"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Kiss On My List

I have a bunch of things up over at SI.com today.

First, there’s my weekly Awards Watch column, which this week looks at the two Cy Young award races. Those who haven’t been paying attention will be surprised to see that Ubaldo Jimenez no longer tops the National League list. Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, who were regulars on the American League list earlier in the season, are both off but have been replaced by one current Yankee and one former Yankee that will likely send the average Bronx Banter reader into hysterics.

Then, I noticed that SI linked to the gallery of the top ten Hall of Fame classes that I ranked and captioned last year. This year’s class of Hawk, the White Rat, and God didn’t threaten to dent the list, so it’s just as relevant now as it was then and a fun read, if I do say so myself.

Finally, I have the lead baseball story for the day (until a trade bumps it) in which I take a look at five of the biggest holes on contending teams. One of those five exists in the Yankee bullpen. Dig:


Need: Relief pitching

8th Inning: 4.74 ERA

MLB average 8th Inning: 3.88 ERA

The Guilty: Joba Chamberlain (5.66 ERA, 41 1/3 IP), David Robertson (4.76 ERA, 34 IP), Chan Ho Park (5.74 ERA, 31 1/3 IP)

Potential Targets: Scott Downs (2.41 ERA, 41 IP), Shawn Camp (2.92 ERA, 49 1/3 IP), Aaron Heilman (3.60 ERA, 45 IP), Koji Uehara (2.35 ERA, 15 1/3 IP)

When the Yankees moved Chamberlain back to the bullpen, he was supposed to return to being the dominant set-up man he was in late 2007 and early 2008. Instead, he has brought the inconsistency he showed in the rotation to the ‘pen, helping to make the eighth the most problematic inning for the Yankees other than the sixth (when starters typically start to tire and relief pitchers frequently become involved). With Robertson and Park also struggling and Alfredo Aceves and lefty Damaso Marte on the disabled list, the Yankees are running out of in-house alternatives. They still have the majors best record and look like a safe bet to make the playoffs, but the defending world champions will need to lock down those set-up innings if they want to go deep into the postseason again.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Hall of Fame

Tags:  CC Sabathia  Joba Chamberlain

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1 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:09 pm

It's time to trade Joba and for Soria. He still has upside as a starter but he'll never realize it with the Yankees. Better to get a guy who's a cheap (but consistent) setup/closer for when the inevitable happens to Mo. Joba plus a three of Nova, McAllister, Phelps, Adams, Joseph, Warren, or Stoneburner should be more than enough.

"Instead, he has brought the inconsistency he showed in the rotation to the ‘pen"

Except he was a better starter than Hughes has been. Goes to show how much the Yankees know - next to nothing about developing pitchers.

2 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:14 pm

Remember when folks were saying we wouldn't see another 300 game winner for a while? Well, CC's next win will be his 150th...at age 29. And that's without winning 20 games. Amazing.

3 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:16 pm

With the porn 'stache, I wonder if Pavano also borrowed the golden thong from Giambi. Or perhaps Jay Jaffe inspired both?

The real kicker was watching Pavano pitch well in the playoffs.

5 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:39 pm

[1] Joba as a starter last year (31 starts) had an ERA of 4.78, a WHIP of 1.544, 167 hits in 156.1 IP, and an opponent's OPS of .806. He averaged about 5 innings per start.

Hughes this year (18 starts) has an ERA of 4.04, a WHIP of 1.231, 105 hits in 111.1 IP, and an opponent's OPS of .707. He averages 6.2 innings a start.

I was a proponent of Joba in the rotation, but to say that he outpitched Hughes as a starter just isn't true.

6 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:40 pm

[4] Ah, okay I should have said "old" folks. Still, that list proves the point about CC. He's passed everyone ahead of him except Hudson and Hudson is only 9 wins ahead of him, but five years older.

In fact, if you re-did that list today, wouldn't you agree that the only one that's truly on track for 300 is CC. Even Felix seems like he only has an outside shot. He's at 65 wins and would need to average 15 wins a year for the next 15 years (taking him to 39 years old).

7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:47 pm

[6] For the most part, yes on just CC, though I think Felix is still on track. 15 wins a year for 15 years is pretty much what anyone has to do to win 300. In fact, 300 = 15 wins x 20 years, that's why it's so hard.

8 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:50 pm

"I was a proponent of Joba in the rotation, but to say that he outpitched Hughes as a starter just isn’t true."

