Remember the glory days of the Winter of 2007/2008 when some people thought missing out on Johan Santana was the end of the world? Well, it turns out it was just part of the master plan to sign every free agent in baseball this year.
But beyond the Santana talk last year, the Great Joba Debate was par for the course. Barely a day went by without some fight about Joba’s pitching out of the pen as opposed to the rotation. Nowadays, while we sometimes get a random “Joba to the pen” comment, mostly silence greets news about Chamberlain.
Nothing was more indicative of that silence than the reception a massive if unoriginal article from Saturday’s Daily News received. That reception was a big nothing. The article, relying mostly on Joba’s mom, talks about addiction in the Native American community and Joba’s confronting success on the big stage. It is, in other words, exactly what you would expect and nothing very compelling.
As I was reading over the Yankee news last night, I came across a Joba-centric post on Bleacher Report. There, Sean Serritella writes that Joba may, in a way, be the biggest beneficiary of the Yanks’ off-season spending. “I feel it’s good that Joba won’t be the center of attention,” he writes. “There will be less pressure on him and a lot of pressure on the two big-named free agents that just signed. Joba can now go out and pitch his game whether it’s in the bullpen or the starting rotation.”
That game, to deal with the final sentence, will be out of the starting rotation. The Yankees are very unequivocal about that. But that note aside, Serritella makes a good point. The spotlight won’t be on Joba Chamberlain as the season starts. It will very squarely be on A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. At this stage in his career, that is a very good development for a pitcher that has earned himself some weighty labels and expectations with just over 124 innings under his belt.