Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Joba Chamberlain Saga

Update 11/20/08
It's only November, but Brian Cashman has already come out and said that Joba Chamberlain will be a starter in 2009. What's interesting is what to make of all of this, especially if they sign C.C. Sabathia AND either Derek Lowe or A.J. Burnett. It's not likely they get both, but there is also a slight chance the Yankees trade for Jake Peavy. You have Mike Mussina retiring which opens up a spot and we're still unsure whether or not Andy Pettitte will resign at a discount. With all of that said, my estimated rotation for the Yankees looks like this....

1. C.C. Sabathia
2. Chein-Ming Wang
3. Joba Chamberlain
4. Derek Lowe or A.J. Burnett
5. Andy Pettitte
6. Phil Hughes (if he's not traded)

My dream rotation:
1. C.C. Sabathia (Sign as a FA)
2. Chein-Ming Wang
3. Joba Chamberlain
4. Jake Peavy (Acquire via trade)
5. Andy Pettitte

By acquiring Peavy (if he agreed to a trade...and why wouldn't he?), that would get you a better starting pitcher than Burnett or Lowe and also free's up money to then sign Mark Teixiera instead on spending it on Lowe or Burnett.

When it's all done, Joba is still a starter. What does that mean for your fantasy draft? As of right now, it looks like Joba is an average 8th-9th round draft pick in most normal mixed leagues. That seems like market value. Just after Joba you start to see players like David Price and Yovani Gallardo flying off the board. That's what you should expect. At the auction, I'd probably expect to pay approximately $15-$23 depending on emotion, a bidding war, and if it's a keeper league.

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Update: 8/1/08

Ummmmm ........ He's Awesome!
What else do I need to say? Joba Chamberlain is awesome! I think its safe to say that Joba will be a quality starter here on out, at least the first time through the league. I'd have to say that looking ahead into 2009, your looking at atleast a 10th round pick in most normal mixed fantasy leagues as of right now in August. However, don't be surprised if people are scooping up Joba in the late 7th round next season. My advice? In keeper leagues, Joba is one of the SP's of choice right now to build the team of the future around. His K/IP rate is staggering. Why hesitate? If your team is in the dumper and your holding onto Berkman or Santana and can't keep them next year whether their price is too high or their service term is over, sell them to a championship team and steal Joba Chamberlain!
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Update: 5/22/08
I was at last nights 8-0 Yankee victory and to my surprise, in the 8th, out comes Joba Chamberlain for a 2 inning stretch-out! Just when the game was getting boring and the crowd was emptying out of the stands, out comes Joba for a quick pick-me-up. I don't care what anyone says about Joba and his fist-pumping antics, it was 8 - zippo and if he had struck out that third batter in the 8th, I was praying for a fist pump! Say what you want, but if you are in the stadium when Joba pumps those fists, man, the stadium turns electric! I was there when he did it opening day, I was there when he did it against Delucci, and I was praying for a fist pump last night!

Anyway, onto the real topic. After the game, I was listening to the radio and it was reported by Susan "Goodness Gracious" Waldman that Joe Girardi came out and said "The process of turning Joba Chamberlain into a starter has begun". What does this mean? Well, obviously it won't happen overnight. They will work Joba up over the next few weeks to give him the time he needs to get his arm into 6-7 inning pitching shape. ESPN's Steve Phillips, who many New Yorkers have their own special feelings for, said that Joba would be sent down to the minors to get the innings work. I have to be honest, I don't see that happening. He'll work up those innings and before you know it, he'll pitch a 5 inning game and a way we go.

What this means fantasy wise?? Well, if you have Joba on your roster and you like to use the middle relievers to help lower ERA/WHIP, then keep Joba in your lineup. Otherwise, stash him on the bench for now or buy him before this story catches on nation wide. Right now, only New Yorkers are paying top dollar for Joba in fantasy leagues. This guy had 125K in 82+ IP last year in the minors, he's a guy you want! As for me, I am a huge Joba "Homer", and I have seen this guy in action and he is simply....nasty!
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Updated: 3.11.08
Joba Chamberlain starting the season in the bullpen??!!

Right out of the GM's mouth about five minutes ago in an interview with
Mike and the Mad Dog on WFAN Radio in New York, Brian Cashman, Yankees GM said exactly this......
(To listen, click the link above, then on the WFAN web site, click Podcasts, then click Mike and the Mad Dog, and then you should see the audio link for the Brian Cashman interview from today 3.11.08)

"If everyone stays healthy, Joba will start the season in the bullpen!"

He then went onto say....

"Assuming everyone stays healthy and Joba starts in the pen, the plan is to let him pitch half way through the season in the pen and the second half as a starter."

