Joba the Starter seemingly an afterthought


(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Joba Chamberlain was or wasn’t almost traded for Dan Haren on July 23, according to various rumors. The veracity of those alleged trade negotiations isn’t really important today, but we know that other teams felt comfortable asking for Joba at the trade deadline even if the Yanks weren’t keen on shipping off their 24-year-old erstwhile phenom.

Since that near-non-trade, Joba has pitched better out of the bullpen than he had in the months prior to the rumors. That great regression — one that said Joba’s high K rates and low home run rates should have led to better results — seemed to kick in, and in 15.2 innings since late July, Joba has allowed just five earned runs on nine hits and four walks. He has 12 strike outs to complement that 2.87 ERA, and while not totally dominating, Joba has been flashing his plus stuff and getting the job done.

Interestingly, as the last few weeks have seemingly restored some semblance of faith in Joba, they’ve also shown me how the Yankees view him. Shortly before the Haren trade rumors swirled, the Yanks lost Andy Pettitte to a groin injury. To plug what they thought would be a four- to six-week hole, the team first turned to Sergio Mitre and later handed the ball to Dustin Moseley. While Moseley has made some solid starts, including one against Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, neither Mitre nor Moseley have been revelations in the rotation.

Meanwhile, as Moseley has sputtered along, other Yankee starters have struggled as well. A.J. Burnett is 3-10 over his last 15 outings with an ERA of 6.86, and Javier Vazquez has lost and perhaps regained his rotation spot since a dead-arm period sent his stuff and numbers tumbling. With Phil Hughes showing some signs of fatigue in his last outing and fast approaching an innings limit, the Bombers had to call upon Ivan Nova to pitch some key games amidst a pennant race in late summer. If only they had another starting pitcher with Major League experience on the team…

Of course, it’s clear now where I’m going with this summary of the state of the Yankees’ starting rotation. At no point since mid-July when the Yanks’ pitching problems started to pop up did the Bombers consider moving Joba Chamberlain from the bullpen to the starting rotation, and I can’t figure out why not. Since 2007, Joba’s role on the team has been a hot topic. He was a starting pitcher throughout college, was drafted as one and rocketed through the system as one. The Yanks moved him to the bullpen three years ago to limit his workload and give the Big League club an impact arm when they had to build a Bridge to Mariano more solid than Kyle Farnsworth. Three season later, Joba Chamberlain remains in limbo.

To start the 2010 season, the Yankees claimed Phil Hughes and Joba would fight it out for the fifth starter spot, but as early as January, we heard that the Yanks had all but decided to hand the job to Phil. When Joba struggled in Grapefruit League action, Hughes won the job, and Joba was banished to the bullpen for the entire season. The team, Brian Cashman said, wanted to keep a cap on Joba’s workload but still saw him as a starter going forward.

If that was truly the case, Joba should have been starting this summer. He wasn’t good enough early on as a reliever to justify keeping him in a high-leverage set-up role, and he’s been a part of Joe Girardi‘s mix-and-match approach to the 6th, 7th and 8th innings lately. He could have been moved out of the bullpen mix and into the rotation without weakening the team’s late-innings needs, and he could have built up the innings he needs if he’s going to be in the mix for a starting job next year.

The truth about Joba is that he hasn’t been a bad starting pitcher. He made 43 starts before turning 24, and he went 12-9 with a 4.18 ERA/4.07 FIP in 221.2 innings. He 8.4 K/9 IP is an impressive mark for such a young pitcher, but he walked too many guys. When he was bad, he was really bad, and some of the late-2009 abbreviated starts make his overall numbers look worse than he performed as a starter. Still, none of his numbers or the results scream out “failure” as a starting pitcher, and he certainly showed some brilliance both before and after his 2008 shoulder injury.

For now, Joba remains a pitching enigma on the Yanks. At a time when the Yanks could use a proven Major League starter, he’ll finish out the year in the bullpen. If the Yanks go deep into October, he could rack up around 75-80 innings pitched this year, and the Yanks are seemingly ready to throw him back into the rotation next year. Someone in the Yankee organization knows what the plan is for Joba, but today, I remain as mystified with the team’s treatment of this potentially valuable arm as I was last year. The Yankees, it seems, just can’t figure out what to do with Joba Chamberlain.

Categories : Pitching


  1. I agree he should have been put in the rotation. I think the team is scared about hurting him though.

  2. I think it has more to do with the Yanks not wanting to move Joba between roles during the season than it does with how they might view him long-term. The other guys they’ve moved into and out of the rotation, or even between the rotation and bullpen in a case like with Mitre, aren’t guys about whose development they care about as much as they care about Joba’s. I think you might be reading a little too much into this – I think they just don’t want to move a prospect like Joba between the bullpen and the rotation like they have done with Joba and with Hughes in recent seasons, I think they have made a decision to change their strategy and just not do that anymore.

  3. Hughesus Christo says:


    In my dreams

  4. Mike HC says:

    I wanted him in AAA to start the year, and knowing that the teams 6th starter always gets a ton of innings, to be the first starter called up in case of injury or crappy production from our top 5. But, once the decision was made to put him in the pen, he had to stay there. You can’t keep moving the guy back and forth, back and forth. It is just not fair to him.

    Next year, he should be the front runner for the 5th starter job if the Yanks don’t pull two proven starters out of a hat (I’m assuming the top four to be CC, Pettitte, AJ and Lee)

    • Mike HC says:

      I’m an idiot. The rotation will be CC, Hughes, Pettitte, AJ and Lee. Nevermind, Joba back in the pen, ha. I guess if Pettitte does not resign, or don’t get Lee for some reason, or AJ completely implodes, then Joba at 5.

      It ain’t easy being a Yankee prospect.

      • The point of the above post about how valuable Joba would have been making all these starts in place of Moseley, Mitre, and Nova is that Joba’s still more valuable as a 6th starter than as a middle reliever.

