The Mets deal for Jason Bay is complete. Press conference tomorrow morning at 11.
Let’s focus the debate here a little bit. Both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are going to spring training as starters. Both will surely work as starters until the Yankees are reasonably convinced they have a healthy five-man rotation. If that five-man rotation goes as planned — CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Javy Vazquez are all healthy — that leaves room for only one of Hughes and Chamberlain. We know all of this already.
Which Plan B do you prefer?
1. Send Hughes/Chamberlain to the bullpen
Pro: No doubt this makes the big league pen better. Both Hughes and Chamberlain have pitched well in a setup role, and the Yankees have no obvious eighth-inning reliever at the moment (though Dave Robertson seems to be knocking on the door).
Con: No matter how much work Hughes/Chamberlain does in spring training, moving to pen would leave him no longer stretched out to start if and when the Yankees need a sixth starter. Also, it’s difficult for a reliever to throw more than 100 innings in a season, which means Hughes/Chamberlain would not be stretched out to start without an innings limit next season.
2. Send Hughes/Chamberlain to Triple-A
Pro: When has a team ever gone through an entire season needing only five starters? Chances are, at some point, the demoted right-hander would move into the big league rotation, probably for more than one or two starts. Even if he stays in Triple-A, at least he would build up innings for next year.
Con: The big league bullpen would be weakened, and really, what is there for Hughes or Chamberlain to learn in Triple-A? Maybe Hughes could throw his changeup in a low-stress environment, and Chamberlain could work a little bit on both his changeup and curveball, but at this point they have too much big league time to expect them to get much out of the minors. Plus, it’s kind of a kick in the gut for either pitcher.