Should Joba return?

Rasner rarin' to go tomorrow
The Yanks are so unclutch

In the game thread last night, Mike noted that Joba expected to start a throwing program tomorrow. Since then, the Yanks’ valuable young arm has been overruled by his manager, and the Yanks now expect Joba to begin his throwing on Friday, a full 11 days after he was removed from the game against Texas.

With Joba on the mend, the Yanks will soon face something of a tough choice with regards to their rookie hurler: Should they bring back Joba this season?

On the one hand, the answer is an unequivocal yes. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks are throwing out their best team and giving the team a chance to win the playoffs. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks can bump one of their less than ideal starting pitchers back to the bullpen, AAA or elsewhere. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks could actually think about overcoming that ever-growing five-game Wild Card deficit. So bring him back.

But wait. It’s not quite that simple. Right now, three days before Joba is set to resume throwing and weeks before we can even think about his return to the rotation, the Yanks are facing a turning point. They’re a nearly insurmountable nine games out of first place and are, as I mentioned, five games out of the Wild Card with Minnesota between them and Boston and the Rangers nipping at their heels.

In four days — let alone two or three weeks — the Yanks will have a pretty good idea if October baseball is in the cards for them, and by then, if things are looking dire in the Bronx, if the odds are stacked against them, I’d have to advocate for holding Joba out of the games this year. If the Yanks are facing a Hail Mary situation, it would make more sense to ensure Joba’s health and strength for 2009 and beyond than it would to run him out there this year, risking injury for a playoff berth that is an increasing long shot.

As a Yankee fan, this line of argument is nearly anathema to everything I’ve come to know and love about this team since 1995 when I first got a taste of October baseball. For the better part of the last decade and a half, the Yanks have won at all costs, but with such a promising arm, the likes of which the Yanks haven’t seen in years, I believe that holding Joba back and maintaining his health for next year far outweighs the slim benefits the Yanks could enjoy in an unlikely 2008 playoff run.

In two and a half weeks, the fate of this season’s Yankees will become more clear. We’ll have to go through this debate again, but if the Yanks don’t improve and make up some ground, I’d be reluctant to see Joba pitch again this year.

Rasner rarin' to go tomorrow
The Yanks are so unclutch
  • Adam

    i would say that he should pitch, only to get his innings up so that we don’t need to worry about him getting shut down *next* september.

    • Count Zero

      Agreed. Assuming that there isn’t a medical risk we haven’t been told about.

      • zzzzz

        agreed. if he is 100 percent healthy let him reach his innings cap.

  • J

    I agree with Adam.

  • BigYank1

    I also agree that, if healthy, Joba should pitch again this season. Joba and Phil need
    major-league innings if we are to count on them being in the rotation next season.

    We also need to sign a horse, CC, because 2 of our starters will be on a strict innings count next season. Wang and CC would be able to eat alot of innings to help our bullpen.

  • Yank Crank 20

    You throw Joba if he’s healthy enough to do so. He needed to get to 140-150 innings this year and shutting him down now at 89 for 2008 doesn’t help him pitch deep into 2009.

    Also, we speak so much about getting into the playoffs. With the strengths of the Angels, Rays, Sox, Twins, ChiSox etc…(all of which have some chance to get in)…how the hell will this Yankee team even get past the first round? Does this team leave you any more confident than the 2005/2006/2007 teams did? I’d say this team inspires the least confidence than any team of our recent past. So if just getting into the playoffs is a great sign, than I can’t wait to see how we play against the Angels. I know today just getting in means anything can happen but i don;t see this team World Series bound in any way.

    • Mike A.

      how the hell will this Yankee team even get past the first round?

      Worry about that when they get in. The playoffs are a sprint, not a marathon. One middle reliever gets hot, one middle infielder boots a ball, one blown call on the bases can change everything.

      • Yank Crank 20

        We can use some of those booted balls or hot middle relievers right now. scratch that…last week.

        My point was simply about confidence, not worry. In 2005 and 2007 we had the AL MVP on our team, in 2006 we appeared to be the best in MLB and Jeter should have been MVP. Those teams were good enough to inspire confidence and optimism. This year’s team does not. They are inconsistent in so many facets of the game and terribly banged up with injuries. Makes it tough to think they still have a run in them.

