Monday, July 26, 2010

Are you concerned about Joba Chamberlain?

I was a guest on my friend Larry Milian's radio show last Saturday on South Florida radio station WFTL before Old Timers' Day. He also had on CBS-era pitcher Stan Bahnsen on during the same time, so I got the honor of talking baseball with Stan. Here's very knowledgeable on past and present Yankee history, as well as pitching.

Anyhow, we were talking about Joba Chamberlain, and what to do on him. The subject of whether he needed to be sent to the minors came up, with us talking about how doing so has made others straighten up. Anyhow, it was a very interesting discussion. I mentioned about how miserable it was to watch his starts last year - they were so slow-paced - and how I wanted him in the bullpen as time went on. But how he hasn't been the Joba of old in the pen.

It's now a week and a half after this talk. And Joba, who his own peers voted as "Most Overrated" player, got booed by Yankee fans yesterday after giving up that homer to Scott Podsednik. He also was mentioned as being part of a possible Dan Haren trade. And Joe Girardi is still making noise about replacing Chamberlain with Dave Robertson in the eighth inning.

So I'm wondering what readers are thinking. Are you sick of Joba? Do you want him off the team, or in the minors? Do you want him as a starter again?

Personally, I wouldn't be averse to him being sent to the minors, but even then, I don't know if that will solve him. It's all just a mess.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Matt Warden said...

1. Joba's peripheral stats have actually been very good this year. He's also been the victim of some bad luck as seen by his BABIP. With that being said, he has certainly had some unimpressive outings. However, it's kind of silly to compare him with "2007 Joba." That was such a small sample size of outings. Realistically speaking, it's unlikely any reliever (including Mariano) can touch those numbers over the course of a full year. It's good to know our expectations of him are nearly impossible to achieve.

2. "...And Joba, who his own peers voted as "Most Overrated" player..." This is another excellent example of how useless surveys can be.

As always Lisa...try to provide some context. For those of you who are unaware of this survey, it was issued by SI to the players. These same players placed A-Rod at #2 on this list. A-Rod might not be as prolific as he once was...but get real, he sure as hell isn't the 2nd most over-rated player in baseball. There's a reason scouts have considered him one of the biggest baseball talents of all time. Joba was never a big piece of the Haren trade. That was Arizona's asking* price. The Yanks quickly refuted it and were never close to coming to an agreement.

3. Let us not forget Joba has had some instances of brilliance this season. Clearly his mechanics are a bit funky at the moment, but it would be stupid and short sighted to hit the panick button with such a young pitcher with such a high potential upside. Let us also not forget that some of his growing pains are undoubtedly correlated to the poor Yankee Brass decision making pertaining to his development.

If Garardi feels Robertson is a more reliable setup man, so be it. There's no arguing recent numbers and the team needs to gauge players' needs with the team's needs. Yet, those fans whose solution is to just sell cheap and cut losses should reconsider. In the meantime, I'll be thankful it's Cashman's call and not theirs.

4. I'm not sure re-assigning Joba to the minors is a viable option. I don't remember precisely how many options he has left. Also, I am not sure if that's effected by the fact he is arbitration eligible this year.

Matt Warden said...
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Matt Warden said...
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Lisa Swan said...

My friend Steve of Was Watching has 2010 comparison figures for Joba this season. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

In 2007 ..he went through Single, Double and Triple A and in August sent to the Yankees. I believe he only pitched a total of about 80 or so innings in the minors where most young pitchers go 300-400 before being called up. Since then he's been constantly jerked around which is enough to screw up a veteran's head not just a young player. Bullpen, Joba Rules, starter, only pitch 3 innings a game, bullpen, compete to be a starter, bullpen. I feel sorry for Joba and I hope that someday he can become the pitcher once hoped. He certainly does have the talent now he just has to start using his head with it. I just hope the Yankees learned their lesson too. I still have faith in Joba ...I just hope he has it in himself after all the nonsense he's gone through in his young career.

I'm with Matt on the "overrated" player survey. I think it's possible jealousy is a factor with some of the voters especially when players like Alex & DJ make the list as they have in the past. Swisher even made the the heck is he overrated???

Go Yankees 2010 !!!

Matt Warden said...

Well, I think your friend "Steve from Was Watching" should learn to add some additional context as well. There's a reason we have advanced stats...they add indepth perspective. Sabermetrics tell a much more objective story then "I feel like Joba isn't performing like the 'old Joba'."

Joe P. from RAB makes a pretty acute observation when he says, "I’m a firm believer that Joba should continue to get the ball. In terms of events over which he has the most control — strikeouts, walks, and home runs — he’s performing exceptionally. It’s on balls in play that he gets hurt far worse than he has in the past. This could be something mechanical."

Or, back to what I said before... Joba has very impressive peripherals that are worth considering in judging his performance. He has been a bit unlucky these stats haven't worked in his favor as they should.

