Broken Clouds 30° Good Morning
Broken Clouds 30° Good Morning

There's something about Joba Chamberlain...

It's the 2007 debut, right? It's those images of dominance and exuberance, going from a guy who wasn't even invited to big-league camp to savior in four months flat.

Because we do realize that every pitcher should, in theory, be better as a relief pitcher than as a starter, right. If the Red Sox put Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester in their bullpen alongside Jonathan Papelbon, they'd have the best bullpen in baseball history.

Because there was a window, albeit one of about a month and a half, that Chamberlain looked like he could transfrom that relief magic reasonably well to the sarting rotation, generating comments like the one from this story:

"Chamberlain has great stuff. Fastball in the mid-90s, slider, curve, nothing we didn't know about coming in. We tried to put good at-bats together, but we couldn't get anyting done."

That was from Dustin Pedroia, who proceeded to win the AL MVP in 2008, when he offered those thoughts after Joba shut down the Red Sox on July 25.

Really, for the fifth segment of the Indiana Jones series, Indy should search for the mojo that Joba lost two starts later, when he left the Aug. 4 game in Texas with a shoulder condition. Right now, that looks like the turning point in Chamberlain's career, as Bob Klapisch mentions in his column today.

After all, the Indiana Jones series has some Yankees shout-outs, as you can see with the last trivia question here.

In any case, it's time to move past my frustration that not everyone remembers that 2008 period - or, for that matter, the fact that the Yankees drafted Joba as a starter and shifted him to relief in '07 only because the big-league club was desperate for help.

The issue that matters now is, Chamberlain indeed pitched very well last night, and certainly gave Joe Girardi incentive to make Chamberlain the primary eighth-inning guy. I'd say that Girardi should take his time in shaping his bullpen, but Girardi himself said - before last night's game - that he wanted to get guys in roles as soon as possible. So the skipper should go ahead and tab Chamberlain, which I think will happen in actions if not words for the moment.

--Off the game, I wrote about A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada. Burnett hardly dominated, but he and Posada generally did seem to work well together, and they spoke glowingly of each other afterwards. So with that bridge rebuilt, I say, let Burnett pitch to Francisco Cervelli most of the time. Posada needs his rest, anyway, and Burnett is probably the most physically demanding pitcher on the Yankees staff to catch because of his proverbially electric stuff.

The idea is, if Cerveilli is banged up, then Posada can catch Burnett without it being drama. And come the playoffs, the two can work together, as well. Even in the worst-case scenario, pairing Burnett with Cervelli in the playoffs wouldn't be tragic.

--The Yankees' lineup overall really looks strong, doesn't it? Only Mark Teixeira seems notably out of rhythm.

--Phil Hughes is currently enjoying a weird, temporary existence. He's on the Yankees' active roster, yet he spent Monday in Tampa throwing a simulated game, and he'll do the same thing Saturday (although the Yankees will be in nearby St. Petersburg). I'm looking forward to Hughes' first start on April 15, to see how much he uses the changeup. The Yankees were very encouraged with how it looked in spring training.

--Speaking of encouragement, the opposite of that occurred last night in St. Pete, where new Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez blew his first save opportunity.

 --David Lennon offers his early Mets thoughts. I have heard from friends in my industry that the Mets' Hall of Fame really looks great, albeit a year late. Did anyone go there on Monday?

--Old Newsday friend Kat O'Brien wrote a good story about baseball in Cuba for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

I'll check in later from the ballpark.





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