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Cash and Hank: On the same page

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After seeing the comments in the New York Times today, Brian Cashman spoke with Hank Steinbrenner.

“We’re on the same page, 110 percent,” Cashman told The Journal News a few minutes ago. “He understands the situation.”

Cashman said Joba Chamberlain would remain in the bullpen for now. At some point (Page 1 of the Secret Plan), he will make the transition to the rotation.

How Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy or Mike Mussina pitches has nothing to do with it. The Yankees are primarily concerned with Joba’s development and health.

“If we need a pitcher or somebody gets hurt, we’ll go down below and get somebody,” Cashman said. “You can’t just suddenly put Joba in the rotation.”

There is no question in Cashman’s mind – none whatsoever – that Joba’s future is as a starter. He was drafted as a starter, paid a signing bonus as a starter and developed as a starter. His pitching in the bullpen has been a function of innings limits.

As for Hank’s comments that it was a mistake for Joba to pitch in relief last season, Cashman said he explained to the co-chairperson that Joba was about to reach his innings limit when that move was made.

“Hank wasn’t involved last season and he didn’t understand what we were doing at that time,” Cashman said. “I explained it to him and he had no problems with it.”

Whether or not Joba pitched in relief last season, Cashman said, had no effect on his availability as a starter this season.

What many people don’t understand (including some people who are on the radio) is that every starter in the Yankees organization has an innings limit. You don’t just take a 22-year-old kid and pitch him 200 innings. That’s irresponsible.

People know Joba because he was able to temporarily fill a need in the bullpen. Do you know how many starters would make great set-up men? A large percentage. Just because a player is good in one role doesn’t mean he should be limited to that role.

Here’s another way to look at it: Joba has been available to pitch in 15 games this season. He has appeared in five of those games for a total of 6.1 innings. That’s 19 outs.

If he were a starter, he would have appeared in three of those 15 games for about 20 innings. That’s 60 outs.

Why in the world would you want a player of that caliber to be used 69 percent less than he could be? It makes no sense.

One brush fire, extinguished.