Ken Davidoff's baseball insider

Yankees, Mets, trade rumors, free agents, off-the-wall predictions and other MLB musings.

Joba Chamberlain, Erik Bedard, Mark McGwire, Bud Selig and spring training

Ken Davidoff wonders if Joba Chamberlain himself would

Ken Davidoff wonders if Joba Chamberlain himself would prefer to be a reliever rather than a starter. (File photo, 2009) (Credit: John Dunn)

Good morning, and Happy February! Hey, how about this weather? How about that Super Bowl? How about Groundhog Day? How about Bobby Abreu settling for a relative pittance with the Angels, justifying the Yankees' decision to not offer him arbitration? 

OK, so I haven't been gone for that long.

Didn't feel compelled to check in these last nine days, because 1) I have a life, dammit, and 2) not much happened in baseball. And for some reason, this lackluster explanation brings to mind Troy McClure's admirable honesty from this episode of "The Simpsons":

Brent: We've got ourselvs a special guest, actor Troy McClure, whose new sitcom is premiering tonight, coincidentally enough, right after the game!
Troy: Thanks, Brent. My new show is called `Handle with Care'. I play Jack Handle, a retired cop who shares an apartment with a retired criminal. We're the original Odd Couple!
Brent: What made you want to do a situation comedy?
Troy: Well, I fell in love with the script, Brent. And my recent trouble with the IRS sealed the deal!

So, what did we miss? Not a heck of a lot, as we mentioned, particularly with our two local clubs. Marcus Thames? Yawn, although I like the new look of the linked blog, "It's About The Money, Stupid." 

The Mets? Good Lord. You know they're going bad when you see they signed Mike Jacobs to a minor-league deal and think, "Hey, that actually could work out all right." Then you regain your senses and realize, "No, it couldn't."

So...I fly to Tampa next Tuesday night and start Florida coverage a week from today, with Joe Girardi's first news conference of the spring. Until then, we'll wade our way back into relevance. And this morning, I'll rely largely upon the work of others.

--Joba Chamberlain. Might as well get the debate started. For those scoring at home, this is Year 3, now, of arguing whether Chamberlain should start or relieve.

I've always been in the "Start!" camp, but after watching how Chamberlain's 2009 season unfolded, you can't help but wonder whether Chamberlain himself would rather relieve. Here's the latest data to throw in the mix, courtesy of FanGraphs

Of all pitchers who threw at least 50 innings in both 2008 and 2009, no one suffered a greater drop in fastball speed than Chamberlain. He lost 2.5 miles an hour off his average fastball.

And yet we saw, in October, that he could still dial it up into the high 90s.

At the risk of becoming an amateur psychologist, this information feeds the increasingly popular notion that Chamberlain was afraid to air it out as a starter last year, perhaps out of fear that his right shoulder condition would recur.

At this point, you'd have to bet that Chamberlain indeed begins the 2010 season as Mariano Rivera's setup man. But it's worth further exploring this issue, and - please don't tell my competition - I intend to do so next week in Tampa.

Thanks to MLBTradeRumors.com for making me aware of the FanGraphs piece.

--Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley apologized to Erik Bedard, for accusing the Mariners lefty of cowardice when it turned out that Bedard had a real injury. Indeed, this is always a dangerous game to play, unless it involves Carl Pavano.

Anywho, I just thought this was a good excuse to rip the Mets once more, for not spending any money on starting pitching. The Mariners' investment in Bedard is a risk, but not a big one. There are still starting pitchers to be had in John Smoltz and Jarrod Washburn and, what the heck, Pedro Martinez.

The Mets are out of their minds if they don't throw a few dollars at one of these guys. Or, you know...they're out of money. It's simply not acceptable for a team in this payroll stratosphere to go forward with this shaky a starting rotation, not when there are bargains to be had.

Speaking of which, Peter Abraham reports that Chien-Ming Wang will sign with the Nationals. I'll believe in Wang's returned usefulness when I see it

--I'm fascinated by the whole Mark McGwire issue. Not the fist-shaking morality part of it, but rather whether McGwire's lame steroids explanation will negatively impact the Cardinals' ambitions. And to that end, former Giants media relations director Blake Rhodes, who now works for a private public-relations firm, offered some advice to the Cardinals.

Rhodes lived this scenario with Barry Bonds. I covered enough of Bonds' later years to at least get a taste of what life was like with the Giants. And while I can't document this statistically, it would be naive to think that the voluminous media on hand didn't contribute to a negative atmosphere, and therefore hurt the team.

Yes, Bonds' offensive production justified his existence. To reiterate a question we've asked here, will McGwire's ability to break down video justify his existence? It's not like the Cardinals' clubhouse will be packed with media every day. But McGwire will definitely, sporadically draw a crowd.

--Bob Tufts alerted me to the story that the Brewers are erecting a statue of Bud Selig outside Miller Park. I have to say, though, this really didn't offend me. If you're a Brewers fan, wouldn't you love Selig, for taking the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee back in 1970 and, more recently, browbeating the Wisconsin government into funding the entirety of a new ballpark? 

The irony, of course, is that Selig is getting the statue because his family finally sold the Brewers to the excellent Mark Attanasio, who has made Milwaukee a perennial competitor and filled up that ballpark in the process. There wouldn't be such warmth toward Selig if the Brewers still stunk.

--Finally, Newsday.com is conducting a survey on reasons to love spring training. Throw in your two cents, or just a tale of your own spring-training experiences, if you've been fortunate enough to be at a camp.

--Don't anticipate much action today, what with the weather, but I'll check in later. It's good to be back.

 

 

Tags: Mark McGwire , Chien-Ming Wang , Erik Bedard , Bud Selig , Blake Rhodes , Mike Jacobs

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