The Battle in Tampa: Joba Vs. Huuuughes

No, there won’t be a tiger in the arena, although you never know with the Yankees. Busch Gardens isn’t far from Steinbrenner Field.
In any case, the debate isn’t just about whether Joba should be a starter or reliever anymore. It’s about whether he or Phil Hughes will excel in spring training and seize the #5 spot in the rotation. Only one of them will win the job, with the other going to the pen. What will happen? Will they fight it out until Opening Day? Or will one have vanquished the other by mid-March?
I’ve gone back and forth so many times on this subject that I honestly don’t know what to think. I prefer Joba as Mo’s setup guy, but Hughes was great in the 8th during the regular season. Here’s Mike Puma’s post. What do you think?

Chamberlain ready to fight for rotation spot

Comments: 7

Last Updated: 8:01 PM, January 31, 2010

Posted: 2:59 AM, January 31, 2010

Joba Chamberlain’s eyes are set squarely on the fifth spot in the Yankees’ rotation.

The right-handed pitcher told The Post last night that he will arrive in Tampa next week — well before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training — with the idea he’s a starting pitcher for 2010. Team brass has told him to have that mindset.

But Chamberlain also said he isn’t taking anything for granted knowing that Phil Hughes and Alfredo Aceves, among others, are chasing the same carrot.

“I’m going to go in and understand a lot of guys are fighting for that spot,” Chamberlain said after an autograph signing in New Rochelle in conjunction with Steiner Sports. “Nothing is guaranteed.”

Hughes is Chamberlain’s primary competition for the final spot in the Yankees’ rotation behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez.

Hughes pitched effectively from the bullpen last year, mostly in a setup role for Mariano Rivera, and Chamberlain had a shaky season as a starter, finishing 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA as he faced an innings limit toward the end of the season. Chamberlain spent the postseason in the bullpen, leading to speculation he and Hughes, who struggled most notably in the ALCS and World Series, might trade places in 2010. That could still happen, as Hughes is expected to receive a long look for the rotation.

Chamberlain said he’s most excited about the addition of Vazquez, whom the Yankees obtained last month in a trade with the Braves that included Melky Cabrera.

Vazquez pitched for the Yankees in 2004 and struggled, leading to his departure after surrendering a grand slam to Boston’s Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the ALCS.

“I think Javier Vazquez is excited to come back here and has something to prove,” Chamberlain said.

Even in the dead of winter, the Yankees are the biggest show around.

Alex Rodriguez, Rivera, Pettitte, Burnett, Chamberlain and Nick Swisher were among the players who entertained nearly 3,000 fans at yesterday’s autograph signing.

With pitchers and catchers less than three weeks away from reporting to camp, several Yankees were still basking in the glory of last year’s world championship, but also ready to start discussing 2010.

For several of the players yesterday was the first time seeing each other since November’s tickertape parade along Broadway. Rodriguez had a giant bear hug for his friend Rivera.

“What a great team and great accomplishment,” Rivera said. “We’re like a family. It was great seeing everyone. It was like a family reunion. I like the team this coming year.”

Chamberlain said he is done celebrating last season’s accomplishments.

“We understand what we did last year, but this is a New Year,” Chamberlain said. “We’re the 2009 world champions, but it doesn’t mean anything now that it’s 2010.”


  1. PAUL

    The strangest part of it all is the Yankees haven’t shown their hand in any way. No one knows what the plan is because no one’s talking.
    I honestly don’t want to hear Joba with his “we know what we accomplished last year” crud. The canned quotes work for Jeter because he’s Jeter; Joba is not Jeter and I’m sure the organization wishes he’d keep his mouth shut.


    Hmm…I have to go with Hughes as the starter and Joba in the pen. Joba was just so fiery when he was coming out in the 8th inning. Also if they ever wanted Hughes as a starter they need to stretch him out now. I do agree with the comments above though…as long as they’re doing well then I am fine with whatever they decide. We’ll see how it plays out.

    Also…just wanted to remind everyone that tonight at 8:00 on the CBS show “How I Met Your Mother” Nick Swisher will have a cameo. Just in case anyone wanted to watch it.

    Hope you and Michael are doing well Jane!


    The majority opinion appears to be a preference for Joba to pitch in relief. And I agree. Obviously, though, it will all depend on how the 3 applicants for the final starting position perform in the preseason. Our annual Super Bowl Party will be great and I’m getting to a couple of NY Islanders hockey games but all-in-all I’m really jazzed for baseball to begin again.

    BTW, anyone who missed The Grammys last night missed a fabulous show. I thought Lady GaGa should have won more awards but the live performances were terrific and the tribute to MJ was lovely. His kids are adorable – I hope all goes well for them.

    Tell your husband I hope he’s feeling better and that he gets to go home this week, Jane.

  4. cheshirecat9

    It will be an interesting fight. Both Joba and Hughes have been very good starting, and also very bad. They’ve both been good out of the pen, except Hughes lost it in the post season. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens!

