Chances are that Joba Chamberlain is entering his final season with the Yankees. While he’s spent the majority of the last two seasons on the disabled list, he’s continued to amass service time and he’ll be eligible for free agency next winter at the tender age of 28.
The news yesterday that Chamberlain still thinks of himself as a rotation candidate makes it even less likely that he’ll remain in pinstripes. The Yankees obviously don’t see him in that role and haven’t for years. For what it’s worth, Chamberlain was far from bad as a starter early in his career, going 12-7 with a 4.18 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 221 2/3 innings over 43 starts. He did struggle to work deep into games, but he was effective more often than not.
Of course, that was before Chamberlain hurt his shoulder. He’s no longer the talent that he was when he entered the league as a brash 21-year-old reliever in 2007. He has been effective while healthy, though, posting a 3.47 ERA and a 46/13 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings the last two years.
Chamberlain is set to be a sixth- or seventh-inning guy for the Yankees in front of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera this year. Perhaps the one thing that would keep him in New York is a stellar setup campaign that would establish him as the heir to Rivera’s job. That might cause the Yankees to ante up and keep him around. If, on the other hand, he matches my guardedly optimistic projection — a 3.30-3.50 ERA in about 60 innings — he figures to be too expensive to re-sign for a non-premium role. And if he ends up struggling, well, then he may be long gone before even hitting free agency.
Regardless, Chamberlain will, for the first time, control his own destiny next winter. If he decides he wants to start, it could well cost him some money, but he shouldn’t have much trouble finding a team willing to give him a shot. For all of his injuries, Chamberlain still throws in the mid-90s as a reliever. He possesses two breaking balls, and he expressed an interest in throwing his changeup more. His ability to hold up as a starter would be in question, but the stuff is there to make him a decent one.
The Mets scratched right-hander Zack Wheeler from his scheduled outing Wednesday because of a strained oblique suffered while hitting in the cage.
Wheeler didn’t believe the injury was serious, saying he hopes to make his next start. The Mets, though, figure to be extra cautious with the 22-year-old, who rates among the game’s top five pitching prospects. Wheeler is already locked in to starting the season in Triple-A, so there’s no reason to take any chances and have him risk a setback.
Wheeler was due to make his first spring start today after throwing two scoreless innings out of the pen Saturday against the Nationals. He was a bit wild in that one, but he topped out at 97 mph. Had he pitched against the Cardinals today, Wheeler would have had a chance to face Carlos Beltran, the star the Mets gave up to acquire Wheeler from the Giants in 2011.
Mike Baxter and Gilberto Valle combined to man the left side of New York City high school Archbishop Molloy’s infield in 2002. One went on to play outfield for the New York Mets. The other has been charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping after online chats indicated his desire to cook and eat women.
The connection between the two was first revealed a few months back, but Baxter got asked about it today and issued a no comment.
NYMag.com points out that the 2002 squad featuring Baxter at shortstop and Valle at third won the NYC title and was ranked No. 3 in the East region by USA TODAY.
Valle, a six-year member of the NYPD, is on trial in New York. An FBI agent testified Tuesday on Valle’s reported plans, which included roasting a girl’s arm on a barbecue and “longing for the day i cram a chloroform soaked rag in her face.”
If you watched the MLB Network’s recent reality show, you know that former LSU quarterback Josh Booty is in Diamondbacks camp, having become “The Next Knuckler.”
However, it turns out that should Booty stun the baseball world and actually impress enough with his knuckleball to continue his career, he’ll do so as a Marlin.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Booty remains Marlins property since he retired, instead of getting released, when he left baseball to go play football 14 years ago.
Before spending two years at LSU and getting drafted by the Seahawks, Booty was a first-round pick of the Marlins in 1994, going fifth overall. Despite poor minor league results — he was a lifetime .198/.256/.356 hitter in five seasons — he appeared in the majors with the Marlins each year from 1996-98, going 7-for-26 with four RBI. He retired in Jan. 1999 to go play football.
Since Booty was on the retired list, the Marlins retained his rights for the duration of his absence from baseball. Now that he’s back, they’ll have the right to reclaim him at the end of spring training, should they wish to. Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks, the Marlins and MLB reached a resolution last week to let Booty carry on in Diamondbacks camp for now. It’s not expected that the 37-year-old right-hander will become a serious threat to return to the majors, but one never can tell with knuckleballers.
Tim Lincecum gave up three runs and failed to make it through his two scheduled innings Tuesday against the Dodgers, but he was pleased following his first start of the spring.
CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly has the quotes:
“It’s a good sign,” Lincecum said, “when you feel the ball’s coming out of your hand better than the year before.”
Lincecum struggled with his delivery last spring and didn’t have his usual velocity or command, problems that lingered all season long.
“Last spring it was trying to make something out of nothing,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t have the strength or the mechanics to sustain anything. Now the question isn’t whether I’m going to throw strikes. It’s where I’m going to throw strikes.”
According to Baggarly, Lincecum was throwing 92-93 mph in the first inning today and 89-92 mph in the second. Lincecum generally worked at 89-92 mph last year.
After Lincecum’s successful relief stint in the playoffs last year, some suggested the Giants might be better off keeping him in the bullpen. However, GM Brian Sabean and company certainly weren’t thinking that way. Beyond their top five starters, the Giants have perhaps the worst rotation depth of any big-league team, with Yusmeiro Petit or Chad Gaudin probably ranking as the sixth starter of the moment.