No, the Yankees didn’t ruin Joba Chamberlain

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I think the Yankees jerked Joba Chamberlain around a lot early in his career. They meant well. They thought they had a special talent and they wanted to save his arm and as such they used him as a reliever and then babied him as a starter and when that wasn’t working they used him as a reliever again. I think they should’ve just let him start and let him try to figure it out rather than yo-yo him and all of that, but they didn’t. Oh well.

But it’s one thing to say that they made mistakes with Chamberlain and it’s another thing — another silly thing — altogether to lay all the blame for what Joba Chamberlain has become at the Yankees’ feet. Which is what Jason Keidel does in his latest column:

Joba Chamberlain, if anything, was the symbol of their spiritual collapse. He and Phil Hughes were the twin pillars of their (supposedly) pitching-plenty organization, evidence that the Yankees didn’t just flex their wallets every November to find their requisite golden arms.

Then, inexplicably, Chamberlain was fired. Brian Cashman, bitten by the Moneyball bug, snagged by the sabermetricians, decided he would remold the Yankees in his newfound, Geek Squad ethos. No need to waste the prodigy’s talent in the eighth inning when he could stretch the the kid out over 200 innings. Make him a starter. Mess with perfection. And the results were atrocious . . . Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are gone now, footnotes in the endless archive of America’s pastime. But we will always remember them, especially Joba, who had New York City at his fingers, until the Yankees cut them off.

I must’ve forgotten the that time back when the Yankees made Chamberlain fat. And made him have a drinking problem that led to him getting a DUI. And injured him. And caused him to become, seemingly anyway, immune from instruction about how to approach hitters and in-game situations. But they must’ve, right? It’s all the Yankees fault!

Or — and I know this may be shocking — a pitcher with a lot of youthful promise didn’t live up to it for a host of reasons. As happens very, very often. Just because it happened in New York where lazy writers looking for narratives cite “mystique and aura” and things doesn’t make it any bigger a deal or any different a case. Chamberlain crapped out. Lots of pitchers do.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.