Determining Joba’s Trade Value (Part II)

KLaw's Top 100 Prospects
Link Dump: The Boss, Fifth Starter, Joba
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Earlier today we took a sabermetric approach to determining Joba Chamberlain‘s trade value, and we came up with $11M or roughly two wins. Now we’re going to take a more practical approach and compare the current version of Joba to some similar relievers, then look at what they brought back when they were traded.

Joba’s career performance as a reliever is pretty damn good. We’re talking about excellent strikeout (10.7 K/9), walk (2.7 uIBB/9), and homerun (0.55 HR/9) rates in 131.2 IP, but if we remove 2007 so the numbers aren’t skewed, we still get 10.3 K/9, 2.76 uIBB/9, and 0.59 HR/9. That’s still pretty damn good. Young pitchers who perform like that usually don’t get traded, so the number of comparable players is somewhat limited. Let’s dive in…

Joel Hanrahan
This one isn’t perfect because Hanrahan was traded mid-year, but like Joba now his stock was at an all-time low. He had a stellar strikeout rate (9.17 K/9), but the walk (4.66 uIBB/9) and homerun (1.13 HR/9) rates weren’t even close. To make things more complicated, he was packaged with Lastings Milledge. The trade brought Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to the Nationals, so if we cut that in half we can say he fetched a young-ish big leaguer struggling to establish himself. That doesn’t sound enticing at all.

Fist pump included. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Matt Lindstrom
Lindstrom’s actually been traded twice, but his first move last offseason works best because he had the same amount of service time Joba has now. Although his strikeout (7.5 K/9) and walk (3.20 uIBB/9) rates weren’t as strong as Joba’s, he did have the “proven closer” tag, which counts for something. In exchange for Lindstrom the Marlins received two low-level minor leaguers (that did not figure into their top 30 prospects according to Baseball America) plus a player to be named later that turned out to be Houston’s Rule 5 Draft pick. Two organizational players and what ended up being a Quad-A infielder. Yuck.

Tony Pena
Not the Yankee bench coach, the current White Sox reliever by the same name. At the time of the trade, he had almost the exact same amount of service time as Joba does now, and he brought back first base prospect Brandon Allen. Allen was a legit top ten prospect in any farm system, a power hitting first baseman that posted no less than a .390 wOBA as he rose from A-ball to Triple-A in the three seasons prior to the trade. Pena’s numbers (6.55 K/9, 2.34 uIBB/9, 0.89 HR/9) weren’t even in the same realm as Joba’s though.

Ramon Ramirez
The former Yankee farmhand has been traded quite a few times, once with four years of team control left and once with two-and-a-half years of control left. The first time around he was dealt straight up for Coco Crisp, an average everyday big leaguer with one year left on his contract. The second time he fetched current Yankee farmhand Daniel Turpen, who was not a top 30 prospect. Ramirez’s performance (8.38 K/9, 3.05 uIBB/9, 0.52 HR/9) at the time of the first trade wasn’t all that far off from Joba’s.

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Carlos Villanueva
We’re a year off here since Villanueva was traded with two years of team control left rather than three, but it’ll have to do. He did the starter/reliever thing early in his career like Joba, and his peripheral stats were pretty dang good (8.07 K/9, 2.90 uIBB/9) aside from the homers (1.31 HR/9). The Brewers gave Villanueva away for a player to be named later, and we have yet to learn the identity of said player. That doesn’t help us, now does it?

* * *

It’s a bit of a mixed bag, and unless the PTBNL in the Villaneuva deal turns out to be some hotshot prospect, Crisp and Allen represent the best of the lot. We don’t need to be all that precise, we’re just trying to get an approximation of Chamberlain’s real life trade value. As we can see, it isn’t all that high. If the absolute best case scenario is a top ten prospect, then you know what? I’d rather just see the Yankees keep Joba. If he stays healthy and maintains his 2009 peripherals going forward, he’ll be a nice piece towards the back of the bullpen.

KLaw's Top 100 Prospects
Link Dump: The Boss, Fifth Starter, Joba
  • Alex

    Tough comparisons. If career aggregates are in the same ballpark, no one here has matched Joba at his ‘best,’ whether Joba starting or Joba relieving. Guess that’s another way of saying no one here has his ceiling.

