290 winning a Cy Young Award and leading the Mets to a World Series win.
Bret Saberhagen, at age 21, threw 235 innings, won the Cy Young Award and led the Royals to a World Series win. Saberhagen, at that age, was about 155 pounds (at most). He had a series of arm injuries throughout his career that he probably would’ve had if they’d treated him like the Yankees are treating Joba; but Saberhagen had two Cy Young Awards by the time he was 25; what will Joba have?
Greg Maddux threw 245 innings at age 22 and set the standard for excellence and durability, occasionally throwing 160 pitches in a game. Maddux was a high draft pick; why wasn’t he babied like Chamberlain? The argument could be made that pitchers like Saberhagen and Maddux needed to be babied because they were so small, but Saberhagen was dominant and Maddux was one of the best pitchers in history.
So the Yankees are coming up with all of this data that states how Chamberlain should be used; but why are so many pitchers getting hurt today when guys like Clemens, Seaver, et al managed such long and predominately healthy careers? Is the data helping or hurting the pitchers of today?
None of this has anything to do with anything other than the fear and organizational wavering of where to put Chamberlain. Now that they have a full starting rotation, they have an excuse to put Chamberlain back into the bullpen for this year at least. There’s no reason for that to define his career and no reason to continue with the company line that this is what’s best for the pitcher because no one can know what’s best for the pitcher until after the fact. All that can be determined now is what’s best for the team and what’s best for the team would be to use Chamberlain as a set-up man for Rivera and let him pitch without restrictions; and if they’re not going to do that, they should let him start and stop babying him because this whole story has gotten tiresome and will continue until someone with gut
s in the Yankee organization says, “we’re gonna let the kid pitch and if he gets hurt, he gets hurt; those are the breaks”. Then they’ll be able to move forward and worry about winning rather than worrying about whether Chamberlain should be allowed to throw 70 pitches in 60 degree weather; 74 in cloudy, but warm weather; 67 in overcast and threatening rain; 90 if it’s a beautiful spring day, or some other random crap to the silly nonsense that’s being spit out by Brian Cashman’s computer.
- Hot Stove reading list—-Joe Torre’s, yes; Kirk Radomski’s, no:
I’m not discussing Joe Torre’s book until I actually read the entire context, but given what’s being said, I’ll say this: Torre was probably hurt and offended by the way his contribution to what the Yankees accomplished during his reign was diminished by George Steinbrenner among others. The way he was treated as he left put a bad taste in his mouth, he’s probably heard the disparaging comments about him emanating from the Yankee organization and he wanted his version of events on record. The only way to truly judge the book is going to be if Torre tries to make himself out to be “Saint Joe” as he’s occasionally portrayed by some; or if he’s completely honest about his mistakes.
In mentioning mistakes, I’m not talking about the bugs in Cleveland or batting Alex Rodriguez eighth in the playoffs; I’m talking about his advocating the signing of Albert Belle to replace the supposedly departing Bernie Williams after the 1998 season; I’m talking about how he battered certain relief pitchers to the point where their arms would fall off and they’d be out of gas by September and October. If Torre’s honest about his flaws, then it’s going to be easier to take him seriously with his reflections on life as the manager of the Yankees during their dynasty of the late 90s; if not, it’ll be just as self-serving as certain people are saying it is without having read anything other than what’s been printed in the papers.
Kirk Radomski’s book is receiving widespread ridicule and denials are being issued all over the place regarding the apparent inaccuracies therein. This book was one of opportunity and Radomski either has a poor memory, a bad ghostwriter, a “don’t ask/don’t tell” editor or all three. If I had to guess what happened from start to finish with this book is that the publisher wanted to get it out as quickly as possible and strike with a few high-profile names and allegations to get some people to buy the book out of a morbid curiosity and naive gullibility in what Radomski is quoted as having said about players like Dwight Gooden and David Justice.*
*Interestingly, while checking Radomski’s book on Amazon.com, there are two versions available; one published by Hudson Street Press and the other by Kindle. Did they mean Kindle or “kindling” as if it should be used to stoke a fire?
Radomski says he took urine tests for Gooden, which Gooden vehemently denied with a somewhat clever retort of, “I’ve done enough wrong on my own, I don’t want to get blamed for something I didn’t do”; and David Justice, whom Radomski claims to have dropped off at the airport and handed a load of PEDs, an allegation about which Justice was almost apoplectic and so insistent in his denials that it’s hard not to believe that he’s telling the truth.
Of course it’s possible that Radomski is remembering incidents that actually happened and is just recalling them out of order, but with all of these players coming out and issuing such strong denials, it’s hard to take Radomski’s book seriously. If I had to guess, I’d say that Radomski got an advance of around $25-50 grand for the book and the ghostwriter and editors took what he said and ran with it not knowing whether or not it was true and purposely not digging too deeply for fear of not being able to print what Radomski was saying.
It hardly matters; there’s one thing that can be said about both books within a reasonable certainty: Torre’s book is going to sell very well, and Radomski’s isn’t. That has to do with subject matter and the storyteller. People want to know what happened in the Yankee clubhouse during The Torre Years; I think people have had just about enough of Kirk Radomski and won’t want to spend anymore time reading about what he was doing, truthfully or not.