Are Cox and Melancon pieces of the Joba puzzle?

The ousted heir-apparent speaks
Igawa down, perhaps for good

When Mark Melancon and J.B. Cox were promoted earlier this week, my thoughts instantly turned to Joba. The Yanks now have a bunch of arms moving their ways through the minors, and it seems that Brian Cashman wants to see what he has in the system as an 8th inning option.

Today, Tyler Kepner put those thoughts into words, and while Brian Cashman claims these recent moves are just individual promotions spurred on by separate development plans, it’s hard not to think about Joba. Kepner writes:

For Chamberlain to transition to the rotation, the Yankees need to have a replacement for him in the bullpen, and Cox is now at Class AAA, with Melancon a level below. Brian Cashman dismissed the idea that there was any connection, and he seemed weary of the topic when I asked him if the plan was still to have Chamberlain be a starter this season.

“Yes, but I just don’t want to be talking about it anymore,” Cashman said. “We’ve answered that question a thousand times. All these guys have individual game plans, and one has nothing to do with another.”

Maybe not, but I still don’t see how the Yankees can take Chamberlain out of the bullpen when he looks as dominant there as he did on Wednesday. Then again, maybe Cox and Melancon blaze their way to the majors, allowing Chamberlain to stretch out his arm as a starter in the minors for a few weeks. Chamberlain won’t throw 98 miles an hour as a starter in the Bronx, but perhaps he would still be overpowering.

Cashman is getting downright snippy about things. But really, there’s absolutely no way these moves aren’t part of some larger plan. It may not be about Chamberlain, per se, but it is about developing the Yanks’ minor league arms so that they are Major League-ready sooner rather than later.

As anyone who reads this site knows, we disagree with Kepner; it’s easy for the Yanks to move Joba into the rotation. Sure, he won’t throw 98 for 7 innings, but he’s always been a dominant starter. His peripherals — K/9 IP, BB/K, HR/9 IP — as a starter have been off the charts, and you just don’t waste those innings in the bullpen. This season, Chien-Ming Wang, the Yanks’ number one starter, has thrown 59 innings while Joba has hurled just over 17. The more innings of quality pitching, the better.

The Yankees can find 8th inning replacements for Joba. They can’t find a front-line starter quite as easily, and as Melancon, Cox and others work their way up, the plan for Joba will come into focus sooner rather than later. It’s just a matter of time.

The ousted heir-apparent speaks
Igawa down, perhaps for good
  • Mike A.

    I don’t think moving Cox & Melancon up is related to moving Joba back to the rotation at all. Like Cash said, everyone has their own individual development plan. Joba’s role can’t be effected by Melancon’s development.

    It’s a matter of putting a team in position to have the best players available to it in the future, regardless of role.

    • Ben K.

      Oh, I agree with this. But the idea that Cox and Melancon have to evaluated in a vacuum regardless of Joba doesn’t fly with me. If Cox and/or Melancon succeed with flying colors at AAA and AA, respectively, and can be in a position to move up, it makes the decision to move Joba into the rotation that much easier.

      • Mike A.

        If Cox and/or Melancon succeed with flying colors at AAA and AA, respectively, and can be in a position to move up, it makes the decision to move Joba into the rotation that much easier.

        The decision to move Joba to the rotation has already been made, and I think this would be a better wording of that sentence:

        “If Cox and/or Melancon succeed with flying colors at AAA and AA, respectively, and can be in a position to move up, it makes life easier for Brian Cashman because he won’t have answer endless questions from idiot media hounds about not having a viable 8th inning guy.”

        • Ben K.

          Yeah, you’re right. That’s a much better re-wording of my sentence.

          It will also make life easier for the Yankees. There’s no doubt about that.

        • Mike Francesa

          You couldn’t be more wrong. You can’t move Joba out of the 8th inning until you have a replacement, you just can-not do it! I doesn’t make any sense! It’s senseless! That 8th inning is so valuable, to have a guy like Joba there, it’s critical. You have to have that bridge, right Dog?

        • Chris Russo

          AB-SA-LUTE-LY right, Mikey, Jaba is way too valuable in the 8th, a-kay! I mean, i don’t know what the Yanks are thinking messing with the success of the fah-mula!

