Jan
26

What future for Joba’s past shoulder injury?

By

Guess when Joba suffered his shoulder injury. (Click to enlarge)

Joba Chamberlain and the Amazing Disappearing Velocity has long been one of my least favorite Yankee mysteries from the past half a decade. We know the story well. Joba left a start in Texas in 2008, missed a month of the season and returned without his velocity. He struggled through 2009 in the rotation as rumors of a shoulder injury more serious than the Yanks were letting on persisted and pitched exclusively out of the pen in 2010 with his velocity nearing pre-injury levels. Despite rumors, we never really knew the extent and severity of the injury, the cause of the long-term impact it would have on Joba.

On Tuesday, Yanks’ GM Brian Cashman seemingly spilled the beans. He mentioned Joba Chamberlain’s shoulder injury during his breakfast with Mike Francesa and spoke at length about it during an afternoon appearance on the Michael Kay Show. We now have insight into Joba’s struggles in 2009 and a firm reason why the Yanks want him in the bullpen.

“I don’t think his stuff is the same since he hurt himself in Texas. He used to be a guy who threw the same as a starter and as a reliever. He threw the high-octane 94-99 and you saw it in the first inning as a starter as well as what out of the bullpen,” he said to Kay. “But since the Texas episode, the stuff as a starter has been watered down. I think we’ve seen enough of a sample even though you can argue it’s a small one. But in terms of the velocity and stuff like that, you have to respond to [the statement] ‘Well, if this is what he is as a starter now, that’s not what he was.’”

Cashman continued: “He was 89-92 vs. a guy that was 93-98. It’s a radically different animal now and so the stuff plays up better in the pen. I know people say it always does, but his stuff was consistent as both a starter and a reliever. It’s just not the same anymore that way.”

The Yanks’ GM then alit upon Joba’s seemingly subpar 2010 and spoke about the way the Yanks evaluated him as a reliever. Calling Joba a “huge bounce-back candidate,” Cashman expressed his faith in the pitcher Baseball America once considered the third-best prospect in all of baseball. “I think I think he’s a tremendous reliever,” the GM said. “He had a high batting average in balls in play, and so I think that ultimately he was more unlucky than people realize. He had some tremendous overall numbers in terms of relief stuff.”

Still, as an ardent believer that Joba should have one last chance at the starting rotation, I — without the luxury of Joba’s medicals — have to wonder if the Yanks are jumping the gun. Cashman spoke at length about sample sizes and even admitted that Joba’s sample was arguably a small one. What if it took him a long time to recover from the shoulder injury? What if he’s still building strength up to correct the damage? And why didn’t the Yankees shut him down permanently in 2008 when they knew his shoulder was hurt and their playoff chances were slim?

A day that will live in Yankee infamy. (AP Photo, Tony Gutierrez)

As Cashman’s comments reverberated throughout the baseball world today, a few commentators took on his assertions. In an extensive post on Pinstriped Bible that covers familiar ground, Cliff Corcoran reviews Joba’s injury and lays the blame on the errant throw from Ivan Rodriguez that sent Joba tumbling to the ground. Corcoran quotes himself and so will I:

. . . Chamberlain saw the home plate ump rule the ball foul and came forward off the mound pointing to both Kinsler and the umpire. Ivan Rodriguez didn’t hear him, and Rodriguez’s throw to second base came directly at Chamberlain’s head. In ducking that throw, Chamberlain lept backwards off his feet and landed on his rump before tumbling over in a backwards somersault. Before Chamberlain’s body hit the ground, however, his right arm reached back and attempted to brace his fall.

Chamberlain denied that the fall had anything to do with his injury. [Note: I suspect Chamberlain was simply protecting Rodriguez here. The moment he took that spill, I was worried about an arm injury.]

“I just got stiff,” Joba said at his locker after the game. “It was a little tight in the fourth, and I came back out in the fifth and, it’s not necessarily even in my shoulder. It’s kinda in my deltoid below my shoulder, so my strength was fine and my velocity was fine, I just kind of got a stiff arm.”

