Buster Olney wrote today:
Heard this: If all goes well in spring training for the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain is likely to start next season in the Yankees' bullpen, as part of the team's effort to limit his innings. Chamberlain will go to spring training and, at the outset, prepare to pitch out of the rotation, along with five other rotation candidates: Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Mike Mussina and Ian Kennedy. Assuming that none of the other five has a physical or performance breakdown, Chamberlain would then open 2008 in the bullpen, as a set-up man, for at least the start of the season -- under the Joba Rules.
The Yankees want to restrict the number of innings Chamberlain throws, and working him out of the bullpen for at least a couple of months will allow them to do that. Chamberlain may return to the rotation sometime in the middle of the season, depending on the Yankees' needs.
If Joba goes back to the 'pen he will never come out. Once given another taste of that 8th inning dominance General Joe and Hank will leave him there to have an amazing career as late-inning set up guy and then closer after '09.
The problem with that is that Joba is far more valuable to the Yanks as a dominant starter than as even the best reliever in the game. Just because a guy has domianant stuff, huge k numbers and can be successful in the role does not mean he should be moved to the bullpen.
Put differently, who would you rather on your team - Johan Santana or Krod? Roy Halliday or Billy Wagner? King Felix or Joe Nathan? There have been plenty of teams in history that have a dominant closer and placed in the bottom of their division. An Ace, though, will almost insure a team is at least competitive.