Joba Chamberlain was not so long ago considered one of the most promising pitchers in the New York Yankee organization. Not any more. The Yankees are known to be looking for a club to take the once heralded former first round draft selection off their hands.
Danny Knobler of CBS sports, who knows the Tigers as well as any national baseball writer, says otherwise. Knobler writes in this article that the Tigers are happy with Benoit as their closer, but are still scouting other options for the bullpen. They are not, however, interested in Chamberlain.
Chamberlain has struggled this season, posting a 5.40 ERA, a WHIP of 1.80, and a not too promising FIP of 4.95. Once thought to be the heir apparent to the closer's job behind Mariano Rivera, and once thought to be a part of the Yankee rotation for years to come, Joba is now booed whenever Yankee skipper Joe Girardi beckons him from the bullpen. If you're looking at the stats, you won't be finding what you'd like to see to help the Tigers shore up their bullpen.
Chamberlain is what some believe is a "change of scenery" candidate. That is, get him out of the environment that he's in and he'll realize his potential. Jhonny Peralta might be the best example of such a player. Numbers on the decline, but flashes of brilliance that lead one to believe that there is talent just waiting to jump out.
Chamberlain still features a full repertoire, more than enough to get by in a major league bullpen, with a K rate standing at 9.64 this season, which is consistent with his recent seasons if not up where it was in his heyday. But he is also walking more than five batters per nine innings. The Tigers can get that from Bruce Rondon or Al Alburquerque. HIs fastball averages 94.7 MPH, and his slider is at 85.9, both just above his career averages.
It seems fairly clear that the Yankees don't intend to bring Chamberlain back. He is a free agent after this season. He earns a salary of $ 1.85 million, or just under $ 1 million for the balance of this season. In fact, he has been passed up by other relief pitchers in Girardi's bullpen, and the club would be just as happy to move on.
Under the circumstances, the Yankees might not be asking for much, other than some salary relief. The last thing they would want is for the team that has owned them in the post season in recent years to acquire him and cure what ails him.
One Yankee blog, River Ave Blues, is quick to point out that the Tiger bullpen is struggling. This is true. They are last in the league in saves, tied with Boston, and have a bullpen ERA and FIP that is bottom third in the league. After Benoit and Smyly, they have struggled this season. But that narrative is so last month. The new and improved Tiger bullpen features a solid one- two punch, and a fireballing Bruce Rondon who appears to be settling into a second set up role. How Joba Chamberlain helps this team is unclear.
I might suggest to Yankee beat writers and bloggers that they look to Boston if they're looking for a dumping spot for relievers who aren't cutting it in New York. Won't work? Then maybe the Tigers do have someone that they'd be interested in, who has about the same salary, but the Yenkees would
be stuck with have under club control for another season. Ever hear the expression "Things go better with Coke"? Been there, done what?