[snip]

Said Chamberlain, “It doesn’t hurt in the wrong places to really, hopefully, be concerned, so I’m just gonna go and get everything taken care of . . . just so they can rule out everything and make sure everything’s alright. This is just getting stiff a lot in a short amount of time. It’s a little stiff, but other than that’s why we go back and just rule everything out.” Joba said he’d never had this sensation in his arm before, but when informed that Girardi intended to have him skip his next start, he said he’d, “hopefully just miss one if that’s the case”

Of greater concern is the Chamberlain quote that appeared on Peter Abraham’s blog last night in which Chamberlain said, “It was something where it grabbed and popped and got stiff.” “Grabbed” and “stiff” I can deal with, but “popped” makes me panic.

That one start Joba hoped to miss turned into a month, and when he returned, he was used only as a reliever in low-pressure situations. His velocity was clearly off, and it didn’t rebound until he moved to the bullpen in 2010. Cause and effect or just the effect of time heeling all wounds?

While Corcoran and I may be tilting at windmills in our efforts to blame Pudge for the decline and fall of Joba, we saw that game unfold and that disaster happen in August of 2008. It didn’t look good, but not everyone agrees. Rob Neyer wonders if Joba is just another pitcher who can’t stand the physical pressures of throwing 100 pitches every five days. It’s certainly another reasonable explanation, but it makes you wonder why the Yanks were so eager to have Joba make his return before 2008 ran out.

Ultimately, Joba is still a wanted man. “Some teams have obvious reached out to us about him in a steal attempt,” said Cashman. These clubs are “not necessarily giving up what I feel is fair value.” But just what is fair value? Is Joba a future set-up man doomed to bounce around the league and never living up to his potential? Is he Mariano’s heir apparent who is being groomed through tough love? Can the Yanks even get what they consider full value out of Joba is the whole world knows about a mysterious shoulder injury?

I think Cliff Corcoran said it best: “I’d still rather take my chances on a 25-year-old who has a 7.6 K/9, a low-to-mid-90s fastball, some bad luck on balls in play, and is another year removed from that supposedly career-altering injury than on the likes of Sergio Mitre or the slop throwing free agent alternatives, and I’d still be loathe to trade any significant prospects for a rotation solution without at least giving that 25-year-old a look first. Still, it’s nice to have a somewhat more substantial answer to why the Yankees won’t use Chamberlain that way, even if Cashman’s admission has likely diminished Chamberlain’s trade value in turn.”

Categories : Musings
  • Icxe

    Cash knows Joba messed his shoulder up, but he still let him compete for a starting job last Spring?

    • Rey22

      Exactly. So many inconsistencies regarding Joba confuse me.

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

        Precisely. As I said, there are still a lot of questions out there concerning Joba and his shoulder.

    • Mike M

      Maybe that was part of the sample size cash was talking about? Perhaps they saw something in ST that reaffirmed their thoughts about his future.

    • MikeD

      I understand what you’re saying, but just because there was a documented loss of velocity after Joba’s injury does not mean the injury was such that he wasn’t capable of pitching. Yes, the injury caused some loss of velocity, but he was still healthy enough to take the mound, in 2009 and 2010.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      It doesn’t make sense doesn’t it lol. Especially when it was Hughes job all along.

    • Steve (different one)

      Cash knows Joba messed his shoulder up, but he still let him compete for a starting job last Spring?

      What do you think this entailed?

      It entailed pitching 1-3 inning clips with plenty of rest.

      Everyone is babied in ST. He threw all of about 10 innings.

      He wasn’t making 7 inning starts every 5 days for a month.

      Joba wasn’t put under some enormous risk in ST, my guess is they wanted to see how his velocity held up after the 2nd or 3rd inning, and my guess is the answer is “not well”.

      I’m not saying mistakes haven’t been made with Joba, but i’ve noticed this new meme starting to circulate about “starting in ST with a messed up shoulder”. He threw 10 innings.

      • OldYanksFan

        Or Cashman just wanted to tell the world that Joba COULD still be a starter. Maybe this was about just trying to maintain his value.

