A B-Jobber New Year’s resolution

Learning from Dellin Betances
Open Thread: The difference is at the top of the free agent market

With the latest revolution of the Earth around the Sun, people are again making resolutions that aim to make their 2010 better than their 2009. Most of these get broken two weeks into January, so they’re meaningless. Also meaningless: Matt Snyder at AOL FanHouse’s resolutions list for each major league team. But, since it’s Saturday and I’m in a jovial mood, I’ll mock his Yankees entry.

The Yankees should resolve to move Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen permanently. He has the make up to take over for Mariano Rivera as closer once the best-ever decides to hang up the cleats for good. Joba’s career ERA as a reliever is 1.50 while it’s 4.18 as a starter. With four legitimate starters in house and a few serviceable fifth starters (even possibly including Phil Hughes) it’s time to end the charade. Put Joba in the eighth inning until Rivera retires.

Yep. Let’s judge Joba based on his tiny sample of relief work. Because he’ll clearly maintain this 1.50 ERA throughout his bullpen career. Let’s also judge him on his performance as a young starter. I guess Matt Snyder would have moved Greg Maddux and Roy Halladay to the bullpen as youngsters.*

But then again, Snyder does say that some of these resolutions are serious while some are lighthearted. Is Joba one of his light-hearted ones? Since it provides the flimsiest of arguments, it’s possible. But given the seriousness of the tone, the mocking stands. Just in case.

*Actually, probably not, because with those two there was no case of confirmation bias. Since those guys never came up in the desperate bullpen situation Joba did, we never got to see them dazzle in single-inning work before becoming starters. I wonder what would have happened if we did.

Learning from Dellin Betances
Open Thread: The difference is at the top of the free agent market
  • Accent Shallow

    So beyond frustrating.

    • J

      Why? Why let any of this bother you? People are taught at a young age to just ignore people that aren’t worth your time. I don’t even let these people phase me, because nothing RAB says, the fans say, or the Yankees say, is going to prevent them from continuing along this line of thinking.

      I do think that if the Yankees stick him in the pen after Spring Training, there will be a whole WORLD of these types of articles and Francesca will dance naked on Broadway.

  • Nels

    What makes the least sense of the argument is that a 4.18 ERA for a young starter in the AL East is extremely good.

    • Zack


      Joba can have a career ERA of 4.18 8 years from now and I’ll be satisfied

  • Doug

    i’m with you, joe.

    but i’ll even go a step further and say that even if joba can somehow maintain that 1.50 ERA as a reliever and does no better than 4.18 as a starter, 200 innings of the latter is better than 75 innings of the former.

    • Accent Shallow

      I’m going to disagree with your second premise — if a 1.50 ERA as a reliever and a 4.18 ERA as a starter are his true talent levels, he should be a reliever.

      Of course, those numbers are subject to small sample size across three seasons, so they’re almost certainly not what we can expect from him going forward.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        75 IP of 1.50 ERA/FIP ball is worth +4.2 WAR. 200 IP of 4.18 ERA/FIP ball is worth +3.2 WAR.

        Of course, 1.50 ERA is not Joba’s true talent level. Mo’s career ERA is 2.25, and he’s had just two seasons at 1.50 or lower.

        • Doug

          was taking a guess when i first said it, so i was pretty close at least

        • pete

          But then there’s the argument that 75 IP a year for a reliever is kind of a lot. For a fireballer type like Joba, there’s a chance that he fizzles out as he gets into his 30s. The workload for a starter is heavier, but it’s more maintainable over long periods of time because it is so much more regimented and consistent.

        • AndrewYF

          Of course, you’re ignoring that WAR needs to work differently for relievers than it does starters. There was a post about this earlier: WAR undervalues closers.

          • Chris

            It’s equally likely that WAR is accurate and it’s our subjective judgment that overvalues closers.

            • Accent Shallow

              I dunno — WAR does not take leverage into account, and leverage is a fair amount of a reliever’s value.

  • pat

    If people want to make the argument that he should be in the bullpen, that’s fine with me. It’s just that almost every single argument is presented in such a condescending manner. They all talk as if the Yankee FO doesn’t know what it’s doing and that people who think he should be a starter are idiots. I think the fact that they lack any sufficient, hard evidence other than era, fb velocity, and bull-in-a-china-shopitis causes them to have to be douchey.

