Nov
17

Joba, Ivan Nova and the fifth starter

By

Oh, hey. It's Joba again. (Andy King/AP)

For the last four seasons, we’ve watched the Yankees attempt to figure out what they had in Joba Chamberlain. He was the 41st pick of the 2006 draft, and the Yankees expected big things from him. When the team had the Big Three — Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy — all on the way, Chamberlain was the one with the highest ceiling who profiled as a true ace.

For a little while, in 2008, he got there. He had a sub-3.00 ERA as a starter when he was just 22 before a shoulder injury robbed him of his velocity. He struggled through 2009 and was then toyed with by the Yanks as he neared an innings limit. He spent 2010 in the bullpen where his velocity and strike outs returned but his consistency did not.

Now, it seems that the Yankees are content with sending Joba to bullpen for good. “Joba to the pen,” Yanks GM Brian Cashman said to reporters yesterday. “We made that decision after spring training. We’re not looking to put it back. We told him in the spring, you’re a reliever now. That’s it.”

That’s it. It’s all over. Joba will be a bullpen while the Yanks, as Chad Jennings reported, now consider Ivan Nova to be a potential rotation candidate. For those of us not privy to the Yanks’ internal conversations and who are inclined to take Cashman at his word, this is quite a development. The team is giving up on a high-ceiling pitcher after he struggled thanks to their kid gloves and inability to chart a clear path or at least so it seems.

As I come to terms with this decision, I realize Joba the Starter has become my Moby Dick. I want the Yankees to believe they can turn a guy who they considered to be good enough to be a first-round pick (and who would have gone higher but for some health and signability concerns). I want to see the Yankees turn the promise of Joba into results as they deal with the looming departure of Andy Pettitte, the decline of A.J. Burnett and a thin free agent class. But that’s not what happened.

What’s going on here? The team can’t actually consider Nova a better option. Compared to Joba, Ivan Nova is small beans. He had a just a 5.6 K/9 IP in 2010 and a poor walk rate: 3.6 BB/9 IP. Generally effective the first two times through the order, Nova couldn’t handle a third trip through the starting nine, and players in their third plate appearances of the game hit .400/.531/.480 against him. He’s a work in progress, and his ceiling is far lower than Joba’s is today.

So I have four theories:

1. Player Failure: It’s quite possible that the Yankees watched the Joba progress and determined that he just couldn’t make it at the Major League level. They looked at 2008; they gave him a second chance in 2009; and he failed. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a high-ceiling pitcher failed to reach the sky. But I don’t buy it, and that brings me to…

2. Team Failure: The Yankees watched Joba progress and didn’t give him enough time or had a set plan. They had too many layers of kid gloves on, and Joba couldn’t withstand the yo-yo of the bullpen shuffle. It also wouldn’t be the first time a team couldn’t figure out how to bring up a top pitcher.

3. The Next Mariano: But maybe it’s neither player nor team failure. Maybe the Yankees just think Joba profiles better in the bullpen. They know that Mariano Rivera isn’t going to pitch forever, and they believe this deal Mo signs this winter will be his last. They need a replacement for him ready to take over at a moment’s notice, and Joba is the heir apparent. He has the mentality to be a closer and the stuff as well. That Joba might be nearing free agency by the time Mo retires isn’t much of a concern to the Yanks who have the resources to sign a reliever of Joba’s potential caliber.

4. Health Concerns: Finally, it’s quite likely that the Yankees simply know more than everyone else about Joba’s shoulder. Again, it wouldn’t be the first time a potential starter has moved to the pen due to health concerns (See Papelbon, Jonathan), and the Yankees would rather get their 70 bullpen innings out of Joba every year than an injury-plagued 120 starting. After all, they can keep Joba healthy over a full season out of the pen, and it’s much easier to replace an injured reliever than it is a starter.

Ultimately, that’s it, as Brian Cashman said. Joba tantalized us a starting pitcher, and now he’s going to serve as a key part of the Yankees’ bullpen. He can still be an impact player in the late inning, and if the club is willing to move forward with players of lesser caliber in the rotation, I’ll just believe they have that reasons. The alternative is simply too unpleasant to contemplate.

With that, I’ve said more than my share on Joba. Unless the Yanks trade him or he becomes news in his own right, River Ave. Blues is through with this starter/reliever debate. You know where we stand, and you know where the club, better informed than us, stands. And so it goes.

Categories : Pitching

211 Comments»

  1. gc says:

    If that’s their official stand, then trade him NOW. We’ll be able to find bullpen arms down the road. We may as well get whatever value we can for him, because you have to know that SOME other teams would consider giving him a shot at their rotation.

    • Rob says:

      Exactly, but why would any team value him as a starter in a trade? The Yankees clearly don’t.

      Though even there someone like Maybin would have been very, very nice.

      I’m really beginning to detest Cashman all over again. The one thing he promised was developing pitching. How’s that working out?

      • gc says:

        Aaaaand he’s off!

        (getting my popcorn)

      • OldYanksFan says:

        Let’s not hate Cashman yet. He fought HARD to hold onto Phil and Joba. This has to be a case of the Yankees knowing something we don’t.

        Cashman is no dummy.

        • Rob says:

          BFD. He fought hard for a 5th starter and a middling bullpen arm. Awesome.

          Keep thinking that Cashman is smart or a “ninja”. Hic record on the pitching front shows he’s an utter moron. He fucking defended Pavano to the bitter end and he’s doing the same with Burnett. Need I mention all the slop in-between.

          I’m done trusting Cashman. He said they were committed to developing their own pitching. It’s now been four seasons since. How’s that looking? A homer prone 5th starter and a bunch of bullpen arms doesn’t cut, especially not when they’re bringing in Burnett and Vazquez and CHoP. It fucking schizo is what that is. $30 million last year for that slop. I expect more of the same this year. Awful

          • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

            just to be clear, you’re referring to Phil Hughes as ‘a homer prone 5th starter’?

            • Rob says:

              15 homers in his last 75 innings sounds good to you?

              Would you rather I highlight the fact that he hasn’t improved at all since when he first came up?

              • Chris in Maine says:

                So lets just disregard the fact that it was his first full season in the majors and that he pitched a career high in innings… Any rational person would have expected a regression in the second half due to these factors. So stop talking about the second 1/2 of the season, it really has no merit when not put into a realistic context.

                • Rob says:

                  So let’s ignore all evidence to the contrary? Many, many decent pitchers don’t regress. Meanwhile, Hughes first season he performed exactly as he did in 2010. This isn’t a pitcher who is developing.

                  A realistic context doesn’t mean ignoring reality.

                  • Chris in Maine says:

                    Yet that is exactly what you are doing. His reality was that he pitched 40-50 innings over his previous career high, and it was his first full year in the bigs as a starter. Innings pitched and exhustion are huge factors. To disregard them yet focus on a small sample of his career is ignoring Phil Hughes’ reality.

                    • Rob says:

                      Ummm, Hughes started to suck in May with less than 40 innings pitched. But sure, ignore everything bad as exhaustion. Sure.

                • EuroMatt says:

                  ….Also,let`s not forget the “Spring training 5th Starter”…(“do or die”!!!) …Competition”!

                  Having to pitch in Spring training for your life- (-lyhood)plus the 2 playoff rounds takes an immeasureable physical and mental toll on anybody!

          • BaltimoreYankee says:

            Your use of the word “fucking” is completely unnecessary and offensive. You’re not reviewing a porno movie here.

          • Chris in Maine says:

            Remember, you don’t want to be a “Rob.” No one likes a “Rob.”

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “He fought hard for a 5th starter”

            This is why no one takes your comments seriously and gets so annoyed with your comments. You have shown that he is a league average starter. League average would imply 3rd starter, not 5th… You make some decent points, but then undercut yourself with ridiculously irrational comments and just going out of your way to bash Cashman like a troll.

            “He fucking defended Pavano to the bitter end”

            A. Considering how Pavano has come back, is that an insult? I would say it’s a complement…
            B. If there’s no trade market for the guy, what else is he supposed to do? Trash him to the media? That’s real classy…

      • The Big City of Dreams says:

        “Exactly, but why would any team value him as a starter in a trade? The Yankees clearly don’t.”

        The M’s didn’t see Morrow as a starter after they bounced him between the pen and rotation. Maybe another team will have the same thought process

        “I’m really beginning to detest Cashman all over again. The one thing he promised was developing pitching. How’s that working out?”

        You gotta love Cashman when ever a player performs well he pats himself on the back but the minute they don’t it’s almost like the kid performed an act of treason. He loves Hughes right now but it was clear he had fallen out of favor with the Yankees after his 2008 season. They really began to question if he was ever going to live up to the hype

    • Ty says:

      Complete agreement. If he is not going to start he should be moved while he still has value. while he could be a good (or even great) reliever, nobody will ever replace Mo. to hold on and pray for joba for 2-3 more years for him to be the next coming of Mo is risky. I say let him train to be a starter and compete for the number 5 role as he did last year. maybe he shocks some people. and if he cant do it (because of pressure or consistancy) do you really want someone who cant start in spring training to have the ball in the 8th or 9th inning with the game on the line?? i love joba, and hope he works this stuff out but it is rediculous to think that if they cant trust him to be a 5th starter (something the yanks have left to rookies and veterans on minor league deals in the last few years) then do you really believe he can replace arguable one of the most dominating pitchers baseball has ever seen???? I say let him start, if that doesnt work send him to a team like Oakland who may be able to turn him around and can give you a major league ready arm and some prospects in return.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        You are completely ignoring #4 on Ben’s list… *If* his shoulder is vulnerable after getting injured a couple years ago, is it really the right move to push him until he blows it out completely?
        Maybe this isn’t the case, but if you haven’t gotten an expert’s opinion on his medical records I also wouldn’t assume it’s not the case.

        He also doesn’t have to be Mo. The Yankees just need good relievers. Their bullpen wasn’t that good before Wood arrived and was downright awful against the Rangers. If Joba can improve in the pen, that would be huge. If he can’t improve in the pen, would be really improve as a starter?

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          “He also doesn’t have to be Mo”

          That’s why he was put in the pen to replace Mo. He has to be Mo because if not then what’s the point of keeping him around. The debate was never back end starter vs. 7th inning guy it was ace vs. closer. Why keep a kid around to pitch in middle relief when there are also more than enough candidates to fill that role.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Mark Texeira was brought in to replace Jason Giambi and to a lesser extent Andy Phillips… does that mean he has to be those guys to replace them??? No. Replacing someone doesn’t mean you have to be them. Two very different things. Replacing professional athletes happens every season, identity theft is a crime…

            “The debate was never back end starter vs. 7th inning guy it was ace vs. closer.”

