One of the hottest topics to permeate the world of baseball this season has been the transformation of New York Yankees’ pitcher Joba Chamberlain from a reliever to a starter.
While many believe that Joba’s abilities will translate better to the rotation in the long run, others believe that Joba is the prototype of what a closer should be, and is the heir to the great Mariano Rivera once he retires. However, what many fans may not realize is that Joba’s fate was actually sealed in a conversation that took place with Joe Girardi just a few days ago.
At the beginning of spring training, Joe Girardi told Joba something that would forever change his baseball career. Joe said that, at some point during the season, he was going to ask Joba what he wanted to be, a starter or reliever. This question would not be based on the needs of the team, the rants made by Hank Steinbrenner, or the opinions of the fans, analysts, or even his own coaches, but rather this question would be answered entirely based upon what Joba wants for himself.
However, Joe told Joba not to answer that question then, to think about it and that, when the time comes, Joe would ask him once again.
That day came on this Tuesday, when Joe Girardi called Joba to meet him privately in the team’s training room. No one else was around, no players, no fellow coaches, and certainly no media. This conversation was going to take place entirely between Joe Girardi and Joba Chamberlain.
Joe asked Joba, do you want to be a starter or reliever. Joba replied, with little hesitation, that he wanted to be a starter. Upon hearing this, Joe informed Joba that if that was he wish, that he wanted Joba to start the process today. Without hesitation, Joba responded “Let’s do it”.
With this in mind, it is now clear that ultimately, the decision to make Joba Chamberlain a starter was not Joe Girardi’s or Hank Steinbrenner’s, but rather it came from within himself. For this reason, I as a Yankee fan feel much more comfortable now with the Yankees’ decision.
While the contents of this conversation were originally kept secret, the Yankees’ broadcast announcers discussed this eventful conversation on air during their game against the Mariners today on Saturday, May 24, 2008.
On this day, Joba also threw 40 pitches in relief, a climb that was meant to stretch Joba out in increments as a starter. It now appears that Joba will be summoned upon to pitch once every fifth day in relief, and each day his pitch count will be increased.
Once his pitch count can reach near the 100 pitch mark, Joba will likely be called upon to make his first start in the Major Leagues.
I for one can’t wait.