On Thursday we spent a couple of posts talking about Joba Chamberlain’s role. While we talk, analyze, and debate, the Yankees are surely doing the same. They want to make sure they handle their roster and farm system in the manner which benefits them best in both the short- and long-term. It’s not easy, of course, with different roster permutations bringing different results.
Since Ben, Mike, and I have made it clear what we think the Yankees should do, perhaps today we should listen to what the Yankees themselves are thinking. Thankfully, they’ve provided some fodder in the way of quotes. We’ll start with Joe Girardi via Pete Caldera:
Quickly, here’s what Joe Girardi said when asked about the possibility of Joba Chamberlain heading to the bullpen to accomodate Chien-Ming Wang: “That is not something we’ve talked about.”
As Pete notes, that’s not to say that they won’t talk about it. For now, though, it appears there are no plans to mess with Joba’s role. Which is a good thing. As I wrote on Thursday (in the very first link in this post), the Yankees have no reason to make any moves right now. They have a good problem. With Wang, Hughes, and Chamberlain still out to prove something to some degree or another, the Yankees can afford to move forward in this manner and reassess in a few weeks. Not many teams have this luxury.
The new Newsday beat writer Erik Boland has some quotes from Cashman on the situation; “It’s just a topic we have to deal with,” Cashman said, stating the obvious. But then he lays into B-Jobbers (again, our euphemism for those who want Joba in the pen):
“That’s all crap,” he said. “Wake up and smell the coffee. If he’s on national television on ESPN and throws 91 on the 22nd pitch, why would you think if he comes in in the eighth inning protecting a 4-3 lead [he’d throw 96]? Stop, he’s a starter.”
It’s hard to get more definitive than that. “Stop, he’s a starter.” Good to see Cashman sticking to his guns on this one. It’s frustrating to watch Joba struggle during the first innings of his starts, but the idea is to keep working him and get him used to the role. The man has, after all, been a starter his entire life.
Meanwhile, Tyler Kepner compares Joba to Johan Santana. Others have made this comparison too, and for good reason. Santana started off in the Twins’ bullpen, though he certainly wasn’t the designated eighth inning guy. The Twins saw the talent they had on hand and transitioned Johan to the rotation in mid-2003. By the time the playoffs started he was their Game 1 starter, and the next season he won the Cy Young. Despite Joba’s relative struggles in the rotation this year, his ERA is still two full points better than Santana’s through each player’s first 21 career starts (each had his 21st start at age 23). Joba also has a better K/9 at that point, and has fewer walks in more innings pitched.
Still, the best commentary for this comes from a comment to Kepner’s post:
I no longer believe that Joba should be moved to the bullpen. Instead, as I’ve posted twice elsewhere, I strongly believe that he should be moved completely out of the Yankees organization. He is an over-rated distraction. if the Yankees spent one-fourth the energy they’ve spent on Joba on either Wang (who is a proven winner) or Hughes (who shows great character) or Aceves (who shows great resolve), the team would be much better off. We would be best served by just trading Joba for a potential Mariano replacement—if anyone would be willing to take him off the Yankees’ hands.
Quick! Get this guy on Jimmy Fallon’s writing team. They’d increase the comedic talent tenfold with this MSS Rao guy.
In all seriousness, I’ve had a discussion like this with Mike, Ben, and a number of friends over the past few days. It boils down to this: 1) The Yankees could trade Joba straight up for any closer in the game right now. Not only that, but the other GM would be in a rush to get it done, in case Cashman decided to change his mind. 2) If the Yankees did trade Joba to another team, he’d be in that team’s rotation. The question, of course, is why Yankees fans want their team to play by different rules. I understand doing things differently in an attempt to exploit inefficiencies. But since when is putting a guy in the bullpen at the cost of a long-term rotation cog exploiting an inefficiency?
We’ve presented our argument numerous times, and obviously feel it is a stronger one than the Joba to the bullpen counterpart. It doesn’t mean we’re right, per se; baseball isn’t always black and white like that. But because of baseball’s random nature, it’s best to find the optimal strategy and stick to it. If you follow a good process, good results will follow, even though they won’t follow in every instance. Still, the debate will rage on, even if Joba turns a corner and starts pitching into the seventh with regularity. Hell, it will probably rage on even if he gets to 100 wins and picks up a Cy Young. To that extent, Joe Girardi has the last line:
“The good thing about the presidential debates is that they end. … This one doesn’t.”