            Not every prospect lives up to expectations. Because of the way Joba has pitched the last two seasons the debate has changed. It’s hard to just say he has no responsibility for his own performance. The Yankees handed him the 8th inning role last season, not the 7th. He was demoted as the season wore on because he was pretty bad.

            “Why keep a kid around to pitch in middle relief when there are also more than enough candidates to fill that role.”

            A. I don’t think the Yankees have many candidates. Robertson and………………… no one else………………. yeah.

            B. If he can’t cut it in relief, why keep around a starter who can’t pitch? If/when he starts performing we can wonder why he’s being held back. Until then, he’s got to suck it up and make the most out of his situation. Show up to camp in top shape. Dominate out of the pen. If he does his job the Yankees have no choice but to let him pitch. At this point, he’s pitched his way towards mediocrity.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              My mistake, not Andy Phillips in 2008. Just Giambi.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              You don’t have to be those guys but you have to either sustain or exceed their production. If you’re replacing a mediocre player and you’re a good/great player ppl expect you to put up better numbers. If you’re replacing a good/great player based on you’re ability they expect you to maintain the production the former player gave the club. Bard is expected to replace Pap as the closer do they expect him to perform worse no they expect him to do better than Pap is right now.

              “A. I don’t think the Yankees have many candidates. Robertson and………………… no one else………………. yeah.”

              It’s not like they are going to go into camp with just D-rob.

              “At this point, he’s pitched his way towards mediocrity.”

              More like he’s pitched himself off the team.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            You do realize that Mo is the greatest relief pitcher ever to play the game, right? At best a once in a generation talent, and maybe a once ever talent. There may never be anyone else as good for as long.

            Part of the reason Mo made an amazing career reliever and might have been more valuable there than as a starter was his size and stuff. The Yankees recognized that they had an elite reliever or a mediocre starter. One could argue that Mo would have been more valuable starting, but the Yankees made their choice and didn’t look back. I don’t think they regret it. They seem to have made a similar call with Joba. So far it’s not working out as well. He had every opportunity to dominate as the Rivera to Rivera’s Wettland, and failed. With a dominant 2010 from Joba, maybe the Yankees even push Mo out the door or urge him to only take a 1 year deal. Since Joba didn’t have a very good season, though, they have no replacement.

  2. I’m tired of discussing Joba too. Isn’t it possible that, despite the kid gloves, Joba just isn’t as good as his early 2008 and overall peripherals suggest? Blame it on injuries, or the Yankee (mis)management of him, but every time Joba is trusted with any kind of role he fails. He’s still young, and it’s a shame he won’t get a chance to be a starter with the Yankees again, but it may be just they’ve lost confidence in him and feel his arm in the bullpen is the best way to use him right now.

    • Jimmy McNulty says:

      Yeah, when they handed the job to Hughes outright in 2010 it was pretty obvious that they lost all confidence in him. For their few shortcomings the Yankees seem to be a well ran organization that wouldn’t fuck this up. Perhaps the way his stuff flattened out in 2009 lead them to think this.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        “Yeah, when they handed the job to Hughes outright in 2010 it was pretty obvious that they lost all confidence in him.”

        This whole article was about not wildly jumping to conclusions with nothing to back you up… which is largely what this whole site is about…

    • Rob says:

      The kid got 88 innings in the minors. And still he put up league average numbers as a starter. Can you point me to the last pitching prospect that did that after so little preparation?

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        You called him a middle reliever earlier…what the fuck is the matter with you? You can’t have it both ways, either he’s a piece of shit middle reliever or he’s a starter that Cashdummy fucked up in the minors and proof positive that Cashman is a big fat stupidhead that can’t even hold Theo’s pocketprotector.

        • Rob says:

          Let’s see if you can maintain two thoughts in your head simultaneously:

          1. Joba WAS a league average starter with little mL preparation.

          2. Joba IS a middling relief pitcher with way too much name recognition.

          As to Theo, all I know is the Sox drafted Buchholz and Lester in the same slots that the Yankees draft. How has that worked out for them? It’s an EASY comparison.

          • Jimmy McNulty says:

            Yes, teams get lucky. Albert Pujols was drafted in the 14th round, Mike Piazza in the 40th, Jorge Posada pretty late too, and others. Clay Buchholz outperformed his peripherals and Jon Lester developed into something fierce. The Red Sox have failed to draft a prospect as good as Mike Trout in the past decade, does that make them a worse organization than the Angels? Great, they’ve developed two starters and yet still managed to sign John Lackey and Josh Beckett to bad contracts. Model organization by any means one can think of, I know.

            But back to your assholery. Joba was a league average-ish starter with little preparation, you’re right…now he’s a middle reliever. How is this the Yankees’ fault and not Joba’s? Towards the end of the season in 2009 he was downright awful and actually below league average. He never really had a “signature start” in 2009, nor did he ever inspire future ace like confidence. In the previous statement, you’re harping on the Yankees from giving up too easily on a guy who was a former phenom…however elsewhere here you’re criticizing Cashman and the organization for not dealing a weak overhyped and overvalued reliever, cognitive dissonance at its best.

            • Rob says:

              Right on cue. Proven wrong on the facts, you resort to ad hominem. How old are you?

              As for Joba, I’ll let you find his 2009 gamelogs for yourself. Suffice it to say, you’re utterly wrong, again.

              • Jimmy McNulty says:

                I called you an asshole, I never said being an asshole precludes you from being right nor do my character or my past posts suggest anything of the like.

                2009 Game Logs, either his start against Cleveland or Tampa Bay were his best starts…in both cases he had an 8 IP 2BBs and 5Ks. Meh. Nothing to write home about.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              “Towards the end of the season in 2009 he was downright awful and actually below league average.”

              The end of the season was when the new rules kicked in long rest, normal rest, long rest, normal rest and then when that didn’t work they started to give him short inning relief starts where he pitched for 2-3 innings and then was yanked out of the game. He couldn’t get the win only losses or no decisions.

          • Chris in Maine says:

            Hey Rob, you forget to mention that Buchy had character issues that teams had concerns with. Additionally, his SO rate this past season is on par with what Wang did in his prime – yet you poo-poo’d the fac that Wand was a good pitcher developed by the Yankees.

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

          isnt that called the fallacy of the false dilemma?

          • Jimmy McNulty says:

            Usually, yes. However, in this case he’s presenting Joba in two ways:

            One, a guy who had fewer than a 100 innings in the minors that skyrocketed to major league success who is now wrongly in the bullpen due to an organizational overreaction to a poor 2009.

            and

            Two, a shitty fat, stupid, drunken middle reliever who can’t even hold a four run lead or go twenty minutes without farting.

  3. Johnny O says:

    “River Ave. Blues is through with this starter/reliever debate”

    Maybe, but the posters won’t be.

    I think Cashman just hired Francessa as a consultant to make this decision a la the Red Sox with Bill James. Some WFAN listeners may recognize him as a frequent caller under the handle, “Brian the Intern”.

    • Rob says:

      Yeah, I’m done with this debate. Just horrible work from the front office. Awful. The worst part is I expect it to continue for the foreseeable future. They have given me exactly zero faith that they know how to develop pitchers. Hard to get excited by the farm when I know the horrid story that awaits them on the big club.

      Just keep spending the money, Cash-man. You suck.

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        Well when you draft in a late spot you tend to not get the pick of the litter. Plus it’s Oppenheimer and Newman that really “develop” the pitching, Cashman oversees it all but he has very little to do (comparatively speaking) with the actual decision making.

        • Rob says:

          Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz prove you, and the Yankees, very, very wrong.

          Meanwhile, you’re saying the final call on Joba wasn’t made by Cashman?

          • Mike Axisa says:

            Again with this? Drop it please, we had the same exact argument yesterday.

            • Rob says:

              Tell the fools that ace pitchers can and are drafted where the Yankees regularly draft. It’s not my fault the village idiots ignore reality.

          • Jimmy McNulty says:

            Yeah, and Albert Pujols proves you can get top 20 players of all time in the 14th round and Mike Piazza proves you can draft one of the greatest players at his position in the last ten rounds of the draft. There are exceptions. Clay Buchholz? Lets let him have a sub four xFIP before we call him an “ace.”

  4. Simon B. says:

    Indications have pointed toward this for a while, so emotions are slightly dulled, but I’m still pretty pissed over this.

    Horrible, horrible. What a complete fuckup. It makes only slightly more sense than the Nats putting Strasburg in the bullpen when he comes back from surgery. He was our Strasburg. Slightly less velocity, yes, but still among the fastest heaters with the best slider in the game and awesome curve that would be featured in most guys repertoires. All that practically down the toilet.

    • JGS says:

      He was our Strasburg

      He was never on the same plane of prospect existence as Strasburg

      • Simon B. says:

        He wasn’t as good, no, but definitely on the same plane. Strasburg’s 2010 and Joba’s 2008 as a starter are very comparable.

        Plus Joba’s third (and fourth if you want to go that far) pitch were better than Strasburg’s.

        • Plus Joba’s third (and fourth if you want to go that far) pitch were better than Strasburg’s.

          What evidence do you have to support this? Comparing Joba’s 2008 to Strasburg’s 2010…

          Runs Above Average:

          Fastball: Joba 8.6, Strasburg 6.2
          Slider: Joba 9.4
          Curve: Strasburg 3.2, Joba -0.2
          Change: Strasburg 3.9, Joba -0.1

          Joba had two plus plus pitches, Strasburg has 3 plus pitches. How does that equate to Joba’s third and fourth pitches being better?

      • Mike HC says:

        Clearly there are differences, but I think there are enough similarities where the comparison is accurate.

        • pete says:

          Not quite; Joba reached the majors in August of his first season as a reliever – he got through two levels starting before being switched at AAA. He showed flashes of good stuff in college, but was never anything close to what Stras was until he came into the major league bullpen. He then seemed to take SOME of that stuff into the rotation in ’08, but not all of it. He didn’t have Strasburg’s control or stamina as a starter.

          By mid ’08 it was looking like he might have near-strasburg potential (Stras wasn’t pitching in the AL East, remember), but that was really the first time you could have legitimately made that observation without it being pure speculation.

  5. Mike HC says:

    Yea, there is really nothing left to talk about on the Joba front.

