2013 Reds / Chapmania / Spring Training

The Aroldis Chapman Project — Part Two

You can’t hide in Jungle Jims. The florescent lighting won’t allow it. I’m in aisle 4 eyeing the Dead Guy Ale when I spot him. You know you are officially a sorry little baseball geek when you can spot a bench coach wearing civilian clothes across a beer cave and a football field of party trays in a massive and decadent grocery store like J. Jim’s. I play it cool. I casually stroll over and plant myself between Bryan Price and his shopping cart. Poor man has no idea what he’s in for.

“Chapman. Aroldis Chapman,” I intone, with the same infection Daniel Craig used in the last Bond movie. He appears startled, but like the professional he is, the pitching coach of the Reds quickly regains his composure.

“Come again?”

“Chapman. I want the truth,” I sneer.

“You can’t handle the truth,” Price shoots back.

 

You see, Bryan isn’t talking about the plans for the Red’s newest starting pitcher. He’s not talking to the media—he’s certainly not talking to me, standing there in my Kickin It With Cueto T-Shirt and box of cheap cigars. Nobody in the Reds’ brain trust is talking. I would have better luck getting answers out of Seth MacFarlane’s talking dog than Bryan Price.

“I think if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned it’s better to keep that stuff to ourselves. You just set the table for a little too much speculation.”

Therefore Nation, we are left to read the tea leaves, parse words already spoken and read between the lines.

Because Baseball is [as all sports are] a copycat game, we’re going on the assumption that the Reds won’t come up with a plan wildly different than has already been employed by other teams in similar circumstances. They won’t put him on Prince Fielder’s vegetarian diet. Like THAT’S working. They won’t bring Roger Clemens in to room with him to teach him how to “holistically” refine his game. No, they will tweak an existing plan, rather than head off into uncharted territory with their prize talent. At least, that’s my guess.

I’ve come up with four possible scenarios, all but one highly implausible. Let’s try them on for size and see if we can make any sense from what Price and the Reds have already let slip.

 

1. The Chris Sale ALL YOU CAN EAT Plan. We can scratch this one off our list right now. Sale threw 71 innings in 2011 as a reliever, then 192 innings last season. Price has already nixed that kind of workload:

“I think the days of hiking a pitcher’s innings number by 50 or 60 or 80 innings in today’s standards would be considered irresponsible,” Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said. “We’re going to be very conscientious of that.”

Okay. So, Sale is a big no sale. Hey, this is easy. Next.

2. The Stephen Strasburg SEASON INTERRUPTUS Plan. Baseball fans across the nation just loved this one, didn’t they? The Nationals rode their young star most of the summer, then closed him up like a beach house after Labor Day. One of the reasons the Reds are not tipping their hand regarding the big plan for Chapman is because it’s a no-win situation for them; and it’s a huge distraction. I predict this is where Aroldis’ language barrier will become an asset. The more controversial things become, the more Chapman won’t be able to understand the questions. So, the Reds have that little ace up their ace’s sleeve. In the end, I can’t see the Reds simply packing him up and putting him on the shelf. Aside from the grief they will get nationally, there are other options available. And the Reds have already burned too much daylight with their young fireballer.

3. The Dusty BAKER’S HALF DOZEN Plan (6 man rotation). Another idea with no shelf life. Not to mention that the rest of the pitching staff wants no part of this.

“For whatever reason, when you condition yourself to a five-man rotation, your body seems to respond that way,” Price said. “Day 4, you may still have some tenderness from your previous start or bullpen session, but on Day 5 your arm and body are ready to go. You don’t want to get into a situation where you ask the other four guys to compromise their routine out of respect for one guy. We’re not going to do that. Even if it’s an idea built with good intent, it would be a disaster.”

Mike Leake, thanks for playing. Here’s a home copy of the game.

4. The Kris Medlen HOKEY POKEY Plan. Medlen had one foot in the bullpen and one foot in the rotation last year. It was a wildly successful move for the Braves, who kept Medlen’s innings low before turning him loose in the rotation for 12 starts. Before last year, Medlen had no real defined role with the Braves. It was an injury to Brandon Beachy and a demotion to the bullpen for Jair Jurrjens that opened things up for the 26 year old long reliever.

In a 180 degree twist on what the Braves chose to do, I believe the Reds start Chapman coming out of Arizona. They need to find out what they have and where they are heading. As the number 5 starter, he can be skipped in the rotation early in the season as the schedule allows. Because pitchers are usually ahead of hitters, he will get a break facing the opposition early on, especially in the cold weather. He will hopefully be able to gain some early confidence. By the end of May, the Reds should have a solid idea of how he is adjusting and how the change/splitter, etc. are developing.

