The Joba debate

One of the most common questions people ask is, What is your favorite road city?
After yesterday, an off day spent in captivity, we can safely say this in response: It’s not Cleveland.

kim_blog052909.jpgAs you would suspect, the players and coaches had a blast at the Magic-Cavs game. Team bonding is big, CC says, and he did his part, purchasing two suites for the night and handing out tickets to all of his buddies. Apparently, Ben Roethlisberger was the only celeb to receive more boos than Alex on the Jumbotron. (Or whatever they call those gigantic arena screens these days.) CC got a mixed response. (“I knew I’d hear some boos,” he said.) Brady Quinn was cheered, as was Jhonny Peralta. Eric Mangini couldn’t be captured by cameras; he was at the concession stand.

And Carl Pavano got a big ovation! Cleveland loves Carl!
More Joba: There is plenty of room for healthy debate when it comes to Joba’s best role on this team. Because this is a win-now group, because Joba has been electric as a reliever and because the Yankees need late-inning help, we believe he should be the bullpen. But there is a viable argument that it is better for Joba’s development — and for the Yankees — for him to remain in the rotation.

What we cannot stand is this: The idea that one side of the argument is wholly without merit. (And, therefore, dumb, stupid or idiotic.) That’s just not true. Men who know a heck of a lot more about baseball than we do — and some who reside in the Yankees clubhouse — fall on opposite sides of that discussion. And we don’t consider any of those guys “dumb,” “stupid” or “idiotic” — especially when it comes to baseball.

It’s actually a fun debate, one with clear sides, which we should have some day with, say, Peter Abraham, who is a staunch Joba-as-starter guy. In the meantime, we continue to remember Ozzie Guillen, who tends to call it like he sees it, saying last summer he’d much rather see Joba once every five days than every day of a series.
Dining room dish: The highlight of the $10-per press dining room in Cleveland is the ice cream, specifically the Moose Tracks variety. Flaherty had some, as did we. Kay had two burgers: “The worst burgers I’ve ever had,” he says. “No bun.”
“Joe Girardi Show” producer Jared Boshnack, who is here on assignment, orchestrated a trip to the main concourse, where we purchased a chicken sandwich and he opted for bratwurst. ($14 and that included an order of fries.) We both had lemonade. It almost seemed like summer. This was during the rain delay.
Jorge’s back: Posada returned and Cash was optioned. Many media reports indicated that Cash was out of options and would have to be designated for assignment. Girardi and Cashman — who would know — said that is untrue, so Cash was, indeed, sent down to Triple-A. Cervelli remains. That’s not a surprise, given the way Cervelli has impressed the pitchers and coaches as a quick study and great communicator — and very capable backstop — behind the plate.
Three more nights in Cleveland. We always judge road trips by the number of nights. Three more is a lot. We’ll probably pack tomorrow night, just for mental-health purposes. Let’s catch up again soon.



    ——-“What we cannot stand is this: The idea that one side of the argument is wholly without merit. (And, therefore, dumb, stupid or idiotic.)”———
    What we cannot stand is this: screwing a young and mega-talented SP’s development because we can’t see the forest for the trees. We are thankful at least Girardi has his head on straight (“That’s why the presidential debates are better – they end”). We can only imagine the horrible possibilities if Torre were still manager. We are not amused.

  2. yankeexx

    Of course Kim…Cleveland loves Pavano. The Yanks paid for his bionic upgrades. Murphy’s law says that’s the way it’s going to be.

    Regarding Joba…just think where the catch phrase Joba Rules really took on a higher meaning. Ozzie’s statement speaks volumes. Wouldn’t the majority rather see Papelbon once every five days as opposed to multiple times a week??? Look how many games Joba can bridge to Mo for wins per week as opposed to no decisions as a starter.

    Guess what side I’m on regarding this debate???(;

  3. jeff1112

    Kim, for some reason its still hard to believe that the press members have to pay for dinner. For some reason I guess a lot of us fans simply assumed that was provided for you by the home team and just part of being with the press almost like a perk or just part of the job. You’ll have to tell us what ballpark has the best food (Yankee Stadium doesn’t count).

    Do you usually hang out with the beat reporters while traveling and stuff? Where are you usually during the games? If you do hang with the beat reporters who is your favorite person to hang with? I know you mention Peter Abraham and his blog a lot.

