As the Curve Turns: Joba time? Not with these rules

By Ted Cahill

If there’s one thing the New York media is good at, it’s making sure the entire nation gets swept up in their local discussions. So when one Yankees’ beat writer tweets that Mark Teixeira is the AL MVP in the middle of August everyone feels compelled to pick a side between Tex and Joe Mauer.

Well now that we all seem to have calmed down about that argument, the Yankees bring us a new set of Joba rules. That’s right, Joba Chamberlain, the supposed Yankee ace-in-waiting will once again be handled with kid gloves down the stretch.

To limit the innings Chamberlain throws this year Joe Girardi will essentially put the right-hander through Spring Training again in September, starting with three-inning starts eventually building back up to full length outings by the time the playoffs start.

In the past I have thought the Joba rules were ridiculous, but actually this time I think New York is doing the right thing. Chamberlain has already thrown more innings then I’d be comfortable with if I were in that front office.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci has a rule that pitchers under 25 should not be allowed to increase their workload by more than 30 innings a year; those that do either get injured or are just ineffective the next year. It’s not a perfect rule, there are examples where it doesn’t happen, but more often you see someone like Cole Hamels suffer the consequences.

Last year Chamberlain threw 100 1/3 innings, he’s already tossed 133 2/3 this year. Just allowing him to operate as normal for another two months would not be in the Yankees’ best interest or Chamberlain’s. You can argue that he’s a big boy and that he can take it, but why take the chance if he’s the future ace? (Personally I don’t think he’s their future, I like Phil Hughes much more. But that’s for a different time.)

What this means to all the Chamberlain owners is that he won’t be anywhere near as valuable for the next month. He won’t be picking up wins, though technically since his innings count is predetermined the official scorer could award him the victory. He won’t be getting as many strikeouts and no one’s really sure how he’ll adjust to this new role in the middle of the year.

I think it might be time to cut ties with Chamberlain if you can find a reasonable alternative. He hasn’t pitched well this month anyway and you can’t afford a part-time pitcher while making a run at your league title.

Kazmir gets his wings:
In a bit of a surprise deal, Tampa Bay sent Scott Kazmir, the franchise leader in victories, to Los Angeles for prospects.

Kazmir isn’t the same pitcher he was a few years ago and even then he wasn’t dominant. Kazmir is owed a nice chunk of change over the next few years and the Rays saw an opportunity to get out before the wheels come completely off.

But the Angels didn’t get hosed on this deal either. I think Kazmir can be effective pitching for a contender and getting out of the AL East should be a big benefit for him. He’s pitched well the last three times out and I expect that to continue out West.

The Rays will call up Andy Sonnanstine to take Kazmir’s place. He was ineffective in 15 starts at the beginning of this season, but he won 13 games last year. Don’t grab him right away; there are much better options still out there. But if he gets hot, Sonnanstine could be a fine fill-in for the Rays.

Twins shakeup:
Ron Gardenhire announced this week that he expects Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins to rejoin Minnesota as relievers, not starters.

The left-handers are on the DL with arm troubles. The announcement means the Twins are likely to add an arm from outside the organization for September. They put in a claim on Rich Harden and will likely work very hard to get a deal done by the deadline Monday night. It’s also possible they’ll try and land Brad Penny after he clears waivers.

As for Liriano and Perkins, this obviously isn’t good news. I recently saw Liriano in person and everything you’ve heard about him is true. He isn’t the 13-game winner from 2006, he looks lost on the mound and his slider has lost a lot of break. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to dump Liriano.

Pitcher Pickup of the Week: Vicente Padilla, Dodgers
I mentioned last week that Padilla could be a good pickup now that he’s pitching in the NL again and for the Dodgers. Well I thought he pitched pretty well in his Los Angeles debut, especially since he did it in Coors Field. He struck out four in five innings and gave up two runs. Most importantly Padilla picked up his first win of the month.

This week he pitches Tuesday against Arizona and Sunday against San Diego. With two paltry offenses going against him, I love Padilla this week. Lifetime, he’s combined to go 6-4 with a 3.75 ERA against the two teams. Padilla has already beaten the Diamondbacks this season and has a great chance to repeat that feat Tuesday night.