What’s the excuse now?

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In the unlikely event that you missed it last night, the Yankees have agreed to a contract with free agent reliever Rafael Soriano. I’m not a fan of the deal at all but I’m not here to talk about that. Instead I want to rant about a member of the pitching staff directly impacted by the Soriano signing, and that’s Joba Chamberlain.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

It’s pretty obvious by now that the Yankees have very little faith in Joba. If they did, they wouldn’t have bent over backwards to sign Soriano when the market for his services was non-existent. Part of that is on Joba and part of it is on the team for mishandling him so badly. I’m usually on board with most of the moves the team makes and have spent many hours defending Brian Cashman and the rest of the brain trust, but there’s no denying that they completely botched Joba’s long-term development. They were desperate for late inning relief help in 2007 because (wait for it) the last free agent reliever they signed to a multi-year deal flamed out. They just compounded the issue by refusing to send him back to the minors to get back in 2008 so that he could get back on a normal development track.

So what do they have now, they have a middle reliever with admittedly fantastic peripheral stats and zero consistency. What they don’t have is any decent help for the back of the rotation. Signing Soriano doesn’t help the rotation at all, Sergio Mitre can still stink up the first five innings just as easily as he could have before. Will they take this opportunity to move Joba back to the rotation, turning an absurd contract for a reliever into actual help for the starting staff? I doubt it, and that’s what annoys the crap out of me.

Before the Yankees started screwing around with Joba’s innings limitations in 2009, he was fantastic as a starter. The guy made 34 full starts from June 2008 through August 2009, meaning he wasn’t pulled early and was allowed to empty the tank. In those 34 starts, he had a 3.54 ERA (3.97 FIP) with 8.50 K/9, 3.84 uIBB/9, and 0.92 HR/9. Opponents had .329 wOBA off him during that time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say Joba was some kind of ace caliber starter during this time, but good grief, he was 23 years old basically the whole time. He was better and younger than Phil Hughes was in 2010. If a young kid performs like that in the AL East, you don’t stick him in the bullpen, you keep him in the rotation because at worst, he’s a mid-rotation starter. At best, he’s on his way to becoming something more.

I’m not asking for a miracle here, just give the guy a chance to start again in Spring Training. There’s basically no downside. If he gets hurt and his days as an effective pitcher come to an end, who cares? All the Yankees would be losing is a seventh inning reliever. If it works, well then geez, you’ve got yourself a young big league starter, something the team could really use right about now. It’s Spring Training, just try it. That’s all I’m asking. Just make an effort, give him the same kind of rope they gave Hughes this past year.

Now, I’m certain there are things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Heck, Joba’s shoulder could be shredded for all I know. If it is, then they need to trade him as soon as possible and make it someone else’s problem. If there are concerns about his attitude and they’re worried about him getting to comfortable, then just trade him. Stringing him along in middle relief isn’t the answer. And please, all that nonsense about his stuff playing up in the bullpen … give me a break. Of course it’s true, just like it’s true for every other pitcher in the history of the universe. That’s not a good enough reason, it’s just a cop out.

If the Yankees aren’t going to put Joba in the rotation now that they have Soriano on board, I just don’t know what to say. I’m really at my wit’s end here, I just can not fathom why they’ve already ruled him out as a starter after just 34 uninterrupted starts across two seasons, especially when he pitched pretty well. Having the kid pitch 70 innings of middle relief a season is a gigantic waste of resources, but then again that’s nothing new for the Yankees. I fully acknowledge that Soriano will make the Yankees a better team in 2011 but I don’t like the terms of the contract and I certainly don’t like what’s continuing to happen with Joba. It’s a tremendous waste, and refusing to take the necessary steps to correct things only compounds the problem. I really don’t know what more to say, I feel like this same post has been written a million times in the last year or two. I just don’t get it, I’ll continue to not get it.

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  • Brazilian Fan

    They will trade him forget about it

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      I hope so for both sides sake.

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

        I hope they let him start again* because I care about the Yankees and not about what the ‘sides’ might think.

        *Usual caveat about there possibly being something – Joba’s health, for example – that the Yanks know about and we don’t.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          If it is health related that maybe the are waiting for the right deal to move him.

    • Steve in PDX

      This is far more likely than the Yanks letting him start again.

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

      If the intention was to trade Joba why would the organization stick to the “he’s a reliever only” refrain?

      From a negation standpoint have every reason to want outsiders to believe he can start, from a trade value perspective, as well as a not seeming desperate for a SP perspective.

      This makes me believe that the Yankees:
      A. Have no intention in ever having Joba start again, &
      B. Have no intention of trading Joba.

  • teddy

    i agree let joba start, but comparing farnsworth to soriano is downright disrespectful to soriano. i agree soriano not worth it, but he a nasty reliever

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      So was Lidge, Nathan, K-Rod and Papelbon. How did they end up?

      • jsbrendog (returns)

        wow i forgot all about joe nathan’s existence since he didn’t pitch this yr

      • AndrewYF

        Apart from punching people in the face, K-Rod was perfectly fine as an elite reliever last year.

      • bpdelia

        You’ve said this twice now and I don’t get it. K-Rod had yet another excellent relief season last year. Joe Nathan has been asbout as consistently unbelievably fantastic as any reliever not name RIvera can be. WHy do you keep posting his name as some sort of dire warning? Joe Nathan has been incredibly, almost magically consistently elite. He got hurt. . . . once. Whats the point there. Brad Lidge flame out, sure. Papplebon has had five insanely good years and lst year had a little down year. A down year (but still a pretty damn good year). His era was inflated but that;s a secondary stat for relievers. He stll struck out 10 per 9 (right in line with his career. His whip was decent, he let up less hits than innings. HE walked 5 or 6 guys too many.

        Aside from Lidge this list you keep posting doesn’t make you’re argument

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

          What about Francisco Cordero? B.J. Ryan? The year before Cordero was a free agent, he was considerably better than Soriano was in 2010, and he was the same age without nearly the injury history. How’s that one working out?

          Soriano’s good, but let’s not romanticize his 2010 season just because he was on the Rays. This same reliever has come along before, and not that long ago.

          • Ted Nelson

            There are examples in both directions. None of those examples definitely prove much of anything about Soriano. You don’t think he’s worth the money he got, someone in the FO clearly does… we’ll see how it goes. No point in deciding his fate before he throws a pitch.

            • Mike HC

              There are tons of relievers who have strung together three good years without getting hurt. Too many to even list. It is far easier to list relievers who have gotten hurt. Granted, there is an added injury risk with every pitcher, starter or reliever. I remember Joe had a great post about 2/5’s of the starting rotation is likely to land on the DL at some point during the season (hopefully Nova and Mitre, ha).

          • bpdelia

            no no fair enough. Not all of htem work out Mike. But its not a case closed that he will suck. And those guys he used were bad examples is all

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

      As far as I know, Soriano has never bodyslammed anyone…

      Who’s being disrespected now?

    • bpdelia

      not to mention people tend to NOT mention Tom Gordon who was fantastic and indispensable for the Yankees on his two year expensive deal and then was turned into JOba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy. Not too bad. No one mentions him though because he doesn’t help make their point.

  • Granderslam

    Joba to rotation…Duchscherer/Balfour in pen?

  • BavarianYankee

    I just hope they put Joba in the rotation again

    btw: Royals sign Jeff Francis :(

    • mike c

      jeff francis? the royals are screwed

  • jamy

    i would take joba’s 5 labored innings over mitre’s any day

  • OxxStone

    Still think that the yanks should try to trade for Wandy Rodriguez. He’s a very solid lefty who could do well in YS.

  • kenthadley

    Where’s TSJC? He’d figure this out.

  • steve (different one)

    If his shoulder is shredded, how can they trade him? Don’t trades depends on physicals and exchanging medical records?

    If the explanation IS a health issue, then it is very possible that using him in relief is the best way they can maximize their asset.

    This idea that we can pass along damaged goods for a return that is greater than Joba the reliever provides is questionable, no?

    If Joba IS healthy, I agree with every word of the rant. But if he isn’t, it’s not nearly as black and white as you make it sound.

    • Bulldozer

      This is a great and logical post regarding Joba. We don’t have perfect information. A team trading for Joba would want perfect information.

  • Joe

    While I agree with this in principle, it’s clear that Joba simply hasn’t been the same pitcher since that night in Texas when he left with a shoulder injury. Do I think he can be a capable starter? Maybe, but probably nothing more than league average, at this point, I’m afraid to say. I think the best approach would be to trade him. Are they selling low? Sure, but my sense is that for health reasons he’s simply not going to amount to much.

    • The Evil Umpire

      League average is still better than Mitre and probably Nova.

  • mike c

    the yankees owe nobody any explanations regarding joba… I’m sure you think you know better than they do, but you don’t

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      And yet like every other human being out there they make mistakes.

