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Joba Chamberlain: Waiting for Godot



By Mike Silva ~ January 19th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Last year, the Mets talked about how they needed to hold the fort down until the return of Carlos Beltran. Some compared it to the 20th century play “Waiting for Godot.” The play follows two days in the lives of a pair of men, who divert themselves while they wait expectantly, and in vain, for someone named Godot to arrive. Unfortunately, Godot never arrives, but the two men continue to sit and wait. Beltran returned, albeit a shell of his former self, however the good news is we have the 2011 version of Godot already in Joba Chamberlain.

Joba Chamberlain is the internet gift that keeps on giving. Want to spark debate with vitriol? Mention anything- positive or negative – about Chamberlain and reaction will follow. NYBD contributor Howard Megdal suggested the Mets trade Mike Pelfrey for Chamberlain and there was reaction here, Baseball Think Factory, The Yankee U and even our buddies at Amazin Avenue. The constant theme everyone continues to point out are peripherals, the one thing that Chamberlain can hang his hat on. Take this comment from the article at the Yankee U:

Yeah, I wouldn’t get down with this. I think Joba is too good to give away for a 4/5th starter of Pelfrey’s ilk.

There is a large contingency of Yankees fans who continue to remember the pre 2009 Chamberlain, who dominated out of the bullpen and had a solid 12 starts. Rarely do they want to remember the 2009 version- a below league average pitcher who barely made it through the fifth inning- or the 2010 version who needed to be read the riot act a week into spring training as he lost the fifth starter competition to Phil Hughes.

Mike Pelfrey has three seasons of solid rotation work under his belt. Chamberlain has 12 starts. Right now, Chamberlain isn’t in Pelfrey’s league as a developed starter. Facts are facts, and no advanced analysis can deny that. Mike Pelfrey will win 15 games, pitch 200 innings, and have an ERA around 4.00. Could Chamberlain do that? The next time he does will be the first.

Fundamentally I agree with Howard. Chamberlain has great peripherals that indicate he could be a very good starting pitching. Even someone, like me, who doesn’t believe in Joba, thinks he could contribute in the backend of the rotation. The problem is when will we see him do it? Why are the Yankees so willing to go with a journeyman like Sergio Mitre over Joba? How could Ivan Nova jump ahead of him in the depth charts after struggling in High A Tampa just a couple of years ago? The Yankees talent evaluators are some of the best in the business. To borrow a line from Lenny Dykstra, “did they get stupid overnight” when it comes to Chamberlain?

I believe it’s because the Yankees brass have come to the reality that many fans still haven’t. For all his talent, peripherals and upside, Joba Chamberlain is just not very good. His secondary pitches haven’t developed like many thought, he doesn’t repeat his mechanics, gets comfortable anytime he achieves success, and comes across as someone who is just “happy” to be in the big leagues. You don’t have to be around the kid to see there are issues. How can you need a pep talk a week into spring training when you are competing for a job? Do you know how many players would kill to be in Chamberlain’s position? What kind of message does that send to the brass? If he was in the real world he would have been fired two years ago for his underachieving ways.

Maybe Chamberlain will finally get it this season. He should look at the contracts signed by Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes. While they received $4 and $3 million respectively, Chamberlain signed for $1.4 million, slightly more than Boone Logan. If job security isn’t motivation for Chamberlain, perhaps money will have him realize how behind he is with respect to his peers, who are making two to three times more.

Wait for Godot all you want, that’s your prerogative. I have better things to do than wait for Joba Chamberlain to get serious about baseball. Maybe it’s time to just accept the reality the Yankees brass has come to already: he isn’t all that good.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Joba Chamberlain: Waiting for Godot

  1. Ben Vinutti

    You wrote: “Why are the Yankees so willing to go with a journeyman like Sergio Mitre over Joba? How could Ivan Nova jump ahead of him in the depth charts after struggling in High A Tampa just a couple of years ago?” ….. and …. “I believe it’s because the Yankees brass have come to the reality that…Joba Chamberlain is just not very good.”

    I am so disappointed to have to agree with you wholeheartedly. Joba was rushed to the bigs and could probably have benefitted from proper development time in the minors, where he could have polished his secondary pitches while figuring out how to repeat his delivery and execute his pitches better. Pelfrey is a serviceable starter right now – and the Mets just might be able to straighten Joba out in an environment of decreased expectations and an 8 man lineup.

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