        Moseley, Mitre, and Nova have combined to throw 64.0 innings as starters this year. Joba’s thrown only 57.0 as a short-reliever this year. Both figures will undoubtedly go up, but the point is that three men, one of whom started the year languishing as the 7th man in the bullpen and two more who started the year in Scranton Wilkes-Barre have combined to throw more innings as starters than the designated 8th inning guy threw as a reliever.

        6th starter in Scranton >>>>>>>>>>>> the 8th inning guy

        If Pettitte does re-up and the Opening Day rotation is CC-Lee-Pettitte-Hughes-AJ, then Joba should be starting in Scranton. We’ve now burned that bridge, though, because he now can’t be optioned to the minors without going through waivers.

        Meaning Joba’s going to have another season in the bullpen in 2011. Ugh.

        • Mike HC says:

          I’m with you. Although it seemed the point of the above post (if you mean Ben’s post, and I am not misunderstanding, and you were just elaborating on my original post) was that Ben would have pulled him from the bullpen at some point after he struggled, and not have started him in AAA from the get go.

          • I think Ben was saying both.

            That A.) he would have started Joba in Scranton this April, and B.) failing that, he would have transitioned Joba to the rotation this July/August.

            • Mike HC says:

              If he meant to say both, he surely did not write both. But who cares? We agree.

            • Tim says:

              tsjc – just a thought, but as time goes by on this season, I am feeling less and less excited about the prospect of Cliff Lee in the Yankee rotation next year, and I am wondering if Cashman is feeling that, too. It’s no secret that the team will be laying out a lot of money this offseason for the key expiring contracts. Lee just turned 32, and by all accounts has been pretty meh since being acquired by Texas. Don’t get me wrong – I think the guy is an elite pitcher. I just wonder about the wisdom of giving a guy like that 5 years and $100+ million (which is what it’s going to take) to get his age 33-37 years.

              I am starting to wonder if the only way Lee is pitching for the Yankees next season is if Pettitte is not.

              • Meh, this Lee in Texas thing is probably just a hiccup. I doubt we change course and decide not to add Cliff Lee, he’s the biggest difference maker on the market this winter and fills a big need at the front end of our rotation for 2011 and beyond.

                • Captain Jack says:

                  He has 67 Ks in Texas and only 6 BBs; his HR/FB ratio has just regressed there. Remember Matt Holliday’s little hiccup in Oakland? Yeah.

                  • That.

                    I won’t kill a guy for not pitching as brilliantly in a handful of starts at The Ballpark at Arlington as he’s done for the rest of his career.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      Agree. Lee’s been arguably the 2nd best pitcher in baseball this season, best lefty. Big change in Texas has been HRs, as said above. His WHIP is still dominant and his BB/9 and SO/9 are pretty consistent (and still way above previous career high… so probably not repeatable).

                      It will absolutely be buying high, but I think it’s more a case of CC or Tex buying high than AJ buying high. Cliff Lee’s been one of the better starters around for 3 seasons now and will be in his 32 year old season. Will be interesting to see what happens with Pettitte… missing a big chunk of this season might make him more likely to play another season. Lee is a better pitcher than Pettitte, though, all else equal I guess sentimentality should be put aside.

    • Frank says:

      Front runner for the 5th starter. Ahead of Hughes?

    • Angelo says:

      No Hughes? You will never be my GM.

  5. Mike Axisa says:

    I’ll be stunned if he ever starts another game as a Yankee.

    • Pete says:

      I won’t

    • Frank says:

      I’ll take it one step further. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s traded this winter.

      • You know, I don’t know that I’ll be surprised if he’s traded, but I do think I’ll be pretty disappointed and confused. I’ve heard a lot of people say that if he’s not in the rotation he should be traded, but I think he has more value to the Yanks right now than he would bring in return on the trade market. This is a talented, young pitcher. Do I think his talent is wasted a bit in the bullpen? Yeah, I do. But when people say he should be traded if he’s not in the rotation I’m not sure they take into account what the potential return would be. I think he has the potential to be a great starter, but if he’s going to be in the bullpen, I also think he has the potential to be an amazing reliever. Why trade that away? What are you going to get in return (for a reliever) that’s so valuable and that the Yanks couldn’t get through other means? Why not just hold onto that commodity and enjoy it?

        • Mike HC says:

          I think at this point, his potential is somewhere lower than “great starter” or “amazing reliever.” I would say more realistically, his potential is “solid starter” or “good reliever.” Just my opinion of course.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I think his “potential” is still there… The probability he reaches it has dipped. He’s 24 with a career WHIP under 1.4, though. The ceiling is maybe more #2 starter than #1 starter… but a good #2 starter with a WHIP around 1.20-1.30 is pretty great if he can do it year-in, year-out.

            As Yankees fans I fear the “amazing reliever” bar has been set too high by Mo. It will probably be hard to ever call another reliever “amazing” again. Joba can still be a very good closer, though.

        • Why not just hold onto that commodity and enjoy it?


          Even if we resign Pettitte this winter and there’s no room for Joba, keep him around and waste him in the bullpen for another year.

          Andy Pettitte won’t pitch forever, and eventually Joba can have his spot.

          • The Big City of Dreams says:

            “Andy Pettitte won’t pitch forever, and eventually Joba can have his spot.”

            the problem with that is the longer he says in the pen the farther he gets away from developing as a starter. If Pettitte goes yr to yr for the next couple of yrs Brackman and Bentances will be at the door waiting to solidify their spots

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Good points, The Honorable Congressman Mondesi.

      • If they weren’t going to trade him for Haren, I don’t think they’re going to trade him at all. It’s unlikely they find a better piece than Haren this off-season.