That's called cherry picking.

Career as ML starters:
Joba: 12-7, 221 IP, 4.18 ERA, 1.480 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 2.04 K/BB
Phil: 20-12, 252 IP, 4.70 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.29 K/BB

And that's with Hughes being babied while they jerked Joba around every which way. Notice which pitcher hasn't gotten the 4 inning, pull you regardless treatment? Of course, Hughes also got 62 minor league starts. Joba got 15. The Yankees ruined Joba through and through even as he showed more with less than Hughes has. Worse for your case, the year isn't over with yet, and Hughes is trending in the wrong direction.

9 The Hawk   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:52 pm

[5] The innings pitched per start is so big there, too. I remember all too well Joba's mediocre five inning special, and as frequently as that happened, people were even at the time way overrating him.

The other thing that I like better about Hughes as a starter is he isn't all over the place like Joba was - and like Hughes was in the past. Though he's not as sharp as he was at the beginning of the year, he's fairly consistent. Put it this way: though he's declined throughout the season, it's been a pretty smooth decline, making it easier to assign it to fatigue or the league adjusting, etc. I never wonder if Hughes has the mental make up to do this job.

10 The Hawk   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:54 pm

[8] The good part of Joba's average based stats are pretty much all at the beginning. He just got worse and worse. Truly unwatchable most of the time last season.

11 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:56 pm

"In fact, 300 = 15 wins x 20 years, that’s why it’s so hard."

Indeed. But CC is already halfway there! He *only* has 10 more years to go, and over the next few he could easily rack up 100 wins in 6 years.

Felix maybe. But his average so far is only about 11 or 12 wins a year in that organization.

Actually, now that I think about your list and your concluding remarks (Andrew Miller!? ;) CC might just be the last for a while. I would be interested in seeing the update with the younger crop.

12 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 26, 2010 3:59 pm

[8] Its not cherry picking, I'm just comparing their most recent track record as starters. When Hughes is taken out of a game because of innings limits its "babying" him, but when Joba was routinely going 5 innings he was being "jerked around"?

As for games that haven't happened yet hurting my case, fallacy predetermined...all that good stuff.

13 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:00 pm

and just to be clear, I'm not a "JOBBER IN TEH 8TH!!1" guy. I just think Hughes has been better in the rotation.

14 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:03 pm

[11] Heh, Andrew Miller. Such is prospecting. Dude was the 6th overall pick and signed to a major league contract out of school.

15 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:11 pm

[10] Oh, you mean the stretch right after the All-Star break?

3-0, 21.2 IP, 0.83 ERA, 19 K, 8 BB

Yup, he was just TERRIBLE then. Worse and worse as you say.

Then they started screwing with him again. And now he's a reliever. W00t!

Gee, I wonder why they haven't given Hughes the Joba Rules? Heck, they're not even moving him to the pen this season.

"Though he’s not as sharp as he was at the beginning of the year, he’s fairly consistent. "

Like how the only team he's faced more than once and has an ERA under 4.97 is Baltimore?

The plain fact is, if a team (Non-Baltimore division) sees Hughes more than once they turn him into a replacement level pitcher. And the 4.97 ERA? Against the Mutts and the Royals. (4 starts combined).

Yup, Hughes is consistent all right.

16 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:15 pm

12) also, Hughes' overall numbers are hurt by the 2008 pitching with a broken rib experience.

In any case, i would have tried to work both Joba and Phil and starters, but I guess the team was sufficiently burned by Hughes and Kennedy, or they really do frat the eighth, or whatever. Water under the bridge.

However they got there, whoever is to blame (if anyone), Hughes has emerged as the better starter at a slightly younger age. I certainly agree with your assessment here.

17 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:16 pm

[12] Name one time they've taken Hughes out early this year because of limits.

Joba struggled at the end of last year. No doubt. But they were also messing with him the most then. I don't see how you can ignore that.

Moreover, my stats include Hughes' earliest starts. It's as equal a comparison as possible, especially considering Hughes got four times as many minor league starts. You can't just decide which stats to include and which to ignore. Joba was the better starter and as Hughes sees the league again, we'll see why. He has yet to show he can adjust at all - not even against the Mutts or the Royals.

[14] I know. I'm just hasslin'. Between Miller and Maybin, how the heck did they both turn out so bad?

