Cashman talks, but not much, about plans for Joba

Wang, fearing surgery, gets an ominous third opinion
Yanks to face Holliday-less A's this weekend

Brian Cashman made one thing clear during his pregame talk yesterday: There is a plan in place for Joba Chamberlain. What exactly that plan entails he wouldn’t say. And why would he? The team’s plans for the 23-year-old righty haven’t changed since Spring Training, and they will not change based on the highs and lows an inexperienced pitcher will inevitably face.

There’s been no shortage of speculation on what the team will do with Joba, now at 95.2 innings, once he nears his limit. Yet no one knows exactly what the Yankees will do. That’s fine. He’ll start until he reaches some predetermined point, and the Yankees will do what they planned to do with him. That won’t stop us from speculating, though.

Before commenting on what they could do, let’s take a look at what Cashman actually said. This comes right from PeteAbe’s pregame audio. Thanks to the sound quality I had to listen three or four times for accuracy. Also, because it sounded like Cashman actually divulged some information.

When asked if the plan is to have Joba in the rotation through the end of the season, Cashman responded “Yes.” He then added, “Well, it depends on how he gets used.” Well, if he’s a starter he’s only going to get used one way. More importantly, when asked if there’s a chance Joba would be shut down at any point, Cashman said no.

From this, I can only infer that Cash misheard the question as, “Will Joba be pitching for the rest of the season?” since he added the “how he gets used” part. Since he won’t be shut down, I can only imagine this means that he’ll return to the bullpen when he hits a certain milestone. While I know some are against this plan and would rather see Joba hit his limit and then shut it down, I have no problem with this plan.

Young pitchers can learn a lot by pitching out of the bullpen. Phil Hughes is a prime example. He struggled as a starter, though we saw flashes of brilliance. Now that he’s in the bullpen he’s attacking hitters and letting loose with his fastball. The hope is that when he returns to the starting rotation, whether that be later this year or in 2010, he takes those lessons with him.

Same with Joba. He clearly has plenty to work on. At times he looks brilliant, and at times he looks lost. He’s learning plenty in the rotation, but it’s best for him to stay with the team throughout the season, work through a whole 162-game schedule, and continue learning his lessons in the bullpen.

What happens to Joba’s rotation spot once he moves to the bullpen? For all we know, the Yankees could acquire a starter between now and then, but I think Phil Hughes is as obvious an answer as any. Once Joba’s nearing the end of the starter portion of his season, Hughes could shadow him, stretching himself out. Hopefully it would take only two starts (because it’s really a waste of a roster spot), and then the transition is complete. Joba is in the pen, Hughes is in the rotation.

This isn’t necessarily what the Yankees will do, but based on Cashman’s comments yesterday, it sounds like a strong possibility. It would also make sense. The Yankees have two young pitchers whose innings need managing. The Hughes-Joba swap seems to work for both parties.

Wang, fearing surgery, gets an ominous third opinion
Yanks to face Holliday-less A's this weekend
  • gc

    Interesting take on the old Joba/Hughes switcheroo.

    Of course, Mark Feinsand already has Hughes penciled in as Mariano Rivera’s replacement after 2010. Lord only knows what Francesa has to say about all of this! :)

    • Mike Axisa

      Yeah, no kidding. I wonder why people weren’t all geeked up when Phil Coke picked up a save. He did it with a one run lead against the first place team. Hughes had a three run cushion against a crap team.

      • Zach

        BB, WP, ground out, rbi ground out, BB, ground out

        thats a little less impressive than Hughes, plus Coke’s postgame comments were great

    • MikeD

      Replacing Mariano after 2010? I guess he expects Rivera to fall off a cliff, or lose his cutter, over the next year. He’s not going to.

      When Mo signed his three-year deal, I told a friend that the Yankees will extend him another two years past 2010 because he will still be effective, despite his age. Half-way through his contract, I see no reason to doubt that.

  • Bruno

    From this, I can only infer that Cash misheard the question as, “Will Joba be pitching for the rest of the season?” since he added the “how he gets used” part. Since he won’t be shut down, I can only imagine this means that he’ll return to the bullpen when he hits a certain milestone.

    Actually, to me, this says that Joba will be on a stricter pitch count from here on out, and possibly pushed back or skip a start every now n then for the regular season. Then put in the ‘pen for the playoffs.

