Overcast 45° Good Morning
Overcast 45° Good Morning

Joba Chamberlain, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Reyes and the Mets' starting rotation

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a great week. Pretty quiet in the baseball world, eh? Didn't miss a heck of a lot, besides the latest on the Rangers' search for a backup middle infielder.

This'll be a look-forward week here on the blog. Here's what I have in mind:

--Tomorrow, we'll do the long-anticipated, Jermaine Dye-less list of Offseason Winners and Losers.

--On Wednesday, in honoring a blog tradition, we'll do Five Teams That Will Improve This Season, followed Thursday by Five Teams That Will Do Worse This Season.

--And on Friday, we'll do our annual preseason predictions contest. I'll run my picks, and urge you to submit yours. Sources tell me that reigning champion Dennis has been tracked down just in time to defend his crown.

--Of course, we'll mix in thoughts on whatever breaking news transpires, and maybe a few other tricks and treats along the way.

For now, though, let's treat this item as a catch-up day. My thoughts on what's going on and what went on:

1) Joba. It's just never going to end, is it? Now we're wondering about what he'll do in 2011? Heaven help us.

Let's see how the season plays out. If Chamberlain proves to be an effective setup man - it's not realistic to think he'll be as good as he was back in 2007 - then that should hopefully end the debate.

But I hope, if that happens, we get more than a bunch of "I told you sos" from those who advocated his placement in the bullpen all along. And yes, admittedly, I did not reside in that camp.

I hope, instead, that people at least appreciate what the Yankees were thinking in trying to deploy Chamberlain as a starter. Again: It is far more difficult to develop a good starter than even a great reliever. And the market reflects that.

I don't necessarily agree with the NoMaas link that the Yankees are clueless. I just think that some people (Billy Eppler) are being less lawyerly than others (Brian Cashman).

It's pretty apparent, in my mind, what happened with Chamberlain: 2009 changed everything for him. The contrast between his starting work and his relief work was too striking for the team to ignore. Officials aren't happy about it; they wish Joba attacked the starting job with the sort of ferocity he carries to his relief work - as he very much did as a starter in 2008.

But it is what it is, so it's understandable that the Yankees went in this direction.

2) A-Rod. I agree with what I linked here, by Joel Sherman. I think it's wrong to question, "What's A-Rod hiding?" by delaying his meeting with the Feds. Why shouldn't A-Rod take as much time as he needs for  this meeting?

Furthermore, I can't help but wonder if it's not as important, from the Feds' standpoint, about when they meet A-Rod as we'd like to think. That is, admittedly, total speculation on my part. But I just can't 't see, given what's going on in our country, the U.S. government going after pro athletes with the same ferocity it did five years ago.

In any case, it seems unlikely to me that A-Rod will slip up in this meeting, given how prepared and lawyered up he'll be. If he doesn't know how to answer a question, he need only turn and whisper with his attorneys.

And if anyone suggests that A-Rod could be in trouble with Major League Baseball and its fake cops, I think that person should pay a $5 fine to my kangaroo court.

How did I find Joel's blog entry, by the way? A little thing called Twitter.

Meanwhile, looking out my window and seeing people carry umbrellas, I can't help but wonder if Andy Pettitte is in the neighborhood.

3) Jose Reyes. His progress marked the best news of the week for Mets fans, obviously. Furthermore, it seems as though the Mets are playing this smart by not rushing Reyes back into the lineup.

Remember, Reyes can start the season on the disabled list and miss as few as the first five games of the season. Given what he's been through, there's absoutely no reason to push him to play in a real game a week from today. Rephrase: No good reason.

4) The Mets' starting rotation. Double yeesh. Mike Pelfrey pitched poorly again yesterday, as you can see in the link.

Is there any reason to think that the Mets' rotation won't be a huge liability this season? Especially when you match it up against those of the Phillies, Braves and Marlins.

JE provided me with this link, which puts the situation in a good perspective. If your fifth starter, Jon Niese, is projected to be your second-best starter, then that doesn't bode well for your team.

5) The Twins' closer situation. The bullpen by committee can be a liberating thing. Ron Gardenhire can go with the best matchups each night.

But in order for a bullpen by committee to work, those involved have to be fully invested and committed. They are human, after all, and most humans enjoy a degree of predictability in their work. The Red Sox's attempt at a bullpen by committee, back in 2003, faltered partly because of this element, IMO.

Also, though, those involved have know, actually pitch well, regardless of how invested and committed they are.

--A young man named Andrew Simon, who works in North Carolina, has a baseball blog worth checking out called "Hitting the Cutoff Man." Here are his season previews on the Yankees and Mets.

--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on ESPN Radio's "The Herd," with Colin Cowherd, at 10:30 ET this morning.

New York Sports