Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Joba in the Pen

Brian Cashman plans on opening 2009 with Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen:
“He had an innings limit this year he didn’t meet,” General Manager Brian Cashman said. “Will he exceed that innings limit next year? You wouldn’t want to do that. You’ve still got to protect the player.”
Or you could just figure out whether he's ever going to be able to pitch by putting him in the role for which he is destined. Chamberlain is not some reed-thin 18 year-old. He's a big ol' hoss of a 23-year-old who. If at his age he can't handle the workload of even a fifth starter, he's probably never going to be healthy. Or as Chamberlain says himself:
There’s going to come a point where you have to let it fly and get going as much as you can, as long as you can, as hard as you can. At that point, the maturity factor comes in, and they understand that if something is bothering me, I’m going to let them know.
Certainly he wants to pitch without training wheels next year.

What's more, if the whole idea of starting him in the bullpen and then moving him to the rotation didn't work this year, what's to say it would work next year? Chamberlain himself said that he would have preferred to have one role all season for the sake of consistency, so why jerk him around again like this in 2008?

I'm not suggesting that the Yankees throw Joba to the wolves. They should be careful. The should watch his pitch counts. They should rest him the moment he shows any signs of trouble. But for God's sake, let the boy pitch.

7 comments:

Jon said...

Is there something unusual about Joba? I mean, aside from the fact that he's a really good young pitcher? He's been babied by the Yankees by an order of magnitude over anyone else I've ever heard of. Is he just the first in what will be a long line of kids who never get to start without a low pitch count, or is he some kind of exception?

And the fact that, despite the kid glove treatment, he STILL missed time late in the season suggests that whatever they're doing isn't helping.

JRJ said...

Joba has a funky kink in his shoulder when he pitches - its how he throws. Because of that, he slid down in the draft to the point the Yankees could take him with their low draft position.

Teams stayed away because they didn't think his throwing ability would allow him to add the innings.

The Yanks see this and that's why they are treating him with kid gloves.

I think the Yanks should keep him as the 8th inning closer until Mariano retires and then move him to the closer role. It seems he can clearly handle the pressure.

Justin Zeth said...

Because they're looking around, realizing that they can sign Sabathia and one of Sheets and Burnett, and put Chamberlain in the bullpen permanently.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Weird, I read an article on SI.com linking to the post saying the exact opposite.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/09022008/sports/yankees/joba_activated_for_pen_duty_127058.htm

What does this mean? I'm confused.

mooseinohio said...

Personally I think the Yanks need to worry about Joba following the path of Pryor or Woods who had great stuff but suspect deliveries that put them at risk of injury. Good mechanics make for a long career and funky mechanics often make for flash in the pan careers that leave you wondering what could have been. I think the Red Sox made the right decision with Papelbon who displayed similar talent to Joba and was initially slated to be a Roger Clemens type power pitcher. Granted need pushed him to the bullpen but wisdom, and some need, kept him there. Rivera is one of the greatest closers of all time but he began setting up for Wetteland and that duo was one reason the Yanks won the 1996 WS. Why not leave Joba as the primary set-up guy/occasional closer for two more years then turn the closer role over to him for hopefully the next decade as his shoulder and elbow may survive better with limited innings? How many teams would love to know that at least three times a week you could count on a duo like Joba and Rivera in the 8th & 9th? The Red Sox really miss the lights out Okajima from last year and knowing that close games were all but over knowing Okie and Paps were warming up in the pen.

Rob said...

Is it just me, or did everyone fall over themselves talking about the great mechanics of both Prior and Chamberlain.

hermitfool said...

Whether his mechanics are at fault or not, Joba has an unfortunate history of injuries. As much as he looks like a 200 inning stud hoss starting pitcher, his body might not be up to those demands. If you're Cashman do you settle for a lights out 8th inning guy/future #1 closer, or do you keep pushing his pitch counts, hoping he can handle the load without tearing up his shoulder?

If Dusty Baker were making these decisions Joba would have already been to Alabama for surgery at the hands of Dr. Death and be home watching baseball with his dad in Lincoln, Nebraska.