With Joba, what the Yanks hath wrought

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As a general rule, I prefer to ignore the media-based talk concerning Joba Chamberlain‘s proper role with the team. I can only listen to some know-nothing sports commentator mouth off about Joba’s “bulldog mentality” and the fact that he “just fits better” in the bullpen so many times before I need to take a long walk or strangle a cute puppy to get out my anger. After an offseason of listening to George A. King take shots at the Yanks for their Joba approach, though, it is an article by John Harper in the Daily News today that put me over the edge.

The article in question can be found right here, and from the minute you read the headline, you know what’s about to happen. “New York Yankees change tune on Joba Chamberlain’s role, says it may be in bullpen,” Harper’s editors wrote. The article, though, suffers from a fatal flaw. What the Yankee coaches are saying and the words Harper attempts to put into their mouths just don’t line up.

“I think we’ve all seen the difference in him when he starts and relieves,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. He continued, “”I’ve told Joba that if he wants to be a starter for us, he has to have the same mound demeanor, the same aggressiveness, and repeat his delivery as a starter the way he does as a reliever. hat’s who he is. He’s got to be an aggressive, come-right-at-you, power-type guy. Sometimes when he started he’d fall behind, he’d try to show all his pitches. Yes, he does have four pitches but he doesn’t have to use them in every at-bat.”

Nothing in Eiland’s statement suggests that the Yanks are at all considering moving Joba to the bullpen, permanently or otherwise or that Joba is better in the pen. Rather, Eiland thinks Joba has a different approach while in the pen, and the Yanks’ coach wants Joba Chamberlain to come out there as a starter with the same confidence in his stuff that he had as a reliever. He wants Joba to come out there pitching as he did in the minors where, as a starter, he went 9-2 in 15 starts with a 2.56 ERA and 125 strike outs in 84.1 innings. He wants Joba to come out there with the confidence he had before an incessant sports media drumbeat began urging the Yanks to push a suggestible young kid into the bullpen.

And it’s that suggestibility that highlights how the media has created this beast of a B-Jobber problem. In the same Harper piece, Joba starts talking about his various roles. He talks about mentality and approach, and it sounds as though he’s starting to buy into this whole bullpen/starter bifurcation debate. “You can’t be the same person,” Chamberlain said. “It’s two different adrenaline rushes. It’s two different approaches. Out of the bullpen you only have to face a guy once. As a starter you’ve got to get him out three or four times. These guys are so good, you’re not going to be able to get them out the same way twice. So it’s the same feel for pitching, but it’s a different approach. To try and stay in that [mode] for six or seven innings is a lot different than going at it for one.”

There, Joba confronts what we all know: Pitchers who need to throw just an inning or two every four out of seven games can approach their outings differently than pitchers expected to throw 12-15 innings twice in seven games. Yet, again, nothing in Joba’s words suggest he wouldn’t be able to start. Rather, he needs to carry over a mentality.

Harper, though, will have none of it. He writes of the Yanks’ “bad idea” to have a starter try to be a starter and how it will be “better late than never” to move Joba into a less valuable role. It’s lunacy and idiocy all rolled up into one, and it never ends. Joba might be susceptible to the constant questioning of his ability, but if Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland show enough faith in him, he will be a great starter.

As this whole debate has unfolded, I keep returning to a question of blame. I fully blame the Yankees for creating this mess. In 2007, they believed their bullpen to be so inept that they moved a successful young starter who was fast-tracking his way to the Big League rotation into the bullpen to both limit his innings and help out the Big League club. He was a star out of the pen, one of those fist-pumpin’ strike out machines, and even after he faltered in the biggest of spots while surrounded by midges, the media couldn’t let go of that image of Joba the Eighth Inning Guy. It’s always been more important to find top-flight starters; it’s always been easier to replace the bullpen production with your next best guy; and it will always be, in part, the Yanks’ fault for starting this endless debate in the first place.

As Joba himself said last summer, “I could win 20 games and people are still going to think I could save 50.”

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  • Yankee1010

    King and Harper are seemingly trying to prove just how dumb they are. You have to give them credit, they’re doing remarkably well.

  • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

    Going off of your last point, although it is the “fault” of the Yankees for starting this whole mess, I wholeheartedly agree with their decision, and hope that they do the same – when applicable – to future players.

    Joba Chamberlain was a Major League-ready talent out of the bullpen, and the Front Office utilized said talent in the appropriate manner. Just because a copious amount of retarded fuckwads stubbornly fail to see the vast differences in value and wisdom when grooming a pitcher capable of being a front-line starting pitcher in comparison to grooming a goddamn closer does not mean that such a thing should act as a deterrent in future scenarios.

    • CountryClub


    • radnom

      Fault implied wrongdoing.
      The Yankees did nothing wrong by moving him to the pen in 07.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        The Yankees did nothing wrong by moving him to the pen in 07.

