Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do you think Yankees messed up Joba Chamberlain? Brian Cashman sez you're "stupid"

I'm really starting to think Brian Cashman contracted Joe Torre Disease this offseason. The symptoms include believing you're bigger than the Yankees, waging a battle in the media against real or perceived enemies in the front office, and thinking that your you-know-what doesn't stink.

Funny thing is, I have agreed with many of Cashman's moves over the years. Don't forget, he traded for Alex Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu and Nick Swisher, and believed in Robinson Cano before anybody else knew who the second baseman was. Cashman's pickup of David Justice won the Yankees the 2000 World Series, and his stealth swoop of Mark Teixeira helped win the Yankees the 2009 title.

All that being said, the GM seems to have made a lot of inexplicable moves and comments as of late. The latest is Cashman's interview with ESPN NY's Wally Matthews, in which he says that anybody who disagrees with the way the team handled Joba Chamberlain is "stupid":
 "Those people are stupid,'' Cashman said of critics of the Yankees' handling of Chamberlain. "It's just an easy, stupid, idiotic thing to say. There's no screwing anything up. That's how Andy Pettitte came in, that's how guys have been broken in for years. They're starters in the minor leagues, they come up and we use them in the 'pen, and eventually they break into the rotation. So what's the problem? I just think it's naïve."

Aside from the fact that it's pretty insulting to suggest that anybody who disagrees with Cashman is "stupid" and "idiotic," Cashman's Pettitte comparison is inaccurate. Do you know how many relief appearances Pettitte made in 1995, before breaking in to the starting rotation? Five. Do you know how many relief appearances Chamberlain made before becoming a starter? 41. Not exactly the same thing. Not to mention that Petttitte was never moved back and forth repeatedly, the way Joba was.

Pettitte, as a rookie with the Yanks, made five relief appearances over seven innings from April 29 to May 13, 2005. The last of the five was 3.1 innings. Pettitte broke into the starting rotation on May 27 of that year and never looked back. Compare and contrast with Chamberlain, who went from reliever to starter to reliever to starter to reliever to competing to be the starter to reliever. It's enough to make your head spin -- and to help mess up a pithcer.

I do think there is more to the story as to why Joba hasn't been the same pitcher he was in 2007. The injury issue -- what Cashman finally acknowledged the other day -- matters, as does him not appearing to have the determination that, say, Cano had to improve his game. The article also mentions rumors about Chamberlain "burning the candle at both ends."

So I'm not saying that all the moving around is the sole reason Joba is no longer Joba. But it is at least part of it. And why Cashman doesn't want to acknowledge any responsibility is infuriating.

Heck, even Joe Girardi, who is also interviewed in the article, says, "I think there can be some confusion for a player when you're bounced around like that." But what does he know? I guess he's just, um, "stupid." Right, Brian?

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Steven said...

There's only one thing that explains going from having an explosive 97-98 mph fastball to being very average - injury, diagnosed or otherwise. I have no idea, but Joba does have the look of someone who isn't fanatical about his craft, either. That combination has been known to be near fatal for an athletic career.

But I hope I'm wrong and he comes back as the best 6th inning guy ever this year. The fact that they aren't even talking about having him start tells me a lot.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Great post. Perfect. Add me to the stupid column as I wrote about Joba's mishandling a couple of weeks ago. One thing I know is that I'm not alone in being stupid then.

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