What To Do With Joba?

Rick Sutcliffe mentioned something interesting during the ESPN broadcast tonight about Joba, both this year and next year. He seemed to think that based on the initial medical report on Joba’s right shoulder being “rotator cuff tendinitis,” that is swelling and/or at least a small tear (based on web browsing on the subject, since the Yanks didn’t reveal the extent of the damage), that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Joba back throwing in the 8th inning role this year–and next year as well. Web sites differ on just what rotator cuff tendinitis is, with Merck’s Manual Home Edition terming it a “tearing and swelling of the rotator cuff (the muscles and tendons that hold the upper arm in the shoulder joint)” [emphasis mine], with Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia calling it “an inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the tendons of the shoulder.” Those are significantly different definitions, neither of which are positive news but, depending upon the severity of the damage to Joba’s rotator cuff, also likely shape what hopes for recovery the week-long shutdown of Joba will provide for his return.

My questions to you thoughtful readers are three-fold. One, if this is actually the case with Joba’s shoulder right now, that a week-long shutdown with a rehab regimen afterward might result in his recovery and return in a few weeks, should the Yanks try to bring him back this year? Two, if he can pitch this year, do you bring him back out of the bullpen or put him back in the rotation, especially on the heels of news that Wang is still on crutches and very likely done for the year? Three, since Joba has thrown only 89 innings this season and, whether or not he throws another pitch this year, may not have built up his arm strength for throwing 200 innings in 2009, should the Yankees return him only to the set-up role, repeat their pattern with him in 2009–start him in the bullpen to limit his innings then transition him to the rotation–or just start him in the rotation in 2009 (should all be fine with his shoulder then) given his success as a starter?

I have various opinions on the three questions, the first two of which people could probably decipher my answers from a previous post last night, but will wait to hear from people before potentially stifling debate with my pronunciations. The third is a tougher one, since he was excellent starting but has not thrown even 100 innings this year, and now has a shoulder injury that will definitely limit, and might end, his 2008 season.

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Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 12:38 am  Comments (7)  

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  1. you make a lot of good points—but rick sutcliffe was talking out of ass last night…and not just about his prediction–sorry make that proclamation, that joba would indeed return to the pen for good. he made a fool of himself.

  2. The Yankees are not the best team in baseball so I wouldn’t bring him back because he could re injure his shoulder again. I actually think that he should never be a starter because of his violent delivery. He’s not made to be a starter. He should stay in the bull pen the rest of his career. I took a lot of heat for saying that before Joba became a starter on various message boards. Think of Goose Gossage starting. That’s what Joba is.

  3. and who exactly are you? a scout?

  4. To clarify on Sutcliffe Mike, when I heard him mention Joba to the pen late this year and for 2009, he didn’t advocate for the rest of his career, at least not when I heard him mention it late in the game. If he did so earlier, I didn’t hear it. The quote I heard from him was “the rest of this year and in 2009.” My point was to use Sutcliffe’s proposition as an entry into the discussion. That said, I don’t mind if you rail on Sutcliffe.

  5. Hey, Jason …

    It goes without saying, the news about Joba Chamberlain is not very good !!!

    But, this an injury that can happen at any time, to any pitcher, on any pitch, and even if the pitcher throws only one pitch in a game, or one pitch in a season.

    Jason, you bring up many great points regarding the Yankees options concernng Joba at this point. All these options, [and, maybe a few others] will be discussed by the Yankees braintrust, and a decision will be made, I think, mainly, and obviously, with the long-term health of Joba in mind.

    In my view, we really don’t have all the details concerning this injury. The Yankees, rightfully so, are keeping all this information private. But, for some reason, I think this injury may be more serious than the “very limited reports” that have been released. I hope I’m wrong about this observation … Only Joba, the Yankees, and their doctors know the exact seriousness of this very unfortunate injury.

    So, with all the above said, I would have only one thought in my mind, if I was part of the Yankees Organizaton …

    If there is any “DOUBT” about how serious the injury is, then, the Yankees should just “shut-down” Joba, for the rest of the 2008 season.

    At this point, Joba Chamberlain is a STARTING PITCHER !!!

    Any thought of returning Joba to the bullpen should not be part of the discussion. A move back to the bullpen will only hurt Joba’s development as a starter, including, affecting his role on the Yankees pitching staff next year, as well. Also, going back to the bullpen, may possibly cause more damage to Joba’s arm, and, or, shoulder, because he will be used much differently [pitching every other day] then, the way he is now prepared to pitch a a starter.

    In any case, Joba should remain a STARTER !!!

    And, whatever happens the rest of this year, Joba Chamberlain should open the 2009 season in the “STARTING ROTATION” … period !!!

    My prayers are with Joba, for a full recovery !!!

    — Jimmy [27NYY]

    http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

  6. Most scouts said of Joba when he came out of college that he can’t be a starter because of his delivery and because of his knee injury.

    “But as one AL executive said echoing a common view, “There were just too many red flags with health.” There was a knee injury in college and that violence at the end of his motion. So Chamberlain tumbled in the draft to the appreciative Yanks.”

    This is why they drew up the Joba rules last year because they feared he would get injured and this year he did. Listen, I want Joba to be a starter in the worst way. I WANT him to dominate the opposing team like Beckett does in the playoffs. I want that. This is just what I’m hearing. BTW, that quote was from this article…
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/08062008/sports/yankees/crushing_blow_to_youth_movement_123179.htm

  7. Gotta disagree.
    1) Pitchers with the temperment to work out of the bullpen don’t come along often. Joba has shown that he can live up to that pressure.
    2)Innings, he will probably only pitch 140 150 this year. Pull the trigger and make a decision. Don’t redo what happened last year. Why not just go with making him the 8th inning man and groom him for Mariano’s job in 2 years.
    3)Give Pettite till mid Jan to decide then go after someone like Pavano for minimal money and incentives. Let Aceves take the 5th spot or Hughes if he has a ‘Special Spring’ if not give him another year in AAA.

    He could be the answer to Mariano in 2 years. If you groom him then there will be no discussion when M’s contract is up and he can retire without the drama ala Bernie.


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