          • Jamal G.

            He really does say “JABA”, that was classic man. Kudos.

            • George

              he does say that. Russo. just kill me when says his name

  • steve (different one)

    Cashman is getting downright snippy about things.

    given the fact that every moron in the tri-state area with a typewriter or a microphone seems to think Joba should stay in the bullpen, can you blame him?

    how many times can he say the same thing?

    • Ben K.

      Hey, I don’t blame him. That’s for sure.

      • Adam


        do you write your blog with a typewriter?

        • Ben K.

          Yes. It’s a real pain in the ass to get it from a typewriter into our computers though.

          • Mike A.

            I prefer chiseling my posts into cave walls, personally.

        • steve (different one)

          i was picturing Murray Chass sitting in front of an old Smith Corona hunting and pecking with 2 fingers about the evils of VORP

  • Phil McCracken

    I like this foolish quote from Kepner:

    “Maybe not, but I still don’t see how the Yankees can take Chamberlain out of the bullpen when he looks as dominant there as he did on Wednesday”

    A Ferarri would dominate backroads, but would be much more impressive on the Autobauhn. I knew this was going to be a problem when they put Chamberlain in the bullpen last season. People would get used to seeing him do well there and expect thats where he belongs. This is why the Yankees are so f’ed up. We’re the only team in the league where our writers want a potential ace to rot in the bullpen.

    Why isn’t Sabathia in Cleveland’s pen? They don’t have a closer.

    • Mike A.

      At this point, Boston might be better off with Beckett in the pen given the way Okajima is allowing inherited runners to score this year (11 of 14 have scored).

      • steve (different one)

        This is why the Yankees are so f’ed up. We’re the only team in the league where our writers want a potential ace to rot in the bullpen.

        this would be true if all of the Yankee brass from the owner down didn’t completely disagree with “our” writers.

        • Phil McCracken

          Thats what the Yankees say now. But the NY media has a power to harp on a subject over and over again until people start believing it as fact.

          Thats how coaches are fired and players are acquired. The power of media suggestion.

        • Micky7 Old Ranger

          Hi Steve…
          I like your post, it just shows you how some people think they know more then the insiders do. What else would the reporters have to write of, if they didn’t disagree with Cash and others in the organization? Besides many (all of us on the blogs, and drive-bys’) sometimes think we know more then the brass.
          One thing about our opinions, they don’t effect the team as do the the brasses. With (some of) the ideas on the blogs (mine included) the team would end up a big fat disaster…is there a worse? I honestly believe some of you guys/gals have very creative ideas…and not necessarily wrong/right. Again, short, but good. 27/08.

        • http://YankeefaninHouston John Leach

          How many games has Wang affected? How many has Jaba affected? If Jaba stays in the bullpen, who are the starters? If Jaba starts, who pitches the 8th? It’s never as simple as counting innings.
          You assume Jaba would be as dominant as a starter in the majors as he was in the minors. What if there is a transition period where he struggles. Oh sure, it happened to Hughes and Kennedy but it can’t happen to Jaba.
          Are you ready to give up on this season to have Jaba ready for next?

          • Ben K.

            It’s not a matter of number of games they’ve been in. It’s what percentage of the Yanks’ wins they’ve impacted. Wang has been more valuable to the team than Joba.

          • Travis G.

            first off, it’s JOba. i dont know where you’re getting JAba from. and can you honestly compare Wang’s 59 innings to Joba’s 17?! even Hughes and Kennedy have pitched more ML innings than Joba, and they averaged about 4 ip/start and stopped pitching in the Bigs two weeks ago.

      • Phil McCracken

        Okajima is like a knock knock joke. You don’t see where its coming from the first time you hear it. But the second time someone tries to fool you with it, you know what to expect.

  • Mad Dog

    Ohh, the Yankees would have to be crazy to move Joba out of the bullpen. But I’ll tell ya one thing…Joba is not a patch on the fanny of Tim Linsessum. Say somethin funny Mike!

  • McCaff

    What’s the deal with Andrew Brackman? I know he is coming off TJ surgery, but what kind of a pitcher is he? He’s 6 foot 10 inches tall, and that sounds pretty dominating to me. Do you think once he is healthy, whenever that may be, he will be more of an assett to us in the rotation or be as strong as Joba is in the bullpen? Is he the same type of pitcher as Joba? If not, what type of pitcher is he?