  • gc

    Here here!

    Actually, considering how much time and effort they’ve put into Joba as a starter, it amuses me as to why anyone would think that he isn’t the favorite to be in that #5 starter spot. Even if he has a lackluster spring training, this has to be the year (and every decision they’ve made up to now leads me to think it is) where the Yankees just slot him into the rotation at #5 and let him pitch as if he were any other tenured starting major league pitcher. No restrictions, here’s the ball every fifth day, go pitch. We’ll cross the bridge of where you will ultimately be the best help to the team when we come to it. But right now, you’ve earned this opportunity, we’ve done what we could to make this opportunity happen for you and have invested a lot of time and effort into the process. Let’s see what we REALLY have on our hands.

    It seems there are those who hope Joba fails as a starter (though they would probably never admit it) just so they can say “I told you so!” That’s always been the biggest thing that has bothered me about many of those in the “Joba must be a reliever” crowd.

  • Alan

    Since when did a 4.18 ERA as a 24 year old starting pitcher become bad? For reference, Maddux’s first two seasons had ERA’s of 5.52 and 5.61. Roger Clemens first two seasons were 4.32 and 3.29. Tom Glavine? 5.54 and 4.56. Randy Johnson? 4.82 and 3.65. Send them to the bullpen!

    People are expecting way too much way too soon with Joba. Joba didn’t even get a full year of minor league work in before he was sent up to the big show. He will be a quality starting pitcher in this league. Get back from the ledge. Hughes and Joba are STILL the future of this organization and people seem to forget that they’re still not even 25 years old.

    • Omar

      Johnson shouldn’t be there since he was awesome after a rough rookie year, and didn’t struggle with his stuff like Chamberlain did in his second year. I’m sure everyone here knows how I feel about Chamberlain, he’s had a history loaded with injuries and conditioning concerns, and recieved some questionable reviews about his mechanics lately (Driveline, incase you we’re wondering) This year he’s had control problems, stuff problems, and terribleness problems in general. Given all of this, there is ample cause for concern for his ability to be in the Yankee Rotation. Maybe he is that phenom in the bullpen (though I doubt he’s really that good, and I’m not really a B-Jobber…he still deserves a shot to become a starter), who knows. I’m more of a T-Jobber, I would like for him to recoup trade value and get dealt for a good young player, maybe a Ricky Nolasco or something.

  • mustang

    Starter or reliever I don’t even care at this point just please for the love of God let this die this year.

    • Accent Shallow

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it will die, unless he wins a Cy Young or pulls a Mike Marshall 1974.

      • mustang

        This thing is like arguing with my wife about how to redecorate the house after a while I just don’t care anymore I just want done.

        • mustang

          .. Just want it done.

        • whozat

          Yeah, happens to everyone. Happening to me with some work stuff right now. It’s kinda depressing to realize that it’s happening, and that someone can win an argument just by being obstinate and not having anything more important to do than argue with me, while I have other things to deal with. But it happens :-/

          • mustang

            I hear that it’s a little different with the wife because it’s easier to deal with when you love the person. But at work I just move on it’s frustrating, but at the end of the day I do my 8 get paid and go home. I refuse to let the ignorance of others effect my life. I have too much to enjoy at home and life is way too short.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    People don’t seem to understand that it takes time to become a quality starter. Pitchers develop into quality relievers literally overnight. We see it every single year.

    • larryf

      and will it be necessary for Joba to develop a 3rd pitch that he can throw for strikes? As a starter, I think so…

    • Bill Style

      I think it’s because of young pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez dominating so early in their careers, we want Hughes and Joba to do the same.

      Is patience still a virtue nowadays?

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Well, Feliz had a ~4.50 ERA in his first year as a starter, and it’s steadily gone down.

        Patience baby, it’s the key to life.

        • Bill Style

          exactly what I needed to hear!

        • Omar

          Wasn’t Felix a teenager too?

    • Ed

      Well, when’s the last time the Yankees developed a quality starter? I think Yankee fans just have no idea what the process is like.