  • SPANdemonium

    How about Brandon League?

    • Mike Axisa

      That’s a good one. I’m not sure if there’s a Brandon Morrow out there to be gotten though.

      • Zack

        Wouldn’t it be the other way around? Where Joba is the Morrow side of the deal?

  • Jamie

    I know this is off topic, but I’m dying to know and I’ve gotten no response on the off topic thread…

    Does anyone know what the big news that Morgan Ensberg was going to spill last night about a Yankee on his radio show?

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Jeter is taking early batting practice

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Seriously that’s what it was.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      I know this is off topic

      Then why not post it in the off-topic thread instead of trying to hijack this thread?

      • radnom

        You only read the part you quoted didn’t you?

        Not that he was justified in posting it here, but the answer to your question was literally in the second half of the sentence you quoted.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          You’re right. When someone starts a post with “I know this is off topic”, I stop reading.

          I believe Joe, Mike and Ben provide us Yankees fans with a tremendous site full of interesting FREE content.

          In return for that FREE content, they ask that we not do certain things, such as posting off topic.

          It’s bad enough if one doesn’t know that posting off topic is verboten, but to specifically acknowledge it and then do it anyway, well, I think that is just incredibly rude.

          • BPDELIA

            meh. He was polite and apologetic. You then said he was trying to “hijack” this thread which is a bit much isn’t it? So there is no reason to be a freakin fascist about it dude.

            • Sweet Dick Willie

              Oh, so it’s okay to disrespect your hosts rules as long as you’re polite and apologetic while doing so? But pointing it out is fascist?

              • BPDELIA

                YEAH it is. First off how big a deal is it really, secondly why do YOU care. Let the moderators deal with it. Give me a break. He clearly state that he couldn’t get an answer in the off topic thread. People act like the rules of the site were carried down engraved on stone tablets. Dude. Easy. One off topic comment isn’t your business and even if it was, who gives a shit.

                • Joe Pawlikowski

                  We have often asked commenters to help us eradicate off-topic comments. I don’t appreciate your attacks on SDW. He is right.

        • Joe Pawlikowski

          It’s not justification. It’s just a further admission that he’s breaking a rule that we clearly want followed.

  • The Captain

    Pretty depressing lot of return pieces, especially after calculating the theoretical value in Part I.

    I agree, Mike. If the best the Yankees can get back are low-level parts they don’t need or wouldn’t use, then they should keep him.

    That being said, if a Joba-Brandon Laird package could get them Dan Haren, I make that move without thinking twice. I think we would both normally say the Angels hang up first on that phone call, but then again, they did just make that other worldly-stupid Vernon Wells trade…

    • YankeesJunkie

      Joba-Laird for Haren would be an amazing deal for the Yankees, but I can’t see the Angels being that stupid again.

      • The Big City of Dreams
      • The Captain

        I don’t see it either, but we can still dream.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Someone needs to incept the Angels. That’s the only way it can happen.

          • The Captain

            With all the money the Yanks have, you would think that they would have devoted some money to that technology by now.

            I mean, even if they haven’t perfected it, just get DiCaprio or Christopher Nolan on the phone and talk through it. Come on!

            • The Big City of Dreams

              Exactly even if it’s not perfect who cares because the prototype should be enough to pull of an inception. Get Leo so he can do his Mr. Charles routine and boom we get Haren for Joba and Laird.

    • Johnny O


      I’d even throw in a Stoneburner or Warren.

  • Brian

    Unless we could somehow include Joba in a reasonable package to trade for an at least somewhat proven starter I’d much prefer the bullpen depth. IMO a strong bullpen is one of the most underrated aspects of a team. Just look at what they did for the Rangers and Sox last year. I much prefer going into the season with a bullpen plan that isn’t just using unproven guys and seeing what sticks. We’ll inevitably need guys to bail out Mitre/Nova from time to time.

