Chat with Jerry Crasnick
Today, it's all about the future, with Joba Chamberlain vs. Clay Buchholz in a matchup of American League Rookie of the Year candidates. From a purely entertainment standpoint, this one is a heck of a lot more fun than Bud Selig vs. Henry Waxman.
Both pitchers made impactful debuts in 2007. Buchholz threw a no-hitter against Baltimore in his second big league start, and Chamberlain was basically untouchable until a swarm of midges descended from the skies and attacked him in the Division Series in Cleveland.
The case for Buchholz
In his first three professional seasons, Buchholz is 22-11 with 378 strikeouts in 309 innings. In his six career stops -- with Lowell, Greenville, Wilmington, Portland, Pawtucket and Boston -- opponents have hit .219, .211, .182, .180, .221 and .184 against him. Buchholz began his college career at McNeese State as a shortstop, and he's extremely athletic. He has a four-pitch arsenal, and his curveball and changeup are so good that his fastball (which registers in the 90-94 mph range) is generally regarded as his third best pitch. It's no wonder that when the Red Sox made a play for Johan Santana, they made it clear from the outset that Buchholz was off-limits.
The case for Chamberlain
He sailed through three minor league stops last year, whiffing 135 batters in 88 innings before emerging as a bullpen sensation in New York. Chamberlain's 15 1/3 scoreless innings stretch, to begin his career, was the second-longest such streak in Yankees history --surpassed only by Judd ''Slow Joe'' Doyle's 18 scoreless innings in 1906. His fastball and slider both grade out near the max on the 20-80 scouts scale, and the Yankees have the option of plugging him into their rotation or keeping him in the bullpen as a bridge to Mariano Rivera. Right now, it looks as if he'll be a starter in 2008. While the Yankees were willing to part with Phil Hughes in a Santana deal, they told Minnesota that Chamberlain was not up for discussion.
We talked to nine non-Red Sox or Yankees personnel people, and the verdict was decidedly pro-Joba. While most baseball talent evaluators predict stardom for both pitchers, seven of the nine preferred Chamberlain. So we'll go with the Yankees guy as well. Let the debate (and the angry e-mails from Red Sox fans) commence.Vote: Which young pitching prospect would you rather have?
Archive: Hot Stove Heaters