Joba awaits his unknown future

Mailbag: Red Sox, 2015, Dunn, Deadline, Hal
The Yankees' top five trade chips

It’s often easy to forget that Joba Chamberlain is still just 24 years old. He’s been with the Yankees at the Major League level, through thick and thin, for nearly three full years now, and the idea that veteran could be so young is often overlooked. Perhaps with that framework, we can better understand Joba’s struggles.

Two thousand ten has been a challenge for the right-hander. He “lost” the fifth starter role during Spring Training even though the Yanks seemed destined to hand the ball to Phil Hughes from the get-go, and although Joe Girardi handed him primary set-up duties for Mariano Rivera, that too is a job that has slipped through Joba’s fingers. Now, he’s just another bullpen arm, capable of throwing 97 with a devastating slider but also incapable of protecting a four-run lead.

On the season, most of his numbers aren’t terrible. Chamberlain has made 43 appearances and has thrown 42.1 innings. He’s allowed just 3.6 walks per nine innings and has struck out 10 per 9 IP, but opponents are hitting .295/.356/.422 against him. Despite allowing just three home runs, Joba’s ERA stands in at 5.95, and with a FIP of 3.01, Yankee fans and baseball analysts have been at a loss to figure out just what plagues Joba. Some say it’s a mental thing; others say it’s mechanical; still others say the Yanks have jerked him into and out of the starting rotation too many times for him to have a true sense of pitching at the Major League level.

Now, it’s all coming to a head. While Joba no longer has the set-up role, he’s not, says Joel Sherman, going to be dispatched to the minors. As he hits his three years of service time, we had long assumed that the Yanks wouldn’t send Joba down on the precipice of that anniversary. As Mike wrote yesterday evening, “The Yankees are doing what’s best not just for the team, but what’s best for Joba. They’re trying to fix him, and will now do so in lower leverage situations. There’s unquestionably a confidence issue here, he’s human, and after getting his ass handed to him basically all season it’s only natural that Joba would start to get down on himself.”

There’s more to Joba than just a confidence issue though. There’s also the fact that he’s just 24. Baseball history is not littered with 24-year-old aces. Since 1961 — the dawn of the Expansion Era — just 88 pitchers have thrown at least 324 innings through their age 24 seasons while putting up an ERA+ better than Joba’s 111 mark. On the other hand, 258 pitchers have thrown that many innings with worse results than Chamberlain through age 24, and that group consists of such pitchers as Rick Sutcliffe, Ben Sheets, Javier Vazquez, John Smoltz and Dan Haren. If Chamberlain could turn into any of those four, the Yanks would be ecstatic.

At the same time, Joba’s strike out rate — generally a good indicator of a pitcher’s success — places him in rarefied airs over the last 49 seasons.

For the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain remains a pitching conundrum. He works hard; he throws hard. He strikes out a lot of opposing batters, and he flashed his greatness at age 21 in the Bronx during a pennant race. The Yankees could forget about Joba. They could try to trade him in a blockbuster package for an Adam Dunn-type player or a top starting pitcher. They could let him wither away in the pen.

Or they could remember that Joba Chamberlain is a 24 year old, and like most 24 year olds, he’s still trying to get his bearings in the world. While most of us struggle with careers at that age, he’s struggling on the greatest stage America’s Pastime has to offer. While my Chamberlain 62 t-shirt hasn’t left my drawers in a few months, I’m not quite ready to give up Joba yet, and neither should the Yanks.

Mailbag: Red Sox, 2015, Dunn, Deadline, Hal
The Yankees' top five trade chips
  • CU Tiger

    Strangely- that made me tear up a little bit. And I agree.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Since 1961 — the dawn of the Expansion Era — just 88 pitchers have thrown at least 324 innings through their age 24 seasons while putting up an ERA+ better than Joba’s 111 mark. On the other hand, 258 pitchers have thrown that many innings with worse results than Chamberlain through age 24, and that group consists of such pitchers as Rick Sutcliffe, Ben Sheets, Javier Vazquez, John Smoltz and Dan Haren.

    Repeated for emphasis.

    • Steve H

      Greg Maddux too.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        One thing I’ll say against Joba in this calculus:

        If you remove his insane 24 innings from 2007 (which you can argue is a Meulensesque outlier), his ERA+ drops from 111 to 103.

        There’s still nothing wrong with a 24 year old kid pitching to a 103 ERA+ over the first 300 innings of his age 22-23-24 seasons, nothing at all.

        Just pointing out that Joba’s sample size is still so small that his insane 1221 ERA+ from his 2007 asskickery can skew the sample mightily.

