Monday, July 6, 2009

Joba's Poor Starts Concern For Team

In this post over at River Ave Blues, writer Mike Axisa argues that Joba's poor starts of late, coupled with his postgame interviews in which he admitted to no wrongdoing, are unforgivable sins and that Joba should be sent back down to AAA.

To me, this smacks of a knee-jerk type reaction.

Yes, there are some issues with Joba, and I'll get to those in a bit, but sending Joba down to AAA and thus needing yet another starter is the last problem the Yankees need while Chien Ming Wang still needs to be replaced.

At this level, it's more about the team than the individual player (which sometimes has drastic and unforgivable effects), and the Yankees (likely) aren't willing to sacrifice Joba when they are 11-5 and his starts, even if he isn't pitching that well.

The big picture issue with Joba here is that we got so spoiled watching him pitch in relief in 2007, that many of us automatically thought he'd seamlessly transition to the rotation and to a position as a staff Ace.

We forgot that he's still just a kid, still learning and still developing.

Look up the stats when guys like Randy Johnson, Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, et al. were young pitchers. Almost all of them struggled. I'm not saying Joba will be mentioned in the same breath as these guys, but I am saying that there's no reason to be out on a ledge because he's not pitching well in his first year starting.

For me, there is one thing that is really concerning.

Joba's decline in velocity. It was one thing that his velocity dropped from going from a reliever to a starter; that will happen to any pitcher. It is quite another that the decline hasn't stopped. He's gone from being able to touch 100 mph to the low 90s. One has to wonder if the shoulder ever did completely heal.

Joba's inability to throw strike three is, in my mind, something of a head case. As he grows up, he'll get over it. Or he should, anyway.

As for the postgame comments--it comes across as though Joba is going to the Derek Jeter school of public relations. Don't listen to what he says, listen to how he says it.

In short, yes, there's reason to be concerned about Joba. That doesn't mean it's time to panic.