Tuesday, February 15, 2011
N.Y.YANKEES ~ JOBA Who?
Pitchers; and Catchers; and Cashman...Oh My!
NEW YORK YANKEES: JOBA'less Chamberlain?
If I'm Joba Chamberlain, I'm retiring from the Yankees today, hiring a lawyer tomorrow and suing the pants off the Yankees the next day for "Decimation of Career".
Why in Hilltop Park would Brian Cashman want to come out and publicly say Joba may not even have a job with the club this season? With everything concerning Brian Cashman lately, you have to take him with a grain of salt regarding the manner with which he strings his words together during his Post-George reign.
If Joba's status is on thin ice, it's because the Yankees broke him due to their lack of skill at procuring home-grown pitching. Since George Steinbrenner purchased the team, there have literally only been a handful of starting pitchers raised through the Yankees' farm who've achieved anything worth speaking of in a Yankee uniform. Those names are Ron Guidry; Dave Righetti; Andy Pettitte.... I will be kind and include Chien-Ming Wang. BUT That's It! I defy you to name two more! Right up until the much-hyped Big Three came up together; Joba; Hughes; and Kennedy, that's all the Yankees Farm ever supplied for the team's use on their mound. In thirty seven years, that's an abysmal history of pitching development.
The fact is, historically, they have never had much use for rookies and prospects during the Old Boss Era (outside of all the work Stick Michael and Buck Showalter put in). Doug Drabek and Jose Rijo are just two youngsters the Yankees traded away along with many more young position players who went on to have very substantial careers elsewhere. The Yankees never had to procure minor league arms because their plan was always to buy someone else's starting pitching star. Don't be fooled by any self-declared youth movements, development, and Farm System Ratings. The signing of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett and their pursuit of Cliff Lee reaffirms the fact they'd rather just pay the money for a ready made pitcher.
So once the Yankees finally thought they had a trio of promising pitchers, they very unwisely in my opinion, started calling them up in 2007. Joba Chamberlain in particular, was now pitching in the major leagues after only throwing 88 innings in the minor leagues! In calling up their baby arms, they imposed all kinds of unconventional pitch counts and innings limits. Isn't that what the minor leagues are for; to let these guys pitch and develop? Phil Hughes benefited from more innings pitched at the minor level that Joba did and the differences in their effectiveness bear that out. With somewhere near 300 innings pitched in the minors, Phil Hughes is obviously a more accomplished pitcher and more learned of his craft than Joba at this point. What the Yankees did to Chamberlain was plain irresponsible. He's been toyed with like a Yo-Yo since day number one. And it now seems he's gone from the Joba Rules...To a Joba Ruse...To just being plain ol' JOBA REFUSE.
If you're asking me, the Yankees lack of a standard philosophy on how to develop pitching was all too apparent. Evidence of a feeble plan lay everywhere. So then, like little spoiled-rotten kids, the Yankees opened up all their new presents before Christmas, and when the day to actually open presents came around, what the Yankees had on their hands were three already broken toys. All three pitchers wound up hurt and thrown on the DL under the Yankee Plan.
The Joba Rules as well as the Hughes Rules were absurd in theory and application. Like I said earlier...Isn't that what the minor leagues are for?
Joba Chamberlain showed so much ability coming out of the bullpen when he was first called-up and filled the 8th inning role marvelously and in dominating fashion. He was immediately dubbed Mariano Rivera's eventual successor. What followed was a complete mismanagement and mishandling of Joba Chamberlain. His effectiveness, his role, his health, his velocity and now his very viability are teetering on insignificance. A once very promising career appears for the moment to have been torpedoed by the Yankees, and it sounds like Cashen wants no part of the blame.
How did it get to this? The Yankee mismanagement of Joba is culprit number one. From the Bullpen to starting, to ridiculous pitch counts and three inning starts and a bug-battle with midges; it all culminated with an arm injury suffered in Texas from which he hasn't seemed recovered from yet and was maybe precipitated by a very erratic work schedule.
Now, adding insult to his short career, the Yankees signed former Tampa Bay closer, Rafael Soriano and follow that with a comment hinting Joba's time in Pinstripes is now uncertain at best.
It was a JOBA RUSE all along!
I was always on the side of him being in the bullpen. When he showed how much of a force he was in that role, it made me recall how it was the Yankees themselves who unwittingly created the 8th inning set-up man so commonly utilized in Baseball today.
Ron Davis is widely regarded as the first (un)official Set-Up Man. He was a force in his own right setting up for Goose Gossage. By being so effective, Ron Davis pretty much created the role. But even before Ron Davis, the Yankees created an uncomfortable bullpen situation when Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle was relegated to the eighth inning when the Bombers originally signed Goose.
It was the Yankees who always used the 7th; 8th; 9th inning roles to their fullest advantage. After Ron Davis opened up eyes to a successful formula, the Yankees had a failed starter who was sent to the bullpen to become John Wetteland's eighth inning man. Mariano Rivera dominated the eighth inning like Ron Davis once did. Then Gene Nelson and Mike Stanton filled those roles behind Mo's 9th inning shut-downs. Recalling all that, I always thought Joba Chamberlain was a natural for the role and could dominate it like Ron Davis and Mo did once before.
If you also remember, when Goose Gossage hurt his arm and went on the DL (one of those years; 1980 maybe..) Ron Guidry volunteered to go into the bullpen and close games because he said; paraphrasing all these years later... - "I can help this team more by coming out of the bullpen three or four times a week, than I can pitching once every five days." If Ron Guidry recognized the importance pitching plays at the end of a game, that's good enough for me.
That's why I always thought Joba should stay in the bullpen. But now it appears, according to Cashman, he's just trying to remain relevant enough to stay on the team. While I think the chances of the Opening Day roster not having Joba's name on it are very slim to doubtful, you still can not hide the fact that Joba has become a mere after-thought in Yankee plans.
The blame for the complete mishandling, mis-application, and mismanagement of Joba Chamberlain and his current state of ineffectiveness and/or relevance today falls solely on the lap of Brian Cashman. Cashman literally had no patience to let Joba stay in the minor leagues and let him learn his craft there; 88 innings...that's all he had.
That's not gross mis-handling. I think it's negligent. Any lawyers out there? What are the chances of suing your GM for ruining your career?
Supposedly there are many high-end prospects within the Yankees system at AA and the AAA levels as we speak. Warn Them! Tell Them Beware. Because, if the Yankees aren't cutting a check for some other team's star pitcher, they have proven they have no idea what they're doing with young kids. Where is the proof otherwise?
After Guidry; Rags; Andy; Wang (to be fair), and now Hughes (still to be determined)..... Where is the proof they know what they are doing? Joba; Hughes; Kennedy; All Hurt. Two are now near feeble and one so far seems up to pushing a rock up the hill.
Four credible starting pitchers in 37 years is hardly a record of proficiency.
What they did to Joba is pathetic. Sorry, it's the truth. Not wanting to hear it is another matter.