I don’t recall a spring training game being talked up as much as yesterday’s Yankees-Phillies tilt, which the New York press breathlessly reported as Joba Chamberlain’s make-or-break day. Certainly Chamberlain needed a good outing — he’s been pitching terribly so far this spring — but it’s not like the Yankees are so shortsighted that they’d decide who their fifth starter would be in mid-March.
But he did pitch well. One run over four innings, pounding the strike zone and pitching very economically, which for him is the biggest challenge. Girardi called Chamberlain’s effort “outstanding.” Which, if I can anticipate the tabloids I have yet to read this morning, will somehow thrust Chamberlain out front in the horse race they’re calling.
Which is just as silly as saying he was so far behind before. Girardi and Cashman and everyone will probably wait until just before opening day to decide this thing. And once it’s decided, the repercussions of the decision, such as they are, will likely only be felt for a few months. If Hughes wins the job, the stricter innings pitched limit he’ll be under will likely lead to Chamberlain or someone else making spot starts. After this season, both Hughes and Chamberlain will likely be in the Yankees rotation.
In a spring filled with very few compelling storylines in Yankees camp, this one is being overblown.
This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.
For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.