    • Jason

      It is complete organizational irresponsibility to not at least give this guy a shot at starting again in Spring Training. The upside becoming the 4th or 5th starter is WAY HIGHER then being the 6th inning man. They signed Mark Prior, they should let him tyr to be the 4th or 5th starter as well, or let him be the 6th inning guy, but to just close the door on Joba after putting all those ridiculous rules on him makes no sense. Let me remind the Yankees as they have obviously forgotten in Joba’s first 3 starts after the all-star break he was one of the best pictures in baseball going 3-0, 21.2 innings allowing only 2 runs, with 19ks and 8 walks. Right after the last of the 3 starts his stats for the year stood at 7-2, 3.58 ERA in 110 innings and that’s when they started to screw with his innings per/gm etc. which obviously screwed him up the rest of the year. They smartly didn’t do that with Phil Hughes and look at the season he had last year – it’s time to give the former #3 prospect in all of baseball the same ooportunity as Hughes to become a stud – and I think it will turn out better then Mitre and the whoever else they invite to spring training. And what’s the downside – help me here (they have him slotted as the 6th inning guy) I don’t see one.

    • Jason

      It is complete organizational irresponsibility to not at least give this guy a shot at starting again in Spring Training. The upside becoming the 4th or 5th starter is WAY HIGHER then being the 6th inning man. They signed Mark Prior, they should let him try to be the 4th or 5th starter as well, or let him be the 6th inning guy, but to just close the door on Joba after putting all those ridiculous rules on him makes no sense. Let me remind the Yankees as they have obviously forgotten in Joba’s first 3 starts after the all-star break in 2009 he was one of the best pictures in baseball going 3-0, 21.2 innings allowing only 2 runs, with 19ks and 8 walks. Right after the last of the 3 starts his stats for the year stood at 7-2, 3.58 ERA in 110 innings and that’s when they started to screw with his innings per/gm etc. which obviously screwed him up the rest of the year. They smartly didn’t do that with Phil Hughes and look at the season he had last year – it’s time to give the former #3 prospect in all of baseball the same opportunity as Hughes to become a stud – and I think it will turn out better then Mitre and the whoever else they invite to spring training. And what’s the downside – help me here (they have him slotted as the 6th inning guy) I don’t see one.

  • mbonzo

    Crazy theory: If the FO is nervous about his arm and see him strictly as a reliever, they probably should have traded him considering they could have gotten a good starter for him. Instead, maybe they saw that he’d take a few years to recover from his injury, and they dropped Aceves so that he could take the position as the long man. This makes some sense since they dumped Gaudin, Moseley, and Aceves this offseason, and the only other long man that seems usable in April would be Noesi. Now assuming Mitre doesn’t work out in April/May, they could move Joba in for some short starts and test out that arm. Joba as a long man instead of the 7th inning guy seems to make the bullpen better too, if a starter collapses Joba would be much better at taking over than an untested guy like Noesi. Other than Noesi, who would be the long man if its not Joba?

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Well if Andy comes back and they sign Garcia or Duchscherer than Nova can be the long man. Now that I think about it If Andy and Lee were here than Nova would have been the long man.

      • Pounder

        How big a difference is there between Joba and Duchscherer?

        • The Big City of Dreams

          That’s a good question. Duchscherer has the injury issue which causes and therefore he is not durable. If Duchscherer is healthy than you’re getting very good production from him. At this point Joba would probably put up #4 or #5 starter production.

    • Steve (different one)

      If the FO is nervous about his arm and see him strictly as a reliever, they probably should have traded him considering they could have gotten a good starter for him

      How does this follow from:

      “Some teams have obvious reached out to us about him in a steal attempt,” said Cashman. These clubs are “not necessarily giving up what I feel is fair value.”

      Are you saying they should have traded him 2 years ago? Maybe, but that’s pretty easy to say now.

  • Mister Delaware

    I … just … don’t … see … the … downside … of … giving … him … a … spring … training … rotation … audition …

    • The Big City of Dreams

      True if he doesn’t come through he’s back to being the long man/middle reliever. Now of course some ppl will say that his value will take a hit but how much lower can his value get seriously.

