New York Yankees: Joba Chamberlain Cometh to Start! Transitions & Replacements

Patrick ReadSenior Writer IApril 27, 2008

 Joba Chamberlain is Scary Fast, and Smooth too.

April 27, 2008

Washington DC

 It was bound to happen, and perfect timing for Hank Steinbrenner. The same man who grew up in the Yankees Locker Room as early as 1970 (which has got to be the most unique experience in modern day baseball), wants Joba Chamberlain to start, as does his coaching staff, and manager. 

Broadcasters (especially Steve Phillips on ESPN) continue to challenge this move, and drive their point home, saying "Joba should be left in the pen permanently. He is a dominant 8th inning man."  Yes, an 8th inning man, who has 4 plus rated pitches, and throws 100 mph.

The point was driven home Friday night in Joba’s first ever Major League loss, that maybe having Joba in the pen won't always mean he wins. So why the pen again?   Joba lost his second game, as a set up man, May 6, 2008.  Fear not Yankee Universe, for Joba cometh to start, as he has his whole baseball career!

This was a game he pitched not as a starter, but as a reliever.  What would it have been like if he started? Judging by his ERA, it would have been a low score. Maybe so low as to not need to use the 8th inning guy to bail out your starters, or middle relief.  It is time to ready ourselves for Joba to start, and ready the team to win with him in the rotation. 


Joba Has Got the Toughness, and a Smooth Arm Enough to Start

 He also has that flare a starter should have, of not being afraid of going inside, especially when someone (like A-Rod) gets hit by a pitch. And then follow it up with a swooping curve ball, that is nose to toes for a strike and watch the batter's knees buckle, in either the 8th inning or, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th though he may only throw 96 in the 6th. Wow, if that's a problem, show me the positives!

Not to mention the much talked about slider that has made Professional Athletes look like little girls swatting at the ball.  Here is an example on You Tube of Joba going to town on Pedroia.  He goes in with heat, and then strikes him out as Pedroia is left swatting at the slider.  The commentary is pretty funny too.  The view is right behind home plate, and the song is "Sweet Caroline."

Clemens protected A-Rod last year against the Blue Jays, and hit Alex Rios after the "A-Rod bench clearer." He was suspended 5 games. Joba was taking notes, and was sitting right next to Clemens when the Red Sox did the same thing as years past, and hit A-Rod.

The camera panned to the Yankee dug out, and Clemens was instructing Joba.  The two were having a chat, and the next inning, first man up, and Joba threw inside heat on Kevin Youkilis. Twice.  (Pictured above.) Is this pitch over Youkilis's noggin? Or is it Joba throws too fast, and it is too scary. Look at the ump, and Posada. They're both ducking away from the ball in Jorge's glove!

Chamberlain was suspended two games for hitting "no one." Both Clemens and Chamberlain were thrown out by Angela Hernandez, who may be trying to change "good old country style ball" into "hopscotch, played by lolli-pops."

 First Impressions tell it all.

Of seeing Joba pitch for the first time live, the Chicago White Sox announcer , Ken Harrelson, saidWow! The hype following Joba is all for real, and well deserved! Man is this guy good. He is smooth. Real smooth too. It is just not fair. The first pitch is in the high 90s, and the next is a curve thrown at your ear.”

Of seeing Joba for the first time, his Nebraska Coach said, “I saw this kid throwing pitches and warming up. I thought he was throwing 84 or so, until I checked the gun. He was throwing 96!” Scary fast.

Here is an article that Clemson wrote on Joba after losing the title to him. Roll Tide!  Yes, Yankee Fans, he started in that game too.  As he did all year, as he did in the ground breaking time spent in the minors as well.

When you throw easy, fluid, or smooth then you are less apt to elbow, or shoulder injuries. Hanks was also right saying, "We brought him up last year out of desperation.  But, I wasn't around then."


How To Transition Joba 

The plan has been to send Joba Chamberlain down to the Minors to make some starts in June, and bring him back up in July.  This point is being “played by ear”, according to Hank Steinbrenner.  Hank, Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi, and Dave Eiland all agree to him starting this season, by mid season. There is a “total inning Joba Rule” this year to contend with, and are sticking to it. The max has been reported anywhere from 140 innings, to 160 innings. So say, 150 innings is conservative.

I would think that Joba could get extended innings in the pen. He is already pitching 2 innings now, so extend it to 3 innings, and then rest him. 3 innings again, and rest. If he still feels good (which he should with a smooth arm) then extend him to 4 in the pen. If everything is still feeling in place, start him with 4 innings in the rotation.  Then 5.   If all is well, let him fire it! 

Joba said, “It is just a mental change going from reliever to starter. It’s not like they ‘re going to move the mound back.”  I agree with that as well, it is a matter of momentum. If Joba is sent down, to ready himself off of lesser hitters, and gets rocked a couple of times, then there goes momentum.  A scenario like that is possible, and would not be good for self confidence either.  He is already up in the Bigs, this is home, leave him here, where he is use to his environment.  


 A Long Term Care Plan 


Since last January they have been planning on starting Chamberlain this year. Here is more information on Cashman's thought process, though I didn't like to read what Cashman did with Bernie Williams. By the way, great move, get rid of Williams who had a solid 2006, only to lose his bat, and lose to the Indians with a flailing offense in 2007. Here is Joba's bio from last year.