    • Accent Shallow

      I’d like to see the full list of all 346 pitchers, or at least the 88 with ERA+s better than Joba’s. I’m willing to bet those guys have done it in substantially more innings.

  • Steve H

    Everything we read these days about Joba is how he’s fat, out of shape, a mental case, can’t pitch in NY, etc. etc. etc.

    Everything we read about Wade Davis is that he’s the next young Tampa stud pitcher with a great future ahead of him.

    Joba is 2 weeks younger than Davis and has 679 less minor league innings of development, so while being a comparable age, has had much less time to be prepared to pitch in the AL East.

    Joba will be fine.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      We should ask Curt Schilling what he thinks about this. I bet he’d have some pithy insights.

      • Steve H

        He’s too busy deserting the state of Massachusetts.

      • Evan in NYC

        Curt Schilling usually keeps his opinions to himself.

        • Steve H


  • Steve S

    They should just send him down and start the process of making him back into a starter. Let him get some innings under his belt for next year and potentially for some September starts. Especially now that the oh so important 8th inning is being handled by others. Let Albaladejo come up and see how he does in some situations.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      They’re not sending him down. That’s a 100 percent foregone conclusion.

      • Paul

        They’re not. But they damn well should. Joba got a grand total of 88 minor league innings. Who has been a successful major league pitcher with that little development time?

        • The Big City of Dreams

          That’s what I’m trying to understand why are they so reluctant to do it? Lets say he doesn’t go in a trade and he’s no longer pitching the 8th than why continue to have him with the big club. Are they just waiting until they swing a deal for a BP arm or have d-rob/alby take over? If that’s what it is then ok I get it but if it’s not then what’s the point

      • LathamJoe

        I agree with those that recommend sending Joba down to reconstruct his mental and physical approach. Chamberlain has steadily regressed since his 2007 debut season. He was
        magical that year, with a reputation as a hard thrower and command of at least 3 legit pitches that gave him a “Mike Tyson like” personna to opposing batters. If you replay some of his 2007 appearances, batters swung at many pitches out of the strikezone and umpires seemed to give him calls reserved for legends, like Mo.
        His diminished velocity, inconsistent mechanics, and poor physical conditioning can be blamed on too much publicity by the Press and hero worship bt the Fansfor his early success.
        Hey, Doc Halladay went to Double AA even after he was an established starter.
        Send em out. It’ll send him a messaghe (hopefully, that is!)

  • Ed

    That K/9 list is kinda interesting.

    4 of the top 5 guys on the list started their careers strong then went downhill fast. Oliver Perez has had a few good seasons in a mostly terrible career. Lincecum’s had one of the best starts ever to a career, but there’s a lot of concern over how he’ll hold up long term. Gallardo’s been good but had injury issues. Joba had his shoulder issue and hasn’t been the same since. I don’t know anything about McDowell, but I’m guessing he had injury issues based on how his career progressed.

    All those strikeouts at a young age doesn’t seem to have a good outlook long term. Of course, I realize the really small size of this list.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Joba had his shoulder issue and hasn’t been the same since.

      He’s been the same this year, just with some BABIP issues. The strike outs and velocity are back.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Joba, IP, K/9, and fastball velocity:
        2007: 24.0 IP, 12.8 K/9, 97.4 mph
        2008: 100.1 IP, 10.6 K/9, 95.2 mph
        2009: 157.1 IP, 7.6 K/9, 92.5 mph
        2010: 42.1 IP, 10.0 K/9, 94.4 mph

      • Ed

        Sometimes the velocity is back. He doesn’t always have it. Fangraphs says his average fastball this year is 94.4, compared to 97 in ’07 and 95 in ’08. The ’08 number is a little misleading here, as it’s a mix of starting and relieving, which had different velocity levels. This year is up from last year’s 92.5 though.

        • Chris

          But this year’s 94.4 is all relieving, while last year’s 92.5 was all starting.

          Before the injury, he seemed to be about 97 as a reliever and 94 as a starter. After the injury, he seems to be 94 as a reliever and 93 as a starter. I’m not sure if it’s a lingering effect of the injury, a change in mechanics, or just normal growing pains (there are other young pitchers that have seen similar velocity drops).

          • Ed

            Right, last year’s number was just an afterthought. Figured someone would call me on it if I left it out. We’re on the same page here.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Sometimes the velocity is back. He doesn’t always have it.

          FWIW, Joba’s velocity chart:

          Oh, and:
          The ‘08 number is a little misleading here, as it’s a mix of starting and relieving, which had different velocity levels.

