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Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes: How Joba Love Affair Could Impact Hughes

NEW YORK - APRIL 17:  Starting pitcher Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
John BoniniContributor IApril 30, 2009

No, I don’t mean that Yankees fans love Joba too much. That's not a problem. I also have great aspirations for the kid, he’s a tremendous talent.

However, fans and analysts are letting their love affair with Chamberlain interfere with logic.

Take respectable Yankee writer Peter Abraham’s blog this morning, where he posted a blog asking where all the “what to do with Hughes when Wang comes back” is stemming from. Abraham writes:

"Oh heavens, they'll have too many good pitchers. What a dilemma. Here's a wild thought: sit back and watch the game tonight and stop worrying about it. But for the sake of Internet traffic, let's say that Wang comes back in early June and Hughes is 4-1, 2.85. What then? You shake Phil's hand, thank him for a job well done and send him back to Scranton until he is needed again."

What?!

So let me get this straight. If Hughes is pitching extremely well, dominating lineups as he did in Detroit, and Wang returns healthy and back on track, Hughes is the one getting bounced from the rotation? What happened to earning your spot?

Joba seems to be floating by purely on reputation, except he earned his reputation as a reliever, not as a starting pitcher.

If Abraham’s scenario does indeed prove him prophetic, then that means Joba, who has pitched mediocre, keeps his spot rather than Hughes. Based on what? Chamberlain has no track record. Oh wait, yes he does—in the bullpen! Hughes did something Tuesday night Joba has yet to, dominate a lineup economically. 

I really did not want to touch on the Joba debate yet again, but this is more about Hughes than it is Joba.

Think of this not as a “Joba-to-the-pen” debate, but more of a “Hughes-not-to-the minors” debate.

Hughes is being sorely under-appreciated by Yankee fans and now Yankee writers. Shake his hand and send him on his way? Are you kidding? Then hand the ball to Joba, who has been nothing more than ordinary?

That would be like the Yankees sending Andy Pettitte down to the minors in 1995, and letting Mariano Rivera and his unimpressive stats stay in the rotation. Thankfully, this never happened, and it turned out pretty well for both pitchers. 

I don’t get it. I can only hope Joe Girardi doesn't share this opinion.

John Bonini writes for The Voice of Yankee Universe

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