    • Zach

      i dont mind if they skip a start, but i dont want them limiting him to 5 IP/S to keep his innings down, that doesnt help by killing the bullpen. Just let him start and pitch, when he gets close to the inning limit then make the move to the pen

  • Little Bill

    The Yankees CAN’T take Joba out of the rotation for the stretch run and especially the playoffs if they make it. He is their 3rd best starter. Hughes is staying in the pen according to Cashman. How stupid would it be to have Pettitte and Mitre start games 3 and 4 of the division series while Joba and Hughes are in the bullpen? Skip starts if you have to, just keep Joba in the rotation.

    • Chris

      Where has Cashman said that Hughes will stay in the pen all year? He’s always coy with his public statements, and I believe he said Hughes is a reliever and staying in the pen right now. He’s also said that Hughes is a starter in the long term.

    • gxpanos

      I admire your outrage, but I just can’t imagine that scenario unless Cash makes a deal for a starter. The Yanks won’t put BOTH Phil and Joba in the pen for the playoffs.

      • Doug

        agree that there’s no way joba and hughes are in the pen at the same time.

        personally think they’re going to switch roles when joba hits about 130 innings (6 more starts or so)

        • Evan NYC

          I’m fine with that. Have them do the Wang-Hughes thing for the last 3 starts. Hughes into the rotation by September and he can get 4-5 starts before the playoffs. CC, AJ, Hughes, Pettitte. TMG, Coke, Joba, Mo. I like that…

        • C Bleak

          I think that is the best way to go about it. It is the only way that they can get both near their inning’s limit. Is the question really about to become? “Why are we putting Joba back in the pen and Hughes in the rotation?” I can’t wait to listen to this crap for the next 2 years.

    • Zach

      wouldnt they have to skip like 7 starts for his inning number to work? dont think thats wise increasing the work lod of the iron horses of andy and aj

  • Evan NYC

    I just don’t want to see Joba shut down in September for the year. Have him skip starts or have Hughes shadow him and transition him back into the bullpen for October. He is too valuable a weapon to not have him in the playoffs.

    • Doug

      agree. and i really never saw this as a realistic possibility. the yanks wouldn’t just shut him during the stretch run and into the playoffs.

  • Jacob

    I guess the question Cash should ask himself is can he acquire a better starting pitcher than Phil Hughes without giving up too much in the farm system. I think the answer is no, so switching Joba and Hughes seems like the ideal answer and I’m glad to see thats the direction it looks like they’re leaning.

  • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

    I think jerking a guy from starter to reliever to starter (Hughes) or from starter to reliever (Joba) is not good management of these young arms. First of all, there is the injury concern. We don’t know for sure what can put a pitcher at risk, but we try to figure it out, which is how you get the Verducci rule. I’m all for following the Verducci rule, but at the same time, what’s the point if you change a guy back and forth. And both of these guys have had trouble with injury in the past.

    Second, I think Joba has been shuttled back and forth to the pen so often the last few years (2007: starter to reliever; 2008: reliever to starter to reliever; 2009: starter now to reliever?) that it’s not good for his development. He’s a starter. He’s been a starter his whole career, and the Yanks see him as a starter in the future. The thought of him being a reliever should be put out of his head.

    I hate sacrificing the future for a quick fix now. I want Joba and Phil in the rotation for years to come. I’m willing to take whatever we have to take this year to make that happen, even if it means shutting Joba down in September, or spacing out his appearances so that his innings limit will take him into October.

    • jsbrendog

      agreed. although it seems we are in the minority.

      • Tank Foster

        There isn’t a risk-free option. Leave Joba in the rota, shutting him down in September, maybe, and you risk being severely “under-armed” for the playoffs. Put him in the bullpen, and you risk messing up his head, or worse his arm. Same applies to Hughes.

        While the Verducci rules can be used as guidelines, I’m assuming that the decision on an individual pitcher also depends alot on how the pitcher feels, whether there have or haven’t been any minor injury issues this year that we haven’t heard about, etc. What I’d prefer, more than anything, would be shutting Joba down and either getting another starter or letting Hughes start. But I’d save some of Joba’s innings, so he could pitch down the stretch and in the playoffs.

        • mvg

          I disagree on the point about “how a pitcher feels.” The only person who knows how the pitcher feels is the pitcher themselves. And what young pitcher is going to say, “you, skip, the arm is a bit tired…how bout I take the rest of the season off?”

          • mvg

            typing fail. *you know, skip

            also, to answer my own question: Carl Pavano : p

    • Doug

      don’t necessarily disagree with you. the next 10 years are more important than this year alone.

      but my question is, do you really think the yanks would just shut him down? think about it realistically.

      • Klemy

        And that answer seems like an obvious no.

    • Klemy

      “I hate sacrificing the future for a quick fix now. I want Joba and Phil in the rotation for years to come.”

