Yesterday in the nightly links, Mike linked to this piece by Andrew Marchand. The article’s first line, a variation of a sentence I’ve definitely seen before, feels completely true, regardless of how cliche it seems:
Justin Louis Chamberlain is only 26 years old, but it feel as if he has scrunched a whole career into five seasons.
It feels like forever ago that my friend Mike Rogers told me to look out for Joba because he was tearing up the Hawaiian Winter League. It feels like forever ago that I tracked his progress throughout the minors in 2007. It feels like forever ago that he was called up and dominated in the fall of that year. It feels like forever ago that he popped his shoulder in Texas and was never quite the same again, despite flashes of brilliance. The crux of Marchand’s article is that Joba’s Yankee future is most definitely up in the air because of the team’s aversion to letting him start and a crowded bullpen. Marchand is not wrong and the only thing I can bring myself to feel about that is sadness.
For his brief Major League career, it seems as if Joba Chamberlain has been merely a passenger when he should’ve been the driver. Despite his dominance as a starter in the minors in 2007, he was brought up to relieve in the Majors because the team desperately needed a reliever at the time. For 2008 and 2009, he was jerked around between the bullpen and the rotation and was injured. There were times when he didn’t pitch well, but isn’t that normal from a guy who’s yet to turn 27? If there is one word that could define Joba’s career, it’s “inconsistency.”
His pitching inconsistent at times, but I find that excusable. What is inexcusable is the failure by the Yankee organization to cash in on Joba’s talent and potential. A while back, I wrote a post that essentially said the manager’s job is to put his players in a position to succeed; this principle can be expanded to an organizational level. The organization needs to put its players in the best possible position to succeed, and the Yankees did not do that with Joba Chamberlain. He is young enough that he can still make something great of his career, even if it’s not with the Yankees. But when I’m old and gray, spouting off to my kids and grandkids and one of them brings up Joba (they will; trust me), I won’t be able to do anything but shrug and frown because what could’ve have been never was.
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