Earlier today an article by Joel Sherman was posted at NYPost.com. In it he discusses the future of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, as well as quotes from Brian Cashman regarding their impending free agency after the 2013 season.
Cashman was quoted as saying “I believe I know who they are.” Cash is no longer dreaming of how good they could be, but believes he knows how good (or bad) they are. Not surprisingly he wouldn't say if Joba and/or Phil would be Yankees beyond 2013, as the players have a say in that too, but it's reason to take a break from thinking about the larger contract guys (Cano, Granderson, Swisher) and start thinking a bit smaller.
You may be asking yourself, "where's the picture?" Well, this is a picture of Brian Cashman. You see, Brian Cashman is a ninja, and by the time you see a ninja you're already dead.
For now I'm going to pass on talking in-depth about Phil Hughes. But I will give you this...
In 2011 Philthy missed 80 games due to injury (73 due to inflammation and fatigue in his shoulder, and 7 due to re-aggravating a herniated disc in his back). Even in the games Phil did pitch he was far from impressive, posting an ERA of 5.79 in 74.2 innings of work. The good news is that Hughes has a 3.98 ERA in his last 7 starts, and a 4.23 ERA overall in 24 starts, so we're seeing plenty of improvement. If he can get more comfortable with another pitch or two, then he could be even better. But until we see what he can do in 2013 then it's nearly impossible to predict his future, whether it be with the Yankees or anybody else.
That's not to say it's easy to predict the future for Joba Chamberlain. Joba had Tommy John surgery on June 16th of last year, and then suffered an open dislocation of his ankle in March of this year. So predicting Joba's future as a reliever is just as hard as, if not harder than, predicting Phil's future as a starter.
Did you catch that? No? I'll repeat it...
So predicting Joba's future as a reliever is just as hard as, if not harder than, predicting Phil's future as a starter.
Although there are many Yankee fans that don't want to hear it, Chamberlain's days as a starter for the New York Yankees are behind him. Blame the Joba Rules, blame Joe Girardi, blame Larry Rothchild, blame Barack Obama, it doesn't matter.
"First I'm blamed for the loss of jobs in this country, and now I'm blamed for Joba? WTF?"
Furthermore, Joba is not only going to be a reliever next year, he's going to be a middle reliever on top of that. Either Mariano Rivera is going to return to take over the closing gig, or Rafael Soriano will be around to continue untucking his Yankee uniform top after saving games (I'll write more about Soriano, and his future with or without the Yankees, later). Then there's David Robertson, who would probably get a chance to close games before Joba would, should either Rivera or Soriano be out of the picture.
At this point I'll point you to two examples of why a middle reliever is not going to get a big payday...
- Ryan Madson
- Heath Bell
For that reason I believe Joba Chamberlain will be back in New York in 2014. Because if he's a reliever the Yankees will offer him as much, and probably more, than any other team would to be a late-inning reliever (set-up man for new closer David Robertson?). And if Joba looks great in 2013, then there's a chance the team will offer Joba the closing gig once Rivera and Soriano are no longer around (probably for different reasons), and even then the Yankees will pay as much or more for a non-proven closer than any other team.
I won't go so far as to say fans may as well buy their Joba Chamberlain jerseys now, as he'll be around for much longer than 2013. But if I had to bet, my money would be on seeing Harlan Chamberlain attending more Yankee games in 2014.
And who wouldn't want to see this man around more?