      • mike c

        how do you know they are making a mistake with joba? look I loved jobamania but I’m not going to pretend that I know better than the yankees management

        • The Real JobaWockeeZ

          Not saying Joba is a definite mistake just saying that the FO can make mistakes.

          It’s good to have faith in them and eys they know mroe than us but as they have shown they are capable of making mistakes time to time.

        • Hughesus Christo

          It was stupid to sign Soriano to a 3/35 contract to be a setup man.

          Sometimes I do.

          • jsbrendog (returns)

            a 12 million dollar set up man. for the love of god

          • OldYanksFan

            There is a difference between a ‘stupid’ signing, and overpaying a player. Soriano is being overpaid, but will most probably make us a better team… so it can’t be that stupid.

            • bpdelia

              EX-FREAKING-ACTLY

            • Oz

              Unless overpaying Soriano prevents them from signing someone else. Then it’s potentially stupid.

    • Big Juan

      Now, I’m certain there are things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Heck, Joba’s shoulder could be shredded for all I know.

      I’m pretty sure that qualifies as an acknowledgment of what you’re complaining about. Maybe read the whole article before scolding someone for having a strong opinion.

    • Russell NY

      I’m with you on this one. Joba was great in the pen when they needed him. Then they moved him into his rightful role as a starter. Now that he is back as a reliever, and the Yankees see that he isn’t that imposing figure, they can move him back to the rotation with the Soriano signing. I think the media, and starting to see to an extent, this sight, overplays the whole “we screwed up Joba” thing. Of course it is just my opinion but the kid hasn’t blown out his arm yet and he isn’t mentally screwed for life as some would make it seem.

      • Russell NY

        site*

  • T-Dubs

    Preach, brother!

  • David

    “It is pretty obvious by now that the Yanks have very little faith in Joba”. That is the key to all of the Joba nonsense, and better stated, it would be “It is pretty obvious by now that the Yanks, who know what they are doing about matters such as this, have very little faith in Joba”.

    What they need to find is a team that does look at Joba as a potentially key piece, perhaps seduced by his brilliant debut and/or his being in the American League East.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    simmer down now…

    there’s always a rant about the 8th, well if Mo pitches the ninth, and Soriano pitches the 8th, and Feliciano and Robertson pitch the 7th, that leaves Logan and Joba to pitch the sixth.

    That means Nova (third starter) and Mitre (fifth) only have to go five innings, meaning they won’t need to turn over the but twice…making them legit starters.

    CC has to go fourth so the relievers get a day off.

    Hughes or Burnett go first and second in whichever order causes your head not to explode.

    • Hughesus Christo

      It doesn’t matter how good the relievers are, they can only pitch so many times a week. If Joba is a part-time 6th inning reliever he needs to be moved to the rotation, traded, or cut. I don’t want him around doing that anymore.

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

      This is one thing that concerns me. Now we have an eighth inning guy that can’t lose the job, almost regardless of how poorly he pitches.

      It’s not the biggest deal, and he still upgrade’s the bullpen significantly, but I don’t like the inflexibility in that regard.

  • Hughesus Christo

    Joba is like the cute/quiet girl in your office that you’d love to take out but can’t because it wouldn’t be appropriate.

    Right? What?

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      appropriate schmapropriate

    • AndrewYF

      ‘Cute’ and ‘Quiet’ are just about the last things that come to mind when you mention Joba Chamberlain.

      • Hughesus Christo

        Cute:Slovenly
        Quiet:Grunty/Farty

        it all works

        • miketotheg

          LMFAO!!!

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      Depends if she has a bull in a china shop mentality or not.

  • JZ

    There are plenty of instances of pitchers having a rough first few years and then turning into very good starters. Johann Santana was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft; Cliff Lee had to go back to the minors before become Cliff Lee. As long as there aren’t real long-term health concerns with Joba, I see no reason why he can’t become a good starter in the future. Even diminished from ’07 he’s got good stuff, with a lively fastball and a nasty slider. His biggest problems so far seem to be getting jerked around by the team and a lack of maturity or focus or whatever it is that make him inconsistent. Joba can mature; he’s still just a kid. I fear that if they do trade him, he’s going to become a very good starter for someone else. Give him another chance.

    • choo choo

      Joba has a watermelon for a head. To compound that fact, his fastball (while relatively fast, depending on the day) is anything but lively. Rather, it is as straight as they come, which is why Joba throws so many 3-2 breaking balls.
      As far as getting jerked around by the team goes, if a pitcher is good enough, he overcomes all of that. He performs regardless of the circumstances.

      • choo choo

        Joba is more overrated than 10 Derek Jeters

      • JZ

        Especially towards the end of the season, he showed an ability to still dial up the fastball into the 96-97 range and just blow people away. He definitely still has the stuff. If anything, the reliance on those 3-2 breaking balls is a result of Joba’s watermelon head, as you aptly describe it. The question comes down to whether he can overcome his general denseness and flourish. I think he can. It’s not guaranteed, but there’s enough talent still there that it’s worth giving him another shot starting. He may be overrated, but that’s only if you’re looking at him as an ace. Mid-to-back of the rotation, he could be just what the Yanks need.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        “As far as getting jerked around by the team goes, if a pitcher is good enough, he overcomes all of that”

        Starting pitchers base everything on routines so how in the world can a young pitcher learning on the job can overcome something he had no control over.

      • pete

        You know nothing whatsoever about what kind of head joba has. Don’t talk about players’ mentalities/maturity levels/intelligence/ability to focus/etc., because unless you know the guy, and well, then you don’t know shit about that.

        He has been inconsistent over the past two years. That’s all that we know about that.

    • NYYFish

      Couldn’t agree more! I hope they give him another chance as a starter.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Dude, my thoughts exactly. Every single word.

  • bills

    Cashman should announce that Joba will enter spring training competing for a starting position period end of story. Stop jerking this guy around because he struggled in the first inning of some starts. They let AJ trot out every fifth day last year and let Dustin friggin Moseley have nine starts. Come on.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      you didn’t hear? joba has just been shifted to 4th OF/ rh bat off the bench

      • bills

        HAHA nice one can someone photoshop the Joba dive catch into center field?

  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    Even if they see Joba as a reliever only, he’s a good reliever, and he’s young, so if his shoulder was really shredded, they’d get it fixed. Considering the depth in the bullpen now, that would only make more sense. Get him healed (if the shoulder is bad) and have him back later in the season. When Jonathan Papelbon had a shoulder injury as a young reliever, the Sox decided, for the sake of his shoulder, to put him in the rotation (oh the irony). Joba, no matter what, is an asset, and I don’t see the Yankees sending a damaged asset out there if it’s only going to get worse. So within the next few months, Joba should either 1. Move to the rotation, 2. Get traded (I don’t like this option for the Yankees, but for Joba’s sake I do), or 3. Have surgery on his shoulder if it’s truly in bad shape.

    Option 4, having him be the 5th-6th inning man is simply a waste of talent.

  • Stultus Magnus

    Trade Joba, I’m tired of hearing about how the Yankees supposedly messed him up. The only pitcher the Yanks messed up recently was Wang when they botched his rehab program. Joba is a pitcher and for the first few years with the club he had to live with a less-than-clear long-term goal. Give me a break, he’s not a baby. Let him go, he’s proven that he’s only a decent reliever and/or a starter who is utterly slow and predictable. For all the talk, over the last two years this guy has had a 0.25 WAR. Enough with the Joba talk.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      So if he’s no good, what do you expect to get for him in a trade?

      • Stultus Magnus

        Oh please, if you read my post you could figure out in between the lines the answer is, in my opinion: “Not a whole lot”. You probably thought you snagged one of those fans with unrealistic expectations (i.e., Joba and Ramiro for King Felix!). Not the case.

        • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

          So what’s the point of trading him if you’re not going to get anything good back?

          • Stultus Magnus

            Hmmm, what’s the point of trading an average player who is a constant headache… Not sure, you got me.

            • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

              constant headache?

              Since when?

              • Stultus Magnus

                Really? It’s going to keep going on like this? Since he started shaking everybody off and trying to strike out every person with crappy breaking pitches. Since he started justifying every lousy outing with some lame BS.

                Any other inane questions? If you don’t agree then just state why you don’t agree.

                You trade one average/mediocre player for another to shake things up, because you are bored, because the player isn’t responding to coaches, etc. I know you aren’t this obtuse.

                • The Big City of Dreams

                  if he was a constant headache wouldn’t they have traded him a couple of yrs ago

    • hogsmog

      Too bad that out-WARs Mitre’s last two years… oh wait, his entire career. Joba’s 2009 was more innings than Mitre has ever thrown in a season, too.

      Nobody here thinks Joba is going to come out and and be the next ace. But even in his super shitty 2009, he still managed a 97 ERA+. That’s what I’m looking at, and that’s what you should, too. All we need is for someone to pass the ‘better than Mitre’ test, and luckily we’ve already got that in-house.