    I really hope Nova is not going to be our fifth starter though. I have a hard time believing that that is seriously the plan. But who knows what Cashman has up his sleeze? I guess if every team and free agent pitcher is holding his feet to fire, thinking Cashman is desperate for another starter, Cashman has to be willing to walk.

    • Johnny O says:

      I’m guessing the plan is sign Lee or pull of a ninja trade, and the Nova/Noesi/Aceves are in line for the 6th spot if someone goes down. “Nova is our 5th starter” is like “Swisher is our first baseman” from two years ago.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Nova seems to be better suited in middle relief where he can give a team 2-4 servicable innings.

      • Mike HC says:

        My thoughts exactly.

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          Sadly the Yankees really don´t have any real pitching prospects in AAA. David Phelps looks servicable with good control, but he does not seem like a guy that would be much more than a fifth starter like Nova. The real pitching prospects are all in AA and and lower and Brackman won´t see the majors until at least half way in 2011 if he does exceptionally well there.

          • murakami says:

            You’re kidding, right?

            We have three studs in AA, a breath away from either promotion to AAA or from o’erleaping AAA.

            The cupboard is empty in AAA is empty symbolism.

            We’re stacked with pitching prospects – stacked. Whether they’re developed properly or not the rest of the way remains to be seen.

  6. CountryClub says:

    The only reason that truly makes sense is that Yanks have been told that he won’t survive as a starter (health wise). I’ll just assume that’s the truth.

    • Mike HC says:

      Even if they were told that, it does make it true. Personally, I would take the chance that he can start, and if he ended up needing surgery Strasburg style, so be it. And with the success rate of arm surgery’s these days, it is not the end of the world if he did blow his shoulder/elbow out trying to start. Not to mention that relievers need to get surgery all the time too.

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        Elbow is one thing, but the shoulder in a different monster that still kills careers at quite a high rate.

        • Mike HC says:

          Yea. I’m no expert on every type of surgery and stuff. Clearly this is all hypothetical, but I guess if multiple doctors told me there is a solid chance his career would be in jeopardy with a certain type of injury, I would have to take that seriously. I’m still skeptical though.

        • Chris in Maine says:

          Exactly, they can fix the elbow, the shoulder is a whole different story. Too many variables.

  7. YankeesJunkie says:

    2008 Joba>>>>>2009 Joba. In 2008 Joba as starter would start slow with the fastball, but he would consistently hit 93-97 with the fastball, a close to 10 K/9 and a not awful 3.5 BB/9. Then in 2009 he lost his fastball he barely got it higher than 93-94 in almost every start sitting 91-92 and he walked almost a batter more per nine and struck out three less than 2008. It seems apparent that the shoulder injury zapped Joba of his ace stuff and he has not been able to adapt to having less stuff than he used to.

  8. Chris says:

    I’m curious why people still think that Joba would be a quality starter next year? He struggled as a reliever this year, which would tend to bode poorly for his future success as a starter. Is it the tantalizing success that he had in 2007/2008?

    Maybe he’ll rediscover whatever made him so great a couple years ago, but he can do that in the pen as well as in the rotation, and if he continues to struggle it’s much less of an issue in the pen.

    • Rob says:

      His peripherals say he didn’t struggle at all. More innings would show exactly that.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      I’m curious why people still think that Joba would be a quality starter next year?

      I’m curious if ti’s not health reasons why people gave up on him. Or is it too crazy to suggest a young pitcher in the toghest division in baseball could simply improve? Especially when he has no mroe kid gloves on him next time.

  9. Rockdog says:

    Good article, and a very interesting chapter for the Yankees. I have to say that I agree with basically all of it. Joba is one of the only moves that I really do not understand. I hope that the team knows what they are doing, because it is not obvious from the outside.

  10. STEVIS says:

    Why can’t we just move on!
    Best thing we can do is trade him…
    All this banter… hasn’t anyone watched this guy???
    He really is not very good…. probably closer to Bad than Good
    Get Lee and let’s go Yanks in 2011

  11. pat says:

    I think he was cursed by coming up with a more polished young guy in Phil Hughes. Yanks need to compete for the World Series every single year and that is very very difficult when you give two rotation spots to young guys trying to learn how to be starters in the AL Beast.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      The Yankees fucked him over when they tried to move him from the pen to a starter in 2008 which I don´t get in almost any situation with a young pitcher. I´d much rather have seen Joba get 20 starts as a starter in the first four months and go to the set up role for the rest of the year rather than have him in relief till May and then transition him as a starter on the fly.

      • The Yankees fucked him over when they tried to move him from the pen to a starter in 2008 which I don´t get in almost any situation with a young pitcher.

        Phil Hughes 2010 says hello. Maybe Joba being bad has as much do to with Joba than the Yankees management of him.

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          Joba is not guiltless, but Hughes in 2009 went from the rotation to the pen which is what they should have done with Joba in 2008 although closer to end of July than June.

          • Hughes went from the rotation to the pen to the rotation. Joba went from the pen to the rotation to the pen. Why is Hughes capable of doing this, but Joba isn’t? Not that I agree with the Yankee approach to Joba, but I think a large part of it is Joba simply not being as good as we all thought he was. He might have the injury as an excuse, but the point remains.

          • murakami says:

            Guiltless?

            LMAO. These psychotherapeutic terms get dragged in again and again.

            The fact is, the Yankees have given no one a satisfactory explanation on why the door has been shut on Chamberlain the starter. There is every reason for people to cotinue to question that, and I can’t understand why anyone other than Randy Levine would have a problem with that.

            Hell, in my household, we still lament Righetti being turned into a reliever, and I suspect we always will.

        • Mike HC says:

          Phil Hughes was a starter from the get last year.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          Oh yea part of it falls on the shoulders of Joba. He’s not absolved from any of this but he yankees didn’t develop him properly and ppl have to stop ignoring that.

    • gc says:

      Haven’t you heard? Phil Hughes is a bust. Nothing to be excited about at all. Why people go on and on about him as if he’s actually in any way decent is beyond comprehension.

      (So sayeth Rob, Rob hath spoken…)

      • Rob says:

        Please find where I called him a “bust”.

        • Andrew says:

          Oh you don’t call him a “bust”, you just prefer to rip him as a useless 5th starter that is never going to improve and is another example of the Yankees not developing their own pitching. Those are just totally different things. God forbid anyone put any words in your mouth, since you totally don’t think Phil Hughes is a bust.

          • Rob says:

            Please find where I called him “useless”.

            • Andrew says:

              Did you miss the whole point of my previous post? Your exact wording isn’t the be-all, end-all when you’re consistently and irrationally ripping a player over 2 days on all issues tangentially related to him.

              • Rob says:

                It’s only irrational if you ignore 3/4ths of his 2010 season and the fact that he hasn’t developed as a pitcher since 2007.

                Since this post is directly tied to the Yankees developing young pitching, or lack thereof, it’s not a tangent either. Hughes hasn’t developed either.

                • Shaun says:

                  Three 4ths of his season was good. You said he sucked in may, he had a 3.03 era. You get on him because he struggled in the second half, you know the last time he pitched over 100 innings, it was 4 yrs ago. You say he’s bad but the problems with Hughes wasn’t that he sucked it was from over reliance on his fastball and his cutter. he started mixing better and when he did he was great, when he stayed with the FB’s and neglected the change, and curve he got hurt. I have never seen a pitcher get 2 strikes faster than Hughes, he just has to put guys away (something that can be learned)

                  You keep citing pitchers that had a great year as a 1st full season starter, that basically constitutes 5% of all pitchers. What about Halladay, Lee, Lincecum, King Felix, Jimenez, Greinke, Sabathia, David Price, Cain….the list goes on and on. The first through a full season of starts is a painful bout of growing pains. Very few Pitchers come out with a sub 4 era, but they improve because they learn from what failed and how to improve.

    • Rob says:

      Except Hughes got 4 times as many mL starts…

  12. YankeesJunkie says:

    I am starting to like the trade Joba idea and I think Axisa said something like a Joba-Gordon swap which actually does not sound bad for either team. The Royals get a set up man or can move him back to the rotation since he is still young and the Yankees get a super utility player with patience who has ran into bad BABIP into the last two years.

  13. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    For whatever reason Joba has a better potential as a closer. His development may have been mismanaged but so be it. The can throw 95+ has excellent breaking pitches just needs to become confident and better with location. We’ll never (hate the word) see another Mo but Joba could be very good if he can get a grip on his location. Keep throwing him out there 70 times a year and Mo sitting by his side. This should eliminate a setup man for a year or two.

    Its goes with the Yanks budgetry constraints or good use of funds.

    Nova is no option as a starter. He gets rattled with runners on base anf third time through the lineup is a killer. he rimds me of starters of past generations with the big breaking pitch and decent velocity but no get it done repitore.

    • Couldn’t any good starter make an excellent reliever or closer? More often than not, relief pitchers are starters who couldn’t hack it. I don’t believe that there are any type of pitchers whose “stuff” projects better in the bullpen, that’s just a nice way of saying “they’re not good enough to start”.

      Also, I don’t get this mentality about Nova. Joba can improve if he was only given the chance, but Nova is who he is and can never change?

    • Frank says:

      Nova only had a handful of starts. I think it’s a bit premature to say he’s “no option as a starter.”

      • murakami says:

        Joba’s upside is why people want to see him get another shot, primarily because they’ve seen that upside applied with some real success.

        Nova, I think, is better than generally perceived. I can see him and Noesi being guys who can help us. Nova also throws harder than people seem to think.

        I think the disparity is in perceived upside, and Joba has more, that’s all.

    • murakami says:

      Chamberlain can’t repeat his mechanics on a pitch-to-pitch basis. What on earth makes the Yankees think that can be resolved by being in the bullpen?

      This is completely idiotic reasoning, if it is what guides their decisions. It’d be one thing if they think he doesn’t have the stamina/pitching DNA to be a long-term starter, vis-a-vis information they have chosen not to share, but prefer, instead, to cryptically allude to with dumb comments like: “He’ll never be a starter again,” courtesy of the just fired pitching coach.

      But to assume he can get away with a fleeting delivery, or that he can be sneaked on and off the mound in briefer stints, doesn’t bode well for him being any kind of effective reliever, much less a replacement for the Greatest Closer of All Time. And I don’t agree AT ALL that Joba has “a reliever’s mentality,” but that’s another story.

      And the thing is, if they had applied themselves to just letting the guy use some of the options he had before that window closed, he could have been working on that delivery.

      And if he had solved it, why on earth would he be wasted the bullpen???

      The delivery problem was also at the heart of the location problem. Being in the bullpen wasn’t going to obfuscate those issues for opposing hitters.