          There’s basically three blocks of velocity plots there in 2008. The first tightly-packed chunk is when he was a reliever in April and May, the middle slightly more spread out chunk is when he was a starter in June and July, and the last chunk after the gap is when he returned from his shoulder injury in September (as a reliever).

          Looking at those first two chunks, I don’t think there’s really a difference in average fastball velocity between Joba the 2008 Reliever and Joba the 2008 Starter. Sure, the peaks are higher as a reliever, but if you take the midpoints of those midpoints, you’re looking at maybe a 1mph difference tops.

          Joba was dramatically slower in the second chunk of relief stints, but that can be explained by the shoulder flare. I think the diminished velocity during 2008 is a misnomer, though. He seems to have thrown at the same speed level in both roles (since he had a much more erratic and random velocity level as a reliever.)

  • Tapps

    I think Joba has a lot of good pitching left in there. The Yanks might have to trade him though. Any rumors on possible destinations. How about my Pirates? ;)

    • Carlosologist

      For Andrew McCutchen. ;)

  • bonestock94

    I’m getting sick of waiting. Luckily there are bigger and better things occuring in the Yankees universe.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      (unwraps burrito, wipes down microwave)

  • RL

    Joba will be fine.

    Let’s just hope the organization hangs on to him (or at least get’s significant value for years to come in return for him).

    • Steve H

      Agreed 100%.

      I don’t consider him untouchable, but if they do trade him they better get something big.

      • j_Yankees

        was Dan Haren something “big”?

        • Steve H

          I would have traded Joba for Haren for sure. Haren is a great pitcher and controlled for a few more years. If Haren were a 3 month rental I wouldn’t have traded Joba for him.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I’d agree with that.

          • RL

            Definitely agree!

          • j_Yankees

            agree 100%. was kinda bummed that Cash didn’t..

  • yankthemike

    thanks for that wake up call. we (fans) need to relax. I’d like to know what The Yankees have in mind for him. I hope it’s the same path as Hughes.

  • Accent Shallow

    I think the K/9 list is a little misleading, since strikeout rates have risen significantly over the last 49 seasons. It’s quite telling that the only player whose stretch doesn’t span the 90s-2000s is Sudden Sam McDowell.

    Also, using K/9 is a little misleading. This year, his K/9 (10.0) is similar to his K/9 from 2008, when he was stellar (10.6). However, in 2008, he faced 417 batters, and struck out 118 of them, or 28.3% (!). This year, he’s faced 191 batters, and struck out 47, or 24.6%. This drop is due entirely to facing more hitters (giving up more hits)

    I don’t have an answer for Joba’s high hit rate — I tend to think it’s a predictability issue, but WTF do I know?

  • ZZ

    I don’t think you can put a lot of stock into the ERA+ comparison.

    He had a 1221 ERA+ in 2007 and 171 ERA+ in 2008.

    In 2009 90 and 2010 68.

    So his ERA+ is incredibly skewed.

    If he was the same or even close to the same pitcher he was in 2007-2008, then you wouldn’t be writing this article in the first place.

    The problem with Joba and the reason you are writing this article is that he is NOT the same pitcher he was or even remotely close to the same pitcher he was in 2007-2008.

    • ZZ

      Damn. Meant this as a reply.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      What’s the difference between Joba 2007-2008 and Joba 2010? Batting average against and hitters more prepared for his slider?

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        hitters more prepared for his slider?

        Well, once a batter has two strikes, he can pretty much sit on the slider.

        • Chris

          Conveniently, we can now check this in fangraphs. Joba throws a slider 50% of the time in 2 strike counts.

          It’s interesting to see his selection of pitches. For the first pitch, he throws a fastball roughly 70% of the time. After that, with no strikes (1-0, 2-0, 3-0) he throws a fastball 90% of the time. With 1 strike it drops to 70%, and with 2 strikes it drops to 50%. He uses the curveball about 5% of the time, in all counts except 0-0 and 0-1 (about 13%).

      • ZZ

        A lot. Joba is a completely different pitcher than he was a couple years ago.

        Velocity was never the problem with him. And his velocity this year doesn’t tell you very much about his stuff comparable to 2 years ago.

        The movement on both his fastball and slider is much worse. His ability to control both those pitches, particularly pitching to both sides of the plate with them is much worse.

        He opens his front shoulder too early off and on constantly in just one inning of work over a mere 18-20 pitches.

        He lands on a different spot on the mound constantly.

        He is less upright than he used to be.

        Physically he has gotten bigger and it does not seem to be muscle.

        • ZZ

          And even though I dismissed his velocity in his post, it is down from 2007-2008 to now.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            By like 1 mph.