  • http://www.123blawg.blogspot.com LawStudent

    Sigh, it’s better than the “he has a bullpen mentality!” type argument.

  • Dr. O

    I appreciate the acknowledgement finally that there is way more at play than “he’s a BORN RELIEVER!” but its still very curious why Cashman would publicly speak about the concerns over Joba’s shoulder when he also talks about FULL VALUE in terms of trade return.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      I wonder what he considers full value. Joba was once mentioned in deals for Halladay and Haren but is now a reliever who the Yankees don’t believe in. I understand not selling cheap but at the same time teams aren’t going to give you something of value for a pitcher that is currently being labeled as “damaged goods”

    • toad

      Because it doesn’t matter. You can’t just trade the guy while keeping his physical problems secret. The other team will want to know, and has a right to know, and hs ways to find out – physical exams, medical records, etc.

      The idea that you can just palm him off like a lemon of a used car is mistaken.

  • radnom

    Relax guys. Its not like other teams don’t have scouts and radar guns and can see Joba’s diminished velocity/stuff. The fact that the only offers Cashman has seen for him tell you no one is willing to trade for Joba valuing him as a potential starter.

    Also, complaints about a small sample size are overblown. They clearly are not damning him to the bullpen based on his 2009 numbers, but rather the (lack of) progress he made recovering from his injury over the past couple years. Just because stats are the only reliable tools we as fans have to judge players by doesn’t mean the same is true for teams.

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

      It’s not only about stats. It’s about seeing his velocity and strength rebound in 2010 and wondering if he’s finally over his shoulder injury. Shoulders take a long time to heel; just ask Chien Ming Wang. If Joba’s was slow to recover, he might be 100 percent only now, and the Yanks could maybe consider giving him another shot at the rotation.

      That said, they have his medicals, and I don’t. That — and not the stats or the velocity — is our missing piece to this puzzle.

      • mbonzo

        This is my theory. They don’t know if he’s 100% and would prefer to keep him in majors, so they’ll use him as the long man. That explains why they dropped Gaudin, Moseley, and Aceves.

        • Ed

          They dropped Gaudin and Moseley because they’re not very good and it’s fairly easy to find guys like that. Gaudin gets traded or released every few months, so they might even be able to get him back later if they want him. As we saw last year, it was cheaper to do that than to keep him.

          Aceves was simply the injuries. He missed a year with serious back issues. It seemed like they kept doing everything possible to avoid surgery, and none of it worked. They probably just didn’t want to waste a roster spot on him knowing that it was likely he’d just need surgery and miss a lot of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done.

          • mbonzo

            But who have they signed to replace them?

            • radnom

              They are loaded with Gaudin/Moseley type filler in AAA.

              • mbonzo

                David Phelps is the only guy from AAA that wouldn’t be complete crap in the majors and pitch for length. He’s too good of a prospect for the Yankees to move him up and use him as a long man though. He’s also not on the 40-man roster.

            • Ed

              I’m guessing when they let those guys go, they intended to have Mitre fill that role.

              They haven’t replaced him yet because those types of guys usually sign in February. They tend to wait out the offseason in hope of a major league deal then settle for a minor league deal around the start of spring training.

              • mbonzo

                Thats fair enough. I’m just surprised they haven’t replaced any of those guys yet. Its only 5 days til Feb and 19 days til pitchers meet. I’m sure we’ll hear something soon.

                • MannyGee

                  Soriano has been signed to replace ALL THOSE GUYZZZZZZZZ!

                  Shit, for 3/35 he better throw garbage innings too…

      • radnom


        It’s about seeing his velocity and strength rebound in 2010 and wondering if he’s finally over his shoulder injury.

        Like you said, not only do you not have his medicals but you don’t see him throwing behind the scenes, in ST and you’re not a scout. If anyone in the world would love another young starter right now its Cashman. If he is convinced that Jobas upswing in 2010 is purely related to his role in the bullpen then I’m going to trust that over him looking better to me over 80 or so innings.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          True they do have information that we do not have access to. I think why ppl are skeptical is based not believing the Yankees have a good grasp on evaluating pitchers whether they are from the farm or FA market.

