Mar
18

The spring is still young, but Joba concern abounds

By

We’ve long made our feelings known about the NYC sports media in general and the New York Post in specific. Even more specifically, we tend to take issue with George King, whose seemingly made-up rumors fly in the face of reason. However, we also give credit where credit is due, and in his recent article about Joba he makes a few valid points. Namely, that Joba’s velocity, while acceptable at this point, isn’t quite what it’s been in years past. Should that concern the Yanks?

Surprisingly, King doesn’t turn this into a Joba-to-the-bullpen lovefest, as one might have expected. Instead, he notes that this is early spring and for some guys, especially young guys trying to gradually build up arm strength, throwing with max effort just isn’t a good idea. He’ll make his first start on either April 11th or 12th, so he’s got plenty of time before he’ll need those mid-90s bullets. Might as well work your way into them, rather than throw them mid-March.

That doesn’t mean that everything is going splendidly for the 23-year-old. He’s taking the ball, which signals that he’s healthy, but his mechanics still need time to develop.

“With my fastball, my glove side, I am not getting totally out front and I’m cutting pitches off,” Chamberlain said. “But (my) arm slot was great and everything else I threw was for strikes, the change twice and the curveball.”

He’s also been working on the changeup, which is the last of his four-pitch arsenal to come around. That’s just as important as his fastball velocity, though King botches a Hillary Clinton analogy in the last paragraph trying to make the opposite point. Yes, Joba has showed mid-90s heat before, but his secondary pitches are what can make him a front-end starter. It’s good to see how hard he’s working on them this spring.

Bonus section:

Also from The Post, though I’m linking to the report on yankees.com because I don’t feel like searching through the Post’s website, three Yanks officials have said that Joba would move into the closer role should Mo be unable. Thankfully, that appears to not be the case. Mo has been progressing as normal this spring, despite his October shoulder surgery, and is on track to pitch the ninth inning starting April 6. So it appears there’s nothing much to it, though we do know the Yanks backup plan.

Categories : Pitching

64 Comments»

  1. Ben K. says:

    I think I’m more intrigued by the idea of Joba as the back-up closer than I am worried about his velocity. If the Yanks view Joba as Rivera’s back-up, that means they have a plan for the fifth starter. Does this show renewed confidence in Phil Hughes?

    • A.D. says:

      Also opens the question what if Mo were to get hurt in June? Do they move Joba or not?

    • If the Yanks view Joba as Rivera’s back-up, that means they have a plan for the fifth starter. Does this show renewed confidence in Phil Hughes?

      But, since Joba is a better starter than Hughes with a higher upside, if they feel that they only need one of them in the rotation and truly NEED an anointed or designated “backup to Mo” (other than the handful of excellent non-starters-of-the-future options already in-house), why wouldn’t they leave Joba in the 5th starter role and view Hughes as the designated Closer Catastrophe Contingency Plan (or CCCP, as I like to call it)?

      Because we all know the 5th starter is a position of more importance than the closer… stands to reason the 5th starter is a position of WAY, WAY more importance than the backup closer.

  2. A.D. says:

    Joba might be taking it easier than normal. As Ken Singleton has said many times “Once you hurt your arm once, you’re much more careful about warming it up and taking care of it”

    That and:

    According to Chamberlain, there is more mechanical work needed and that could lead to the fastball adding a few more miles per hour.

  3. steve (different one) says:

    eh, when the “yankee official” is named Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi, or Dave Eiland, i will worry about it.

    unnamed “officials” are the equivalent of asking a hot dog vendor who works at the stadium.

    • Mike Pop says:

      Agreed. I never want to see Joba in the closer/bullpen role unless he proves he cannot handle the starting role. Gets injured for 2 or 3 straight years, then he can go to the pen without me being upset over it.

  4. Simon B. says:

    I don’t think he really needs his changeup. His other pitches are just so good. It might even hurt more than it helps if it dilutes his command of the first three pitches.

  5. A.D. says:

    Interesting they’re skipping him the first time around, which then makes CC the Yankees opening day starter.

