The level of disgust in Yanklee land directed at Joba Chamberlain is palpable these days. Bill Madden referred to yesterday’s outing as “Comic relief”. The NY Post has a new nickname for Joba, calling him ‘Chamber-Lame’. Even his (always measured with the media) manager Joe Girardi effectively laid down the gauntlet in yesterday’s post game, and the frustration in his voice was evident. He said this:
“We had the game where we wanted, we had our eighth-inning guy in, we needed four outs from him … and he left pitches in the middle of the plate. He just didn’t make the pitches when he had to. Players aren’t going to be bulletproof, but he’s had some bad outings. He’s our eighth-inning guy and he’s got to get it done for us.”
Yesterday may have been the nadir of Joba’s 2010 campaign, but it wasn’t just one bad outing in isolation. He’s given up a whopping 10 ER in his last 5 IP. He’s currently sporting a 5.82 ERA and has allowed 3 runs or more in 3 of his past 5 outings. Some questioned the move by Girardi, but if you don’t bring him in there you never will. The next three batters were all right handed, and there were two outs in the inning. If he’s supposed to be the ‘Bridge to Mariano’ then he has to be able to preserve a 4 run lead with 2 men on base.
Mike Axisa of RAB has long hinted at sending him back to the minors as a much needed wake up call, and while I understand his rationale I’m not quite there yet. My take is to go in phases, burying him in the bullpen first and letting him earn his demotion step by step. He’s potentially too valuable to just give up on, and all relievers (non-Mariano division) struggle from time to time. One of the top candidates to replace Joba would be David Robertson, who’s just getting past his own early season struggles from April of this year. But that being said, I know where Mike A is coming from. Anyone who has observed Joba’s jiggling midsection as he jogs from the bullpen knows he’s not taking things as seriously as he needs to. There have long been questions about his conditioning and that was likely a big factor in why Joba lost out on the starting role to Phil Hughes this past spring. Success came very quickly and far too easily for Joba, and now he needs to learn the type of commitment it takes to maintain success at this level. If not, then he’ll just be another guy with a great arm who was a flash in the pan in the bigs.
What do you think? What’s your next move with Joba?