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Jim Leyland Wants a (Bleeping) Closer? Take (Bleeping) Joba Chamberlain!

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COMMENTARY | Take note, Brian Cashman. You may have someone willing to take Joba Chamberlain off your hands. Call Dave Dombrowski.

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland wants a closer, Chamberlain wants to be a closer, and the Tigers have a surplus of outfielders, a position the New York Yankees are weak in.

For the Detroit Tigers, 39-31 and in first place in American League Central, Chamberlain would be a step up from the team's current options and it wouldn't be surprising if the two GMs - Cashman and Dombrowski - have already talked to discuss Leyland's desire for bullpen help.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Leyland recently questioned who he's supposed to hand the ball to in the ninth inning:

"Some fans believe [Jose] Valverde is a Leyland creation," Leyland said. "They think the manager loves him or he wouldn't be here. I don't understand who they think we should be closing with. I'm asking that question, 'Who the (expletive) should I be closing with?' I mean, do they want some rookie kid? I don't understand that.

"Who the (expletive) should I close with? Who do you want me to close with? Who the (expletive) do you want to be the closer? … I don't know what the (expletive) these people want. They just throw stuff out there. People just talk, they don't think about it.

"Sometimes it boggles my mind."

You know what doesn't boggle my mind? The Yankees shipping Chamberlain to Detroit for Matt Tuiasosopo, Avisail Garcia, or Torii Hunter, with Hunter being the least palatable of options for the cost-conscious Yankees:

  • Tuiasosopo is a late bloomer who's bounced around from the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him in the third round of the 2004 draft, to the New York Mets, to the Tigers. He's 27 and is batting .338 (.466) this season for Detroit, although he's been limited to 88 plate appearances.
  • Garcia, a highly regarded prospect, is 22 and was recently sent to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Anibal Sanchez.
  • Hunter, who will be 38 next month, is hitting .294 (.340 OBP) this season and has cut back on his strikeout rate. The veteran, however, comes with a price. He's owed $12 million this season and $14 million next year.

Besides Tuiasosopo, Garcia, and Torii Hunter, the Tigers have a number of top prospects who play the outfield, something the Yankees don't have. Heck, the team was so deep with outfielders, they released Brennan Boesch, whom the Yankees quickly picked up.

Yankees fans are tired of Chamberlain, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. The big Nebraskan would likely benefit from a change of scenery, as he's spent the past seven seasons in the New York media circus, always wondering what his role would be. Sure, he's sporting a 5.74 ERA in limited action (15 2/3 innings), but he's struck out 18 and, at times, has shown that he can still deal.

The Yankees need an outfield bat. The Tigers need a closer. The Yankees have Joba. The Tigers have plenty of outfielders. This (bleeping) trade is a match made in (bleeping) heaven.

Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.

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