Why is this still an issue?

Goose Gossage has weighed in on the apparent “Joba Debate,” which if you somehow don’t know, is whether or not to use Joba as a starter or a reliever. I first have to wonder why people keep asking Goose for his opinions on this stuff anyways. He was a reliever (and, now, a HOF one at that). Of course he is going to say Joba would have a greater impact as a reliever.

Go ahead and debate the merits of using Joba Chamberlain as a starter, or keeping him in the Yankees’ bullpen. Goose Gossage already has the definitive answer.

Which is wrong (and you say as much later) so I wouldn’t call it “definitive” necessarily.

“He’s invaluable as a reliever,” said Gossage, the Hall of Fame closer. “His arrival [last summer] was the only reason they made the playoffs. Getting the ball to Mariano [Rivera] was their Achilles’ heel, until Joba came up and filled the bill.”

Joba was a very valuable reliever last year, but let’s not get caught up in the hype. The Yankees would have made the playoffs without Joba’s 24 innings. Due to the “Joba Rules,” those innings weren’t always even important ones.

Chamberlain’s 2008 status is the most open-ended question in camp, one that has spawned another potential problem: Could a sudden switch in roles be harmful to the Yanks’ most valuable young arm?

The question is no longer open: Joba is a starter, but will see time in the bullpen to limit his innings. End of story.

“He’s the kind of kid that’s going to do whatever they want him to do,” said Gossage, who doesn’t foresee any physical or psychological damage to Chamberlain based on the Yankees’ arcane approach.

Arcane approach? That would imply not many people understand it. I get it and it’s simple. Starters are more valuable in terms of both wins and financial value than relievers. Starters shouldn’t have their innings pitched rise by more than 30 or so from the previous season or their chances of suffering injury greatly increases. Therefore, young pitchers have an innings-limit. This is not an arcane practice. Many teams are doing it, including the Red Sox.

“One step at a time,” general manager Brian Cashman said when presented that hypothetical scenario. “All I can tell you is there’s an innings limit on him.

“He can’t come out of the gate and give us 200 innings. We look at him as a starter. But how we manage that inning total through the season remains to be seen.”

This is not a debate anymore. Cashman isn’t hiding anything from anyone. Joba is a starter in the long-term but he cannot be used as a traditional 200 innings guy yet.

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