Joba Chamberlain: The Yankees Announce Joba to Start, and Already Transitioning

Patrick ReadSenior Writer IMay 22, 2008

May 22, 2008

Jim Palmer, analyst for the O’s on MASN, said, “The Yankees starting rotation is a wreck. Their middle relief is not good. The only thing that is good is Joba, and Mo. I can’t believe that (the Yankees) want to move Joba to start.” Jim did not know. Thus has been the heated debate over the effective role for Joba Chamberain.


The Yankees are now transitioning Joba to the rotation, right from the 'pen. They announced it to Joba before Wednesday’s game against the Orioles, and to the public afterwards. The Yanks are skipping their plan to send him to the minors to ready himself, and opting to keep him with the Yanks instead.

Think of what could have happened had Joba gone down to lesser hitters, and gotten rocked. Not good on the ol' ego.  It would have been one big step backwards.

If the rotation is “a wreck,” and the middle relief “is not good,” then Hank has the solution. When Joba moves to be a starter (as Yankee management says), then the rotation "will not be a wreck," and "the bullpen will get a boost, too." This solution is called "killing two birds with one stone."

To begin with, many media types already disagree with the move making Joba a starter . Add to the mix Joba’s performance in the set-up role, and it is commentary chaos. Commentators opine with their rhetoric during every game on how, “The Yankees are making a mistake. Joba needs to stay in the pen.”

This free advice is coming from Yankee competitors. We will all get to see exactly "how much of a mistake he is" when Joba starts. 

Joba commented saying, "It's not going to be a different Joba. It's not like I'm transforming into a different person. The stuff in the eighth inning, you're going to see that from the first inning on."  Joba must be a carpenter, because he just nailed that one on the head. This is exactly what the people want to see, and what Joba wants too.  He told Cashman that he would "like the opportunity to start."  Steinbrenner knows saying, "I told people four months ago."

 Joba said, "It is just making sure that my legs, and shoulder will be okay.  And we always have that plan."  That plan is what people want to know, and the Yankees are not budging.  The Yankee ace started his transition last night, throwing two full innings. The rest of the plan may be to build up innings from the 'pen, probably to four, and then starting.

You would have been laughed off the stage trying to put Clemens, Johnson, Pedro, or Doc Gooden in the pen at that age, and this is no different. Joba is not Papelbon, and has never had shoulder problems. Hank was right, Joba is the answer to Josh Beckett, and we will all get to see it soon!

Sometimes the fans don’t know who to believe, but the Yankees’ owner, Hank Steinbrenner, has said since last year that Joba would be a starter, this season. Cashman has agreed, but the transition plan was always murky. While looking at the NY Daily News, one can understand the confusion, as they appear to know everything, and got most of the story wrong, again.

Today, Steve Phillips of ESPN stated that "there is a void left in the set-up role that can not be filled by anyone on the Yankees staff right now." One would think that Darrell Rasner (1.89 ERA) might just take offense to that statement by "Mr. Phillips." Straighten your head Phillips, and don't be such a tool. 

Phillips just got done saying how "moving Joba to start is a mistake," and that Rasner should get the 5th position on the rotation because "it is that important."  Talk about being in the middle of the road.  Is this politics, or what?  The set up role is so important that Joba should stay in it, but in the same breathe Phillips said, "the rotation is so important that Rasner should stay in it."  The problem with being in the middle of the road is you can get hit by both sides of traffic.

On one hand the Yanks have the set up role, and on the other is the rotation's fifth position. The Yankees will have Wang, Pettitte, Moose, and Joba. There is one open spot on the rotation, and it is up for grabs between Hughes, Kennedy, and Rasner.  The way it appears right now, Rasner should have it locked up. He has a 3-0 record, and two shutouts. Unless people really think that the set up role is more crucial to a winning team.  If so, Rasner and Hughes may well be heading to the 'pen to bridge the gap to Mariano Rivera.  The critical question is, what do the NY Yankees think is the more important role with Joba starting?

Recently Joe Girardi gave a glimpse to his thought process on the pen suggesting that Ian Kennedy "would come around, and be a productive member of the rotation."  This indicates that we may get to see Rasner, and Hughes battle it out for the 7th, and 8th inning roles.

The only thing that could deplete is the set-up role. What, Joba can set up, but Hughes or Rasner can’t?  Joba has 1 win, and 2 losses already this year. Of course he did not get a chance to work out of trouble, because he was operating too late in the game. If the set up role is that important to the Yankees, then Hughes, and Rasner must bridge the gap; like so many wanted Joba to do.

  Hughes has bullpen experience, and threw five shutout innings last year in relief of Clemens against the Indians, in postseason play. Clutch.  The last time Hughes was in the 'pen proves that Hughes has 'pen personality, and can do well.

The big debate is still looming. Where to put the next best pitcher on the team.  Is Hughes better than Olhendorf, or Farnsworth?  Is Rasner better than all of them? Should the Yankees just let the 5th spot go to a lesser pitcher?

Calling Hughes, Rasner, Farnsworth, Ohlendorf, Albaladejo, and Kennedy:

The 'pen needs someone to step up. Stat. One for the 7th inning, and one for the 8th. The rest go to middle relief, while one starts.

Cast your eyes to Rasner, and Hughes; and compare them to Ohlendorf, and Farnsworth. Throw Kennedy into the mix with the new "pumped-up" 'pen, and then there becomes a pleasant problem to have for those dwelling in Yankee Universe. 

So many options exist for the set-up role now.  Ohlendorf to Rasner, to Mo; or  Hughes to Mo? Could it be Hughes, to Rasner to Mo with Ohlendorf bolstering the middle relief role, along with Farnsworth? Or Rasner to Hughes, then to Mo.  Oh, and don't forget that the minors have more budding stars too

What to do?  Bullpen improvements are abound.  The Yankees would be ill advised to send any of these "kids" back down to the minors.  Joe Di's Empire has important openings to fill right now.  Think to the 1990's, when the Yanks had Mendoza, and Nelson to bridge the gap to Rivera.  Can the Yankees replicate that kind of success?   Is Hughes, or Rasner as good, or better than say, Okajima on the Sox?

"Houston, Titan; we are all systems go for launch to Yankee Universe."  


 Joba Transition, Day 2: