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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.”

Evan Roberts-“Interesting.”

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)

38 Responses to “Billy Eppler on Joba-The debate is over”

  1. If true, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Then again, Eppler’s always been a B-Jobber, so we will see, but this doesn’t look good.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    It’s stupid if you know what Joba is. But we don’t, so were dealing in unknowns.

    Also, about the “if true” part, he seems to be relaying info from Cash and Girardi more than giving his own opinion.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. I am beyond disappointed in the Yankee organization. This whole situation, going all the way back to 2007, but mostly considering how it’s ended, has shown me that there has not been as much change as we thought there was in the Yankee psyche. What has happened this week runs contrary to the entire patient philosophy we’d seen in the last year and a half or so and I fear for the development of future pitchers.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    You’ve struck at the core of this divide. The Yanks are a win-now organization and the richest team in Baseball. They figure if Hughes doesn’t work out as a starter, they’ll just go sign a free agent next year. If Joba doesn’t work out in the bullpen, they’ll just work in some of their other minor league arms like Melancon. They operate from a position of strength when it comes to dealing with players, they don’t need to let some pitcher ‘develop’ and take his lumps, they’ll just bring in someone else. They lasted all of 2 months with Hughes/IPK in 08, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    I embrace that, but I know other fans don’t.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    Sure, it’s nice to know that they can do that when they need to, but it’d also be quite nice if they didn’t HAVE to do that. Do you really want them to go out and spend big bucks on Cliff Lee or Josh Beckett this off season? The lack of development of pitchers has gotten the Yankees into a position in which they have to over-commit to big FA pitchers instead of developing someone that can be effective at a very controlled cost.

    Even if they’re going to move some of these talented SP arms, I fear that they’ll murder their trade values, as they’ve done with Chamberlain. If they knew they were going to do this, they should’ve traded him in the offseason for something (not Roy Halladay) of value when his trade value was a bit higher. Now, moving him will be next to impossible.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Oh come on Matty, we “can’t move” Joba? You’re overstating it. Teams will still trade for him, thinking exactly what you just outlined, that the Yanks screwed up on his development. They might get less, but they can move him.

    And yes, Cliff Lee will be a Yankee next year. I don’t doubt that for one minute. He’ll take Andy’s spot.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    Yeah, I’m overselling a bit, but the returns for Joba at this point will be minuscule.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    I understand people are annoyed about this. I just edited the title a bit to be a little less inflammatory.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. Also, one thought: what happens if Joba isn’t great out of the pen? I bet that would change the mind of the B-Jobbers in the Yankee organization.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Hello Mark Melancon.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Brent N. Reply:

    That’s an easy one: the B-Jobbers wouldn’t change their minds, there would just be overwhelming blame that the Yankees “ruined his arm enough” that he can’t even pitch in the bullpen.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  4. Steve, were you just on with Ed Randall?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Yeah, that was me. I’ve been arguing for the ‘Relief Ace’ being more valuable than Closers are for years. I stole it from Bill James, but who hasn’t taken an idea or two from him.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    BTW-If you want to listen to a terrific, saber-slanted show, check out Ryan Ruoco on 1050 ESPN on sat/sun afternoons. Really knows his stuff when it comes to the Yanks, and I called him yesterday about Posada discussing BB/SO rates and Pitch Values and right away he asked me “You’re talking about Fangraphs, right?” and went on to explain what we were talking about (in English) to the audience.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  5. If Joba is not good out of bullpen, then he would be worse as a starter.
    He has to get his confidence back in the BP and then he can be considered for a starter next year.
    In any case, we need a successor for MO shortly and if he does well in the BP, Joba will be the successor.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    The successor for Mo should not be someone who could potentially fill a much bigger role. The guys that should be groomed for succeeding Mo are guys like Robertson and Melancon whose ceilings are not nearly as high as Chamberlain’s is.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  6. This is stupid. Joba should be a starting pitcher for another year. Cost controlled above average starters or even average starters are worth so much. Why the Yankees don’t understand this at times is frustrating.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    The Yanks are rich enough that they don’t really care about squeezing value out of players. They care about winning, knowing that is the much more important concern. Winning solves all.

    I wish more teams operated like they do, and more sports leagues would encourage this take, rather then penalize it. But instead, most pro sports are going in the opposite direction, attempting to equalize outcomes. I was raised with the idea that sports was all about achieving greatness, not guaranteeing mediocrity.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    Doesn’t getting the most value out of a player go hand in hand with winning?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Yeah, but it often takes a few years for players to reach their ceiling. The Yanks can simply let that development happen elsewhere, and then sign the players they want as a FA.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Jake H Reply:

    While I agree with what you are saying I would argue that by having 2 cost controlled starters for 3 years would allow the Yankees to pay even out the older players contracts which will give the team flexibility to maximize their money. I think other teams should spend more money but also should effectively use their money and paying A-Rod 32 million isn’t that.

    If you average out A-Rod’s performance salary on Fangraph it’s 25.78. So we are overpaying A-Rod so if we can have a cost controlled starter to even that out we can get it down towards what he actually is worth.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  7. Nonsense. The director of scouting is speculating about something that he has no input to. Are you going to buy the speculation of someone in scouting, or his boss ?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    No, reread what he said, or listen to the interview for yourself. He’s conveying info directly from Girardi and Cashman.

    Also, use some common sense. Girardi can’t say some things because he’s in the clubhouse and there’s an etiquette involved. Brian Cashman’s recent comments sound to me like someone who wants to keep people interested in this, but bear no semblance to reality. “A starter in the bullpen?” Please. I guess Aceves falls into the same category.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  8. here is a possible scenario of potential benefit out of joba’s ‘pen relocation.

    assuming he’s really really successful in his new/old role, which should mean he’s capable of being a good closer on any team too. assuming as well they sign Mo to another contract. don’t you think it will give the yankees a negotiation edge having a valuable option in the wings? I wouldn’t argue they just did it for this reason, but weren’t the yankees aware of such a potential benefit?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  9. “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.”

    Sounds like there was a lot of fighting about this in the org.
    http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2010/03/yankees_pitch_coach_says_joba.html  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Nice find Mo. I’ll add it as an update.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  10. You should add this as well. It seems like the organization is having a major disagreement on this.

    http://twitter.com/Ledger_Yankees/status/11201068129
    “Cashman: Eppler, Eiland were stating own opinions, not organizational stance, on Joba’s future.”

    Either Cash is attempting to keep Joba’s trade value up, or he plans on tabling this for now, but fighting it again at another time.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Cash on Eppler’s comments: “We can all have various views. From my perspective, he’s going to be a starter that’s pitching out of the pen.”
    http://twitter.com/BryanHoch/statuses/11202332504  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    “We haven’t had any team meeting and said, ‘He’s a reliever for the rest of his life.’ We haven’t done that.” – Cash on Joba
    http://twitter.com/BryanHoch/statuses/11202605805  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  11. Have to strongly agree with the point of view that this is hardly a determination on the final destination of Joba Chamberlain with the New York Yankees post -2010. The composition of the starting staff will be presumably change dramatically in 2011 if Pettitte calls it a career, a 35 year old Vazquez chooses to go in a different direction. Add to that, Hughes remains a question as a starting pitcher though I suspect in 2010 he’ll begin to fulfill the promise we first saw in 2007. With this much uncertainty, any commentary in March 2010 should be considered a snapshot of the organization’s thinking at the time and nothing more.
    Secondly, and somewhat contradictorally, if in fact, it is determined that Joba will be just a good middle of the rotation starter but an elite reliever, then he belongs in the bullpen despite what WAR might suggest. For the the Yankees, good starters can be picked up in other ways; elite relievers win championships and are exceedingly hard to develop or acquire.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Agree on all counts, and that second part was really concise and dead on.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  12. I was very upset about this when it was announced, but I have started to feel better about it over the past few days. Here’s why:

    1. We’ve already read the speculation that the Yankees are going to make a run at an OF and SP, perhaps Werth and Lee. Those guys won’t come cheap and won’t leave enough money left over to sign another starting pitcher to fill out the rotation. The Yankees NEED Joba in the rotation for the financial relief and his talent.

    2. Despite being in the ‘pen this year, he can still have a high innings cap next year – if he has one at all. There was a lot of talk about the Yanks setting inning baselines on career highs achieved several years ago (i.e., Hughes’ career high of 146 IP in 2006). With a career high of 164ish innings in ‘09, a 180-190 inning limit seems more than reasonable – if not conservative – for 2011.

    Certainly, a lot of things can happen between March 28, 2010 and March 28, 2011, but I think we can expect Joba to be back in the rotation next year. It will be the shittiest and most scenic route ever taken, but I’ll forgive the Front Office if they get it right in the end.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The Bif City of Dreams Reply:

    “Certainly, a lot of things can happen between March 28, 2010 and March 28, 2011″

    That is true alot of things can happen. And if you look at the things that have happened since the WS all of it has impacted the yankees. Verlander signed a new deal, beckett was offered a 4 yr extension, johnson signed a new deal, lee who everyone is banking on is starting the yr with injury issues. All those guys were potential candidates for the yankee rotation and lee still is but it remains to be seen if he will put a good yr together. Now there are still other pitchers out there like webb and maybe sheets. Of course there is always the trade route but I laugh when ppl say there is no way joba goes back into the rotation because there are too many things in the way ofit happening. Would I bet my life on it no but at the same time some moves have already happened and if andy retires and vasquez retires/goes to another team then the possibility gets stronger.

    “but I’ll forgive the Front Office if they get it right in the end.”

    hopefully they get it right because right now it doesn’t seem like they know what to do  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  13. I think I’m going to believe Cashman, not this guy. He seems to be pretty straightforward about things like this, and I don’t think he’s posturing to keep anybody’s trade value up (I don’t think it would keep his value up, nor do I think he believes it would). I would be very surprised if Joba isn’t still thought of as a starter for next year-or even this year if the need arises.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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