        • Mike HC says:

          He is only going to get more expensive though, and older. So his value next year will be less than this year, and so on, even if everything stays the same. It is not out of the realm of possibility the Yanks trade him for a Haren type player, or something a little less, if a true need develops in the next year or two.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Again, though, what are they going to get for him? It’s definitely very possible he gets traded, and as The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says no one would be too surprised. However, the Yankees have the best offense in baseball with some good prospects on the way. Right now the team’s needs are clearly more on the pitching side. If they sign Lee what they need is more of a reliable 5th or “6th” starter or elite set-up guy. Joba has the versatility to be either. If they either can’t sign Lee or don’t want to spend the money, then it’s a more interesting decision between keeping Joba or maybe using him to get a more proven starter.

        • Anthony says:

          It might have also been that the Yankees would need to have given up some other backup starter options in that deal as well. (Nova and others)

        • I don’t think it was about not being willing to trade Joba the entity, but that they didn’t really want to trade anyone on the MLB roster.

          Anyway the Haren deal was so goofy (and frankly, flat out stupid) that I don’t even know if I believe the Yankees were honestly unwilling to deal him. So much of the information we got was from national reporters and most of it was refuted by the local guys.

  6. Stuckey says:

    “The Yankees, it seems, just can’t figure out what to do with Joba Chamberlain.”

    I think you mean YOU can’t figure out what the Yankees are doing with Joba Chamberlain, which is a whole other premise.

    My theory is they are looking to find some consistency from Chamberlain in both approach and mechanics so they want to give him a consistent routine – ALL year, and then reassess his future in the off-season.

    I think the Chicago gun was a little hot, but if he’s indeed getting back to sitting in the upper 90′s, and the slider is getting its bite back, and gets a couple of months and a postseason of consistent/effective performance under his belt, then they’ll have options in the winter.

    I would have been VERY surprised to see them make any changes on the middle of this season. There is a strong argument to be made a full year of a consistent routine is/was EXACTLY was Chamberlain needed, as it would be a first for him.

    • Chris says:

      I agree with this 100%.

      If he’s struggled with consistency as a reliever, then why would the Yankees move him to the rotation?

      • whozat says:

        Because the better-structured schedule, with regular side-sessions that provide an opportunity to reinforce the teachings of the coaching staff, along with time in AAA to start the year could all have contributed to better consistency?

        • Ted Nelson says:

          This is a good point. Could be a) the Yankees felt like he needed a year to rest his arm a bit and not compile starter innings at any level and/or b) the Yankees wanted to try to groom him as a potential replacement to Mo in the case Mo retired after the season or age caught up to him (injury/ineffectiveness) or just walked after the season for some strange reason. Having Joba as the “back-up closer” and top set-up man at the cost of his starting was a more effective use of resources, in the org’s opinion, than acquiring a top reliever through free agency or trade.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:


  7. Jobu says:

    The most frustrating thing about all of this is that he is currently just a middle reliever. I have always been in the Joba the starter camp and saw this as a Joba the ace starter vs closer of the future debate. Now it feels like Joba the above average starter vs decent middle reliever debate. Why the hell is there even a question of his usage going forward. He as not shown anything this year to indicate that he will be a dominant closer. He is not the next Mariano Rivera. Hell, there is not next Mariano so everyone should stop holding their breath. Why would the Yankees throw away above average starter with potential for better to have a decent middle reliever?

    • Mike HC says:

      Because our top five starters were better than him this year. And when Pettitte got injured, and Javy needed rest, it was always thought that it was only short term. Plus, the Yanks most probably did not want to jerk Joba around at all this year.

      Next year, the Yanks top 5 will all probably be better than Joba again. He may be traded.

    • Anthony says:

      David Robertson, Kerry Wood and Boone Logan have all pitched better than him this year as Yankees.

    • CS Yankee says:

      Agree with most of your post. The three young guns (IPK, Phil & Joba) all in the rotation was in hindsight a poor decision. I believe they wanted one young gun and four proven arms going into the season.

      I wanted Joba as well but suspect that Hughes put in the work and the decision was made mid-winter. When Clemen’s was here, we heard how he pushed Joba and they worked out together. I haven’t heard of anything about his off-season program but did hear that Hughes was in Tampa and also that he worked hard on adding a fourth pitch (changeup) after he added a third the season before (cutter, i believe).

      I still see Joba’s main asset as a SP, but if he has the David Wells approach to conditioning I think the Yankees will keep him as a 1+ inning sidekick as you need to depend more on your starters health wise.

      I just hope 2010 is the final primer for Joba to be a starter (ala Hughes) and that he answers the call in 2011.

      • Anthony says:

        Clemens worked out with Joba? Maybe Joba is just off the roids now.


      • The three young guns (IPK, Phil & Joba) all in the rotation was in hindsight a poor decision. I believe they wanted one young gun and four proven arms going into the season.

        Fun Fact: Joba, Phil, and IPK were never actually in the rotation together all at once. The 2008 season opening rotation was Mussina, Pettitte, Wang, Hughes, and Kennedy; Joba started the year in the bullpen. By the time he was ready to start in June, both Hughes and Kennedy had already been hurt/demoted.

        • CS Yankee says:



          However, I do think that Cashman & CO feel better with established 200+ inning guys for the majority of the workload. In 2008, that wasn’t likelky the case and maybe was going for the “Verlander effect” in lieu of the “Sidney affect”.

      • The Big City of Dreams says:

        “I haven’t heard of anything about his off-season program but did hear that Hughes was in Tampa and also that he worked hard on adding a fourth pitch (changeup) after he added a third the season before (cutter, i believe).”

        The only thing I remember is hearing him coming to tampa a week or two before camp officially opened because he wanted to show he was serious about winning the 5th starter spot

    • Chris says:

      Joba the above average starter vs decent middle reliever

      The problem is that he hasn’t been a consistently good pitcher this year. His velocity and control seem to come and go from game to game. That type of performance doesn’t translate into an above average starter.

      Looking at it slightly differently, whatever his performance is as a reliever, if he were moved to the rotation then his performance would become slightly worse. In most cases, that decline in performance is made up for by increased innings. This breaks down when the starter is bad enough that he can’t regularly give 5+ innings. With his struggles this year as a reliever, I’m not sure that Joba would be able to consistently give the Yankees more than 5 innings.

