2013 Reds / Chapmania

On Aroldis Chapman

We might as well be prepared for this eventuality. The decision to move Aroldis Chapman from the bullpen to the starting rotation is going to be the biggest topic of conversation (and controversy) around Cincinnati until August, at least.

If you are a regular reader of the Nation, you already know this, but for the casual reader, let me be explicit. Redleg Nation is ALL IN on the move to the rotation. I love it, and I hope they stick with it. Now, how the Reds limit innings, etc…that’s going to be very interesting. Gives us stuff to write about. That’s a good thing, right?

Anyway, our friend Craig Fehrman over at Cincinnati Magazine has a good piece on this whole situation. I can’t say I agree with everything in there, but it’s a long and beautiful read. Go check it out.

97 thoughts on “On Aroldis Chapman

  1. I just hope that everyone (front office, media, fans, blog commentors) are patient while Aroldis adjusts to his new role. There will likely be bumps in the road, but if the transition works out Chapman could be one of the best ever.

    • @BenL: Good point about the need for patience. The most important person on that list is Dusty Baker.

      And Dusty has already shown that he does not agree with the organization’s decision to try Chapman in the rotation. (See Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer)

      • And Dusty has already shown that he does not agree with the organization’s decision to try Chapman in the rotation. (See Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer)

        I think Dusty made it clear that he doesn’t make the final decision, whether he agrees with it or not, and he’ll go along with whatever the organization decides. He never suggested that he’d somehow try to go rogue or sabotage their plans involving Chapman. Whether Leake goes to AAA or Cincinnati is the GM’s decision, Dusty is just a puppet in this case and Jocketty is pulling the strings. Similarly how long Chapman stays in the rotation would depend on how long Leake and Cingrani get kept in AAA by Jocketty.

        • I think Dusty made it clear that he doesn’t make the final decision, whether he agrees with it or not, and he’ll go along with whatever the organization decides.He never suggested that he’d somehow try to go rogue or sabotage their plans involving Chapman.Whether Leake goes to AAA or Cincinnati is the GM’s decision, Dusty is just a puppet in this case and Jocketty is pulling the strings.Similarly how long Chapman stays in the rotation would depend on how long Leake and Cingrani get kept in AAA by Jocketty.

          In your mind, Baker has made it clear that he has no bearing on the decision.

          In reality, of course he has a bearing on the decision. Don’t know how much, but I’d say it’s between 25% and 100%.

        • In your mind, Baker has made it clear that he has no bearing on the decision.

          In reality, of course he has a bearing on the decision.Don’t know how much, but I’d say it’s between 25% and 100%.

          Again, in this matter Dusty is the puppet, Walt Jocketty is the puppeteer. If Jocketty sends Mike Leake to AAA Chapman enters the rotation, simple as that. Dusty has given his opinion on the matter and it’s up to his superiors – Jocketty and Castellini – to make a decision.

        • Again, in this matter Dusty is the puppet, Walt Jocketty is the puppeteer.If Jocketty sends Mike Leake to AAA Chapman enters the rotation, simple as that.Dusty has given his opinion on the matter and it’s up to his superiors – Jocketty and Castellini – to make a decision.

          Even if what you write is correct, and there’s no proof that it is, you are precisely saying that Baker does have a bearing on the decision. Unless, of course, you think the Reds’ GM and owner have exactly zero regard for the Reds’ manager.

  2. I’m crossing my fingers that it goes smoothly, not only for the obvious reasons, but also, I don’t think I can stand the tsunami of “I-told-you-so” columns that will arise if Chapman has a few rough outings, gets sent back to the bullpen and/or blows his arm out.

  3. @Steve Mancuso: Very good point. I usually like to avoid calling out Dusty, because I think he does an okay job and he sometimes gets a bum rap, but his patience will be absolutely essential here.

  4. I’m hoping they go through something creative-ish to handle Chapman’s inning count. Since they have Leake, who they’re paying an awful lot to be a backup starter in Louisville, I would really like to see something like maybe a 2 starts for Chapman, 1 for Leake, 2 starts for Chapman, 1 for Leake… and when Leake isn’t getting his 1 in 3 starts, he could pitch out of the bullpen. Leake had 30 starts last season as the 5th starter. Going a 2:1 for Chapman and Leake should put Chapman around hopefully 20 starts. Say hopefully around 6 innings a start, that’d put him at 120 innings. That way if he does well throughout the season, he could be the 3rd or 4th starter in the post season since he’ll have another 30 innings before he hits that “150″ mark a lot of people were talking about with Stephen Stasburg last season.

  5. Wow, what a well written article. In certain respects, it reminds me of some of the stories about Johnny Bench. Both guys come off as self-centered to a degree beyond what a typical pro athlete would be, seeming to lack the desire to have genuine relationships with other people. To each his own I guess, but it catches up with them eventually.

    Kudos to the Reds for managing Chapman as well as they have. You just hope he ages out of these behaviors.

  6. What an article. It makes sense why some players want to leave well enough alone with Chapman as a closer. His behavior is borderline erratic (I tend to think it is just VERY immature).

    Still, Chapman on a rotation and some consistency, could do wonders for his development and if you are ever going to try it – it has to be now!

  7. I hope everyone accepts that Chapman might not even be asked to fill a new role in 2013. And he probably won’t as long as five guys remain ahead of him on the depth chart.

    I think Dusty’s opinion and importance in the decision is drastically overrated because fans want to see Dusty as the symbol of all wrong decisions. I believe Dusty that whether Chapman ever enters the rotation and how long he remains in the rotation will be an organizational decision, not just one he makes on his own. Walt Jocketty runs the show by determining whether Leake pitches in AAA – if somebody has to be patient it’s him, he’s the one who can end the experiment.