      People had very low expectations for Wang, and he started off well then became great.

      You have to go back to Pettitte to get a good homegrown Yankee starter, and he did start off pretty well. Of course, he also pitched more innings in the minors than Joba has pitched in his career, which people just don’t realize.

      Before that, I don’t know. I remember guys like Jeff Johnson, Wade Taylor, and Scott Kaminicki. Kaminicki & Boehringer were the only Yankee farmhands I can think of to have careers even worth mentioning, and neither was anything memorable.

      • Zack

        I think we should seperate “Yankee fans” and “people who boo ARod for not going 5-5 5HR, 20RBI per game, want to DFA Matsui after a 0-7 week, want to fire Cashman because he cant build a team, want to cut CC cause he’s a bust, and want to trade IPK+Melky for [enter player name]”

        • ecksodia

          True, true.

          You forgot to add that CC being a bust = not pitching a perfect game every time out.

        • Omar

          I personally booed A-Rod’s postseason HRs that didn’t give the Yankees the lead.

          • OldYanksFan

            He’s such a stat padder.

  • Pasqua

    “I only need my own two eyes to tell me what’s best! Arghhh!”

    /MSM’d….and pirate’d

  • Zack

    From the same article: “The Brewers resolve to find a way to motivate Manny Parra. In two seasons being in the starting rotation, Parra has a 5.29 ERA and a horrifying 1.67 WHIP. He’s 27 now and has a good enough minor league track record to convince many he’s got enough to be a No. 3 starter. The Brewers desperately need better pitching, so it’s time for Parra to step up. Maybe they need Prince Fielder to fight him again? ”

    Wait, he says that 27(1) year old Manny Parra can still be a good #3, not Joba at 3 years younger has to be in the bullpen already.

    • Zack

      “The Diamondbacks should resolve to give Ian Kennedy an extended chance in the rotation. The 25-year-old has a career 1.95 ERA in the minors and needs a chance to hone his craft at the big league level. If he develops into a solid starter, the Diamondbacks could have the best top four starters in the bigs.”

      And the same for IPK; he deserves an extended chance in the rotation, but after 2 years of 4.18 era Joba should be in the bullpen.

      • Doug

        they’re saying these things b/c joba’s:
        1. #s are better as a reliever than as a starter
        2. mentality appears more suited for the pen
        3. stuff plays up in the pen

        it’s the fact that he’s been dominant in the pen in the past that people want to delegate him there already

        • Zack

          1. Put IPK or Parra in the pen and their numbers will be much better than their numbers when they started games
          2. Just not true. Should we list the number of ‘bulldog’ pitchers who are starters and not relievers?
          3. Every SP stuff gets better in the pen

          • Doug

            agree with you completely. but that’s why THEY’RE saying it, not me

            • Zack

              my fault; but yeah those are the 3 main talking points for b-jobbers, and all 3 are pretty easy to argue against

  • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090810&content_id=6355462&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy JobaWockeeZ

    If Joba and Hughes were on different teams under the same scenario I bet other fans would want them in the rotation.

  • Aaron – Long Island

    This has probably be discussed at length before, but I gotta ask: If Hughes win the 5th starter role in spring training, what should the Yankees do with Joba?

    I don’t doubt Joba’s promise to become a top flight starter, but it seems like the choice at that point is either to send him to Triple A as a starter (which weakens the 2010 team) or put him in the big league bullpen (which further stunts his development as a starter).

    There are pros and cons with both decisions, but I can’t figure out which one I would prefer as a fan.

    • Ed

      If Hughes wins the #5 spot, I say send Joba to AAA to work as a starter.

      Avoids the pen/rotation swapping and related risks, and stops his service time clock. If he spends two months in the minors, it delays his free agency by a year. I think an extra year of team control is worth more than a few months of bullpen work.

    • whozat

      Given Hughes’ innings limit and the workloads on the top 3 pitchers in 2009 — coupled with Pettitte’s age and AJ’s track record of injury, I think that there is at least an argument to be made that having Joba ready to step into the rotation at the drop of a hat is more valuable to the 2010 Yankees than a setup man.