    4/6 CC
    4/7 OFF
    4/8 Wang
    4/9 Burnett
    4/10 Pettitte
    4/11 CC
    4/12 Joba
    4/13 Wang
    4/14 Burnett
    4/15 Pettitte
    4/16 CC

    • Ed says:

      Looks more like they’re trying to keep everyone going every 5 days than anything else. CC’s the only guy going twice before Joba goes, so it doesn’t really look like skipping Joba.

  6. Ed says:

    Didn’t Joba have a terrible spring last year?

    My memory is that he was terrible in the early part of the spring, but improved at the end, right around the time they started having him pitch in relieve instead of starting games. Which of course started up the bullpen arguments again.

  7. huuz says:

    fwiw,

    after his injury last year, Joba talked about watching others pitch from the dugout and observing how a guy can improve his control by dialing down his FB. he went on to say that this was an approach that he would be trying…throwing at less than max effort in order to improve control…

  8. Zack says:

    I’ll worry about it when hes throwing 91 in real games. it’s still spring training.

  9. Tom Zig says:

    How about the Wanger? 5 Innings, 1 run. According to Pete Abe he had like 10 ground ball outs. Things are looking good.

    • Ben K. says:

      I love how beholden everyone is to PeteAbe. You know what? According to the box score, Wang had 10 groundball outs. The info’s right there. Why do we need someone to force feed it to us?

      /end rant.

      • Tom Zig says:

        Sorry man, I was just glad to see CMW back on track. I didn’t see the game, so I quoted Pete Abe.

        • Ben K. says:

          It’s nothing personal. I just get amused by how many people are always saying “according to PeteAbe, Mark Teixeira went 1 for 2 with a walk.” There’s no need to rely on someone else to convey that info.

          • whozat says:

            I figured it was just because that’s where the person read it, and one likes to attribute one’s information. It’s the respectful thing to do.

            I mean…I don’t get box scores in my RSS Reader, so I see that kind of info when it comes up on Pete’s blog feed.
            Though, if there was a site that did that…is there?

      • Because PeteAbe saw those groundball outs with his own eyes.

        Reading boxscores is for spreadsheet loving nerds. I need to speak to somebody who was actually there, or at least a member of some media organization whom I can pretend was actually there, in order to validate anything.

  10. That’s just as important as his fastball velocity, though King botches a Hillary Clinton analogy in the last paragraph trying to make the opposite point.

    I looked at that ending for a solid two minutes, trying to find a workable way to make a Hillary Clinton analogy smartly and got nothing.

    That throwaway sentence should have been redlined by the editor’s pen.

  11. Rich says:

    I don’t think it takes much of a leap of logic to believe that Joba will close this season if Mariano can’t go, but the chances of that happening appear to be minimal as of now.

    Whether or not Joba is the ultimate heir apparent to Mo when he retires or declines in 1-3 years will likely turn on: 1) his ability to remain healthy and effective as a top of the rotation starter; and 2) Melancon’s development.

    • I don’t think it takes much of a leap of logic to believe that Joba will close this season if Mariano can’t go, but the chances of that happening appear to be minimal as of now.

      List of options that are better, smarter, and will lead to more wins for us both this year and the future than pulling a healthy and effective Joba Chamberlain out of the starting rotation to replace him with an inferior pitcher so that we can insert him in the closer’s role if Mariano Rivera is injured:

      1. Make Damaso Marte the closer
      2. Make Brian Bruney the closer
      3. Make David Robertson the closer
      4. Make Phil Coke the closer
      5. Make Edwar Ramirez the closer
      6. Make Jose Veras the closer
      7. Make Mark Melancon the closer
      8. Make Jon Albaladejo the closer
      9. Make Phil Hughes the closer
      10. Make Ian Kennedy the closer
      11. Make Steven Jackson the closer
      12. Make Humberto Sanchez the closer
      13. Make Christian Garcia the closer
      14. Make Andrew Brackman the closer
      15. Make Anthony Claggett the closer
      16. Make J.B. Cox the closer
      17. Make Brett Tomko the closer
      18. Make Al Aceves the closer
      19. Make Dan Geise the closer
      20. Make Kei Igawa the closer (yeah, that’s right, I said it)
      21. Make Dellin Betances the closer
      22. Make Zach McAllister the closer
      23. Make Jairo Heredia the closer
      24. Make Wilkins De La Rosa the closer
      25. Make Eric Hacker the closer
      26. Make George Kontos the closer
      27. Make Zach Kroenke the closer
      28. Make Eric Wordekemper the closer
      29. Make Arodys Viscaino the closer
      30. Sign Roger Clemens out of retirement and make him the closer
      31. Trade Juan Miranda and Eric Duncan to the Royals for one of their myriad relievers and make that guy the closer