  8. Interesting insight from the article regarding both Chapman and the Reds. Chapman’s mistakes and shortcomings are well documented and properly dissected within the article. The Reds’ ultra conservative protection regarding Chapman is also well documented and dissected. After Chapman’s performance in ST last season as the best Reds starter in camp (small sample caveat understood), I’m really looking forward to his performance this spring. Should Chapman’s performance this spring dictate and justify a starting role after spring training, I’m also looking forward to how the Reds intend to approach his limited innings for 2013 as a starter. I don’t see anything but a good outcome from Chapman’s situation if it is handled properly, no matter what role he fills within the pitching staff during 2013.

  9. @Shchi Cossack: I don’t see any way for the Reds to handle Chapman’s situation ‘properly’ because there’s no consensus whatsoever on how to do that. Whatever the Reds decide they’ll be facing a mess and constant questions about it until the season ends. Even if he’s absolutely dominant in the rotation they’ll face a huge controversy when he reaches an inning limit.

    A lot of fans will refuse to accept an unsuccessful conversion and will simply blame Dusty for any problems. Just wait, if anything goes wrong – injury, struggles with a second or third pitch, struggles later in games – it’ll be because the situation wasn’t handled properly by Dusty Baker. Some fans will refuse to ever accept the possibility that Chapman is better off remaining as closer. If Chapman converts I hope everybody will be willing to reevaluate after a few months, but that seems unlikely.

  10. I wouldn’t quite say “Redleg Nation is ALL IN on the move to the rotation”. I’m not. I mean, I would rather see Chapman stay as closer myself, but I am interested in seeing how he could do as a starter.

    I get hesitant when some sound like they are counting on him to be the next Randy Johnson or something simply because of his speed. All I’ve really seen is a one inning pitcher who has impressed me with his speed but not his variety of pitches nor his location. Not to mention, can he do the other things that closers normally don’t have to worry about? For instance, from what I recall, he was horrible at holding runners on. I don’t remember him fielding much. Can he hit at all? There’s a lot more to major league pitching than throwing 100 mph.

    Again, I am interested in seeing what he can do as a starter. If it does work out, great. But, the jury is still way out on this. Will it require some patience? Sure. But, you could say that about most every major league pitcher. It’s just, if I had to choose, I normally tend toward “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

    • I wouldn’t quite say “Redleg Nation is ALL IN on the move to the rotation”.I’m not.I mean, I would rather see Chapman stay as closer myself, but I am interested in seeing how he could do as a starter.

      I assumed they meant the editors of Redleg Nation. You’re not the only fan here who’s opposed to the conversion at the moment.

      • I assumed they meant the editors of Redleg Nation. You’re not the only fan here who’s opposed to the conversion at the moment.

        Never said I was against it. Specified I am interesting to see if Chapman can switch well. But, without that “visual evidence”, I would have to say Chapman is on the outside of the starting rotation. The thing is, that visual evidence may be what is needed to turn me. It’s just others sound like they are writing it down right now, that Chapman’s going to be “the man” or something. I just prefer a player to prove it to me.

        Like I have always said, I had no problem giving Heisey some starting time, more than something like 4 games a month (that’s no chance at earning a starting job; routine can be very important to these guys; that’s no routine), but the stretch he got last season, starting like 32 of 42 games. And, he did fine. It was just, you couldn’t take Ludwick’s bat out of the lineup once he got his chance. I felt Frazier deserved a better shot at 3rd last season. I felt Devin deserved a better shot at catcher (like with Heisey, catching 2 of 5 games doesn’t help in getting in a routine of playing everyday; Heisey didn’t even get that chance; give the guy about a month to see what he can do). Janish deserved his shot at SS back then, and excelled before getting hurt in May that year.

  11. Pretty good article although I am not sure what very pregnant means. The guy who comes off looking the best is CoCo Cordero. Always liked him even though he frequently gave me severe heartburn at the end of games.

  12. Great article. It reminds me of the old line from Bull Durham about a “million dollar arm and ten cent brain.” . . . It also makes me wonder what Chapman would bring in a trade following the season if he ends up making a successful transition to the rotation.

  13. Can’t wait! Will do ST differently from last couple of years for this emergence into starting role. Figure he must be ready for the change.It’s kind of all about control and using some sneaky stuff I believe.

  14. Not related to Chapman (I’m tired of thinking about this); but there’s a nice little article regarding expected lineup for the Reds over at ESPN: http://espn.go.com/blog/spring-training/post/_/id/438/reds-to-put-brandon-phillips-in-no-2-hole

    Choo, Phillips, Votto, Ludwick, Bruce, Frazier, Cozart, *catcher*, *pitcher*

    I’m excited to see what Cozart can do when there isn’t the “leadoff” pressure. I think he’s been vastly underrated due to the lineup construction last year. He’s a solid SS, if a little old-school (steady glove, Ball-in-play attitude).

  15. @Zach: Nice article. I’m interested in seeing what they do when Shin-Shoo Choo gets days off. Personally I think Cozart will be the fallback leadoff hitter again. It’s also likely that Cozart is second on the depth chart for the #2 spot, if Phillips gets hurt or moves to the middle of the order (3rd or 4th) for some reason. I think Cozart’s ceiling is about a .250 average and .300 OBP but this season does seem like a great opportunity for him to show that he can do better. He no longer faces the high expectations to keep up a .324 average.

    • @redsfanman: Some fans refuse to accept the possibility that both Chapman and the team might be better off with him starting.

      Some of us don’t believe it. Whether the team will be better off with Chapman starting it won’t be determined in spring training or April or May, it will be determined in August and September when we see the consequences – most importantly if he’ll be shut down before the playoffs like Strasburg. The risks of wearing down and getting shut down increase as the season progresses.

      • Some of us don’t believe it.Whether the team will be better off with Chapman starting it won’t be determined in spring training or April or May, it will be determined in August and September when we see the consequences – most importantly if he’ll be shut down before the playoffs like Strasburg.The risks of wearing down and getting shut down increase as the season progresses.

        Like I said, you first said that some fans refuse to accept the possibility that Chapman is better as the closer, implying that you are enlightened and have an open mind. Yet, you actually don’t.

