Saturday, March 27, 2010

Joba, Ace must rise above disappointment

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman finally confirming the obvious, that they were going with Phil Hughes as the fifth starter, was a huge disappointment for both Joba Chamberlain and Alfredo Aceves. Now, they must rise above that disappointment and do the best job they can in their new roles.

Of the two of them, Joba has the most to prove. It's clear that Girardi and Cashman have lost confidence in him and are trying to challenge him by not automatically giving him the most critical spot in the bullpen besides closer. By saying that Joba has to earn that spot, it's clear they don't believe he's ready for the job of setting up the incomparable Mariano Rivera. And the New York Yankees need someone reliable to do that job. They can't risk having to constantly bring in a 40-year Mo in the 8th inning to get through close games.

While he expressed happiness for Hughes, it's obviously quite a blow for Joba. But he can't feel too sorry for himself. The competition was set up so that he and Hughes would be the front runners. And he had the advantage of being free of the Joba Rules restrictions that Hughes will have to navigate this year. All Joba had to do was pitch better than Hughes and he couldn't do it. It's incredibly disappointing not just for Joba, but for the team and the fans who have seen the flashes of brilliance that once made team officials think so highly of him.

Unlike Joba, Ace has a legitimate beef. Out of the five candidates for the slot, he pitched the best in spring training. So it must have been a crushing blow for a pitcher who's only 27 years old. But Ace is learning a lesson that a lot of us with regular jobs already know: that sometimes it doesn't matter if you're the best person for the job. Factors beyond your performance influence these decisions too. For Ace, it seems that his flexibility and success in the bullpen last year were the primary reasons why he didn't get the job. And that is incredibly disappointing, especially after all of Girardi's talk of how it wasn't a two-man battle between Joba and Hughes. But Ace can comfort himself with the knowledge that the Yankees see him as a valuable member of the team.

Thanks to happyskrappy via Wikipedia for the photo.

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