  8. Anthony says:

    I think they didn’t put him in the rotation because it would be throwing him around again back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation. When Andy comes back and Burnett gets back to himself then Joba would have been placed right back in the pen. Then there is the issue that he was not stretched out yet and it would be hard to stretch him out to a starter in the short period of time in which a replacement was needed as well as to find time in games to stretch him out slowly.

  9. We can only hope that David Robertson, Kerry Wood, Boone Logan, and possibly Jonathan Albaladejo all remain lights-out dominant in the 7th and 8th innings to give Joba enough competition in the Bridge to Mowhere pecking order that the crutch to use Joba in the bullpen will be lessened and he’ll have a legit shot to just compete with Ivan Nova for the 5th starter job next spring.

    I fear that until the back end of the bullpen is filled with at least two guys the team feels confident handing ZOMG TEH 8TH!!!1!! to, Joba will always be pulled back out of the SP derby and placed back in a short relief role. It’s the wrong way to build a team, but it’s what the club seems to have decided is its S.O.P.

    • Joba and Nova competing next year, though, depends on Andy. If he decides to stick around, no competition happens. I don’t think Andy’s going to retire unless he comes back and gets re-injured immediately.

    • Mike HC says:

      I don’t see the Yanks being comfortable going into next year with AJ, Pettitte, Hughes and a Joba/Nova 2-5. AJ has clearly regressed this year. Pettitte has had trouble pitching a full year and will be another year older, and Hughes post all star break numbers do not inspire 100% confidence. Maybe if Lee replaces Pettitte, I could see it, but even then, I am skeptical the Yanks let Joba/Nova battle for the 5th spot. But who knows?

      • Chris says:

        AJ has clearly regressed this year.

        I think you need to be just as careful about using a bad year as an indicator of future performance as you would be using a good year.

        Pettitte has had trouble pitching a full year

        He made 32 or more starts from 2005-2009. It’s only been this year that he’s had a problem pitching a full year. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come, but I wouldn’t get too worried about one injury.

        Hughes post all star break numbers do not inspire 100% confidence.

        You need to be careful about using small sample sizes from starting pitchers because a single bad start can skew the numbers. In his first four August starts, Hughes had a 3.06 ERA. His last start brought that up to 4.33. He’s basically had 2 bad starts since the All Star break – his first one (on 7/20) and his last one.

        All that being said, I agree with the bigger point that the Yankees won’t go with CC, AJ, Pettitte, Hughes and Joba/Nova as the rotation. All indications are that they will go hard after Lee, and probably get him. I don’t see Pettitte retiring, either. That fills the rotation with Joba going to the pen, and Nova probably staying in Scranton.

        • Mike HC says:

          Nothing I wrote meant to be set in stone or my opinion. It is more under the lines of, “hope for the best, expect the worst.” If I’m GM of the Yanks, I see 4/5 of our 2010 rotation as a bit of a question for 2011, and one of them, Javy, as basically gone. I’m not that comfortable with that, and I doubt the Yanks will be.

    • CS Yankee says:

      2011 will (almost) for sure have:
      1) CC
      2) AJ
      3) Hughes

      If Lee is signed then it likely means that;
      a) Pettitte has retired
      b) if not a), Joba is screwed out of a SP job & likely traded or used (wasted) in the pen.

      • Agreed with all of that.

        We should still keep Joba, though. Trading him would be silly. Even if he’s currently wasted in the bullpen, you don’t give up on his talent, you wait for a rotation opening to present itself.

        Ask Brandon Morrow.

        • CS Yankee says:

          Agreed with your post comments after you agreed.

        • Captain Jack says:

          Brandon Morrow, now there’s a guy that makes me a bit uneasy to trade Joba for a certified pile of shit. However, if he were traded for Haren along with Nova I wouldn’t have minded…Dan Haren’s a lot more valuable arm than Brandon League. I also have a feeling that Morrow’s body type is better for pitching than Joba’s. His front office was also much more incompetent and fucked with his role way more than Joba’s was fucked with. Also, Morrow is the best case scenario as to how the Joba Chamberlain saga ends. Interesting comp though.

  10. Stephen R. says:

    I don’t think it’s particularly surprising, at all, that they didn’t consider moving him back to the rotation mid year. Been there, done that.

    I would like to see Joba as a starter, but I’m not at all convinced that transitioning him back to the rotation midseason would be a smart course of action.

  11. Anthony says:

    I think next year Pettite returns and the rotation is Sabathia Lee Hughes Pettite Burnett with Nova either in long relief/spot sparter or working in AAA and being a replacement in case of an injury.

  12. Tom T says:

    The Yanks for the first time in awhile though will have some options for the ’11 rotation as they could think about inserting Joba and/or Nova. Then there’s the matter of Lee and Pettitte.

    I was ALWAYS a big believer in Joba the starter, but in addition to relative unknown if he can succeed, the Yanks would again be dealing with another innings limit while losing a valuable arm out of the pen.

    Is it really unrealistic to expect Nova to beat A.J.’s 4.5-5 FIP? Based on his velocity, ground ball propensity and translated numbers, I would be surprised if he isn’t already a 4th or 5th starter, even in the AL east.

    Some think AJ is “off.” Seems more likely he just sucks now. velocity is down, not missing bats with the curve and obviously he never had the command/control. He might be a sunk cost. If a AAA player can produce what he can for 400 K for 3 years, why not see if anyone will take a flier on Burnett’s past stuff/name? Yanks would have to eat at least half the salary, but would we really target AJ for 3/$27 M if he were a free agent next year (that would be about half what we owe him).

    • Anthony says:

      Yeah but he pitched well in the postseason last year

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Stuff seems gone right now, but doesn’t mean he’ll never get it back. He’s probably on the downside and now very well may be the time to move him… I expect him to rebound from this season. Since other teams might also, it absolutely may be the time to eat half his salary. Could maybe get another solid year out of him and then sell high a little, though…

      • Ted Nelson says:

        A random thought: Burnett in the rotation seems like an argument for keeping Joba as a super-6th starter next season.