      • bills

        I love the “better than Mitre” test. Can that be the pitching equivalent of the Mendoza line?

      • CountZero

        Too bad that out-WARs Mitre’s last two years… oh wait, his entire career.

        Hey, Nail? How’s your head feeling right about now?

        And yes, the “better than Mitre test” should take its place right alongside the “Mendoza line” and “Womackian” as essential baseball vocabulary. :)

  • UncleArgyle

    The Yankees aren’t dumb, there are definatly internal discussions going on about converting Joba back to a starter, Cashman is just being stupid like a fox by not saying anything. Don’t be surprised if next month we find out Joba will be competing with Meat-Tray for the 5th starters spot.

    • kenthadley

      How is this sly? To what end? Same with Cash statements for the past month about not giving up a draft choice for a reliever. This provided no advantage when you look at the contract he signed Soriano for. If anything, he’d be telling everyone Joba was going to be a starter, so that he would mask his need for starting pitching. I think Olney has something when he talks about a split in the front office.

      • Ted Nelson

        You don’t know what Cashman’s goals are with the things he says, so you can’t say whether or not he’s accomplished them. We also don’t know what would and wouldn’t happen had he not said them. And neither does he. He’s looking at potential results and doing the best he can.

        Perhaps he could have signed Soriano to the exact same deal without the draft pick comments. Perhaps, though, if the Yankees made it well known they coveted Soriano Boras could have taken that information around to other teams and played up Soriano’s value. By staying silent maybe the Yankees kept other suitors quite, whereas by going public the other suitors might have stepped forward and sparked a mini-bidding war. Maybe Boston or Tampa would have stepped forward just to spite the Yankees with no intention of winning the bidding war. Boras is an especially stubborn, irrational, yet effective SOB and somehow finds a way to get teams to bid against themselves way above market value year-in and year-out.

        Perhaps meeting with Crawford the night before he signed with Boston despite having no interest in signing him did absolutely nothing, but perhaps it cost the Sox an extra year or few million. No downside really besides a few hours of Cashman’s time and some upside… so why not?

        I have no idea what he thinks of Joba or what his goals are there. Lots of possibilities. Perhaps he’s trying to motivate Joba somehow… Obviously they value relievers with the way they pay Mo and Soriano (plenty of other examples), so maybe he just really values Joba as a reliever and it’s that simple. I don’t hear constant bitching about the Yankees not sticking Mo in the starting rotation the way I do with Joba for some reason… He’s a great pitcher being “wasted” only throwing 60, 70 innings a season… Why not start him?

        • twac00

          As a starter Mo wasn’t nearly as effective as Joba and Mo essentially throws one pitch.

          • pete

            that. If Roger Clemens had been in the bullpen his whole career, people would have been bitching about it. Mariano came up at age 26 with one effective pitch. He was ineffective as a starter because of this.

            There are way too many pitchers out there with enough weapons to be effective in the bullpen to waste somebody with the much rarer ability to be effective as a starter in a much more easily filled role.

            • Ted Nelson

              Mo might not be a perfect comparison, but neither is Clemens. If Joba were Clemens he would not be in the bullpen. At 23 Clemens won the Cy Young in a brilliant season.

              I would try him as a starter again almost definitely, but maybe the Yankees see something I don’t. Whatever happens, his chance of being Roger Clemens is close to zero.

  • Hughesus Christo

    When does Joba’s arbitration hearing take place? Still convinced they’re trying to hurt his case and will “change their minds” before ST.

    • Mike Myers

      Arb is based on the past from what I understand. Also, to screw over your own for a few hundred K, isnt really what the Yanks do.

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

      The case is based on past stats, this does nothing. Even if he was a starter last year, they’d save about $1.5M tops. They just threw $35M at a middle reliever, I doubt Joba’s arb case is a concern.

      • Mike Myers

        I would say you copied me, but you replied at the exact same time with my answer, however you wrote it better. ha.

      • http://jukeofurl.wordpress.com Juke Early

        It is so good to agree with your entire opinion about Joba. In fact, I’d put you & Joe Paw in charge of the NYY any day. Starting yesterday.

      • Hughesus Christo

        Isn’t it also based on comps, which would change depending on his most recent use and intended use in the future? If Joba tries to comp his stats as a starter and the Yankees comp him as a reliever the difference in money can be significant. It would also change any future arbitration deals, possibly resulting in quite a bit of difference over time.

  • Ted Nelson

    “there’s no denying that they completely botched Joba’s long-term development”

    My biggest problem with all the Joba-apologists: to say this you would have to know that treating (“developing”) him differently would have led to better results. You can’t possibly know that. Plenty of pitchers with good stuff go through the minors one level per year and still never become successful major league starters for a wide variety of reasons. Other guys are “rushed” and still develop into quality starters.

    Certainly I would like to see Joba get another shot in the rotation, but I also absolutely do not think you can say there is no discussion to be had and the Yankees are/were/have been wrong. Joba might have gone through the minors slowly and still find himself in the bullpen whenever he made it to the Bronx. He might go into the starting rotation this season and have exactly whatever the negative outcome the Yankees fear is occur (be it injury and/or ineffectiveness).

    It’s the same thing people say about preps-to-pros in the NBA. People say that if player x had gone to college he would have “developed” into a better player. In some cases certainly that might be true. In other cases, though, the college game might have exposed player x as a mediocre player with a bad attitude and poor work ethic and left him undrafted. Instead, he was a top 5 pick with the paycheck to prove it.

  • Coolerking101

    While i agree with much of what Mike has to say, i think he is incorrect when he suggests that the worst case scenario of trying him as a starter again is that he flops/gets hurt and the team loses it’s 7th inning man. Worst case is actually losing a potentially elite reliever with Mo near retirement and Soriano certain to jump ship at seasons end leaving the 2012 team scrambling for a replacement.

    Joba as a reliever is insurance. Dont get me wrong, I’m not saying starting him is foolish, im just saying he has more potential value to the team than merely being a 7th inning guy this year.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      If Soriano jumps ship and Mo is close to retirement then the Yankees will just go out and acquire the top reliever at the moment.

  • hstuda

    The complaint people make about Joba being “wasted” as a reliever seems irrelevant and moot at this point. If it’s pretty clear to the Yankees scouts and coaches that Joba can’t hack it as a starter — that he lacks the mechanics, command, and ability to stay healthy (hardly a far flung notion for people who’ve actually watched him pitch the last couple years) — then getting “70 innings” out of the kid is hardly a waste of resources. 70-innings are better than zero innings.

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      If they didn’t beleive it then why go thrhough the many pains of 2009 the suddenly just stop?

      • Ted Nelson

        I have no idea what the Yankees do and do not believe about Joba. However, what they believed before the 2009 season does not have to be the same thing they believe before the 2011 season. They have more evidence and perhaps their opinion has changed (rightly or wrongly).

        Do you really want a front office that doesn’t react to situations as they emerge and just stubbornly holds onto their initial beliefs no matter what new evidence emerges? That’s sort of what you’re implying you want. Joba is just one example–and I don’t know if they’re right or wrong here, or even what they believe here–but as a rule I’d prefer a front office that processes and reacts to information as they get it than a stubborn bunch that refuses to change their stand on players.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      70 innings as a middle reliever for a team that has no use for him is a waste of resources. He’s not closing games or setting up Mo so why keep him around to be a mop up guy.

  • Mike Myers

    By the way….
    That magnet necklace that all the players wear (and joba sells) was proven to be misleading to consumers. One of the companies just admitted it in a class action lawsuit.

  • Ted Nelson

    “Signing Soriano doesn’t help the rotation at all, Sergio Mitre can still stink up the first five innings just as easily as he could have before.”

    I made this comment on the last thread, but YES IT DOES HELP. It doesn’t make up for it, but it helps. Starters are clearly more important, but that doesn’t mean the bullpen is useless.

    If Mitre stinks up the first five innings, there are still 4 innings of baseball left to be played 44% of the game). If the Yankees are in a 3, 4, 5 run hole that’s a very winnable game as the other team’s starter tires and their middle relievers come into the game. It’s a winnable game only if the Yankees bullpen holds. If Mitre leaves with 2 men on and the reliever immediately gives up a 3-run HR… that game is a lot less winnable suddenly.

    It’s not just about Soriano in, presumably, the 8th inning. That also means that the Joba’s, Robertson’s, Logan’s, Feliciano’s can come into the game earlier. In that 1 out in the 6th, 2 men on, Yankees down a few runs already situation. It also theoretically could mean shorter starts for the Nova’s and Mitre’s and injury prone retread FA’s and Noesi/Phelps/Brackman’s of the world. 2 times through the order and not facing the other team’s best hitters a third time as their arms tire.

  • Pat D

    Well, Marchand’s already pitching this as a way to lure Pettitte back to the team, even if it’s not till April or May.

