On Sunday, pitching coach Dave Eiland said this to the Star-Ledger:

“He’s in the bullpen, and he’s there to stay, period.

Though he said things can change — “I never say anything’s forever” — Eiland said there’s no plan for Chamberlain to be reevaluated at the end of the season for a starting job.

“We get more out of his ability as a reliever,” Eiland said. “We feel like he can be a good starter. We feel like he can be a great reliever.”

And MLB.COM’s Bryan Hoch wrote a good article on Sunday quoting Billy Eppler from a weekend WFAN interview. Eppler is the Yankees’ director of professional scouting and one of Cashman’s main confidants:

“In the here and now, I don’t foresee any situation,” Eppler said. “Obviously, that’s for Brian and Joe, but I don’t think they foresee a situation where he would go into the rotation. He is going to be a reliever, and obviously we’ve seen what he’s been able to do in that role. He’s been able to be very dominant in that role. I don’t foresee a situation where he would be starting at all.”

Eppler was then asked if the question of Chamberlain as a starter could come back to life in 2011, with the right-hander competing for a rotation spot. He responded, “I wouldn’t consider that likely, no.”

But last week after Hughes was given the 5th starter title, Cashman said he still viewed Chamberlain as a starter, even suggesting Joba would be in the rotation if Javy Vazquez wasn’t made available:

“I think he can be that right now, actually,” Cashman said.

“If the name wasn’t Javier Vazquez, I probably would have left a spot open,” Cashman said.

We. Are. Very. Confused.

After reading all of these conflicting quotes, here’s what we think:

1. The scouting/baseball types like Eppler and Eiland believe Joba should be a permanent reliever because he fists pumps, screams, sleeps on a bed of nails, kicks homeless people, and clears out the bathroom when he’s dropping anchor.

2. The scouting/baseball types think his total of 60 IPs as a reliever are a large enough sample size to draw a conclusion about his future.

3. Dave Eiland believes a “great reliever” is more valuable than a “good starter.” — That’s disappointing.

4. Joba pitched 88 innings in the minors and was given 43 ML starts between ages 22 & 23. Is that really enough time to write him off as a starter? Really?

5. Cashman is torn between the recommendations of his scouting/baseball types and his own personal opinion.

6. If Joba is made a permanent reliever, Hal better get the checkbook ready for 2011 because the going price for starting pitching isn’t cheap.

7. If Joba is made a permanent reliever, what was the point of the Joba Rules?

These are just our opinions, based on nothing more than reading these quotes.

For the record, we have zero problems with Hughes being named the 5th starter. There was only one spot for two competitors. But, it’s hard for us to believe the destiny of Joba Chamberlain has already been written, especially when he dominated the minors as a starter and has shown flashes of success as an ML starter. Generally, relievers become relievers because they stink at starting. Joba should be given the opportunity to prove himself.

Joba Chamberlain