    I hope Michael is feeling better and gets out of the hospital soon.

  5. Jane Heller

    First, some good news: Michael’s out of the hospital! I brought him home yesterday afternoon. He’s totally wiped out but so happy to be outta there. Thanks to everybody who asked about him and wished him well. Clap clap clap to you guys.

    Matt, I like Joba in the pen too, but it’s not his stamina I worry about as a starter. He wouldn’t have an innings limit this year, so theoretically he could go 6-7 innings without a problem. The question is location and velocity and, like most pitchers, the ability to stay healthy.

    If Joba could be as dominant in the rotation as he was in the eighth inning in 2007, Rob, I’d gladly make him our #5. But you’re right. Whichever works – as long as Hughes can make the other part of the equation work.

    I think it’s just the opposite, Paul. No one is talking, because no one knows what the plan is. I honestly believe that Cashman and Girardi want Joba and Hughes to fight for the starting job, just like Melky and Gardner fought for CF last spring training. Whoever pitches better wins it. And if things change over the course of the season, the roles get reversed.

    Thanks for the reminder about Swisher, wirishrose. I will definitely watch. It’ll give me something to blog about later tonight! I hear you on Joba’s fiery demeanor in the eighth. No question about that.

    Ah, the Grammys, Diane. Let’s dish. I thought Lady Gaga should have won more awards too. I also thought her opening number – even before she was paired with Elton John – shouldn’t have been cut off. Beyonce’s number lasted forever. (Who were all those guys? It was beyond weird. She’s gorgeous, but she’s too bland for me as a singer.) And Taylor Swift? OK, sweet girl. Decent voice. But I was dying for her to move off the stage and let Stevie Nicks have the song to herself. LOL. Loved the Michael Jackson tribute even if I didn’t have 3D glasses on and had to keep squinting. And did the people sitting underneath Pink get soaked or what?

    I don’t think he’s being babied now, Jeff. I think they’re saying, “The job isn’t yours. If you want it, fight for it.”

    That’s what makes this fight interesting, cheshirecat. They’ve both been good/bad in both roles. Nothing is cut and dried about the situation. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat drama, but I’ll be looking forward to the result too.


    I like Joba in the pen, but if he wants to pitch great as a starter – more power to him!

    Is it just me, or does it make anyone else nervous to hear a pitcher has “something to prove.” It always seems that when they say that about a guy, he proves he should be home watching the game on TV.

    Huge “Hurrah!” for Michael being home! Now you both can feel a little more relaxed. Welcome Home, Michael.


  7. Jane Heller

    The “something to prove” sentiment is better than the “I thought I pitched well” nonsense we got from Joba last year, Melissa. Remember how he’d stink it up and then tell the media he did fine? There seemed to be a disconnect. I hope he’s done with all that. As for Vazquez, my expectations are so low that if he doesn’t get bombed every time out I’ll be thrilled. Yes, no more trips to the hospital every day. Very relieved to have Michael home.

  8. rrrt

    Jane, I’m so glad to see from the comments above that Michael is home now. No more hospital food! I’m sure you’re both relieved. I’m assuming he’s accompanying you to FL in March? 44 days until March 17! Finally made our lodging reservations this morning. I think the anticipation is going to kill me!
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

  9. Jane Heller

    Yes, Michael will be with me at spring training, Sue (knock on wood). I still haven’t made our hotel reservations for some reason. I guess I was waiting for all this hospital stuff to be over. Will get on it! Can’t wait to meet you!

    No question the Rules have been a source of debate, Mike. Of course, you left Mo off your list of home grown pitchers. He’s not a starter, obviously, but he’s a HOF-er. I take your point in any case. In the past the Yankees have traded away prospects. Now they’re holding on to Joba and Hughes and hoping they develop. To say they won’t develop is pretty outlandish. They’ve both had injuries and both need innings. Yes, Michael is coming along – slowly. Thanks.

  10. bklyntrolleyblogger

    I have a big problem with both of them and how the Yanks handled them, for another day maybe. But I think that’s a “paper tiger” you have them fighting, if last year is any indication.. Just like Joba had his Rules last year, the Hughes Rules will be in effect in 2010. I’ve never seen a developemental procees quite like the one the Yanks employ with these two. Then again, they were NEVER any good at grooming home grown starting pitching before, in the last 36 years. Four – 4 – In the last 36 years the Yanks have 4 starting pitchers come through their farm who have done anything worth speaking of; Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, Andy Pettitte and C.M.Wang. That’s it! You will not come up with another. Watching them bring Hughes and Joba along is like watching a three legged dog chase it’s tail and is a clear indicator why FOUR doesn’t seem all that incredulous.
    I just totally ranted. I hope Michael is coming along well!! : )

  11. Jane Heller

    That’s what the Yankees are saying, Mimi. As a fifth starter – IF he makes the rotation – he won’t work as many innings as the other starters, but apparently he won’t have a limit this year. Love the cartoon!

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