      I’m not sure where the tradeoff point is, but I think there’s at least an argument to be made. Kinda depends on who the alternative 6th starter is, and who the setup guys are.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Is there any writer in the MSM who is a fan of the Yankees? I’m not counting beat writers (not many of them either), but more along the lines of ESPN, SI or FOX. I get tired of the constant crap being spewed by these guys. That’s probably why I spend the majority of time here, I guess.

    Do the fans of other teams feel the same way?

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090810&content_id=6355462&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy JobaWockeeZ

      Angels fans think everyone hates them because of the “east coast bias.” Which I find incredibly annoying.

      As for writers who are Yankee fans I have no idea. Probably not on ESPN. Not any on SI. Perhaps Bob Klapisch on Fox is a fan since I see him on YES sometimes.

  • mustang

    I don’t really have a side on this I think its a win-win situation for the Yankees. However they do only have one spot in the rotation so what happens.
    Does the loser go to the pen?
    Maybe AAA in Hughes case I doubt they would send Joba to AAA?
    What happens if Hughes wins the 5th spot and is good? do they leave Joba in the pen all year?

    My God this can go on forever !!!!!!!!

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090810&content_id=6355462&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy JobaWockeeZ

      I prefer AAA so we know for sure either Joba/Hughes is the 6th starter. I don’t find it likely though. The loser will probably go to the bullpen and they actually might be there for the entire year.

      • mustang


        And again I have no preference on this, but I think Hughes wins the 5th spot and Joba ends up in the pen. Whether its right or wrong or whether he makes it back to the rotation due to injuries or whatever I don’t know.

        • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090810&content_id=6355462&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy JobaWockeeZ

          I actually prefer Joba because he just pitched a full season of starting so he’s bound to get better. Hughes is younger so it wouldn’t exactly kill his development to pitch a full season in the bullpen unless it’s only for the all important 8th inning. Let’s hope if either Joba/Hughes goes to the pen they have a role similar to Guadin/Aceves.

  • Mike Pop
  • RobC

    Does Joba have different machanics starter vs reliever and is his front knee at ball relase an issue?
    Those could be important issues on pen vs rotation.

    • whozat

      Why would he have different mechanics as a starter or a reliever? If so, then the right answer is to get him doing the better mechanics all the time.

    • Ed

      Differences in Joba’s mechanics aren’t caused by his role. Just changes that develop over time. Everyone develops slight changes over time. Batters slowly change their stances and pitchers slowly change their windups. Sometimes they revert back, sometimes they don’t. They aren’t machines, so they aren’t perfect at reproducing complex motions exactly the same every time.

      For the most part, people claiming some piece of a pitcher’s mechanics is good or bad is meaningless. These things are highly specific to an individual person’s body, and what works for one guy won’t work for another. It’s not like you can take 5 identical pitchers, give them each a different windup, and see what works best. Remember back when people used to proclaim Mark Prior had the perfect pitching motion and would last forever?

  • Hawkins44

    The stat I’m most interested in seeing is the number of responses RAB receives on a normal column compared to stoking the B-Jobber fire….. RAB manipulating all of us for the website hits, we fall for it every time.

    • whozat

      Dude, we’re all here just to putter away some time shooting the breeze with smart baseball fans. I don’t think we’re being “manipulated”, but even if we were being…I don’t care. I’m watching tivo’d family guy and dicking around on the internet. I’d rather do it here than anywhere else.

      • Hawkins44

        I was being sarcastic, you know, like the family guy… I’m reading and responding also…

    • Doug

      are you serious?

    • mustang

      You might be right , but who cares that’s their job to put up interesting threads that will get us to comment. After all isn’t that why we come here. And when there is a slow sport day they always have some hit threads i.e..
      Looking back at Halladay and Santana non trades
      Johnny Damon
      Or anything to do with the ” Big 3″

      just name some….LOL

      • mustang

        just to name some…LOL

  • Will

    Both sides of this debate have become condescending. Any reasonable assessment of Joba could wind up with him being a reliever or a starter. The righteous indignation on both ends of the issue has become tiring. I like the Yankees seem to have kept a more open mind.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      See, this is where I think the argument gets misunderstood. The Joba-as-a-starter crew is not being condescending. As you say: “Any reasonable assessment of Joba could wind up with him being a reliever or a starter.” Exactly. That’s how we feel. But, we also feel that since a good starter is more valuable to a team than a good reliever, that Joba should get every chance to prove himself in the rotation before he’s a permanent bullpen installation.