        There is a tremendous upside to starting Chapman—having him as a starter in the postseason. There is also tremendous downside—maybe he won’t be good at it, and maybe it will then throw him into a funk and he won’t be good in any role. That’s the tradeoff. For those who seem to think that he’s more likely to get hurt starting or relieving, I say there’s not nearly enough evidence to determine that one.

  16. 10 Major League pitchers last year had more than 35 saves. 8 of them had a higher save percentage than Chapman’s 38 of 43, with Jason Motte being the delightful exception. In 2011, CoCo converted 37 of 43 save opportunities, or one more than Chapman in 2012.

    So is Chapman even that good of a closer? When he was bad last year, he was Danny-Graves bad.

    Closing is the most inane concept ever devised in baseball. Closers as used now don’t result in the team holding on to more late-inning leads than occurred 30 or 50 years ago in the pre-LaRussafication era. Bullpens are very important. “Closers” are not. The Yankees moved their best pitcher, Dave Righetti, to the bullpen in 1984 and stunk for a decade, and I think they would have been better off using Mariano Rivera as a starter.

  17. @Big Ed: Closers are the most useless piece of a team until a team doesn’t have somebody who can close games anymore, then it becomes important. Anybody can do it, but if you get Danny Graves or Francisco Cordero to do the job everyone will respond negatively. There’s even a lot of resistance to using Sean Marshall in that role, regardless of how good he has been. Blowing a game in the final inning is the most painful way to lose.

    Is there another role in baseball that you’ll get dumped from for being too good? Chapman, of course, is too good to close – it’s kinda silly. Maybe if he was a little worse he could remain as a dominant closer.

  18. Patience with Chapman will have to be tempered with and guided by what is best for the team in the short run as this team is a playoff/ pennant contender with or without Chapman.

    The situation somewhat reminds me of Julius Erving’s situation on the court as he came into the NBA following his heyday as Dr J in the ABA. There was much debate about whether it was best to let Dr J be Dr J or mold his skills into what was best for his team.

    I recall reading an article in a “sports” magazine in which the writer stated that he would rather see Dr J being Dr J even if that meant the team might lose more games and even not succeed in the playoffs. I doubt that very few or any of us would feel that way about Chapman and the Reds.

    Fortunately for Erving and his team, he got it that the thing to do was use his skills within the framework required for the team to prosper, though he still flashed the Dr when it fit to do so.

    Let’s hope the Reds and Aroldis Chapman can be so lucky.

  19. The sabermetrician in me drools over the possibility of having Chapman in the rotation. The thought of getting at least 2x more innings out of him and maybe close to 2.5x more innings out if him, from a mathmatical standpoint is very exciting.

    The old-school baseball guy in me is worried about some other things. First off, the game isn’t played on paper. It is played on the field. Does Chapman have the secondary offerings to be a very good MLB starter? I don’t worry about him being a bad starter as I feel he has too much talent to not at least be decent. That said, is a decent starter worth more the cost of losing your shutdown closer and perhaps raising questions in what was a team strength, the bullpen? What happens when the bullpen blows one, two, or three of his starts? Can Chapman go 6-7 innings every 5 days? The longer he goes, the less his presence is missed in the pen. What are the realistic expectations of Chapman as a starter? What if he fails in a starting role? Can he transition back to the pen? I would think so but it is worth questioning.

    The analysts with a more statistical leaning tend to think moving him is a great thing. The ex-players and ex-coaches/managers tend to not like the idea… Personally, I’d feel better about moving Chapman to the rotation if the Reds were a team on the cusp or a team that was in need of starting pitching. No matter what a fan’s opinion is on the matter though, there is no doubt that it will be even more interesting to watch than it has been to debate.

  20. Pingback: The Chapman Chronicles - Unofficial Network

  21. Not exactly an article that inspires confidence in Chapman… Its an interesting story regardless of what happens… might make a good movie someday. I just want to go on record as saying that Mike Leake can still make the job his. I would love nothing more than to see him put up a performance this spring and in 2013 to make people say…”Why didn’t we think he could do it?” If Leake doesn’t come into this year with greater professional approach… and maturity… I’ll be really, really surprised. There’s nothing like the underdog role to motivate competition.

    One thing is for sure…I don’t want to see Leake or Chapman in the minors…

  22. @LWBlogger: Well said. If the backup closer was Craig Kimbrel or Rafael Soriano or something it’d be one thing, instead it’s Jonathan Broxton, who previously blew a closing job with the Dodgers. He’s no sure thing, and his effectiveness will be a huge question mark. Turning to him to close is collateral damage.

    If the Reds were on the cusp of contending and needed to make a big time gamble to improve the rotation in hopes of reaching the playoff a conversion would make sense. If they desperately needed a 5th starter it might make sense. If they’re rebuildling, hoping to contend a year or two down the road it would make sense.

    Instead they’re the division favorites already, searching for a way to block Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani from the rotation while severely weakening the bullpen in the process. Players, coaches, managers, most of the guys who know what it takes to be a successful MLB player, people who know it’s more complicated than writing out an equation (Innings Pitched times 2.5 = good), most seem skeptical about the move. Once again, if all five guys ahead of him on the depth chart are healthy on opening day I believe the conversion would be a mistake, and that will become apparent later in the season.

  23. In other news the Brewers are on to Plan C at firstbase with Matt Gamel now out for the year after passing his physical a few days ago. He was the backup plan after Corey Hart got hurt. It’ll be interesting to see who they bring in, and if the Brewers honestly believe they have a chance of finishing over .500.

  24. I’m not gonna get sucked back into the basic starter/closer thing. My position’s pretty well established there. “Most seem skeptical”? I don’t get that impression around here. But I am skeptical in the sense that I don’t know if it will work either – nobody with a lick of sense says they *know*. If this blows up in our faces, I will not be one of the ones blaming Baker. Heck, Baker’s one of the ones who keep him closing if it were up to him – pro-bullpen folks should be singing his hosannas if Chap’s arm explodes.

