An outside look on Joba’s career


Depending on who you are, you think Joba Chamberlain‘s 2009 season was either evidence that he’s not all cracked up to, or that it’s just the first step in developing a young starter. David Golebiewski at RotoGraphs took a look at the young righthander’s career, then points out the obvious: we shouldn’t be shocked that a guy who spent half a season in the minors is rough around the edges. It’s a short but really great read, so make sure you check it out. Nothing like a little outside perspective.

Categories : Asides
  • Steve H

    Great informative read. And after all of that, the 1st commenter is a B-Jobber. Unreal.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

      And the second one here is a MR-Jobber. Even more unreal.

  • Bronx Ralphie

    Joba is terrible. He throws way too many pitches to go deep into ball games and he gets himself into too many hitters counts. He is a middle relief pitcher at best and he will never amount to anything in the majors. Cash, trade him now while he still has decent value. please. i beg you.

    • Richard Iurilli

      I pray that this was written in jest. If not, I have no words for you.

    • Bronx Blogger

      Sarcasm or are you really this dull?

    • Moshe Mandel

      Certainly read the article there.

      • 28 next year

        yea and the funniest part is that he said Joba was at best a middle RELIEF pitcher. At least the debate between starter and closer/setup man has some merit to a certain degree although I do favor him being a starter. No idiot has ever said Joba can’t succeed in teh bullpen.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Trade him now! Like what the Twins did with Johan when he sucked, or what the Indians did when CC sucked, or what the Red Sox did when Lester sucked, or what the Tigers did when Verlander sucked.

      Oh wai…

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

      If ever there was an Oaktag moment on RAB, this may be it.

    • Tampa Yankee

      Take it easy, Ralph. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.

      • Bronx Ralphie

        You all will see soon enough. He will never amount to anything. There has to be somebody on here that agrees with me.

        • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

          Look around for a guy named “SalLannyBoGrant.” He’ll be the one with multiple personalities and a very festive holiday sweater.

          Good luck!

  • Richard Iurilli

    “We shouldn’t be shocked that a guy who spent half a season in the minors is rough around the edges.”

    This. Preach it.

    • Stryker

      PRECISELY. i think a lot of joba’s problem(s) can be chalked up to the fact that he has too little experience in the minors.

      unfortunately the yankees were in a rough spot in 2007 and needed immediate bullpen help. unfortunately they were that short-sighted that they sacrificed the development of the guy to stick him into a set up role, though he flourished in that spot.

      it will be VERY exciting to see how he does in 2010 now that it’s said he’ll be ‘unleashed’.

      • Zack

        yeah, they talk about his inability to hold guys on, or a good pick off move, or dealing with runners on base in general- that stuff isnt learned within a year or two, especially when you’re trying to learn how to just pitch too

    • Tampa Yankee

      Some statistical evidence I complied before that truly shows how little time Joba spent in the minors compared to other top of the line SP:

  • Evil Empire

    I’m looking forward to Joba being much improved in 2010. Best #5 in baseball!

    • Bronx Blogger

      My only problem with what is going to happen is that Hughes will not get a chance to start. Am I remembering things differently or isn’t Hughes supposed to be projected as a better starter than Joba will be?

      Then shouldn’t he be starting in place of Joba? Simply on the grounds that he’s supposed to be the better pitcher down the road?

      When it comes to the argument of innings limits, if Joba has no limit, and Hughes is about 175, in all honestly Hughes could pitch the entire year and not hit 175. 175 innings is not a huge limit that will restrict Phil Hughes from pitching.

      I’m not a B-Jobber or anything like that, I understand the importance of having both Hughes and Joba start and develop, but I do not understand why we are all choosing to have Joba start over Hughes. It just seems like you should have your better projected guy start instead of the other guy.

      • Bronx Blogger

        And I understand that its a competition for that 5th start, but it seems like everyone on this blog already thinks Joba will become that 5th starter and I dont follow the logic.

        • Matt Imbrogno

          He’s more prepared to start than Phil Hughes is. Joba just threw a full season as a starter and pitched ~50 more innings than Hughes. He’s also had more success as a starter than Phil has.

          • Bronx Blogger

            I don’t buy either argument. Joba did not have a full season. He started with a regular schedule, but once he hit 110innings he got into a funk. They then tried to mess around his workload and rest days and that arguably backfired.

            Success as a starter is iffy too. There were times when Hughes looked brilliant as a starter this year before he was put into the pen.