He is one humble dude, saying he "will do whatever (he is) told, in order to help the New York Yankees to win." That's called class, Mr. Paplebon.  As Joba's dad, Harlan, was hospitalized Joba rushed to his side, missing several games.  Joba emulates Harlan, saying he has the best example to follow in his father, who raised Joba and his sister (Tasha) as a single father. 

 Steinbrenner handled this situation like an ace himself"(I) asked everything about his dad. Is he happy with the treatment he's getting. Told him, 'Just take his time," and that is exactly right.  You can tell he certainly sounds just like his father, George.  Doesn't back down.  Cuts to the point.  Joba did take some time, and came back refreshed.  Not disgruntled. This event showed the toughness of Joba, as he seamlessly transitioned back to the team.  And he threw fire for the Yankees with a smile on his face.  Or a snarl. 

A young Clemens, Johnson, Doc Gooden or Nolan Ryan (all power pitchers) could have ALL gone to the pen and dominated too! But they were too well suited as Starters.

Paplebon does not share this quality, and may well face injury in the future, as he did in the past. Johan Santana whips the arm too, and has had his elbow surgically repaired once already for good reason. Those that can, start. Those that can’t, relieve.

AS it were, Wang, Pettitte, Chamberlain, Moose, and Hughes (or Rasner) sounds great to me.  Though the order may change towards the end of the season.  I would also think that one of the Yankee pitchers who doesn't get a rotation spot will serve to be the next set up guy.  I like Rasner.  



Protecting The Future, Maxline Style


Dr. Mike Marshall, who holds major-league records for games pitched in one season (106), relief innings pitched (208 1/3) and consecutive games for a pitcher (13), all set with the Los Angelas Dodgers in his 1974 CY Young season, helped diagnose Tommy Johns with the torn ligament. He got his doctorates after baseball, and now says he has perfected a technique called the Maxline Delivery. 

Marshall has been developing it for 30 plus years, and has opened a clinic now. The technique (Maxline) requires the pitcher to pull the ball from the glove, and hold the arm up, instead of bringing the ball back (rearing back) before rotating from second to home.  He says that the curve balls this technique produces are lights out, "When it is eventually used, MLB hitters wouldn't know what to do. It is the best curve in the game."

Like LeTroy Hawkins delivery, he kind of pulls the ball out, and leaves his arm angle up, instead of rearing back to throw. The critics point out that the pitches can be viewed while the ball is in his hand, before he throws it, with this technique. Though the ball would remain directly behind the head, and up, which would block the view of the ball to the hitter.


Who Replaces Joba in the Set Up Role, what of the Middle Relief.

I agree with Ross Ohlendorf getting a one inning shot to see how he would respond. He upped his ERA, and gave up a run to get his first loss. Up until now he has been used in Middle Relief, with a 94 MPH slider! He came in the ninth, so we know he may need experience before he closes. Ollie is my number 7 spot.

Johnathon Alba-la-dejo is a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings. He throws 98 mph, and has a slider. He came up last year with DC, and was their minor league fireballer.  Sound like anyone you know?  I am not saying he IS Joba. He IS Albby! Though these budding stars (Ollie and Albby) need more shots at “one and done scenarios”, to see how they react.

Farnsworth has looked a lot better this year, adding two off-speed pitches to his combination. His last two outtings sum it up. Both in late innings, one time he gave up a home run, and the other he gave up no runs. It is a 50 – 50 chance with him so far.

In the minor leagues waits Darrell Rasner, who in 4 games, has won 3 touting a .72 ERA, with only 14 total hits, and 2 earned runs.  Dan Geise has only given up 2 runs in 21 innings, and our Edwar Ramirez is a perfect 0 in 9 innings. 


      What does it mean for the Rotation?       


Barring a 6 man rotation, Mike Mussina stays. Two awesome starts this year, one not so good, and he had a great spring training too.  All signs say Mike is healthy too.  What is not said of Mussina lately is that when he is healthy, which he is this year, he has three of the last six team low ERA’s. Each healthy year he has thrown over 200 innings, the most recent healthy year he had the low ERA was 2006. 

Kennedy goes to Middle Relief, to be a fixture. Not to the Minors to practice against all kids. In Middle Relief the Yanks could have either Kennedy (also with 4 pitches), Hawkins, Albaladejo, Ohlendorf, and they just brought up Britton. Edwar Ramirez has seen some innings too, with a 1 ERA.

There is a spot open in the 8th inning for anyone that is man enough to grab it.  It will be between Hughes,  Rasner, Olhendorf, and Farnsworth.  Whoever does not get it, goes to mid relief to help the cause.  Brilliant! My pick is Rasner or Hughes for the set up role.  I recall Phil pitching 5 innings of shut out ball in relief of Clemens last post season. Clutch time ball. So it is Hughes or Rasner, depending on how important the set up role is, it may be Rasner to fill Joba's shoes.  

 For Joba Cometh, he is starting, and he has a great warm up song too!  So come now children of the Yankee Universe, be strong and shout, "Let's Go Yankees."






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