Again, to me, it’s hard to believe the Reds will shut down Chapman with the biggest season in years looming on the horizon.  One has to believe that as he approaches whatever limit they set, whether it be based on innings or pitch counts, they will move him back to the bullpen so that he can make a contribution to the post-season and onward. Then, in 2014, if all goes as planned, they can extend him further as a starter and he can begin to climb the rungs of the rotation. This would be a nice bone to Baker, who would love to have Chapman back in the Pen in time for the playoffs.

Then again, there was this little bombshell shortly after spring training began:

“There is a pretty good understanding of what will be necessary to keep his innings at an area that we’re comfortable with, should he be a starter throughout the course of the season,” pitching coach Bryan Price told MLB.com.

If  Bryan Price believes that adding 60 innings to the 71 Chapman threw last year to be irresponsible, how in the world can he start throughout the course of the season without putting undue strain on the bullpen? Could Leake figure in the planning here?

Whatever strategy the Reds come up with for transitioning Chapman, I can’t let myself stray too far from this comment by Price:

“ … our intent will be to get the most out of Aroldis without putting him in a high-risk position.”

And here is where the rubber meets the mound. How to get the MOST out of a 25 year old who is big, strong and capable of generating incredible torque with an easy motion. Many are spooked by the power and speed. They see great power coming with great risk of injury. Yet, it’s entirely possible that Chapman thrives under the increased workload, that the predictable routine and rest between starts benefits his development in a way the uncertain workload of a reliever never could.

If Price is true to his word, Chapman doesn’t come close to pitching more than 150 innings this year. But if the young Cuban thrives physically, will the Reds’ coaches and trainers be forward thinking enough to turn him loose, beyond the conservative game plan you have to believe has been scripted for him?  Is the plan, whatever it may be, now upwardly fluid, based on how he reacts physically?  As Baseball Prospect Report said years ago:

“[The greatest risk] is going to be how he is handled, and if the team that signs him isn’t creative and brave enough to let this pitcher’s talent and physiology determine his own results, then they will risk diminishing their own investment.”

I acknowledge some are worn out by all the Chapman talk. Not me. The Man with the Golden Arm’s development, along with the success of Jonathan Broxton as Closer, Cueto’s recovery, a guy named Mike Leake and 3 other factors I haven’t even considered, are all woven together in a tapestry that will unfurl shortly, revealing the Reds’ fate in 2013.

I can’t wait.

58 thoughts on “The Aroldis Chapman Project — Part Two

  1. I do feel bad for Bryan Price if he can’t even go shopping without getting hassled by Reds fans. Other than that, good post! I agree that the Reds have already taken plans #1 (Sale) and #4 (6 man rotation) off the table. #2 (Strasburg) doesn’t make sense for a team prioritizing more success in the playoffs, even if it made sense for a rebuilding team (which the Nationals, with Bryce Harper and recovering Stephen Strasburg were).

    As far as Dusty BAKER’S HALF DOZEN, I agree that’s a clever name, but it’s worth noting that Dusty hasn’t endorsed that in anyway. He’s made it clear that Cueto would start every 5th game while implying that they currently have 6 guys for 5 spots.

    I think they should head into the season with Kris Medlen as the role model. If there’s an opening in the rotation, begin converting Chapman – maybe somebody gets hurt, maybe Mike Leake struggles, maybe they just want a change with a big lead in the division. If they don’t need another starter, well, don’t convert him. That Medlen Plan is the only plan that is likely to get Chapman to start games in the playoffs.

  2. Also it’s worth recognizing that there could still be a clear answer on what to do with Chapman before opening day. If Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, Bailey, or Leake gets hurt this spring Chapman would enter the five man rotation in April, with little or no objection from anyone. The Reds instantly would feel obliged to do something wild, like your plan #2 Strasburg Season Inturruptus, just to make the playoffs. September and October would immediately become secondary concerns as they strive to put a good team on the field in April.

    I think that uncertainty is part of why Jocketty, Dusty, and Price won’t say anything – they figure it might sort itself out for them, and they don’t want to take any option off the table. They have six starters, five starting spots, and another month of spring training games in which somebody could get injured.

  3. One alternative for how to use Chapman is to use him as first man out of pen several times a week early in the season when they know the starter is going 6 innings max or at least isn’t going to finish the 7th.

