Friday, March 26, 2010

Stop Messing With Joba

The Yankees made it official Thursday, naming Phil Hughes as the fifth starter -- a move that has been expected for several days.

Unfortunately, the brass just won't give up the ghost about Joba Chamberlain being a starter.

Shortly after the decision was announced, Brian Cashman told Newsday:

“He’s a starter in the bullpen. He can do both. He’s a starter who was just beaten out in the competition. That’s what we honestly believe, but we only had one spot.
"If someone wrote a story 'Joba is a failed starter’ -- that’s just not true. Bottom line, he’s a major-league starting pitcher.”

For the good of the team, for the good of Hughes and for the good of Joba, it's time to give up the dream. Move Joba to the bullpen and leave him there. Declare him a reliever and end this circus.

Associated Press
Hughes has come a long way this spring, developing a changeup to give him four quality pitches. But that doesn't mean he's going to go out and suddenly blossom into a dominant pitcher. He's still young and he's going to have ups and downs. And unless the Yankees do something, when Hughes runs into a rough patch, there will be calls for Joba to replace him in the rotation.

That's the last thing Hughes and the Yankees need.

Hughes needs to go out there every fifth day confident that a bad start or two or even three is not going to cost him his spot in the rotation. He shouldn't be looking over his shoulder.

Further, the Yankees need to give Hughes a legitimate opportunity to prove himself. The only way to do that is to let him start in the majors, experience growing pains and learn what it takes to be successful in the majors. Developing quality starters doesn't happen overnight and very few come up from the minors and have long, sustained success immediately. It can take two or three years.

And Joba also needs his future with the team defined. Does Joba have the talent and ability to be a dependable major league starter? Yes, but the Yankees have not handled his development in the most efficient -- or sane -- manner. And clearly bouncing between the different mentalities between starting and relieving has not been an easy adjustment for the 24-year-old righty.

Associated Press

Another team -- one that doesn't have the expectation the Yankees have -- might have been more successful making Joba a starter, but it's not going to happen in the Bronx. Not now.

If Andy Pettitte, as expected, does retire after this season, the free agent class this coming offseason appears as if it will so strong, that it's hard to believe Joba will even get another shot at the rotation next spring. Think the Yankees will pass up on the likes of Cliff Lee, Jeremy Bonderman or Josh Beckett if they hit the open market?

Joba -- unless Yankees do something crazy like send him Triple-A -- is going to be in the bullpen this season. Leave him there. Stop this madness.

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