  13. Anthony says:

    There isn’t room in the rotation for Joba if Pettite returns next year and then Joba will have gone 2 years without a start.

  14. Jamal G. says:

    I still would like those who are upset that Joba Chamberlain started the season in the bullpen explain to me what they would have done differently and how it would have benefited the Yanks more-so both in 2010 and beyond.

    Seemingly, Hughes could not go another season removed from his innings high in 2006, so he had to be a starting pitcher this season. With their innings cap of him in 2010, the Yanks are telling you that even if a SP prospect is 2-3 years removed from his innings high, they are comfortable building off that to establish a new high.

    Therefore, Chamberlain’s 2009 campaign in the bullpen does nothing to retard his development as a starter regarding his innings limitations. As to his pitch development, he’s throwing his curveball (~7%) in the bullpen almost as frequently as he did as a starter (~9%) in 2009.

    The Yanks only had three options regarding the roles of Chamberlain and Hughes this season: Chamberlain in the MLB rotation and Hughes in the AAA rotation; Chamberlain in the AAA rotation and Hughes in the MLB rotation; Chamberlain in the MLB bullpen and Hughes in the MLB rotation. Considering that Chamberlain’s campaign in the bullpen this season has not affected his innings limitations or pitch development, which of those three benefits the organization both in 2010 and beyond?

    Brian Cashman said that Chamberlain is a “starter in the bullpen” and “we finished off [Joba’s] development program.” All things considered, the Yankees made the right move regarding both Chamberlain and Hughes. In my opinion, nothing that has happened in 2010 lends credence to the sentiment that Chamberlain will not be a rotation candidate down in Tampa next spring.

    • Anthony says:

      7% of 70 innings pitched is much less curve balls than 9% of of 160 innings.

      • Stephen R. says:

        Is this a serious point? Or a joke?

        • Anthony says:

          He said that Joba is throwing almost the same number of curveballs this year as last year so the development of the pitch isn’t being affected. Which is false.

          • Stephen R. says:


            “As to his pitch development, he’s throwing his curveball (~7%) in the bullpen almost as frequently as he did as a starter (~9%) in 2009.”

            See, when someone refers to frequency and percentage, you can rest assured that he’s referring to rate. Not quantity. Quantity and rate are two different things. So, he didn’t say that Joba is throwing “almost the same number of curveballs this year as last year”. He said that he’s throwing the curveball at the same rate that he threw it last year. Which would make your contention false.

            • Hold on, doesn’t Anthony still make a valid point, though? I think you’re jumping down his throat a bit prematurely. Joba is throwing fewer curves due to his position in the bullpen instead of in the rotation. That’s a perfectly valid point when discussing the effect of putting Joba in the bullpen instead of in either the MLB or AAA rotation in 2010, no?

      • Jamal G. says:

        Shit, I meant to include ‘rate’ in there. My bad.

    • CS Yankee says:

      I think it does hurt his pitch development. The big thing that everybody loves to talk about is his fastball but neglect to talk about his other three plus pitches that seperated himself from the pact.

      I still see him as a power starter similar to King Felix, he may never get there and might be cursed with injury concerns (real or unreal) from the front office. He is a high risk-high reward type of arm that is throwing only heat and sliders for the most part and those two pitches are easier for a batter to “wait on” versus a heater/changeup duo that most closers employ (Hoffman, Krod, etc.)

      In the pen, pitcher’s seldom throw more than two pitches and your percentage of pitches thrown is unreal due to his outings as a MRP is like 15-30 PC versus a 80-110 PC limitation for a young protected starter.

  15. Jacque says:

    I don’t think anyone sees javy coming back next year. So that leaves us with 4 starters, including Andy. I think it’s 50/50 Andy retires. Probably 50/50 we sign Lee, odds increasing or decreasing depending on what Andy does. But unless Andy stays AND we sign Lee, we are going to have an opening in the rotation and I think the Yanks will Joba every chance to win that job.

  16. Ross in Jersey says:

    This is kind of nitpicking buuuuut…

    Still, none of his numbers or the results scream out “failure” as a starting pitcher

    He has a 1.480 WHIP as a starter, which to me does scream failure. You mentioned how he walked too many guys, but you conveniently left out the number. He’s walked 101 batters in 221 innings as a starter. Combined with hits and HBPs, he’s allowed 344 baserunners in 221 innings. That doesn’t scream failure to you? He’s struck out an impressive 206 batters as a starter, but with all the walks his K:BB stands at a poor 2.04.

    Now, just to be clear, I don’t think this invalidates any of Ben’s points. I think Joba could be better than those numbers, and he’d be a better option than Moseley or probably even Vazquez at this point. But let’s not act like his stint as a starter was some kind of misinterpreted success. Can he be better though? Sure.

    Personally I hope he stays in the bullpen because WFAN is all I have to entertain me at work, and hearing “DA JOBBER IS A RELIEVAH” a million more times is bad for my health.

    • He has a 1.480 WHIP as a starter, which to me does scream failure.

      If Joba accumulated that 1.480 WHIP as a 28-year old starter in the NL West, I’d agree with you, that’s a failed starter.

      He accumulated that 1.480 WHIP as a 22 and 23 year old starter in the AL East. That’s not a failed starter, that’s a young starter with promise experiencing normal growing pains.

      Go take a look at Jon Lester’s WHIP during his age 22-23 seasons. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

      • Ross in Jersey says:

        Yeah, he was pretty bad then too. Was Lester viewed as a successful starter in those years? Didn’t think so.

        I didn’t say Joba couldn’t be good in the future. He could be very good. I was just saying, let’s not try to twist his numbers into something they weren’t. He was bad. He could be a lot better going forward, he certainly deserves the chance to try.

