The Detroit Tigers are pretty desperate for bullpen arms and they showed some of that desperation by signing Joba Chamberlain. When Chamberlain is good, he can be that shutdown middle relief the Tigers have been clamoring for; when he is bad, well, let’s just say Phil Coke can sympathize. That is not to say this wasn’t a good move because it is a good move; there is very little risk associated with the signing and it gives the bullpen a chance to be effective mixed with the signing of Joe Nathan, but don’t cash in all your chips on Joba.
This move needs to be a starting point and not a piece of duct tape over a very large problem of middle relief. If mixed with other signings, then it makes sense for the Tigers, but if it is going to just be used as a one-time, signing wait and see how it goes much like the Tigers did last year at closer that could easily lead to disaster. Dave Dombrowski should view this signing as a success, but must keep working the Winter Meetings in search of some other names that can come in and compete with Chamberlain.
No one expects the Joba Chamberlain of old, but if he can even get somewhat recognizable to the old version, the Tigers will be in a much better position today than they were yesterday. Let’s face it, just about any arm at this point is an improvement for this team, so it would be foolish to complain about anyone right now. I just hope that this gamble pays off.