Friday, January 11, 2008

If Goose Deserves To Be In The Hall...

...then Joba should stay in the bullpen. Think about it. Hey, at least Goose agrees with me, but middle relievers never get any respect. Jack Curry of the NYTimes thinks Joba should start BUT if Hughes and Kennedy come on like gangbusters then maybe it makes sense to make Joba play the Mo role of '96. I say exactly AND the same is true if the starters are weak. If the starters don't explode out of the box, that strong middle relief is all the more important. Since getting to the sixth with a lead is a struggle, you don't want to blow the chance to get a victory. Plus, with Joba's rookie restrictions on his pitching availability (160 innings?) he can impact some 50 games as a dominant Mo-like middle reliever instead of just 30 games as a starter. PLUS he'll be mentally preparing to take over for Mo in two years. We know he's electric as middle relief. We know we desperately need middle relief. It seems so obvious to me that an ace middle reliever is more important to a team than an ace starter. Just like Mo was the MVP of the dynasty years more than any single starter.


joe said...

"It seems so obvious to me that an ace middle reliever is more important to a team than an ace starter."

That is just absurd.

You aren't using the right numbers to come up with impact. Just because a reliever impacts 50 games and a starter 30 games does not mean the reliever has a greater impact. The fact that a reliever pitches 75 innings to the 175 that a typical starter goes tells you all you need to know about who has a bigger impact.

You can have the best bullpen in the world and it won't matter one bit if your rotation sucks.

Joba could be the Yanks BEST starter...not just a good one. If that's the case he'll help them more in the rotation -- in the reg season AND in the playoffs -- than he would as a reliever.

It absolutely boggles my mind that someone could think an ace middle reliever is more important than an ace starter, much less think it is such an obvious fact.

Since the youngsters are on a tight leash and guys like Moose and Pettitte are at the end of their careers, I'm a big proponent of the 6-man rotation idea that's been floated around.

priv8pete said...

I go back and forth on this in my mind. It's a great "problem" to have.

I would suggest that the decision is really between being pretty certain that Joba can be one of the best relievers in baseball (based on last year's results) and the hope that he can be one of the best starters in baseball.

If I had to choose between picking Santana or Mo at the beginning of their careers (with full knowledge of how they would do), I'd pick Santana. I just think that having a guy who can pitch 8 great innings every 5 days does more for your team than the best reliever ever. Plus a great starter makes your bullpen better by giving them their necessary rest.

Hopefully Joba will become a guy like Santana, but we have no idea. We do know what we saw last year which was electrifying and it's clear that the pressure of New York or late innings does not get to the kid (only insects). And there is a cult following of "Joba the Bridge" unlike anything I can remember.

So, do we want to take the chance that Joba can be one of the all-time great starters or settle for the slightly more safe bet that he can be a great closer? Since I think having a dominant starter would be better, I'm excited to see him in the rotation. However, if batters start figuring him out the second time around or if Hughes and Kennedy step to as dominant pitchers then I think he should go back to the pen and be groomed as Mo's replacement.

dasnootz said...

I agree with priv8pete.

joe said...

Besides the fact that Goose going to the HOF has NOTHING to do with Joba. Goose is I think the 4th relief pitcher to make it...while I would guess the number of starting pitchers in in triple digits.

As for Mo being the MVP of the dynasty years...he was only in middle relief for one WS team. He was a closer for the rest.

Michael in New York said...

I know it sounds absurd - I amde the argument to be provocative. But pete echoes a point I was trying to make: that we KNOW Joba can be an ace middle reliever and we KNOW that Mo has one or two years left in him (and even that is hopeful thinking; surely he'll slow down someday) and we KNOW that the ace closer we've had for a decade has been a tremendous luxury it's so very easy to take for granted and we KNOW that we're going to need someone to replace Mo and we KNOW that Mo went beautifully from set-up man to closer and that those roles complement each other mentally and that one is a great warmup for the other and we KNOW that Joba has thrived in the middle relief role in the white-hot spotlight of Yankee stadium. Here is my not so crazy idea: an ace in ANY position should never be moved in hopes that they'll do the same in another role. Why move an ace second baseman to third if you don't have to (and they're not aging out of the infield and need to move to the outfield?) Why move an ace first baseman to catcher? Why move an ace middle reliever to the starting rotation? Especially when you have ABSOLUTELY NO ONE ELSE TO FILL THEIR ROLE? We don't know how Wang and Pettitte and Kennedy and Hughes and Mussina wil do next season of course. But we're very excited aout hughes and kennedy, we've seen Wang be very dependable for a number of years, we saw Pettitte outperform our expectations (thanks, HGH) and Mussina is just a wash. Do we need more starting pitching? Of course. Always. Wil people get injured? Of course. A six man rotation? please, i think we had some 20 pitchers begin games last season. But we do have Hughes and kennedy injected into our starting pitching lineup and we're very hopeful about them. Who do we have for middle relief? Absolutely no one. So why move an ace middle reliever out of that role? My argument that middle relief is more important than a starter is because the nature of the game has changed so much. Four out of five starters every week are going to be lucky to go six full innings. They just don't pitch into the eighth these days. You NEED middle relief even with a great starting lineup. beckett and santana are the rarities. If you'v got great starters, it turns into a six inning game that keeps everyone jazzed. f you've got weak starters, a huge middle reliever and Mo let rookies know that if they CAN get the ball to Joba, they can expect a win. There's nothing more depressing than a young pitcher leaving with a lead and then watching the game get blown.

