Clay Vs. Joba

Baseball America released their first installment of "Split Decisions" today.  This is where their writers (Editors in chief Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and national writer Chris Kline) get a chance to explain why they chose player A over player B when putting together their top 100 prospects for 2008.  Today they have Clay Buchholz up against Joba Chamberlain.

*Note: Due to the fact that this content is subscriber only, I am only giving you a portion of their comments.


Jim Callis: "In terms of pure stuff, I think Buchholz’ curveball and changeup are right up there with Chamberlain’s fastball and slider. I’d love to have either of those guys, but I’d take Buchholz."

Chris Kline: "They’re both fearless, but Chamberlain pitches off his fastball more consistently. And not that Buchholz is some soft-tosser, but I when I think of an elite pitcher who will come right after hitters with pure power, it’s Chamberlain."

Will Lingo: "I know they’re talking about moving him to the rotation at midseason, but Jonathan Papelbon was a starter at this time last year too. I just think Buchholz is a little more likely to end up as a long-term No. 1 starter."

John Manuel: "Chamberlain’s superior fastball makes him the better bet to be a long-term ace. In fact, it makes him the best pitching prospect to come around since I’ve been at BA, surpassing Josh Beckett and Mark Prior."

There you have it an even split and we are back where we started. 

40 comments… add one
  • And yes in their Top 100 list they did in fact rank Joba #3 and Clay #4 but really when you are talking about numbers that high and talent that good is there a substantial difference?

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 1:47 pm
  • It really is splitting hairs at this point. The reality check in all of this is the Mark Prior comparison. Hopefully neither guy suffers the physical setbacks that Prior has faced.

    SF February 27, 2008, 1:55 pm
  • I’m not a gambling man, but if I were I wouldn’t be betting that someone named Clay is going to stay healthy. Nor for that matter would I bet that someone named Joba will stay long at under 250lbs.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 1:57 pm
  • So you think Joba will be healthier than Clay, despite being significantly larger? I don’t think Joba will have any health problems, but if I had to try to predict which one would I would choose Chamberlain in a heartbeat.
    *knock on wood*

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:09 pm
  • Really it’s going to come down to can both men stay healthy. If they do they should both enjoy pretty good careers. It’s unfortunate but you never know how highly touted pitchers will end up simply because injuries happen and sometimes they never regain that form.
    One thing I will say is you should see the number of arm injuries begin to drop in the near future. High School, Summer Ball and College coaches are being heavily scrutinized over their handling of pitchers. There is also a big push (at least here in NJ HS baseball) to promote better knowledge our kids arms, when to let them rest and when to push. It’s a tough hill to climb because these kids play for so many teams, but it’s good to see that more coaches are becoming more aware of the best course of action to keep these young kids arms healthy long term.

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 2:16 pm
  • You really think it’s the coaches dictating use? All I know is my wife’s family has size. If our boy shows any affinity toward pitching, you better believe I’m going to be all over his tee-ball coach.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 2:19 pm
  • John, my younger brother is a highschool pitcher here in Virginia, and they push him too much in games to the point where my parents have spoken to the coach about it. I hope they start implimenting some of what you’re talking about down here.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:20 pm
  • Your son’s T-ball coach may listen A YF, but do you really think a highschool coach whose team is in first place in the region is going to give a crap what you have to say?

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:22 pm
  • I really like the way Joba is built. By the way they look, I’d assume Joba would have less trouble with injuries.
    I have more faith in Clay as a starter at this point. I will be very interested to see how Joba pitches as a starter this year.
    I think Huges and Lester might have a bigger impact on their teams this year, and will be the players to watch.

    Pat February 27, 2008, 2:23 pm
  • I agree completely, Pat. I think Hughes finally has his breakout year, and I optimistically think Lester will significantly improve as well. Exciting times for both teams.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:27 pm
  • Well, if my son’s arm in high school is good enough to worry about, then I’d sooner pull him off the team than let some high school social studies teacher ruin it. I have to think most parents think that way these days. That’s why it’s easier to imagine they’re the ones pushing for the changes.