  • pete

    In 2007, Tim Lincecum’s age 23-24 season, his ERA in the NL WEST was 4.00. That’s the 2007 NL West. In other words, entering his first real season of starting (2008), which began at age 24, his career ERA as a starter was 4.00, and, again, that was in the NL west. Joba, entering his first real season as a full-fledged, uncapped starter, has, in the 2008-2009 AL EAST, a 4.18 ERA. How is that suggestive to anyone of anything but a VAST potential as a starting pitcher? Not saying he’s going to be tim lincecum, and certainly won’t put up numbers like timmy’s, considering the offensive powerhouse that is the AL east, but for crying out loud, a 4.18 career era as a starter in the AL east at the age of 24 is nothing to sneeze at.

    • Omar

      This is dishonest analysis, Lincecum was quite a bit better than his ERA and Joba was quite a bit worse.

  • thurdonpaul

    joba to left field

  • Bucksky619

    I used to be firmly in the Joba is a starter camp but I have reversed my stance and feel that Joba should be a reliever. He pitched a full season as a starter and I was not impressed. Sure he may get better but he is simply a different (and far more effective) pitcher out of the bullpen. I like Hughes long term outlook as a starter better (based on nothing really except I see Joba as a reliever).

    • theyankeewarrior

      He did not pitched full season as a starter. he has an innings limit and in case you don’t remember, he pitched well up until he hit 100-110 innings, which was his career high.

      This season will be his first unrestricted season as a starter in the majors. Let the kid pitch.

      • theyankeewarrior

        English language fail

  • The Evil Empire

    What kind of starter do you project Joba to be?
    I don’t think he’s a Lincecum or a King Felix type.
    Maybe a 3rd or 4th starter at best?

    • theyankeewarrior

      If he’s throwing in the mid-90’s and has his slider and curve working, he can be Josh Beckett. Remember his first 3 games after the all-star break least season?

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

      I think he certainly still has the ptential to be a Linececum or Felix, but I find it more likely he turns into a guy like Pettite (ERA wise).

  • tim randle

    I’m not sure which would be dumber:

    (even possibly including Phil Hughes)

    Or the sss I like to throw back at B-Jobbers:

    Joba can’t cut it in the playoffs. He blew that Indians game. He’ll never make it when it counts.

    They get confused and start stuttering, and I take that as my opportunity to go back to the drink/appetizer table…

  • Tank the Frank

    My New Year’s resolution was to cease reading any and all articles debating the Joba issue…

    So there goes that idea. Thanks RAB.

  • wanger

    How much does a “B-Jobber” cost?

  • http://theyankeemanager.blogspot.com/ Francis Isberto

    Joba is more comfortable coming out of the pen. His velocity is up and his command is on track. He can play long reliever or a set-up man for Mariano Rivera.

    Phil Hughes on the other hand is more likely to become the Yankees 5th starter in the 2010 season.

    • Pasqua

      If Joba is “more comfortable” coming out of the ‘pen, then why did he say he wanted to be a starter when he was asked, point blank, by Brian Cashman?

  • Free Mike Vick

    Its hard to debate that putting Joba in the pen makes the yankees a better team.

  • Ace

    The repeated comparison you make to other starters (Maddux, Halladay in this case) not having their chance in the pen is ridiculous. Did the Braves or Blue Jays have the luxury of purchasing multiple top of the rotation starting pitchers like the Yankees of the 2000’s do? How come you never mention that? The fact is the Yankees are capable of purchasing starting pitching on a year to year basis which renders young talented pitchers like Joba an OPTION as a dangerous late inning weapon.

    CC – signed as free agent
    AJ – signed as free agent
    Pettitte – signed as free agent
    Vazquez – accepted as a salary dump for peanuts

    Is it really necessary to compare or expect joba Chamberlain to be the next Greg Maddux when 4 out of 5 relievers are “bought”?

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