    Aceves just pitched great in this game. You may have asked Girardi a similar question to this at some point but I don’t remember. Aceves’s versatility is a huge asset to the team with him being able to go 1 to 3 innings or more if a pitcher has to leave early in the game, but does it also make it hard to know exactly when to use him best? “Anything we ask him to do,” according to Girardi with respect to Aceves can raise some issues. Aceves shouldn’t be overused. When he goes 3 innings you wonder if maybe it’s too much. Aceves’s outing in this game couldn’t be much better, but maybe 3 IP means he can’t come out tomorrow. Other guys in the pen need work too like Coke, Robertson, and need to get Wang enough work. Bullpen’s have to be one of the hardest things to manage on a team.

    Last thing is can we expect to see any interviews with the Cleveland players during the stay there?


    Hi Kimmie……let me chime in on the Joba issue. I see Joba as a capable, decent starter for years to come. If that’s the road the Yanks choose for him, then so be it. He’ll likely peak out around a 15 game winner. But in the bullpen? Different story. He’s EXPLOSIVE. He’s a shut down bridge to Mariano in the 8th inning….capable of going 7th and 8th if need be….just as Mariano used to do for Wetteland.

    Now let’s also remember that Mariano is human. He probably has 2 good years left as a closer….maybe more. Who knows? The point here is that Joba Chamberlain has closer type stuff. That doesn’t grow on trees, and the Yanks are going to NEED a closer eventually! Why not just make that decision now and get Joba on the right track towards his destiny?

    Let’s also remember that Mariano was a starter….a kind of a mediocre one. But when they put him in the pen, he was able to concentrate on and develop that cutter that still confounds hitters to this day.

    From what I’ve seen, Joba isn’t much better than Phil Hughes at this point in his development. They both have some potential as starters. But we’ve ALL seen what Joba brings to the table as a set up man. They can’t touch him. And hey Kimmie…isn’t that what the Yankees NEED right now? Yeah….I’m with YOU on this one.

    PS….I hope you din’t get any of those midges on your chicken sandwich Kimmie.

  5. hmg2

    I can see both sides of the debate, but you have to give Joba a shot at becoming a front line starter. How many starters come out at 23 years old and pitch deep into games and do it consistently. The big thing about Joba is that he has 4 pitches he can throw and throw well. If I’m not mistaken Papelbon only has 2 pitches he can throw well, so he is better suited for the bullpen. That’s not to say he can’t be a good starter, but Joba has more upside to becoming a starter when comparing him with Papelbon.

    Of course, if the Yankees lose a bunch of games in the 8th inning, I will change my opinion. šŸ˜‰

    Cleveland loves Pavano because they love mistakes by the lake.

    Thanks for the blog Kim!!


    It’s not a fun debate. It’s the annoying distraction that won’t end.
    Girardi made it clear to Mike F, the man who won’t let this die, that the Yankee organization thinks the issue is so worthy of debate that no one has bothered to bring it up.
    Pete Abraham is not just a “Joba as a starter” guy, he takes PRECISELY the position you are condemning – that there is NO reasonable argument for Joba as a reliever.
    And, in this case, every reasonable measure of player value supports that.
    It’s not a fun debate. It’s not a relevant debate, as there has not been any indication whatsoever that the issue is on the table in the real world.
    How about talking about something interesting? For instance – in spite of all the tribulations of this season, and with Joba apparently crippling this team as a starter, with the eighth inning (which, as we all know, is more important than all other innings combined and multiplied by … eight), the Yankees are IN SOLE POSSESSION OF FIRST PLACE!
    How did THAT happen?

  7. nyjane

    The Lovely Kim Jones! You’re awesome, btw.

    The Joba-to-the-bullpen side of the debate only sounds dumb, idiotic, and/or stupid when your argument begins and ends with that he fits the role because of his intensity blah, blah, blah. It becomes somewhat of a valid arguement if indeed the Yanks don’t find a solution to the big black hole in the bullpen.

    However, the Yankees are finally first in the division despite losing A-rod for a big chunk of the season and the bagillion other injuries not to mention the slow start to Tex. There’s no need to cut corners now on Joba’s development just because he can fill a need. This is Cashman’s job and I believe he’ll find someone serviceable for that late inning relief spot.