    A YF February 27, 2008, 2:28 pm
  • Pssh, I’ll take Baseball Prospectus. They have Buchholz 2 and Chamberlain 4. ;-)

    Paul SF February 27, 2008, 2:34 pm
  • We here in NJ are restricted by innings. We must keep a log of all of our pitchers innings and have it signed after each game. For us there is no way around that. Unfortunately innings limitations are not always 100% foolproof and that’s where the trouble comes into play. Throwing kids on consecutive days because he only recorded 2 outs and so on, there are ways around it for the coaches who just don’t care about their pitchers health. We employ a pitching coach as well so that the pitchers have someone to keep close on them and their health. I graduated in ’93, we didn’t pay half the attention to this topic as they do now. The biggest culprit is Summer Ball. I coach Summer Ball myself, but the kids I coach are mostly my own. So their best interests are my best interests. Unfortunately some Summer Ball coaches treat these kids like they will never see them again. As well as the Summer Ball rules being different, for example American Legion. They play MLB rules, there are no innings limits for these kids. I am not naive, I know the problem will never go away because coaches want to win, but we should see a decrease in significant arm injuries in the future.

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 2:34 pm
  • Well, if my son’s arm in high school is good enough to worry about, then I’d sooner pull him off the team than let some high school social studies teacher ruin it.
    Easier said than done, man. Last year my brother’s team was in first place in the region, but the other pitchers started struggling halfway through the season. My brother was a Junior at the time (meaning he had been on the team for three years) and the coach started relying on him more and more. Simply “pulling” him off the team would upset the team AND my brother, because he has friends there and wants to play for the best team in the area.
    Also, here in Hampton Roads you are put in a public school based upon where you live, and are not free to simply switch schools because you don’t like the way the baseball coach is using your son. He could have joined a private school, but none of them in the area are any good. It’s a lot more complicated than you make it out to be.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:35 pm
  • A YF – You’ll be all over his tee-ball coach? Where the kids hit off a tee and there’s no pitcher?
    Nonetheless, being careful with your kids in those situations is always a good thing.

    QuoSF February 27, 2008, 2:38 pm
  • John, my brother is in American Legion here and it’s crazy. They play 9 innings and usually have 5 games a week, which means forcing starting pitchers to go 6 or 7. Tough times, especially right after finishing highschool ball.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 2:39 pm
  • Ath, I don’t know Virginia’s restrictions but most definitely have your parents step in even further if needed. Kids generally will not tell us (coaches) the truth, so it’s important that we keep an open line of communication with the parents at all times. I ask them everyday how’s the arm and 9 out of 10 times they say great. When they go home though they have nothing to lose so they open up to mom or dad. With coach they feel the pressure to always be ready to go.
    If you have any questions as to what your brother can do to prevent arm injuries I can direct you to a young man that has great knowledge in this area. Just email the site.

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 2:42 pm
  • I understand the pressures on kids that age. Still if he’s 6’3″ and throws gas (fingers crossed), his coach and I are going to have a little chat before every season.
    You do realize the tee-ball comment was a joke, right?

    A YF February 27, 2008, 2:43 pm
  • SF – I think Prior sets a precaution for all these prospects.
    Before the injuries took place, I’ve followed quite a bit on Prior since he won me a fantasy league. He was said to have “perfect mechanics” and thus injuries weren’t really suppose to happen. Perhaps he was overworked under Baker, but still..

    Lar February 27, 2008, 2:47 pm
  • wanna know how i feel about what the “experts” think about which of our guys they like better?:

    dc February 27, 2008, 2:56 pm
  • dc,
    Shouldn’t you wait until someone asks? If you don’t care, don’t read.
    A YF,
    I must admit, I wasn’t prepared for comedic stylings from you after your anti-Schilling rants in an earlier post.

    QuoSF February 27, 2008, 2:58 pm
  • “…If you don’t care, don’t read….”
    since you asked quo, i didn’t read…i knew from the opening sentence of the post that i didn’t need to read further, but thought i’d share my insights with you anyway, since i know you care…

    dc February 27, 2008, 3:08 pm
  • Thanks John, it would be great to get some information from someone that knows more than I do. Their season starts in a few weeks, and if it becomes a problem I will definitely email you to get in contact with that guy.

