Our intrepid manager had lots of interesting things to say at the Winter Meetings, but I don’t know what to make of this:

By most indications, the Reds are inclined to keep the 22-year-old Cuban in the late-inning reliever role he had when he debuted in the Majors.

“I mean, right now, we have got six other starters. So at this point, probably,” Baker said. “That’s why we kind of put him there in the first place.”

While regularly eclipsing 100 mph, and once reaching 105 mph, the left-handed Chapman went 2-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 15 games. He allowed eight hits and five walks with 19 strikeouts over 13 1/3 innings.

The long-term plan is for Chapman to be a starting pitcher. That’s why he was signed for $30.25 million over six years, the top bid for the free agent last January.

“He has No. 1 starter stuff. But he has, like I said, No. 1 bullpen stuff, too,” Baker said to laughter.

“We have seen guys go back and forth, but we wanted to keep him hopefully in one area versus, you know, back and forth. Because with a guy throwing that hard, I mean, is he more valuable to us every fifth day or, you know, every other day so to speak?

Okay. I’ve softened my stance on whether Chapman should be a reliever in 2011. As long as the plan is to get him in the rotation as soon as he’s ready, I can handle Chapman being in the MLB bullpen next season. Personally, if I were making the decisions (and thank goodness I’m not), I’d have Aroldis start the season in AAA as a starting pitcher. By mid-season, or whenever he’s ready, I’d have Chapman in the major league rotation.

I can, however, give the Reds decision-makers the benefit of the doubt if they think it’s best to have him in the pen to start next season (again, as long as I’m certain the goal is to get him in the rotation when ready).

What makes me squirm is the fact that Dusty seems to be perfectly content with letting a kid with this much talent be a reliever permanently. Listen to him: Is Chapman more valuable to us every fifth day or every other day? He could be a #1 starter and a #1 bullpen guy.

Here’s the answer: if Aroldis Chapman has the ability to be a #1 starter, you don’t have to ask any more questions. Your choice is made. A starting pitcher throws more innings and thus, is more valuable. Period. Placing a pitcher with this kind of talent in the bullpen is a horrific waste of an asset. If Aroldis Chapman is pitching out of the bullpen after 2011, it will be insanity and I can’t be held responsible for whatever actions I might take.

If Chapman is in the bullpen to start 2011, however, it isn’t going to be the end of the world. Certainly, he makes the bullpen stronger. I just hope the Reds don’t reverse course on their initial plans (to make Chapman a starter) just because he experiences some success as a reliever. Get ready for that debate; Aroldis is likely to be the best reliever on the team.

I’ll probably get an ulcer before this is settled.