        • 27 this year

          The thing is, the playoffs, you just need to get hot for a little bit something like that 8 game winning streak. Like someone said, it is a sprint. Remember the Cardinals in 06, they just got hot at the end and won it all and were the worst team going in. This year if Joba comes back, we have decent pitching going in with Joba, Moose, Pettite (shows up in big games), and hopefully Hughes.

        • Chris

          If we make the post season, it will be because we got hot at the end. I think that will go a long way towards succeeding in the post season (just look at the Rockies last year).

          • sam

            The optimism is nice and all but you have to go through two teams that play better baseball than the Yankees in order to make the playoffs. Minnesota plays some of the best small ball (outside the angels) and Boston still has better pitching. Quite frankly you can’t trust anyone to do your dirty work for you so basically they have to win and win a lot. Look at the schedule and realize that it’s going to be difficult to get to 93 wins (which is about what it takes to make it).

            But really is anyone who has watched this team since the collapse in 2004 actually surprised? Each year for the past few years this team has gotten incrementally worse at playing the game. Think about it for a second… we went from perennial WS Champs to just perennial AL champs, to perennial AL East champs to just being happy that we got the Wild Card.

            It’s been a slow slippery slope, that most just didn’t notice and you justify it by saying the playoffs are a crapshoot, the playoffs are not a crapshoot, that’s just the BS Torre started using to justify losing earlier and earlier in the playoffs. The Yankees haven’t really produced solid playoff contenders in years and that very obvious if you look at it objectively.

  • Mike A.

    If he’s healthy, let him pitch. Even if the Yanks are 15 GB of the WC when he returns, he can always do some learning. In fact, if the Yanks drop right out of the race, Joba, IPK and Hughes should be in the rotation full-time the rest of the year. If they’re going to take lumps, let them do it now and get out of the way. And hell, if they’re going to flame out, find out sooner rather than later.

    • Count Zero

      Agree 100%.

      • Charlie (in SD)

        I also agree – in fact, this was the first thing that crossed my mind after reading Ben K’s post. The pitching staff is decimated, the team is playing extremely uninspired baseball as a whole – lets get Ian, Phil, heck even Giese in there and just have them knock out some games. Win/Lose let them get the experience for a freshened 2009 team. Wouldn’t we all be remiss if Joba came back and seriously hurt his arm? His brilliance so far this year has been my favorite thing about this season. I guess it all depends on the severity of the current injury, but unless Girardi can get some winning lineups together, why risk it?


    • Jamal G.

      Exactly, pennant race or not, the Yankees are not going to send out Joba Chamberlain or any of their prized young arms at anything less than 100%.

  • Ed

    If the Yankees fall completely out, you give 3 rotation spots to Hughes, Kennedy and Joba. Let them throw 100 pitches each game regardless of results. Get work in, get their inning counts up.

    They’re all either in danger or assured of pitching less innings than last year, which means next year would have even more babying, and at least one more year after that.

  • TurnTwo

    i wouldnt throw him in any meaningful games.

    i dont blame Joba, bc its just the type of player he seems to be, but he’s going to push himself hard to try and get back to help out the team. i think that increases the potential risk of complicating or furthering the injury rather than allowing him to take proper time to rehab and strengthen the shoulder area, and come back at 100%.

    if they are worried about his innings count, i’d have him work side sessions or throw simulated innings in the bullpen.

    question for Hughes is kind of along the same lines… what do they have him do to make up for the innings he lost this year to injury? do they send him down to throw in winter ball?

    • Jamal G.

      Do you honestly think the Yankees would send Joba Chamberlain to any mound at anything less than 100%? Have they ever shown to be anything less than uber-cautious with their pitching prospects?

