Tuesday, September 16, 2008


JORGE POSADA may be a spectator as his club’s season meanders to its meaningless end, but the injured New York Yankees catcher has been creating a stir with some of his comments.

Posada, interviewed by Michael Kaye on the YES Network’s CenterStage program, used the opportunity to criticize Pedro Martinez’s behavior during the 2003 ALCS.

But it was his outspoken views on the future role of Joba Chamberlain – namely that he should remain in the bullpen rather than return to the starting rotation – that received the most media attention.

“Leave him in the bullpen,” said Posada. “If you start him and he pitches 200 innings, he won’t be able to last. You’re going to lose him; he’s going to get hurt.”

Opinion on the Joba issue seems to be split down the middle. But one thing everyone agrees on is that he needs to be handled with care. The 22-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska, is far too valuable to the future of the franchise to take any chances with.

The stats are inconclusive. As a starter, he’s 3-1 with an ERA of 2.76 in 12 appearances, striking out 74 in 65.1 innings. As a reliever, he’s 1-2 with an ERA of 2.29, striking out 34 in 28.1 innings.

Chamberlain's explosive power better suited to bullpen

But I have to agree with Posada. Joba is an explosive pitcher who overpowers hitters with his fastball, and outfoxes them with his breaking ball.

As a starter, I feel his effectiveness is compromised, and I also have my doubts whether he can maintain that level over the course of a long season.

Emotionally highly strung, his character make-up is also better suited to coming on as a late reliever.

That’s why I believe the Yankees should be grooming Joba as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.

With the Yanks bereft of decent starting pitching, I have my doubts whether that will actually happen next season, especially as Chamberlain sees himself as a starter. But whatever the decision, they need to make it before the start of spring training and stick with it.

Much depends on whether they can acquire some grade one pitchers such as CC Sabathia during the off-season.

After deciding not to trade for Johan Santana last winter, the Yanks have some serious rebuilding to do for 2009.

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