      • MikeD

        I agree with Benjamin here. Joba is young, he suffered some type of shoulder injury in late 2008, and then he experienced pitching the most innings in his life in 2009. It’s quite possible that he is only now just getting to the point where he has fully recovered. His velocity out of the pen was higher in September than it was earlier in the season.

        So let’s say Joba is back to full velocity in 2011. Shouldn’t they immediately plan to return him to the rotation? I hope the Yankees are not as inflexible here as they sound.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          “I hope the Yankees are not as inflexible here as they sound.”

          Oh yea they are that inflexible. Remember how hard they fought for him when he was a starter despite the calss for him to go to the pen.

          MikeD what you brought is what I’ve been thinking about since he got hurt. It would take him a couple of yrs to recover from the injury. Look at Verlander as an example. There was a ton of talk about what happened to his blazing FB. Many fans in Detroit wondered if the flame thrower would regain his form. A couple of yrs ago his fastball returned.

  • nsalem

    I know his velocity was down in 2009 but I don’t feel he struggled in his first 20 starts through the end of July when the rules kicked in. He had his ups and downs up to the all star break and must have been some where near league average. His 3 starts after the break (and 9 days rest) were quite good. In those 3 starts he pitched 21 2/3 innings striking out 19 men and giving up only 8 hits, yes and he did walk 8. Those teams were relatively weak opponents the A’s. Tigers (without Ordonez) and the 2009 Rays but still they were MLB teams he was facing. It was only after the rules kicked in when he truly started to struggle. Anything the Yankee FO has to say on this matter has little credibility with me. The contradictory statements we here lead me to believe their are widely divergent opinions inside the Yankee hierarchy on how to handle Joba situation. I still have hope things can work out for Joba in New York but with each seemingly more bizarre incident that hope is fading.

    • A.D.

      Yeah if he pitched to a 3.58 all the time I’d take it.

      If this shoulder injury was so devastating, why did he pitch again in ’08, start in ’09 and come to camp as a starter in ’10?

      • The Big City of Dreams

        I wonder if they probably regret bringing him back in 2008? The team was out of it. I guess someone could say they didn’t want to create a bigger fire storm by shutting him down.

  • A.D.

    Its interesting some of the different approaches with shoulders:

    Jeff Niemann: Has been said basically has to be a starter with how long it takes him to warm up with all the should injuries

    Papelbon: Went back and forth the one year that being a starter would be better, than a reliever, and ultimately became a reliever

    Webb/Wang: No one has seemed to mention they should start relieving

    Prior: Moved to pen after not cutting it as a starter (or really a ML level player)

    • mbonzo

      In the case of Papelbon, I could understand the Yankees moving Joba to the bullpen to be a closer. I could just a tiny tiny bit understand moving him to the bullpen to be the setup man to eventually replace mo. I can not understand making him a 7th inning guy. I know theres injury problems, but the Yankees had plenty of opportunities to move Joba to other teams for quality starters, why would you prefer to have a 7th inning guy? If he doesn’t get traded soon, I’m still going to believe that his future is in the rotation, not based on my stubbornness of Joba to the rotation, but based on the rational that he should be worth 200 IP either as a player himself or in trade value.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      FWIW, Webb talked about coming back as a reliever in the second half last year but the Diamondbacks wouldn’t let him.

  • jerome ave

    He has gained weight and he just cannot repeat his mechanics.

    • mbonzo

      Correlation does not mean causation.
      Joba may have gained weight, but I can’t see a difference. Even if he did, its not like that means he’d be a worse pitcher. Sabathia has surely gained weight since his young days. Even Hughes looks to have put on a few pounds and he’s become a considerably better pitcher.

      As for mechanics, the problem is not the repetition of his mechanics. His timing problem is caused by the fact that he throws with the break of his elbow, which puts more velocity on the ball. That makes the release of the pitch uneven at times. That extra velocity he gets out of it also puts a lot of strain on his elbow and shoulder, jolting his arm at the last second. It looks like in 2009 and 2010 they changed his mechanics so that instead of releasing his elbow at the last second, he now begins to do it earlier. This creates less strain on the elbow (which makes sense now that we know he’s had issues) but it would also mess even more with his timing. If he could get used to his new mechanics he’ll be successful, but I wouldn’t expect his velocity to come back because what made him successful was also injuring him.