    • J.R.

      Scouting reports have him more dominant than Joba. His fastball is ranked as one of the best. He routinely touches 100mph and has awesome breaking stuff. And I think I read that he is starting to play catch down in Tampa

      • Mike A.


        Brackman’s got a chance to be better than job, but the probability of that happening is very small. Kid’s got a helluva arm.

      • Travis G.

        iirc, way too glowing. read his FB sits 92-97 (can TOUCH 100, not routinely), with a very good (when on) knuckle-curve. does he have a usable 3rd pitch?

        i believe i saw one article (maybe BA) that listed him as the closer of the future, probably for 2 reasons: to protect his post-TJ arm, and bc he has just 2 pitches.

        one of the top 3 pitchers in last year’s draft with Porcello and Price. dropped to us bc of signability and TJ concerns, both of which were accurate. had TJ like a month after signing and has a ML deal.

        Girardi actually caught him a bit in Tampa the other day. throwing very hard but with little control.

        btw, anyone else see Humberto in the dugout last night?

    • A.D.

      So he’s got good raw stuff & one of those special talents, similar to getting a young randy johnson, he had very good numbers in college despite injuries (leading to the srugery) & playing basketball, so he’s somone the yankees are going to look to mold, the upside is as high as can be, it’s a matter of getting healthy and getting work.

      As of now I’ve only heard him being used as a starter, Yanks would be more likely to try Hacker or Sanchez, who have their own injury baggage in the pen before Brackman

    • Micky7 Old Ranger

      J.R. has it right, this guy is rated very high on the list. Has 4 pitches. And as J.R. said 100+ fastball, along with control +/-…not to be confused with Command. He will not pitch this year (TJ), but next year he should be ready. I have not heard if he will take a few (1 to 3) years to be a serviceable pitcher…as Johnson and Sandy Koufax (misspelled?) did. Barring injury or some other disaster, he will be better than Joba (so they say). Just another one of Cashes’ bad , stupid moves, right? 27/08.

  • J.R.

    Is it me or does it seem like Giardi has lost confidence in Hawkins? It seems like in any clsoe game (2 runs or less) that giardi wont bring in Hawk. And this is despite no runs his last 6 outings. Any thought on this?

    • steve (different one)


      personally, i think Hawkins was brought in to fill a role and that role does not involve a lot of high leverage innings.

      Cashman specifically said he was brought in to be a 6th/7th inning option, not an 8th inning option.

      that tells me the Yankees do not see him as an elite setup man, but a guy who can eat 60-70 innings with an ERA around 4.00. crazily enough, that’s worth about $3.75M these days.

      and to be fair, outside of that ONE bad inning (which i realize counts as much as the other innings), he has filled that role exactly as advertised.

      • A.D.

        Additionally, the yankees didn’t expect or didn’t want to count on Fars pitching well & the kids pitching pretty well out of the pen. Now they want to develop the likes of Ohledorf, Alby & co. to pitch pressure innings since they’re the future and Hawkins is a 1 yr insurance policy

  • daneptizl

    Just for kicks, what do you guys (Ben, Joe, Mike) think the price for J. Upton would be at right now?

    • Phil McCracken

      Considering he’s got 5 and a half more years til free agency?

      Your left testicle for starters would be Arizona’s opening request.

    • Mike A.

      On the open market? I bet he’d get over $100M.

      • daneptizl

        I meant prospect-wise.

        • keith

          Joba, Hughes, Kennedy, Tabata, Jackson, Montero, Brackman, Almonte and Betances.

          • Jamal G.

            And the secret to why Chris Britton is being treated as such. Then again, that might be worth Upton and Chris B. Young.

        • Mike A.

          Joba-Hughes-Melky-Ohlendorf? Upton is a special, special player.

          • Mike A.

            I typed Melky but meant Austin Jackson.

  • A.D.

