Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Snub could motivate Joba Chamberlain

Joe Girardi can spin it anyway he likes, but yesterday he snubbed Joba Chamberlain. It might have been the best thing he could have done for the struggling reliever.

Girardi had a chance to show he still has faith in Joba, but chose not to last night with the game on the line for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians. When Javier Vazquez walked leadoff hitter Michael Brantley in the 8th inning, Girardi called in David Robertson, who promptly induced a double-play groundball. If Joba was still the bridge to Mariano Rivera, that would have been his spot to come into the game. Instead, Robertson got the call and the Yankees got the win.

The Yankees manager insisted he liked the matchup with Robertson facing Asdrubal Cabrera, which makes no sense considering that the two had never faced each other and Cabrera was 0 for 5 versus Joba. Girardi refused to say what he was probably really thinking, that he just didn't trust Joba in that spot after watching him struggle again in his outing Sunday against the Kansas City Royals.

It's clear right now that Joba is suffering from a major confidence problem. His outing last Thursday was evidence of that. As he was walking off the mound after escaping the inning allowing two hits and a walk but not giving up any runs, Joba didn't looked happy. He looked relieved that his outing was over. It's such a stark difference from the guy who used to annoy opponents with his overexcited antics on the mound after striking batters out with his 97-mph fastballs.

Girardi knows his players better than we do. Perhaps snubbing him yesterday was a way to motivate Joba, to encourage him to step up and be the dominant reliever the Yankees and their fans had gotten used to seeing. Let's hope it works.

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