Many of us were holding out hope that the Yanks would at least consider letting Joba battle for battle for one of the open rotation spots in spring training, but apparently that’s not the case. Brian Cashman addressed this during the Q&A of yesterday’s Rafael Soriano press conference. Andrew Marchand of ESPN-NY has the report:
GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi stood united that Joba Chamberlain will be in the bullpen.
Even though Chamberlain’s career starting numbers are better than either Ivan Nova or Sergio Mitre, the Yankees say they will not consider making Chamberlain a starter.
“He’s in the bullpen,” Cashman said.
Chamberlain, barring injuries to Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera, will pitch in the fifth, sixth and seventh inning. Chamberlain has gone from season setup savior in 2007 to the Joba Rules back to the eighth inning and now to who knows what. His stock at 25 is at an all-time low and it doesn’t appear he is going to be a vital cog in the near future for the Yankees.
One thing is certainly true if Cashman and Girardi stick to their word, he will never start again for the Yankees.
Once upon a time back in 2008, we all debated the merits of Joba the future Closer vs Joba the mid level starter (Joba the ace-level starter was never debatable). Now, we have no idea who the 4th and 5th starter is, and still the Yanks would rather use him as a back of the bullpen reliever in the 6th/7th inning rather than get 175 inning and 30+ starts out of him. I discussed this yesterday with Mike Francesa, who as many Yankee fans in the NYC area will know has long been a champion of Joba in the bullpen. When asked where Joba would be more valuable, in the 6th or as a starter, even he said “it’s something I can’t argue anymore”. But the Yanks think this is his best usage and will not even look at him in spring training. They’ve clearly made up their minds on the topic.
I can understand the Yanks being down on Joba. When your manager is in better shape than one of your players is, it’s easy to view the glass as half empty and take a ‘show me’ attitude toward a player. Girardi sets a high standard of excellence for all of his players and one look at Joba and you know he’s not meeting it. From the day Joba was drafted, conditioning was one of the red flags attached to him, as well as the ability to maintain his stuff. He was 300 pounds in his early years in college, and 1. 4 mil will buy you a lot of Twinkees. I’ll be interested to see what kind of shape he shows up in this year, but judging by the past two springs I have little reason to believe this year will be any different. This website get a lot of attention last year when I reported a Billy Eppler quote that the debate was over, but at the time even I didn’t think that was etched in stone. Apparently, it is.