18 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:17 pm

[15] and after those 3 starts? 108 pitches in 5 IP vs Boston, 103 pitches in 6 IP vs Toronto, 90 pitches in 5 IP vs Seattle, and (my personal favorite) 96 pitches in 4 IP vs Texas. So really, who was screwing who there?

19 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:21 pm

[16] Exactly why you can't pick and choose. We have no idea which of those 2008 starts were affected. I say include them all. And when we do we see that there's no daylight between them. Joba has more Ks but also more walks. I put greater weight on a pitcher learning better control than learning how to miss bats. Joba is the better talent. Hughes has a long way to go to being serviceable.

Any case, I started by saying they should trade Joba. And they should!

20 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:25 pm

"90 pitches in 5 IP vs Seattle, and (my personal favorite) 96 pitches in 4 IP vs Texas."

That's clearly when they started telling him he only had so many bullets.

I was responding to the "worse and worse" nonsense. And that's what it is. Nonsense. Joba was inconsistent. Phil Hughes of 2010 says hello. Heck, he can't even get through the Seattle lineup twice - and they have the worst lineup in baseball.

21 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:26 pm

Gee, I wonder why they haven’t given Hughes the Joba Rules? Heck, they’re not even moving him to the pen this season.

Do we know the Yankees have not placed Hughes under similar rules? As I recall, the infamous Joba Rules 1.0 involved a total innings limit and managed his relief appearances (no more than two innings, one day off for each inning pitched in relief).

I haven't looked at Hughes' distribution of appearances, but i bet he was in fact used carefully in his eighth inning role last year. Also, Hughes has been on innings limits throughout his career, just like Joba.

We don't know if Hughes will be moved into the pen this season...the team has been cagy about that info after the Joba experience. But he WAS skipped one start, and had he started the season a week or so late to preserve innings. His limit this season is assumed to be higher than Joba's last year, but that is speculation since the team has explicitly not revealed Hughes limit.

All in all, the two have been treated similarly items of rules. The real difference is that Hughes was allowed to move more deliberately through MiL, including significant time at AAA, while Jona was rocketed to MLB and never really given time to work on pitching in AAA. Some of this is because Joba played in college. But mostly I think it was organizational error, and on that point we agree, I think.

22 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:27 pm

21) oops, missed a tag. Oh well, at least the post stands put.

23 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:28 pm

[15] Should be Mutts and Mariners. 4.97 ERA in 4 games started. Yeah, I believe in Phil Hughes...his ability to suck goat testicles.

But hey, at least we've got a pitcher that can shut down Baltimore!

24 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:30 pm

[21] Girardi last week said they're not moving Hughes to the pen. And he hasn't had any starts abbreviated. Joba was never given a chance, and now he'll never be. It's time to flip him.

25 The Hawk   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:31 pm

[15] You must really love him to use such biting sarcasm in his defense. A sure sign of true loyalty.

And yes everyone remembers the halcyon days of Joba's amazing three starts last year. Perhaps the reason it is so well-remembered is because it ended up being a mirage ... "Hey remember that weird, short stretch when Joba was really good??"

At any rate the question wasn't whether the Yankees screwed up Joba - I think most people think they did to some extent - but who is the better starter, Hughes, or Chamberlain.

26 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:34 pm

[23] he has a ways to go, but to say he isn't even serviceable yet? come on now dude. he's the definition of "serviceable".

27 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:37 pm

[25] You said:

"The good part of Joba’s average based stats are pretty much all at the beginning. He just got worse and worse."

That's flat out wrong. Funny enough, using the same standard, Hughes has gotten a whole lot worse and worse.

"At any rate the question wasn’t whether the Yankees screwed up Joba – I think most people think they did to some extent – but who is the better starter, Hughes, or Chamberlain."

Joba WAS the better starter. We're seeing that clearly now. But that time and chance has passed. Better to trade him now. But Hughes still has a long way to go. Or else, perhaps you'd like to tell me his ERA against the Non-Baltimore division in baseball?

28 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:37 pm

[26] Only against Baltimore.

29 The Hawk   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:40 pm

[27] As has been pointed out already, Joba devolved into a complete joke by the end of last season. He was better when he first started as a SP. That's all.

Hughes on the other hand is better now than he was last year.

30 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:47 pm

[27/28] well its not wrong, look at the last two months of Joba last year. Regardless of who was to "blame", it can't be denied that Joba got progressively worse late in the year.

31 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:50 pm

[29] Wow, man, you seriously need to spend some time at baseballreference.com.

"He was better when he first started as a SP."

