• Alex Gordon On Joba Chamberlain

    Posted by on July 27th, 2007 · Comments (13)

    From Tyler Kepner

    Count Alex Gordon among those who think Joba Chamberlain can help the Yankees’ bullpen down the stretch. Gordon, who hit a double, triple and homer in the Royals’ 7-0 victory here on Thursday, has known Chamberlain since he was 10 years old and later played with him at the University of Nebraska.

    “I think his attitude, the way he carries himself and the confidence he has in himself would be a great fit for the Yankees,” Gordon said tonight. “When he goes out there, he brings a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. I know he has the stuff. It’s just the mental part, and I know he has that, too.”

    While Gordon was starring at Nebraska, Chamberlain was trying to make it at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. He came to the Lincoln campus when Gordon was a junior and Gordon could hardly believe what he saw.

    “He went to (Division II), and he was OK,” Gordon said. “Then he came to Nebraska and something must have clicked, because he was throwing 96 with a curve and a changeup. I don’t know what it was, but something happened, because he was lights-out.”

    Here’s a question: Has Joba Chamberlain replaced Phil Hughes as the best pitching prospect in the Yankees organization? The way people talk about Joba, it sounds like he’s “1A” to Hughes’ “1B” these days.

    Comments on Alex Gordon On Joba Chamberlain

    1. baileywalk
      July 27th, 2007 | 10:45 am

      I don’t understand why people have to have a “who’s better, Hughes or Chamberlain?” argument. They are both good. Phil has a handful of big-league innings under his belt. Joba has one AAA start. They are both too young and inexperienced to really answer the question, and I think it’s also meaningless. They are both upper-echelon prospects, and they are both Yankees.

      Press and fans are velocity whores, so it doesn’t surprise me that Joba is getting the oohs and aahs right now (he throws 94-98 and racks up strikeouts). Maybe pure-stuff-wise he has an edge on Hughes, but Hughes is the MODEL pitcher: perfect size, perfect mechanics, great command, two plus secondary pitches. Plus his mental makeup is through the roof. If you were going to create a pitching prospect from scratch — factoring in personality, temperament, mechanics, stuff, etc. — you’d create Hughes.

      Hughes, at 21, already understands pitching. He knows how to out-think hitters and, as Mussina said, “has an idea.”

      Joba is more of a thrower right now. He throws harder than Hughes, but I think at this moment Hughes edges him out.

      But, again, I think the argument is meaningless and potentially impossible to answer.

      We should just be happy we have two of the best pitching prospects in baseball in our organization.

    2. Nick from Washington Heights
      July 27th, 2007 | 11:10 am

      Hay Bailey, you seem to know your prospects. How would you describe Kennedy? Have you watched all these guys pitch by the way?

    3. July 27th, 2007 | 11:15 am

      Nick, regarding Kennedy, you might have already seen the PP scouting report on him – if not, worth a look:

    4. Nick from Washington Heights
      July 27th, 2007 | 11:21 am

      Hey James, thanks a lot! I’m kind of rooting for him the most just to prove the BA guys and Kevin Goldstein wrong.

    5. Garcia
      July 27th, 2007 | 11:48 am

      Off topic, but this will definitely start to make headlines soon.

    6. Zack
      July 27th, 2007 | 11:49 am

      It really amazes me how much Joba mania has diverted attention away from Hughes, which won’t last long of course. Before Hughes got hurt, people talked about him as a #1 no doubter, but after the injury and mania over Joba, hes been mostly forgotten. So be it. As Bailey said, if I had to start a franchise between the two, I’d take Hughes. Do you remember the Texas game? His pitches are nasty!

      In any case, what a great conversation to be able to have, no?

    7. baileywalk
      July 27th, 2007 | 12:07 pm

      Nick, here is what Keith Law (who’s not horrible one hundred percent of the time, like many of his brethren) wrote about Ian Kennedy the other day:

      “[He’s] not in the same class [as Hughes and Chamberlain], but a very good prospect. He’s a pitchability RHP, I’d say. Average stuff, very compact delivery (almost like you could put him in a phone booth and he could pitch without touching the sides), repeats it extremely well, has plus command and great feel. Now, to me, that’s a 4th starter, maybe a #3 if the command/feel are really top-notch.”

      The phone-booth line makes me laugh. As you can tell, Kennedy’s velocity is in that 90-91 range, which means you’ll have a hard time finding someone to really stand up for him. Velocity is the most overrated tool for a pitcher. Command and delivery are so much more important. Anyway, Kennedy is most often compared to Mussina. I think it’s a decent comp: doesn’t have blow-you-away velocity, but has such good command of his secondary pitches that he keeps hitters honest. He already is said to have a good feel for pitching and understands how to exploit a hitter’s weaknesses (Joba has been quoted as saying he wants to “learn how to pitch” the way Ian does).

      Everyone throws out “number 1 starter,” a “number 2,” etc. I think there’s two categories: number 1s and everyone else. Joba and Hughes are numbers 1s. Kennedy isn’t that, but he could be anything else.

      I like Kennedy a lot, and it wouldn’t shock me if in a few years the rotation was Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy. What’s great is that this trio of pitchers know each other, and Joba and Ian rose through the ranks together. When they’re all in the Bronx I think that it will make for a terrific bond, and really establish the new core of young talent for the team.

    8. July 27th, 2007 | 1:14 pm

      Phillip Hughes=Roger Clemens
      Joba Chamberlain=Randy Johnson

      Wishful thinking 😀

    9. July 27th, 2007 | 1:15 pm

      Wang=Kevin Brown
      Hughes=Roger Clemens
      Chamberlain=Randy Johnson
      Kennedy=Mike Mussina

      Wishful Thinking 😀

      Imagine a rotation in the ’90’s of Brown-Clemens-Johnson-Mussina….

    10. July 27th, 2007 | 1:16 pm

      Wang=Kevin Brown
      Hughes=Roger Clemens
      Chamberlain=Randy Johnson
      Kennedy=Mike Mussina

      Wishful Thinking 😀

      Imagine a rotation in the ’90’s of Brown-Clemens-Johnson-Mussina….

    11. Santino53
      July 27th, 2007 | 1:38 pm

      I agree that Joba-mania has replaced Hughes-apalooza. It may arise more from his attraction to
      Yankee fans and maybe the organization as the possible answer to Papelbon and heir to Mo rather than as a starter. No doubt Hughes is way farther along as a starter.

    12. Andrew
      July 27th, 2007 | 6:47 pm

      Why do people keep thinking Hughes is like Roger Clemens? He doesn’t have as good stuff. He sits consistently in the lower-90s, while Rocket, in his youth, consistently hit the upper-90s. Hughes also has a completely different arsenal of pitches, with a great curveball and a developing changeup. Clemens had his high-heat fastball along with his legendary splitter.

      Honestly, I would say that Hughes is more like Mike Mussina than anything. He doesn’t have blow-you-away type stuff like a Joba Chamberlain or Justin Verlander, but more I-can-hit-a-one-inch-box-at-will kind of fastball. Remember that Moose used to sit in the 93/94 range as well, much like Hughes does today. I think his career will be more ‘control’ type pitcher with above-average ‘stuff’, like Mussina, than a power-pitcher ‘blow-you-away’ guy like Clemens once was.

    13. July 27th, 2007 | 10:18 pm

      if i was grading them, it would be Hughes 1A, Joba 1B. Hughes is just a lot more polished right now than Joba, younger, ahead on the depth chart, and has more pro experience, plus less injury/health concerns.

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