For exaomple, Chamberlain has a K/9of 9.26, a BB/9 of 3.6, a very low HR rate of 0.90, a 3.31tERA and an FIP of 3.41. These are all commonly desired attributes for a quality setup/closer pitcher. Obviously, analyzing Joba is a little more complicated than saying he has a 4.87 ERA, so we should trade him. will be happy to show this. Yikes!

Lisa Swan said...

Matt, you say:

"Well, I think your friend "Steve from Was Watching" should learn to add some additional context as well. There's a reason we have advanced stats...they add indepth perspective. Sabermetrics tell a much more objective story then "I feel like Joba isn't performing like the 'old Joba'."

1. Please leave the condescension elsewhere.

2. Steve did use advanced stats to prove his point. It just didn't happen to agree with your point of view.

3. You attempt to prove your argument about how "Sabermetrics tell a much more objective story then "I feel like Joba isn't performing like the 'old Joba'" by....quoting another blogger who posits his own opinion about Joba!

4. From today's New York Post:

"The only pitcher who appeared in 40 games this year and has a worse ERA than Joba Chamberlain’s 5.95 is Fernando Nieve, who was recently released by the Mets with his 6.00 ERA. No one who has appeared in 40 games has a worse WHIP than Joba’s 1.61."

But hey, Joba's peripherals are very impressive!

Matt Warden said...

1. It's certainly your right to consider me condescending. I will not stop calling you out though on lame points.

2. I checked out the link you provided. Aside from ERA+, he doesn't really approach his peripherals - hence additional data needed.

3. I mention Joe from RAB because that's pretty much the premiere Yankee blog and they provide excellent analytical data including data on ...Joba. I see you fail to notice the other source I included which does prove my point. I referenced Fangraphs because that's where my data came from which absolutely does support my statement. As far as RAB though, how is the name I chose to support my view any different from the name you chose to support your own?

4. Realize I'm not saying Joba is perfect. I'm just saying the elements of a good pitcher are there as seen by his stats. If he doesn't pull it together, than so be it. But I still agree with the stance that rash decisions often lead to stupid outcomes.

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

I stopped reading Steve's Was Watching blog a long time ago. He is always looking for something pessimistic and makes awful comparisons. He needs some Prozac.

AJ and Vazquez have been fixed, Joba will be too.

I'm more worried about wasting active rosters spots with Ramiro Peña and Chan Ho "Out of the" Park.

Lisa Swan said...


IMHO, Steve is a really good guy - he's one one of the top quality people I've corresponded with in the baseball blogging world. We obviously don't agree on the A-Rod stuff, though!

Matt Warden said...

Lisa Swan said...

That Fangraphs article leaves a lot to be desired. "Joba Chamberlain has pitched extremely well this year by almost every metric"? Um, no, unless you discount metrics like ERA and WHIP.

As one of the commenters on that article put it:

"This is one of those times where the stats don’t tell the story. When he gets hit, he gets it. It’s not bloopers and infield hits. It’s hard liners and doubles.

Moreover, he gives up runs in bunches. When he is on, its 1-2-3. But when he is off, he is OFF. Not a 1 run inning, but we’re talking a multiple run inning. He has given up a run in 32% of his appearances! Of those 14 times he’s given up a run in a game, 7 have been 2+ run outings. And of that, 5 have been 3+ runs allowed.

His longest scoreless streak has been 8 games (April 28-May 14) and since then hasn’t gone more than 3 games without allowing a run.

He has not been good. And I’m a die hard advanced stat guy."

Another commenter sez:

"You’re honestly going to just ‘explain away’ 13.5 earned runs in 43 innings as if it’s all bad luck? Take away 2 earned runs from each of (name mediocre starting pitcher)’s starts and suddenly he’ll win the CY Young!"

Matt Warden said...

Look I'm not saying Joba is perfect by any means nor am I saying there is absolutely no reason for concern. I'm just saying, the stats don't lie. There are aspects of his game that are extremely favorable and the numbers prove that.

ERA and WHIP are very generic metrics. They are not always the best ways of measuring a pitcher because they tend to marginalize a lot of other elements of the game. The point of the article is that Joba still has a large amount of value. Moreover, the Diamondbacks were foolish for not taking Joba over Joe "I'm completely mediocre" Saunders.

The most important point of the article is that because his peripheral stats are excellent, it is still reasonable to expect great things out of him again.

On a side note I completely disagree with the commenter who said, "This is one of those times where the stats don’t tell the story." Stats always tell a more complete story BECAUSE THEY'RE OBJECTIVE. What doesn't tell the story is anecdotal analysis (which is typically what we as readers recieve).

Lisa Swan said...

What's more anecdotal than saying "Joba Chamberlain has pitched extremely well this year by almost every metric," leaving out things like ERA and WHIP? Or the way the author wants to somehow throw out certain innings to prove his point?