    To put the Papelbon as a proof if just plain dumb. Papelbon was not a very good starter to begin with that’s why he had to be the closer. The great Mariano also sucked as a starter. Joba has not exactly sucked. He had some mediocre starts and he’s had brilliant starts so to dismiss him entirely as a starter just because of his unreal introduction to major leagues as a relief pitcher. If baseball folks just kept on converting starters to relievers just because they were lights-out in that role, you will never see the likes of Johan Santana or Pedro Martinez. (Yes, they started out as relief pitchers. Youcan check it out.)

    Also, David Price was also pretty good as a relief pitcher last year. I don’t hear any clamors for him staying in the bullpen.

    More power to your blog!


    The problem with Ozzie’s take is that he’s an opposing manager seeing the team on three day stretches and that skews opinions. I’m sure he’d say “Boy, I’d rather see Jorge Posada on the bench one day than Jose Molina catching”, but Jorge needs days off. For an opposing manager in a specific series, it might be preferable to take a shot at MAYBE seeing Joba once rather than seeing him 3 times, but over the course of a season, that starter is much more valuable.

    And I’m not willing to sacrifice 15 years of a potential ace starter because “Well this particular month we need help…”. Why isn’t anyone calling for AJ Burnett to the 8th inning? Since relievers are so much more valuable than starters apparently.

    If Joba doesn’t work out then you can send him to the pen, but you have to give him an extended shot. He’s a kid. Look at some of the best starters of the past 20 years, and check out their first season or two. Maddux, Glavine, Johnson…they were bad. Then they figured it out, and you know, I’m not sure Arizona or Atlanta would have been very happy with those guys “pitching the 8th”.


    Listen all of you Pro…JOBA AS A STARTER fanatics…Yor arguments for keeping him as a starter are no more valid than the arguments to put him in the pen.

    If we can all take a minute and remember…Phil Hughes was the highly touted ‘CAN’T MISS’ future of the Yankee starting rotation just 2 years ago, but now? Well….we like to say he is ‘developing’. Well isn’t that what Joba is doing? He isn’t no ‘Blow You away’ starter…but he WAS a blow you away setup guy!! He’s already PROVEN to be the bridge to Mariano!!

    OK….we’ve done well here so far. Overcome many obstacles, many injuries. had several come from behind wins. ALL GOOD!! But down the road, there will be games where the Yanks have the lead going into the 8th inning, and a situation will come up where the opposing team has men on base with less than 2 outs. Now, nothing against Abeladejo or Aceves….but I would rather see Joba Chamberlain (based on his past relief performances) coming out of the pen and taking the mound than ANY other guy in that pen except Mariano. And sure…Mariano can pitch 2 innings once in awhile, but I’m sure Girardi would prefer to NEVER have to do that. And just the fact that he DOES shows how much they need Joba in the pen. To that, my friends, there can be no argument.

    I think Joba is the future CLOSER for the NY Yankees. Not Mark Melancon…who might develop into the 8th inning setup man for Joba. There isn’t anyone in the organization right now who can produce the pop that Joba has in a short inning situation. He IS lightning in a bottle, and anyone who denies that after seeing him perform as as setup man is either blind, or completely void of anything resembling a working brain.

    What you JOBA AS A STARTER backers are proposing right now is using him as a 5th starter right now. A FIFTH STARTER!! As opposed to putting him in the pen and insuring that the Yankees will win almost every game where they lead after 7?!??!?! That’s simply ridiculous.

  10. nyy80401

    The debate is easily solved with a quantity comparison just like Ozzie made…

    Joba can affect 20% of our games as a starter or he can affect 35 – 40 % or our games as a reliever.

    Tyler has a great point, which he is wholly overlooking and sealing the case for the bullpen side – A bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush –

    “The point is, we don?t know what?s next for Chamberlain as a starter…”‘….

    “Cute as a midge”??? – There is no “cute” in baseball…


    And PS….let’s not forget that TV ADDS 10 LBS. So in person she must qualify as cute. : – 0



    Who is this ‘we’ you speak of when saying, “we believe he should be in the bullpen?” Isn’t this the Kim Jones blog? Or is Mike F a silent partner of this blog?


