If you're gonna put Joba in the pen, make it count

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Joba.jpgIf the Yankees are hellbent on keeping Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in the pen, David Pinto has a great idea of how to maximize their value:

It strikes me that both in the pen could radically alter the Yankees
roster. The Yankees would only need nine pitchers, maybe ten. The
starting staff is more than capable of going six or seven innings, and
in the case of Sabathia, eight. Joba and Hughes take turns going two
innings when needed, so they build up a decent amount of innings during
the season (both getting over 100). They’re not one-inning setup men,
they’re in for however long it takes to get to the ninth. New York can
then afford to carry a third catcher and two slick fielding
infielders to rest A-Rod and Jeter late in games.

This is an outstanding idea. Sure, I’d like to see Chamberlain get a chance to start without being subject to the Joba Rules, but I’m much more invested in seeing teams break out of La Russian bullpen habits and make the most out of the 25 roster slots they’re given, and this sort of thing would give La Russa a heart attack.

If the Yankees turned Hughes and Chamberlain into a couple of mini-Gossages and were in turn able to add a couple more guys to the bench, the Yankees would be sitting really, really pretty, strategically speaking. And it would be great for Chamberlain and Hughes too. More innings out of the pen would make it much easier for them to transition into starters one day.

The real question is whether it’s the sort of thing Joe Girardi would be capable of managing properly. I have my doubts — Girardi is nothing if not conventional, and this would be fairly unconventional — but if Cashman bought into it, he could dictate it to Girardi.

I like this idea so much that I’m already sad that it probably won’t happen.

Jharel Cotton to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.

This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.