This offseason has been a quiet one for the Yankees, and despite all the activity in their division, I still think they can contend in 2011. With the acquisition of Rafael Soriano, I think the Yanks have one of, if not the best, bullpens in the league. The combo of Logan/Robertson/Soriano/Rivera will be enough to shut down the opposing offense. However, the team still has many question marks - one being Joba Chamberlain.

It seems like an eternity ago, but it was only in 2007 when Joba Chamberlain and his 100mph fastball burst upon the scene. At that time, he was one of the most exciting players in baseball. When he took the mound, he had confidence in himself - and I had confidence in him.

Everyone knows what happened next: The Yankees made Joba a starter. Then they put him back in the bullpen. Back and forth. Joba was not the same Joba anymore. His velocity diminished, and his bravado disappeared. The past two seasons have been disappointing for Joba and his fans, especially when we look back and see what he once was.

But it is not uncommon for baseball players to turn things around. Plenty of players have revitalized their careers - and Joba Chamberlain in his mid 20s is still learning how to pitch. Saturday will be the first Spring Training game for the Yankees. A new season is fast approaching, and for some players, this new season may be a dawning of a new life for their careers.

For me, the offseason is a time to reflect. But once baseball action resumes, everyone has a clean slate. And I try to forget the past and just focus on the present. I'm trying to do this with Joba Chamberlain.

The 2011 Joba Chamberlain did not start out on a good note with me. When I heard about his 10-15 pound weight gain, I could not help but to be annoyed. Other Yankees, including CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez, have made the effort and lost weight this offseason, getting themselves into tip-top shape. What is Joba doing gaining weight? Even if it is muscle, how big is he going to get? Prior to this weight gain, Joba was a hefty man. How is he going to lift his leg in his windup if he's so big? I don't know. I'm probably overreacting here, but it just bothers me.

I want Joba to be good, I really do. But I just don't think he has it in him anymore. And the way this season is starting, I'm not too thrilled with him. I expressed my concerns about Fat Joba to Eric over at MouthoftheSouthShore, and he has a different opinion.

He thinks Joba will have a good 2011 season, and I think he won't. And we've decided to bet on it.

We have defined "good" for Joba as an ERA under 4 and a WHIP under 1.3.

The loser will have to acknowledge it on their blog, and create a show where they admit to Joba that he or she was wrong.

I hate to be the pessimist here, but it's my honest opinion. I just don't see Joba having a good year. But no matter how this bet turns out, I'm a winner. Either I actually win, or Joba has a good year.

And being the fan I am, I think I want to lose this bet. 

Go on, Joba. I dare you: prove me wrong.

by Virginia Califano

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