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If you’re gonna put Joba in the pen, make it count

Joba Chamberlain

New York Yankees starting pitcher Joba Chamberlain throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, July 29, 2009, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)


If the Yankees are hellbent on keeping Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in the pen, David Pinto has a great idea of how to maximize their value:

It strikes me that both in the pen could radically alter the Yankees roster. The Yankees would only need nine pitchers, maybe ten. The starting staff is more than capable of going six or seven innings, and in the case of Sabathia, eight. Joba and Hughes take turns going two innings when needed, so they build up a decent amount of innings during the season (both getting over 100). They’re not one-inning setup men, they’re in for however long it takes to get to the ninth. New York can then afford to carry a third catcher and two slick fielding infielders to rest A-Rod and Jeter late in games.

This is an outstanding idea. Sure, I’d like to see Chamberlain get a chance to start without being subject to the Joba Rules, but I’m much more invested in seeing teams break out of La Russian bullpen habits and make the most out of the 25 roster slots they’re given, and this sort of thing would give La Russa a heart attack.

If the Yankees turned Hughes and Chamberlain into a couple of mini-Gossages and were in turn able to add a couple more guys to the bench, the Yankees would be sitting really, really pretty, strategically speaking. And it would be great for Chamberlain and Hughes too. More innings out of the pen would make it much easier for them to transition into starters one day.

The real question is whether it’s the sort of thing Joe Girardi would be capable of managing properly. I have my doubts -- Girardi is nothing if not conventional, and this would be fairly unconventional -- but if Cashman bought into it, he could dictate it to Girardi.

I like this idea so much that I’m already sad that it probably won’t happen.