    I like this because approach because I think it is more likely to keep him sharp than being skipped in the rotation and not pitching competitively for a week to 10 days on several different stretches. This is not to mention that it also saves innings for later on the season.

    The devil is in the details of when and how to move him on into the rotation.

    • The devil is in the details of when and how to move him on into the rotation.

      I absolutely agree with that point. There’s no perfect plan for converting Chapman in which everyone will be happy – some plans lead to big questions early (Medlen) in the season, others delay the questions until later (Strasburg). Following the Kris Medlen plan will mean strangers will keep hassling Bryan Price at Jungle Jims until later in the season, giving their unwelcome advice.

  4. Chapman again… but at least Richard you made it interesting.

    @OhioJim: This is completely out of the box. I like it.

    I also like the idea I read a while back of extending the skipped games through the break by driving Mike Leake up and down I-75.

    • @OhioJim: This is completely out of the box.I like it.

      Since when do Dusty Baker and Bryan Price think out of the box? Especially when their top priority is keeping a player healthy and out of a high-risk situation? What we WANT the Reds to do isn’t necessarily the same as what we should EXPECT the Reds to do. Any plan that is completely out of the box sure doesn’t seem like the Reds’ style to me.

      • Since when do Dusty Baker and Bryan Price think out of the box?Especially when their top priority is keeping a player healthy and out of a high-risk situation?What we WANT the Reds to do isn’t necessarily the same as what we should EXPECT the Reds to do.Any plan that is completely out of the box sure doesn’t seem like the Reds’ style to me.

        I partially agree. This is not Dusty’s forte.

        We don’t know really know what Pryce would do, he’s not the man in the charge. He seems to have a lot of autonomy, but this type of decision is made with input from Dusty (and maybe WJ too).

  5. Dealing with Chapman’s innings limit this year is reason #1 why moving him to the closer role last year was a mistake. If he’d pitched 150 innings last year, he could potentially throw a full season this year. Well, maybe reason #1 would have been that he could have started in the playoffs against the Giants instead of Leake.

    • Dealing with Chapman’s innings limit this year is reason #1 why moving him to the closer role last year was a mistake. If he’d pitched 150 innings last year, he could potentially throw a full season this year. Well, maybe reason #1 would have been that he could have started in the playoffs against the Giants instead of Leake.

      Yes, yes and amen. You’re preaching to the choir with me on this one.

      @redsfanman: No, I didn’t expect Baker to care about 2013 and beyond, as he wasn’t even signed for beyond 2012 until after the season. That’s where Jockety and Castlinni should have stepped in. I think Walt let his emotions get the best of him and paniced when Madsen went down.

  6. @Steve Mancuso: Darn Dusty Baker, worrying about 2012 during 2012! He should’ve been thinking about 2013 and beyond. Do you really honestly believe that a key part of last year’s first place finish was a mistake? Or some kind of a regrettable wasted season?

    Maybe Chapman could have started that playoff game instead of Leake. Then again, maybe Ryan Madson could’ve stayed healthy. Or Johnny Cueto. There’s a lot of blame to pass around, and I don’t think any of it comes from regrettable decisions or mistakes. They would have faced the same inning limit issue last year with Chapman.

    • Do you really honestly believe that a key part of last year’s first place finish was a mistake? Or some kind of a regrettable wasted season?

      Yes and yes.

      Again, Chapman had exactly one less blown save and one more save than Cordero the previous year. That was the net effect of Chapman as closer last year. Plus zero saves in the playoffs.

      • Yes and yes.

        Again, Chapman had exactly one less blown save and one more save than Cordero the previous year.That was the net effect of Chapman as closer last year.Plus zero saves in the playoffs.

        You believe they could have replaced Aroldis Chapman with Francisco Cordero and won 96 games in 2012 because Chapman had one fewer blown save? I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Oh well.

        I’m sorry you (and others) wasted your time watching the 2012 season.

        • I’m sorry you (and others) wasted your time watching the 2012 season.

          That’s mean and off base. The implication isn’t that the fans had their time wasted, it’s that the Reds wasted valuable time with Chapman in an overrated role. There are plenty of stupid ways to get good results.

        • That’s mean and off base. The implication isn’t that the fans had their time wasted, it’s that the Reds wasted valuable time with Chapman in an overrated role. There are plenty of stupid ways to get good results.

          Agreed, Matt. Some people need to compare apples to apples. If someone thinks it was a wasted season in Chapman’s development last season (very understandable argument), that in no way, shape, or form means it was a wasted season of watching the Reds win the division. Two entirely different things altogether. But, some people have a habit of doing that.

