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Talkin' Baseball with Rob Neyer: Part Two

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Part two of three.

Pinstripe Alley: What are your thoughts on the way the Yankees have handled Joba Chamberlain? Is he a lost cause as a starter?

Rob Neyer: Every step of the way, I assumed the Yankees knew more about how to handle Joba Chamberlain than I did. Granted, if they'd done something that struck me as manifestly stupid, I would have said something. But they didn't. Young pitchers very often get hurt, no matter how you handle them, and I believe Joba's career turned on that shoulder injury he suffered against the Rangers in 2008.

PA: Over the last 10 years we've seen several shifts in player valuation as GMs uncovered one undervalued asset after another. First it was walks/OBP, then it was defense, then it was young players, and now it seems to be shifting toward veterans on 1-year deals (e.g. the Rays signing Johnny Damon & Manny Ramirez). What is the next undervalued asset? Have we reached a point of semi-equilibrium where the majority of GMs tend to value players more or less properly?

RN: Teams are better at valuing players than ever before, and they'll just continue to get better. Regarding the next undervalued asset, I wish I knew. There must be something, but if I were smart enough to figure that one out, I would probably be working for a team and you and I wouldn't be having this discussion.

PA: What do you think of Bud Selig? How does he compare to past commissioners? How will he be viewed in the future and who is the best candidate to succeed him?

RN: Candidates? I might have said Sandy Alderson before he went to work for the Mets. Now, though? I don't have the slightest idea. I suspect there are some owners who are already in a panic over the thought of Selig actually retiring ... Except there's no reason to worry, because he's never going to actually retire.

He's hard to compare to past commissioners, because he's the first owner who's become a commissioner and he's the first owner who's utterly committed himself to leading by consensus. Maybe that makes him incomparable?

PA: What is the best way to run a bullpen? Is there too much emphasis on "the closer"? Do managers typically use their relievers inefficiently, and why?

RN: It's important to match up the right pitchers against the right hitters, but it's also important to manage the relievers' workloads. Mike Marshall's been retired for 20 years. I do think it's silly to use your second- or third-best reliever to face the heart of the other team's lineup in the eighth inning, then use your best reliever for the bottom of the order. I think it's silly to use your second- or third-best reliever to keep a game tied in the eighth, and your best reliever to protect a three-run lead in the eighth.

All that said, not many games are actually lost that way. And relief pitchers, most of them anyway, really do prefer to know exactly when they'll be pitching.

Part Three coming tomorrow.