    Previous to Cashman’s recent comments I had lobbied for the Yanks to try and convince an NL team that he may still be salvageable as a starter in the offensively weak NL, but alas…

    • Steve (different one)

      Previous to Cashman’s recent comments I had lobbied for the Yanks to try and convince an NL team that he may still be salvageable as a starter in the offensively weak NL, but alas

      What type of return do you think a player who fits this description would bring? Why bother?

      • The Big City of Dreams

        “What type of return do you think a player who fits this description would bring?”

        Slap hitting back up infielder

      • Brian

        Basically what I was saying is, before Cashman’s comments there was a lot more support for Joba to become a starter again. Now for me, that was a tough sell given his diminished stuff/velocity and the fact that he’d be doing so in the AL east. But I always thought it may be possible if he were in the NL and wasn’t facing such powerful offenses regularly.

        The logic was basically, ship him off to the NL before other teams realize he’ll never be a starter and hope that an NL team believes something similar to what I was thinking. What type of return would he bring in? Well, by himself, starting potential or not, he wouldn’t bring in much. But if packaged with a couple prospects you may be able to get someone (ANYONE) worth putting in the rotation, bumping Mitre to long man duties.

        Again the point is moot, because I assume now that Cashman’s putting it all out in the open, it means other teams must have now realized what Joba’s ceiling is. And with the pitches he’s currently working with, he is a relief pitcher.

        • Steve (different one)

          Gotcha, thanks for clarifying.

          I think I was just reacting to the choice of words you used. “Hey, we have a guy who you might be able to salvage into a starter who can’t probably hang in the American League. Would that interest you?”

          • Brian

            NP. And yeah, that would be a tough sell haha. Personally I’m happy with him where he is and am looking forward to his numbers improving and the Yanks having a lockdown bullpen again so his lack of trade value is no big loss IMO.

    • nsalem

      A Great Bullpen was the underrated component of the Big Red Machine Teams of 1975-1976. There starting pitcher was not all that memorable
      save for the oft injured Don Gullett, but their lights out bullpen and their great offense carried the day. Hopefully we can have their kind of success with perhaps the same formula.

  • NJYankeeFan

    Basically Mike seems to be saying we should just keep him because we’d likely get crap back and Joba could possibly Brandon Morrow on another team.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      The Yankees could just Brandon Morrow Joba themselves but they have their reasons for not doing it.

      • Steve (different one)

        If they thought Joba could turn into Brandon Morrow, they absolutely would do it. Yesterday.

        They may be wrong about their assessment of that, but it’s not like they are sitting there saying “hmmm, we could have Brandon Morrow in our rotation, but I really like this Mitre kid’s moxie. Also, we really need to lock down the right handed portion of the 6th inning!”

        • The Big City of Dreams

          True I doubt they are saying that and you’re right they could be wrong in their assessment. They are human after all

  • Jerome S.

    I know there was a post that touched on this last year, but this situation is becoming a lot like Dave Righetti. The Yankees have the man they need but they’re not taking advantage of it. It probably won’t end up hurting the team like it did back then, though.


    I’ve been thinking about how analagous to the Righetti thing this is for two years now. Funny thing is though its a mirror image. Back then overwhelming popular support was to return him to the rotation. In this instance the overwhelming (and horribly misguided) fan support was behind him staying a reliever.

    I still believe that if Joba’s stuff continues to uptick (and it has slowly gotten better) and he shows some more conditioning (as an example of dedication) he will be a starter again.

    I’m thinking Ryan Dempster type situation. A late 20’s conversion back to starter.

    I just have a feeling his lack of conditioning is badly frowned upon by Girardi and co. It reflects badly upon his desire to improve.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      My question is where has his desire gone?

  • David

    I can feel a trade brewing. Cash has been doing an unusual amount of talking. You could read “Joba will be in the bullpen” as “Don’t worry, we aren’t overvaluing him”. Also, Cash’s talk has had a theme of “I know. I am desperate for a starter”. Something could happen, like with St. Louis.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      What you said makes sense because I as well as many fans sit here and think are they really high on a middle reliever.

      • David

        There was an article today about the Cubs busily positioning for a shocking offer to Albert. You would think that would create an ideal trading partner for a Cardinal starter that we might like.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Yea it might create that type of opportunity.