Joba Chamberlain signs one-year deal with Tigers
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Few Yankees have ever created the instant buzz that Joba Chamberlain did in August and September of 2007.
Six years later, though, the Yankees and their fans couldn't wait to part with him.
Nor could Chamberlain, who officially became a former Yankee Thursday when he agreed to a one-year, $2.5-million deal with the Tigers.
Detroit already has signed Joe Nathan as the closer, but with Drew Smyly headed to the rotation and Joaquin Benoit unlikely to return, they're in need of bullpen depth.
The Yankees are in need of bullpen depth, too, but they made no attempt to retain the 28-year-old righthander, who went 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA in 45 games last season. He allowed eight home runs in 42 innings.
It was a far cry from the 21-year-old phenom who went 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 19 games after getting called up in August 2007.
Utilizing a triple-digit fastball and unhittable slider that had many anointing him as closer Mariano Rivera's eventual replacement, Chamberlain struck out 34 in 24 innings.
The only glitch in his impressive rookie season came during Game 2 of the Division Series against the Indians when a swarm of midges came out of nowhere and crawled all over him and the rest of the players on the field. With bugs sticking to his sweaty neck, Chamberlain threw a wild pitch in the eighth that allowed the tying run to score. Three innings later, the Indians won it.
In 2008, an attempt to convert Chamberlain into a starter backfired. With the exception of a couple of stretches in 2009, when he went 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA in 32 games (31 starts), he never approached the dominance he showed in 2007.
In spring training in 2010, Chamberlain lost a battle with Phil Hughes for the fifth starter spot. He never started for the Yankees again.
Injuries no doubt played a role in his decline. Chamberlain underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 and, after recovering from that, suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle in a trampoline accident in spring training in 2012 that limited him to 22 games.