            Look at his velocity charts. It starts super-high in 2007, but at the beginning of ’08 he’s at 95-96, it slowly slopes down, then jumps down after his shoulder tendinitis and stays low for all of 2009, but this year it’s sloped back up and is now back at 94-95.

            • ZZ

              Thanks for the chart.

              Like I said, I don’t think velocity is that big of a deal when it comes to Joba.

              1 MPH does matter though, even if it is far from the main culprit of his problems.

              Also, another thing that chart shows is how inconsistent his velocity is this year vs. 2008. Another thing that demonstrates the problem he has with his delivery.

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                Agreed. Ironically, though, look at his chart this way:

                Joba the Starter: The middle chunk of 2008 and all of 2009
                Joba the Reliever: 2007, the first chunk of 2008, the last chunk of 2008, and all of 2009.

                Every single time, Joba the reliever has a far less consistent and far more erratic fastball velocity as a reliever than he does as a starter. It was lower in 2009 than in 2008 (possibly lingering effects from the shoulder injury or a mechanical overcompensation from it), but Joba the starter is metronomic in his fastball velocity; it’s always the same.

                With Joba the reliever, both the good one from ’07-’08 or the bad one from ’09, he’s all over the place velocity wise. Looking at that chart, I’d question why he’s relieving instead of starting. He seems to struggle much more in that role (velocity-wise).

                • Ed

                  Looking at Mo’s chart, he’s all over the place on velocity as well. Soria and Papelbon seem to be all over the place as well.

                  My gut feeling is that it’s just a trend among relievers. They work on really inconsistent schedules. They also have the times when they warm up and don’t get in the game that don’t show up in the stats. The velocity fluctuations are probably a side effect of all that.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      The problem with Joba and the reason you are writing this article is that he is NOT the same pitcher he was or even remotely close to the same pitcher he was in 2007-2008.

      But while that’s true, the point of this article is perspective.

      Yes, Joba’s not the same as he was in the past. We shouldn’t forget, however, that he’s still very young and he’s still been much better so far as a young pitcher than countless other young pitchers in history who went on to be good or even great pitchers.

      Ben’s not asking anyone to forgive or forget any of Joba’s struggles or pretend like everything is peachy. He’s just reminding everyone that there are reasons to not write Joba off as some sort of hopelessly lost cause who will always suck forevermore.

      • ZZ

        Of course. I don’t think Joba will suck forever. I don’t think he will be a successful starting pitcher, especially not with the Yankees, but he still has considerable upside.

  • j_Yankees

    Hmmmm…That list of SO/9 guys is interesting. Look at the top 6 guys. I don’t know what to make of it.

    Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Scott Kazmir, Oliie Perez, BK…these are guys that are broken pitchers.

    Lincecum is still doing his thing…same for a couple of guys on down the list. But those top guys career tracks don’t really get me up and dancing.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      They’re all their own special cases.

      Wood and Prior were excellent but were beaten like rented mules and broke down due to overuse. Kazmir was smallish and probably didn’t have the body to hold up as a power pitcher over the long haul. Ollie’s great K-rate is negated by his inability to not give up walks or homers (two things Joba’s actually fairly good at avoiding). BK Kim never really had elite stuff, he only posted such lofty early results because he had a funky delivery that hitters couldn’t figure out, but eventually the league adjusted to him and he crashed to earth.

      • j_Yankees

        thats fair. But every case is different for every pitcher. good or bad, no?

        You and Ben touched on pitchers that have sucked early and turned it around. Each case of those guys is “special” or different aswell.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Very much so.

    • Rich

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t see this list as being very encouraging. Joba is 24 but we need to stop babying him. He has a long history of immaturity that can’t be ignored.

      I am not against trading him for quality because, as a reliever, I think his value is still high. He is getting the benefit of the doubt and people haven’t drastically reduced their long term opinion of him. That could change very quickly.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        He has a long history of immaturity that can’t be ignored.

        He does? Give me examples.

        • Steve H

          Remember that time he…..
          Or in 2008 when he…..
          What about last week when he…..

          Ok. I got nothing. (And the DUI I wouldn’t consider immature, just stupid. People of all ages and maturity levels get DUI’s all the time).

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


          • j_Yankees

            I don’t see a ‘long list of immaturity’, either. But i’m not just going to give him a pass on the DUI.

            • Steve H

              I’m certainly not giving him a pass on the DUI, I just don’t think that falls under the “immature” category.

              It falls under completely idiotic, moronic, stupid, etc.

              • j_Yankees

                i see.