        Repeated for emphasis.

        Joba was moved to the pen not simply because Torre needed a reliever, but because Joba was also due to be shut down on an innings cap and this was a creative and intelligent way to give him a taste of the bigs and further his development without exceeding his limits.

        The Yankees did nothing wrong. The people who did something wrong were the idiot NYC press corps who couldn’t get the raw emotion of Joba in the pen out of their feeble little minds.

        • Chris

          I wonder how true those suggestions of an impending innings cap really were. He threw roughly 115 innings in 2007, and then about 100 innings in 2008 and 160 innings in 2009. There are three possibilities that explain this:

          1. The Yankees are ok with a 45 inning increase from year to year
          2. The Yankees changed their limits for young pitcher between 2007 and 2009
          3. The Yankees had no intention of shutting him down as soon as they did in 2007 and just used that as a convenient excuse

          Based on some of their comments this season citing high innings totals earlier in his career, I would guess that either 2 or 3 is the real explanation, but I don’t have any idea which is more likely. I still believe the Yankees made the right move from a baseball perspective, but I do question what their motives were.

          • DP

            4. Joba got hurt in 2008, so the plan had to be adjusted otherwise he would’ve thrown 140-150 in 2008.

            • Chris

              I don’t understand.

              Yes, they had to adjust the plan because he didn’t reach his innings total in 2008 but one would think that adjustment would be to push off his 140-150 inning limit to the next year (2009). That’s not what they did. They pushed it back and increased it.

              I guess it’s possible that they have a complex formula that takes into account the pitchers age, total career innings, etc.

  • Yankee1010

    Could the media also bother to look up how Joba actually did last postseason (and I’m not even going to touch the ridiculousness of the small sample size) before extolling those virtues? He gave up some rockets and a game tying HR to Feliz in Game 4 and had a WHIP of 1.58. This is the Joba they cite as being so great. Their unending pursuit of stupidity has to stop.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Their response is “Yeah but 2007. Yeah but the velocity.” It’s akin to talking to a brick wall.

      • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

        It really does amaze me how none of these people understand the significance of a sample size.

      • Omar

        So are you saying the velocity isn’t a legit concern? At times in 2009 he looked like a shittier version of Jeff Karstens.

    • Mike HC

      Yea, but “our” argument is that Joba would be more valuable as a starter, and clearly he would be an excellent reliever. We are not saying that Joba will not do well as a reliever. Of course he will be excellent in that role as well.

      I guess as joba the starter supporter, I don’t like the argument that he sucked last year in the postseason, thus he should be a starter. We are going too far just to shut up the other side.

      • Yankee1010

        That wasn’t my point. My point was that the media is using last postseason as evidence that he should be a reliever, when in fact, he didn’t pitch well as a reliever in the postseason.

  • steve s

    Have you had a chance to look at Joba’s write-up in the 2010 Baseball Prospectus? I’ll quote it for you in pertinent part as follows: “The [Joba} rules are supposed to be out the window for 2010, but the acquisition of Javier Vazquez is likely to push Chamberlain back to the pen and perhaps to a tacit admission that in their eagerness to spare him injury, the Yankees killed a potentially great starter with kindness”. When the “no nothings” and B-jobbers” are in synch with the BP experts perhaps there is something to it. The good thing about this debate is that we should probably know the answer in a few weeks.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      That’s a lot of speculation for a generally reliable publication. It’s not an admission, tacit or otherwise that the Yanks have “killed” any sort of future for Joba. The acquisition of Javier Vazquez ensured that the Yanks weren’t going to go into 2010 with the same dicey rotation situation they suffered through in 2008. I don’t buy the BP comment there at all.

    • Tank the Frank

      Yeah the acquisition of Vazquez was more of a response to the amount of innings CC, AJ, and Andy had to throw last season. I don’t think it has anything to do with Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes for that matter.

      It’s just a matter of circumstance. Some people don’t seem to grasp the idea of having two young pitchers of considerable talent fight it out for the 5th spot in the rotation as a good thing. The Yankees are lucky to have to quality arms that project as top-of-the-rotation starters but can also succeed in the bullpen. They’re also lucky that both pitchers are so young! Vazquez and Pettitte won’t stick around much longer, and Burnett’s living on borrowed time right now IMO. It’s only a matter of time before he hits the DL. And it’s only a matter of time before both Chamberlain and Hughes are mainstays in the Yankees rotation. We’re getting closer and closer every season. Until, then…we’re just going to have to grin and bear it.

    • Mike HC

      I find that ridiculous. Moving a pitcher to the pen, which helped prevent him from having a major injury (which the Yanks might not be getting enough credit for) is not going to ruin his development. If he has the goods to be a starter, he had, and will have plenty of opportunity to prove it. If that is all it took to ruin him, he was not going to be very good anyway.

