By Sweeny Murti
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We all got tired of hearing about the Joba Rules, but the Yankees stuck with them. And in the end, Joba Chamberlain still got injured and needs Tommy John surgery. But don’t think it means the Yankees are going to be any less careful with their pitching assets.
The goal is to try to prevent injury. Teams take great care with pitching prospects that they have invested heavily in, because the best way to keep from throwing silly free agent money at middle of the road pitching is by growing your own. A setback to one pitcher doesn’t mean your whole basis of player development should be thrown out the window.
Think of it like this—if you got into a car accident while wearing your seatbelt and still got hurt, would you advocate that seatbelts no longer be used at all because it made no difference? Of course, you wouldn’t.
Joba’s injury gives ammunition to all those critics who felt the Yankees were babying him and all their young pitchers too much. But the Yankees got to this point with a barrel full of case histories that suggested over-working pitchers early in their careers leads to a greater risk of severe arm injuries. There is nothing that says, “Pitch the guy as much as possible and don’t worry about the consequences.”
LISTEN: GM Brian Cashman on Joba news
Teams used to run their operations that way, but that’s when pitchers were disposable, cheap assets. If one guy didn’t work out, go down the assembly line and get the next guy. We hear all the time about the Tom Seavers and Nolan Ryans of the world, but nobody can remember the names of the all the guys who blew out in the low minors and were thrown away. Today’s medical technology couldn’t help them then, but replacements didn’t cost nearly as much.
The Yankees didn’t go this far with their philosophy on pitchers only to turn back now. Don’t expect it to change just because one got hurt. If anything, it will make them realize how costly it is to find and make them stick to their plans even more.
*David Robertson takes on the all-important 8th inning role now. He has the ability and he has the make-up to get crucial late-inning outs. After all, he’s been getting them at various stages of the game all along anyway. In fact, some day he could be a closer. But the fact that his walks ratio is nearly 7 per 9 innings is outrageous, and it must be controlled if the Yanks are going to lock down the late innings.
*Some draft notes: Yanks took pitchers with 21 of their first 30 picks. I was told there were good position players early, but not that many, so once the Yanks got the few they liked they took a run on pitchers, who always have value in an organization.
It’s interesting to note that Dante Bichette, Jr. and Matthew Duran (two of the Yanks top four picks) are power-hitting third basemen. Both kids were described to me as having very big power potential, which appears to me to be an important tool for prospects in the post-steroid era, when power is in shorter supply.
Bichette has strong name recognition for fans because of his father, the former major leaguer and one-time teammate of Joe Girardi. The two former Colorado Rockies remain close, with Dante Jr. saying he still calls Girardi “Uncle Joe.”
It seems like there are a lot of second-generation big leaguers and siblings of big leaguers coming along every year, but that’s not always an easy pick to make.
Yanks VP of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer said Thursday that he sees many pedigree players that are “overly pampered” and don’t necessarily want to work as hard as other kids, perhaps because they’re famous fathers made enough money to live comfortably.
Oppenheimer said Bichette is different because he badly wants to play in the majors, and through their hands-on scouting of Bichette they have discovered many admirable traits in his work habits, his workout routines, and his eating habits.
Scouting second-generation big leaguers has become a case-by-case science, said Oppeheimer, and that you “really have to read through it. Sometimes pedigree guys act like they’re entitled. This one (Bichette) is not.”
I’ve spoken to several people who think Bichette will sign relatively easily and begin his climb up the farm system ladder.