And Gossage is the fifth (or fourth?) middle reliever in history to get into the Hall of Fame because voters are morons who have taken a decade to realize how much the game has changed and how middle relievers and closers are so much more vital than in the past. A closer like Mo didn't even exist 40 years ago nd he's a lock for the Hall on first ballot. Gssage exemplifies the fact that middle relievers are far more important today than ever before. And please don't confuse "ace" with "one of the two or three best pitchers in the game." We'd be thrilled to have Joba start and be a rock, but that's not the same as expecting him to be a healthy Beckett or Santana -- that's just not a reasonable expectation. We can waste money on five or six pitchers trying to ensure a solid bridge while Joba is already in place and ready to go.

Michael in New York said...

I mention Mo as the MVP of the dynasty because we need to replace him. I know Mo began as a starting pitcher and just had two years as middle relief (right? 95 and 96) before we dumped Wetteland (which I thought was CRAZY at the time) and he became the closer. I'd rather see Joba go a full season or two as middle relief and prepare in every way to close than see him go from middle relief to starter to closers, especially with the risk that he could not be a giant as a starter and that might permanently mess with his mental stamina to be the man.

joe said...

Saying something ridiculous just to be provocative takes away from any good points you make in the rest of your argument.

Like I've said 100 times...I think Joba should be a starter but its definitely a healthy debate and a good problem to have.

My only point was that it is absurd to say that an ace middle reliever is more important than an ace starter.

dasnootz said...

Why not just turn Hughes, Kennedy and Joba in to middle relievers? We can let our starters go 3 innings, then hand the ball to Hughes for 1-2 then Kennedy for 1-2 then Joba for 2 and Rivera for 1. That way our young talent can have an impact on more games.

Michael in New York said...

Dasnootz that sounds wacky -- as wacky as today's game looks to old school pitchers, who can't believer starters are only expected to go five or six innings AT THE MOST and things like "joba rules" and "babying" the youngsters. (If a starter goes seven innings, it'sa banner day; eight innings and you can pop the champagne.) Why don't we turn Joba and Hughes and Kennedy all into middle relievers? Because we need starters and middle relievers. For very strong starters, we have Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Kennedy, Mussina and Joba. For middle relievers, we have...NO ONE. So take one of the starters and turn them into a middle reliever. Which one? uh, Joba? The guy who did it brilliantly last year? especially since we're gonna need a closer in two years? Just a thought. And middle relievers are more important than starters because four out of five starters will fail to get to the seventh inning every single week, so without strong middle relief they won't consistently get the wins they might deserve and it will bum the hell out of everyone.

Michael in New York said...

Joe, I think it makes perfect, absolute sense that for the Yankees, this season, with absolutely no solid middle relief and six (ok, five, who counts Mussina? No one) potentially good starters, that a middle reliever is more important. If you've got three guys who can sub at first base and NO ONE who can play shortstop, then shortstop is more valuable. And the way the game is played today, an ace middle reliever is essential to take advantage of ALL your starters. My only provocation was in stating it as flat out fact, rather than hedging it and throwing in qualifiers. But I believe it one hundred percent. Now don't forget, ace middle reliever and ace starter is not the same as Johan Santana, the best in the game starter. An ace to me is just the best guy in your team, not the best guy on any team, so don't go comparing what Santana might bring to your rotation instead of a more fair comparison, like what Pettitte or Wang brought to the Yankees last season. All those wins starters get? They don't happen without strong middle relief. Andpsychologically, I think it's easier for a starter to deal with a bad outing than to see themselves hand over the ball when the team is ahead nd then watch the game slip away.

dasnootz said...

"It seems so obvious to me that an ace middle reliever is more important to a team than an ace starter."

That's different than saying that an ace middle reliever is more important to the 2008 Yankees than an ace starter.

Of course it's more important for someone performing without a safety net to have good day... but that doesn't mean that as a whole the position is more important than another.

"All those wins starters get? They don't happen without strong middle relief." That's pretty bold unqualified statement.