  • A-rod#1fan

    I see Eduardo nuñez as future Yankee shortstop by 2013

  • mike hc

    The yanks have ridiculously high standards for where joba needs to be at to start again. He was literally pitching like one of the best players in baseball before the injury. Why does he need to get back to that before the yanks give him another chance? I want to ask cashman if he honestly believes nova and mitre would be a better starter in 2011 than joba would be. Because you don’t have to be close to 2007-2008 joba to be better than those two.

    • mike hc

      You can add aj to that mix as well. I would actually say joba is probably the third best starter on the team for 2011 yet the yanks are dead set against starting him. Makes sense. Maybe the yanks are assuming pettitte is going to come back and moving joba to the rotation will not be as necessary. I hope so.

  • Yardisiak

    Joba’s fastball is still not at pre Texas levels; 97mph in 2007, 95 in 2008 which includes his time as a starter and 94.7 last year. Does this mean the shoulder is still weak or damaged? Who knows but I do agree with the comment that he appears to have gained weight as well. So maybe one part injury and one part immaturity equals Joba the not so great.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      PitchFX says there was a 0.6 mph difference between 2008 and 2010, which isn’t that big.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/pitch.....P#velocity

      And where do you get the immaturity part from?

      • Moo Chow Loo

        Immaturity = 2008 DUI

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Right, but it’s been more than two years with no more indictments.

          • Moo Chow Loo

            True, but I don’t know if two years without any incidents means he’s changed all that much. Hopefully I’m wrong.

            I’m pulling for the guy. I hope he gets back to or near 100%, but I don’t know. Sometimes his face makes me want to punch my TV.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “I think we’ve seen enough of a sample even though you can argue it’s a small one.”

    It’s too small a sample.

    I feel like this is a conversation we used to have around here come to life. You don’t give-up on a prospect after ONE SEASON. (One season in which he did just fine considering his age, the competition and the fact that it was his first season coming back from injury, but I digress.)

    I’m a little confused as to why, now that we have the full quotes and more context, people are still discussing this as if Cashman is concerned that Joba is at risk for injury in the rotation and that’s why he’s in the bullpen. He’s in the bullpen because Cashman doesn’t think he’s as good as a starter now as he was before the 2008 injury, not because he doesn’t think he can handle the physical strain of starting.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      yup. this whole thing just confuses me.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      That’s the thing go to any board and a majority of fans are taking it as he can’t hold up as a starter.

  • MannyGee

    sorry, still not buying it. I am betting my middle child that Cashman is ‘black-balling’ Joba in an effort to get him to step up. Step up meaning: get in Pablo Sandoval-esque shape, get on an off-season throwing/strength training regiment (not the one at Roy Rogers, either), and pretend to want to be a professional baseball player.

    too bad no one is telling Joba this. not sure he got the memo. There’s nothing sadder in this world than wasted talent, as the saying goes.

  • MattG

    This reaffirms what I’ve believed all along–the Yankees are attempting to rehabilitate Chamberlain as a reliever, because they believe this is the best course of action for a young pitcher returning from injury. They did this with Hughes, with wonderful success. Should Joba ever start dominating in relief, he will get his shot at the rotation again.

    But his rehabilitation is having mixed results. While he was able to find the velocity at certain times last season–a very good sign–he didn’t have it all the time. This would seemingly make sense for a pitcher that is still recovering from injury.

    The month Joba shows 96 on the gun from the first pitch, with consistent breaking stuff, is the month the Yankees internally begin discussing Joba back to the rotation. At that time, they will need to be concerned about his other breaking pitches, which he’s not been throwing, and the logistics of the move, especially if they need him in the pen (could this have been a factor in the Soriano signing?). The fact that they have a glaring need for a starter presently is not relevant.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      From lips to God’s ears lol. I doubt this is the case but hey it’s a theory and it’s definitely one I like :)

      I guess if someone wanted to support your belief it could go back to what Cashman said about getting fair value. What is fair value for a reliever that isn’t closing or setting up? Why hold onto him if he is currently being labeled as “damaged goods” If you take those questions into account along with your post it could be that they still value him as a starter despite saying otherwise. It seems like a stretch but hey I love hearing these ideas.

      • MattG

        “they still value him as a starter despite saying otherwise” is not really what I am saying. I am suggesting that the Yankees believe the best way to rehabilitate an injury is in relief, regardless of the pitcher’s intended role. It’s Joba’s performance in relief that has led to them labeling him a reliever (Q: what do you call it when you make a mediocre reliever a starter? A: “Mitreing”), but all that could change if he starts to show an 11K/9 consistently.

        They could’ve left him to the minors, as well as Hughes, to rehab as a starter, after returning from the DL. The fact that they did not do that with Hughes leads me to suggest that they like rehabbing starters in relief with the big club.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          And since he’ll be relieving in the middle innings it’s safe to assume he’s pitching in low leverage situation where he is more likely to succeed than fail.

  • mike

    I was at the game in Texas, and for the entire game he wasn’t looking like the Joba I was accustomed to seeing…..it seemed that even from his warm-ups he was a little stiff ( we were commenting he didnt seem able to get “loose” and he was trying to aim the ball) and we kept waiting for him to look comfortable on the mound.

    We kept remarking something was wrong in the early innings because although it was a steamy night (the temp was 99 degrees on the scoreboard at 10:30 at night!) and his velocity was OK, he never looked comfortable. In fact, it sparked a debate among us as to the value of scouting at game (old school) versus relying on statistics to guage a player, because he was out-of-sorts from the very beginning and didnt appear to be the same guy my friends had read about.

    Im sure the fall didnt help, but i believe there was an issue at the time which was beginning to flare-up, and while the fall may have exacerbated it, the injury was likely lurking just under the surface -and from watching the game up close he was never comfortable that entire night.

  • mike

    countdown til Joba has to have shoulder surgery in 5, 4, 3, 2…

    trade him now while he has value. 2011 is a make or break year for him

  • Henry

    Jeez… Cashman seems to be growing some balls this offseason… He has just been telling everything like it is whether people like it or not… “disrespecting” Jeter, making it clear that the Soriano signing wasn’t his idea, stating a Jeter positional change was likely in the future, speaking about Joba as opposed to ignoring it… Man, I’m actually digging this “new” Cashman… I guess he’s getting tired of the NY media bullshit already… Nice

    • MattG

      How is this new? Cashman’s never been a spinster.

      • Henry

        Yea but he kept everything hush hush… Now he’s just going around being flat out about everything, which is something he has never really done.

        • MattG

          Hmm, yes, I guess that’s true. But Cashman’s never been opaque. Even if he didn’t come out and say stuff, it was always pretty easy to read into what he did share.

  • http://www.cerealblogger.com Russ has a last name

    Joba’s “watered down” stuff led to 157 league average innings as a 23 y/o in the AL east.

    I don’t care about him not being the same guy he was pre-injury… Post injury Joba was pretty damn promising!

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Post injury Joba was better than Aj and Javy in 2010

  • Brian

    Ya’know, I really used to think this website was brilliant and filled with smart, funny people, both in terms of writers and commenters, but this whole “Joba should get one last chance to start” BS has really ruined it for me. You guys do actually watch the games right? You’re not just sitting there with your little excel spreadsheets crunching numbers while the real things goin’, right? ‘Cause if you can’t see the difference in the life on Joba’s slider when he first broke onto the seen and now, you’re just blind, an idiot, or have never actually played baseball so you don’t know the difference.

