As Spring Training games go, yesterday’s was a watershed for the Yankees. No, it’s not because the Yanks won their 21st game of the spring. It’s not due to Joba’s finding his fastball and the end to some early Spring Training obsession over radar gun readings.
It is because the B-Jobbers — that bastion of bullpen bluster — have lost their leader. Mike alluded to this stunning development briefly in the game recap this morning, but it warrants further discussion. As Bryan Hoch reported, Jorge Posada has come to see the light and is fully prepared to embrace Joba as a starting pitcher.
Posada made headlines around the Yankee world last fall when he called on the Yanks to keep Joba in the bullpen. “Leave him in the bullpen,” Posada said during a YES Network appearance. “If you start him and he pitches 200 innings, he won’t be able to. You’re going to lose him. He’s going to get hurt … I said in the spring, seeing him as a reliever, I think his body is made to be a reliever.”
The Yanks’ catcher missed most of the 2008 season with a serious shoulder injury. When he made those comments, he had caught Chamberlain as a starter just a handful of times.
Yesterday, after witnessing the evolution of Joba through Spring Training and the eventual dominance of his stuff against the Reds, Posada was singing a different tune. “There’s no question — he’s our fifth starter and I’m happy with that,” Posada said. “I look for the betterment of Joba here. Give him credit, because he was so good out of the ‘pen. I hadn’t seen him as a starter, so he’s been showing me and proving me wrong.”
The added emphasis is mine and for good reason. Posada was the leader of the B-Jobbers for exactly the reason why so many Yankee fans have irrationally latched onto this idea of Joba in the bullpen. It is all they know of Joba Chamberlain.
While we at RAB know that Chamberlain has dominated at every level of professional baseball, the reality is that most Yankee fans aren’t as plugged into the minors as we are. They first saw and knew of Joba when he was throwing 100 mph heat in the 8th inning. They saw him as a bullpen savior who could replace Krazy Kyle Farnsworth and never knew him as a starter. In their minds, the Yanks were experimenting with Joba as a starter and not, as we know, returning him to his natural — and more valuable — position.
As the season wears on, more B-Jobber Yankee fans will see the light. Now that Jorge has spoken, after all, the Joba-the-starter has a real star behind it.