  • Christos

    Joba looks so dignified in that picture

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      He’s filled with Heritage™.

      (© Topps, Inc., 2010. All rights reserved.)

  • Hughesus Christo

    Good thing they’re repeating everything they did to Joba with Hughes, right?

    • Christos

      Not so much

      • Hughesus Christo

        Not so much? Really?

        Stud starting pitcher? check
        Fill a temporary hole with said stud, retarding his development and screwing with his innings for years to come? check
        Open floodgates to reporters asking stud about the bullpen every 5 days for the rest of his career? check

        Joba and Hughes didn’t take the exact same path to this point, but they’re in identical spots now. The Yankees mishandled both.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          Boom. Roasted.

        • pete

          I think it’s a little bit boversimplificationy to say that the yankees mishandled both. With hughes there is a better case than with Joba, but in both instances the yankees found themselves in situations that forced them, for the success of the big-league club, which HAS to be the highest priority, to make those moves that retarded development. To say that neither Hughes nor Joba has had an ideal, or even close to ideal, development path is 100% accurate. To say that the Yankees mishandled both is a little more misleading.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Seconded. There’s a few decisions the team made I disagree with (like starting Joba in the pen at the beginning of 2008 and transitioning midseason, or not demoting Hughes to Scranton midseason in 2009) that weren’t optimal developmental choices, IMO, but saying that they “mishandled” either Joba or Hughes is an overstatement.

            The Cubs mishandled Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. The Yankees have not yet risen to that level of mishandling with Joba and Phil.

          • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

            I’ll agree and disagree with you. In 2007, moving Joba to the ‘pen for the sake of the big league team was okay. However, keeping him in the ‘pen in the beginning of ’08 was not.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


            • pete

              +1. Joba’s stint in the bullpen should have started in ended in 2007. Hughes’s just never should have started to begin with. So I partially take it back. Still, I agree with TSJC – they may have made some questionable moves, but they haven’t torched the joint with those two. They’ve unnecessarily slowed their development, but I don’t think they’ve ruined them.

        • theyankeewarrior

          The Yankees’ decision to move Hughes to the pen in ’09 was a MAJOR reason why they won 103 games in the regular season. 103 wins gave them home-field all the way through the playoffs where they won series vs. the Angels and the Phillies (both game 6, both at home).

          That decision was absolutely valid. It helped them win a WS championship. Hughes can start this season. If not, he can start next season. Hes 23 fucking years old.

          The Yankees developed him into a guy who knows how to attack ML hitters and are now going to develop him into a guy who knows what it’s like to fight for his spot in a ML rotation. He will get his chance. If it doesn’t work out, it will be because he failed. Not because the Yankees screwed up.

          But I wouldn’t count on him failing. By 25, he will be on his way to the top of the Yanks rotation.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            You’re stating, however, that no other alternative course could have resulted in 103 wins.

            How many games do we win if, say, David Robertson and Al Aceves became the primary Bridge to Mowhere instead of Hughes? Both of those guys were solid relievers. Maybe only 2-3 games fewer? Maybe 4-5?

            Then add back into the equation the likelihood that if Phil goes to Scranton instead of the bullpen at the start of June to make room for Wang, when Wang bombs the joint out, Hughes comes back up and takes his rotation spot. Now you’re not only swapping Hughes in the 8th for Aceves/Robertson/eventually Marte in the 8th (a small-to midsized downgrade), you’re also swapping starts made by Wang, Mitre, and Gaudin for starts made by Hughes. That could easily offset any decrease made in the pen.

          • Hughesus Christo

            I don’t buy the idea that work in the MLB bullpen is an asset for a starting pitcher down the line. It is a completely different (and much easier) role. I do buy that it was time wasted in the development of his stamina and secondary pitches.

            I also don’t buy the idea that Phil Hughes in the bullpen for 3-4 months was solely responsible for the six game advantage NYY had over every other team.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Pitching in the bullpen probably gave both Joba and Phil confidence that they could get big league hitters out with their best stuff. That’s an important step in their developments.

              That being said, it also comes with three HUGE detriments to their development: limited innings available; lack of time/opportunity to develop/refine secondary pitching; lack of practice/rhythm of pitching 100+ pitches each time out and turning over a lineup multiple times.

              Double edged sword.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

        Are you two SBGL Deux?

        • Thomas

          Jim From CT: CC Sabathia sucks!
          James From CT: You are wrong, sir. CC Sabathia is an excellent pitcher as seen be his sparkling ERA, WHIP, Wins, Cy Young votes, K/9, BB/9, K/BB, etc.
          Jim From CT: You are right, James. He is excellent. I am far inferior to you and you should be regarded as the smartest, hansomest, and coolest member of this blog. You are a hero to the blogging community as a whole. Thank you for correcting me.
          James From CT: You are welcome and thank you for all the compliments. I am truly a superior commenter.