        • You’re equating “failure” with “non-successful”. Those terms are not mutually exclusive. Joba can be a non-successful starter without being a failure.

          But you’re also wrong, Joba wasn’t even “non-successful”. He was a successful starting pitcher.

          His ERA as a starter is 4.18. A 4.18 ERA in the AL from 2008-2009 is right around a 100 ERA+. Frankly, from a 22-23 year old starter, that’s a success.

          Neither Joba the starter of 2008-2009 or Lester the starter of 2006-2007 were “great” or “dominant” or “excellent” starters, but they damn sure weren’t failures. Lester’s 1.566 WHIP was ugly, but he was still a 102 ERA+ pitcher. Joba’s WHIP and ERA+ are pretty identical, and that’s before he imploded at the end of 2009, dragging his numbers from “stellar” to “average”. Not only is that not a “failure”, it’s a success. They’re both better than league average starters in the toughest division in baseball at age 22 and 23.

          If that’s “failed” or even “non-successful”, I think your standards are a bit too high. Getting league average starting pitching in the AL East from a kid who can’t even rent a car is a success.

      • JGS says:

        Josh Beckett, age 22-23: 1.302 WHIP in the NL
        Jon Lester, age 22-23: 1.566
        Zack Greinke, age 20-23: 1.365
        Johan Santana, age 20-23: 1.492 (all the while while bouncing around the bullpen. Johan didn’t become a full-time starter until his age 25 season in 2004, when he won the Cy Young)
        Greg Maddux, age 20-23: 1.372
        Roy Halladay, age 21-23: 1.710 (his 2000 season is the only season in history in which a pitcher threw at least 52 innings with an ERA over 10)
        CC Sabathia, age 20-23: 1.332
        Felix Hernandez, age 20-22: 1.366 (this is cherry picking–leaving out his solid 84.1 innings as a 19 year old, and leaving out his age-23 season when he went into King Felix mode. The point is, he had his growing pains too)

        Young starters who come out dominating Clemens-Lincecum-Strasburg style are very very much the exception

        • Chris says:


          Lincecum had a 4.00 ERA and 1.278 WHIP in the NL West in his age 23 season.

          Clemens had a 3.78 ERA and 1.273 WHIP in his age 21-22 seasons.

          Strasburg is going for TJ surgery.

          Doc Gooden had a 2.28 ERA, 1.045 WHIP, and 9.0 K/9 in his age 19-21 seasons. From age 22-29, he had a 3.52 ERA, 1.243 WHIP and 7.1 K/9 (the K/9 actually dropped off in his age 21 season).

          The bottom line is that young pitchers that explode out of the gate generally don’t have good long term prospects.

          • JGS says:

            Well, Lincecum has had a bit of a hiccup this year but has been generally good (heck, in a vacuum he is having a pretty good year, but we have been spoiled by his tearing up the league for the last couple of years, so everyone is disappointed when he doesn’t play to our expectations of him. See also Jeter, Derek). Gooden had many issues unrelated to pitching, and the jury is still out on Strasburg–he will still be 23 when he comes back, and plenty of guys have come back from TJ to have successful careers.

            Clemens worked just fine I think

            • Chris says:

              My point is:

              Lincecum didn’t break out until he was 24.

              Clemens broke out in his age 23 seasons after having 2 promising, but unspectacular seasons.

              And Strasburg is obviously still an open book.

              Players that actually had great rookie seasons, or were dominant very young, generally didn’t fare well long term.

              • JGS says:

                to that end, here is the list of pitchers age 23 or younger who put up a 6+ bWAR season since 1980:

                Dwight Gooden
                Roger Clemens
                Mike Mussina
                Jim Abbott
                Bret Saberhagen (twice)
                Britt Burns (I had never even heard of this guy–he pitched for the White Sox in the 80s but was out of baseball by 27 because of a degenerative hip condition)
                Fausto Carmona
                John Danks
                Dontrelle Willis
                Mark Prior

        • Captain Jack says:

          Lester and Johan are left handed and there is strong anecdotal evidence that lefties take a while to develop the control necessary to become a good pitcher. Lester’s stuff has jumped way up recently. Greinke had personality disorder issues and he’s clearly a different pitcher now than he was then. CC Sabathia was just a kid in his 20s, and Felix Hernandez was pitching in the majors where most kids are in college or the minors…I don’t think this is exactly a good point. As far as Maddux? Well…Maddux is the type of player that’s so great that comparing anyone who isn’t on a Hall of Fame career path to him is just plain stupid.

      • Captain Jack says:

        Lester did have that whole, y’know, cancer thing to deal with too.

  17. The good news: Even if there’s no room for Joba in the 2011 rotation, on Opening Day 2012 (after Andy finally retires), he’ll still only be 26 years old.

    Coming into his prime, and with a likely natural opening in the starting 5 (behind a solid CC-Lee-Hughes and an iffy Burnett). Hope: not lost.

  18. mustang says:

    ” The Yankees, it seems, just can’t figure out what to do with Juba Chamberlain.”

    Yes they can he is in THE BULLPEN!

    Whether people can live with that idea or not is on them. Some people obviously still can’t.

    My faith is with the FO at 81-50 they must be doing something right.

    • Ross in Jersey says:

      Blind faith in a FO that has the most money to spend by far is almost as bad as labeling every move as a failure. The Yankees are great and we love them, but they make mistakes too.

    • Fair Weather Freddy says:

      I agree. Joba has been in the bullpen all year with the Yanks showing no signs whatsoever of moving him again. He’s in the pen to stay. Meanwhile, looks like Vazquez and Mosely will switch roles next.

    • The fact that we’re 81-50 doesn’t mean we’ve made the right development choices with Joba Chamberlain. Those two things aren’t directly related.

      • mustang says:

        For the 1000th time Joba Chamberlain works for the Yankees not the other way around. If the FO feels that what’s best for the Yankees is to have Joba in the pen THIS YEAR then so be it.
        Can anyone absolutely say that the Yankees would be better then 81-50 with Joba the starter? NO!
        I can say that they are 81-50 with Joba in the pen.

