Want a fresh opinion on Joba Chamberlain?
I know, we’ve talked this one to death, but how about a quote from a guy, former Braves pitcher John Smoltz, who probably knows Joba’s situation better than anybody because he himself has gone from being a starter to a reliever, and back again.
Well, Brian Costello of the NY Post asked Smoltz about it, and here is what he had to say:
“I don’t know if people realize how hard this is on a person,” said Smoltz. “It’s a very tough thing to do. People just assume too much in this game. People think if you have the stuff Joba has you can switch roles and just pick it right up. The reality is it’s totally different. No similarities, nothing, complete opposites.”
“A player gets trapped,” Smoltz said last night. “People are too quick to judge. That’s the nature of the beast. They see him throwing 98 miles per hour and say he’s the heir apparent for Mariano Rivera. Then the other group says what if he can do that over seven innings? He can replace Andy Pettitte when he retires. Next thing you know you have a mix of opinions and the player gets confused.”
Joba has been inconsistent since he suffered some shoulder tendinitis in his throwing shoulder back in August of 2008. At that time he had already gone from a minor league starter to a major league reliever and back to a starter. After the injury he has struggled with his velocity and command of his pitches at times.
When you hear things like this from Smoltz, it makes you wonder if it was really an injury or the fact that Joba just doesn’t understand the situation he’s in. For his part, Joba has handled it as well as you could hope for off the mound by saying all the right things, but now that he’s a reliever, you have to wonder if he’ll gain some consistency if the Yankees just leave him there.