Monday, July 12, 2010

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Joba?

No one will argue that the talent is tantalizing. The infrequency of that talent materializing, however, is maddening. Despite Joe Girardi's protests to the contrary, neither he nor any Yankee fan can feel 100% confident sending Joba Chamberlain out to the hill in a pressure situation. So, that begs the question of how to fix him before the games become more important than a July implosion against the light-hitting Mariners. Maybe the down time during the All Star break will help him get his head straight after he returns home to Nebraska. It worked before, but there is no guarantee. There need to be other viable courses of action if the rest and relaxation don't do the trick.

- Move him out of the 8th inning: To me, this makes the most sense if there were somebody else who could immediately fill the role. David Robertson and Damaso Marte have pitched better of late, but Robertston is still prone to the occasional blowup himself, and Marte risks over-exposure when facing more righties. Chan Ho Park and Chad Gaudin are laughable, and Dustin Moseley is still an unknown. This could also be done through a trade, but anybody with a decent reliever, except for Kansas City and Joakim Soria, is in contention, and even the Royals think they are on the fringe of a playoff push, so acquiring a bullpen arm that's better than Joba will prove difficult, if not futile. I wouldn't be opposed to bringing up Jonathan Albaladejo, who has been dominating the International League, moving Joba to the 7th, and admitting a mistake on Park.

- Send him to the minors: Roy Halladay is the benchmark for this type of move. The problem here is that Halladay could work on his mechanics in game situations every five days, and work on mechanics in between starts, whereas the Yankees wouldn't be stretching Joba back out to be a starter again. I hope. Even if they could work him in every day out of the pen, blowing away wide-eyed rookies at Tampa might not translate to quality performances out of the 8th inning in the Bronx. It might help with any confidence issue, and if a slight mechanical flaw is noted, he could work through it without facing the likes of Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton, or the always dangerous Jose Lopez. Much like Joba's career to date, this move could be either amazing or amazingly bad.

- Trade him: I hate this option the most, because a) right now, not many teams would take a chance on him and give you quality in return, b) there isn't a difference maker available that would make him easier to move, and c) he just seems like the type of player that would come back to burn the Yankees down the road.

- Send him to the therapy couch: This, in all seriousness, might be the best idea of all. With all of the role shifting that the Yankees put him through, would it be any shock to learn that he is a certifiable head case?

To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, Joba is like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in an extra-large number 62 jersey.

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