Fans are often afflicted by the “If I have not seen it, it does not exist” fallacy when attempting to evaluate athletes. Mike Francesa is convinced that Joba Chamberlain belongs in the bullpen, because he has seen his succeed as a reliever and struggle as a starter. Apparently, some major league talent evaluators have the same problem:
So, who has more value? That depends on whom you ask and who has seen them recently.
“I would want Hughes if I am dealing with the Yankees, because even though he has been good in the pen, he is a starter and Chamberlain is a reliever,” an NL talent evaluator said.
Another believed it was even because, “In my mind both are relievers.”
A third scout said because of Chamberlain’s upside he would take him but has been impressed with Hughes’ work out of the bullpen.
These scouts are clearly major league advance scouts who have never watched a minor league game ion which Chamberlain or Hughes pitched. If neither had ever pitched an inning out of the bullpen, this would not be a topic of discussion. No one ever profiled either of these guys as relievers, primarily because they have the stuff and stamina to start. Yet, because some people have seen them struggle as starters and thrive in the bullpen, they have already decided that these incredibly young pitchers would be best served by pitching in relief. The whole thing has reached a point of absurdity. There are no calls for the Rays to send David Price to the bullpen, or for the Dodgers to send Chad Billingsley back there. These are starting caliber arms, and wasting them in the bullpen would be criminal. Unless, of course, you ask Goose Gossage The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting full
“For me, it’s a no-brainer,” Gossage told The Post, incredulous the Bombers insist on using Chamberlain as a starter instead of in the setup role in which he excelled during 2007.
“I look at ballgames that this guy could’ve impacted that they lost. I’m just shaking my head. I can’t believe it.
“This guy was their savior two years ago when they didn’t have a set-up guy. They wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Joba. He’d be the perfect [set-up] guy. If you could impact three or four ballgames a week instead of one … I think you’re wasting a tremendous talent.”
Firstly, Gossage creates a false dichotomy whereby he suggests that in the bullpen, Joba would be impacting 3 or 4 games a week. The odds of that happening are slim, as there are typically not 3-4 games a week that need to be “saved” in the 8th inning. Furthermore, he would be impacting fewer innings, and creating a position of weakness in the rotation. Finally, Goose references all the games that he could have impacted that they lost. The Yankees are 37-3 when ahead starting the 8th inning, and are 9-0 when tied starting the 8th. They have blown 3 games all season when leading starting the 8th, and one of those was blown by Mariano. Basically, there were two games that he might have impacted. The argument for Joba in the bullpen frequently is forced to turn to specious arguments not grounded in fact. Both of these guys deserve every chance to succeed in the rotation. Patience, Yankees fans.
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