      • TurnTwo

        not really sure. i would think no, but if they are 1 GB of the WC with 2 weeks to go, it wouldnt surprise me, no.

        and again, im not really placing the onus on the Yankees front office here… moreso on Joba himself.

        if he thinks he’s got a chance to come back, he’s going to push himself hard in rehab to get back. look at what he said this week… he was ready to throw today, and the organization had to slow him down and correct him, and he’ll throw on Friday.

        i worry moreso that he’s going to push himself too hard and further the extent of the injury… not that he’ll be rehabbing and then see the Yankees throw him back into the fire when he’s not 100% just for a couple of starts the last couple weeks of the year bc they’re close.

  • Kyle D.

    If hes healthy and good to go, let him pitch. We can’t live in fear of him getting hurt forever. If the kid takes the mound theres ALWAYS going to be a chance he gets hurt, just like every other pitcher on the face of this Earth. If you send him out there with no questions then anything bad that happens is just bad luck and not bad management.

  • Axl

    I don’t think the pitching matters at the moment. Dan Geise pitched brilliantly against the best team in baseball, we lost. Sir Sidney Ponson pitched solid last night, we lost. Andy Pettitte didn’t do as bad as he was doing before, we lost.

    Our offense is HORRENDOUS right now. The funny thing is, we’re 7th overall with a .271 team batting average…we were 1st in runs scored with nearly 1000 last year…but this year we’re 11th in runs scored…and the Red Sox who haven’t had Ortiz all year…or a very great Manny all season are in 4th overall…well ahead of us. Kevin Youkellis is hitting better than every Yankee.

    Derek Jeter looks like he is purposely playing mediocre with lacklust to show management how much he misses Joe Torre. Alex Rodriguez seems like he’s pretending every month is October this season…and nearly EVERYBODY can’t hit with runners in scoring position on a steady basis.

    We’re embarrassing. They’re making over 200 million dollars to be in 3rd place…9 games back. While Tampa Bay has been stacking up on prospects for the past decade, while the Red Sox have been signing Dice K and trading for Beckett. We’ve signed and traded for Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano…and in recent years, Jaret Wright, Kevin Brown, Javier Vasquez, Jose Contreras, etc…even Randy Johnson was disappointing.

    When is it going to end?? Can we catch a break? Are we just really cursed? What gives?!?

    • Kyle D.

      I remember a couple of years ago the Red Sox finished in 3rd place in the AL East.

      The next year they did all right for themselves.

    • Sam P.

      Let’s make a point to remember that Carl Pavano was sought after from multiple teams and ultimately came to the Yanks. A lot of folks thought it was a great signing at the time. Unfortunately the trades which gave up both Contreras and Vasquez were done too early in hindsight, but being able to get Randy Johnson back wasn’t what everyone called a bad trade …

      • Ed

        Management felt strongly that Jose Contreras wasn’t going to make it in New York. They were probably right. And honestly, he’s been a rather lousy pitcher with the occasional hot streak. 2005 was a fluke season, every other year of his has been lousy.

        The Vazquez trade wasn’t about him, just like Wells for Clemens wasn’t about Wells. If you want one of the best pitchers in the game (which Johnson was at the time, even if a decline was inevitable), you have to give up something good.

        • JohnnyC

          Point well taken but both Wells and Vazquez were guys Torre and/or the front office couldn’t wait to get rid of.

    • scott

      THE CURSE OF A-ROD is what gives.

      • Andy In Rainy Daytona

        THE CURSE OF MOOSE! (signed in 2001) (Even though I don’t believe in curses)

        • steve (different one)

          the curse of Jeter’s contract (signed after 2000)!

          or something equally as stupid!

        • scott

          at least moose pitched in a world series

  • brian


    you have a great site, kind of my go to site after watching games and reading peter abraham’s blog. i hope to meet you at a game someday. anyway, if joba is 100 % healthy, then he should pitch. he’s still young and needs the experience against major league hitters and in game situations. hopefully he’ll be strong and ready from day one of next year.


  • stuart

    the whole offense has been the problem.. besides Damon no one has done there JOB..NO ONE…

    • Chris

      Giambi? A-Rod?

    • Jamal G.

      That failure Alex Rodriguez, how dare he be only fifth in the A.L. in Home Runs, lead the A.L. in Slugging Percentage, be only second in the A.L. in OPS, and be only tied for thirteenth place in Total Bases (that’s a big deal because out of the top 30-qualifiers, only Curtis Granderson, with 97, has played less games than A-Rod, with 99).

