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Joba Chamberlain, John Lackey and Jose Reyes

As homage to Joel Sherman's blog, let's do 3 Up today:

1. The Yankees lost to Kansas City in 11 innings, and besides concerns over Robinson Cano's health, the big story was Joe Girardi's decision to rest Joba Chamberlain

Chamberlain had pitched three of the prior four days; hence Girardi's call. And when the Yankees lost because they had to use Buddy Carlyle and Luis Ayala, then it at least feels like Girardi's conservative approach lost the Yankees a ballgame.

I still say Girardi made the right call. His biggest strength as Yankees manager has arguably been his bullpen management - not necessarily the in-game calls, but keeping his key relievers healthy. Rafael Soriano doesn't count; he arrived with the pre-existing condition of being high-maintenance.

And no, I don't penalize Girardi for Pedro Feliciano - guy never pitched a game for the Yankees - nor Damaso Marte, who barely stayed healthy since joining the Yankees since 2008.

In catching up on Sherman's blog, I found a good take he had on the recent Feliciano/Brian Cashman/Joe Torre brouhaha regarding bullpen management. I agree with what Joel wrote: Yes, Torre was irresponsible, but he also faced immense pressure from above to win, and the knowledge that he would've been questioned had he deployed his guys in the manner that Girardi did last night.

Girardi doesn't face that sort of pressure, not with Cashman (pretty much) running baseball operations. So he can take the one-night hit, and everyone - well, everyone besides Chamberlain - can understand what he was doing.

And for what it's worth, sure, I suppose Girardi should've told Chamberlain at the start of the game that he wasn't going to use him.

2. The Red Sox lost their second straight game in Toronto, and John Lackey got hammered again. The right-hander, in his second year of a five-year, $82.5-millionagreement with Boston, has an 8.01 ERA for the season.

I remembered being surprised that Boston committed this contract to Lackey, but I couldn't recall what, if anything, I wrote about it here. So I checked: I didn't rip the Red Sox. The best I did was not rip the Mets for declining to give Lackey five years.

I did, however, link to this column by Matthew Carruth of FanGraphs, who cast heavy doubt on how good Lackey would be going forward. Good job, Carruth.

As we stand now, Lackey is facing the prospect of being Theo Epstein's worst signing. He wasn't very good last year and is terrible this year. It was highly out of character for Boston to go five years for a guy  1) whom hey didn't know first-hand; 2) who was 31 when he signed; and 3) who, according to the more advanced metrics, already had entered his decline phase.

Plenty of time for Lackey to bounce back, but diminishing indications that'll actually happen. Lackey set off more alarms with his comment that "Everything in my life (stinks) right now, to be honest with you."

3. After writing about Jose Reyes both Tuesday and yesterday, I contemplated making today's item "The Jose Reyes trade dilemma, Part 3." After all, who doesn't love a Part 3? Just ask "The Karate Kid." Or "Police Academy." 

Ultimately, I decided against it. But I did want to address one more component of a potential Reyes trade: The return.

The Mets obviously need pitching, preferably close to major-league ready, most of all. It's reasonable to think they'd get some as part of a Reyes trade.

But the best teams operate more holistically in trade discussions. They don't limit themselves by making their goals too specific. They just try to make the organization better.

The perfect contrast, as we discussed at the time, is Kansas City's trade of Zack Greinke to Milwaukee and Tampa Bay's trade of Matt Garza to the Cubs. The Royals felt compelled to get a shortstop and centerfielder out of the deal - so far, shortstop Alcides Escobar isn't doing much at the big-league level, while Lorenzo Cain is getting on base a lot for Triple-A Omaha _ while Tampa Bay simply looked to replenish its system. Most industry folks felt that the Rays got the better return for the inferior pitcher.

I'd expect Sandy Alderson and his lieutenants to act more like the Rays than the Royals. if they can't find a pitcher they like on the team that likes Reyes the most, then their goal is to see if they can work a three-way trade in which they use a player from Team A (the team acquiring Reyes) to get the pitcher they want from Team B.

--Going to the owners' meetings at Major League Baseball headquarters in Manhattan today. I'll check in later.

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