Due to most of my free time being taken up by moving, the 50-hour weeks I’ve been putting up between my internship and real job (which is an overnight job so you can add the 4-8 hours of sleep I get during the day on the weekends to the tally), and the TV in my room breaking, I haven’t caught much of the Yankees.
But besides catching A-Rod’s home run on replay, since God knows everybody forgot that it was a day game, one other thing has caught my attention:
Joba Chamberlain has been pitching well. In his last six appearances since moving out of the set-up role, he has gone 5.2 innings without giving up a run. Sure, it is not THAT impressive, but it’s much better than his going 0.2 innings and blowing the lead in the 8th inning as he continually did earlier in the season.
If I were the Yankees, I would be hitting myself for not moving Joba out of this position sooner. Since we are now in August, it would be impossible to trade Joba to another team and get anything valuable in return since the deadline has already passed. Or at least that’s how I understand the rules.
If Joba were pitching well in, say, July, it would have made it easier for the Yankees to get rid of him and get something in return.
Now why am I saying all of this? Why would I want to give up Joba? It’s simply, really. We can do well without him.
Joba has not had a legitimate role for the Yankees in almost three years. When he came up on August 7, 2007, he was the energetic reliever who, along with Shelley Duncan, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and others, put life into an otherwise dead Yankees team, helping them clinch the wildcard.
By 2008, he was made into a starter who wasn’t expected to perform; they just wanted him to get the experience of starting and stretching out his arm for the innings limits. The Yankees did not even make the playoffs that year.
In 2009, Joba was still bred to be a starter, and was put on even tighter “Joba Rules” which not only limited his pitches, but also his innings. In some starts he was only allowed to go three innings. At this point Phil Hughes was the set-up man to Mo, helping the Yankees close out games in pursuit of their 27th World Championship.
And indeed in the playoffs, Chamberlain was put on the roster as a reliever. He was not horrible, actually pitching better than Hughes, but overall was not a major key in the championship.
And we all know how he’s done this year. He actually has a few saves under his belt while Mariano was recovering from an injury, but besides that, he has been inconsistent at best.
So in reality, in the ever-important position of set up man, the position EVERYBODY said he should be placed in, that was his thing, that was his life, he’ll be the heir apparent to Mo and all, he has come up pretty much flat.
And unlike starting pitching, the set-up position is one where you CANNOT fall flat at. Falling flat means putting the entire game in jeopardy late in the game, and costing the team precious ground in the standings.
I don’t want to say the Yankees are now stuck with him, but I think it would have been more worthwhile for them to get another reliever who could be up there in the 7th and 8th innings.
If Chamberlain continues to turn it around and pitch well enough to be the set-up man, that would be tremendous. That would mean I can keep my "Joba Rules" shirt and walk around town wearing it without looking like a complete dork.
But until then, it would be hard to convince me that Joba has a real role on this Yankee team besides being trade bait.