      I could go on, but you get the point. Seriously, folks, there’s no justifiable reason to make a hole in the rotation to fill a hole in the closer’s spot. None whatsoever. Every other possible plan is a better plan than pulling Joba out of an important position that impacts the majority of the game and putting him in an unimportant, vastly overrated position that doesn’t really matter all that much at all.

      • jsbrendog says:

        dude, that poor horse was already dead by number 10 tops.

      • Tom Zig says:

        As long as Billy Wagner and K-rod don’t make that list, I’m not concerned.

      • 1A. Convert and make Hacky McHeadfirstslide the closer.

      • anonymous says:

        30. Sign Roger Clemens out of retirement and make him the closer

        Hell yeh. Lets get Bonds for the bench too. Burn the world.

        • Tom Zig says:

          Maybe we can sign Albert Belle too. G. Steinbrenner really wanted him back in the day, I bet he’d be real pleased.

      • Zack says:

        “there’s no justifiable reason to make a hole in the rotation to fill a hole in the closer’s spot”
        What if you have CC, AJ, Wang, and then Hughes and Kennedy pitch well? Or just Hughes and Beckett becomes FA and we sign him for his postseason dominance? Or we trade/sign Halladay?

        I think by then Joba will be an established starter, but if hes not what we expect or cant handle 200innings never say never.

        • What if you have CC, AJ, Wang, and then Hughes and Kennedy pitch well?

          If Hughes is better than Kennedy:

          1. CC
          2. AJ
          3. Wang
          4. Joba
          5. Hughes
          Closer: Kennedy

          If Kennedy is better than Hughes:

          1. CC
          2. AJ
          3. Wang
          4. Joba
          5. Kennedy
          Closer: Hughes

          Or just Hughes and Beckett becomes FA and we sign him for his postseason dominance?

          1. CC
          2. AJ
          3. Wang
          4. Joba
          5. Beckett
          Closer: Hughes

          Or we trade/sign Halladay?

          1. CC
          2. AJ
          3. Wang
          4. Joba
          5. Halladay
          Closer: Hughes

          As long as Joba’s a better pitcher than they are, there’s no earthly reason to have him wasted in the bullpen while Hughes or Kennedy pitch more innings in the rotation.

          5th starter >>>>>>>>>>>> Closer

          • Tom Zig says:

            Not to mention the salary that Halladay/Beckett would command. Why would you waste all that money in the closer spot?

            Although if we landed Halladay, he would be 1 or 2.

            But I am just arguing semantics now, your point has been made.

  12. Frank says:

    Am I the only one that saw Joba hit 96mph the start before last?

    And anyone bothering to pay attention to him can tell he’s focusing greatly on improving his mechanics…. pumping one half-effort fastball after another right down the middle of the plate. That is, until his last two starts when he started mixing in his secondary pitches.

    The New York sports media are atrocious.

  13. DCR says:

    There is always going to be talk about him being in the bullpen. Its something that we should learn to except and just ignore.

  14. Chris says:

    Joba’s learning from A.J. (who learned from Roy Halladay) that you do not need to go max – and you get quick outs even with a 92-93 mph fastball with your other quality breaking pitch offerings. Joba has even said that he is trying to be more economical and efficient in his pitches and counts. He will go dial it up and go max when he really needs – so I would not put much stock even during the season if Joba is sitting 92-93 and an occasional 94 – puts less stress on the shoulder, allows him to go deeper and control the fastball – and he can always reach back for the upper 95-97 mph heater if need be.

  15. [...] plenty did — the story was obviously going to be about Joba Chamberlain. There has been some internal concern about him, though nothing too serious since he’s still taking the ball every fifth day. This signals [...]

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