      But we knew they had inning goals for this season. They are doing their best to get them to that point while still keeping both useful for the post season, assuming we are there.

      Both will likely be in the rotation next season and years to come. It wasn’t going to be that way this year for the whole season anyway, we all knew that when they said innings limits.

    • Nady Nation

      If the Yankees handle Joba’s situation properly though, he can help the team in September/October without significantly eclipsing his innings limit. 4 and 5 starters go to the bullpen every year for the playoffs – this would just be a different circumstance for Joba going to the ‘pen. Hughes’ situation does worry me though, I can’t lie about that. The Starter-reliever-starter transition within a 5-6 month period for a 23 year old doesn’t sit right with me.

      • Klemy

        Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather have a 23 year old do that than someone older. It seems like they’d handle it better physically at least, but that’s just my view.

        • Nady Nation

          I was referring to Hughes’ youth from the aspect of him not having a ton of innings under his belt. So now, he’ll have to go back to pacing himself and not trying to throw 95-96 with every fastball. That could be a difficult adjustment for an inexperienced pitcher, especially since he has to do it on the fly.

          • Klemy

            I guess I don’t buy in to dialing it down as a starter. That’s a whole different discussion from shifting back and forth between starter and reliever though isn’t it? I mean, it’s a consideration, but it’s not the objective.

            • Nady Nation

              I don’t like the fact that he will go from being a 6-7 inning pitcher to a 1-2 inning pitcher, only to go back to throwing up to 7 innings at a time, all in the same season. That’s a lot of different workloads for one year.

      • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

        I know 5th starters go to the pen in the playoffs, but there has been so much baggage with Joba, and all the jerking around, I think it’s different. They have to send him a message: He’s a starter.

        • Nady Nation

          I hear what you’re saying, obviously. It just pains me to think we’d lose such a valuable weapon for the postseason.

    • Ed

      spacing out his appearances so that his innings limit will take him into October.

      The Yankees tried that last year with Joba. Then he got a minor injury, and it totally blew the plan and he ended the season with less innings pitched than the previous year.

      You have to be more aggressive and slow down at the end, or you have a very real possibility of not pitching as many innings as you aimed for.

      The problem with spacing out Joba’s starts is you’d have to pitch him on 10 days rest every time the rest of the way to have him pitching in October. That’s probably not a good idea, and leaves a hole in the rotation on the days you do skip him.

      • Doug

        yeah, so much rest between starts could impact his command…doesn’t sound like the best idea for someone with control issues to begin with.

        though, it did seem to work for him in his 1st start after the break.

        • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

          I don’t disagree. Actually, I’d be in favor of shutting him down whenever he hits his limit, regardless of date.

          • Doug

            yeah, but like i said in here before, don’t see any way the yanks would entertain this idea.

            • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

              Maybe. But you never know.

  • Frank

    Unless they manage to swing a deal for s starter without having to give up half the farm, the Hughes/Joba swap seems the way to go. I personally don’t think it will hinder either pitchers’ future development or role on the team. What I think they really need to do is start to get Melancon and D-Rob more involved in close games to see what these guys can do. If one of these 2 can step up and prove to be effective in a close game, and if Bruney can get his act together, this BP would be very deep and essentially make it a 6 inning game. They can’t just rely on Ace, Coke and Hughes in close games. There’s going to come a time when one or more of them may need a day off if there’s a string of close games.

  • Kiersten

    The more I read this blog, the more it seems to me that people here don’t really want the Yankees to win it all this year. Yes, the future is important and the development of two young pitchers is as well, but this is perhaps the best Yankee team I’ve watched since 2001 and they have a damn good shot at winning it all with the team they have right now. Assuming Joba performs decently-well for the remainder of the season, taking him out of the rotation in favor of Mitre against one of the top 4 teams in the league sounds absolutely idiotic to me. With that said, I’ve been very impressed with the front office lately and have no doubt that they have a plan and we will not be seeing Sergio Mitre starting a game in October.

    Also, this innings limit thing, I don’t get it. Joba went 8 on June 1st in Cleveland, presumably throwing about as many pitches as all of those times he only lasted 4-5 innings. Yet these innings are all treated equal? This makes no sense.

    • Mike HC

      I’m with you Kiersten. The inning limit thing seems like such an elementary analysis of how to gauge a pitchers use. If any team really uses Verducci thing to the letter it would be ridiculous. Teams have far more information on their own young pitchers use and stress than Verducci would. I also agree that the Yankee front office has a better plan than just flip flopping Hughes and Joba, or sending Joba to the pen. We now know for sure that Joba won’t just be shut down, which is a good start.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      Realistically, the Yankees have a 1/8 chance of winning a World Series this year, if they make the playoffs. Before that, they need to actually make the playoffs; according to Baseball Prospectus, the Yankees’ have roughly an 80% chance of making the playoffs this year.