      The whole thing is a colossal screwup.

    • murakami says:

      No, that’s the Yankees’ version of things.

      There is no universal consensus that he has “better potential” as a closer.

      If Joba could get a “grip” on his location, that would effectively solve the fundamental problem of his illusive talent, which would make him a candidate again to be a starter.

      The location is a product of unrepeatable mechanics, which was to be best solved by another stint with Aldred in the minors – an option that for some unimaginable reason was never explored.

      There’s the rub, and it will continue to be the rub, no matter how much “damage control” is attempted through veiled and facile objective analysis whose point is to make the debate “go away.”

      • harlingtoxad says:

        Absolutely.

        If you want to complain about Joba’s development, that begins and ends with 88 minor league innings.

  14. Kevin M. says:

    His velocity DID NOT return to pre-injury levels in 2010. You’re supposed to be smarter than this so please stop spewing this nonsence.

    • It certainly was better in 2010 than it was in 2009. His average FB velocity was a hair under 95 instead of over as it was in 2008. He’s not going to sustain the 97 mph average he sported in 2007, and it’s quite likely that he peaked velocity-wise at age 21. It’s certainly been known to happen. If he can pitch smartly, he’ll be just fine with a 95-mph fastball.

      • Johnny O says:

        Lincecum used to be at 95 and is just fine at 90-91.

      • Rob says:

        Exactly. A fire-breathing reliever was never going to sustain that. Perfect example where the Yankees jerked him around and so fucked with his development. First, it was “Let go for an inning at a time”. Then they wanted him to conserve his energy to make to 6 innings. Then they told him to prepare as a starter for a lame competition. Then they stuck him in the 8th inning and for too long. Then he was a middle reliever for too long.

        The team has been fucking clueless.

  15. Reggie C. says:

    Joba’s a past consideration. Time to look forward as the FO obviously has done. Assuming one of Pettitte or Lee doesn’t end up with the team, i’d expect nova to pitch well enough to make the rotation. However, i’m sure it’d be a short-lived stint as AAA arms (Brackman, Noesi, and even Phelps) could push an ineffective Nova into middle relief duty.

    Yes. I said Brackman.

    • You might be saying Brackman, but all of the people who have seen Brackman say he still has a bit of a ways to go.

      • Reggie C. says:

        Brackman is alluringly unfinished as a starter. Two seasons of good health and a 140 inning campaign has shown he’s physically capable of handling a starter’s workload. Can’t help but jump the gun in saying Brackman’s a 5th starter in 2011, but … you never know.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Forgot about Noesi, but yeah Brackman could easily get into rotation talks if pitches well in AAA and continues to improve.

  16. MikeD says:

    Benjamin, good article, although the one issue I have is with this statement: “He spent 2010 in the bullpen where his velocity and strike outs returned but his consistency did not.”

    Yes, his velocity increased from 2009 to 2010 as he went from a starter to a reliever. Yet his velocity really hasn’t increased since that August 2008 day when he walked off the mound in Texas. He is still down three mph. Joba-the-reliever in 2007 averaged 97.4, peaking at 100/101. Joba-the-reliever in 2010 averaged 94.6, peaking at 97/98. That loss of velocity probably should allow the batter a fraction of a second more to determine location and if it’s a fastball or slider, which hurts his consistency. For all we know, the shoulder injury may have hurt his command, too. Hard to say.

    I advocated as hard as anyone that Joba should be a starter when he had his A-stuff. He projected as a front-end rotation starter. With his reduced velocity and consistency, he projects more as a back-end starter today. That to me still has more value than a 70 inning 7th/8th inning pitcher, but he’s lowered projections make it easier to accept him in the pen, especially if he can be a closer.

    My guess is Cashman doesn’t even want the hint of a suggestion that Joba could once again be a starter. The media would be all over it, and they may have come to the conclusion that won’t help Joba. So they’re committed him to the pen. I’ll live with it because I no longer think he’s a potential #1 or #2 being wasted in the pen.

    The Yankees have reduced their expectations on Joba. The rest of us need to do the same.

    • Mike HC says:

      Lincecum’s velocity has also dropped from the beginning of his career. That did not all of sudden drop him to back of the rotation guy. A low to mid 90′s fastball is plenty of juice to be an ace. A fastball drop from 97/98 to 94/95 should not relegate a guy to the bullpen in my opinion.

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        He was at 91 and 92 as starter and his offspeed stuff is not nearly as good as Lincecum.

        • Mike HC says:

          His velocity clearly, and undoubtedly increased as the year progressed this year. And I was comparing the bullpen velocities that was used in the original post because you don’t know what Joba’s starting velocity would have been this year, because he did not start. And the Lincecum comparison was to show that a drop in fastball velocity does not automatically mean you can’t get guys out with that pitch anymore.

      • Lincecum doesn’t rely on velocity though, he’s a completely different pitcher than Joba. He’s a fastball/change guy who relies on the difference in speeds between his two pitches and maintaining the arm speed on the change.

        • Mike HC says:

          Fair enough. They are not the same pitcher. My point being, a 93-95 mph fastball is fucking fast. To claim that is not fast enough to start is ridiculous.

      • MikeD says:

        Those are his numbers as a reliever. As a starter, his velocity sat at 92.5. That’s still a decent MLB fastball, but from a righthander pitcher it’s not going to set him apart either. It’s the command of the fastball, and how he uses his other pitches that will determine his success. Pre-injury, Joba’s fastball as a starter was mid-90s, and he could reach back and touch upper 90s if needed. That will get a batter’s attention and will set up his slider and change up. A pitcher with that type of velocity has greater room for error, which is why he projected as a front-end starter.

        He now projects as a back-end starter basically because of command. Roy Halladay’s fastball as a starter is the same as Joba’s. Lincecum’s might be down in that range, too. Yet both are domiant front-end starters because of have great command.

        It’s not fair to expect Joba with his reduced stuff to be a Halladay or a Lincecum. I still would be happy if the Yankees made them their number five because maybe he could develop further. Yet losing a #4 or #5 type starter and gaining a potential closer is not a bad thing. Losing a #1 starter and getting a closer is a bad thing. Since I no longer see Joba as a front-ender, I can live with him in the pen.

        • Mike HC says:

          Your analysis is very fair. I just don’t see it like that. He gained velocity this year. His avg fastball will most likely be higher as a starter next year, than it was in 2009. Plus, you don’t have to profile as a Lincecm or Halladay to be a front end starter. I just don’t see why a fastball dip to 93-95, which is where I would assume he would sit as a starter, automatically puts you as back end. I get you are saying it has to do with control, but why write off his ability to control his pitches as he gains experience and continues to learn his own body on the Major League level. He is just too talented to say that whatever ability he showed as a 23/24 year old, will be where he is at for the rest of his career.

          • MikeD says:

            We don’t disgree at all. I’m just not as opposed to him being in the pen now as I was in previous seasons when he appeared to be a sure #1/2 starter.

            A young pitcher with a 92/93 average fastball, who can still hit 95, who also has a plus slider, a decent change, and a curve he can show, certainly has the arsenal to be a good MLB pitcher. If he could develop greater command and consistency, he could still be a front-end starter.

            My preference is still to put him in the rotation, even if he’s a back-end starter. It is annoying that they never gave him a second chance after they finally had built up his innings, especially since he had decent stats through July ’09. Yet maybe the Yankees know something about Joba’s shoulder or his mindset that we don’t.

            If I was the GM of another club, especially in the NL. I’d be ringing Cashman’s phone every other day to see if I could work out a deal for Joba.

    • B-Rando says:

      If the Yanks moved Joba back to the rotation and he was unable to succeed, then they would be forced to move him back to the pen again. Honestly the Yankees are probably trying to save face with all the mistakes they’ve made with him. Not saying thats the reason they’re keeping him in the pen, but its just another card stacked against Joba.

      • The Big City of Dreams says:

        “Honestly the Yankees are probably trying to save face with all the mistakes they’ve made with him. Not saying thats the reason they’re keeping him in the pen,”

        It might not be the main reason but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s part of the reason. Let’s be honest when it comes to taking heat the Yankees can’t handle it. Let Montero struggle for 2 months and I bet you’ll hear beat writers and hosts say “the Yankees are down on Montero”

  17. Steve H says:

    As a Yankee fan I hope they seriously consider trading him if there is a team out there that still values him as a potential starter.

    As a Joba fan I really hope he does get traded to a team he can start for and at least get the opportunity to fulfill his massive potential as a starter. Even if it’s in Pittsburgh, I want to see Joba taking the mound every 5 days.

  18. Anthony Murillo says:

    Somewhere, Mike Francesa is smiling

    • Jimmy McNulty says:

      Realistically, that’s the worst part about this.

    • Zack says:

      Is he? His claim was that you put Joba in the bullpen so he doesn’t have to think and just throw fastballs and he could be what Mariano was to Wetteland.

      Francesa probably spent 10 minutes on Joba this whole summer, just saying “I still believe he can be an elite closer”

    • I am not the droids you're looking for says:

      Dbag nincompoop that he is. So smug and stupid. Alas. The blind squirrel found his nut.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      A few mins ago on his show “The heir apparent is going to be Joba. He’s going to be in the bullpen where he belongs”

  19. Reggie C. says:

    My final note on the Joba-should-start grave site … I always thought Joba’s arsenal was as good as that sported by Brandon Morrow. Morrow languished in the ‘pen for a while, but found SP success with another team. He’s now one of the Jays’ untouchable young talents. Maybe Joba will travel a similar path to success.

    • Mike HC says:

      I’m sure Arizona didn’t expect Max Scherzer to do what he did this year as well. Same with Garza when Minn got rid of him. There are countless examples. Giving up on these talented young flame throwers is almost always the wrong move even if they don’t work it. The upside is just too great.

      • Zack says:

        Agreed, and atleast ARZ/MIN got value for those guys.

        Any GM that calls about Joba is giving Cashman an offer for a reliever, not a potential starter – even if they want him to be a starter.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          Well Cashman would only have himself to blame since he made sure to completely kill his value as a starter. I still don’t understand the reason behind it

  20. OldYanksFan says:

    1. Player Failure: Nope. Many, mant talented pitchers struggle in their first few years. And Joba’s numbers are on par with Phils. This is NOT the reason.

    2. Team Failure: We have seen this unfold, but still, a cost controlled starter, even a #4, is very valuable. This is NOT the reason.

    3. The Next Mariano: Well… we can dream, can’t we. None the less,a starter is more valuable then a reliever or closer. BR.com is down now, but I don’t believe Joba’s SP/RP splits scream RELIF PITCHER. This is NOT the reason.

