Joba wasn't projected by any of the major systems for 2007, he was just considered too far away. Here's how his performance in the minors looked as MLEs(major league equivalencies).
Those are very impressive numbers for a 21 year old in his first full pro season. Of course Joba followed that up with 24 eye-popping innings in the majors, allowing just 12 hits, 1 earned run, 6 walks, all while fanning 34 hitters and putting up an ERA of 0.38. No one could have realistically predicted or projected how good Chamberlain would be in 2007.
Joba's role in 2008 has been the subject of much speculation. The majority of the mediots want him to stay in the bullpen because of how good he was there. Thankfully for most of us fans who realize a potentially good starter is more valuable in the rotation the Yankees don't agree, although Chamberlain will likely begin the season in the pen due to innings limits the Yankees have placed on his 22 year old arm. This is the smart move IMO.
Here's how Joba projects in the various systems for 2008.
There's a pretty wide range here, although the consensus is pretty good. CAIRO's projection is strictly as a starter, here's how his CAIRO relief projection would look.
Lastly, here's Joba's range of CAIRO projections:
There's a fairly big range here since we only have one year of data for Chamberlain, but even at his 20% projectile he's a win above a replacement level starter if he pitches 121 innings. If we add 121 innings of his baseline starter projection to say 30 innings at his relief baseline, he would be worth about 23 runs above a replacement level pitcher, or 2.3 wins.
It'll be interesting to see how Joba develops as a starter. According to Pitch F/X he averaged 98 mph with his fastball out of the pen. He'll probably lose 3-4 mph on that average as a starter, so how he makes use of his secondary pitches will be key.
As far as starting him in the pen and moving him to the rotation, the Yankees would do well to follow what the Dodgers did with Chad Billingsley just last year. Billingsley started in the pen, pitched 23 games and then moved into the rotation in mid-June and made 20 starts. Innings total on the season, 147.
As a rookie, Joba projects to be a tremendous bargain compared to the free agent cost of a marginal win.
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We like Joba so much at the RLYW we sponsored his Baseball Reference page. On a pure tools level he is by far the best prospect of the Hughes/Joba/IPK trio. That being said, I'd expect some growing pains this year and I expect Hughes to be the better pitcher this season. Still, I think Joba will be solid, maybe somewhere between his 65% and baseline CAIRO projections this year. My only fear is that disaster in the pen may keep him there all year, but hopefully not.