8/28/09

Catching up on Pitching

So we were checking out Rotoworld and there happens to be a bit about Scott Kazmir's imminent trade.  Which, first of all, shocked us, because we had no idea this was actually in the works, let alone going to happen.  We wrote about this a bit earlier in the year; you can check it out here if you're so inclined.  But we'd like to append that post by saying that this is strange timing for the Rays.  According to the ever-so-fun www.coolstandings.com, they have just a 15% chance of making the playoffs, but according to Baseball Prosepctus' Hit List and their third-order winning percentage (which are part and parcel, really, but there you are) they should be much better than they are right now.  And there's enough of the season left to get on a hot streak and steal at least a Wild Card spot.  So the question we ask, then, is why?  Why trade him now?  We know Kazmir's been awful all year, but can't they at least stick him in the bullpen?  It's like what we said when Papelbon and Delcarmen were having issues with the idea of acquiring Billy Wagner; what team can't use an extra flame throwing arm in the bullpen, let alone when that arm is a left one? 

Anyway, we just don't like the idea of a team that's still in contention shipping off potentially valuable parts.  What we do like are the Twins getting involved with literally every person that's ever toed the rubber in their lives that has been put on waivers.  Ron Mahay, Brad Penny, Trevor Hoffman, John Smoltz before he was claimed....each of these has and more have been linked to the Twins in recent days.  And why not?  They're not far back, they have a 16.6% chance of making the playoffs, and their biggest weakness is pitching.  We love the fact that they're at least kicking the tires on every bit of available help they can find, regardless of how much help that player might be (we're looking at you, Mahay).  That's not to say that we're particularly hoping the Twins make the playoffs...we just like that their collective head is in the right place.  

The third piece of news we want to address here is that the Yankees have reportedly removed the "Joba rules"* which means that Joba Chamberlain will now be allowed to pitch every fifth day.  We have a couple of things to say about this...first and foremost being that the Joba rules were a stupid idea in the first place.  Why did they ever have it in their heads that the guy couldn't handle a starter's workload?  There's a difference between managing a young pitcher's innings and jerking him around from role to role; the guy was a starter at Nebraska, and dominated in the bullpen as potentially great starting pitchers should do.  One of those two things carries more weight, and it ain't the latter.

*We'd never heard this term used before, and we dislike it almost as much as the rules themselves.

Look, starting pitchers are more valuable than relievers.  And when you have a guy on your hands who can be a great starting pitcher...you use him.  You don't play games with his regimen, you don't tell him that he's going to be a setup man for a couple months and a starter the rest.  You let him develop a groove, let him get comfortable in the majors.  The Yankees never did that with Joba, and it's to his credit that he's survived the adversity.  

But this is why we have mixed feelings about the lifiting of the 'rules': Joba's been terrible lately.  Whether it's fatigue or just a rough patch or injury, we have no way of knowing, but, really, keeping him off the field has been the better course of action.  And now that he's been bad for a couple of starts, they decide it's a good time to lift the silly rules that were imposed upon him in the first place?  It's just weird timing is all.  And it's not like they need an extra boost to make the playoffs; they have a 6-game lead on the Sawx and a 98+% chance of making the playoffs in one form or another.  Maybe this will prove to be exactly what Joba needs; maybe he'll put it together once he goes out there every fifth day.  Or maybe there really is something wrong with him and the Yankees are upping his workload just in time to ruin him for the playoffs.  It's a big gamble they're making...and we're excited to see how it plays out.  Stretch run baseball...it's a beautiful thing.

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