    Because we expect Andy to be swayed by the signing of a set-up man?

  • Dismortologist

    IMO there are 2 reasons to start Joba & not letting him languish in the BP as non-factor reliever…

    1. If he does well through June, he can at LEAST, improve his stock as trade bait for a more proven starter.
    2. If their reluctance to start him is fear of his shoulder issues then they will firmly find out if he can physically handle starting… if he can’t, then just cut bait for crying out loud.

    • Ted Nelson

      If, theoretically, his body/work ethic/stuff can’t handle starting that does not mean he can’t handle relieving. There is a downside to “cutting bait” which is losing a potentially very good reliever.

      The Yankees might also have told him that if he shows up in shape and works hard he could be a starter, in which case their continual “at this time” comments might translate to he hasn’t put in the work we asked him to and when he does maybe he can start. One reason Hughes was favored for a rotation spot last offseason was because he busted his butt at the Yankees facility that offseason while Joba showed up out of shape.

      • bills

        How do you know that Joba 1) appeared out of shape last year or 2) suffers from a current shoulder injury? Is there any basis for that statement at all?

        • Ted Nelson

          I don’t know what you’re talking about with the shoulder injury. I never once said that. “If” and “theoretically”… look those words up.

          There were plenty of reports that Hughes was working all offseason at the training complex and that Joba was not working as hard. People were shocked that the Yankees already favored Hughes, but that decision wasn’t made in a vacuum because they think he’s sexier. There have also been plenty of reports that Joba worked harder when Clemens was around pushing him and his conditioning has fallen off since.

          One way or another he is portly and didn’t pitch well last season. One of the things that really bugs me about the Joba-fanatics is that he pitched like crap from the bullpen a lot of last season, yet people were crying their eyes out that he wasn’t in the rotation. Generally you don’t take someone who is struggling in their current position and promote them to a harder position with more responsibility. It’s like no matter what he does Joba is immune and the Yankees are at fault. At some point he is responsible for his own performance.

          I agree that he should get another shot in the rotation unless the Yankees have great reasons not to give it to him, but I don’t feel sorry for the guy or consider him a helpless victim of his circumstances the way a lot of people seem to. If that were the case we could say the same thing about every single baseball player and credit their front office rather than them for their successes and failures. Clearly we credit those to the individual player, so Joba needs to suck it up and do the best he can in the situations he is put into. When he does that he can complain about not getting a shot to start.

          • twac00

            Last season Joba had a 9.67 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, .342 BABIP, 66.6% LOB%, 2.98 FIP. Joba pitched very well last season. It just doesn’t look that way because he was pretty unlucky.

  • Brendan

    I don’t mind the Soriano move at all. You guys all act like your last name is Steinbrenner and it is your GD money. As for Joba. The guy is a dope, the real life Nook LaLoosh. He will be gone soon enough and be a mediocre starter in the NL

    • Stultus Magnus

      Agreed. Let him throw his 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, and 4-2 sliders elsewhere (all the while shaking off his catcher 4 times…)

      • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

        Or you could just let him develop as a pitcher so he gains confidence in other pitches in certain situations.

        • Stultus Magnus

          He was developed as a pitcher. He wasn’t a reliever in college or the minors (as you know). So he should have some confidence as a starter. And if he doesn’t, then he needs to trust that his catcher will call a decent game. And if he doesn’t, then he needs to just trust his stuff. And if he doesn’t, then you trade him.

          • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

            You know he pitched less than a full season in the minors, right?

          • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

            He was “developed” in the minors for all of 88 IP, where he was never hit so he never had to adjust – he had to “develop” in the AL East as a 22-23 year old. He was good as a starter in 2008, started good in 2009, then he got hit in late July/August, and hasn’t started a game since.

            Call me crazy but I don’t expect a finish product after ~200 IP in the AL East.

            • Stultus Magnus

              @Zack and Kiersten:
              Yes, I am aware that he did not spend a lot of time in the minors. I don’t expect a “finished product” at this point either, necessarily. But I expect a lot more than what I’ve seen from Joba as a starter. Joba was decent as a starter for his age but he still had issues and he seemed unwilling or unable to correct these issues (Seriously, what idiot rookie shakes off a catcher and steps off the mound every other pitch and then proceed to throw junk in the dirt until he’s at 100 pitches at 5 and 2/3rds innings???). I understand that having him be the 2nd 7th inning guy when Mitre starts is a bit ridiculous. But Mitre isn’t going to be a full-time starter, he will be a fill-in starter and a mop-up guy. I’m all for having Joba start again, but only as long as that means he is finally jettisoned when he has another average to mediocre season of taxing the bullpen and not trusting his stuff or his catchers.

              • pete

                I expect a lot more than what I’ve seen from Joba as a starter.

                As a starter, Joba was better than Jon Lester was at the same age.

                • pete

                  Oh, and I should add:

                  Johan Santana
                  Cliff Lee
                  Roy Halladay
                  Zach Greinke

                  and countless others.

        • Stultus Magnus

          “Pitcher” should be “starter” in the first sentence.

    • Bill O.

      Agree, the Soriano move is good. Spending on elite relievers like Soriano doesn’t backfire too often unless they get injured. Closers like Soriano are likely to repeat their performance because they’re good whereas setup/middle relievers are often times just lucky. Plus the team has the money to spend. I mean we had 25M a year earmarked for Cliff Lee and another 13M for Pettitte. Spending less than 12M on Soriano won’t hamper the Yankees from doing anything especially with an offense that is basically set through next year.

      As for Joba I think the Yankees view him for what he is a good (but not great) reliever who is a bad starter. The bad starter thing is not proven, but he fell apart in 2009 and I really don’t think it was related to the innings limitations. Plenty of successful starters have been broken into the major leagues via the bullpen. Plenty have seen innings limitations. Why do the Yankees get blamed when similar practices happen around the league? Maybe not the same situation as Joba’s, but the principals behind it are similar enough where you can’t blame the Yankees. In hindsight they might’ve tried something different but generally speaking people put too much blame on the Yankees. There are far more instances of pitchers getting burnt out from overuse early in their career than there are instances of guys who struggled because of innings limitations and role changes.

      • whozat

        Spending on elite relievers that aren’t Mo always backfires. The best case is that they stay healthy and it turns out they don’t help you win THAT many more games. The common case is that they get hurt or start to suck. There was a fangraphs article about this in the last month.

        • Ted Nelson

          “Spending on elite relievers that aren’t Mo always backfires.”

          Clearly false. Always? Really?

          There are any number of ways this could work out for the Yankees. Starting with a good season, leaving as a Type A, and the Yankees turning 1 early 2011 draft pick into 2 early 2012 draft picks.

          The Yankees, by the way, are in a situation where the marginal value of even one win might be far higher than $10 mill. One win could mean the difference between a long and lucrative post-season run and missing the playoffs altogether. One win could mean the difference in a playoff series. One win for the Yankees could have a ton of cash riding on it.

          I don’t know that this was a good move, but I do know you can’t dismiss it as a bad innings before he throws a single pitch in pinstripes (unless he gets hurt before his first pitch I suppose).

  • choo choo

    Right on Brendan– Joba is A Watermelon Head headed for Pittsburgh

    • Brendan

      Hilarious! Everyone gets a chub over the night he beat Boston and Beckett in Fenway. To me that is it for him as a starter. His lack of mental fortitude willl prevent him from ever being great so bye bye

  • Jacob

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. Unless Joba is injured, he deserves another shot at the rotation. His numbers as a starter (43 GS, 221.2 IP, 12-7 W-L, 4.19 ERA, 101 BB, 206 K, 4.27 FIP) are decent. For a 22 and 23 year old pitching in the AL East, they are excellent. At age 25, it’s not too late to make him a starter again.

    I’m not a huge fan of the Soriano signing as well, especially given his injury history. But, I guarantee you if he pitches anywhere near his 2009 & 2010 numbers, nobody will be talking too much about the high salary during the season. If the Yanks have a lead after the 7th, they are going to be near impossible to beat. It reminds me a lot of the Mo/Wetteland combo in 1996. How sick did that used to be?!

    • JZ

      The important difference between Mo/Soriano and Wetland/Mo is that in ’96 the duo was lights-out for three innings. All you needed was a quality start and the game was effectively over. That was a psychological weapon almost as great as their fastballs. If the Mo/Soriano are only good for two innings, it’s nice but there’s still plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong in the seventh.

  • sully00

    I am all for him going back to starting but it wasn’t a mistake to put him back in the pen. The kid forgot how to throw strike one, sending him down to Scranton so he can over match guys with no plate discipline, who can’t hit a curve or turn on a fastball might have helped his trade value but not his development, his problem is in between his ears not his stuff. No need to deal him it is his 5th season in Pro ball if he earns a job in the rotation good for him if not he goes back into the pen.

    • Bill O.

