Cashman: Joba Hasn’t Been the Same Since ’08

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was at the Hard Rock Cafe in midtown today speaking with WFAN’s Mike Francesa at an event called WFAN’s Breakfast with a Champion. They discuss a few things that we’ll talk about today, but the first and probably most important is something Cashman said about Joba Chamberlain.

Francesa asked Cashman about the possibilities of Joba in the rotation and Cash gave his most blunt answer yet on the situation. Cash told him that they are not considering him because he has not been the same since his shoulder injury in Texas back in August of 2008.

This is something that a lot of us believed to be true, but as of right now we were really only guessing. Up to this point the Yankees had either given no reason at all as to why Joba would no longer be a starter or they would say something weak like his stuff is better out of the bullpen.

This does raise a question of what exactly Cashman meant by that. Did he mean that his arm hasn’t been the same since the injury or his statistics. Was it his performance in 2009 that soured them on him as a starter or was there a real concern about him re-injuring himself.

If there was a real concern that his body can’t handle the rigors of starting that’s one thing. But if there was real concern then why did they let him pitch in 2009? Maybe it was something that they saw after the season, but they supposedly were going to let him win a starting job going into the 2010 season, or at least they said they were. So that doesn’t seem to be it.

No, what they seem to be going off are his stats in 2009. It seems that Cashman and the Yankees didn’t like what they saw and ignored the fact that he was a 23-year-old joining a big league rotation for the first time under the most pressure a pitcher could possibly have placed on him. Now he is going to be a reliever for the rest of his career in pinstripes.

The worst part is, that a concession like this does hurt Joba’s trade value. It’s good that we finally are getting a reason out of Cashman on this situation, but it is a double edged sword. So now the Yankees are stuck with a reliever with no defined role that they’ve given up on as a starter and who now has very little trade value.

Hopefully I am reading this wrong. Hopefully there is something in a medical report somewhere that none of us have seen. Hopefully the Yankees are removing a perfectly good starting option based off of some idea that he wasn’t as good in 2009 as he was in 2008 so let’s banish him to the bullpen. Because if the true is that they were just let down by such high exceptions of him – it just seems pathetic.

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One Response to Cashman: Joba Hasn’t Been the Same Since ’08

  1. bob says:

    Rob – You make an important point, which is that Joba is being judged based on an inflated expectation which he didn't meet, rather than what his realistic potential is. Lots of ballplayers have a rough time early in their careers – Cliff Lee's ERA in his first full season, 2004 , was 5.43 in 179 innings. In 2009 Joba threw 157 innings with an ERA of 4.75. In 2007 Lee was 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA, and then went 22-3 in 2008 with an ERA of 2.54. The best example of course is Koufax, who Alston wouldn't have pitched at all except that the Dodgers were obligated to keep him as a "bonus baby", and who after five years in the majors was ready to quit (read "The Early Years 1955 – 1960" section here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Koufax) until he learned how to pitch and became the great Koufax. Point being that Chamberlain's instant greatness couldn't be maintained and it is not realistic to expect that it would – it's not that easy. Cashman, who talks about patience, needs to have it here. I worry about Cashman's rigidity – he gets an idea in his head and that's it – but that's another topic.