    Dusty is not the sole decision maker on this, but he is very influential in it, he has a clear bias in it, and has made no secret of the fact. It is what it is.

    The Nats could have tried to ease Strasburg into a bullpen role, but they rolled the dice. They took their medicine when he went down for a year. They took their medicine by shutting him down last year for the playoffs. And they go into 2013 with a potentially dominant starter for a full season. Unless he blows out his arm, which is always possible. Medicine sucks.

    The Reds, in all the years they’ve had Chapman, still have no idea what his potential is. They stuck him in the insanely bogus “closer” role, and had him largely ignore his other two pitches because he didn’t *need* them. They’ve actually regressed him as a pitcher.

    It’s time to take our medicine.

    • The Reds, in all the years they’ve had Chapman, still have no idea what his potential is.They stuck him in the insanely bogus “closer” role, and had him largely ignore his other two pitches because he didn’t *need* them.They’ve actually regressed him as a pitcher.

      It’s time to take our medicine.

      Well said.

  25. @redsfanman: Yes, the discussion is that the Reds should *dump* Chapman from the closer role. It’s a demotion, to move to the starting rotation.

    You never frame the debate in reasonable terms.

    • @redsfanman: Yes, the discussion is that the Reds should *dump* Chapman from the closer role.It’s a demotion, to move to the starting rotation.

      You never frame the debate in reasonable terms.

      He’d be removed from a role because he’s too good for it, call it whatever you want.

      @Hank Aarons Teammate: Thinking the Reds are best off using Chapman as a starter vs closer (let alone making a prediction on which they’ll choose) isn’t a question of whether or not somebody has an open mind, it’s a matter of evaluating the whole situation – what the team has, what it needs. I’ve said all along that I’m fine with Chapman converting if a spot opens up (although one hasn’t yet). I never said that Chapman couldn’t be a good starter one day, or that I’d written him off as a failure.

      Chapman isn’t starting in April AND in the postseason in 2013. Reds will have an inning limit and shut him down or move him to the bullpen before October, no question about it. The Reds and their old-school staff won’t let him start from April through October, but we’ll have to wait and find out.

  26. @redsfanman – Sorry.. your logic makes ZERO sense.

    Analogy – If you have an employee who is your assist ..lets say accountant– and they are doing extremely well in that role. In fact, their history and education shows that they could actually be a senior accountant, not just the assist accountant. You are not DEMOTING them by giving them the senior acountant role. You are PROMOTING them to a higher and more improtant role. You wouldn’t leave them in the assit accountant role just because he was SO good at it. You aren’t allowing him to recognize his full potential in that role. Its utterly absurd.

  27. @Love4Reds: Supply and demand. To use your example, if you already have the right number of senior accountants (say, 5, the one on the bubble is named Mr Leake and did a decent job) you don’t promote a 6th just cause, especially if the unnecessary change creates a void at the assistant accountant level. I think it’s logical to wait until there’s a job opening before promoting somebody.

    Reds have six starting pitchers (not including Cingrani) and need 5. The Reds need a closer and Chapman is better than Broxton. Whether switching Chapman from the closer role to the rotation is a promotion, demotion, change, experiment, a roll of the dice, what you call it isn’t the issue.

    • Supply and demand. To use your example, if you already have the right number of senior accountants (say, 5, the one on the bubble is named Mr Leake and did a decent job) you don’t promote a 6th just cause, especially if the unnecessary change creates a void at the assistant accountant level. I think it’s logical to wait until there’s a job opening before promoting somebody.

      False premise. This is not an issue of supply and demand. It doesn’t work the same way in sport. A job is open if somebody has more talent than the other guy. That’s it. People move on, the old spot gets filled. He gets the spot if that’s what the team wants, and the other guy is out of luck. Show us in the CBA where it forbids teams from bumping guys out of the starting rotation however they please.

      The notion of not having a vacancy in the starting rotation is silly. Why hold on to a low card when the game give you a chance to trade it for a high one. When it works the way it should, talent rules the day.

      It doesn’t by default leave a void in the bullpen. That spot can (and will) get filled. You are making the assumption that moving Chapman to the starting rotation is a net loss for the team because of what it does to the bullpen. There’s a very good chance that a large percentage of Chapman’s bullpen production is replaced by the next guy (ultimately, they just need the outs, by hook or by crook). Odds are, if they bother to make the move, he brings back plenty more than enough to cover the offset as a starter.

      Time to go work. Time to make the doughnuts. The team will likely make more doughnuts overall by switching Chapman’s shift from part time to full time.

      Nobody is asking you to agree this is the way it’s going to be, just to acknowledge that it’s just as likely, if not more logical, than a false supply and demand argument. Stop being inflexible. Chapman might start. He might close (see, that’s easy for me to say even though I don’t wish for it). No need for imaginary and unknowable reasons how it can or can’t happen. Just let it play out.

  28. @redsfanman: I think it’s a little misleading to suggest that Chapman would be just another interchangeable part of the rotation, on the same par as Mike Leake. As in, from your words, Leake would be ahead of Chapman on the “depth chart”? I think that’s what some fans are hoping to find out. I hope for a significant upgrade there. If it wouldn’t be an upgrade, why try it? … Since closer stats tend to even out anyway, let somebody else close.

    • @redsfanman: I think it’s a little misleading to suggest that Chapman would be just another interchangeable part of the rotation, on the same par as Mike Leake. As in, from your words, Leake would be ahead of Chapman on the “depth chart”? I think that’s what some fans are hoping to find out. I hope for a significant upgrade there. If it wouldn’t be an upgrade, why try it? … Since closer stats tend to even out anyway, let somebody else close.

      In 2013 Chapman needs to outperform what Mike Leake is capable of enough to offset the downgrade of turning to Jonathan Broxton in the 9th inning, so no, they’re not interchangeable.