      His stuff is also a problem. He doesn’t have the pitchability or control to be successful without blowing guys away. If he did the stuff would be fine, but ever since he lost the 2008 stuff he only flashes brillance because his control/mechanics are so inconsitent that he can’t put the ball where he wants to. If he could he’d be successful with his current stuff either in the rotation or the bullpen, but without it his stuff is not good enough.

  • choo choo

    He incessantly shakes off his catcher and wants to throw 3-2 sliders because he knows his fast ball is STRAIGHT and hittable, with no movement at all. That’s a constant whether he starts, relieves, or is the third option as an eighth inning man, which is where he finished the season.

  • Dave the Ox

    Perhaps a plan might be for Joba is relieve Mitre in the second or third inning and then grunt through three or four until KRob can come in?

  • Tank Foster

    I agree Joba should be allowed to start again, at least have a shot at it.

    I want to say, though….on a forum where we have very high standards for objectivity, for rationed, reasoned arguments supported by facts, etc., I don’t think there is room for the oft-repeated line that the Yankees “mis-handled” Joba.

    We can create all the narratives we want, but the fact is, there is no evidence anywhere that switching a pitcher from starting to relief roles, or changing their innings limitations, etc., “messes up” their development. I know of very few comprehensive assessments of something like pitcher usage pattern and performance, and such an analysis in Joba’s case is at best a correlation study, which is by definition weak.

    Maybe, it’s just the injury he sustained, to his rotator cuff. Maybe, he was just on a little hot streak there in ’07 and early ’08, and he’s no better than an average pitcher.

    If someone has the ability to be a front of rotation or middle rotation major league starter, making him pitch in the bullpen and subjecting him to uneven usage a little early in his career shouldn’t be able to derail him into a journeyman.

    I think there is still a chance for him to develop into a good pitcher. I think he’s been derailed by injuries, and sometimes it can take 3 or 4 YEARS for a pitcher to fully recover. How good is he? I don’t know, but he should be starting.

    • bpdelia

      exactly. In fact for many any years it was standard procedure to develop talented pitchers in the bullpen.

      I think the mistake was letting him start the 2008 season in NY. Big mistake. They should have sent him back down to AAA and let him build his innings. HE would have had more time to refine the change and curve which were what made him a SP prospect in the first place.
      IT was obviously the injury and there is no evidence that anything the yankees did led to that injury. There are many pitchers who are swing men and that’s what Joba was in those days.

      They probably hindered his development by rushing him but he is where he is because of the injury.

    • whozat

      There’s absolutely an argument that they mis-handled Joba, and it has nothing to do with trying to guess what would have happened to him had they played it different.

      After the 2009 season, they had a choice about what to do with Joba…put him in the rotation, consign him to the pen forever, or put him on the block as a young starter with lots of upside. They chose the pen, which created the least amount of short-term AND long-term value for the team. That’s mismanaging resources.

      • Ted Nelson

        There’s an ARGUMENT, but people state it as if it’s a fact. Including Mike in the above article.

        And, yes, you have to consider the alternative to discuss whether he’s been mis-handled. If the alternative would have led to the same long-term results you have no case.

        “which created the least amount of short-term AND long-term value for the team.”

        You absolutely cannot say anything about the long-term value he created. You have to know his trade value and his long-term value as a starter to say that. The Yankees must be REALLY STUPID for making the decision to put Mo in the pen 15 years ago. REALLY STUPID. Should have started him or traded him. No value as a reliever whatsoever. Good point.

      • MattG

        Mismanaging a resource is not the same as mismanaging Joba. People are arguing he’s not the pitcher he should be because of the management. Your saying he is the pitcher he should be, but his valued is lessened because of the management. Two different things.

    • Ted Nelson

      If anything, innings limits should help a young pitcher develop. The exact same people who cry for Joba all day also crush Dusty Baker for killing Prior and Wood’s arms and Torre for riding his relievers. They’re just looking for something to criticize.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        It’s not the fact that they wanted to limit his innings but protecting young arms is important. Where they messed up is how they went about it especially in the months of Aug/Sep of 2009. 3-4 inning relief starts what the hell.

        • Ted Nelson

          The alternatives were to give him a few starts, bench him, and not have him for the playoffs or to use him strictly out of the pen and go with Mitre like starting options. Mitre like starting options is exactly what people are crying about now.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            My point is the plan they outlined was not a good one.

  • bpdelia

    you know the more I hear about the supposed “real” reason joba’s in the pen (i.e that his shoulder is bad) the less sense it makes. SO WHAT!?? He’s now a straight up league average middle reliever. If he has these shoulder issues, well I’d rather he get hurt starting. Not to mention I’ve yet to see any definitive study showing that relieving is less stressful on teh arm than starting. Relievers hurt their shoulders too.

    This post pretty much sums up my feelings on Joba also.
    THere are no more excuses now. You have a lockdown 8th inning guy. You have Drob as your middle reliever. You have 2 Loogys.

    There is no reason anymore to not put this guy back in the rotation.

    ANd as I said elsewhere. Enough of the “don’t mess with his head” crap. It isn’t 2008. Joba is not a 23 year old elite Sp prospect. He is a middling middle reliever trying to find a spot in this organization. ONE WITH OPTIONS NO LESS. He’s no more important that Nova, or Aveves, or Ramiro Mendoza, Mitre or Chad Gaudin (ok maybe more than Gaudin and Mitre).

    What makes JOba so special that he can’t be a swingman? What makes him still be treated with any kind of kid gloves. IT’s time to treat JOba like what he is. A Middle reliever who has the stuff (even his diminished 2009 stuff) to be an effective starting pitcher at the back of this rotation for a team freindly price.

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      Nova, or Aveves, or Ramiro Mendoza, Mitre or Chad Gaudin

      One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.

      • bpdelia

        lol. I was just refering to the fact that NOva was used as GASP as reliever AND a starter because he’s not viewed as an “elite” prospect. THe idea being that if you aren’t an elite prospect we can move you around where we like. I.e. Nova last year, or gaudin and Mitre for their entire careers. OR Ramiro Mendoza who made a nice little career out of being moved back and forth. Mendoza always wanted to start but it wasn’t up to him.
        THis is just in response to the inevitable reaction you get to people against this move. They always cry “DOn’t mess with him anymore. Keep him a reliever.”

        WEll tough cookies. IT’s not “messing” with someone to switch them back and forth as needed. Unless you are an elite prospect you don’t get that kind of treatment. Guys get moved back and forth constantly and it’s not considered “messing” it’s not “messing” with Aceves or MEndoza to make them starters then relievers than starters so why is it “messing” with JOba to do that.

        • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

          Ah ok, I got ya. I was referring to Mendoza since he pitched like 10 years ago.

          • bpdelia

            ha I thought you were refering to Nova because he is the only one on that list who is young and is still considered a full time “starter”. Though even with him it’s always been a debate about whether he has enough to be able to stick as a bad rotation guy.

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Keeping Joba in the pen was all fine and dandy when Phil Hughes was our fifth starter. When it’s SERGIO EFFING MITRE, it’s just batshit insane.

    • http://dontbringinthelefty.blogspot.com Lucas Apostoleris, aka don’t_bring_in_the_lefty

      This is a good way of looking at it

    • miketotheg

      I actually had visions of joba closing games for hughes for the rest of their careers and an eventual “can they beat Petit and Rivera’s record for starter saves combos?” post.

      just sayin.

  • Brian in NH

    Just want to join in the outrage of Joba not being a starter. That is all

  • Ted Nelson

    I find it interesting that the Joba moaning is constant, yet I have not heard one person say either Mo or Soriano or Robertson should be given a chance in spring training to improve the starting rotation rather than being “wasted” for 60-70 innings in the bullpen. If relievers are really so utterly useless and easily replaceable, all those guys should go into spring training competing for rotation spots, no?

    I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other, but I do think people should at least be consistent on the subject.

    • bpdelia

      Mo had a chance to be starter as did Soriano. Neither of them had the repetoire to pull it off. Joba has had a plus FB, a plus slider and a league average cb. Mo really only had his fb and a change. Soriano didn’t have a third pitch.

      It’s not that relievers aren’t valuable. It’s that starters are more valuable. SO if he’s can be a more or less league average starter that is more valuable than a 6th ot 7th inning middle reliever. (the way relievers are used now. If this was 1978 it’d be a different story.)

      • Ted Nelson

        “Mo really only had his fb and a change.”

        There’s that one pitch he’s actually famous for and it’s neither of those…

        “It’s not that relievers aren’t valuable. It’s that starters are more valuable.”

        I agree and so do the Yankees. That’s why they offered Lee over 20 mill per for 7 years and Soriano over 10 mill per for 3 years. If they do not ever give Joba a chance to start again clearly the Yankees feel he is more valuable as a reliever than a starter. I don’t know why they feel that way or if they are right. I do know that they are not stupid enough to not realize starters are more valuable, as proven by their contract offers to various starters and relievers over the years.

