Bad Start Shouldn't Eliminate Aceves from 5th Starter Competition

I wrote a while ago that Alfredo Aceves should at the very least be considered in the running for the 5th spot in the starting rotation. But given his performance in his latest start he shouldn’t even be in pinstripes, let alone even be considered in the running for the 5th spot! I mean, so what if he retired 6 straight batters and pitched a scoreless third inning. He gave up TWO RUNS in the fourth and then left the bases loaded with only one out in the fifth and THREE MORE RUNS SCORED! Forget the fact that a simple ground ball in the 5th would have given Aceves a line of 4.1 innings and 2 runs. Forget the fact that he has pitched better than almost any Yankees starter this spring training. Forget that he has proven to be very effective in the intense New York spotlight for many years. Forget that he limits bad outings and has rarely let games get away from him. He just simply is not the right guy for the job because his performance against the Houston Astros was not up to par.

Okay so maybe I am over-reacting but headlines like this one from the daily news are exactly why I get so frustrated. I mean, the article itself much less presumptuous but the headline would lead you to believe that he gave up 5 runs on 3 hits with 3 walks in one and a third innings. Whoops, my mistake that was an outing that Joba Chamberlain had earlier in spring training. I guess my point is that everyone seems to believe that Chamberlain is a lock to win the role as the Yankees 5th starter because he started last year and the Yankees have spent years prepping him for the role. Shouldn’t recent performances count for something? After all, the Big Apple is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately place.

I understand that Spring Training is just “Spring Training” but you can’t abuse that fact to your benefit. If Joba was performing well many people would be crying out that he deserved the starting job because of how well he was pitching. But, as is the case right now, Joba is not performing well but people are dismissing this fact because it is Spring Training and it isn’t really that important. I hate to break it to all the Joba defenders out there, but it is important. Just ask the guys who are fighting for a roster spot or doing their best not to get sent back down to the minors if it is important. There are guys fighting for their livelihoods during Spring Training. Also, if you think that these professional athletes, especially those who go out on the field knowing that they are in a fierce competition with one another, will take it easy because it is just “Spring Training” you are sorely mistaken. For the young guys every game counts. And for the veterans it would be ridiculous to presume that when they come up to bat they are not going to do their best to get a hit. You can’t just turn off your competitive nature, just ask Michael Jordan.  The games still count for something.

The debate about the importance of these games has raged for quite some time. I understand that there are perfectly legitimate arguments as to why Spring Training is not terribly important or indicative of success in the regular season. All I am trying to convey is that you cannot ascribe importance to these games when it helps your arguments and then relegate their importance when it hurts your arguments. The world does not work that way and neither should baseball.

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