Really? He was at his best in June and July.

"Hughes on the other hand is better now than he was last year."

Yeah, his 142 ERA+ last year says you're just making stuff up.

Hughes - 2007: 1.280 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
Hughes - 2010: 1.231 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 1.2 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

The same as it ever was. Even in 2007, Hughes was beating up on Baltimore.


32 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:54 pm

[30] He said "worse and worse". That patently false. He has his best work in the middle of the season. Then they pulled the rug from underneath him.

Moreover, by the same, standard, Hughes HAS gotten worse and worse this year.

April - 2.00 ERA
May - 3.03 ERA
June - 5.17 ERA
July - 5.79 ERA

Obviously he sucks and belongs in the bullpen. There's no hope really. He has only gotten worse and worse. And those stats include the Baltimore AAAA team.

33 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:55 pm

It’s time to trade Joba and for Soria. He still has upside as a starter but he’ll never realize it with the Yankees. Better to get a guy who’s a cheap (but consistent) setup/closer for when the inevitable happens to Mo. Joba plus a three of Nova, McAllister, Phelps, Adams, Joseph, Warren, or Stoneburner should be more than enough.

If Cashman actually "dangled" Montero and the Royals didn't bite, Joba "and stuff" isn't going to get it done either ...

34 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:57 pm

[32] right, he then got worse in August...and even worse in September. Hence...

35 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:57 pm

31) "Yeah, his 142 ERA+ last year says you’re just making stuff up."

Come on. He obviously meant Hughes as a starter last year v. this year.

As for comparing Hughes 2007 v. Hughes 2010, you can't leave out innings per start. Regardless of the comparison Joba, Hughes Is a better starter now than he was in 2007 because he is giving more innings.

36 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 4:59 pm

33) I would be deeply saddened if Cashman dangled Montero for a reliever. I call bullshit on that rumor, if only for my own peace of mind!

37 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 26, 2010 5:02 pm

[36] As I said in the other thread, if it were true it would be the dumbest non-trade (on both sides) I'd ever heard about.

38 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 5:05 pm

[33] Yeah, I don't believe for a second Montero was offered for Soria.

[34] Except "worse and worse" doesn't explain his best months in the middle of the season. By contrast, Hughes really has gotten "worse and worse" - clearly so.

[35] "Hughes Is a better starter now than he was in 2007 because he is giving more innings."

Unless the team isn't babying him like they used to.

Of course, he's averaging all of two more outs (5 2/3rd vs. 6 1/3rd) more than he did three years ago. That's some progress!

39 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 5:14 pm

[35] It's amazing what you can find out if you look. Sure enough, Hughes '07 threw two games past 100 pitches. Almost all were in the 90-100 pitch range. Hughes '10 has been mostly in the 100-110 range, topping 110 once but hitting 108 five times. 10 more pitches is about two more outs.

Hughes of 2007 = Hughes of 2010.


40 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 5:16 pm

38) in fact, those two outs, on average per start are significant. By way of comparison, TB starters lead the AL at 6.3 innings per start, while Baltimore starters are the worst at 5.6. That is, on average two or three outs per start separate the best staffs (in terms of pitching length) from the worst. You can check it out on baseball reference.com.

Over the course of a season those two outs mean about 20 or 22 innings worth of not crappy middle relievers. It's pretty valuable.

"Unless the team isn’t babying him like they used to."

You confuse cause and effect. I don't care WHY he is going longer in his starts. Rather, it is a fact that since he is going deeper into games he is more valuable to the team.

41 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 5:18 pm

39) see 38). That he is throwing ten or fifteen more pitches, and therefore going about an inning deeper two out of three games, in fact proves that Hughes 2010> Hughes 2007. You see, if the rate stats are the same, more innings are better than fewer innings.

Thanks for doing the leg work for me.

42 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 5:26 pm

[41] Except you're interpreting that data point in favor of performance but there's been nothing in his performance to suggest a difference. Ergo, the team isn't holding him back. And if you go through the gamelogs you'll see that. He's was getting pulled before 100 pitches in 2007 regardless of how well he was pitching.

That's the leg work you didn't bother to check yourself.

43 rbj   ~  Jul 26, 2010 5:48 pm

[4] There is only one unbreakable record, Cy Young's 749 complete games.

Only Nolan Ryan, with 773 & Don Sutton with 756 starts had even a mathematical chance at breaking it, because you can't have more CGs than starts.