    4. Health Concerns: BINGO!
    Joba is simply too valuable as a potential SP to give up on him, unless you are SURE he has absolutely no future Starting. So… either Joba has a permanent ‘disability’ or Cashman has fucked up big time.

    My guess is Joba is trade bait and the Yanks are hiding his injury in the BP, hoping that his rep allows them to get someone somewhat vaulable for Joba.

  21. mustang says:

    “River Ave. Blues is through with this starter/reliever debate. ”

    (champagne bottle popped open)

  22. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Trade him now.

  23. SNS says:

    I think this is one of those situations where we can’t just defer to the organizations wisdom or some intangible unknown information. I think the frustration and confusion is for a valid reason, because the Yankees seem to only be committed the youth movement when (i) the player can have an immediate impact; or (ii) when they can gain some leverage in free agency or trade negotiations. And that doesn’t even get to the most frustrating part of this, which is that it seems like the organization does not have a clear cut method of developing players, specifically players. As long as Joba is healthy (and I assume that he is since he spent the entire year on the ML roster) there is absolutely no reason for them to take this stance, except for the arbitrary position that “We believe he has the mentality of a reliever.” I heard the same stuff about Brendan Morrow in Seattle, and look at what Toronto did by displaying some patience. And the bizarre part about the whole thing is that they have displayed some patience with Hughes, but again it doesn’t appear to be an objective organization philosophy on how to handle developing pitchers. And that is why they spent $18M a year on a horribly inconsistent 34 year old pitcher who gave them 1.2 WAR this year and $10 million on another to give them a -.2 WAR in 2010, as opposed to Joba who had gave them, 1.8 WAR in 2009 as a starter (not impressive but for the approximately $400K they paid him, it was a BARGAIN).

    And now they are once again going back to the same pattern- spending $23M a year on Cliff Lee, at age 32, for the next five years, rather than allowing their young players to grow into bigger roles on the team.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “I think the frustration and confusion is for a valid reason, because the Yankees seem to only be committed the youth movement when (i) the player can have an immediate impact; or (ii) when they can gain some leverage in free agency or trade negotiations.”

      Then why have Hughes and Nova gotten their chances ahead of Joba? That sort of nullifies that point. They also are giving Joba a chance, just in the bullpen. It’s not like he blew people away in the bullpen this season…

      And, if they have the money to buy a better solution, who cares? For example, they didn’t give A-Jax a chance because they could just get a more sure thing starter. Who cares?

      “And that doesn’t even get to the most frustrating part of this, which is that it seems like the organization does not have a clear cut method of developing players, specifically players.”

      This is one of those times where you do have to defer to the organization, because you have NO IDEA what their plans are with players.

      “As long as Joba is healthy (and I assume that he is since he spent the entire year on the ML roster)”

      Your shoulder can be “healthy” but vulnerable… You can pitch through a slight tear, one that could be exacerbated by over-use. If you have the Yankees resources and (theoretically) come to the conclusion Joba’s shoulder can handle 70 IP per year and not 150-200… Why do you push the guy to blow out his arm when you (theoretically) know it’s coming?

      “And now they are once again going back to the same pattern- spending $23M a year on Cliff Lee, at age 32, for the next five years”

      Are you seriously comparing Cliff Lee to AJ Burnett?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Cliff Lee would be a whole lot more comparable to a different FA starting pitcher the Yankees signed that offseason…

      • SNS says:

        1) Nova has not been given anything, he was an injury fill in toward the end of the season, where the playoffs were a foregone conclusion. Hughes development goes to the third point that they have no clear cut plan. Also Hughes, stuggled and then was injured. And they essentially yanked him from the face of the planet, then the following year he comes back as a spot starter and is shifted to the bullpen without any regard to his development as a starter. I acknowledge the benefit he gained from being in the bullpen and gaining some confidence but the year he spent in the bullpen was not for his long term benefit and development, it was for the short term benefit of the 2009 Yankees.

        2) Giving Joba a chance as a starter means allowing him to start. Sending him to the bullpen gave him only one chance- to succeed at being in the bullpen. The real solution was to send him to AAA and allow him to work as a starter. BUT again, it was the short term benefit of the 2010 Yankees that took priority over developing a starter.

        3) His health and his ability to last as a starter is completely speculative. Not to mention, examining the health of pitchers, starters often have a much longer career than most relievers because its well documented that the abuse of throwing on consecutive days can be much more damaging than 200 innings every 5 or 6 days.

        4) How do you not know what the organizations plans are? They have told you and now pretty much set it in concrete. He is going to a middle reliever. And even if they trade him, they just told everyone that they value him as a middle reliever, which inherently reduces his value.

        5) No I am not comparing Cliff Lee to AJ. I realize that Cliff Lee is a top five pitcher right now. But the reality is he is headed into his age 32 season (and as Joe P elaborated on the other day), there is not a lot of wisdom of paying him $23M for the next five years.

        The premise of 2008 and the sacrifices that they made in keeping Joba, Kennedy and Hughes and not pursuing Johan, was to create a new Yankee concept of creating dynastic teams. I understood CC and Tex because they were premium guys that you were buying at age 28. But while Cliff Lee is elite, the age, the money and the years are really not something they should be doing. The hope is that Lee will be good for the first two-three years of the contract and then you’ll be overpaying by a lot in years four and five. And thats the assumption that Lee gets five years. They were somehow pulled into a bidding war for AJ Burnett and they overpaid. Now its obvious they will overpay for Lee, which again is not too far off the philosophy they had back in 2002-2005. I say make a bid on Lee but five years at $115 million dollars is a mistake. Id rather pay him for three and if he doesn’t want that then let him stay in Texas and in turn use the opportunity to plug in a Nova at the back end and potentially one of three B’s can break from AA by midyear and give you another young arm. Free Agent pitching over thirty is where you always overpay, even when you are dealing with elite guys.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          “Hughes development goes to the third point that they have no clear cut plan.”

          I don’t think a clear cut plan means you have to use someone entirely in one role all season and for the rest of their lives. You have to adjust to circumstances, and any good player will do the same. Roger Clemens probably didn’t cry himself to sleep and start to pitch poorly when he had one relief appearance in 1984…

          “but the year he spent in the bullpen was not for his long term benefit and development, it was for the short term benefit of the 2009 Yankees.”

          This is a wild leap… How do you know? He was facing major league batters and working with major league coaches. How do you know that is worse for him than pitching in AAA? There is absolutely no way to say, so you don’t know. Since you don’t know it would be nice if you wouldn’t make wild and baseless claims as if they are fact.

          “Giving Joba a chance as a starter means allowing him to start.”

          They made that decision and don’t regret it. You don’t know why they made that decision. Read the article above again and see if you learn something.

          “His health and his ability to last as a starter is completely speculative.”

          For me and you it is, but the Yankees have seen a lot more of his medical records, his work ethic, his personality, and his actual pitching. They might not be completely stupid and might actually know something about baseball… just speculating there.

          “How do you not know what the organizations plans are? They have told you and now pretty much set it in concrete. He is going to a middle reliever.”

          Yeah, that’s it. Career long middle reliever… If he can’t ascend to a closer’s role and excel out of the pen, there’s very little chance he could have succeeded as a starter.

          “The hope is that Lee will be good for the first two-three years of the contract and then you’ll be overpaying by a lot in years four and five.”

          No. The hope is that he’s a truly elite pitcher and can continue to perform at that level into his mid-30s the way Maddux, Glavine, Clemens, Wells, Pettitte, Randy Johnson, Pedro (to an extent)… pretty much every long-term dominant guy has recently…
          Best case you get 5 very strong years. It’s optimistic, but it’s totally reasonable when you look at the precedent my list above provides. Worst case is that he declines as severally as you suggest by his 34 year old season. That’s not a reasonable expectation.

          • SNS says:

            I did read the above article but I’m capable of forming my own opinions based on what has been presented.

            First:

            “Yeah, that’s it. Career long middle reliever… If he can’t ascend to a closer’s role and excel out of the pen, there’s very little chance he could have succeeded as a starter”

            And thats my point. They took a kid who throws in the mid ninenties and demonstrated a couple of plus secondary pitchers, was arguably their best prospect, rushed him through three levels, paid him over $1M in bonuses to be a middle reliever at age 24. If you believe that has the makings of a wise organization that has a plan and knows how to develop players, then we can agree to disagree.

            And I really don’t know how anyone can say how he would have done had he been given an chance to pitch for 200 innings. You have completely ignored the fact that in 150 innings in 2009 he pitched far better than AJ or Vazquez did this past year, yet that closed the book on him. That is insane. I can’t definitively say he would have succeeded, the point is he was never given a real chance. You on the other hand must work in the front office and know that he would have failed. So I must defer to your expertise.

            Its not about having one specific role, rather legitimate ace starters develop when they are given an opportunity to develop secondary pitches and command. You just don’t do that as a one inning reliever. And it showed this year in that Hughes took a step back in developing and throwing his changeup.

            To me we have enough information in front of us that being a Cashman/Yankee apologist on this issue is simply drinking the Koolaid. They screwed this up. I hope they dont do it again. But the reality is that actions speak louder than words and the philosophy of this organization is not substantially different than it was five years ago. I’m sorry the deference to the Yankee front office is something I understand but its not as if they are running covert ops in the Middle East. There is no secret information that would objectively say he should be a reliever. The bottom line is that they made a subjective decision to take a 24 year old with front end of the rotation stuff and make him into a middle reliever, with the possibility of closing in 2012, perhaps in 2013. And that doesnt even get to the rumor of them spending premium dollars to get Rafael Soriano.

            As for Lee, I understand what the hope is but your precedent is based on the extreme, eseentially comparing Cliff Lee to essentially five hall of famers (on what planet do David Wells and Andy Pettitte get listed with those other guys?). There is a lot of other examples aside from Cliff Lee of pitchers signed at age 32, in the post steroid era. Cliff Lee has been elite for the past three years. He does not have nearly the pedigree or the track record of any of those elite guys you mentioned. Name the last pitcher contract whose term was more than three years that worked out for the team? I can only think of one Mike Mussina (CC is still out for deliberation). Its a basic concept, free agents are being paid based on past performance, baseball players primes are typically between 28-33, therefore when you pay a guy based on his 28-31 years, you are essentially paying top dollar for what anyone would reasonably expect to be a declining product.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              “They took a kid who throws in the mid ninenties and demonstrated a couple of plus secondary pitchers, was arguably their best prospect, rushed him through three levels, paid him over $1M in bonuses to be a middle reliever at age 24. If you believe that has the makings of a wise organization that has a plan and knows how to develop players, then we can agree to disagree.”

