The Yanks director of pro scouting Billy Eppler was interviewed by Evan Roberts of WFAN yesterday. He had some interesting things to say about Jesus Montero and Andrew Brackman, but the real news came in a follow up question on Joba Chamberlain. It appears the Joba debate is over, for good. Here’s the auto-generated transcript from WFAN’s website (cleaned up for errors):
Evan Roberts-” Where you guys envision Joba Chamberlain now? I mean he’s going to be the eighth inning guy, and he’s probably gonna be damned good at it. He was so good at it in 07, he was so good at in 08. There’s good reason to believe he’ll go there will be lock down. Is this his future? As a reliever, and eventually replace Mariano Rivera when he set to retire?”
Billy Eppler-” Yeah, not not to get too ahead of ourselves there– you know, I don’t think Joe has quite anointed him the eight inning guy right now. And I understand that there would be beliefs and that a lot of people would think that he should be in that role. I think obviously, you know, even with the good outing today he’s got to demonstrate the ability to hold that role. But I think there are some other guys are pen that are that are capable of that as well, so it’s kind of nice problem to have, for lack of a better word. With Joba though, I do believe he could (emphasis his) be a starter. You know, I think just in the environment that we’re in, and you know, you’re trying to break with with the twelve best. And that’s not to say the other clubs aren’t trying to do that. I think if we were in a different setting, different situation, you might see Joba Chamberlain in the rotation.”
Evan Roberts-” Yeah! You know, honestly, I think like every other team he may be, besides the Yankees the Red Sox. I mean he’d probably be in the rotation he’s got a great arm, it’s just that you guys are so deep. You know, when you when you can go and have Javier Vasquez is your fourth starter. That’s as — as deep as anybody. Is there a situation where he starts again this year? I’m under the assumption that, he’s the eighth inning guy, and that’s it. The Joba debate is over. He’s a reliever. I know he could start for a few teams, I mean, he could start for my team, the Mets…”
Billy Eppler-” Yeah — in the here and now, I don’t feel I don’t foresee any situation. I mean, obviously that’s for Brian and Joe, but but I don’t think they (emphasis his) foresee a situation where he would go into the rotation. He is going to be a reliever. And obviously we’ve seen what he’s been able to do and role, and he’s been able to be very dominant in that role — I don’t foresee situation where he would be be starting at all.”
Evan Roberts-“ Right, but does the question get re-asked next year? In 2011? Like his job as a starter? Like would you think that question will be asked again and maybe he’ll compete for rotation spot next year?”
Billy Eppler-” I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t consider that likely, no.”
There you have it folks. While you can never say never, the days of Joba Chamberlain starting for the NY Yankees appear to be over. I’m sure some die-hards will latch onto that first part I highlighted, where he says he could be a starter. But the point he was trying to make was that if Joba was on another team (like the Orioles) he would be in the rotation, but the Yanks are a different situation. If you listen to the interview, it’s even more clear than it comes across in print. This 3 year old debate appears to have finally come to an end.
UPDATE–Marc Carig of NJ.com has further confirmation, this time from Yankee Pitching Coach Dave Eiland. He writes-
“We will not bring him out of the bullpen to start this year,” Eiland said. “There’s people above me that can override my decision, but as far as I’m concerned that’s (the bullpen) where he’s going to be.”
Though he said things can change — “I never say anything’s forever” — Eiland said there’s no plan for Chamberlain work in the bullpen and to be reevaluated at the end of the season for a starting job.
“We get more out of his ability as a reliever,” Eiland said. “We feel like he can be a good starter. We feel like he can be a great reliever.”
Said Eiland: “He’s in the bullpen, and he’s there to stay, period.”
(h/t to Mo)