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Sound the Alarms

With Joe Girardi taking over in New York it's easy to not see the parallels between his new gig and his old one - not with FOX, but the Florida Marlins. The Yankees payroll is annually well over 100 million, the Marlins doesn't top half the average payroll anymore, one team expects a title and then another, the other expects a title then a rebuilding period. But the two also share something else; both had at least a few promising young arms in the rotation, and by the end of next season both will be touched by Girardi.

Joba Chamberlain, Phillip Hughes, and Ian Kennedy are pieces that Brian Cashman and the Yankees have figured into their plans one way or the other; either using them to acquire Minnesota Twins' ace Johan Santana or filling out their rotation and bullpen. In 2006 Girardi inherited a pitching staff that had an average age of 25.9 - including 24 year old Dontrelle Willis, 22 year olds Scott Olsen, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and 23 year old Ricky Nolasco - each whom started at least 15 games for the Marlins.

Fast forward to 2007, Willis and Olsen are the only of the five that made more than 30 appearances for the team and both of their performances fell off dramatically. Johnson underwent elbow surgery, Sanchez shoulder surgery, and Nolasco missed significant time with right elbow inflammation. Things aren't what they seem to be, and it would be unfair to jump to a conclusion and blame the missing variable in this equation - Girardi - for the majority of their young starters going hurt.

To truly examine whether Girardi had any doings in the injuries let's examine the only thing he really had control of when it came to the pitchers' bodies: their workloads. Using Baseball Prospectus' Pitcher Abuse Points system, we'll see how hard Girardi rode his young guns and try and conclude whether he's a risk to pitchers like Dusty Baker. The PAP system works like this: after 100 pitches a point total per pitch is put into place to determine just how much "abuse" that pitcher is taking. For pitches 101-110 one point is awarded per pitch, two for 111-120, three for 121-130, and so on until we reach 151+ and six points. As BP itself acknowledges the system isn't perfect, but in my mind it is better than magically assuming 100 pitches is the magic number for a pull.

All five ranked in the top 115 in total PAP, when you consider there's more than 150 starters in the league and only 303 ranked (total amount of pitchers who started a game) it's somewhat ridiculous that a team would have most - in this case all except Brian Moehler - of its rotation ranked so high.  

I'm not prepared to call him the next Dusty Baker, yet. He's heading to an organization that placed strict provisions on Chamberlain last season, and for good reason, Joe Torre is notorious for developing "groundhog" reliever tendencies, but for Girardi he may get all three in the rotation - something that, for the trio in New York's sake they better hope Nardi Contreras hasn't deleted the Joba Rules file just yet.