              You are ignoring all circumstantial factors, though. There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all recipe. If you want an organization to just ignore a guy’s shoulder injury and tell him to toughen up and not worry about tearing up his shoulder, then we can agree to disagree.

              “And I really don’t know how anyone can say how he would have done had he been given an chance to pitch for 200 innings.”

              Exactly. No one can say. Pretending like he would have done well in 200, but struggled in 70 seems disingenuous at best.

              “You have completely ignored the fact that in 150 innings in 2009 he pitched far better than AJ or Vazquez did this past year”

              When his WHIP was 1.544???? Neither Javy nor AJ had a WHIP that high last season…

              “yet that closed the book on him. That is insane.”

              The WHOLE POINT of this article was that we don’t know what closed the book on him. We don’t know why the Yankees believe he is a reliever. Therefore, why waste time speculating and calling them insane without even knowing why??? I would have made Joba a starter knowing what I know, too. I don’t know everything the Yankees do, though.

              “You just don’t do that as a one inning reliever.”

              CJ Wilson really struggled with the conversion from reliever to start this season… man, what a struggle. All those seasons in the pen really set him back exponentially…

              “There is no secret information that would objectively say he should be a reliever.”

              Yes, there is. Perhaps he had a slight tear in his shoulder that they felt starting would rip further. He did actually, in reality injure his shoulder, that’s not hidden info. The fact that he shows up to camp out of shape and 20+ pounds overweight also doesn’t bode well for his future as a starter.

              “And that doesnt even get to the rumor of them spending premium dollars to get Rafael Soriano.”

              Seriously????????????????? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You’re really going to criticize the Yankees for every rumor you hear???????????? When they do spend money on Soriano, we can talk. The chances of the maybe the best closer in all of baseball coming to the Yankees as a set-up man next season, though? Not that great. If they feel like spending that money and having a $250 mill payroll, though, I don’t really have a problem with maybe the best 2 closers in baseball both in pinstripes. Fine with me.

              “As for Lee, I understand what the hope is but your precedent is based on the extreme, eseentially comparing Cliff Lee to essentially five hall of famers”

              No. You said he’s a top 5 pitcher in baseball. If you look back over the past 10 years, those guys have been among the elite. They’ve all lasted into their mid-30s.

              “(on what planet do David Wells and Andy Pettitte get listed with those other guys?)”

              On the planet where they are/were well above average left-handed starters who continued to have success well into their mid-30s: Earth.

              “Name the last pitcher contract whose term was more than three years that worked out for the team?”

              Again, I have provided a lot of evidence of top, top pitchers who you can acutally compare to Lee. If you want to go and claim that because an average starter like AJ Burnett hasn’t worked out (or whatever other average pitcher you want to throw out there), go ahead.

              “you are essentially paying top dollar for what anyone would reasonably expect to be a declining product.”

              Again, declining to what extent? Declining from an ERA+ of 130 to 110 or so would still mean you have a very good starting pitcher on your hands.

              “He does not have nearly the pedigree or the track record of any of those elite guys you mentioned.”

              I don’t think you understand how good Cliff Lee is. He’s been as good as any pitcher in baseball for the past 3 seasons. Any pitcher in all of baseball. This is not AJ Burnett. This is not 99% of pitchers out there. This is the 1% elite.

              • SNS says:

                I didn’t realize you were on the medical staff of the Yankees and verified this shoulder injury. I must have missed the press release. Did you provide this diagnosis of allowing the tear to heal while he pitches meaningful innings in the bullpen? If he has a slight tear in his shoulder and they are allowing him to pitch then this conversation is over because that would possibly be the dumbest move I have ever heard of. Without a doubt, if you can find one baseball person to say I would let a 24 year old kid pitch with a tear in his shoulder and by moving him to the bullpen to reduce the risk? Yeah that is bat shit crazy. And again, how is your speculation of a possible undisclosed injury “objective.”

                I can’t believe you actually cited his WHIP. And AJ’s WHIP this year was 1.51 for $18M. Thats not getting into the fact that Joba’s xFIP was lower than both of those guys and that metric actually measures the quality of the pitcher.

                As for the free agent pitcher debate, yes the guys you referenced were elite but they werent signed from age 32-37. Of course Cliff Lee could be dynamite but the odds of him pitching this way in the fourth and fifth year are remote. You’ll be paying a premium for past performance and absolutely you don’t pay $23M a year for 110 OPS+. Not to mention the odds of pitchers getting hurt in their thirties is likely if not probably. Its a simple concept, its just a bad investment, yes the Yankees can afford to make bad investments but that doesnt mean the investment itself is not bad. It also doesnt mean that if and when Lee is pitching here I wont be rooting for him and excited when he dominates in 2011. Its two separate concepts. I want my team to be run well, but it doesnt stop me from supporting them year to year.

                As for Pettitte and Wells, you took my comment out of context. If you told me the Yankees could have Lee at the cost they had those two guys, I would sign up yesterday. The reality is you will be paying Lee as if they were Greg Maddux, Pedro and Clemens and that again is a poor business decision.

                As for Soriano, typically where there is smoke there is fire but thats fine if you want to blow it off or accept but again it demonstrates that Joba’s value has been diminished within the organization based on what? To me it should be based on what he gives them on the field, not subjective beliefs about his mentality or potential injuries. While he has taken a step back, he is 24 years old with a lot of talent. And the reality is that he should have been given an opportunity to pitch 200 innings and fine tune his craft. However, and I understand why just dont agree with it, Cashman felt more confidence in bringing in Javy then just letting Joba and Hughes get the two spots in the rotation.

                I am not looking for cookie cutter but I am looking for patience and the ability to develop. Taking a guy like Joba and making him a middle reliever demonstrates none of that. And the decisions to use these guys in the bullpen were decisions made with the short term in mind. Just like the Rangers taking a thirty year old out of the bullpen and making him a starter, which was out of necessity and not with any concern of the long term development of CJ Wilson.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  “I didn’t realize you were on the medical staff of the Yankees and verified this shoulder injury.”

                  Again, my point is that you HAVE TO accept that they Yankees have more information than you and I do. They do. Is Joba’s shoulder a concern? I don’t know. Why are they set on him as a reliever? I don’t know. They do know these things.

                  “f he has a slight tear in his shoulder and they are allowing him to pitch then this conversation is over because that would possibly be the dumbest move I have ever heard of.”

                  Funny because Pedro pitched for years with a slight tear in his shoulder. I played through all of high school with a slight tear in my shoulder. Again, why bother speculating about stuff you have no knowledge of? The shoulder thing is just one example of knowledge the Yankees might have that you and I don’t.

                  “Not to mention the odds of pitchers getting hurt in their thirties is likely if not probably.”

                  Again, the list of elite post-30 pitchers I offered begs to differ. If you have a list of top 2 or 3 pitchers in the game who were work-horses into their 30s and then dropped off a mountain… go ahead and let me know about it. As long as every elite pitcher on our list pitched well into his 30s and even 40s, it doesn’t seem “likely” to me.

                  “As for Pettitte and Wells, you took my comment out of context. If you told me the Yankees could have Lee at the cost they had those two guys, I would sign up yesterday.”

                  Pettitte has been making $16 mill per for his 34, 35, and 36 year old seasons… Lee would be 36 at the end of a 5 year deal… if the Yankees actually sign him and actually sign him to a 5 year deal.

                  “As for Soriano, typically where there is smoke there is fire”

                  Really? The Yankees are going to be connected to EVERY good FA out there at some point. I could fill books with the names of FAs the Yankees were rumored to be interested in who never signed. Again, Soriano is considered the best closer in baseball for 2010… Why is he taking a set-up role?????

                  “Its a simple concept, its just a bad investment”

                  You cannot say what kind of investment it is until you see the rewards. If Lee continues to be one of the best players in baseball, it will be a great investment.

                  “And the decisions to use these guys in the bullpen were decisions made with the short term in mind.”

                  Again, you have no idea what was on Cashman’s mind or anyone else’s and are speculating. That’s the whole point of this article/thread…

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    “Again, my point is that you HAVE TO accept that they Yankees have more information than you and I do. They do.”

                    That does not mean all their decisions are right (clearly, in hindsight they shouldn’t have dealt for Javy… for example). It just means that they may be weighing information we don’t have in coming to their decisions. You’d hope that makes them more accurate. Who knows, though?

                    The problem I have is with people expecting that a guy who struggled in relief would have excelled as a starter… If he showed up in great shape and had a great 2010 season, I would be more inclined to question the Yankees. Since he wasn’t that good as a reliever, I tend to be more sympathetic to their view that he might not have been very good as a starter.

                    Hughes showed up in great shape with improved stuff and an attitude the Yankees liked. He worked all offseason. He largely succeeded. Joba showed up out of shape… his lack of success may not be a coincidence. People who assume Hughes had the job won off the bat might be overlooking the fact that he *may have* won the job through his superior work ethic and by starting spring training with a bang while Joba’s hang-over was still wearing off. I realize that sometime these subjective things can blind a team to a player’s real worth, but sometimes it allows you to realize a guy just doesn’t have the work ethic to succeed in a certain role.

                    If Joba had made the most of his opportunities I’d be a lot more critical of the Yankees. When you have a fat little guy who pitched his way to mediocrity, though, I have to put a lot of that on him.

                    • SNS says:

                      And I will say, this isnt about Joba or Hughes, this is about the development of Joba. And this concept that he showed up out of shape is such a cop out. I think its clear he pitched as well in 2009 as any fourth or fifth starter on this team pitched in 2010. To me that was enough to merit a shot in 2010, especially at the cost. Now all you have to go on is this ridiculous 150 inning season when he was 23/24. Take a look at the most recent post on this website to see how teams should evaluate young pitching at that age. Your ducking the the answer in that Cashman took the easy way out because he ulimately prioritizes the immediate future over the long term future. He had the chance to get Javy Vazquez who wold be a horse and then he could shift one of Joba/Hughes to the bullpen to fill another need. And in the end they made an educated (hopefully) but arbitrary decision that Joba fit in the bullpen better. Whatever the reasoning they had, it was not with the benefit of Joba in mind or the 2011-2012 Yankees. It was because they were willing to sacrifice the long term career of Joba for the immediate reward of having a dominant guy at the back end.

