Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Process has Begun

The process has begun. The phrase is as powerful to a Yankee fan as Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" quote was to millions of Americans. Okay, did I overstate that a bit? Sure, but what can't be overstated is this; it is clearly the right move at the right time for the Yankees. Joba is moving out of the pen and into the rotation.

The Yanks have had, by far, the best back end of the bullpen in the game this season with Joba doing his best 1996 Mariano impression as Rivera continues to cement his legacy as the game's greatest finisher. But you know what this dominant bullpen has done for New York in the standings? absolutely nada. Joba can't help his club win games if Ian Kennedy and Phillip Hughes continue to make Generation K look like the Braves rotation of the 90's and if Pettite continues to have his regular 4th inning meltdowns. The Yanks will need to bolster this rotation somehow. What better way to do than moving a guy with 4 superb pitches into the rotation. Look at the two Red Sox titles and the Whitesox title team from 05; they all had phenomenal rotations. The Red Sox team of 2004 had Schilling and Pedro at the top, the 2005 Whitesox had Mark Buerhle and Contreras (when they were awesome and not old and or dead armed like they are now),and the 07 Sox team had a very deep rotation headed by the best pitcher in the AL Josh Beckett. What this tells me is that it is much more important to have a dominant rotation than it is a great bullpen. The 2004 Sox had Kevin Foulke closing games for G-d sakes! The 2006 cardinals had Adam Wainright and Braden Looper finishing ball games. If the Yankees want to win a world series any time in the next 10 years; they will need to have a great rotation headlined by a true ace. Joba can bet that ace. If he is it allows Wang to move down tot he 2 spot which he is more naturally suited for. This would also allow the two other kids, Hughes and Kennedy to face this intense pressure as they would be the 3 and 4 starters.

The final question is, was this move made for this year or for the future? I think this move was made to all but guarantee a great future while hopefully paying short term dividends. In other words, this move was made for the future primarily. Having a dominant bullpen is important in the regular season because starters don't usually go that deep into games. Therefore, expect the Yankees to lose a few games because Farnsworth and/or Hawkins give up runs in spots where Joba would not have. However, in a year or two from now when the Yankees can throw Wang and Joba 4-5 times in a 7 game series, this move will look great. Still, the hope is that Joba's move to the rotation will allow the Yankees to win games by enough runs that the 8th inning is not a crucial one for the game's outcome. If this offense actually takes its collective head out of it's ass, the Yankees could win 40% of their games by 5 or more runs; that is the starts that Joba and Wang make. This would mean that the Farnsworths and Hawkins of the world only need to pitch well 60% of the time. As bad as both have been at times, I like my odds better when I only have to count on them 3 out of 5 times instead of 4 or 5 out of 5 times. Okay, since I have to tutor math in a few hours, I'll stop with all of these crazy fractions and percentages.

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