Yankee fans are abuzz with the team’s decision to begin converting awesome young prospect and possible savior Joba Chamberlain from an eighth-inning setup man into a full-fledged starter. Joba’s future has been the subject of intense debate throughout the season, with Hank Steinbrenner agitating for a move RIGHT NOW and general manager Brian Cashman advocating for a more cautious route. But the stretching of Joba’s arm began last night as the 22-year-old pitched two innings instead of his usual one, the first step in what will be a process of gradually increasing his pitch count. The weird thing is how hush-hush Yankee management is being about the whole thing.
Nobody, including the YES network’s commentators, was quite sure why Joba was coming in for a second inning last night. After all, it was just Saturday that Cashman and manager Joe Girardi told reporters Joba could stay in the bullpen all year, and that he might finally make it into the rotation in “’08, ’09 or ’10.” Now, after totally reversing course and claiming this was the plan all along (and, implicitly, that they were lying earlier for some reason), Girardi has “refused to divulge how Chamberlain will be transitioned,” according to the Post, and Cashman demurred, “I don’t want to be specific in how or what we’re trying to do.” It’s all a little too secretive, like they either have no idea what the plan is or they do know and it’s not something the public can handle. Are they going to stretch his arm out by stringing him up and racking him, à la William Wallace in Braveheart? Will he be training with Brian McNamee? Let your guard down, Yankees, we can handle the truth. —Dan Amira