            • Bronx Blogger

              157.1 innings of both rotation and bullpen is not a full season.

        • Riddering

          I think that the Yankees should and will go into ST with the notion that the fifth spot in the rotation is up for grabs among Joba, Hughes, Aceves, Gaudin, Mitre, etc.

          However, it seems to me that unless someone else blows them away or Joba looks poor that the latter will take the fifth spot because the Yankees took extreme pains to smartly increase his workload as a SP in 2009. What sense would it make to throw away all the compromises of 2009 in order to get Joba fit for making 180-200 innings if they then put him in the BP?

          The best plan for consistent development would be to slot Joba into the rotation to begin the season, move Hughes to AAA or (gulp) the bullpen with the idea that he’s the first option to move to the rotation when/if a spot opens up in 2010. That way Joba can pitch a full season with little to no limitations and Hughes can work back into building up his IP in order to be a future Yankee starter.

      • dsss

        I agree with your assessment. I’ve always been a Joba fan, but in spite of his potential, he was rushed too fast. He had almost no experience, doesn’t know how to pitch on a MLB level, and has little discipline.

        All of this is correctable, theoretically. I guess the question is whether he will be put in a position to what has to be done, and whether he will do the work.

      • Chris

        I don’t think it’s clear that Joba projects as better than Hughes. Also, there is a reasonable chance that the lower of the battle for 5th starter will start the season in AAA. Whether they move to the pen at a later date will be determined by how the pen fares in their absence.

      • Moshe Mandel

        No, Joba projected as a better starter by most scouts. He has a more diverse repertoire and better velocity.

        • Steve

          I disagree. Hughes was nearly universally considered the better prospect by those in the know until Joba dominated out of the bullpen in 2007. I still think Hughes will be the better starter of the two long-term (assuming of course he is given that opportunity).

          • no.27

            Before 2007 Hughes WAS considered the better prospect as a starter. A lot has changed since 2007. Hughes doesn’t even throw the same pitches as he did back then.

            I don’t know what scouts are saying about who will be the better starter this year, but what they have to say will have more to do with what happened since 2007 than before 2007.

            I’d think that Joba’s fastball, slider, curveball, changeup are better than Hughes’ fastball, cutter, curveball, changeup at this point.

            I think it would hurt Joba’s development more than it would hurt Hughes’ development for Joba to go back to the pen. He’s set up to finally pitch a full season, no reason to not give him the chance.

            If Joba does well, then you can put Hughes in as the 5th starter next year. If Joba proves that he can’t be a good starter, then you put him in the pen and see what Hughes can do.

      • YankeeScribe

        Nobody should own the #5 spot. Neither Joba, nor Hughes should go into spring training feeling like their role at the bottom of the rotation is secure. Let them earn their spots on the opening day roster.

    • dsss

      I assume you’re saying that #5 is for 2010, not his long term projection. Otherwise we ended up not trading a #5 starter for Halliday.

  • t

    Wouldn’t it make sense to let both of them start and run a 6 man rotation for a little bit? This would give CC/AJ/Pettite some rest as they will need to be at 100% for the playoffs as well as let the kids fight it out for the 5th spot. All star game roles around and one is clearly better move the weaker to the pen giving him a few months to be groomed as a set up man.

    • dsss

      Or you could let one of them learn to pitch in AAA initially.

      • Chris

        I agree. At some point in the season one of them may move to the pen, but it’s not likely to be in April. If all 5 starters stay healthy and the pen struggles then I can see either Hughes or Joba going to the pen.

    • Bronx Ralphie

      I don’t know if it was Cashman or Girardi but one of them said there will not be a six man rotation no matter what. If this is true, who knows…

      • Bronx Blogger

        obviously that is true, although what you’re saying is not exactly profound.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      No, because a six-man rotation takes away starts from the top of the rotation.

      • Doug


        • dudes

          which, then again might not be bad considering the extended workload associated with a deep playoff run.

    • 28 next year

      I think if you’re the Yankees, you want your best pitchers pitching the most. That means get CC his starts. I don’t want to end up like 2008 where young pitchers can’t get a win. You have to give your best pitchers the most innings possible. That is what wins like we saw in teh playoffs and throughout time.

      • Doug

        and this

      • t

        I do agree but in the past pitchers who have pitched in the world series have had trouble the following year. Giving them a few months of extra rest could be beneficial, then around June or July you move back into the 5 man rotation. Makes sense to me but I guess the Yankees brass has other plans.