        If its working don’t fuck with it!

        • Can anyone absolutely say that the Yankees would be better then 81-50 with Joba the starter? NO!
          I can say that they are 81-50 with Joba in the pen.

          If its working don’t fuck with it!

          In 1990, the Boston Red Sox had an 88-74 record and won the AL East for the third time in five years, so clearly we should trust their judgment to trade Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen.


          • mustang says:

            1- So what?
            2- This team is better then 1990 Sox.
            3- You have NO IDEA what Joba the starter would be this year. So how can you say it’s the wrong move?

            Dude, they are 81-50 and 7 games up its really hard to argue with the results.

              • mustang says:

                No you guys are.

                You guys just want to make Joba a starter to prove that you were right along I guess. It doesn’t matter what ANYONE (even his team who knows him the best) says if there is a need for it or not JOBA NEEDS TO START.

                Guys the fight is probably over already.

                • We don’t want to make Joba a starter to prove we’re right.

                  We want to make Joba a starter because it’s the smartest thing for the organization to do. It’s the best way to use our resources. We have a 24 year old kid who is capable of starting and doing it well, and when we have a hole in the rotation, he’s the one that should be filling it.

                  • mustang says:

                    “We don’t want to make Joba a starter to prove we’re right.”

                    Come on dude i have been here from start of the Joba feud i know better.

                    Yes, that might be true, but people with a lot more knowledge and inside information might be thinking otherwise of young Joba.

                    • Yes, that might be true, but people with a lot more knowledge and inside information might be thinking otherwise of young Joba.

                      The fact that the Yankees baseball people have more knowledge and inside information doesn’t mean they’re right by default.

                      The Royals and Pirates clubs are filled with baseball people who have more knowledge and inside information than us humble fans. Does that mean they invariably make the right decision? No, of course not.

                      Did the knowledge and inside information lead us to the right decision on Kei Igawa and Jaret Wright?

                    • mustang says:

                      “knowledge and inside information doesn’t mean they’re right by default.”

                      Never said that they could just be right this time.

                      There track record lately has been real good. Don’t you think?

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    I don’t agree with all of mustang’s points or tone, but it’s also possible that the FO is in fact right or has a larger plan that we are all unaware of. What gets tiring is the insistence that Joba should absolutely be starting this season and it does come across as a stubborn “I was right all along” argument from a lot of people in a lot of the time. Maybe the Yankees have blown his development, but maybe they have their reasons for what they’re doing and Joba will be better off for it in the long-term. Maybe his development would be on the same track no matter what they had done with him. Maybe not.

                    • The Big City of Dreams says:

                      “What gets tiring is the insistence that Joba should absolutely be starting this season and it does come across as a stubborn “I was right all along” argument from a lot of people in a lot of the time.”

                      Yea it does come across as stubborn but so did the countless arguments that he had to be in the pen because no one on the team could pitch the 8th inning. Last yr hughes was put in that role and excelled. This yr they gave joba the job and he struggled. So now robertson has taken over the 8th inning and has performed better than joba. I have always been in the camp that believed he should be a starter. I knew joba could pitch the 8th but I also knew that other relievers could give them the same production out of the pen

        • mustang says:

          It would be a totally different story if this team was fighting for a playoff spot and every one of the replacements were failing badly, i.e. 2008, but they are not.

          • Again, mustang, some of the development mistakes we’ve made with Joba predate this year. And most of our 81-50 success this year has been in spite of Joba Chamberlain, not because of him.

            You’re acting like the fact that the Yankees are 81-50 right now in this current season means the Yankees have done the right thing every step of the way in terms of developing Joba Chamberlain into an asset that helps the Yankees now and going forward, and that’s just fucking ridiculous. An 81-50 record means nothing other than the fact that the team has won 81 games and lost 50. It offers absolutely no insight as to the wisdom of player development decisions about any one player in the organization.

            • mustang says:

              And your acting like if Joba Chamberlain was a starter this year the Yankees would be so much better.

              • That’s right, I am. I don’t think it’s that much of a leap of logic to assume that Joba Chamberlain could be as good as or better than Dustin Moseley as a spot-starter, nor is it a leap of logic to assume that Jon Albaladejo could have been as good as or better than Joba Chamberlain as a situational reliever.

                You refuse to acknowledge that any scenario other than the one that actually happened could possibly be better than this one, and that doesn’t make sense.

            • FL Yankee says:

              “And most of our 81-50 success this year has been in spite of Joba Chamberlain, not because of him.”

              Repeated for emphasis.

    • Mike HC says:

      Cashman has said that he sees Joba as a starter in the bullpen. Does that sound clear to you?

      • mustang says:

        Yes, that’s fine but Cashman also has him in the pen this year if he decides to make him a starter next year I’m all for it.

        • Mike HC says:

          That is the point. They had him in the pen in 2007, a little of both in 2008, starting last year, in the bullpen this year, and with the “starter in the pen” comment, possibly a starter next year. That clearly could not have been the plan, because if it was, everyone should have been fired. Sounds to me that, “the Yankees just can’t figure out what to do with Joba”

          • Ted Nelson says:

            That might very well have been something like the plan. Certainly “the plan” involved Joba pitching A LOT better as a starter last season. I absolutely think the original plan was to use him as a reliever in 2007, or they would have left him in the minors as a starter… sort of self-evident. Plan might have also been to ease him into the rotation in 2008 before giving him a real shot in 2009. Once he struggled a little in 2009 (maybe not for his age, but still struggled for a team trying to compete in the toughest division and win the WS every season) all bets were sort of off. The plan changed, maybe, and might have changed again when Joba continued to struggle in relief this season–had he actually pitched well maybe he would be starting instead of Moseley/Mitre/Nova… though maybe they just didn’t want to stretch out his arm mid-season and it’s tough to claim he could take all their starts when Moseley?Nova started back-to-back games and there are 2 holes in the rotation not one (3 with AJ). I do think the FO is competent enough to at least have a plan. Is it the right plan? We’ll see.