            • Zack

              No one is giving him a pass for the DUI, they just said the DUI shouldn’t be filed under “immature”.

          • Tom Zig

            See: La Russa, Tony.

          • Mike HC

            You could dismiss just about any immature behavior away by saying people of all ages and maturity levels do it. It is still immature even if a distinguished 60 year old has done the same thing.

            Under your standard of immaturity, almost nothing would be considered immature.

            • Steve H

              Ok, if you want to put the DUI in the “Immature” category that’s fine with me. The original poster said there was a long history of immaturity that cannot be ignored which is what I primarily disagreed with.

              • Mike HC

                Yea, I agree with that. I also must have missed the “long line” part. Maybe the original poster confused a long line of articles written about his immaturity with an actual long line of immaturity.

                • Steve H

                  Heh, could be.

  • Ross in Jersey

    Just so you guys know, Steve Phillips has been on the radio for the last hour saying – and I’ll do you all a favor by summing up his retarded comments – that Joba is bad this year because he is fat(ter). Apparently he looks “softer” and his “arm angle has changed because of it”

    He keeps citing ERA and his weight. No mention of the K/BB rate. No mention of an unlucky BABIP. Nothing. Joba is bad because he’s fat.

    My god. This man was GM of the Mets.

    • Steve H

      Steve Phillips is just bitter because Joba looks exactly like the intern that cost him his joba.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Joba is much prettier.

        • Steve H

          And even with his increased waistline he’s still skinnier.

        • Klemy

          You’ve seen his “moobs” too?

    • ZZ

      I have no plan to defend Steve Phillips especially since I did not hear what he said and these things tend to get dramatized when reposted like this, but if Joba has gained weight as it seems it could certainly affect his arm angle and hurt his mechanics.

      • Ross in Jersey

        Wouldn’t bad mechanics hurt his peripherals then? If he was having trouble repeating his delivery or suffering from a mechanical problem, wouldn’t we have seen his K rate drop, his BB rate rise, and him give up more home runs? That’s why I think his “Joba is fat” thing is just a lazy man’s argument for explaining something he doesn’t understand and hasn’t bothered to research.

        • ZZ

          No, not necessarily.

          One of the guys at TYU (I think Matt) addressed this to a certain extent.

          Because of Joba’s Jekyll and Hyde nature as he put it, his peripherals will still look nice.

          He is not incapable of repeating his delivery. Consistency is the issue.

      • Mike HC

        Joba fluctuates in weight weekly. He is liable to lose the weight just as fast as he can put in on. And then put it all back on again. I think you can be successful as a fat guy or thin guy, or an in between guy, but you gotta pick one and stick with it.

        The constant up and down is most likely an issue. I don’t see how it couldn’t be. Even with his conditioning though, the guy is still excellent. This year is not going to convince me otherwise.

        • Chris

          Do you really believe that his weight has been bouncing up and down all season? I certainly don’t see any evidence to support this.

          • Mike HC

            I honestly believe this. I see evidence in how big his body and face are, which changes depending on the month (I might be exaggerating with the weekly, but not by that much)

  • Darrell

    Joba should never have gone into the bullpen in the first place. The 2007 team sucked. Now the Yankees have to deal with the fallout of their rash decision. Joba should have always been a starter, and should be one now. Instead the kid makes one bad pitch and he’s taken out of the game and has to wait at least a day for another chance. Of course his confidence is shaken.

    • pat

      The 2007 team was a swarm of bugs away from going to the ALCS, that’s not really sucky.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        And the day Joba was promoted in 2007, we were only 5 back of the Sox for first place and were in a dead heat with the Tigers and Mariners for the Wild Card. I get why Joba was promoted to help out the bullpen.

        There’s nothing wrong with that move; it only became wrong when we began contemplating keeping him in the bullpen permanently.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          “it only became wrong when we began contemplating keeping him in the bullpen permanently.”

          And all of that stemmed from the constant talk of finding Mo’s replacement

  • Mike HC

    Very nice perspective.

    Looking at Joba’s contemporaries, Lincecum, Kershaw and Gallardo, he is in pretty good company. Although they got their stats all in the starting role and are still going strong.

    You get the feeling that if Joba was drafted by the Giants, Dodgers or Brewers, he would be closer to where those three are at, rather than where he is at now with the Yanks. Whether is be because of tougher league, or the calmer atmosphere, or the “win later” mentality, etc … I could imagine an alternative universe where Joba is dominating as a starter for the Reds right now or something.

  • Jamal G.

    If you put a gun to my head, I still say the Yanks will have Joba Chamberlain in their Opening Day rotation. I explained why here, and nothing has happened this season to change that thought process.

