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Dave Eiland: Joba's training wheels are off

Feb 10, 2010, 9:22 AM EDT

Joba.jpgYankees’ pitching coach Dave Eiland confirmed yesterday that “The Joba Rules” are officially history:

“He’s just going to go out and pitch and he’ll be the one who’ll
dictate when he comes out as far as getting hit or getting tired or
losing his stuff. He’s not going to have any restrictions, so Joe (Girardi) and I are
not going to have to go into the game thinking, ‘Oh, he’s got 85
pitches or six innings or whatever comes first.’ We don’t have to game
plan it out. The kid gloves are off, and he’s just going to go out and
pitch and he knows that and he’s going to come in and be all geared up
to win that job, as are the other guys. Competition should bring out
the best in everyone.”

Eiland added that he believed that the pitch and innings counts and kid gloves hindered Chamberlain’s performance as a starter, which is a drum I and many others have been banging for some time.

As for the competition Eiland mentions, the other day a commenter here — whose name I’m forgetting, sorry — made one of those points that are so obvious that I can’t believe people don’t say it more often: if the Yankees truly intended to make Chamberlain a reliever, why would they have stuck to the Joba Rules as slavishly as they did these past few years?

Indeed, it wouldn’t shock me if Brian Cashman had some super secret notebook in his office which has Chamberlain was already written down as the fifth starter.  In permanent marker.

  1. Lardin - Feb 10, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Also, for those who think Hughes is going to the rotation and Joba to the pen, Joba has no innings limits (as the post points out) Hughes does. So even IF Hughes goes to the rotation, either he doesnt start all year, or we have the Phil Hughes rules.
    My prediction: Joba’s gonna get the 5th spot. Hughes will start the season in AAA as a starter until he gets to about 100-120 innings. Then he will come up and get the rest of his innings as a setup man. He will then take Vasquez or Pettites spot in the rotation next year,

  2. Jason Rosenberg - Feb 10, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Let me just add something I keep thinking – if it’s true that the Joba Rules hindered Joba’s performance as a starter, then it actually doesn’t mean, necessarily, that those rules were a bad idea. It does seem counter-intuitive, but think of it. If (and, it’s a big “if”, I’ll admit) the Joba Rules kept a young Joba from getting injured, and if Joba blossoms into a high-quality starter, then it could have been a classic case of short-term pain for long-term gain, right?
    There’s a lot of unknowns and unknowables here (Would he have gotten injured without the rules? Will he get injured now? Would that injury be worse if he hadn’t been coddled? Did the rules have a long-term effect on his development), but people seem too quick to dismiss the Rules based on some potential downsides, without at least considering the big picture.
    Or, to put it all a bit differently, imagine if the Cubs had instituted some “Mark Prior Rules” a few years back…

  3. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Feb 10, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    Well, that’s good – because a DUI with training wheels would be downright embarrassing.

  4. Jonny5 - Feb 10, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    I don’t know….. i just don’t see this guy as a starter. I have no stats to back it up. It’s just that he seems like closer mat’l to me. it’s just a hunchy kinda feeling i get watching him. Hey maybe I’m wrong but I’d put a couple bucks down that he blows it big time this season as a starter and ends up in the pen.

  5. BC - Feb 10, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    This is crazy. Put Hughes in the rotation as 5th starter, giving him basically into late May to get into a rhythm. Put Joba in the pen as your dominant 7th-8th inning guy. PLUS you have a 40-year old closer, so Joba becomes the heir, just as Mo was to Wetteland. Duh, guys, this isn’t f—ing rocket science already!!
    This coming from a Mets fan who will be sobbing when K-Rod’s arm falls off in July (well, actually I’ll be sobbing sooner than that when they give their best NJ Nets impersonation to start to season).

  6. scatterbrian - Feb 10, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    “‘Oh, he’s got 85 pitches or six innings or whatever comes first.'”
    I hate this line of thinking. I know it’s Joba, but say the dude carved through six innings with just 65 pitches. You take him out because he reached one of your two arbitrary thresholds?

