Wednesday, February 27, 2013

With the Yankee Sequester Plan looming, Joba Chamberlain, the last beloved newbie, inches toward the exit

Something about Joba Chamberlain made you root for him. Maybe it was his dad in the wheelchair. Maybe it was his Fred Flintstone body, or that unforgettable Cleveland juju moment - gnats buzzing his head while a trainer sprays crap that actually will only make it worse. Maybe it was his limitless potential. Remember him going pitch-for-pitch against Josh Beckett, back when we desperately needed a hope - something, anything - to heal from our 2004 and 2007 thrashings by the Redsocks. (A team that, over the last 10 years, has won twice as many championships as we have.)

Joba was not like Phil Hughes, the California twitter debutante, or Ian Kennedy, the arrogant excuse-maker. Joba was real. He was one of us. And he had the brightest future of any of them.

And, of course, he's been lost in the shuffle for the last four years.

Yesterday, Joba suggested that he would someday like to start. It was an idle comment. He could have talking about the Tampa water supply, or a dead bird he passed on the side of the road, but it soon was amplified into feedback by the Gammonite sound system, treated as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice broke ranks on abortion. Immediately, the giant gears turned, and the Yankee public relations machinery - God, I wish our farm system was as solid as our p.r. apparatus - pressed its heel onto the tiny smoldering cigarette and ground it into an ocher smudge: JOBA NO START. JOBA NO CLOSE. JOBA NO CHANGE. NO.

OK. I get it. Joba is our bullpen lugnut. We'll keep Dellin Betances - 24, going on Brackman - as a starter in Scranton, because he's too valuable to waste in the pen. But Joba - well - he's an effective complement to Boone Logan. OK. Fine.  It's March, and I guess there isn't much to write about.

But Listen: Considering the Steinbrenners' self-inflicted money crunch - the Yankee Sequestration - it's hard to imagine cash in the till next winter to keep Joba. Do the math. If the owners insist on hitting a $189 million payroll, it means cross the board cuts, and who wants to pay starter money for a seventh inning man?

It's always been easy to like Joba. If he's pitching against us, it would be hard to root against him.


Anonymous said...

not apt to see many 'starting pitchers being paid 1.675 Million/yr, unless you perhaps look at Miami's pay scale !!

Tracy Stallard's Dreams of 60 said...

I was driving on a road near Rome, NY, under a HUGE full moon that night of the Cleveland bugs...I respect Joe Torre's many great accomplishments, but there's something about his leaving Joba out there that seems unforgivable to me. Pull the team off the field until they get the bugs out of there; is that such an impossible thing to imagine doing? You're the freaking YANKEES! DARE them to call that move a forfeit! But no...and the bugs ate the guy up and nothing has been the same since.

I admit to drawing strange parallels, but I find it interesting that days after Cashman made his sarcastic retort re: Joba starting, he was injured while attached to a man and seeking sustenance for his ego (as if almost anyone NEEDED "awareness" that soldiers are often maimed, and also as if Brian Cashman, of all the people on the planet, would be the guy to do it.

He's a smug little bug and a sarcastic little so-and-so. Neither of which makes him someone I wish was hurt; I really don't. It just makes me wonder about karma and turnabout and things like that.

Get well soon, little bug.