        • Hughesus Christo

          I’m just naturally controversial and backed by well-reasoned arguments. No need for chicanery.

  • Geek

    The Yanks had a problem that most teams would die for. Two very young gun slingers who they wanted to make sure did not crash and burn early. There must have been some physical indications that called for the Yanks to take it slow with Joba and lets see how Joba and Hughes mature.

  • mikey pie

    I think CC would be great out of the bullpen.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    As this whole debate has unfolded, I keep returning to a question of blame. I fully blame the Yankees for creating this mess… it will always be, in part, the Yanks’ fault for starting this endless debate in the first place.

    I disagree vehemently. That’s blaming the victim.

    The Yankees didn’t start this debate. Frankly, the Yankees aren’t even PARTICIPATING in this debate.

    The Great Joba Debate is entirely the province of the media. They started it, they perpetuate it, they’re taking both sides, and they’re intentionally letting one side win and making the other side a cheap strawman.

    The Yankees didn’t create a mess, they promoted a young starter to a bullpen role that they knew all along and stated from the outset (and repeated ad-friggin nauseam, even though nobody wanted to listen to them) was TEM-PO-RAR-Y. Idiots fixated on that TEMPORARY role because they’re idiots. Every pseudo-justification that came after that was created for AND by those idiots without the help or intervention of the Yankees.

    It’s not the Yankees fault that slack jawed troglodytes can’t master Piaget’s concrete operational stage of cognitive development.

    • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      the Yankees aren’t even PARTICIPATING in this debate.

      That is all.

      • pete

        that’s definitely the Yanks’ brass’s MO, too. They abso-lutely will not engage in a BJobber and BHugheser discussion. I love the cordially condescending way the yankees deal with the media. It just makes them that much more badass. Like Joe Girardi telling everyone that Bruney was the 8th inning guy last year when, outside of Mo, not one of the yankees relievers last year had a specific inning-designation, and not until hughes was there even an Official setup guy. I really think the yankees have no problem telling the media what they want to hear just so that they don’t have to deal with their stupid questions any more, regardless of its actual bearing on the truth.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        Well, they kind of are. By sticking to the plan, they’re showing what side of the “debate” they’re on.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Yes. The side of the debate they’re on is “Fuck you idiots and your stupid debate. Leave us out of this. Go play in traffic, morons.”

          • Tom Zig

            and under power lines!

          • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno


            • yankXfan

              Not quite:

              “Joba Chamberlain is good because he can do both. However, now that we have Pettitte, we can line up our rotation accordingly. If we get a guy who can step into the rotation an stay healthy, we could put Hughes as the #5 and put Joba in the bullpen (depending on the circumstances). “We noticed this year that Joba has a different attitude coming out of the pen. He is the type of pitcher that comes at you with blood, sweat, and guts. Joba starting a game is more reserved, which might not be his make-up. We will talk is through, see if we can get the right people in the right place to make us stornger. Joba could be that “guy” in the bullpen. He said if the right oppurtunity presents itself, then YES Joba could be in the bullpen”

              I think the problem here is that admitting that Joba is not a starter is also admitting he’s not all that valuable. You guys need to let go of that.

    • Mike HC

      I blame Babe Ruth. If he was not so god damn legendary, thus lifting the Yankees to over a century of unprecedented success, then nobody would give a shit about this debate.

      The Joba starter or reliever argument would be just as heated as the Brandon Morrow starter or reliever argument.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Perhaps I used “blame” in the wrong sense, but even with their silence, the Yanks have done nothing but perpetuate this debate. They made the Joba Rules into some sort of fan-driven marketing effort, and they thrust their development of a key young asset into the spotlight in unnecessary ways. Blame Joe Torre for his inability to handle young pitchers. Blame the 2008 Yankees for bringing Joba along too slowly at first. The team is not free from blame, and they certainly are participating in this debate.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Sure, fine, I see what you’re saying.

        Yankees blame in the Great Terriost Debate: 1%
        Media’s blame in the Great Terriost Debate: 187%

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          And all this time, I thought we could give only 110 percent.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            We have bull-in-a-china-shop mentalties. We can rear back and give 188%.

            Only in very small, fairly irrelevant (in the grand scheme of things) doses, though.

            • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

              By the way — and I realize this is completely off topic — have you seen this portfolio in The New Yorker? There’s a picture in the upper right corner I know you’ll appreciate. I keep forgetting to email it to you.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                Thank you. I appreciate ALL those photos, actually, but yes, there is a special appreciation for that one.