      So that’s 80% * 20%, which comes to a 16% chance of winning a championship this year.

      Now, you can probably adjust the percent chance of winning the World Series based on strength of team. A few years ago – I think it was Nate Silver – did a study on what factors make a team more or less likely to be successful in the playoffs, leading to his “Secret Sauce” factors. I’ll not go into detail about them here, because they’re not too important, but realistically, since anything can happen in a short series, actual strength of team (also keeping mindful that – usually – the other teams that are in the playoffs are also very strong, reducing the relative difference in strength between the two teams) probably doesn’t increase the percent chance of winning the World Series that much.

      So let’s assume the Yankees are currently a .611 team, or a 98-win team. Most playoff teams are probably going to be around 90-win teams, too – and it’s not unlikely that the AL Wild Card team, if it comes from the AL East, might have between 92 and 96 wins, whether it’s Tampa Bay or Boston.

      Does a difference of 6- to 12-regular season wins, assuming that the weakest playoff team the Yankees could hypothetically run into is an 86- or 88-win team, increase the Yankees’ chance of winning it all this year that great? What’s that worth, a few percentage points? Maybe the Yankees have a 1/7, as opposed to 1/8, chance of winning it all once in the playoffs, then?

      …the point I’m building up to is this: going for broke is usually a bad idea unless you foresee a short window of opportunity. Reason is this: I would wager you actually maximize your chances at winning a championship by fielding a championship-caliber team across seasons, rather than maximizing the chance of fielding a championship-caliber team in one season.

      If we’re generous, and say the Yankees’ relative strength against potential playoff opponents gives them a 33% chance of winning a world series this year, that gives them a 26.4% chance of winning the world series this year (80% of making the playoffs). However, even if the Yankees only have a 1/8 chance of winning the world series this year (so 16% of winning it all), but retain the same chances of making it to the playoffs and winning a world series next year, that means the Yankees have a 32% chance of winning a world series in the next two years.

      So…yes, it’s really important to try and win it all this year. Maximizing your chances to win it all can never hurt, unless it seriously dampens your chance to win it all next year, or the year after that.

      • Mike HC

        You made that far more complicated than that had to be. Joba is pretty clearly our third best starter. Do you really want to voluntarily lose your third best starter for the playoffs? I understand you have to protect these young guys, but it would be a real ballsy move to yank Joba from the rotation right before the playoffs, especially if he is pitching really well, which I think he will be.

      • Kiersten

        Ok and if baseball was a computer that would make perfect sense.
        You cannot honestly say that if the playoffs started tomorrow, the Colorado Rockies would have a similar chance of winning as the New York Yankees. Of course they have a chance and anything could happen, but the Yankees are just a better team.
        Plus, you’re assuming the Yanks will be just as good next year and have the same chance of winning.
        And your assumption of 16% would not give them a 32% chance of winning, but rather a 25.6% chance (.16 x .16).

        And of course it’s a matter of opinion, but I don’t think letting Joba get 3 starts in the playoffs (Game4 of the DS, CS, and WS – yay optiism) is going to seriously dampen the Yankees chances of winning it all next year.

        • Chris

          Actually, they would have a 29.4% chance of winning at least one world series within the next 2 years.

          2 WS Wins: 2.6%
          WS this year and not next: 13.4%
          WS next year and not this: 13.4%
          No WS wins: 70.6%

    • JobaWockeeZ

      What would you rather have? The Yanks don’t win the WS this year but the Yankees win a dynasty with championships over 4-5 years or a championship now with the chance of killing resources for one year only?

      • jsbrendog

        the latter

      • Nady Nation

        So now we know for sure that shutting Joba down for the season once he approaches his innings limit will guarantee a dynasty? Come on. It’s not a black and white argument like you’re making it out to be.

        • Kiersten

          If shutting down Joba at 150 guaranteed the Yanks 4-5 championships over the next 4-5 years, I’d do it in a heartbeat, but alas, it does not.

          • Doug

            if shutting him down guaranteed us 1 title over the next 4-5 years, hell, i might do it too.

            remember boys, it’s not that easy to win one these days. it HAS been 8 years you know.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          It was a hypothetical question regarding on how to handle situations for the future. Shutting down Joba reduces him getting hurt meaning there will be one less hole in the rotation meaning a greater chance to win more championships rather than letting him pitch all the way to the WS getting hurt and hurting the chances of winning more WS to come.