    The Yanks can set Chamberlain’s innings ceiling based off of his 2009 campaign much like they are doing with Phil Hughes and his 2006 campaign. From the continued use of his third pitch, the curveball, and Brian Cashman’s quotes about him being a “starter in the bullpen,” I think a strong case can still be made that the Yankees have not closed the door on his future as a starting pitcher.

    • Steve H

      I hope you’re right.

    • nsalem

      where do you think Hughes will be in April 2011?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      While I hope you’re right, the numbers are getting daunting. We only have 5 rotation spots, but we’ve already got 3 sure things under contract (CC, AJ, Hughes) plus a serious and justified hard-on for Cliff Lee (and we never get outbid for people we want) plus both Javy and Andy possibly interested in returning for another year (and both pitching well).

      That’s 6 veterans whom the front office would all trust a rotation spot to before giving it to Joba. I don’t share your optimism. Maybe if Joba had been having a lights-out 2010, perhaps. But with a 68 ERA+, he’s probably a nonfactor for the 2011 rotation now.

      • Jamal G.

        Good point, and I should have stipulated such. I expect Chamberlain to be in the rotation if there is a vacancy in the rotation.

        To amend: I do think Chamberlain is the top in-house replacement for either Andy Pettitte or Javier Vazquez. From what I have read during this month’s deadline, the Front Office is proceeding under the assumption that Pettitte will retire at the end of this season (which is wise). If this does happen, I say that two of Chamberlain, Cliff Lee and Vazquez will join the three locks.

        • nsalem

          where have your read that the FO assumes Andy is retiring?

          • Jamal G.

            Minor, but they are operating as if, not necessarily assuming.

            It was a tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney, I believe.

            • nsalem

              Unless he is hurt it is very doubtful Pettitte will retire. Great pitchers (Mussina stands alone) if healthy had to be dragged off the mound and shown the door>

    • CS Yankee

      Solid article.

      In general, i also believe that the Yankees have a plan. They are a very well run organization. They have guidelines and rules for their player development that aren’t public (which is good for the company & employee).

      However, the use and attention of Joba is/has been the exception to the rule and maybe that’s why we spend so much time on it. I am still in the camp that he needs to be a starter (too many plus pitches) and understand the concept of having the twelve best arms to help get job one completed (secure postseason berth) and help towards the main objective (#28).

      The issues are that a) he can’t utilize all his pitches and can lose that feel b) he can’t even be effective with two pitches c) he isn’t helping the team win this year d) his development seems to be going backwards e) likely to only get 60 innings of use in 2010 f) his results aren’t what they expected or needed.

      Finishing with 60 MLB innings with a 6’ish ERA will get him traded this offseason. There is about a zero chance they make him the #5 starter with these results and their lack of development of him. Arb off-season will mean Melky money & therefore a Melky trade.

      • CS Yankee

        err, meant to tag onto Jamal G. post

    • The Big City of Dreams

      I hope he does find his way back into the rotation but of course alot of that depends on what happens around him. If they sign lee and andy wants to come back joba doesn’t have a spot.

      How many times has he thrown the curve-ball this yr?

  • Rose

    Sometimes age can be quite arbitrary when evaluating certain aspects of a player. He’s been in the league for nearly 4 seasons now and he seems to be getting exponentially worse rather than improving.

    Experience is experience and he’s been blessed with getting all sorts of experience with the Yankees over the years. Countless playoff appearances, big spotlight everywhere you go, starting and relieving (just kidding but somewhat true), etc. If anything you get better the more you get used to these things. Most of the time you’re initially nervous doing new things of this nature and get more used to it after a while…so that’s probably not it.

    Alexander the Great conquered the world at 18 with the most brilliant military tactics people of that world had ever seen – some of which are still used to today.

    I personally feel: Experience > Age. At the very least, they’re just as arbitrary as one another…but I tend to disagree.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Alexander the Great conquered the world at 18 with the most brilliant military tactics people of that world had ever seen – some of which are still used to today.

      That’s a great point… Januz.

  • larryf

    It’s definitely the weight leading to severe jock itch leading to plant foot issues leading to poor mechanics. However if he had changed to Justin Chamberlain none of this would have happened…..If we trade him, he will be dominant so just make sure he goes to the national league where his speed on the base paths will be an asset for any team….

    ok-that’s enough

  • Bronx Ralphie

    Joba is terrible and he will always be terrible. I have been saying this for a while now on this site. Where is the blogger Tampa Yankee? He would always argue with me. Where are you now pal?