  7. Ber - Feb 10, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Just because he carved through six innings doesn’t make him less likely to get the injuries that data has shown are more likely to happen to young pitchers who are rushed to heavy workloads.

  8. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 10, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    This is crazy. Put Hughes in the rotation as 5th starter, giving him basically into late May to get into a rhythm. Put Joba in the pen as your dominant 7th-8th inning guy. PLUS you have a 40-year old closer, so Joba becomes the heir, just as Mo was to Wetteland. Duh, guys, this isn’t f—ing rocket science already!!

    Never understood the rush to put this guy in a less valuable position (Closer/Setup) than the more valuable one (Starter). Let’s take a comparison of the Joba’s first few years against some guys who started in the BP and transitioned to starters (and one lefty who did pretty well for himself after some early hiccups).
    Joba – 43G – 221IP – 4.18ERA – 2.04K/BB – 8.04K/9
    Johan – 40G – 226IP – 3.97ERA – 2.70K/BB – 8.89K/9
    Halladay – 49G – 281IP – 4.95ERA – 1.80K/BB – 6.74K/9
    R Johnson – 65G – 405IP – 4.05ERA – 1.56K/BB – 7.74K/9
    All through age 24 seasons. Now I’m not saying Chamberlain will be as good as those CY winners, but all of them were given chances to succeed as starters and did not face the “Joba to the Bullpen” crap he faces. Give the guy a chance…

  9. scatterbrian - Feb 10, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Data? There is history and experience that guide many of these decisions, but there is no data that says “X innings pitched or X pitches will lead to injury in a pitcher under X years old.” Besides, the scenario I suggested isn’t even a heavy workload. The kid gloves with which pitchers are treated is just out of hand, as evidenced by the fact that you think 65-85 pitches is a heavy workload.

  10. denverpaul - Feb 10, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    I really like Joba. He isn’t a starter. He basically can go ,maybe, five innings. After that it’s up for grabs. He truly is a reliever, being able to throw two or three innings. Potentially, he will, or could, rplace Mariano when the time comes.
    I hope I’m wrong, but as of now, there’s no evidence he will be a starter.

  11. Ber - Feb 10, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Fair enough, it’s more history and experience than data.
    Nevertheless that history and experience is what led people to make the decision to place limits on young pitchers.
    IMO the biggest problem with Joba’s treatment was that he came up to the majors, he had barely built up his innings at all in the minors because he was so dominant. If they had been giving him 65-85 pitch counts in the minors, noone would have thought there was anything wrong – that is done routinely from what I understand.
    65-85 pitches is not a heavy workload on its own, but when looked at against a whole season where you want to limit innings/pitches there is a number that the FO has to come up with.
    Noone can know if this was the right or wrong formula, it definitely didn’t FEEL right. But I think that once they had decided on it they had to stick with it.

  12. Ber - Feb 10, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Fair enough, it’s more history and experience than data.
    Nevertheless that history and experience is what led people to make the decision to place limits on young pitchers.
    IMO the biggest problem with Joba’s treatment was that he came up to the majors, he had barely built up his innings at all in the minors because he was so dominant. If they had been giving him 65-85 pitch counts in the minors, noone would have thought there was anything wrong – that is done routinely from what I understand.
    65-85 pitches is not a heavy workload on its own, but when looked at against a whole season where you want to limit innings/pitches there is a number that the FO has to come up with.
    Noone can know if this was the right or wrong formula, it definitely didn’t FEEL right. But I think that once they had decided on it they had to stick with it.

  13. scatterbrian - Feb 10, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    That’s right. The real issue is that the Yankees should have been focusing on building up his stamina in the minors rather than instituting “Joba Rules,” shifting him back and forth between starting and relieving, and then wondering what’s wrong with him.

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