                For the off-topic post, though, Mr. Kabak, I’ve got no choice but to give you one of these:


          • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

            Only if you turn it up to 11.

    • http://generationnot.blogspot.com/ Steve S

      I have to say one thing, the issue has always been that this town and the organization doesn’t have the patience to properly develop young pitching. I understand everything they have done with Joba over the last two and half years, I just don’t know if its the right thing to do. The organization isn’t helping things much by feeding into this concept that its a competition for the fifth starter role. I mean this really shouldn’t be a debate. Joba was having an okay season up until they had to limit his innings and they bounced between skipping starts and shortening up the outings. To me the real way to develop the kid is to say this is you job, you can go out there and throw as hard as you want to for as long as you can. You earned this opportunity and its yours for this year barring injury. However, even if Eiland’s quote is taken out of context, others in the organization have fed this beast by making anonymous comments to the press about their doubts. I mean these kids are human and aren’t deaf and blind to what they hear and read. The truth is that Joba should be entitled to inconsistency for this year and probably half of next year. And Cashman, Girardi and whoever else should be willing to say that.

      IF (and I really hope they dont) they decide to shift Joba to the bullpen at any point this year as a short reliever, then the organization demonstrated that are as bright as the B-Jobbers. This is uncharted territory for them. One I don’t think they havent had pitching talent like this in the organization for the last 25 years (aside from Mo and Pettitte and to be honest I don’t know if either had the abilities at 23 that Joba has right now).

  • pete

    I agree. I think the yankees are saying all the right things here – he’s got a lot to prove, he’s got to do things differently, it’s an open chase – specifically to address exactly what Eiland’s talking about here. Over the past few years, they have been careful about protecting his arm, and I’m sure they’ve reminded him to be careful about protecting it as well. Now I believe they feel he is fully ready to just go out and pitch, and they feel that they can get the most effectiveness out of him when he, to use a common cliche “has a chip on his shoulder”. I rarely buy into stuff like that, but I do genuinely believe that there were a lot of times last year when Joba truly was holding back, and the few times he really let it go he had a lot of success.

    This is totally anecdotal, but I think one of the defining performances of ’09 for Joba was that May 5th, 12 strikeout performance against the red sox in which he gave up 4 runs in the first inning and then bounced back to retire 12 of the next 14 by way of the K. In the first inning, he was pitching like his frustrating ’09-y self, throwing 89-90 on the FB with little command and poor location, and nothing special on the breaking ball. It almost looked like he was throwing a bullpen session, as it actually did for much of the pre-august ’09 season. Then suddenly the sox score 4 runs and it’s as if Joba has just about had it with the whole “protect your arm” thing. So he comes out the next inning, tossing darts at 93-95, getting much better tilt on the slider, dropping a few good curves and a bunch of very good changeups actually, to utterly dominate the next 3 2/3 innings.

    There was a noticeable shift in demeanor, too. He began working much faster – he actually DID look like a man on a mission/bulldog/whatever cliche you want. I don’t think that things like that play a big role in hitter success, since hitting is so reactionary, but I do think that they can have an effect on a pitcher. And that is Joba’s style as a pitcher. When he has pitched like that, which he has in both the rotation (that start, the 7/25/08 start against boston, a few others) and the bullpen, he has truly demonstrated his ace potential. I do think, however, that the yankees were very pointed to him last year that his health was the most important thing, and it did negatively affect his performance because he was trying to tone down his aggressiveness. Which, of course, does not bother me at all. For a young starter with a lot of upside like Joba, health and development >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> immediate success.

    But this does lead me to believe that Joba absolutely can return to his pre-’09 form and dominate as an aggressive starter. I think the Yankees public attitude about the competition for the 5th starter spot, and Eiland’s very blunt discussion of Joba’s flaws last year, are meant to drive him. Not to say that he isn’t driven already, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the yankees are trying to get under Joba’s skin a little bit, so he pitches like he needs to prove something all year long. Just my interpretation of what the yankees people have been saying.

    • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      I remember that outing against the Sox as well and I think you have a great point. With no “rules” in 2010, Joba won’t be looking over his shoulder at Eiland/Girardi, pitch counts and innings counts, he can just go out and do his thing. I really think he was trying to be too fine last year, knowing that he was limited, he was trying to be perfect with every pitch, taking a few MPH off the fastball, and it backfired on him. Instead of trying to pitch like he can and does, he tried being efficient. The training wheels are off, and I am extremely bullish (pun not initially intended) on Joba for 2010.

      • pete

        It’s weird because it really does sound like a media-driven narrative, but having watched every single one of his MLB pitches over the last three years with a keenly focused intent, I genuinely believe it to be true in his case. And it is NOT at all anything to do with starting. Anybody who saw him start in ’08 or even in a few of his ’09 starts (namely the may 5th one) could see it. Joba’s issue was not throwing hard enough. Not in terms of velocity – pitchers can absolutely succeed at the velocities he was throwing at last year – but in terms of effort.