        That’s one thing that bugs me about the fanatical Joba-love: the implication that the Yankees are complete morons who don’t know that starters are generally more valuable than relievers.

        • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

          There’s that one pitch he’s actually famous for and it’s neither of those

          Mariano didn’t use the cutter until 1997.

          http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c...../index.htm

        • bpdelia

          yes but ted he didn’t develop the cutter until 1997. He didn’t have a cutter in the minors, he didn’t have a cutter n 1995, he didnt have a cutter i 1996.

          Go read that SPorts Illustrate article from last year.

          IN fact no ne even taught him the cutter. RIvera actually claims that God gave it to him in 1997.

          THats’s straight from his mouth.

          But yeah, he didn’t have the cutter until 1997 Ted.

          • Ted Nelson

            The point is still that they could have stuck with Mo as a starter or traded him. That’s what a lot of people are insisting they “HAVE” to do with Joba. Start him or ditch him. No middle ground. No value at all in relievers. No chance that maybe the Yankees aren’t total morons and are right that his value is greater as a reliever than as a starter. They are obviously wrong and know nothing at all about baseball.

            I get tired of reading that over, and over, and over without even lipservice being paid to the possibility that they are right. Not saying they are right, I’m saying they could be right. It worked out pretty well with Mo.

            • Ted Nelson

              Also, once he developed the cutter they could have moved him to the rotation.

              • pete

                One pitch still probably would not have been enough, though. That’s the point.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Fastball, change, cutter… And there’s a chance in the rotation he could have developed a more complete repertoire that was unnecessary in the pen. I just find it hard to believe a guy with a career 2.23 ERA over 1,150 innings could not have been a league average starter if he maintained his health.

            • The Big City of Dreams

              The reason there is no middle ground is because at the moment Joba has no role on the team. It would be one thing if he was the 8th inning guy but he’s not. He’s a dime a dozen middle reliever that can be replaced easily.

              • Ted Nelson

                I disagree. I don’t think the 8th and 9th are as much more important than the 6th and 7th as people make them out to be. If he pitches 60-70 innings it’s not that important to me where it comes, as long as it’s not completely low leverage situations.

                A game where you’re down 4 runs in the 5th or 6th inning and have to remove the starter is not lost if the bullpen holds. If you replace him with some generic mediocre middle reliever… then it’s probably a sure thing loss when the pen gives up a few.

                I would let him try to start most likely. But If he pitches well from the pen I’m fine with it.

                • The Big City of Dreams

                  If there is no great importance in the 8th and 9th inning as opposed to the 6th and the 7th than those 4 slots would be interchangeable but they aren’t. At worst he would get replaced by a league average middle reliever not a mediocre one

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      If a player is a top prospect, has multiple pitches, and projects as a starter – he should get chances to develop as a starter. If a player has 1 pitcher, can’t sustain his stuff for 100 pitchs, or hasn’t started a game since high school, he shouldn’t be expected to be a SP.

      • Ted Nelson

        He did have a chance, and for whatever reason(s) the Yankees seem to have concluded he is more valuable to them as a reliever. You can disagree, but you can’t just say they are undoubtedly wrong without having all the information they do or even knowing their reasoning.

        Perhaps they’re bluffing for some reason and will give him a shot. Perhaps they have concluded that he can’t throw 100 pitches and is a reliever. I have no idea.

        • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

          We didn’t have all the information when they signed an injury prone Pavano, so no one gets to criticize that move right?

          • Ted Nelson

            You can say that you disagree, but at this point you simply cannot state as fact that they’re wrong.

            • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

              With the information available, they are wrong. If there’s secret info that comes out later that is a legit reason why they won’t let him start, fine.

              • Ted Nelson

                My point is that you can’t say they’re wrong until things play out. They signed Pavano, he almost never pitched for them… they were wrong. If Joba never makes anything of himself as a major league starter after leaving, and/or if he becomes a HOF closer… it will be hard to say they were wrong.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          A yr and half as a starter is not enough of a chance especially when the kid was 23/24 at the time.

          • Ted Nelson

            It’s not my opinion I am referring to… It’s the Yankees. I have ZERO idea why they don’t think he’s a starter. Right now it seems like they don’t, though. They are not completely stupid and they do know a bit about baseball. Maybe there is actually a method to their madness (or maybe they are going to let Joba start again at some point).

            • The Big City of Dreams

              They do know a little bit about baseball but they have made their share of mistakes. These are the same guys that thought Javy the second time around was a good idea.

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      Joba was a starter his whole career until 2007 and has multiple pitches. Also, Mo was converted to a closer, which has a lot more value than a 6th or 7th inning guy, which is what Joba is going to be this year.

      • bpdelia

        exactly. Mo was never an elite SP prospect and he had one elite pitch which was a hard but straight fastball.

        And even before he was converte to a closer he was one of the last guys to be used as a maximum return set up guy. 107 innings over 61 games. Rivera went from middling starter back rotation prospect with one plus pitch to a guy pitching two high leverage innings a night. He wasn’t a 6th inning 2/3 of an inning reliever. That season he was consistently called on in the 7th inning and pitched two innings. Relievers aren’t used like that anymore so anything other than a closer (and even there we can debate) is less valuable than a starter

      • Ted Nelson

        No. Mo was a swingman and then earned a spot as John Wetteland’s set-up man. Get your facts straight.

        Mo had nothing handed to him. He earned it. Still, though, the Yankees could have just as easily kept trying him as a starter or traded him as many are suggesting they “have” to do with Joba. If Joba had actually done well in relief last season I can see saying he deserves the chance to start. As it stands he didn’t really earn it, though I think the Yankees should give him a shot too. I don’t feel bad for him if they don’t, though.

        • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

          So Mo’s 5.51 ERA (as a 25 year old) earned him his setup spot the next year?

          • Ted Nelson

            Really? Overall ERA for the season? How about his 5.1 scoreless post-season innings? How about his pitching a lot better in in the 2nd half after getting rocked in the first half? Mo gradually worked his way into the closer role, from swingman, to set-up man, to closer. Kiersten’s comment stated that Mo went from starter to closer. That’s not what happened. That’s all I’m saying.

            • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

              His 2nd half ERA was 4.97. It was 5.54 in August and 5.79 in September. Robust.

              • Ted Nelson

                Why are we only looking at ERA????????

                http://www.baseball-reference......5&t=p

                Check out the way hitters feasted on him the first two months compared to the last 3 months. Opponents’ OPS, WHIP, K/9… all improved and came together in the playoffs for a great run.
                Also look at his starts vs. relief appearances. 1.7 WHIP as a starter compared to 1.0 WHIP as a reliever.

                You can’t say anything based on anyone’s season long ERA across 67 innings.

        • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

          No. Mo was a swingman and then earned a spot as John Wetteland’s set-up man. Get your facts straight.

          Don’t be rude.

          Mariano started in ’95, or is Baseball Reference lying?

          • Ted Nelson

            “Mo was converted to a closer, which has a lot more value than a 6th or 7th inning guy, which is what Joba is going to be this year.”

            Again, no. That’s not rude, it’s just wrong. He was a swingman in 95: 10 starts, 9 relief appearances. He was a set-up man in 96. And he earned the closer role by 97.

            • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

              Your earlier comment was about earning the setup role, not the closers role.

              • Ted Nelson

                I have no idea what you mean.

                I quote the exact quote I was responding to above: “Mo was converted to a closer, which has a lot more value than a 6th or 7th inning guy, which is what Joba is going to be this year.”

                He was not converted from starter to closer. Period.

                He did earn the set-up role. Simply listing his ERA the season before means absolutely nothing. He got better as the season went on and had his coming out party in the playoffs. He earned a shot as a more prominent relief role the next season. He got a chance and excelled. He earned it. Joba had a chance to be the #2 reliever in 2010 handed to him on a silver platter and failed. When he gets his stuff together I will join the chorus outraged he’s not starting. As long as he’s a mediocre relief pitcher I will hope he gets a shot to start but not really care if he doesn’t.

                • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

                  Mo was a swingman and then earned a spot as John Wetteland’s set-up man

                  And he earned the closer role by 97.

                  Mo did go from starter to closer, not directly, but that was the transition. He began as a starter, ended up a closer. Nowhere did Kiersten say or imply otherwise. She never said he failed as a starter so they handed him the closers role to see how that work.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    “Mo was converted to a closer, which has a lot more value than a 6th or 7th inning guy, which is what Joba is going to be this year.”

                    Have you not read that?

                    It implies Mo was converted from starter to closer. “Converted to a closer.” He was not. It’s incorrect. Period. He spent a season and a half in the pen before he was a closer. He was not converted from starter to closer in one fell swoop.