    I wrote this a few weeks ago, and while I agree that Cox & Melancon moving up doesn’t signal Joba to the rotation they are piece that can make it easier to move Joba to the pen, just as Joba probably would never have been moved to the pen if our pen was lights out last year. If Cox/Melancon/Robertson perfom to get to the bigs and perform there no longer becomes the same need fo Joba in the pen and thus less of a potential trade off to moving him to the rotation.

    Obviously right now if they move him to the starting rotation and the yanks start loosing games because the pen is blowing leads there will be some second guessing (especially if Joba isn’t complelty lights out as a starter) but if the young former college closers are locking down the late innings there is nothing to worry about

  • CLG

    Do you think that Ohlendorf will assume Joba’s 8th inning role? Was just curious, I think he has the potential to do well.

    I am really looking forward to seeing how Joba does as a starter! Can’t wait!

    • J.R.

      It looks like the yanks are trying to lengthen out Ohle and use him as the long man out of the pen. but Ohle looks good, but nowhere near JOba

      • keith

        I’m pretty sure that was done out of necessity, not desire. They want Ohlendorf to go all out for an inning or two, and thats it. Last night, for example, was not a spot to bring in the “long man”. I hate to label guys as “7th/8th” inning guys but thats what they’re grooming him to be.

        • J.R.

          I’d agree about the necessity comment. But now that he is the long man, I dont see them changing it.

          • Joseph P.

            I’m not so sure he’s pegged as the long man. He came in with runners on in the 7th last night. That’s not a long man’s spot.

            • J.R.

              He came in with runners on last night b/c his sinker. He was the best option to try and turn a double play.

          • steve (different one)

            hopefully they don’t need one very often.

            i am hoping that Rasner can be the long man when Joba joins the rotation.

            it’s funny, everyone was assuming that Mussina was the odd man out when Joba would join the rotation….

            that’s why it’s bullshit to blindly criticize Cashman sometimes. how many people HONESTLY can say they wouldn’t have dumped Moose for 25 cents on the dollar this offseason?

            i’d guess MANY of the people here would have.

            it’s so easy to criticize moves that a GM makes, yet no one ever considers the moves they DON’T make.

            most people here wanted Moose gone. had Cashman done that, he’d have given away what looks like a #3 starter.

            that’s why it’s so easy to be a GM on the internet. no one ever remembers your “mistakes”.

            • ceciguante

              that’s true, armchair GM in the age of the internet is an easy role to play. it’s easy to disappear to the next thread when 100 reporters aren’t documenting your every utterance.

              but i’m not sold on mussina’s resurgence just yet. i’m thrilled he’s been able to do it, i’m just not penciling him in for a final season line right now.

              also agree that rasner in the long man role would be a nice fit, IF joba can make the transition and hughes or IPK can get back on the horse this year and be effective. i’m not as confident on the joba transition outcome as many here, seeing as he threw a grand total fo 88 pro innings before joining MLB, so we effectively haven’t seen him start at all.

              • whozat

                “i’m not as confident on the joba transition outcome as many here, seeing as he threw a grand total fo 88 pro innings before joining MLB, so we effectively haven’t seen him start at all.”

                So, we should leave him in the bullpen forever? Would you prefer that he go back to AA/AAA to get the appropriate “quota” of starter innings before setting him loose in the bigs?

  • Mike R.

    Off topic, but worth a mention.

    This is why I love Keith Law:

    Jeff (NYC): Any issues with Joba’s “excessive” celebrations? I don’t see what the big deal is when everyone tolerates Manny Being Manny…

    SportsNation Keith Law: (2:17 PM ET ) In fact, aren’t we celebrating Manny’s high-five on now? I have no problem with it. No finger-pointing, no choke-signals, but plain old enthusiasm is fine. I love all the old-timers complaining. A fist-pump is bad, but Bob Gibson throwing at hitters because he was mad is good? If you’re that cranky, go watch “Cocoon” again and leave us fans alone.

  • McCaff

    I’m excited about Betances and Ajax. Where do you think Jackson fits in our outfield, since Melky has played a good center field for us . Who would they put in the corner and is that as easy as a switch, from center to RF/LF, as it seems?

    • Brandon

      Jackson is the future CF, it really doesn’t matter if Melky is there, Austin’s ceiling is higher at a younger age.

  • Rich

    There is no reason why the Yankees can’t stretch Joba out in the major leagues.