      Are the Reds trying to win in the playoffs? What happens in September and October? Leake has shown he can keep pitching long after Chapman will have to be shut down due to an inning limit. I’d like to find out what Chapman can do as a starter, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wise move that gives them their best chance of winning the World Series in 2013. I don’t think it does, not unless another starter gets hurt. Converting Chapman is a long term move to help in 2014 and 2015 which could only lead to headaches in 2013.

      • In 2013 Chapman needs to outperform what Mike Leake is capable of enough to offset the downgrade of turning to Jonathan Broxton in the 9th inning, so no, they’re not interchangeable.

        Are the Reds trying to win in the playoffs?What happens in September and October?Leake has shown he can keep pitching long after Chapman will have to be shut down due to an inning limit.I’d like to find out what Chapman can do as a starter, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wise move that gives them their best chance of winning the World Series in 2013.I don’t think it does, not unless another starter gets hurt.Converting Chapman is a long term move to help in 2014 and 2015 which could only lead to headaches in 2013.

        so we can have the same debate in 2014 too? What if we’re trying to win a World Series then too?

  29. @Matt WI: In sports a job is open if one guy has more talent than another? Somebody should have told that to Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo during 2012. In sports we hope the guy with more talent gets a job but it doesn’t always happen due to other factors.

    Removing Chapman from the bullpen is a downgrade to the bullpen, no question about it. A spot in the bullpen will be filled by a guy who got the 12th spot on the pitching staff. Manny Parra maybe, oh boy. Parra can eat some innings but he’d be a huge downgrade.

    I acknowledge that the issue is very complex but I don’t think I’m being inflexible. I think that after careful evaluation the decision that the Reds will make, barring any injuries, is pretty clear, and I don’t think anybody should get their hopes up to the contrary. Ever read about Nate Silver and his unacceptable electoral predictions? People who think Chapman will enter the season in the rotation remind me of Mitt Romney supporters, sticking to what they want to believe rather than being realistic.

    I’m excited for opening day.

    • @Matt WI: In sports a job is open if one guy has more talent than another?Somebody should have told that to Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo during 2012.In sports we hope the guy with more talent gets a job but it doesn’t always happen due to other factors.

      Removing Chapman from the bullpen is a downgrade to the bullpen, no question about it.A spot in the bullpen will be filled by a guy who got the 12th spot on the pitching staff.Manny Parra maybe, oh boy.Parra can eat some innings but he’d be a huge downgrade.

      I acknowledge that the issue is very complex but I don’t think I’m being inflexible.I think that after careful evaluation the decision that the Reds will make, barring any injuries, is pretty clear, and I don’t think anybody should get their hopes up to the contrary.Ever read about Nate Silver and his unacceptable electoral predictions?People who think Chapman will enter the season in the rotation remind me of Mitt Romney supporters, sticking to what they want to believe rather than being realistic.

      I’m excited for opening day.

      That’s unbelievably (even for you) ridiculous. This isn’t a political blog, but the probability of Romney winning on the day of the election, according to most of the analytic sites that aggregate polls, was well over 90%, with some as high as 98%. Do you really think the chance of Chapman starting is, say, 5%?

      As to your other arguments, I never said that Chapman could pitch 250 innings. What I’m saying is that the idea of pitching Mike Leake in the postseason, ever again, is nauseating to me. Similarly, the idea of pitching Chapman in the postseason, assuming that he makes it as a starter, is quite exciting to me. I don’t know exactly how they should do it, but the easiest to me seems to be to convert him slowly, starting before midseason, so he can in fact pitch in the postseason.

      Your arguments aren’t logically consistent. For example, Bailey was a key postseason starter last year, but you think he’s a candidate for regression (it’s certainly possible). Were that to happen, it’s even more reason to make Chapman a starter, with an eye on the postseason.

      All of this is contingent on them actually moving him to the rotation in the first place, which they may or may not, but they will with probability larger than 5%.

  30. @Brian Van Hook: I think somebody can still get hurt this spring to provide an opportunity for Chapman to enter the Reds rotation for the first time. I never ever said they should take Chapman out of consideration for a rotation spot, just that he wasn’t one of the top 5 candidates for 5 spots. Also they could try to convert him midseason when somebody else gets hurt, which could be more complicated. Or we could have the same debate next season. I think highly of Tony Cingrani and I think he’ll make the rotation even tougher for Chapman to enter in 2014.

  31. Another thing about Broxton, if you give the guy 43 save opps, he’s highly likely to convert at least 80% of them. That would be 34 or 35. Chapman converted 38 of 43, and somehow the Reds survived to win the division going away.

    This isn’t of course to say they are in the same stratosphere, but rather that most save opportunities are converted, no matter who the pitcher.

    As to replacing the last man in the pen, there are a lot of good candidates. I don’t think that will make that big of a deal. Hell, last year the Reds’ rotation was so good, they had trouble finding innings for guys who pitched pretty well.

  32. I don’t think we can presume that Chapman will be on the same type of innings limit as Strasburg was last year. Strasburg was coming off Tommy John surgery, and at least some mechanics experts believe that his delivery puts an undue strain on his elbow. Chapman’s delivery is athletic and fluid, and he is now 25 and can be stretched a bit.

    I can see the Reds limiting Chapman in April and May to about 70-80 pitches a start, then letting him go deeper as the year goes. If he is at about 160 innings in late September, he should be able to pitch in the playoffs. I would not be surprised that, for the first 8-10 starts, they designate Leake to come in about the 5th inning in relief of Chapman.

    Chapman may get hurt, and he will almost certainly slump at some point, because all pitchers tend to get hurt and they all slump. The challenge is not to panic when he does slump.

    Finally, there are many examples of small town boys who haven’t exactly made wise choices when thrown a lot of money and fame. Mickey Mantle. Elvis Presley. Joe Namath. Manti Te’o. None of them had come from a small town remote even from Havana, though, so I’m not too sure that Chapman-as-a-headcase is fair to a guy with his background.

  33. @redsfanman: Counterpoint: Joey Votto took over Scott Hatteberg’s job. Any complaints about that?

