It seems like the simplest decision a baseball team could ever make. A 23-year-old right-handed pitcher blessed with great speed and impeccable location is on your roster and he's spent most of his 124 big league innings making hitters look stupid. Do you use that pitcher as much as humanly possible or do you try and use lesser pitchers to get leads that the wunderkind can then protect?
A no-brainer but, for some reason, the Yankees can't seem to just put Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation and leave him there. After a day of meetings with the Yankee braintrust in Tampa yesterday, Hank Steinbrennerspoke to reporters and said that "everybody's pretty much in agreement" with the idea that Chamberlain should be a starting pitcher. What a sweeping statement of confidence!
Why is this even being debated anymore? Until they prove they can't handle a spot in the rotation, good pitching prospects should be used as starters. All those who crow that Chamberlain is worth more to the Yankees as a set-up man and heir apparent to Mariano Rivera seem to have forgotten that when Rivera first joined the team he was a starter. It was only after he bombed in the role that he became a reliever and, ultimately, an icon.
Breaking Chamberlain in as a reliever in 2007 was the right move, keeping him there wastes the best asset the team has on their pitching staff. Of course he'll do well in the role, he's a good pitcher. Jerry Rice would have been a spectacular third receiver, too, but there's a reason why the 49ers put him in a greater role. Because he was a star and so is Chamberlain.