    Why are we so desperate to fix things immediately in baseball? Why can’t we let things play out? What happens if you move Joba to the pen, then AJ gets hurt? Then you are starting Brett Tomko every game. Why am I asking so many questions??

    We can all agree the Red Sox are a smart organization. They tried to move Papelbon to the rotation and only didn’t because of health. Not because he was ‘more valuable’ in the pen. They understood the value of a good starter.

    And since when has Joba been mediocre as a starter? An ERA under 4 for a 23 year old is very, very good. Especially in the AL East and pitching home games in the bandbox that is new Yankee Stadium.

    This argument is a bit silly. We finally have a home grown, potential #1 starter (2 if you include Hughes). Let him breathe a bit and turn into something special.

    Also, how many games have we lost in the eighth this year? I read a stat that said only 1. If a game is lost in the 7th or 6th, that is not something Joba can affect even if he was in the bullpen.

    This type of thing doesn’t happen in smaller markets. How would we have handled Grienke? In NYC, he never would have had time to mature and become the pitcher he is today. Patience all.


    Hey, Kim, thanks for the blog. I’ve got to comment on the Joba argument because I just don’t see much validity when I think about the reasoning behind the Joba-to-the-Bullpen campaign. I respect the people making the argument, but I do disagree.

    To me, the value of a potential ace starter (best case) is much greater than the value of a potential ace closer (best case). Salaries paid to each make this case clearly. If you own a fabulous piece of beachfront property you’ve got to see if you can get the zoning, investors, etc. to open a luxury resort there before you decide to build the most exquisite bait shop on the planet.

    Another part of the argument made to move Joba to the pen is one that I am curious about. It is the point that the Yankees have an overwhelming current need to have a lights-out reliever for the eighth inning. Is that really true? Of the Yankees’ 2009 losses, how many were games in which they took a lead into the eight that was lost in that inning? Well, the answer is one. The only time this season that the bullpen blew a Yankee lead in the eighth inning that resulted in a Yankees loss was April 12. It was a 6-4 loss to Kansas City in which KC scored three runs in the eighth, blowing a win for … wait for it … starter Joba Chamberlain. (Ironic, isn’t it?) This means that Joba-in-the-Bullpen may have made the critical difference in only 2% (1/48) of the team’s games so far this year. This is hardly a compelling argument for the necessity of making any change at all. (It also speaks for how well Joe Girardi has managed the bullpen with having lost his two main setup guys, Bruney and Marte, for most of these games.)

    My last point (I promise!) is that people are basing their argument for Joba’s ability to be a lights-out, dominant reliever on his performance in that role prior to this year. There is no guarantee that he could reproduce those results in 2009. This year, his worst results, by far, have been in the first innings of his starts. Reduced velocity, poor control, many hits. Why would one be confident that he would not have these same problems coming out of the pen now?

    Sorry, but the whole thing makes no sense to me at all.


    Looks like Brian Cashman doesn’t think it’s a fun debate either: “That’s all crap,” he said. “Wake up and smell the coffee. If he’s on national television on ESPN and throws 91 on the 22nd pitch, why would you think if he comes in in the eighth inning protecting a 4-3 lead [he’d throw 96]? Stop, he’s a starter.” “It’s not even an option,” he said.,0,4969363.story

    And in regards to your comment “Men who know a heck of a lot more about baseball than we do — and some who reside in the Yankees clubhouse — fall on opposite sides of that discussion.” There’s a reason why former players rarely, if ever, run teams. If you think Joba belongs in the pen, then you’re either ignorant of the facts or been given misinformation.

    I like your blog Kim. I enjoy reading the human interest tidbits you can’t find elsewhere. But this push for a debate is just embarrassing and disappointing.

    And to, Tyler Kepner is the best beat writer covering the Yankees, by far. Any of his baseball articles are must reads.


    Hi Kim,
    I was reading your latest blog and wanted to ask a question!
    What was it that you can safely say that Cleveland is not your favorite road city? Where would you rank Cleveland? You have to keep in mind some of your biggest fans could be living in Cleveland. The New York Yankees have the biggest fan base of any ML baseball team! Just wanted to see how you ranked Cleveland and what your likes and dislikes are! Thank you and keep up the great work!

    Special T

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