                    Joba could be a closer in a year or two also if he earns it (a year if Mo gets hurt or has a change of heart and walks away from the last year). He’s not stuck as a 6th or 7th inning guy and when the Yankees stopped starting Mo IT WAS NOT SO HE COULD CLOSE. Heck, maybe if he pitched really well last season in the set-up role Joba would already be the Yankees closer in 2011.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      And, anyway, how much more valuable is a 9th inning guy than 6th inning guy anyway? Staying in games in the 6th inning might be just as important to the Yankees as closing out close ones.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      Mo, Soriano and Robertson don’t have the stuff to be starters.

  • bpdelia

    If things stay as are it’s difficult to make the argument that Mitre isn’t the FOURTH starter on this team. NOva would be the fifth starter.

    It would be one thing if JOba was out of options. But I see ZERO harm in starting him out in SWB. His subtraction from the pen is now utterly irrelevant. Snce DROB pitched as well as him last year you are losing your second best middle reliever.

    He has options. IF he had to clear waivers, sure, you don’t want to be forced to make JOba a starter in the ML. But if he fails starting in SWB (I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT, I would bet he will dominate even with his 2009 stuff) then no harm no fail you move him back to the pen. If he succeeds, and I bet he will, he comes back with the most confidence he’s had since late 2008.

    win win

    • Ty

      This. It’s also a nice reality check for him to start him at SWB and make him “earn” his way back to the ML roster by doing the things many feel he hasn’t (been in shape/working hard etc…)

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      I thought there was a cut-off date last year where he had to be exposed to waivers in order for him to be sent down, because of his service time.

      • bpdelia

        really? Hm, you may be right I was going strictly off what seems like his situation. It seems like he wouldn’t have enough time yet that he would have to clear waivers. THis should be his last season with options. But I’m not familiar with all of the minutae of the service time calendar.

        If anyone could get that info it would help greatly.

        ANd if thats the case they really dropped the ball last year by not having him start the season in AAA

        • Ed

          Joba has 3 options remaining – none of his were ever used.

          However, once you reach the 3 year anniversary of when you were first added to the ML roster, you cannot be optioned without going through waivers first. For Joba, that date was early August of last year.

  • Stultus Magnus

    Posted again:
    @Zack and Kiersten:
    Yes, I am aware that he did not spend a lot of time in the minors. I don’t expect a “finished product” at this point either, necessarily. But I expect a lot more than what I’ve seen from Joba as a starter. Joba was decent as a starter for his age but he still had issues and he seemed unwilling or unable to correct these issues (Seriously, what idiot rookie shakes off a catcher and steps off the mound every other pitch and then proceed to throw junk in the dirt until he’s at 100 pitches at 5 and 2/3rds innings???). I understand that having him be the 2nd 7th inning guy when Mitre starts is a bit ridiculous. But Mitre isn’t going to be a full-time starter, he will be a fill-in starter and a mop-up guy. I’m all for having Joba start again, but only as long as that means he is finally jettisoned when he has another average to mediocre season of taxing the bullpen and not trusting his stuff or his catchers.

    • bpdelia

      I agree the shaking off was infuriating and he needs to be told that won’t fly anymore. But Even after this season there would be no reason to jettison him if he were a league average 5 2/3 ip pitcher ( he’d be up around 175 innings then). He would still be 27 and have only 2 seasons starting. It takes multiple years to develop as a SP. By this logic Bucholz would have been jettisoned. Likewise Hughes. There is nothing wrong with a guy putting up league average starts for two years. HEll there is nothing wrong with league average starts for a career! So while his attitude was an issue, we need to realign expectations.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay had a ton of issues despite more time and patience than Joba got.

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      Seriously, what idiot rookie shakes off a catcher and steps off the mound every other pitch and then proceed to throw junk in the dirt until he’s at 100 pitches at 5 and 2/3rds innings

      You should watch other young SP around the league. Clay Buchholz used to get so flustered that he would do pick off moves when the runner was standing on first base, and Jason Varitek was behind the plate. (Shocking I know)

      Like I said before, he was a 22-23 year old kid in the AL East who was struggling for the first time in his career. If you want to turn that into something more than it is then fine, but if he was on any other team it would just be a young SP going through development stages.

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

      Are you serious? Every young pitcher has a pitch count problem. Hughes had the same exact issue last season, except he was throwing too many fastballs instead of too many breaking balls like Joba.

      How is the kid going to learn if you don’t let him start? It’s a development process, yet no one seems to give a shit.

  • Yanko

    Let it go, Mike…

  • OldYanksFan

    Does anyone wonder why Joba didn’t show up for 2010 in FANTASTIC shape, with a new attitude? Will he show up in 2011 in FANTASTIC shape, with a new attitude? It’s one thing to be CC and be overweight, as CC has already proved himself. But when you are 25, and have a ‘questionable’ position on a team, shouldn’t you be doing everything in your power to present the ‘best you’?

    We can blame the Yankees for Joba…. but is the kid doing anything to help himself?

    Frankly, I thing Joba’s early fame was too much for him to handle. He still acts like he has a sub 2.00 ERA.

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      How does he act like he has a sub 2.00?

    • OldYanksFan

      P.S. I mean, even Brian Bruney transformed himself over 1 winter. What’s with Joba?

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

        You just gave evidence to the contrary. Brian Bruney (and Jon Albaladejo) lost weight over various winters and still sucked. It’s not like he’s grossly overweight, he’s a big dude. Let’s stop acting like he’s Bartolo Colon.

        • Dave the Ox

          Any reports of Larry Rothschild in Nebraska?

        • Ted Nelson

          There’s no way to say anything definitively, but you also can’t act like there is no correlation between work ethic and physical conditioning, on the one hand, and performance as a ML pitcher on the other.

          There is a possibility his work ethic and conditioning are sub-par. We can’t really say whether it is or is not the case as a fact given what we know (though it’s constantly hinted at by people with direct contact to Yankees officials). The Yankees know a lot more than us about these things, though. They have the ability to actually test and observe Joba’s conditioning and work ethic. They have a better idea about whether this is a strength or weakness for Joba and to what extent.

        • bpdelia

          Might I also point out that fat asses can be extremely good pitchers. David Wells, Sid Fernandez and Boston Era Roger Clemens say “HELLO!”

          • Ted Nelson

            Roger Clemens had a legendary work ethic. Just because someone has a certain body weight means nothing about the conditioning that underlines it or how it impacts their body. David Wells could go out drinking all night and throw a no-hitter the next day. Joba may or may not have the same ability.

            Joba’s weight is by no means proof he can’t start, but there is also a chance his conditioning is one reason or the reason the Yankees won’t start him.

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      Cause all big pitchers suck. Just like David Wells and CC Sabathia. Oh, and some dude named Roger Clemens, maybe you’ve heard of him?

      • bpdelia

        alright dude. Are you in my living room reading my posts before i post them. COme on now. OI got you on el sid though

    • Mike HC

      It is pretty obvious to anyone who really wants to see that Joba is not the most disciplined of guys and could have a better work ethic. But he is still on of our top 5 starters right now, and maybe our 3rd best starter. He should be starting.

  • Brendan

    My last comment on all this as I just read Tom Verducci’s column. I am now convinced that the Yankees could sign Jesus Christ and the main stream media would b##ch about him not curing enough lepers or making enough fish and loaves from stones. The worldwide leader up in Bristol would have you belive the Sox could sign a homeless man and he would produce for them. It really makes me want to puke. A 3 year $35 mil contact and loss of a crappy draft pick ain’t no thang to a billion dollar empire. Some people need to take an econ 101 glass and research capitalism and stop crying.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      Sox could sign a homeless man and he would produce for them.

      And his name would be Ted Williams.

    • Mike

      I think he’s just surprised Boras was able to squeeze so much from Cashman when the market was non existent. It almost seemed like someone above Cashman got antsy and gave Boras a blank check.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Verducci is a hater that parades around as an objective journalist.

  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    Ironically you can easily argue that Soriano wasn’t given enough of a chance to stick as a starter.

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

      He kept getting hurt though. Shoulder and elbow issues.

      • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

        He keeps getting hurt as a reliever too.

        • bpdelia

          yes you could make that argument. Absolutely. Thats my issue here. WE saw Papelbon moved to the Rotation to save his shoulder. There is ZERO evidence that pitching for the pen, multiple days in a row, not being able to prepare on a schedule and warming up multiple times is any better or worse for ones shoulder.

  • Joba’s slider

    Lets say Joba can dial up his fastball to 95-96. What else does he throw? RAB, if you can, I would like to see you write a post on the evolution of Joba’s slider over the years. He used to strike batters out with that pitch, but seems not to be able to fool anyone with it any longer. If you have done this thesis before, i apologize please provide a link.
    If this was the red sox, who waisted their young talent like the Yankees are doing with joba right now, Theo would be dogged pretty hard. While they developed Lester and Buckholtz into top starting pitchers with Bard moving into the prime closer role this/nextyear, the yankee fans are still talking about what to do with joba.

