The Cold Decision Is To Release Chamberlain

Joba Chamberlain’s dislocated ankle was so ghastly and dangerous that it was considered life threatening before he reached the hospital—NY Daily News Story.

It was a horrible accident and Chamberlain is being blamed when he shouldn’t be. The suggestion has been made that he was irresponsible for being on a trampoline to begin with and he should’ve known better.

He was at an activity center with his 5-year-old son.

This could’ve happened stepping off the sidewalk.

It was an accident. It could’ve been a tragedy. In a year in which he wasn’t expected back from Tommy John surgery before the summer, after this ankle injury, he’s not going to pitch at all.

If the Yankees are going on a pure business model, they have to release Chamberlain.

It may sound cruel, but Chamberlain is due $1.675 million this season and if they release him now, they’d owe him 45 days termination pay.

That’s a big difference.

There are precedents for players who have had injuries sustained off the field and were released because of them. The Braves had signed outfielder Ron Gant to a 1-year, $5.5 million contract for 1994 after he had his career season in 1993 with 36 homers and a .274/.345/.510 slash line with 26 stolen bases. On February 3rd 1994, Gant had a dirt bike accident and broke his leg. In mid-March, the Braves released him.

You can read details of the Braves’ decision here on Philly.com. (And in an interesting side note, there’s a snippet about Jose Canseco at the bottom of the page and it’s clear that his nutty behavior isn’t limited to his tweets on Twitter; his erratic behaviors go back years.)

Gant signed with the Reds in June and didn’t play in the strike-shortened 1994 season. He revived his career with the Reds in 1995 and played for several more clubs in the subsequent years.

But in 1994, the Braves did the right thing financially by releasing Gant.

Was it punishment for doing something dangerous and putting the Braves’ investment in him at risk? Was it a sound business decision? Was it a combination?

Does it matter?

The Yankees making the cold-blooded decision to release Chamberlain wouldn’t mean they don’t care about him as a person. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees do it and still take steps to help Chamberlain as much as possible and offer him a contract when and if he can come back; but the injury is keeping him out for the a season in which he was only going to pitch for a few months anyway. They’re under no obligation to pay him his full salary and releasing him now is the only way to keep from doing that.

It would be ruthless, but they’d be right.

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