Though the Yankees long-term plans continue to envision Joba Chamberlain as the team's future No. 5 starter, expect the prized prospect to soon be quietly eased into the majors as a member of the bullpen.
The Yankees will follow a strategy successfully used by the Twins, who have traditionally worked young hurlers into the rotation gradually. As such, Chamberlain's arrival from the minors is widely thought to be imminent, though he may not appear as a starter until next spring.
Such players in the past would have found themselves on the trading block, but general manager Brian Cashman has resisted offers to trade Chamberlain for immediate help for the team's playoff run.
Cashman's estimations of Chamberlain's potential are so high that he spurned Rangers offers to trade veteran closer Eric Gagne for him, even though the decision meant Gagne would go to the arch rival Red Sox.
The 20-year-old, 2006 supplemental round pick (46th overall) throws a high-90's fastball that can hit triple digits. He also throws a natural slider, curve and changeup. Chamberlain eventually will move to the top of the rotation if he can overcome a history of injury difficulties.
Chamberlain has the potential to develop into the best American Indian player in the major leagues since Jim Thorpe.