        I remember back in high school and even earlier when I would pitch, the only way I could spot the ball was by throwing the ball basically as hard as I could (or more like 95%. above that and you start to lose control again), and putting that much effort into all of the other pitches, too. The reason is this: there is only one route for your arm to travel in order to throw the ball as hard as you can. One most efficient route. Your arm learns this as it develops and learns how to throw at its maximum capacity. But as soon as you take some off, there are suddenly dozens of micro-options for your arm to take. Believe me, spotting a fastball thrown at 90% is wayyyyyyyy harder than spotting it at 95%. Watching Joba last year, going as far back as spring training, it truly looked like he was constantly throwing at 90%. It is damn near impossible to have good command like that. Now that the training wheels are gone, though, I don’t think he’ll be doing that. I think Joba’s going to have a big year (though I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts to fall apart again somewhat after he surpasses his previous high) this year. Big.

  • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

    I don’t see how anything is the Yankees fault.

    Texas did the same thing with Feliz last year. The Rays did the same thing with Price 2 years ago. This is just the media scrutinizing the Yankees with a shit covered microscope.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Calling what the NYC media is doing “scrutinizing the Yankees with a shit covered microscope” is insulting to microscopes.

      • Tom Zig

        shit too.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Shit and microscopes: both smarter than the Daily News sports team

          • pete

            calling a microscope smarter than the daily news sports team is like calling einstein smarter than a rock. it really doesn’t even need to be said.

            on a related note, is there anything more depressing than the comments on the yankees pages for the NY Post and Daily News?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              The only thing worse than reading the Daily News or Post would have to be reading the comments of people who regularly read the Daily News and Post and feel obligated to share their opinions with you.

    • pete

      The media is incapable of understanding the difference between a dominant reliever and a dominant starter in terms of development and overall pitcher quality. It is also completely incapable of understanding the concept of development at all. So it sees Joba, who was once good in the ‘pen, and then was not as good in the rotation after that, as a pitcher who was once good but then wasn’t. They look for a culprit for this (other than the aforementioned unfathomables), and come up with “the yankees screwed up”. Of course, the real answer to the question “why wasn’t joba good last year?” is the following: Joba is a young starter. That is 100% of it. There is nothing more. Obviously many factors contributed to his lack of success in ’09, but each and every one of them can be traced back to his being a young starter.

  • Tom Zig

    Oh God, there are some horrific comments on that page you linked to, Ben.

    Mmedina210: Joba Chamberlain will never approach 20 wins as a starter but as a closer could save 50+. He’s terrible as a starter!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      dofferdahl both are lousy starters, but are great relievers, Hughes is better setup to be a setup guy, Joba is better setup to close.

      Remember Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson?

      They would both literally KILL to have Phil Hughes’s talent. Literally. They would kill people.

      • http://enternight.mlblogs.com Amy


        • Slugger27

          if youre “ana” in your blog, why are you “amy” on RAB?

          • http://enternight.mlblogs.com Ana

            Good question.
            I started posting on RAB before I started the blog. I decided to use my real first name in the blog and never bothered to change it on RAB.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      KathyFL1: From what I’ve seen so far he belongs in the pen, but until we see him off the Joba rules we really won’t know will we?

      This is why I won’t move to Florida, Andy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Melvin-To-America/193013541601?ref=sgm Andy In Sunny Daytona

        I don’t think I know her.

    • Tom Zig

      Pardon me while I semi-boversimplify:

      a 50+ save reliever is more of a function of coincidence than actual skill of the reliever.

      Agree? Disagree? Both?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        I’ll say both.

        Both wins and saves are horridly flawed statistics, but I’d warrant that there’s fewer 20-win starters who were merely average or even subpar pitchers than 50-save closers who were merely average or subpar.

        I haven’t researched that, though, so I’m probably wrong.

        • pete

          I really think the best way too look at it is like this: almost all of the all-time wins leaders in MLB history are among the best pitchers in MLB history. And not too many of the games true greats don’t reach the top 50 or so. The top 50 saves leaders in MLB history? not even close to that level of greatness. You’re basically talking about the most durable relievers, and nothing else.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


            Tom Glavine >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Lee Smith

        • Tom Zig

          The average closer saves what, like 85-90% of his opportunities?

          Just or the sake of argument, say you give someone like Fernando Rodney 60 save opportunities, I bet he saves 50+ of them.

  • Tom Zig

    Is it that people were expecting Joba to put up CC Sabathia like numbers last year, that they seem to think he failed as a starter?