  • Mike P

    Mike, did it ever occur to you that, instead of simply ranting that you don’t understand what the Yankees are doing with Joba, that maybe, just maybe they actually have given this some thought and do have a reason why they think he wouldn’t be successful long-term as a starter? Instead of shouting at the moon, maybe you could ask a few major league scouts or Yankees front-office personnel — on background, since no one is likely to be quoted — what the thinking is? Or, maybe you’d prefer not to acknowledge that the Yankees do have a plan and it’s just based on a different set of observations than yours?

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      And what is this great plan? Have Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova start? It certainly looks like it’s going to happen.

    • Mike HC

      Sometimes, the proof is in the pudding. Mike doesn’t need to hear their corporate speak, or bullshit baseball jargon, to know Joba should be a starter. They can tell him whatever they want, but the bottom line is that Joba should be given a chance to start this off season, or at least compete for job. In 2009, he was one of our top 5 starters, so he started. In 2010, he was not one of our top 5 starters, so he was in the pen. In 2011, he very well may be our 3rd best starter, yet he is still in the pen. Ridiculous.

    • David

      Agree, and I suspect that the plan is to trade him. The reason that they want him nowhere near starting is that right now the Joba myth is greater than the reality. They want to keep that intact, rather than exposing him, hoping that some dumb team will overvalue him – cheap, young, American League East, etc. One thought is that the Cardinals are going to need salary relief to sign Albert Pujols, therefore just maybe they are interested in trading Capenter, who is owed big $ for I believe two years. He would slide perfectly into the #2 slot behind CC. Naturally, it would depend upon the cost. Joba plus any pitching prospect that we have?

      • http://none Aaron

        David, I have had the same thoughts as you regarding Joba’s potential vs reality being a reason the Yanks may not put him in the rotation.

        The Yanks have many guys in the minors that could be ready this year, they should get a shot before Joba. He has had his chances. I think there is something the Yanks are not discussing about “why” he is in BP end of story. I wonder if it has something to do with the rather large chip he has on his shoulder.

        Reminiscent of the young pitchers shaking off Crash Davis behind the plate one too many times; Joba rarely seemed in synch with his catchers, and doesn’t appear to be as “coachable” as some others in the system.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      The plan is to have a dime a dozen middle reliever. Or how about what I saw on another board which is Joba becomes the 8th inning guy when Soriano takes over for Rivera.

  • Ted Nelson

    Some people have said that Cashman can’t be bluffing because it would be more advantageous to bluff that you are going to start him and therefore have less need for starting pitching. For offseason trades this is true. To sign a Jeff Francis, Jeremy Bonderman, etc., however, this is not the case. You want them to think they’ve got a spot in the rotation locked up. Not that they have to compete with Joba and Nova and Mitre and all the AAA guys.

    Right now Cashman could **theoretically** see that the trade market is pretty dry and feel that Francis/Bonderman/etc. is/are his best play.

    I’m not suggesting this is the case, but he could even be telling the media Joba is a reliever and telling Joba to be ready to compete for the rotation but keep it quiet. Who knows. Like with the Soriano signing, we’ll have to wait and see.

  • Noreaster

    With 7 guys in the pen now, something else is going to happen. Assuming Mitre is not going to be the 5th starter, then one of DRob or Joba has to go somewhere. I’m hopeful that the Yankees either give Joba another shot at starting, giving him 3 months to sort it all out or package him in a trade before spring training for a starting pitcher.

    Any love for Fausto Carmona?

    • Mike

      You must be thinking there is a plan at work here. I believe someone above Cashman wanted this and Cashman needs to find a way to make this work. Not sure how much Joba has in trade value right now though.

  • Mike HC

    Joba has to compete for the 4/5 starter spot in spring training. I’m not saying hand him the job. If he gets beat out, then back to the pen or use him as trade bait. But if he pitches well, then boom, we have another flame thrower and fan favorite in the rotation. I don’t see how letting him compete for a spot is not a no brainer. It just makes no sense to unequivocally leave him in the pen with the Yanks roster situation.

    RAB should set up a Joba to the rotation rally outside the Yanks offices with signs and yelling fanatics and everything. It is necessary if they still don’t give this kid a chance to start.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      +1

      I’m pretty sure dissent is patriotic.

  • http://slidingintohome.blogspot.com Domenic

    What bothers me the most about this entire situation is simply the fact that Chamberlain has never had much of a shot as a starter. He’s had 43 starts in his career – that’s it. I’m curious how many starters were given up on after such a small sample, particularly when they were (at worst) league-average.

    Before last season, Hughes had a 5.23 ERA, 112 K, and 59 BB in 141.1 IP as a starter. That’s enough to keep giving him shots. A 4.18 ERA, 206 K, and 101 BB over 221.2 IP, however, won’t cut it. Huh?

    In the end, I wonder if there’s something behind the scenes. Something they question about his make-up, or his desire. Or maybe his shoulder really can’t handle the load. Regardless, we’ve never really heard a good reason.

  • hogan

    Refusing to send him back to the minors in 08? You’re going to have to dig up when you advocated for that. Sounds like we have a Monday Morning QB here.

  • cano is the bro

    Preach mike, preach.

    But seriously, i agree with all of this. If they dont give him a shot at the rotation, then why the fuck didnt they trade him for Dan Haren when we had the chance? Haren as a starter>>>Joba in the pen for us. I just dont get it. This waste of resources is idiotic.

  • Claudell

    Now that Soriano is in, I’m surprised there’s not more talk about the Yankees packaging Joba in a deal to get more SP help. Even if there is no such thing going on in the front office right now, I thought there would at least be some wild speculation about it.

  • Sar515

    I am with you 100%!

    Give Joba the shot…
    I just can’t believe he would not be a better alternative than Mitre…or some injured re-hab case.
    And he just might turn out to be the story of the year!

  • miketotheg

    If Joba stays in the ‘pen and he fails it will be blamed on the Yankees mishandling him. If he goes in the ‘pen and succeeds then we get a great 7th inning guy (whoohooo?!) so keeping him in the ‘pen ( i can’t believe im saying this) does nothing for his potential and little for the team.

    If he goes in the rotation and blows up or wrecks his arm once again it will be the Yankees fault for mishandling him. If he goes in the rotation and can HELP THE TEAM WIN GAMES (stats be dammed!) then all is right in Yankeeland.

    So. How can Joba best help his team win games? Being traded for Galaragga? Or maybe roll the dice for a potential starting ace while risking a career of Major League mediocrity.

    But do the Yankees have the balls to put him in the minors if his Major league performance suffers? have they ever sent him down? Treated like a bit of a princess don’t you think?

  • Poopy Pants

    Greatest post ever.

  • Joe D.

    Funny: Asking a team that just blew $35 million on an oft-injured 31-year-old 70-IP reliever to please try to value a resource properly.

    “Pardon me, Mr. Dahmer, it’s rather rude of you to drink out of the milk carton like that. Could you please use a glass?”

  • cranky

    I don’t think that Joba should be given another opportunity to fail with the Yankees.
    I’ve been saying for two months now that he’s trade bait, and Heyman has confirmed that.
    To relegate an arm like joba’s to middle relief is to commit a baseball crime. However, the Yanks have, very clearly, lost confidence in him, don’t know what to do with him, and will destroy a still-potentially excellent career if they continue to employ him.
    Joba, for all his inconsistency, is great trade bait. He’s shown many flashes of excellence even while he’s struggled over the past year. And many people seem to think that getting out of NY, to a different pitching coach, a different atmosphere, and into a different uniform, will help him tremendously. I certainly found it interesting that we’ve never heard anything this winter about the Yanks’ new pitching coach meeting with Joba…
    I’ll keep throwing this one up until it dies: trade Joba and, maybe, someone like Romine, to Houston in a deal for Wandy Rodriguez. It’d work for both teams, and all the players.

  • http://bloggingfromthebleachers.wordpress.com Aaron S.

    Well said, Mike. Well said.

  • http://none Aaron

    I think the reason he doesn’t get the chance is due to his attitude and perhaps work ethic.

    Joba had a lot on his mind when his father was ill, so I cut him some slack during that time period.

    Hughes battled and won the spot in the rotation last year, becasue he is “coachable”. Joba at 23 yrs old shakes off too many pitches, doesn’t work well with coaches, and has a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

    I still think he needs another pitch as a starter; his curve is too hitable when he throws for a strike. In the BP he has obviously better velocity and movement on his pitches (esp. slider… his out pitch).

    Joba needs to be “all-in” whatever role he is given. Perhaps a change of scenery is necessary for him to reach his potential. I agree that he has a lot more to offer, and more in the tank that we still haven’t seen. Much of that is due to poor management/coaching of Joba; but some of it is also on Joba.

    Great site.. I will subscribe.