    • Steve H


    • Zack

      How long is “a while”? Were you saying he’s terrible in 2007, 2008, and the first half of 2009?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I’ve been reading here since the beginning but only commented like 5 or 6 times, but I gotta tell you: your comments suck.


    • CS Yankee

      You = 1
      logic = 0

  • mike

    I hope Joba is not on the sauce. He would not be the first.

    • Steve H

      Irresponsible speculation FTW.

  • Guest

    I think Joba’s BABIP issues are the most important issue in this whole saga. He has been uniquely unlucky.

    When a pitcher has a high BABIP and a low “swing and miss” rate/strikeout rate, then I think you can say that he really isn’t that unlucky. That just means when hitters swing at his stuff, they do so effectively, and they hit it hard.

    But when a pitcher has a high BABIP and a high swing and miss rate and a high strikeout rate, that leads me to believe he is getting unlucky with balls that hitters put in play.

    Think about it. When a guy swings and misses at a pitch, he has been totally beaten by a pitch. When hitters make weak contact, the kind of contact that produces outs more often than hits, they are only kind of beaten. They have had a more effective swing than than the kind of swings that produce complete swings and misses.

    So it stands to reason that if a pitcher produces a lot of swings and misses, he has the kind of stuff that hitters have trouble putting good swings on. If this is the case, one would expect that when hitters are able to make contact, it should be weak contact more often than it is good contact. And then the pitcher’s BABIP should be low.

    Joba’s swing and miss rate is 13.5%. League average is 8.5%. Joba’s strike out rate is 9.9/9 innings. League average is 7.02/9 innings. That is a large discrepency. He totally beats hitters way more than the average pitcher and considerably more than even most good pitchers. He has great stuff. Way better than .399 on BABIP stuff.

    He’s been incredibly unlucky. Either hitters are getting way more hits against him when making weak contact than they should, or they are absolutely not missing his mistakes. Mistakes are on Joba, and he needs to avoid them more often. But every pitcher makes them in every game. He seems to be going through a stretch where his aren’t fouled back, they are hit hard, and often somewhere where the fielders ain’t.

    No doubt he has elements of his game he needs to improve, but even if he doesn’t, this level of bad luck is simply unsustainable. Even if nothing else changes, his results will improve as his terrible luck evens out.

  • Tiki

    Wow! How much time has gone into this discussion year after year? Everyone here has different thoughts on this kid. It makes me wonder if that’s true in the organization too.
    They have to weigh the possible upside against his inconsistent outings, roster spot, mojo in the clubhouse, etc.
    I admit it; I don’t like Joba. Joba’s perceived phenom status, his cocky attitude, his off-field “behavior” not just the drinking and foolish Yogi comments – there are a bunch of things I don’t like about him on and off the field. Was it exciting in 07? Of course, it was but he hasn’t lived up to it since. Sorry, he did have an occasional “star moment” like when he out-pitched Beckett but now — how many of you don’t have the feeling of impending doom when he enters a game? Do the guys playing behind him have that feeling? I don’t know but if he keeps blowing up the way he has they will get that feeling and with every blowup his trade value will go further and further down. In my opinion, if they don’t trade him he needs to go to Triple A.
    I don’t understand why they wouldn’t send him to Triple A – his confidence? It can’t be helping his confidence to get booed off the mound or ripped in the papers. Why wouldn’t it ultimately help his confidence learning to become a better pitcher and get the innings under his belt? We saw video from the stadium a week or 2 ago on MLB showing Mariano working with him. After Joba’s next appearance, Al Leiter said Joba did the exact opposite of what Mo was trying to teach him. Joba’s inconsistent (understatement, I know) and maybe he could learn more consistency with more time in the minors. Whether he’s going to be a reliever or a starter, he needs to be more consistent. Is he teachable? I don’t know. Is it just a case of it taking a bit longer – maybe? Do the Yankees have the patience to find out? That’s the million dollar question.
    Which is worse for his confidence, going down now and learning or being left off the post season roster?
    We heard last year that he hadn’t prepared himself in the off-season. Would he have made the same mistake again this year? Is that part of his cocky behavior? I don’t know. He doesn’t appear any heavier to me and you would think the Yankees would have done something about his weight. We know Hughes goes to the AZ training program during the off-season – Joba doesn’t but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do something. We know that Clemens is Joba’s go to guy – there are a lot of bad things we can say about Roger Clemens but lack of preparation is not one of them. And I’m sure the organization suggests off-season programs to these guys. Bottom line is the organization knows more about him than we ever will and while we may question some of their talent evaluation moves it seems a stretch that they wouldn’t know his physical and/or psych problems.
    My opinion- if he doesn’t show us something very soon – really what can he show us that we haven’t seen – or go to Triple A then the problem is bigger than we thought.

