Joba Chamberlain released by the Tigers

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The Tigers DFA’d Joba Chamberlain a week ago. Unlike his DFA Mate, Tom Gorzelanny, Chamberlain did not accept an assignment to Toledo, nor did the Tigers manage to trade him. As such he was given his unconditional release this afternoon and he’s now a free agent.

Old people may remember when Bobby Cox was fired at the end of his first tour of duty managing the Braves. At the time owner Ted Turner was asked who the best guy was to replace him. And Turner famously said “Bobby Cox.” It was funny, but it’s also speaks to a change that was made for the sake of making a change. SOMETHING had to be done, so fire Cox, even if we can’t really see how we can do better than him.

It’s something of the same situation with Joba, I think. His season in Detroit was not good by any stretch. He made 30 appearances on the year, posting a 4.09 ERA and an ugly 1.682 WHIP while striking out 15 and walking five in 22 innings. But the guys who were called up when Chamberlain and Gorzelanny were let go — Jeff Ferrell and Drew VerHagen — have been cover-your-eyes bad. As I watched each of those lads toil for the Tigers last weekend I kept thinking “man, wouldn’t they rather have Joba there?”

Maybe at some point this summer Brad Ausmus will wish he had a merely bad reliever instead of a terrible one. But by then Chamberlain will likely have latched on someplace else, as most relievers do.

Tim Tebow homers in spring training game

Tim Tebow
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.

Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.

Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.

There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.