If Hughes Wins Job, Joba Rules Would Have Been For Nothing

Young arms seem more important today than ever and the Yankees have tried very hard to take care of their young arms, specifically Joba Chamberlain – I’m talking about the Joba Rules.

But have they all been for nothing? It was a question Bernadette Pasley poised on her blog Lady Batting recently:

Joba Chamberlain was on an innings limit last year to preserve his young arm. This year, assuming he wins the 5th starter’s job, he’ll have no innings limit.

What if he doesn’t win the job?

I was all for the way they treated Joba last season. I had no problem with them having him pitch three innings here and four innings there. I wasn’t one of those people who kept saying, “Let Joba pitch!” I didn’t think the Yankees were messing with his career. I didn’t think he was being jerked around. I didn’t think the Joba Rules were crazy. But, if he doesn’t get the job I will think they were crazy. The Joba Rules will have all been for naught.

Isn’t 2010 what the Joba Rules were for in the first place, building up his innings so that he can pitch without holding back in the future? The future is now, but Joba might be left in the past and, instead of Joba pitching without an innings limit, we’ll be subjected to the Hughes Rules (because Phil Hughes will need an innings limit, too), and Joba will be back in the bullpen, having gone through what he went through in 2009 for nothing.

It’s a very good question. If Joba is in the bullpen this season, were the Joba Rules for nothing? Maybe.

I don’t think the rules should not necessarily be considered a waste in the sense that it’s always smarter to be cautious with young arms. If the Yankees believed that Joba was going to in their rotation then they absolutely should have enacted the Joba Rules. And you know what? Sometimes plans change.

However, part of me feels like that if Joba Chamberlain is not in the rotation to start the season, they are giving up on him too early and in a sense the Joba Rules were for nothing. Sure his numbers were inconsistent last season, but he was 23-years-old and did manage to run off a streak of 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA which even by the Yankees high standards is amazing.

He struggled late last season, but I think it was clear that he hit a wall of sorts last season. Taking him out of the rotation for the playoffs last year was probably smart, but to remove him from the rotation for good would be a huge mistake. So in the sense that it is irresponsible to give up on him so early, the Joba Rules would have been for nothing.

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11 Responses to If Hughes Wins Job, Joba Rules Would Have Been For Nothing

  1. smurfy says:

    I think fandom and pundits should lighten up, and let the officers steer the ship. We fans, at least, aren't privy to medical findings nor do we counsel with the young man. We can feel sure that the Yankees want to maximize his value to the team. Some managements have failed to balance short term desires with long term needs, but the Joba Rules are evidence that they are being conservative with our asset.

    At least his arm didn't fall off while they "stretched him out" last year. While arguments that starting is more valuable than relieving have held sway, Joba has shown (imo) an imperfect approach to starting, extending innings with walks as he eschews power pitches. Time to regroup. Doesn't have to be a permanent thing.

  2. Rob Abruzzese says:

    Honestly, your line, 'joba has shown an imperfect approach to starting' sounds to me like you're giving up on a 24 year old pitcher who had an amazing first half last season.

    Why give up so soon when you yourself admit that starters are more valuable. Is about a 1/3 of a season enough reason to give up on a guy?

  3. Lefty says:

    The pitching routine of Joba the starter doesn't equate with the pitching routine of Joba the reliever. Blame it on the "Joba Rules," on how he was stretched out the 2nd. half of '09, or maybe his natural abilities, physical and mental, structure him to be a closer, or whatever. This is what a lot of people inside & outside of the organization are seeing. Also, both of them need another "out" pitch to reach their predicted successes as starters, and they are working on just that. Starters are very valuable to be sure, however, they can only pitch every 4th.-5th. day. Joba & Hughes out of the pen are extremely valuable because they are stoppers, can be used more frequently, and can be interspersed with Robertson, Melancon etc. to get to Rivera, or even Joba for a spot close. For sure, no one's giving up on Joba or any of the other guys, and to fans it's frustrating that clear-cut roles havn't been established. This is why they make spring training, and things should be considerably more defined in the next 4 weeks.

    • Rob Abruzzese says:

      Joba doesn't need another "out" pitch. Hughes is improving on what he already has. Also, starters throw 200 innings vs about 60-80 innings for a reliever. Joba for 200 innings + 60 innings of Gaudin is way better than 200 innings of Gaudin and 60 innings of Joba.

      As for everything else you've written, what are you basing that on? It seems like you just made up about half of what you've written. If he doesn't have the tools to be a starter, why was he so effective for 110 innings last season?