Now this is me summarizing.....
We all know that Joba will have the 150 IP limit. Obviously, starting the year in the pen and then letting him finish the year as a starter will allow Joba to remain under the inning limit or stick to the "Joba Rules". I would imagine if the Yankees staff stays relatively healthy and the Yankees are decent, they'll keep Joba in the pen as much as possible to save his arm for the post season, assuming they get there! I'm thinking there is no way all 5 Yankee starters will remain healthy all season. However, if the Yankees get an injury or extreme ineffectiveness early in the season (April or May) from say Mike Mussina, I think we might see a guy like Jeff Karstens or Ross Ohlendorf before we see Joba in an attempt to keep his IP limit down before the second half! Basically, to sum it up..........the Yankees see Joba Chamberlain as a starter but realize how effective he can be in the pen. So they'll let him keep his innings down and unleash Joba in the second half!

Here are some other quotes from Brian Cashman, Yankee GM....
" We get to see Joba on a daily basis and we know him better than any fan, media, etc.,. This guy has fantastic stuff, four major leagues pitches, and we feel overall, he is a top of the rotation, front-line type of talent, which is much tougher to find than a dominant set up guy." (I paraphrased that slightly)

He also said...

"Everyone remembers how fantastic Joba was in 24 innings late last season, but what was more impressive was the 80+ innings he had in the minors." (again, I slightly paraphrase because I can't remember the exact words used as I just listened to this a few minutes ago with NO pen and paper!)

What this means fantasy wise: It means that in Holds leagues, you can draft Joba in the middle rounds and expect a nice burst in Holds early in the season keeping in mind that you will need a back up after the All-Star Break. Also, its not written in stone that Joba will remain in the pen. If someone gets hurt by the end of spring training, we'll most likely see Joba as a starter.

Here is what I wrote on February 16th, 2008:
Everyone knows I have a man-crush on Joba Chamberlain.... but don't tell my wife! To fed my baseball addiction I listen to sports radio everyday and read the papers everyday here in New York, and one thing is for sure, nobody knows what the heck the Yankees plan to do with Joba Chamberlain. Should he go to the bullpen or stay in the starting rotation? Just to get you going, here is the lastest from the New York Post.

At this point, the Yankees are going with Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and Mike Mussina leaving Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain to duke it out for the 5th spot. They also have some other possibilities like Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Humberto Sanchez, and Chase Wright to name a few. You just never know who could show up at Spring Training and impress. There is also the possibility that the Yankees could be looking for another starting pitcher via trade as rumors of Hideki Matsui to the San Francisco Giants were circling back in December after the Winter Meetings.

If I were the Yankees, I'd move Joba to the bullpen in an instant and give Kennedy a chance to start after proving he could handle it late last year. The rumor is they'll prepare Joba to be a starter and by the end of Spring Training he'll end up in the pen.

Yesterday, on WFAN 660 during the Mike and the Mad Dog show (My favorite by the way), Sweeney Murti reported from Tampa that the Yankees will limit Joba to 150 innings in 2008. I guess the "Joba Rules" are still in effect. Does this mean he is a starter? No. Does it mean he is a reliever? No. It could be any combination and we can sit here all day and speculate. We just won't know at least for another 2-3 weeks at the earliest. This of this as the same situation Jon Papelbon went through last year, whom Joba has been compared too.

What this means Fantasy Wise: If you are smart, I'd draft Joba as if he is a starter while making sure I drafted a few extra starters for my bench in the event he moves to the pen. If Mariano Rivera gets hurt, BAM!... Instant saves from Joba! If they move him to the pen, you can use Joba as a reliever to help lower ERA/WHIP in roto leagues and leagues that count Holds.

For 12, mixed, 5x5, roto leagues: Draft Joba sometime in rounds 12-14, he's usually gone by the 13th though, so if you really want him, you might have to stretch in the 11th or 12th. This is okay because you can draft a Jon Lester, Barry Zito, Kevin Slowey or Randy Johnson late in the draft in case Joba does get moved to the pen. You'll have to pay in the range of $7-$13 for Joba in $260 cap auction leagues.

In leagues that count Holds: Joba is much more valuable because you get his versatility. Its extremely likely he starts the year as a starter and then for whatever reason, gets moved to the pen. If at that point your team is suffering in the Holds category, BAM!.... Instant Holds! In Holds leagues, I'd draft Joba between rounds 10-12 to make sure he's yours but also after all of the top SP's are off the board. Once Dice-K and Carmona are gone, you can safely take Joba in the Matt Cain, Yovani Gallardo, Tim Lincecum, Rich Hill, Chad Billingsley group. But the opportunity that Joba could be a Holds hog, I'd draft him before these guys. Anyone who has played in a league that counts Holds knows you need a Holds hog in order to win, you can't punt Holds and Joba can be your savior!

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