        • You believe they could have replaced Aroldis Chapman with Francisco Cordero and won 96 games in 2012 because Chapman had one fewer blown save? I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Oh well.

          I’m sorry you (and others) wasted your time watching the 2012 season.

          Cordero in 2011 – 37 saves, 6 blown
          Chapman in 2012 – 38 saves, 5 blown

          THAT is the net difference between Chapman’s fantastic season as a closer and Cordero’s season that lost him his job. It is quite that simple. Cordero may have nearly killed us all with hypertension, but the results are what they are.

          I believe you overestimate how “key” Chapman was to this team last year.

  7. Honestly, if idiot doesn’t put Chapman in the rotation, he should be drawn and quartered – it will cost us a run in the postseason, like his man-crushes on Stubbs and Rolen did last year. Maybe Darren Lewis is available for center field?

  8. How many of you Dusty bashers are sitting there thinking “We can’t Lose”? I am sure you would love to have Chapman work out great. But. I think just as many would love to be able to scream “Dusty Ruined Another Great Young Arm. I Told You So. Let’s fire the guy that didn’t want to switch him in the 1st place.

    • How many of you Dusty bashers are sitting there thinking “We can’t Lose”?

      @bigklu18:Not me. BUT….

      While I may be a Dusty basher I think the “Dusty Ruined Another Great Young Arm” mentality which was born of all places, Chicago, where fans have no clue is not something educated Dusty bashers like myself believe.

      • @bigklu18:Not me. BUT….While I may be a Dusty basher I think the “Dusty Ruined Another Great Young Arm” mentality which was born of all places, Chicago, where fans have no clue is not something educated Dusty bashers like myself believe.

        Well said.

  9. Another approach for Chapman is to have him start all year, but with strict innings limits. Pull him after five no matter what, at least early on. This, with the occasional skipped start as the schedule allows should manage his innings quite well. It seams that Price is alluding to something like this in that last quote.

    • Honestly, if idiot doesn’t put Chapman in the rotation, he should be drawn and quartered – it will cost us a run in the postseason, like his man-crushes on Stubbs and Rolen did last year.Maybe Darren Lewis is available for center field?

      That’s a pretty weak argument. You know the Reds finished in first place last season with Chapman in the bullpen and Stubbs and Rolen playing regularly, right? What cost the Reds in the postseason, Dusty’s ‘man-crushes’ and idiotic planning …Or all of his plans being torn to shreds when Johnny Cueto left with an injury?

      How many of you Dusty bashers are sitting there thinking “We can’t Lose”? I am sure you would love to have Chapman work out great. But. I think just as many would love to be able to scream “Dusty Ruined Another Great Young Arm. I Told You So. Let’s fire the guy that didn’t want to switch him in the 1st place.

      Maybe we don’t have many of them here at RN but there are plenty like that calling into 700WLW. There’s no ‘right’ decision for Dusty, any way he handles the issue will be a mistake by him for which he needs to fired. If (hypothetically) he burst onto the scene and won the Cy Young Award fans would be calling for Dusty to be fired for not converting him years earlier. If he gets hurt all blame will be placed squarely on Dusty Baker with Bryan Price and Walt Jocketty being ignored.

      @Matt WI: I think there are lots of loyal Reds fans who are determined to dislike Dusty Baker. We’ve seen it for years. Anything that goes well does so just cuz, anything that goes badly is 100% his fault.

      Another approach for Chapman is to have him start all year, but with strict innings limits. Pull him after five no matter what, at least early on. This, with the occasional skipped start as the schedule allows should manage his innings quite well. It seams that Price is alluding to something like this in that last quote.

      That’s a really vague plan that will provide lots of problems later on. If Chapman is pitching well and he gets pulled early into games it leaves Dusty open to criticism for not pushing Chapman, not challenging him, not trusting him, and not giving the Reds the best chance to win. Does Dusty want to face that every 5th day? Questions of when he’ll start trusting Chapman? I doubt it. Then, of course, you come down to the inevitable no-win situation after he reaches ~150 innings.

      @seat101: I think fate sometimes provides obvious choices and solutions. I think injuries to Ryan Madson and Nick Masset provided an obvious choice of what to do with Aroldis Chapman last spring and I think an injury to Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, Bailey, or Leake could provide a similar opportunity/need for Chapman in the rotation in 2013. Right now Dusty Baker and the Reds are facing a tough decision but it sorted itself out for them last spring…. and it could again.