And the commenter who said that stats don't tell the whole story gave specific instances to prove his point, with numbers to back it up. A lot more evidence, in fact, than that "Joba's having a great year because I said so" writer.

Uncle Mike said...

Maybe part of the problem is that they're using the metric system! Remember all those school textbooks that told us the U.S. would be totally converted to the metric system by 1980?

Matt Warden said...

It's almost as if you're completely oblivious to the article's points.

1. The author said "almost every metric." Almost suggests not every. Once again, he is exploring advanced metrics - not just the generic ones (ie. ERA /WHIP).

2. In terms of ERA / WHIP read my prior response. Believe it or not, those ARE NOT the only metrics that can accurately reflect a pitcher's quality.

3. Stats do not "dismiss" innings. None of the numbers the author suggests exclude any of Joba's performances. Can you cite what particular innings are being excluded from the calculations?

4. As I have been saying ALL ALONG, his peripherals are still really solid. My advice to you would be to look up metrics such as FIP, xFIP, gmLI, tERA. It is because of these stats, one can hope that Joba isn't a bust at this point. These stats have legitimate value.

If you read the author's article AT ALL, you'd realize he's not saying Joba is having an excellent year. Rather, he's saying he's not ruined and still has some value to him. Sheesh...get with it already.

Lisa Swan said...

You say, "If you read the author's article AT ALL, you'd realize he's not saying Joba is having an excellent year. Rather, he's saying he's not ruined and still has some value to him. Sheesh...get with it already."

Oh please. How dare I think the author is saying Joba is having an excellent year, when he writes that "Joba Chamberlain has pitched extremely well this year by almost every metric"?" The nerve of me!

Matt Warden said...

Just read what you're typing for f*&#'s sake.

"Joba Chamberlain has pitched extremely well this year by almost every metric."

That statement is different from "Joba is pitching great this year" or "Joba is the best pitcher."

What the guy is saying is when you look at the advanced stats that usually represent a quality pitcher, Joba is excelling. Almost every peripheral stat that scouts consider when gauging a pitcher are good for Joba. This is a good thing because it means THE YANKEES DO NOT HAVE A WORTHLESS PITCHER. Goddamn...

Uncle Mike said...

What the guy is saying is that there is a measure, or that there are measures, which suggest that Joba Chamberlain "has pitched extremely well."

To quote Kevin Costner -- not from one of his baseball movies -- "Theoretical physics can prove that an elephant can hang from a cliff with his tail tied to a daisy. But use your eyes!"

From almost every objective viewpoint -- or even from the biased viewpoint of a sick, twisted, demented Yankee Fan like myself -- Joba ain't gettin' the job done this season. Hopefully, that will change later, a la Damaso Marte last season, Graeme Lloyd in 1996 and Jim Beattie in 1978 (yes, I know, Beattie was a starter and was trash from '79 onward).

Matt Warden said...

Lol Uncle Mike. That's a great quote. You're absolutely right. The common eye tells you that he is effectively being benched and is no longer trusted as a set up man because of crappy performance.

However, because he clearly has some ability (given he has excellent results in several important metrics), he's definitely still worth something to the team.

No one will feel bad if the Yanks trade him and get some elite player in return. However, if we trade low on him and all of a sudden he reverts back to excellent form (because the signals of that possibility are there), the organization will feel pretty stupid.

Uncle Mike said...

That description sounds suspiciously like Ted Lilly, who was garbage as a Yankee, poor in late 2000 (nearly costing us a Playoff berth), and awful in 2001 and the first half of 2002, before he was traded. I remember using the old line: "Great trade! What did we get?" Jeff (Censored) Weaver! Shows what I know...

Or does it? Here's's 10 most statistically similar pitchers to Lilly as of today, from most to least: Randy Wolf, Brad Penny, Steve Avery, brief Yankee Dennis Rasmussen, Vicente Padilla, Alex Fernandez, Juan Guzman (admittedly once a star for Toronto but burned out quickly), A.J. Burnett (yes, that one), Erik Hanson and Jason Marquis. Aside from Burnett, any names there excite you? Not me. So, memo to the Mets if they want Silly Ted Lilly.

As for Joba, the only names in his B-R Top 10 that New Yorkers might recognize are Fred Beene (one of the 4 pitchers sent to Cleveland in the 1974 "Friday Night Massacre," getting us Chris Chambliss), and Jack Banta, who had one good season for Brooklyn in 1949 and then got shelled in '50 and was out of the majors at 25.

What does this tell us? Not enough, I suppose, which, as Allen Barra would say, doesn't mean we can't trust statistics, but that we need MORE statistics... which, if I'm reading you right, is your point. "Statistics are like lampposts," Vin Scully taught us, "Use them for illumination, not for support."

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