We haven’t dropped in on our good buddy Joba Chamberlain in a while so let’s visit with the Yanks’ Number 1 prospect, according to Baseball America.
As is always the case these days with Joba, there’s a lot on the Internet about him. All of it is contradictory, and as an added bonus, none of it involves Hank Steinbrenner, Joe Girardi of Brian Cashman talking about Joba’s place in the rotation or bullpen next year. Instead, it comes from the Joba-Worshipping Yankee Universe.
In one corner, we have Joba the Starter. By way of Baseball Think Factory, we have Wax Heaven, a baseball card blog, taking a look at Joba Chamberlain. Mario Alejandro, the site’s author, runs a whole bunch of comps and finds that, yes, Joba Chamberlain should be a pretty damn good starter in 2008 and forever more. The conclusion:
Though Chamberlain’s GB% wasn’t very high, his K/9 ratio was so high that he effectively pitched better than every pitcher we have looked at thus far. I am fully aware that Chamberlain’s numbers are based off of a small sample size and his ERA will not stay at 0.38, but his K/9 ratio is very consistent with his minor league stats and his GB% is actually much lower than his minor league average. I expect that his K/9 ratio will remain above 10 and his GB% will likely reach 50% next year, meaning that he could easily outperform 95% of American League pitchers, including Johan Santana.
So how do Yankee fans respond to this glowing praise from an unbiased fan who doesn’t purport to have a mancrush on Joba like we do here at RAB? By turning to the other corner and mentioning Joba the Reliever of course. By way of My Baseball Bias comes this poll on YesNetwork.com. The poll asks, “Who should be Mariano Rivera’s primary set-up man?” While none of the choices are Ross Ohlendorf, visitors can opt for Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins or Joba Chamberlain. With 2646 votes counted, Joba has received 53 percent of them, Hawkins 31 percent and Farnsworth at 16.
Talk about bad third-place finishes.
This is, of course, no surprise. Everyone loved watching Joba come out of the pen last year and do his best Mariano Rivera circa 1996 impression. And the numbers are pretty damn impressive: 24 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 34 K. It’s hard to argue with that. But it’s harder to sacrifice Joba’s place in the rotation and the potential to be the next Roger Clemens, sans Vitamin B12 shots, or Johan Santana.
Meanwhile, the YES Network poll highlights a topic Joe is planning on covering before Spring Training: the precarious state of the Yankee bullpen. With Hawkins and Farnsworth the designated heirs to the 8th inning right now, I’m stocking up on Pepto Bismal and calling my (non-existent) heart doctor. As I said, I’d like to see Ross Ohlendorf given that spot if he shows up and has a good spring training. He was willing to throw strikes in limited September duty, and his stuff is better than Hawkins’.
With Spring Training a few weeks away, we’ll be hearing a lot about Joba. But for now, it’s the same old, same old. Everyone thinks he should start except Yankee fans who were so seduced by his bullpen presence last year. Stick him in the rotation, I say. There’s your ace.