Since he arrived in the major leagues in August of 2007, Joba Chamberlain has always been a lightning rod, eliciting a wide range opinions among hard core Yankee fans and others who follow the game of baseball. With that in mind, I wanted to take the pulse of some prominent members of the Yankee blogging community. I shot out some e-mails last night and asked the question “What’s your next move with Joba?” On the heels of his bullpen demotion, the Yanks have some big decisions to make with him. The July 31st trade deadline is looming, and they have until August 7th if they want to send him down to AAA without clearing waivers. So the options they currently face are to 1) trade him, 2) demote him to AAA or 3) stay the course.
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to reply, and hope that I don’t get anyone upset if I didn’t use your submission. I was looking for a range of perspectives to make the post a good read for our audience, so any unused replies were simply ones where I had too many of that particular type. I also didn’t solicit any of my fellow writers here at TYU, since our readers should already be familiar with our take on the subject. That being said, here are some of the responses:
Craig Calcaterra-NBC Sports Hardball Talk
Stay the course with Joba. He’s striking out ten guys an inning. His ridiculously high BABIP is the problem, and that’s not going to hold up. And really, even if you’re not sold on Joba and want to ship him out, don’t do it now while his perceived value is low. This is much ado about nothing. He’ll be pitching late innings for the Yankees through October.
For what it’s worth, I don’t actually think a bullpen role suits Joba best, and I mean that even in terms of temperment and a host of other factors. Working through challenges as a starter is a fact of life. Giving up a few runs is fine –you’ll make mistakes, you learn from those and you adjust in-game. Working as a reliever has such a small window that it’s difficult to carry momentum and learn as you go. For Joba, a guy who’s never had sterling control, the scenario in which he feels compelled to hit his ’07 velocity levels and the situational inability to adjust, means I don’t think the “8th inning role” suits him. Maybe in ’07 when his stuff was significantly better (something I attribute to his injury in Texas) and the league didn’t have time to adjust, but not now. He’s just not that same guy. He’s frustrated that his stuff doesn’t blow hitters by as it once did and his control (or maybe mechanics?) is a mess.
I don’t believe sending Joba down is the right message, and the Yankees seem to agree. They want him to work out his development at the Major League level. They’ve bounced him around so many times between the bullpen and the rotation that the least they can do is allow him the time to pitch against true competition. That said, I wouldn’t be shocked if they trade him either. As he’s on the brink of arbitration, he’s no longer an untouchable, and if the Yanks see they can better returns, they shouldn’t — and probably won’t — hesitate to package him in the right deal.
Mike Silva-New York Baseball Digest
I would love to trade Joba since I think he will never realize his potential. Reality is such that his value is at an all time low. At this point he couldn’t be the centerpiece of any type of quality package. The only option is to send him down to Scranton – where he should have spent all of last season- and have him work on two things 1) ability to compose himself on the mound and most important 2) repeat his mechanics on a consistent basis. Once he does that the sky is the limit. The other night the MLB Network was showing Mariano Rivera work with Joba on his delivery before the game. If he can’t learn from the greatest closer of all time I am not sure Scott Aldred is going to make a difference. Regardless, it’s their only hope to save him.
Greg Fertel-Pending Pinstripes
I’m not really sure the Yankees could do anything that would really help at this point. The best solution might simply be a breath of fresh air, where he can work on his pitching without worrying about everyone watching him and killing him, like the media in New York.
You could come up with five billion different theories as to why Joba’s had the problems he’s having, and I think in the end that’s the biggest problem of them all. Sometimes you need to step back and just let someone be. And that is not going to happen in NY.
I think what they’re doing, demoting to a lower leverage role, is best. His confidence has to be shot, and dumping him down in the minors right now won’t help that any. Give him a chance to work things out while still showing some confidence in him, and see what happens. If he doesn’t improve, then you can start to think about the minors. They should be the last step, not the first. I don’t think the Yanks will trade Joba, but I’m sure they’re willing to do it in the right deal. They’re not going to sell low out of frustration just to try to get rid of him. That’s ridiculous, smart organizations don’t do that.
Now that you’ve read a range of perspectives on the topic, what’s yours? What would you like to see the Yankees do with Joba Chamberlain?