With the acquisition of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain will likely see their roles in the Yankee bullpen reduced in 2011. Soriano will clearly be the set up man, the final brick in the mythical “Bridge to Mowhere” while Robertson and Chamberlain will be used as regular middle relievers. This doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the post, but I just wanted to throw it in: in 2010, the Joba + D-Rob combo out fWAR’d Soriano, and will likely do the same in 2011. In fairness, Soriano out bWAR’d the two. Anyway, onto the topic…
With Soriano in the picture, along with the addition of match up man/LOOGY Pedro Feliciano–not to mention the rising stock of David Robertson–Joba Chamberlain is definitely getting squeezed out of the late innings. There are three ways Joba can go.
Path One: He stays in the bullpen as a regular-but-more-expensive-because-of-his-arbitration middle reliever. At best, he’s now the third guy in line. Granted, that’s a pretty good position, but it’s not one that’s exactly hard to fill. David Robertson could fill the role just as well, and it’s doubtful we’d notice much (height, weight, and high socks aside).
Path Two: He’s given the chance to start again. Yes. Please. Do this. I’ve spilled enough digital ink on this subject so I’ll keep it short: I hope the Yankees let Joba Chamberlain start again.
Path Three: He’s traded. We’ve been discussing the notion of trading Joba Chamberlain since he lost out in the fifth starter “competition” after last Spring Training. I said then that I thought his value was incredibly low. After a 2010 that was disappointing to most despite good peripherals, his perceived value is likely even lower now. The only way Joba could help fetch a good piece in a deal–like a viable starting pitcher–is if he’s packaged with someone else who’s value is high right now. Signing Soriano hurt Joba’s trade value because it showed the rest of the league that (part of) the organization doesn’t believe Joba Chamberlain can even be a primary set up man at this point. There is no reason for any team to by Joba at the Yankees’ price right now. They cannot sell him as a top notch prospect anymore, and haven’t been able to since last year. They can’t sell him as a starter with upside, even though that’s basically what he is. If the Yankees don’t want him to start for their team, why should an “opposing” GM tell the Yankees he thinks that Joba can start? The Yankees can no longer sell him as an elite reliever now, because they don’t seem to think that of him anymore.
We hear this saying all the time and I think it applies here: Joba Chamberlain is worth more to the Yankees on the field than he is as a trade piece. If the right player comes along and the Yankees add Joba to a package to get that player, I won’t necessarily mind. The only problem is we don’t know who’s available and we don’t know what else the Yankees would have to give up. The trade market offers too many unknowns and Joba’s value is just too low at this point. Does Joba still have some upside left? Yes. Is he a better option than Sergio Mitre? Oh Mo yes. The best course of action is to re-start Joba.
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