    No, best talent doesn’t always get the job, but it does sometimes, and it still doesn’t make the this statement any more true: Aroldis won’t start because they have five starters. If sometimes the best talent starts, then your argument on that score is done.

    What are we going to call it if Chapman planfully starts in the bullpen and then goes, planfully, into the rotation for innings concerns (not just b/c of injury, reopening the false “now the job is open” argument). Then everyone can be right.

    I don’t want to chase the whole 12th man argument, but you’re going to compare Parra to Chapman in terms of production have to compare Parra to Chapman in IP, leverage situations, etc to make a good comparison there. They won’t be doing the same job.

  34. @Hank Aarons Teammate: It’s not a political blog but both political news stories and fan expectations for athletes feature similar unrealistic expectations. Yep, some websites insisted Romney would win, and they even conducted their own polls (rather changed around the numbers, predicted that fewer Democrats would vote) to prove it. That’s what I see here with Chapman. Some people want to believe he’ll start, but that is completely unrelated as to whether or not Dusty and Jocketty will let him.

    I think the chances of Aroldis Chapman starting the season in the rotation are about 20%, injuries are very unpredictable. Maybeeeee as high as 50% if they end up tossing a coin to choose between Chapman and Leake.

    I think you said something we actually agree on – first time for everything! I’m for converting Chapman to the rotation midseason if the opportunity (and need) arises, I think that’s both reasonable and realistic. Whether that be due to an injury, regression by Homer Bailey, or ineffectiveness by Mike Leake. That way Chapman can hopefully be ready for the playoffs. Starting Chapman in April AND in the playoffs, that just isn’t going to happen – it’s one or the other.

  35. @redsfanman: They could also do what Big Ed said: pitch him all season in the rotation, but limit the innings. There are many ways to do it, and I have no idea which one is best.

  36. @Hank Aarons Teammate: In 2013 are we getting 2012 model Jonathan Broxton or the 2010-2011 version? Will they get the 2009 model Dodgers closer or the 2010 version who lost his job? Big question, we’ll have to wait and see.

    After years of struggling with overworked bullpens the Reds did have trouble finding innings for the relievers and they have that same starting pitching staff coming back. Are they going to mess with it? I doubt it.

    @Big Ed: The Reds (this same staff and front office) shut down Mike Leake, who had little or no history of injuries, in his rookie season to keep him from increasing his inning totals. There’s no question that they’ll do something similar with Chapman. Strasburg is a different situation but he’s a good example of what value teams place on young arms even in a pennant run.

    I don’t think they should ask Chapman to start unless he shows in the spring that he is capable of filling the role of a starter. That involves going every 5th day and throwing 80-100 pitches per start. I think he can do both things, and I doubt they’ll baby him in that way. I think they’ll treat him like everyone else until he reaches ~150 innings, then shut him down.

    @Matt WI: When Votto took over for Hatteberg the Reds were rebuilding and fans were anxious to see top prospects get a chance to show what they could do. Circumstances have changed, the Reds are now the best team in the NL Central and are going all-in for 2013, hoping to improve on what they accomplished in 2012 rather than trying to start over new.

    If the Reds were rebuilding I’d be all for converting Chapman. And promoting Tony Cingrani. And Billy Hamilton. And JJ Hoover. And Devin Mesoraco. But the Reds aren’t rebuilding, their priority is to do their best in 2013.

  37. Leave the politics out of it, please. Obama had the general advantage prior to election day, but only slightly, easily overcome on any specific day. Exactly like the election turned out, Obama came out with a slight popularity lead, Obama came away with a slight electoral college lead. All easily switched on the basis of even one state. Ridiculous argument.

    Back to what this blog is suppose to be for, of course Chapman out of the pen will hurt the pen. But, the pen wasn’t exactly bad last, even if you take out what Chapman did. It’s just like defense in CF. Will it be as good last year? Of course not. Will it be bad? Most likely not. Bet is on it will still be a good pen, just not as strong as last season.

    Is this any reason not to try to improve another part of your team? Of course not. If Chapman can make the switch, then our starting staff would just become a fairly dominant force in the league, definitely stronger than last year. As well as, we may even end up having some trade chips at some point in time. That’s why I’m interested in seeing what he can do as a starter. I’m just not sold on him being a starter yet. And, like others have said, how if he has one bad game, he will need a lot of patience. If he has one good game, also, the same thing goes. It will mean little. Just like with other players. Give him about a month or 2, see if he can handle it. If not, then he either goes back to the pen or to AAA for starting experience. But, without that month or 2, I’m can’t write him in any lineup as a starter.

    Then, the Reds are probably going to watch his innings hard. Probably no solid line to draw. But, I doubt they let him get anywhere close to 200 innings.

    Big thing with Chapman, can he get to the 6th and 7th innings, field, hold runners on, achieve location with pitches, etc.?

  38. @steveschoen: Obama won one big state, Ohio, that he’d lead in in almost all the polls conducted in the previous weeks and months. It was clear well in advance who was going to win Ohio. Some people just couldn’t accept it. The news agencies knew that publicizing it would cut their number of viewers. Similarly the Reds know that naming Chapman as the closer prematurely risks harming season ticket sales.

    On election when it was clear who was going to win I switched to Fox News and saw Carl Rove’s breakdown. Classic moment. Even after Ohio was called for Obama by Fox he knew Romney had won. He seemed stunned, couldn’t accept it. That’s the kinda response I expect from lots of Reds fans when they finally settle on a 5 man rotation right before opening day. Chapman will begin the season in the bullpen if the other guys stay healthy, if somebody wants to deny that, fine. Like playing Rolen over Frazier, fans might not like the decision but what does that matter? The Reds’ decisions are usually pretty predictable, albeit unpopular.