                  • SNS says:

                    All I have to do is pay taxes and die. You can adopt the Yankees front office’s word and actions are gospel for yourself. Give me the last front end ace starter the Yankees developed. Just one front end guy, its not Pettitte. This front office has always bought their pitching. And while they can be good and competitive, the thought process amongst more sophisticated fans is that if they use the money in an educated and wise way, they could become absolutely dominant.

                    All you have done is speculate throughout this entire process. Somehow the Yankees front office has turned into this kabal of secret information that you can somehow blindly refer to and justify any move that they have made. At least to a certain extent my arguments are supported by what I have observed. You’re entire argument is based on this notion that Joba has injured his shoulder and the Yankees have opted to keep it a secret. I mean you must be related to Cashman at this point for that whole premise.

                    Look I hope Cliff Lee is one of those guys but do you know why those guys are so rare? Because the majority, even elite guys in their early 30′s dont maintain that level of dominance. Again, if you are betting on signing Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens (well all ignore the PED factor here), you are not betting with the odds. That is the premise of a good investment. The whole point of this discussion would be moot if we had the benefit of hindsight and seeing how the investment panned out. My point is that I don’t think Cliff Lee is worth a $115M investment and most people would agree with me, as the market for Cliff Lee at that price tag might be one or two teams. That would indicate there are 25-28 other front offices out there who would agree with me that it is a bad investment and thats not even limited to the smaller market teams. Do you know why the Red Sox and Rays don’t have to worry about this discussion because they took the time to develop guys like Lester, Bucholz, Price, Garza, etc..which was the model I thought the Yankees were adopting. I guess I should feel lucky that they have soothsayers like you supporting them and citing to obscure, unconfirmed rumors about Pedro’s shoulder to validate this bat shit crazy and again unsubstantiated concept that the Yankees have let Joba pitch for a year with a torn shoulder.

              • The Big City of Dreams says:

                Ted how does that Kool Aid taste it must be really good since you’re going this far to defend the FO. Judging by what you wrote we have to believe whatever they say even if it’s not stated in public. I have no problem admitting when they’re right but let’s be honest they mishandled this whole Joba situation and when it comes to developing players they exhibit the same thought process that George did. They all love Hughes right now….Hughes is the boy wonder but no one forgets how he became an after thought after the 2008 season. They were high on Keneddy too but look how long that lasted. When they pushed him aside all you heard was he has an attitude problem which he did but where did that come from. They Yankees were they ones that gave him a rotation spot based on a couple of starts in September

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  I didn’t say to believe whatever they say. I said to acknowledge that they might have more information and more knowledge of the game than common fans. Somehow they keep making the playoffs and winning championships…

                  I would also say that even if they let Joba go level-by-level year-to-year in the minors it would not guarantee his long-term success as a major league starter. In order to say that one approach was wrong, you have to know that another approach would have yielded better results. When a player doesn’t make the most of the opportunities presented I have a hard time feeling sorry for them and making excuses. If Joba didn’t succeed as a reliever in 2010, I don’t know that it’s obvious you should give a starting spot to him in 2011. If he killed it all season out of the pen, this would be a totally different conversation. (As I’ve also said, I would probably let Joba compete for a rotation spot if one is open knowing what I know. I don’t know everything the Yankees know, though, so I have to leave open the possibility that knowing what they know I might agree with them.)

                  “They all love Hughes right now…”

                  This is the kind of ignorance that drives me mad… How do you know how members of the FO feel about players on the Yankees? Hughes started all season and had a pretty darn good season. He was an above average starter. Once Andy went down he was the Yankees’ #2 starter. Does that mean they “love” him? No.
                  You are talking about the media and fan reaction to these players, not the FO’s.

                  “but no one forgets how he became an after thought after the 2008 season.”

                  You just contradicted yourself. He was an after-thought, yet they gave him another chance and “love” him… How does that work??? What they did was react to circumstances as they changed. They didn’t give up on Hughes after 2008. They “developed him.” That’s what you’re asking them to do, but you’re too stupid to see it when they do?

                  They didn’t “push” IPK aside… They used him as a key piece of a trade for an All-Star caliber CF in his prime. That’s what you do with prospects you don’t have room for. It doesn’t mean they didn’t like IPK, just that they felt he was more valuable as a trade-chip than starter in the Bronx. Maybe they were wrong, maybe right. We’ll see.

                  • The Big City of Dreams says:

                    “I would also say that even if they let Joba go level-by-level year-to-year in the minors it would not guarantee his long-term success as a major league starter”

                    True there is no guarantee he would have been a young ace in the making but we do know he wouldn’t have been rushed to the majors. He wouldn’t have to live up to the the ridiculous couple of months he pitched as a reliever in 2007.

                    No one is saying that he should be given a rotation spot but why shut the door at this point when you fought like hell for yrs to make him a starter. In 2009 they took every arrow aimed at Joba when it came to him starting but in 2010 they wipe their hands clean and “He’s a reliever that’s it”

                    “Hughes started all season and had a pretty darn good season. He was an above average starter. Once Andy went down he was the Yankees’ #2 starter. Does that mean they “love” him? No.
                    You are talking about the media and fan reaction to these players, not the FO’s.”

                    Wait so Eiland and Cashman didn’t take bows during the season when Hughes was pitching well. They didn’t come out and say he’s becoming the guy we always thought he was. The Yankees were basically doing handstands for his 18 win campaign.

                    “You just contradicted yourself. He was an after-thought, yet they gave him another chance and “love” him… How does that work??? What they did was react to circumstances as they changed. They didn’t give up on Hughes after 2008. They “developed him.” That’s what you’re asking them to do, but you’re too stupid to see it when they do? ”

                    SMH now we get insults from someone drinking the Yankee Kool Aid. The only reason Hughes was given another shot was because he pitched well out of the pen. It also has to be made clear that they didn’t have any intention to have him pitch in relief they wanted to send him down until Phil convinced them to keep them here. The Yankees work on a merit system you do well in any shape of form and you get a shot but you fail then you’re thrown to the side.

                    “They didn’t “push” IPK aside… They used him as a key piece of a trade for an All-Star caliber CF in his prime. That’s what you do with prospects you don’t have room for. It doesn’t mean they didn’t like IPK, just that they felt he was more valuable as a trade-chip than starter in the Bronx. Maybe they were wrong, maybe right. We’ll see.”

                    They didn’t push Kennedy aside lol. He wasn’t even a call-up in September that yr. He was the step child the Yankees didn’t want anymore. It’s funny because when he was pitching well they all talked about how poised and ready he was but when he failed they pulled the plug. I have no problem with him getting traded my problem is the pattern they have developed with their young talent.

  24. steve (different one) says:

    I would say it’s a combination of 1,2, and 4. And prob mostly 4 b/c that’s the simplist and most logical explanation. Occham’s razor and all that. Because even after joba spent the year starting in 2009, they still treated him very cautiously at times this year and no one could figure out why.

  25. Ted Nelson says:

    Very good article. Hit the nail on the head in terms of explaining the situation and drawing a rational conclusion that the Yankees are probably not completely stupid and at least have their reason(s) for putting him in the pen. We don’t know if they are “good” reasons, but there has to some reason(s). Very fair critique.

    How about a closer and late inning relief in general being more valuable to a team that expects it has the stuff to get into the playoffs every season? If you have a 3 or 3.5 man playoff rotation your 5th starter (and maybe 4th starter too) is in the bullpen anyway in the playoffs (or not on the roster) and having a bullpen that doesn’t give up runs is essential. Besides just being the best reliever overall, Mo has also been so valuable to the Yankees because they’ve been in so many tight games and playoff games since he’s been a Yankee (if not his stuff is somewhat wasted consistently coming into games where they’re already losing and probably not going to come back). You have to make the playoffs first, but if you feel good about that the bullpen would seem to gain more importance in the playoffs than a long season.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      “Mo has also been so valuable to the Yankees because they’ve been in so many tight games and playoff games since he’s been a Yankee (if not his stuff is somewhat wasted consistently coming into games where they’re already losing and probably not going to come back).”

      Problem is Joba is never going to be Mo.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        No one is likely to ever be Mo. Mo was not even likely to be Mo. He didn’t even make the bigs until 25 and did pretty poorly that season splitting his time between starting and the pen. The point is that Joba can be an elite relief pitcher. Just like Mo looked like he could be at the time. Is it likely to turn out as well? No.

        Comparing a closer to Mo is like comparing every SG who comes out of college to MJ. Are you just going to give up on every SG who can’t be MJ? Kobe isn’t MJ, so the Lakers should have just never even bothered trading Divac for him in the first place… Makes sense.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          Kobe isn’t MJ but he’s the closes one to him. His talent was raw but everyone knew he had to ability to take it very far.

          The ppl that wanted Joba in the pen believed he would either be Mo or get very close to his performance. If he’s an inconsistent middle reliever what’s the point in keeping him. Right now is Joba even the best 2nd or 3rd reliever on the team?

  26. pete says:

    Joba’s velocity came back to an extent in 2010, but not all the way. Also, his command within the zone was nowhere near where it was in ’07/’08. My guess is it would take at least another year of relief for him to get all the way back to where he once was as a reliever (strictly in terms of elite, dominant results; I think his consistent triple digit fastball is more a pipe dream than anything else at this point, but his command could come back), and by that time his secondary stuff will probably have fallen off so much that it may not even be worth getting him back into the rotation, since it’d likely be at least one year of stretching him out and getting his secondary stuff back before he could really be released, by which point he’d be what, 28? I’m not sure that many people will consider him worth a spot in the Yanks rotation by then, considering the fact that CC and Hughes will be there, Lee may be there, and Banuelos, Brackman, and Betances could theoretically be there (or any other darkhorse), and possibly pitching quite well. I think it’s fair to say that at this point, it may not be worth trying to return joba to the rotation from a purely logistical standpoint.

    What I’m sick of, though, is people blaming this on Cashman, the Yankees, or even Joba. Don’t get me wrong – all of them played a role. I’m just sick of people associating questionable decisions – or questionable work ethic – with indefatigable detriment.

    In hindsight, I didn’t like the way Joba was brought up in ’07, after half a season’s worth of minor league starts. He was nowhere near ready to be a full-time MLB starter (based on innings), but by putting him in the bullpen the Yankees made it too hard to send him back down. Nonetheless, he could have handled a partial major league season, and did. I don’t think that his coming up in ’07 “ruined his career” as a starter, and I think his (brief) success as a starter in ’08 proves that.