    • Bo

      Most commenters here would rather see a young starter get developed than the team actually you know WIN.

      It is about results after all and its about winning titles. If they are better for the team in the pen that is where they should stay.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Except that developing young starters helps winning a lot more. How the hell is this concept so hard for you to grasp? Oh wai…Remember who I’m talking to.

  • cr1

    The way some of us are emoting about how essential it is to have Joba in the rotation in October it almost makes me believe he’s been lights-out this season. But wait — when I look back what I see is a very inconsistent record of an inexperienced, immature pitcher with a couple of brilliant performances and the rest mediocre (or worse). I see no reason to panic at the thought that he might not be on the mound in a crucial post-season game.

    A more pressing question in my mind than whether I’ll see Joba’s adventures in October-land is who Cashman comes up with to make this rotation more or less whole?

    • Kiersten

      I agree, but, assuming Hughes stays in the pen, there are no better options (an even if he doesn’t, we don’t know if Hughes will be better than Joba).

  • JohnnyC

    If Beane’s in a trading mood, maybe Cash can get Duchscherer and/or Wuertz from the A’s.

  • Mike HC

    Am I the only one who thinks it is odd to just flip flop guys from the bullpen to a starter and back to the bullpen like this.

    We are just going to take our third starter and switch him with our current set up man. What team does that kind of stuff? I just can’t imagine the Yanks doing something like that. If Hughes is still pitching lights out in the pen, and Joba gets on a bit of a roll, which I think is coming, how can you just switch the two? Baseball and life is not that easy and simple. It may sound like a good idea, but there is no way that the transition will be smooth. Either one, or both, will end up struggling and the Yanks will be making this move right before the playoffs. There would be no time for adjustments.

    The Yanks should just keep things as they are. They should limit Joba’s starts and pitches as much as they can, and just see what happens.

    • Tank Foster

      You’re right it’s sort of odd, but it’s totally predictable given the way young pitchers are treated, the emphasis on innings limits, etc.

      I said above I’d like them to shut Joba down early and ‘save’ him so he can pitch in the playoffs, but thinking about it more that might not be a smart thing to do.

      I’m inclined to have Hughes stay right where he is for this season. For Joba, maybe try to space him out a little bit as the year goes on, have him miss a start now and then, and maybe have a quick hook pulling him. And then if he’s feeling good and everything seems fine, maybe you let him go a little over the limit. I’m thinking in the playoffs, he’s the #4 starter anyway, so he may not get much time pitching.

  • Erik

    was hughe’s throwing a slider last night? or are the yankees announcers clueless? (they did want him to throw his changeup that he does not have)
    If he did grab his old slider wouldn’t that be 4 legit pitches with the curve being his off speed?

  • Dominick

    Joba Stinks in the rotation the yankees should shut down wang and trade for Halladay then the Rotation Shold look like this:

    2.(if we get him) Halladay

    • BBDC

      Yes and I assume the package for Halladay would be Ramiro Pena, Melky Cabrera, Shelly Dauncan, One of the Nunez’s (do we still have two of them?), and just because I’m feeling magnanimous I’ll be willing to part with Kei Igawa, but I’m really wavering on Kei so Toronto better not dawdle the offer with Kei is only on the table for the next 15 minutes, after that it turns into Brett Tomko.

  • Bo

    The pipe dreams of moving Hughes into the rotation continue.

    Enjoy him dominating in the pen and enjoy the game being 6 innings.

    • mvg

      While I usually don’t bother responding to most of your posts…in 17 relief appearances this year, 12 of them have been 1.1 innings or less. Out of the five relief appearances of 2.0 innings or more (he has only gone 1.2 as a starter), He has come in in the 3rd, the 6th twice, and the 7th twice. So I would say him making the game six innings is far from accurate…

  • BBDC

    Yeah I think what he was implying was that at a certain point Joba would skip starts, in order to keep his innings down.

    Not a return to the bullpen.

  • Yankees1977

    Hughes should definitely stay where he is. If we want to go all the way Hughes has to be in the pen. Hughes has not shown anything as a starter except with a few bright spots here and there. Next year he can get his shot if he can do it. As for Joba i took the comments with Cash as that they will manage Joba by skipping starts here and there so he can reach the post season and plan on keeping Ace and Hughes where they are. Here’s hoping Mitre can do the job filling in. If Wang will not be healthy and effective by seasons end, The Yankees will not hesitate to use Joba as the #4 starter.