CC Sabathia told the masses that he lost 25 pounds this offseason by eliminating Cap'n Crunch from his diet.
He didn't tell anyone what he did with the Cap'n Crunch that was doubtlessly stocked up in his pantry, but it seems a good bet that he sent it to wherever Joba Chamberlain was staying this winter. There hasn't been a soul at Yankee camp who hasn't sent back a report of how much larger Chamberlain looks this season, with most of them finding reason to dispute Chamberlain's claim that he put on a lot of muscle.
Whether or not it is muscle, it does strike as odd that Chamberlain would undergo such a radical transformation before the most important spring training of his life. Brian Cashman didn't do much to dissuade thoughts that the new girth is problematic during a conversation with Ben Shpigel of the Times.
“He’s heavier, we’ll just leave it at that,” Cashman said.
Told that Chamberlain said he packed on muscle, Cashman said: “He’s obviously heavier. That’s as much as I’ll say.”
Asked if he expected Chamberlain to be lighter by camp’s end, Cashman declined comment.
“He’s heavier,” Cashman said.
It's kind of amazing that no one has ever gone from being a New York general manager to being White House press secretary. It is hard to believe there's much better training ground for the job.
If Chamberlain's waist size is the bad news, the good news is that his fastball also seems a lot heavier than the one he had when he was last on the mound for the Yankees. Right after everyone mentions the weight, they mention the way the ball is exploding out of his hand. Could it be that packing on the pounds brings Chamberlain back to being the pitcher everyone has wanted him to be?
Perhaps, but that's a long way off. The first thing Chamberlain has to do is restore some semblance of trust in his ability from the front office and Joe Girardi. For all of the manager's willingness to talk up Joba's arm last season, he refused to use him in a big spot in the final weeks and months of the season and there's a bunch of pitchers ahead of him in the pecking order this time around.
He can throw the hell out of the ball and make his slider move like a dancer from another planet, but it doesn't much matter if he's doing those things in the fifth inning of a game that's already out of reach. It will only matter if he is getting outs in high leverage situations, something that will only happen if those in front of him get hurt or fall apart. If that happens, the Yankees will probably be in bad shape, even if Chamberlain is back to his old tricks.
With apologies to Joseph Heller, this is what we call a Pitch-22.