    In hindsight and at the time, I didn’t like that Joba was to be transitioned mid-season from bullpen to starter. I understood the argument in favor of getting as much major-league value out of him as possible, and I could even see how starting the year in the bullpen would allow him to more easily get his arm up to full speed without having to labor through the April cold as a starter. But transitioning from reliever to starter is presumably much more difficult and strenuous than from starter to reliever, and I would have preferred his starting the year in the rotation, for health reasons. That being said, this was not the reason for his demise, though I’ll get to why not a little later.

    I don’t like that Joba has been with the major league club – and therefore had access to world-class fitness equipment, trainers, etc. – for four years now, and hasn’t appeared to lose any weight. In fact, he seems fatter (thought that could be the widescreen HD talking). But fitness in the sense of being in a healthy weight range (we have no evidence that he isn’t in decent cardiovascular shape, and my guess is that he probably is in very good muscular shape, at least where pitching is concerned), are only a small part of becoming a good pitcher (see: CC Sabathia). While I suppose it’s possible that the Yankees issued him an ultimatum to lose weight or else not be a starter, I doubt they would hold to such an obviously dumb move. Joba being fat is not why his career as a starter has been derailed. It is because…

    On August 4th, 2008, Joba got hurt. He hurt his shoulder, and in 2+ years since, he still hasn’t gotten all the way back in terms of stuff and command. He went from being promising young stud pitcher to struggling, inconsistent young pitcher with inconsistent (though slowly improving) stuff. He has still not gotten back to the point where he can reasonably be expected to get through a full season successfully as a starter. However, his getting injured in 2008 – the year he was transitioned from bullpen to rotation mid-season – does not indict that transition (though, imho, the poor logic behind the decision itself certainly does). Joba did not get hurt because of that transition (which is not to say he couldn’t have, which is why it was a bad move), he got hurt because he dove on his shoulder to get out of the way of a too-low through from Pudge Rodriguez – a detail that, for whatever reason, constantly eludes this story’s many tellers.

    It’s easy to use hindsight to judge all of the decisions surrounding Joba’s case; with the benefit of hindsight, I can say now that I think the most appropriate course of action would have been to have him start 2008 as a starter, and then, if he went through the season healthily, transition him to the bullpen towards the end of the year, after 100 or so innings. Had he still suffered the same injury, I would have had him start in AAA until he got his command and stuff back.

    But there are legitimate arguments to be made in favor of every single one of the team’s decisions thus far. That they haven’t worked out makes many of them seem more wrong than they actually were in light only of the evidence available at the time of the decisions. I’m not in love with the way the team has handled him, and I’m not in love with the way he has handled himself, but ultimately fate (or Pudge) played a MUCH bigger role than anything or anybody else, including Joba himself.

    And finally, four years later, in the immortal words of Forrest Gumb, that’s all I have to say about that.

    • hogan says:

      Interesting note on how he hurt the shoulder. I didn’t know that.

    • Mike HC says:

      I enjoy your contributions to the site, and know that the extremely long comment is kind of your trademark, but you should really work on being a bit less wordy. Feel free to ignore if you want, but I think more people will read your ideas that way. I mean no offense to you, just a friendly suggestion.

      • pete says:

        I agree that fewer people will read a longer post, and the sad part is that it is the people who more likely won’t read it at whom the longer posts are typically directed. I don’t think I’ve been guilty of wordiness in a long time, though. But I knew writing that that that would be the last thing I’d ever say on the subject, so I wanted to say everything.

        side note: I know that “it” would be a better choice than the third “that” there, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to employ a grammatically correct troika of consecutive identical words.

  27. Jimmy says:

    Can we finally begin the “Phil Hughes for the 7th”/”Phil Hughes as the Bridge to Joba” debate now?

  28. hogan says:

    You cannot state that his shoulder injury robbed him of his velocity. Look at his velocity in September of 2008 when he came back from the injury. It was top notch. It wasn’t until spring training 2009 that we saw drastic velocity declines.

    • hogan says:

      After going back and looking at the numbers again I see I was wrong. Joba as a reliever in May 2008 was pumping mid 90s to 100. He then became a starter that summer and got hurt. He returned in September as a reliever and his velocity hovered between low 90s and mid 90s.

      SO SAD :(

      I am also having a conversation with myself. ALSO SAD :(

  29. Monteroisdinero says:

    Cashman and coaches have more info then we do. Is it a combination of his mechanics, weight issues, ? maturity/demeanor, alcohol?. We will never know it all.

    I agree with those who say give Nova a decent shot at the 5th starter. At least he has a good changeup that he can throw for strikes and has a calm demeanor out there.

  30. KDB says:

    This will never be read by anyone, but it seems to be Yankee policy to dump on young players who take a step back. They made mistakes with Joba, who pays? Joba. Tabata, and Ajax took steps back, whoops! Can’t take a chance on those guys anymore. With the Yankees, it’s put up the numbers we think you should, or we’ll trade you for someone we think will. They tried to trade Montero several times after he started off slow… I know it was for top name guys, but before then, they never pushed him. Now he has to earn his position, quite rightly. How long do they give him before they pull the trigger on a trade down? You’re only safe if you have a big FA contract.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      But yet they ttake bows when the young kids do well the whole sh*t is a joke. If you can’t handle the heat of developing players don’t do it it’s thats simple. They get upset when ppl say all the do is buy free agents well grow some stones and give some kids a chance. If you can’t handle it then stop bitching and just buy every free agent under the sun.

    • murakami says:

      I read it.

      I don’t know if it is irrevocably so, but I think the Yankees have earned your cynicism.

      The way Melancon was used – or not used – illustrates the point well. Just crazy use of the guy. They throw him in high leverage, don’t give him ANY low leverage or even medium leverage, to get his feet wet. Then, the don’t bring the guy in for 17 DAYS, and then wonder why he blows up.

      Just bizarre.

      • The Big City of Dreams says:

        Some of that can be blamed on the player because they have to find it within themselves to get out of a bad funk but you have a point the Yankees didn’t handle Melancon well. Some of that can be placed on the shoulders of Girardi. Mark was labeled an 8th inning guy/closer and Joe felt well since that’s what he’s projected to be why not put him there lol smh. He did the same thing when Gardner was called up and batted him lead off.

        • murakami says:

          I think they had privately decided they did not like Melancon’s sweeping, over the top delivery, so they basically put him in a no-win situation to confirm they didn’t like him. It’s too bad, because he’s a valuable arm. And I’m not sure why, after getting out of that bases loaded situation in Boston (he gave up one inherited run, I believe), he wasn’t brought in again for so long.

          What concerns me is they seem to make snap judgments. It will be very interesting to see how they do with the three youngsters in AAA.

          I thought the WS was a great way to say – OK, we won, now we’re going to layer in some system guys and give them a longer leash. Joba starting in 2010, for instance, over the Javy trade, which also cost them Vizcaino.

  31. Stultus Magnus says:

    Yes, please no more Joba starter/reliever articles. I was completely for Joba being a starter when he came up, now I just want this argument to die, I don’t care where he is or where he goes (if he’s traded). It’s funny how a lot of the commentary seems to be about the Yanks screwing him up because of no defined role. I think that argument is total B.S., many other pitchers have done both and been fine with it as annoying as it may be for the pitcher. Personally, I am sick of seeing him pitch. He loses focus, can’t find a rhythm on the mound, is predictable, and doesn’t trust the fielders to make outs with their gloves and doesn’t trust his fastball (doesn’t take long to go from 0-2 to 3-2 with Joba when he starts throwing his slider 55 feet…).

  32. bg90027 says:

    Clearly there is no current plan to switch Joba back to a starter. Nonetheless, I don’t view Cashman’s remarks as anything more than trying to keep Joba’s role well-defined and not add fuel media speculation. Do people really think that if the Yankees don’t sign Lee and Pettite retires and they can’t land a top of the rotation starter via trade that there wouldn’t at least be an internal debate about switching Joba back to starter? If there wouldn’t be then they do know something we don’t.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      They might debate itbut then it would get shot down because someone would say if we switch him again the media and fans will complain and we can’t handle the criticism so let’s not do it

      • murakami says:

        BC of D, that may be so and that’s just frightening.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          Yea it is frightening…now some of their apprehension is because of location. This is NY where you have yo put up or shut up. It seems like more ppl are catching onto them not having the patience to develop from within. Sure more guys get a shot now than they did when George was in control but the lack of patience is still the same.

  33. OldYanksFan says:

    SNS – Do you believe Joba has a physical problem the Yanks are aware of? Or is he OK and the Yankees are just making a (bad) choice? Or do you believe in a 3rd alternative?

    • SNS says:

      I dont know how you can argue that they have him as the next Mariano since they had him relegated to the fifth inning this year and there are rumors that they have reached out to Rafael Soriano.

      I don’t believe there is a physical issue because if there were a physical problem I don’t believe he would be pitching. I also see no evidence and have never heard of a pitcher being healthier in a reliever role than as a starter. The concept we heard back with Papelbon is that someone with a sensitive arm is more likely to injure himself when he has to pitch on consecutive days, as opposed to allowing for four days to let the arm rest and heal. Thats not science but conjecture, the objective proof is typically relievers careers are shorter.

      I believe they made a bad choice based on some of the reasons people have listed here- maturity, reduced velocity and judging his overall mentality. All things that I think are a product of poor decision making. I think its pretty well established that in order to develop good young pitching you need to have patience. I think the decision with Joba is the epitome of a bad decision caused by impatience. I think all of the rationale that has been cited is subjective. Every pitcher has the possibility of being injured so to say he is likelier to get hurt as a starter is without any empirical proof. Its an excuse to justify the poor development path you took with this kid.

      • murakami says:

        Agree. If there is a “physical” issue, it may be their idea of his stamina. It can’t be his shoulder is injured.

        Now, if there is a subtle but residual weakness that’s causing him not to finish his delivery, or some associated anxiety with finishing that relates to that start in Texas, that’d be something else. But then that’d be different from him pitching through a tear or an “injury.”

  34. Jerome S says:

    I want Joba to be a starter, but how can you be a starter expected to go length when you only have two plus pitches?

    • hogan says:

      he’s got a fastball, slider, curve and can throw a change.

      • Stultus Magnus says:

        And he can’t throw 3 of those for strikes consistently…

        • murakami says:

          He can’t?

          For all time?

          Wow.

          Is there going to be a shift of poles?

          Will I lose my house here in North Central NJ to a mudslide? And during that mudslide, will my house be looted?

          Will I LOSE EVERYTHING, IN ONE FELL SWOOP????????!!!!

          Thanks in advance.

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