  • Abe

    Joba’s fastball posted just a 3.3 percent whiff rate. The average for a righty four-seam fastball is about 5.8 percent.

    Not trying to pat my own back here, but I noticed this in watching games last year. His fastball just didn’t miss any bats. This in turn, led Joba to start relying heavily on his slider, and I noticed that he went slider at just about every crucial point in most at-bats. He needs to throw that fastball more confidently and for more early count strikes.

  • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

    I think the author really glossed over Chamberlain’s injury in August of 2008. There’s a noticeable decline in velocity since that injury. I’m not saying it’s the whole start-to-reliever-to starter thing, just that it may be more of a concern than mentioned.

    • Riddering

      Actually, it’s interesting how he doesn’t spend much time writing on Joba’s fastball velocity. Considering his is an ‘outsider’ pov and so many Yankee writers/bloggers focus on TEH HEAT.

      Just goes to show that it isn’t as dire as many people make it out to be, when Joba pitches in the low-to-mid 90s range rather than the upper-to-100.

  • Chesser

    I know the Yanks wouldn’t do this, and I’m sure there’s an obvious reason why this wouldn’t work, but why not open the season with Joba and Hughes sharing starts? Joba goes 5 innings, relieved by Hughes for 4 innings, and switch that pattern for the next start. I’m assuming that Pettite, AJ, or both will miss some number of starts at some point. When that inevitably happens, you separate Joba and Hughes to fill out the rotation. If you start Joba in the pen, it would seem to exclude him as a mid-season fill-in starter.

    What obvious rebuttal am I missing, aside from “it’s weird”?

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

      Well, it’s not as batshit insane as some might think BUT it greatly limits flexibility and consigns people to specific roles that may not be conducive to winning. If Joba pitches 5 innings, looks really good and then all the sudden you threw in Hughes having a rough day, it could get dicey. I’m also unsure as to how either would adjust, though that narrative may be overblown.

      And sure, it would be nice to give the bullpen some rest, but at the expense of strategically weakening your chance of winning that greatly every five days?

      How about Joba/Hughes starts every 5th day and the other develops in AAA throwing every five days. Someone, as you mentioned, will certainly break down; wah-lah—a very talented starter already built up and ready to go.

      They both need innings and a bit of development—let them without hamstringing flexibility.

    • Tom Zig

      While it’s an interesting plan there are a few defects:

      1. It doesn’t allow either of the two to get used to going deep into games.

      2. What do you do if it’s a close game? Do you let hughes pitch 4 innings regardless of the score? Do you send marte or Mo in? If you do, you’re limiting hughes’ innings.

      3. What about if joba gets knocked out of the game early? Do you extend hughes for more than his customary 4 innings? You’ll be exposing him to a risk of injury if you do.

      Anyone else got anything to add?

    • Zack

      Joba doesnt have an innings limit so it doesnt make sense; and it also wastes a roster spot.

      Whoever wins the 5th spot let the other start in AAA, he’ll get innings and you know they’ll need atleast 10-15 starts from that 6th starter

  • Gleb

    “While Chamberlain didn’t set the world on fire in 2009, he just turned 24 in late September. Hopefully, he gets another crack at the rotation. For the sake of argument, let’s say Joba becomes “only” a 4.00 FIP starter at his peak. If he tosses 175 innings, that would make him worth about 2.7 wins above replacement per season. In 2009, the only reliever to top that WAR total was Jonathan Broxton, with +2.9. It’s awfully hard to make a reasonable argument that Chamberlain has more value out of the ‘pen. ”

    This was the best part of the post.

  • ecksodia

    Good post. What I don’t get is how people can keep arguing for keeping him in the bullpen; surely, if he fails horribly as a starter, the Yankees are amenable to moving him to the bullpen if that happens?

    • Yankeegirl49

      Because, to the people arguing for keeping him in the pen, he already failed horribly as a starter. Anything other than winning 15-20 with an ERA under 3, is “failing horribly”. never mind anything else.

      At this point, I just want the whole discussion to go away!

  • Accent Shallow

    It’d be nice to get a view from someone who knows what they’re talking about, rather than a fantasy site. This about the same level of analysis you’d get from a comment here.

    • dudes

      i thought david did a pretty good job with the available information. what else do you want?

      • Accent Shallow

        Actual analysis. Of course, that’s far too much to expect from a fantasy site.