    When Joba first came up, I’d legitimately get fooled just watching my TV, thinking a pitch was a fastball over the plate, and I would be shocked as it seemingly fell from the sky and disappeared. Screw his fastball velocity, you don’t see that slider anymore, and his other secondary pitches are garbage. HOW CAN HE START WITHOUT HIS BIGGEST WEAPON, AND WITH DIMINISHED VELOCITY AND BELOW AVERAGE SECONDARY PITCHES. I hope they let him start just so you people can watch him get bombed, even though you’d inevitably blame it on a small sample size and his going back forth between starter and reliever. Just face the facts. He’s a reliever, and likely not a very good one (coughsorianosigningcough)

    • The Big City of Dreams

      So you actually want to see him get bombed?????? SMH that reminds me when Francesa said “I hope he fails as a starter so that he can go back to the pen” Well Francesa got his wish Joba is in the pen but he’s not the same pitcher he used to be.

    • Sayid J.

      lol

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

      Spreadsheet reference? Check
      Accusation of not watching the games? Check
      Sarcastic questions? Check
      CAPS LOCK? Check
      “Just face the facts”? Check

      Bingo!!!

    • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET ARE SAYING THINGS I DISAGREE WITH SO I DON’T LIKE THE WEBSITE ANYMORE!

      Take your moron-ball and go home.

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      There is a valid “his peripherals after 2008 have yet to translate into results” argument in here somewhere, too bad you covered it up with tired nerd insults and baseless accusations.

      • Brian

        Sorry that got so out of hand. And to reply to Big City Dreams: I guess more so I want him to be traded, converted to a starter, then bombed, more than anything else, that way you all get to see you were wrong and the Yanks don’t suffer. If he remains a reliever the rest of his career now you people will never go away.

        To JGS, yes, you guys have frustrated me and I was forced to resort to cliche attacks on nerds and over-exaggeration. I apologize, and furthermore, I truly appreciate all the great sports-related reading material nerds have supplied me with in recent years. I just don’t think Joba’s numbers will ever change the fact that he’s not the pitcher he used to be because he doesn’t have the pitches he used to have, and therefore his numbers will never justify him being a starter.

        To Mondesi, yes people on the internet are saying things I disagree with, but thank god the people in real life actually have an eye for baseball and they’re the ones making the decisions, so I from now on will ignore the Joba-to-starter BS on here and continue to love this website nonetheless. And I already am home, although I do not own a moron-ball nor know what that is/means.

        And to Ross, yes I certainly could have phrased the whole thing a lot nicer, but then I’d still have all that pent up frustration. It was nice to let it out.

        I’m serious though, I’d just like a reasonable explanation on how people think he could be a successful starter without that old mind-boggling slider that he used to throw and very, very clearly no longer has. I truly don’t understand it. Either the people I’m referring too just can’t see the difference and simply don’t have an eye for baseball, or they somehow think he can still be successful without it (and diminished velocity/poor secondary pitches) which will have to be explained to me.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          The fact you want him to get bombed is a problem. Listen I don’t like seeing him as a reliever and I probably never will but I’m going to root for him to succeed even though I have attacked what he has done as a reliever.

  • mike c

    some people’s bodies just aren’t built to be a MLB starting pitcher. my first yankee game ever was in ’95 and mo was the starter against cleveland

  • emac2

    I can’t help but wonder if his work ethic is leading to a limitation of his chances. Maybe he is getting a Montero type message from management.

  • http://none Aaron

    One thing that stats or medical records will not show directly, is attitude and work ethic (I guess two things…). Hughes clearly won the battle in ST, not becasue of stuff (I am not sure, but I seem to remember they were both equally bad in ST during audition), but more because he was “coachable” and worked very very hard during his workouts.

    Joba is somewhat of a headshaker on the mound, and at his age, I think he needs to trust his catcher, and trust his stuff more. As for the work ethic, it is all anecdotal, as I have only seen online reports of JOba’s lack of work ethic.

    This may have more to do with the situation, than stuff, or mindset.

    All the best,
    Aaron

  • emac2

    The body doesn’t speak of an athlete with a strong work ethic.

    If I had to guess I would say he had a shoulder injury that they elected not to operate on and instead rehab. He didn’t put the work into the rehab the front office wanted to see and they knew they couldn’t count on him as a starter if he wasn’t going to keep his body in top condition. As such, he will remain in the pen until he decides to get his body strong enough to pitch 200 innings a year.