44 The Hawk   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:08 pm

Also I will again say that Hughes's decline has at least been gradual this season. Again, it speaks to the league adjusting or his fatigue, things that I can see him adjusting to himself as time goes on.

Last season, Chamberlain was okay, then annoying, then briefly - very briefly - great - then annoying, then bad. There seemed to be no rhyme nor reason. It was like a baby Burnett but with lesser stuff. His approach was often bizarre. Not encouraging.

I'll take Hughes 2010 over Chamberlain 2009 any day of the week except those three days when Joba was awesome, then I'll take him.

45 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:15 pm

42) "there’s been nothing in his performance to suggest a difference."

Wrong. He is throwing more pitches per game and thus going deeper into games. I include that as part of performance, not separate from it. Again, I don't care WHY he was throwing fewer pitches in 2007. That is immaterial to the end result. And the end result is that he is going deeper into games now than he did in the past. Ergo, Hughes 2010 is more valuable than Hughes 2007.

46 Yankster   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:21 pm

I sure did like Joba before what seems like the Yankees did to mess him up.

When he does get traded and his training restarts somewhere else we'll get a chance to see cause and effect. At least in my mind, Pavano and the Yankees hated each other. When he is elsewhere, both before and after, he's been pretty solid.

If we see the same thing with Joba, that he was great in college, great in the minors, bad at Yankee MLB and then great at another team, that's going to hurt the Yankees case. I wonder how badly he's hoping to get traded?

47 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:22 pm

[45] Wait, what?

1. "He is throwing more pitches per game and thus going deeper into games. I include that as part of performance, not separate from it. "

2. "Again, I don’t care WHY he was throwing fewer pitches in 2007. That is immaterial to the end result. "

2 doesn't follow from 1.

Go back and look at the game logs in 2007. The team capped his pitches at 100 regardless of how he was pitching. He only surpassed 100 pitches twice and both in September. But he almost always threw between 90 and 100 pitches. This year that cap is obviously 110 pitches. He's only topped that once and he's mostly been between 95 and 110 pitches.

Ergo, performance has nothing to do with the difference. He's the same pitcher he's always been...except he's been getting "worse and worse" - not better [44].

[44] I see nothing gradual. He sees teams a second time and gets hammered. That's discrete not continuous.

48 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:23 pm

[46] There's a reason they don't develop pitchers and it begins and ends with their entire system. Hughes hasn't developed and neither has Joba.

49 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:26 pm

[45] Besides, of all possible arguments in favor of Hughes' development "Two more outs" is pretty weak especially since you're completely ignoring pitch counts.

2010 Hughes walks fewer batters with a few more Ks. That's a step in the right direction. Too bad he also gives up more homers and hits.

50 monkeypants   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:33 pm

49) I don't ignore pitch counts. Rather, pitch counts are intrinsically bound up with innings pitched, especially in the contemporary game.

That he throws more pitches and goes longer in games with no discenible decline in performance means, once more, that Hughes 2010 > Hughes 2007.

It is not I who ignore pitch counts, but rather you who selectively leave out pitches per start and innings per start as part of performance.

51 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:45 pm

[50] Ummm, oh-kay. Then explain to me how in September of 2007 he didn't give up more than 3 ER in any start and yet he only went past 102 pitches once? The performance was as good as it ever was, and yet the team pulled him early even as they were in the middle of the pennant race.

Fact is, there is no difference between Hughes 2007 and Hughes of 2010 apart from a few less walks. The difference is with how the team is treating his pitch count. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Still, it's a lame argument. No pitcher in baseball is judged by how many pitches they throw. They're judged by the quality of those pitches. And there you got nothing.

How many more times does he pitch against Baltimore this year?

52 Paul   ~  Jul 26, 2010 6:48 pm

I'm done with work now. Thanks for the discussion. But I'm even more convinced than ever that Hughes is the exact same pitcher he's always been. Except now he just dominates Baltimore and he keeps getting worse and worse this year. It's time to send him to the bullpen and be done with him, just like Joba before him.

53 The Hawk   ~  Jul 26, 2010 7:47 pm

The point is that the latest version of Hughes is better than the latest version of Joba, as starting pitchers. Since they are still young and learning, how they've done lately, how they've progressed, is most important ... Including Hughes 0-4 6+ ERA "season" is silly. He has shown a lot of growth. Joba regressed as a starter and now as a reliever. I hope he can turn it around but I'm not confident.

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