      Fucking failure that Alex Rodriguez, never does anything good for this team.

      • Setty

        Are you an A-Rod fan or something?

      • cult of basebaal

        that’s not true jamal, by being on the team, arod takes all the heat off jeter and *his* lousy season!

        and people say he’s not a team player …

      • Mike A.

        In all seriousness, it would be nice if he were doing better than .239-.399-.404 with RISP, espeically when he’s hit .303-.404-.553 in those situations during his career.

        Now, I don’t buy that whole “he’s not clutch, never will be, HE’S TEH CHOKER!!!1one!!”” junk, but he’s been a let down this year. Does that mean the 10 yr deal was a mistake? Hells no, having the best player on the planet on your team is a good thing.

        • Chris

          When an offense is rolling, everyone talks about how you go up there and don’t try to do too much. You just pass the torch to the next guy. Isn’t this exactly what ARod is doing this year?

          Noone else is hitting, so they pitch around him. His walks with RISP are up quite a bit. Are people advocating that he swing at balls now? People complain when guys swing at bad pitches, but then also complain when they’re walking and not getting hits. I just don’t get it.

        • Jamal G.

          I think it’s just bad luck more than anything. We all know the Batting Average is such a fluky stat, so I look at the OPS in these situations. His OBP is on the cusp of .400, which tells us that he’s not swinging at bad pitches all the time, he’s not getting himself out by swinging outside the zone, just that the pitches he makes contact with aren’t falling for hits.

        • Old Ranger

          Agreed Mike A…
          With a guy such as A-Rod…the best player on the planet (I agree)…one can never underestimate his ability to hit in the clutch. He may be trying to do to much…as in; carrying the team on his back, if he doesn’t get it done, who will?
          I have always thought he put to much pressure on himself. This guy knows how good he is, he works very hard to stay the best and is very proud of his abilities. I have never cared for him (envious) but to say he isn’t playing hard or well (except RISP) has not been seeing the same games I have. 27/09?

  • scott

    can the yankees please just either do one of two things….put johnny damon in centerfield every day with nady and abreu….or DH johnny and call up brett gardner to play CF….i cannot watch Melky anymore…HE CANNOT HIT why does everyone but Girardi see that….option that guy out of here and let it serve as a wakeup call for his butt buddy Cano.

    • Chris

      because Gardner would be soooo much better than Melky.

      • Old Ranger

        He is much better as an all around player then Melky. Give him the same chance they gave Melky in his 1st year and see what happens. Brett has; speed, defence, hitting eye, bunts and the best commodity of all…instincts. Watch the jump he gets on a ball, one can’t learn that…you have it or you don’t. The only thing Melky has is his arm, not near enough! 27/09?

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Does he remind you of “Pepper” Martin?

          • Old Ranger

            Not really, and yes I do vaguely remember Pepper he played in the 30/40, (I think)…more the name and stories of him. I was only 7 or 8 back then. Brett reminds me of me, except I pitched and played 2nd base, until football ended my baseball playing. 27/09?

  • kunaldo

    on a brighter future note…when do you think betances will be promoted to tampa? will he finish in charleston? he’s 20 now…i wonder if he’ll follow hughes’ progression from now on…

    • Mike A.

      He’ll finish the year in Charleston, the season’s practically over as it is. He’s got 3, maybe 4 starts left, not including playoffs.

    • AndrewYF

      He’ll be promoted to Tampa next year.

      Successful year for him, all he needed to do was stay healthy, pitch around 120 innings and perform reasonably well. He did that.

  • Chofo

    He needs to build up innings looking up for 2009, so he´ll start in the Mayors not matter what. Same to Huge.

  • AndrewYF

    I’m actually curious as to what they’ll do with Chamberlain next year. No way he can go 34 starts. If he comes back before September, he’ll probably finish somewhere around 120 innings. His cap will probably remain around 150, maybe 160. Figure about 26, 27 starts at 6 innings a start. They could rest him until May, but that’s not likely. Hughes faces the same problem. Certainly can’t rely on them as two complete starters.