Yanks moving Joba into the pen

Hughes on verge of Bronx return
I think Phil's ready

I don’t like this move, but as I sit here and suffer through a Kyle Farnsworth implosion in a six-run game, I guess the Yanks have no choice. As everyone watching the game knows, the Yanks are moving Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen.

Here’s how the move is breaking down: Chamberlain, scheduled to start tomorrow, will instead work out of the bullpen at some point during the game. He will then relieve again on Wednesday, and the Yankees will evaluate the 21-year-old at that point.

I’m not a huge fan of this move. Chamberlain is pitching in his first professional season, and he’s been starting all year. Now, in August, the team is moving him to the pen because the pieces Brian Cashman has put in place on the big league level aren’t getting the job done. Someone’s gotta step up and cover Cashman’s ass get the job done. The Yanks are hoping it’s Joba. And that’s not even touching upon the injury risk.

Meanwhile, as Ed Price notes, the Yankees insist that Joba’s future remains as a starter. That is a no-brainer really. I would always take 180+ innings per season of Joba the starter than I would of 70 IP of Joba the reliever. I hope the Yanks aren’t lured into using him as a middle reliever/set-up guy for too long.

At this point, I guess we should expect Chamberlain to arrive in the Bronx sometime after Hughes’ return in August. I’m guardedly skeptical of this decision.

Hughes on verge of Bronx return
I think Phil's ready
  • Malcard89

    Has anyone got any recent info from a reliable scout or other source on which of Joba’s pitches are now major league quality? He came into the minor league season with a plus fastball and slider, but what of his other pitches?

  • Yanks26

    When Michael Kay started the Yankees are moving Joba…. there was a long pause. I thought he was going to say for Ken Phelps (I mean Teixera). I was ready to throw the TV threw the window.

    Malcard, Joba has a fastball that hits 98 and a nasty slider. His change up is improving, but is a work in progress.

  • http://mehmattski.blogspot.com mehmattski

    To me, it seems like the stats revolution that has occurred in baseball has simply re-enforced the Earl Weaver method of managing. Walks and the three run homer, strikeout pitchers, and that the best bullpen is made out of youngsters.

    Farnsworth: $5M/yr
    Viz: $3M/yr
    Myers: $1.25M/yr

    Wouldn’t they get similar production from three players making league minimum, and save about $10M/yr on these overpriced relievers? With the farm system ramping up in power, why doesn’t it make sense to use young starters as relievers in the big leagues until they are promoted to big league starters? Wouldn’t this help the problem of overworked youngsters? Even 80 IP from a hell-bent Torre would be better than going 250 IP at age 22 and burning out by 28. Right?

  • JerseyJohn

    I am all for this move. It used to be common place for young starters to get their feet wet out of the pen. That being said don’t think a guys arm can’t be ruined out of the pen. Starters blow out from too many pitches per game at a young age, releivers blow out from too many apperances too often. Torre just needs to be careful how he uses Joba, and I’m pretty sure Cashman etc.. will give him some guidlines. I think the AL is in for a nasty suprise when Joba starts coming at them in the 7th throwing straight heat.

  • Zack

    I have been fearing this for so long and now its coming true: One of the major components of the future of this franchise is being entrusted to Joe Torre’s most galling and damaging weakness, the BP. There is no way for Joba to come out of this in better shape unless Torre is mandated from above to use Joba specifically for three inning type stints every six days or so. And even that isn’t really the best thing for him. If left alone, Joe will either let Joba rot and keep up his push button managing or throw him out there every other day/every day for an inning at a time and before we know it Joba will be Proctored/Sturtzed/Quantrilled. If Torre couldn’t figure out how to use Britton and Edwar, how can we at all fell comfortable with this move? Every Yankee fan should be crossing their fingers and praying to the baseball gods for the future of Joba. Sigh…

  • Tom

    If you think about it, the Yankees are kind of doing what the Red Sox did with Papelbon. They’re moving him into the pen this year, just because they need help and because he’s so good, but they still have the intention of keeping him as a starter. If he’s good, he’ll probably be a starter next year. Let’s just hope that he does go back to being a starter and not just turn into a reliever like Papelbon was.

  • Mac

    Let’s just hope this works and Joba dominates in the pen and then moves into the rotation next year as planned…because if something bad happens (which I am terrifed of) I might have to stop following baseball. I rarely have powerful reactions to team developments, but this crap definitely provoked an irritated if not angry “F#$^” from me. Here’s to crossing fingers/toes/arms/praying.

  • The Scout

    Although I share the concerns that the switch may increase the injury risk, I would note two points on the other side of the argument. First, there probably isn’t enough time left in the season for Torre to destroy Chamberlain’s arm through overuse. This is especially so since Chamberlain first will have to earn Torre’s “trust,” whatever the hell that means. Second, how many young pitchers have suffered serious injuries when they pitch short-term out of the bullpen? I’ll keep my fingers crossed (like everyone else), but the move makes more sense than overpaying in the trade market for a 7th-inning set-up guy.

  • http://mehmattski.blogspot.com mehmattski

    Besides, isn’t this a better plan than the previous strategy of trading their best pitchers away for aging veterans?

  • Luddy Bazcej

    I dont think its a problem to have him work out of the pen this year. The kids got a good head on his shoulders and wicked stuff. He can go back to starting next year, this isnt a huge deal.

  • Rich

    Oh, it’s a problem because Joba is not going to be able to continue to get the necessary IP to build up his stamina as a ML starter, nor will be be able to continue to work on all of his pitches.

    What they should really do is force Torre to use Britton and Ramirez or suffer the consequences, but for whatever reason they have opted not to do that.

  • Jesse G.

    I am a huge fan of the Earl Weaver style of developing prospects. Start them out of the pen and then transition to the rotation.

  • Yankee Fan in Chicago

    Those who point out the Earl Weaver use of young pitchers out of the pen are dead on. Weaver was a genius.

    I’d also point out that, as long as Cash and Guidry prevent Torre’s worst instincts from taking hold, this might be good for Joba’s arm. That is, this is his first pro year, and he must therefore be approaching his most ip ever soon. As a starter, he’d blow past that. And we know that that’s where problems arise w/ young arms, when they blow past their previous season’s ip mark. Coming out of the pen should mean less ip over the remainder of the year, and should help him next year.

  • Dude

    well, I’m afraid of TS (torre syndrome). there’s only two ways torre uses relievers: 1. severe overuse, ala Proctor, 2. severe underuse, ala Edwar. Both situations are bad for pitchers, and we cant have our 2nd best prospect subjected to those conditions. Cash HAS to mandate rules to torre concerning joba, e.g. never two straight days, and must be used at least once every four days. something like that, but i still dont trust torre to abide.

  • Rich

    Joba pitched 118.2 innings for Nebraska in 2005.


    He has pitched 84 innings this season.

    I don’t see the danger of him blowing past his previous high so easily.

  • The Scout

    One possibility we have overlooked: perhaps “Joba to the pen” is no more than a trade-deadline bluff. As the Yanks go in search of immediate bullpen help, other teams must be asking a lot. If the Yankees talk up an inside option, it makes their quest seem less urgent. This may be useful in limiting the price they would have to pay for, say, Eric Gagne. Note the interesting timing of the announcement — just before the deadline. If the Yanks were comitted to the move, why make it so public at just this moment?

  • Rowland

    Seems like there’s a lot of anti-Torre sentiment out there.

    Who could have done a better job this year–with all the weird injuries etc.?