    • pete

      yes. Also, Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez have kind of screwed up the curve for judging young pitchers. Greinke/Halladay/CC/Santana, etc. all have much more prototypical career paths for great starters.

      • Thomas

        Even Hernandez career path similar to many young pitchers. Great rookie season (only pitching in the 2nd half), huge expectations and a solid but unspectacular second year, and then constant improvement until sustained greatness. It wasn’t until his fourth season he was really good and until fifth season that he was elite. It just that obviously he was in the major at age 19. So I’d say his curve is similar just started much earlier than most pitchers.

  • bexarama

    B-Jobbers Are the Devil is an enjoyable tag.

    Everything else I would have said, others have said much much better.

  • Tico

    In his first full season, Felix pitched to a 4.52 ERA. Clearly he’s a failure as a starting pitcher. Move him to the bullpen at once!!!

    • http://enternight.mlblogs.com Amy

      And I mean, really, even if Joba pitches in the 4.30-4.50 range this year (I don’t think he will, I’m guessing more around 3.80-4.00, but let’s just say hypothetically), that doesn’t warrant a move to the bullpen. It warrants him being the fourth starter or whatever. Hey guys, it’s a cheap, 24-year-old fourth starter … big whoop.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno


  • Rob in CT

    Lots of young pitchers are brought into the big leagues as relievers. I do not see that as a mistake – in fact, it seems to have worked very well for a number of excellent starting pitchers.

    The problem here is that both Joba and Phil have had some setbacks, and those just aren’t allowed in NY.

    I recall some prospect hound saying that the Yankees would be fortunate of ONE of the “big three” panned out as hoped (such is the attrition/bust rate for young pitchers). So even if they get one good starter, one reliever + the value extracted from IPK via trade, they’ve actually done well (by that standard). I continue to hope that both guys make it as starters, and I think the team is doing the right thing by pursuing that – they’ve shown admirable patience, IMO. But this is not some sort of clusterfuck.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    i dont get this part:
    He writes of the Yanks’ “bad idea” to have a starter try to be a starter

    and then this part is just dumb:

    he acquisition of Javier Vazquez is likely to push Chamberlain back to the pen

    Please tell me that $man has a special tinfoil-shielded hat for Joe G to keep the kook ideas out of his head…

    • matthaggs

      Well it’s either Chamberlain or Hughes back to the pen, no?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Sure, but why is it likely to specifically push Chamberlain to the pen? Why not Hughes?

        I’d say it’s FAR likelier that Vazquez’s addition pushed Hughes, not Chamberlain, to the pen for a year.

  • Mike Pop

    Can’t even let this bother me anymore. I’m pretty positive the plan the Yankees have in store for Joba is to be a starter until he fails miserably at it. That’s all I need to know.

    These reporters can keep having their ‘sources’ that Joba is moving back to the bullpen and all that. Cashman knows what’s up. Cashman knows a good starter is better than Joba in the bullpen. Cashman knows that young, league average or better starters are very valuable in baseball. He’s not going to throw that away. No chance. Especially when the bullpen is already in very good shape as is with all that talent in there.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Can’t even let this bother me anymore. I’m pretty positive the plan the Yankees have in store for Joba is to be a starter until he fails miserably at it. That’s all I need to know.

      I’ll set the Terriost Threat Level Advisory to Yellow, just to be safe.

  • Bo

    How can you blame the Yankees for this media driven stuff?

    Theres no one to blame. The kid is talented and forced his way into the teams plans early. Whats the big problem with that?

    The only discussion is where will he be dominant. Not good. Not ok. Dominant.

    I dont see why so many take it personally when people say he’ll be better long term in the pen. You only have to use your eyes and see. And for all the stat geeks. All you have to do is look at his stats.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      The only discussion is where will he be dominant. Not good. Not ok. Dominant.

      I dont see why so many take it personally when people say he’ll be better long term in the pen. You only have to use your eyes and see. And for all the stat geeks. All you have to do is look at his stats.

      Yep, his stats have been better in the ‘pen. He’s been, generally, more dominant in the ‘pen. But, that doesn’t mean he’s more valuable in the ‘pen. Being “just” good for 150-200 innings in the rotation is better than being dominant in the bullpen for 70-80 innings.

    • Accent Shallow

      Did you take your eyes and see how he looked as a starter in 2008? Because he looked pretty freakin’ incredible.

      He didn’t look nearly that good in 2009, either as a starter or in his brief stint in the pen.

    • Zack

      That’s not the discussion at all.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      The only discussion is where will he be dominant. Not good. Not ok. Dominant.

      A) Joba profiles to be a dominant starter.
      Dominant starters >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> dominant relievers
      B) Joba also profiles to be a merely good or ok starter.
      Good or okay starters >>>>>>>>>>>>> dominant relievers

      You fail to acknowledge the second point because you don’t think things through to their logical conclusion. You rely too much on visual and emotional evidence rather than empirical and historical evidence.