    Why was the bullpen so strong? Chapman was dominant. Marshall was Marshall. Ondrusek had his dominant run early on, but now he might be a longshot for a bullpen spot. JJ Hoover may or may not make the roster. Where did Alfredo Simon even come from, and will he repeat what he did? Will LeCure? Jonathan Broxton had a comeback year – was that a fluke year or the start of a successful trend? That’s a huge question for Broxton. Remove Chapman and Marshall becomes the only predictable guy out of those big three from last year.

    • @steveschoen: Obama won one big state, Ohio, that he’d lead in in almost all the polls conducted in the previous weeks and months. It was clear well in advance who was going to win Ohio. Some people just couldn’t accept it. The news agencies knew that publicizing it would cut their number of viewers. Similarly the Reds know that naming Chapman as the closer prematurely risks harming season ticket sales.On election when it was clear who was going to win I switched to Fox News and saw Carl Rove’s breakdown. Classic moment. Even after Ohio was called for Obama by Fox he knew Romney had won. He seemed stunned, couldn’t accept it. That’s the kinda response I expect from lots of Reds fans when they finally settle on a 5 man rotation right before opening day. Chapman will begin the season in the bullpen if the other guys stay healthy, if somebody wants to deny that, fine. Like playing Rolen over Frazier, fans might not like the decision but what does that matter? The Reds’ decisions are usually pretty predictable, albeit unpopular.Why was the bullpen so strong? Chapman was dominant. Marshall was Marshall. Ondrusek had his dominant run early on, but now he might be a longshot for a bullpen spot. JJ Hoover may or may not make the roster. Where did Alfredo Simon even come from, and will he repeat what he did? Will LeCure? Jonathan Broxton had a comeback year – was that a fluke year or the start of a successful trend? That’s a huge question for Broxton. Remove Chapman and Marshall becomes the only predictable guy out of those big three from last year.

      Clear, nope. Many states had Obama ahead but were well away of “calling it” before election day, lines like 51-49%. From a poll before election day, that’s no clear winner. That’s why I stated, most the lines had Obama ahead but only by the slightest of margins, exactly like the election finished.

      Now, please use redlegnation for the Reds and not politics.

      • Now, please use redlegnation for the Reds and not politics.

        So what do you expect from Jonathan Broxton? 2009 and 2012 version or 2010-2011 version? I hear a lot of people concerned about how Ryan Ludwick might regress, but people just seem to assume that Broxton will be at his best.

        • So what do you expect from Jonathan Broxton? 2009 and 2012 version or 2010-2011 version? I hear a lot of people concerned about how Ryan Ludwick might regress, but people just seem to assume that Broxton will be at his best.

          Unless you know something about Broxton’s health that we aren’t aware of, there is no reason not to expect that he will perform similarly to last season. Broxton has been very good his entire career, from 2006 on, except for a terrible second half of 2010 and the first month of 2011 and was then shut down with elbow pain. Broxton attempted to rest the bad elbow during the 2011 season, when that failed, he had a bone spur shaved down and loose bodies removed from it. It appears fairly obvious from this timeline that his elbow injury was the cause of his bad second half of 2010 and first month of 2011. He rebounded nicely from the elbow surgery last year with KC and Cincy. Not only was he healthy all season, but he also showed that he could make the adjustments to pitch effectively without the 3 MPH or so off his fastball that the elbow surgery robbed from him. If anything, he could be better next season if the elbow continues to heal and he continues making the adjustments to his pitching style.

  39. Aroldis Chapman, 2012 – 38 saves in 43 opportunities.
    Francisco Cordero, 2011 – 37 saves in 43 opportunities.

    • Aroldis Chapman, 2012 – 38 saves in 43 opportunities.
      Francisco Cordero, 2011 – 37 saves in 43 opportunities.

      A better example is actually Cordero in 2010. He had an ERA of 3.84, a WHIP of 1.431, and saved 40 games in 48 chances. That’s 83%. I am not a fan of Broxton, really, but I think he can probably put up numbers at least that good.

      And really, I think a number of pitchers in the Reds’ pen could do better than that.

  40. Really that old axiom about if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it could be applied to either the Reds rotation or bullpen based on the 2012 performance of each. But then they stood pat in 2011 in several ways and look where that got them.

    I am not worried about the closer spot as long as JJ Hoover is healthy. I think the sooner he ends up in the roll, assuming Chapman is not in it, the better for the team looking forward for the next several years.

    As for Chapman, we really don’t know how he will do as a starter. The likes of Don Gullet and Mario Soto “moved up” from the pen with much success just to name two guys from the Reds past. There is history of such transformations pretty much wherever So, why not give Chapman a shot.

    The test may be come June if Chapman is struggling in the rotation and the MLB pen is solid and young Tony Cingrani is looking like a world beater in the AAA rotation. What then?

  41. If y’all find redsfanman difficult to swallow now, just imagine if he ends up being right on this.

    • If y’all find redsfanman difficult to swallow now, just imagine if he ends up being right on this.

      Redsfanman and I actually have a friendly wager on this very question. I am as adamant that the brass will ensure that Chapman will be in the rotation as he is that management is involved in some sort of ruse and that the hidden intention is to leave him in the bullpen. If Chapman begins the year in the rotation “Redsfanman” will have to change his screen name for the duration of the season. I am hoping that, if this does come to pass, that RNL posters will vote on a suitable replacement name for Redsfanman.

    • And he very well could be.I still won’t buy his rationale, but he could be…

      I actually think Chapman will never leave the bullpen. I’m just not at all certain about it, like some people seem to be.

      • @OhioJim: Going into 2011 the Reds stood pat but their real problem was injuries to starting pitchers. I doubt that will be as much of a problem with Chapman and Cingrani both able to enter the rotation if the need arises.

        JJ Hoover has options and is by no means guaranteed to make the team. Most of us here want him to get a spot but that doesn’t mean he will. Maybe he’s the next in a long line of Reds closers of the future (like Nick Masset, Ryan Wagner, Todd Coffey, and whoever else) but I think it’s premature to bet heavily on him in that role.