  • andyg55

    It is all in his head. If you remember back on 2007, he had confidence up the ying yang (technical baseball term). At the age of 21, he felt he could get ANYONE out that faced him. Today he looks lost on the mound as if he expects the next hitter to hit a homer or get a hit or walk. He has lost his confidence. Perhaps it has something to do with losing the 5th starter slot but isn’t it enough to be on a world championship team setting up the best closer in the history of baseball? Isn’t that enough motivation to do well and pitch the hell out of the ball? Don’t give up on Joba just yet but don’t let this fiasco go on forever either.

  • Nick

    I think it is funny seeing all these stats saying Joba isn’t far off. I love the kid but he might be the dumbest pitcher I have ever seen. He gets 0-1 0-2 with his fastball and then everyone in the world knows what is coming. Slider ball 1 slider ball 2 slider ball 3 and he is in trouble. Joba’s problems are easily fixed in my opinion. He needs a swift kick in the pants because he doesn’t look like the same kid he was in 2008. That year he looked like and executioner on the mound and hitters went up there looking like they didn’t have a chance. Joba was up there waiting for them and dispatched them very fast. Ever since his injury he hasn’t been that same guy, he looks tentative on the mound in my opinion and not confident.

    • Steve H

      Boy narratives are fun. Joba is not dumb, lets get that out of the way.

      When he gets ahead 0-1 batters have a .236/.269/.337 line against him. When he gets ahead 0-2 batters have a .200/.200/.257 line against him.

      Moral of the story, when Joba gets ahead either 0-1 or 0-2 he really doesn’t get in trouble.

  • Lem The Gem

    1.) He’s an 8th inning set up man for Mo in 2007
    2.) They had an inning limit and pitch count to keep his arm healthy for the future. 2007 – 2008.
    3.) Then they wanted one of the best prospects to eventually replace MO to become a starter in 2009.
    5.) Then they moved back into the bullpen in time for the autumn stretch drive in 2009.
    6.) His match ups as a starter were either B+ or A- level teams in the AL.
    7.) Now he’s back in the bull pen.
    8.) He’s in the most insane media franchise in MLB with fans that expect perfection 75% of the time or better like MO.
    9.) He’s only 24 and critics DEMAND he produce EVERY DAY.
    10.) Where is the coaching staff to fine tune his delivery, release point AND develop another out pitch he can consistently through for strikes ?
    11.) This dilemma is not entirely on Joba, the coaching staff had their
    share of tactical errors in his development.

  • Jerry

    Everybody, please stop with the excuses for this guy. He may have had very limited time in minors, but he has also enjoyed 3+ years of major league coaching from the coaches, and a great deal from Mariano yet he can’t get it done on the field and is an embarrassment to the Yankees with his off field antics. He and AJ share one problem, and that is they are unable to stay focused on the mound and get rattled quickly. Joba shakes of his catchers more than any other on the staff and ends up choosing the wrong pitch. His remark to the press after his recent explosion on the mound when questioned about their booing him was “It won’t be the first & it won’t be the last”. Humble isn’t he?? His image of self importance is disgusting. They have to jettison him and do it soon. I’m tired of the shots of him in the pen chomping down on the goodies they have in there for the pitchers. Everybody, stop, stop with the excuses. He’s a loser!

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I take it that, since you’re engaging in such extreme character assassination here, you’ve met Joba personally and understand him to be as weak as you claim despite the fact that everyone who actually knows him says otherwise, right?

    • The Big City of Dreams

      He’s a loser? That’s a little strong isn’t it. At the end of the day we’re talking about a kid playing baseball

    • Zack

      Why does everyone bring up Mariano, he’s been here for 14 years- what set up man developed and stayed success under his teaching out in the bullpen?

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Yea there have been many set-up man that have come through here over the yrs. I’m still trying to figure out why the yankees have to groom joba to be the future closer. Does anyone think when Mo retires they won’t take a look at the FA or trade market? Tabata and A-jax were suppose to be the future yankee OF right. Kennedy and joba were suppose to become main stays in the rotation right.

  • Paul

    Well, not sure who mentioned it, but I bleieve it is valid… Joba just doesn’t pitch inside any more. Sure, he may miss his pot and end up having a ball move inside to a right handed batter, but it is usually so far off the plate as to not be effective. I think he simply needs to get the ball over the inside part of the plate to reduce well hit balls.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      My question is why doesn’t he pitch inside anymore?