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 3:29 pm
  • No problem Ath. We start up this friday, in NJ we can start the first friday of the month. Best of luck to your brother.

    John - YF February 27, 2008, 3:33 pm
  • Kids generally will not tell us (coaches) the truth
    Kids…or major league pitchers being visited at the mound by Grady Little.
    A bunch of liars, all of them!

    SF February 27, 2008, 3:34 pm
  • Thanks John, good luck to your Jersey team. Even if they wear Yankees jerseys ;-)

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 3:48 pm
  • I have a feeling that 75% of Sox fans would say that they’d prefer Clay and 75% of Yanks fan say they’d prefer Joba… I’d love to watch a 100mph fastball every 5 days, but I’m a sucker for nasty breaking balls even more.

    Ric February 27, 2008, 3:52 pm
  • Yeah Ric, I’d be happy with either of ’em. As things are, I’m content to hate Joba ;-)

    Atheose February 27, 2008, 4:06 pm
  • Splitting hairs.
    Let the games begin.

    I'mBillMcNeal February 27, 2008, 7:21 pm
  • Ric – Joba gives you 100mph AND a sick-nasty literally unhittable slider. Best of both worlds, come over to the dark side.

    AndrewYF February 27, 2008, 10:21 pm
  • I thought sample size was some kinda special around this joint.
    Aren’t some of you going a bit nuts over a guy who has 15 total starts in his ML career?
    Show me that stuff for 7, joba. For a Whole Year.

    Dirty Water February 27, 2008, 11:31 pm
  • For a Whole Year.
    Unfortunately, he can’t show us that until 2009. ;-)

    Paul SF February 28, 2008, 1:13 am
  • I’ll take 140 innings from Joba anyway we can get them. But it’s not like the Sox can get a full year from Buchholz. Closer, yes, but not a whole year.

    A YF February 28, 2008, 7:47 am
  • At least neither of them are being managed by Dusty Baker.
    They’re both going to be pretty ridiculous, I think. I’ll take Clay for now – of course, I am a Red Sox fan – since I’d like to see how Joba’s stuff holds up over the course of a full start, but seeing how he’s built I don’t think that’ll be an issue.

    Micah-SF February 28, 2008, 1:30 pm
  • Correct. Nobody knows how each will fare. Matter of fact, chances are good at least one of them will fail miserably, either through injury or (lack of) performance. But my point was at least Clay has a body of work to affirm his potential. Joba? dominating in relief (where I believe he will stay), nothing as a starter, unless you want to include that small 15 game sample as validation.
    And honestly; with as much energy as Joba expends on the mound, and vital his live fastball is as a reliever, I question his ability to finish a start.

    Dirty Water February 28, 2008, 1:31 pm
  • while the yanks used joba in relief, his resume, especially in college, suggests some success with starting and completing games…i think the yanks’ plan is to start him in the bullpen, but we’ll see…something tells me that no matter what he does or how well, it won’t be enough for you guys, and somehow there will be a new stat introduced that will put him behind buck in “effectiveness” whether that’s the reality or not…oh well…maybe buck will actually outperform him and you won’t have to scamble so hard…

    dc February 28, 2008, 4:48 pm
  • ya gotta wonder how much confidence the sox have in buck…just days after signing colon, i hear now they have feelers out for freddy garcia…

    dc February 28, 2008, 5:14 pm
  • Buchholz isn’t the weak link in that rotation, imo. Wakefield makes me far more nervous, what with the recent injuries. Although he was great last year until his shoulder started bothering him.

    Paul SF February 28, 2008, 5:40 pm
  • i figured that paul, i was just having fun with it…i love wakefield, but you just gotta wonder if he’ll be at the end soon…

    dc February 28, 2008, 5:53 pm
  • I’m not sure confidence is the right word there, DC. Natural progession fits better, with me anyway.
    I’m not expecting much from Buch. Too young to succeed right off the bat under the bright lights of fenway. Most fail, although we could get lucky, but I’d prefer Theo not rely on luck. So if the get Fredo… fine. Good pitcher who would not cost but half of a Santana. And because he’s a righty he’d probably do just as well.

    Dirty Water February 28, 2008, 9:58 pm

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