        Who is the most underrated Reds reliever in my opinion? Sean Marshall. I definitely have more faith in him as a closer than I do in Jonathan Broxton, and I have more faith in him than I do in JJ Hoover at this point.

        I actually think Chapman will never leave the bullpen.I’m just not at all certain about it, like some people seem to be.

        Even I think Chapman will leave the bullpen eventually, I just don’t think it’ll be in April 2013 when Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, Bailey, and Leake are all healthy. Sometime in the next year or two I think they’ll see the need to do something wild (particularly replace a key starter) to compete with the Cardinals, but I don’t think they’re at that point right now.

  42. Another thing that bothers me about the whole Chapman as a stopper thing is that he seems to have a bad profile for the job. That is, in looking over his game logs from last year as a stopper, he was completely bimodal. Either he was absolutely unhittable, which was overkill when the lead is quite often 2 or 3 runs. Or, he was absolutely terrible and blew the save. He wasn’t terrible often, of course.

    But you look at the game logs and you see that there was only one game all year in which Chapman gave up a run and also got the save. Heck, he only gave up a hit in 17 save opportunities as the stopper, by my count, and he blew 4 of those games. He had 21 hitless saves. Obviously we all love 1-2-3 innings, but a typical stopper is more like somewhere in the middle of Chapman and Cordero.

    It just seems to me that they could better utilize the guy being less dominant but pitching more innings and pitching them at the front-end of games, or at least pitching multiple late innings. It’s a shame to only throw him 71 innings in a season.

  43. I can’t stand “closers”.

    That’s the biggest problem I have with this whole debate. I think it’s asinine to tell the other team what you are going to do if you are ever ahead. I think it is lazy, and that it isn’t always the most effective way to end games. I also understand that the closer is an industry concept. I will come off unfairly towards Dusty in the following paragraphs, and I acknowledge that he isn’t the only person who thinks this way. I just reaaaaaaaaaaaally wish he wouldn’t.

    I happen to think Chapman will be able to start, and will be effective. If he is not, then I fully expect Dusty to use him in the “traditional closer” role, which will drive me absolutely nuts. I want my best pitchers coming in when the game is close and the leverage is high, and I don’t give a rip when that is.

    Unfortunately, Dusty tends to have guys with set roles based on the innings they pitch in and nothing else. If Dusty would use his best pitchers when it actually mattered, or was willing to use Chapman for 100-120 or so innings a season, I wouldn’t mind Chapman in the pen as much. But he has never done anything like that, and has stated that he doesn’t like to. Therefore, there is a cap to how valuable Chapman can be within a relief role. I have this image in my head of using a jackhammer to open walnuts.

    I haven’t got a problem in the world with Jonathan Broxton as a “closer”. I think he’s a good pitcher. He is plenty better than Cordero. A couple of years ago, Broxton was one of the best young relievers in the game. Personally, I can’t wait to see Chapman try to start. If it doesn’t work, well shoot. Dusty can pigeonhole him again, and we know there is a history of success there. But as long as the “closer” role exists, and Dusty is the manager, you know where and when Chapman the reliever is coming into the game.

  44. @redsfanman: Broxton’s K/9 rate has been in a tailspin since 2009. 13.5 in 2009, under 7 last year. I’m not sure what the splits are like before and after he came to the Reds. By the ol’ eyeballs, and the numbers, he’s just more hittable now.

    According to Fangraphs, his average fastball velocity is down by about 3 MPH, and he’s throwing it less, mixing his slider, cutter and change-up more. He has compensated by walking less folks, but it’s still a pretty big difference from the guy he was back then.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4759&position=P

    Like I said, I think he will do fine. Not 2009 Broxton, or 2012 Chapman, but plenty enough to close out 90%+ of the games he enters

  45. @Jared Wynne: I think certain closers can just project an aura – when they’re in the game is over, it’s just a question about how. Baseball is a sport, a game, something for entertainment, and some guys – currently Chapman and Craig Kimbrel – make it really exciting to watch. When somebody like Cordero or Broxton enters you watch in hopes they can hold the lead, when Chapman or Kimbrel enter you place bets on how many strikeouts you’ll see.

    Dusty saw both options in 2010 and 2012. In 2010 the Reds always seemed to win with late inning comebacks, when the 9th inning came around he never knew if Cordero would hold the lead or if they’d go up to bat again. In 2012 Dusty was able to count on a solid back end of the bullpen to hold a lead. Which situation would he choose to have back? Chapman or a repackaging of Cordero, aka Broxton?

    Broxton’s career fell apart in 2010 and 2011. Did he put it back together for good in 2012 or was that just a fluke? It’s a big question.

    Oh well, closers aren’t going away, even if Dusty retired.

  46. @Jared Wynne: Sorry about responding to your earlier post while you wrote that most recent one, which addressed the same thing.

    I agree that Broxton will do ‘fine’. Like Francisco Cordero. ‘Fine’ is a downgrade from Chapman though, and Dusty knows that. If Dusty’s priority is to win games from April to October – all season long, from opening day to the final game of the World Series – it seems like his best choice is pretty clear.

    If the Reds’ priority is to get Chapman up to 150 innings before shutting him down for the year, that’s not consistent with a World Series goal. The decision to convert Chapman might not be regrettable in April but I think it will be before the end of the season, when the Reds eventually face controversial decisions on what to do with him. Push him for 200+ innings and risk Mark Prior/Kerry Wood comparisons? Shut him down and face Stephen Strasburg comparisons?

    Well, goodnight. I wish it were April 1st.

  47. Again, the net difference between Cordero’s 2011 and Chapman’s 2012 is ONE GAME. ONE.

    Putting your best reliever in the “closer” role merely guarantees that often, he can’t be used in 7th/8th inning situations when he could clearly do you the most good. As strategy, it’s among the most ridiculous things in baseball history.

    I ain’t ripping Dusty in particular for it though – it’s quite the pervasive idiocy. But the fact that it’s gotten its claws into Chapman is unfortunate.

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