            The Yankees have gotten a valuable relief pitcher at times, which you can argue it better than having a AAA starter the last 4 years. They may not feel like moving between the pen and rotation is hurting Joba’s development. Others disagree and feel like his development has been adversely impacted. Again, we’ll have to see. I do think they’re smart enough to have at least evaluated the situation (not that they’re necessarily right).

            Just as much as it’s stupid to blindly believe the org is always right, I feel it’s stupid to argue absolutely that there is no way they are right in this case.

        • Jorge says:

          which makes the entire point of your original post…..?

  19. CountryClub says:

    This post states a couple of times that Joba’s role is in limbo. But what if it isn’t? Maybe the Yanks have decided, for whatever reason, that he’s a pen guy moving forward. And if so, maybe his greatest value to the team would be as a trade chip.

  20. matthaggs says:

    In a way it’s almost good Joba has underwhelmed in the bullpen this year.

    Who knows how many cutters Mo has left in his arm. If Joba was still blowing people away in the 8th(!) there would be a lot of pressure to leave him in the pen until someone was needed for the ninth (aka the day that shall not be mentioned).

    By not pitching all that great and more importantly having others in the pen out perform him, he may have (accidentally) given himself a shot at sticking in the starting rotation for good (not sure I believe Cashman when he says Joba is a starter in the bullpen).

    Or at the very least, Joba has given all of us a break from 40 billion comments about why he should never move. Win win. Of course he could also start mowing people down for six weeks and it will be like the mediocrity never happened.

    • Dan says:

      The way I see it, this year shows that Joba’s inconsistency last year was more of a general issue, not something related to his role.

      We kept hearing this idea that once he was moved back to the bullpen, “where he belonged,” the often-frustrating ’09 Joba would disappear, and we’d see the dominant setup man from ’07 again. But that didn’t happen; we basically got the same guy from ’09, only out of the bullpen.

      If he can finally work out whatever issues he’s having, he should certainly get another shot at starting.

  21. Beaniedemon says:

    Putting Joba into the pen this year has been the best thing for him as it was for Hughes last year. Ever since Joba hurt his shoulder in Texas in 2008 his velocity has dropped and he hasn’t been the same pitcher. Joba has now been consistently sitting in the upper 90′s now for a few weeks. Something he hasn’t done since he was converted into a starter midseason 2008 before he was hurt. Joba low 90′s as a starter and mid 90′s as a reliever is below avg to avg. Joba mid 90′s as a starter to upper 90′s as a reliever may yet again be dominant. May is the key word. Out of the 8th inning role and spotlight, he seems to be finding himself again. Leave him alone till next year and let him compete for the 5th spot then. The velocity comparison is the same for Hughes, which I why he is coming closer to his potential now.

  22. nsalem says:

    Joba’s woes are due to being in an organization where failure is not an option. It’s no mystery, if the Yankees weren’t desperate for the bridge to Mariano back in ’07 he would have spent the rest of ’07 and probably ’08 developing as a starter. In our must win every year environment we only have the patience to let one youngster go through the growing pains that most pitchers experience in their development.
    We chose Hughes, I wish Joba was able to assume a Mendoza or Aceves
    type of role so he could be stretched out and be able to do short relief, long relief and start. This however is apparently a unique talent unto itself which Joba does not possess. I think he is a valuable bullpen piece and will be used that way for the remainder of his Yankee career. I hope he does well in it. On most other teams he may very well have been a successful starter by now.

  23. j_Yankees says:

    Talked about Joba a couple of weeks back on twitter.

    I still contend that if the team’s longterm outlook for Joba Chamberlain is as a set-up guy in the bullpen then they need to look to trade him in the offseason while he still has some value.

    and yes, he still has value. He was, by many accounts, the center piece of the Dan Haren talks just weeks ago. Back to last offseason he was talked about in Doc Halladay rumors. There is still value there. Value that can be used to help the team acquire something for useful then just a bullpen arm.

  24. I say this light-heartedly, I just find some of this funny…

    Joba should be in the bullpen because he was awesome in the bullpen a few years ago, and because he’s not so great in the bullpen this season so we shouldn’t think he’d be good as a starter… So Joba should be in the bullpen and not the rotation because he’s been good, and because he’s been not so good, as a reliever.

    Joba being in the bullpen in 2010 is a sign that he’ll be in the bullpen for as long as he’s a Yankee, while Joba being in the rotation in 2008 and again in 2009 was not a sign that he would be a starter for as long as he’s a Yankee… So Joba will definitely be a reliever forever even though he didn’t remain a starter forever when he was a starter.

    The Yankees are 81-50 with Joba in the bullpen, so Joba should remain in the bullpen, but the Yankees going 103-59 and winning the World Series during a season in which Joba made 31 starts didn’t mean Joba should remain in the rotation… So the Yankees’ success with Joba in the rotation is irrelevant, but the Yankees’ success with Joba in the bullpen means he should stay in the bullpen.

    I mean, maybe I’m losing my mind… But absolutely none of this makes any sense, does it?

  25. Yank the Frank says:

    Jobas starter/reliever personality disorder started when he was so successful when he first started coming out of the pen. He was a raging bull. The thought that he was Mo’s heir apparent took root. As much as I hate to think it, Mo will not be around much longer. Maybe Joba can still be groomed to be the next closer.

  26. Centaur of Attention says:

    Joba is no good as a starter. Even Mitre and Nova have performed better than him.

    /Mike Silva’d

  27. Anthony says:

    I still can’t forget that stretch after the all star break last year where Joba was dominant for a stretch of time and think that he could pitch to that ability again if given time as a starter.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Yea he was pitching well until the joba rules kicked in and he went on track. It’s crazy how many fans overlook that

  28. larryf says:

    Trade him. Look at the mechanics in that pic. Awful….

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.