  4. Lefty says:

    AAhhhh….The coolade.. Did I say Gaudin?? So ya think Joba's goin' to throw 95/96mph fastballs plus some hard benders for 6 innings all season? That will really keep his arm out of a sling for sure! Effective for half a season, and more often than not, didn't get into the late innings either, did he? Do you think it's smart to have a starter that goes @ 5 innings most times out? Is it remotely possible that could burn up a bullpen when you consider the load put on the pen by the other four starters? By the way, I said nothing about not having the tools for a starter…but, maybe he's a tool short…maybe the mind set evidences something else, like a closer in the making. And to be a starter, yes, he does need another "out" pitch so that he doesn't have to rely on trying to blow the ball by the hitter every time a crucial at bat comes around(that becomes predictable), while at the same time saving his arm for the season. Additionally, one must think long term, and for one, I am not convinced, as you appear to be, that Joba's long term role as a Yankee is that of a starter. Regarding Hughes, it's more than improving on what he has. You make it sound like a simple and easy fix. Not so. He's working on mastering a change-up that could become a secondary "out" pitch for him. This is big, and will be like adding a new pitch to his repertoire.
    What is written results from knowledge, observations and experiences. What do you base what you write upon? The tenor of your response to my comment seemed unwarranted, thus the flavor of this reply. Respect for divergent thoughts is……respectful?

  5. Rob Abruzzese says:

    Well first of all, I don't think velocity matters when it comes to Joba. I wrote about that here, http://www.bronxbaseballdaily.com/?p=2649, and River Ave Blues has also written similar pieces and have come to the same conclusion.

    Second of all, on a strict, very strict, pitch count he averaged 5.5 innings per start. There is no reason to believe that he wouldn't average at least 6 innings per start or more without a strict pitch count.

    Also, Joba throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. What does he need another pitch for?

    Finally, I am a numbers guy. I try not to base my observations on perception. Saying stuff like you don't think he has as good a routine as a starter as he does as a reliever is purely your perception with almost no evidence at all to back that up. Then you went on to say that "maybe his natural abilities, physical and mental [abilities] structure him to be a closer" is 100 percent your opinion. There really is no numbers or facts to back that up. That's all I meant to imply.

    Honestly, you seem to have given up on Joba based entirely speculation.

    Please tell me why he was so damn effective for 110 innings last season? I mean a 23-year-old who goes 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA is very rare. Why take him out of the rotation, especially after taking such meticulous steps to prevent injury. Now that he's finally ready you pull the plug on that?

  6. Lefty says:

    Velocity doesn't matter??? Usually when Chamberlain struggled in '09 it was when his velocity was down, which was quickly pointed out by commentators, sports analysts, as well as some others..There are darn few around like Greg Maddux who get it done with finesse, pinpoint control and great ball movement..And, Chamberlain isn't one of them! A good question one might pose to Joba is,"hey Joba, are you better with a 96mph fastball or a 91mph fastball?
    Second, you're right, on a strict pitch count, which he knew he was on, he averaged 5.5 innings/start. Saying that he would pitch 6 innings or more on a relaxed pitch count is 100% your opinion. He might, he might not. But, there's more than just the obvious risk with the pitch count gone.
    Correct. He "throws" four pitches. Forget a profile on him suffice it to say he needs another "out" pitch with a back-up. He needs it to win games!!
    Numbers have a place, but I'm sure you can make a long list of guys with great numbers and the only ring they have is the one around the bathtub when they come home at night. Baseball is a game. An inexact and oftentimes unpredictable game played by people with certain natural abilities, both physical and mental, giving them a propensity to do different things on the field. Numbers are only the result of the play action. It's very likely that Joba's most valuable contributions to the club, long term, will be out of the pen. What kind of numbers would you put on a nice big hot fudge sundae?? Nah, you just know it's good.
    Have not given up on Joba at all…Just think he'll be more successful and important to the team, and that's what counts, over his career out of the pen.

    • Joba's velocity doesn't matter. I've done at least 2 posts on this and River Ave Blues have done a couple as well. His velocity has gone up and down since he came up and he's done well with the velocity up and he's done well with the velocity down. RAB's posts went deeper than mine and they determined that velocity doesn't matter at all with Joba and that the movement of his pitches were the biggest difference in him pitching well and struggling. They also determined that his velocity didn't determine how much his pitches moved.

      So no, velocity doesn't matter. Your opinion, commentators' opinions, and any other opinions to the contrary are just that, opinions. Taking one look at the numbers clearly show that velocity has made no difference in how he's played. For instance, when he was pitching well in 2009 and when he was pitching poorly in 2009 his velocity was the same.

      Consider this the last time I will comment on this subject. I've commented on it multiple times and have also written entire articles on this. If you want to continue to ignore the facts for your opinion, that's your problem.

  7. smurfy says:

    Hey, Rob, I think numbers can tell us a lot, but the game isn't at base about numbers. They can be misused, too, and are at times. For example, the WAR values table over on iYankees home page that shows Mo's value below every Yankee starter. It's saying his contribution were less valuable that Brett Gardner's last year. Something is seriously out of whack with that formula, and it may be influencing decisions such as the value of starting vs. relieving.

    I'm fine with it, if the Yanks want to give Joba more time now to figure out his tactical approach to putting down hitters as a starter. You're probably right that velocity is less important to Joba than command. I want to see progress (interocular determination), tho, in challenging hitters.

  8. Maybe you just overvalue closers.

  9. smurfy says:

    Whack! Out of whack!