      I dont see why so many take it personally when people say he’ll be better long term in the pen. You only have to use your eyes and see. And for all the stat geeks. All you have to do is look at his stats.

      My eyes and the stats tell me the same thing: numerous eventual dominant starters began their careers looking like mediocre starters. The plug wasn’t pulled on their careers as a starter, and their teams reaped the eventual benefit.

    • Tom Zig

      Are you a real person?

      • Zack

        A virus taking over RAB?

  • danny

    i just dont understand how anyone can watch Joba start (not all of it was pretty but there was a lot of potential there) and then say with such confidence that he should be given up on as a starter and sent to the bullpen.
    i’ll never get it.

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

      Because they lack patience.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        They also lack knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.


  • Guest

    There’s one simple point that the media just doesn’t seem to get:

    Of course talented young starter with a plus fastball that he can throw harder for two innings and a plus secondary pitch is going to dominate as a reliever. It should not surprise anyone that Phil and Joba have excelled as short relievers. Pitchers much more mediocre than these two have excelled as short relievers. Cashman said it himself: good starters make great relievers.

    But these guys have the potential to be so much more. In fact, they have the potential to be the most valuable thing in the game of baseball: Young, cost-controlled, front of the rotation starters. Give them a chance to reach their potential. If they don’t, then they don’t and you can send them back to the pen. It seems pretty dang simple to me.

    You know the worst part? I think allowing a young starter with great potential to begin his career in the pen is actually a pretty good move. Let them get their feet wet in the majors and build some confidence that they can get major league hitters out on a consistent basis. Worked for Santana, Cone, and many others in the past. But our experience with the Phoba Hughberlain Experience has led me to believe that this just might not be a viable option for the Yankees.

    Why? Because everytime the young stud shows some success about the pen, everyone will be inundated with drivel about the importance of THE EIGHTH and discussions of bulls rampaging in shops where they sell fine flatware. If Joba’s quotes show us anything, this inanity will start seeping its way into the psyche of a young pitcher; and no good can come from that.

    • Zack

      “But our experience with the Phoba Hughberlain Experience has led me to believe that this just might not be a viable option for the Yankees.”

      I agree with most of your post, I think it’s good to bring a kid up and give him a chance to have success, but I disagree with this statement.

      It’s pretty clear that Cashman doesnt give a shit what the media says the Yankees need to do, nor should he. Cashman and his staff are 100x smarter when it comes to baseball than Francesa, Harper, King, etc.

      • Guest

        Zach, I totally agree that Cashman is above letting these people impact his decision in anyway. If he weren’t Johnny Damon would be in left, Hideki Matsui would be the DH, and Nick Johnson would be heaven knows where. Cashman is not the issue.

        The young pitchers (like Joba and those who will come after him) are who I am worried about. If you are a 22-23 year old kid who comes up and dominates out of the pen (as you would if you were a stud starter prospect), struggles with consistency as a starter (as they all do with the exception of Lincecum/Gooden type freak), and keep hearing that you are much better suited for the pen than the rotation, then you just might start believing it one day.

        Now the reason I said “might” not be an option for the Yankees rather than “definitely shouldn’t be an option” is that the pluses might still outweigh this minus. But the impact of the media attention re: the bullpen/starter issue on a Young Pitcher is certainly a factor that militates against starting out studs in the pen.

        • Zack

          Ok, yeah reading fail on my part.

          I agree then with your point; which sucks because instead of just focusing on helping the team win (the main goal), it’s replaced with all this other BS.

  • matthaggs

    Maybe the Yanks should get better relievers.

    Maybe they already have them, and Robertson and Melancon will take an additional step forward this season (bigger one for Melancon obviously). And maybe Marte will be healthy all season and pitch to his talent level. Maybe then the Yanks will only be an ever so slightly better team with either Joba or Hughes in the bullpen (but only because the 5 spots are filled – for no other reason).

    Part of the reason this conversation is running on an endless loop is the Yankees don’t seem to have a ton of confidence in their bullpen (again with one exception).

  • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    What Joba said: “I could win 20 games and people are still going to think I could save 50.”

    What I think Joba meant/would have said if he didn’t have to be diplomatic about the issue: “I could win 20 games and people are still going to bitch and moan because they think I could save 50, but that’s retarded because a successful starter is exponentially more valuable than a successful reliever.”

    Enough with this crap already.

    • warren

      Well said

  • Kyle

    6 man rotation HOOAH!

  • Shane D.

    f yea. what a beautiful bell curve…. joba & PHbalance go deep in the first half while CC and AJ really start working in August/September while hughes settles in to the deisel setup role in September/October.

  • Shane D.

    and Vasquez too.

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