      • What cost the Reds in the postseason

        @redsfanman: What lost game three was Dusty handling the bullpen like with was the regular season. It was game three, the Reds had a nice lead, and a usually solid pitcher was having a bad day. Rather than pulling him when I thought any rational person thought it was time to pull him, Dusty pulled him 2 batters and 3 runs later. I remember SCREAMING on twitter, “Get him out of the game!” Yet, the Reds lost the lead and ultimately the game that would have put them in the NLCS.

        That’s the moment I went from a Dusty apologist to a Dusty basher.

      • That’s a really vague plan that will provide lots of problems later on. If Chapman is pitching well and he gets pulled early into games it leaves Dusty open to criticism for not pushing Chapman, not challenging him, not trusting him, and not giving the Reds the best chance to win. Does Dusty want to face that every 5th day? Questions of when he’ll start trusting Chapman?

        Why do you say that a plan of capping Chapman’s innings at 5 IP, no matter what, (which is what the post you replied to said) is vague? That sounds like the definition of specific. Further, if anything, it removes any questions for Dusty… what are you talking about trust? Dusty just says “the plan is five innings at a time”, win lose or draw. They increase the innings based on their plan for increasing him, if at all. Trust is not an issue.

        Lastly, what’s more important: Getting the best out of Chapman and the team or making Dusty’s job talking to the media easier? Whether or not somebody questions Dusty has zero relevance. That’s his multi million dollar a year problem to deal with.

        • Why do you say that a plan of capping Chapman’s innings at 5 IP, no matter what, (which is what the post you replied to said) is vague? That sounds like the definition of specific. Further, if anything, it removes any questions for Dusty… what are you talking about trust? Dusty just says “the plan is five innings at a time”, win lose or draw. They increase the innings based on their plan for increasing him, if at all. Trust is not an issue.

          Lastly, what’s more important: Getting the best out of Chapman and the team or making Dusty’s job talking to the media easier? Whether or not somebody questions Dusty has zero relevance. That’s his multi million dollar a year problem to deal with.

          I think it sounds like a simple plan (kinda like the desire to cut government spending) but it leads into other controversial issues, like fans complaining that Dusty is an idiot for not trusting a pitcher as successful as Chapman for over 5 innings. And it’d be something Dusty and Price might have to answer for every 5 days. It seems like every time Dusty discusses a plan, idea, or decision it is received very negatively by fans.

          I think getting the most wins for the Cincinnati Reds is the franchises’ primary concern. Not making people happy about Chapman’s use, not getting Chapman stretched out for 2014, not Dusty’s relationship with the media – winning will be the priority and they’ll want to avoid any lingering distractions that may sidetrack or diminish the excitement. Capping Chapman’s innings at 5 per start is such a distraction. It’ll be interesting to see what they decide.

        • I think it sounds like a simple plan (kinda like the desire to cut government spending) but it leads into other controversial issues

          That makes it a vague plan?

        • That makes it a vague plan?

          Alright, call it something else – a misleadingly simple plan on paper that will be challenged at least every 5th day through the 162 game season. It portrays the situation as being far simpler than it is, and presents other major issues to address.

        • Why do you say that a plan of capping Chapman’s innings at 5 IP, no matter what, (which is what the post you replied to said) is vague? That sounds like the definition of specific. Further, if anything, it removes any questions for Dusty… what are you talking about trust? Dusty just says “the plan is five innings at a time”, win lose or draw. They increase the innings based on their plan for increasing him, if at all. Trust is not an issue.
          Lastly, what’s more important: Getting the best out of Chapman and the team or making Dusty’s job talking to the media easier? Whether or not somebody questions Dusty has zero relevance. That’s his multi million dollar a year problem to deal with.

          Agreed, Matt. I believe they will be lenient with Chapman, whatever the plan is. For instance, if he is starting, if he is going strong after 5, I see them letting him go 6-7 innings or more, no problem; 1-2 more innings in one specific start isn’t going to make or break the bank for a season evaluation. And, then, if they see he has a streak of games like that, they would sit him for at least one game, probably pitching him out of the pen a couple of times just to keep loose.

          I just don’t see the Reds having him start at the beginning of the season every start, where they will most likely have to cut him off, aka Strausberg (spelling?), or send him to the pen afterwards. I don’t seen them starting Chapman in the pen then starting after a couple of months, which could extend him starting into the post season. I see a mix of starts and bullpen work concentrating on mostly starts, unless Chapman proves he isn’t much of a starter early and, thus, moved back to the pen regularly.

          I will say this. Because of what the Reds are doing with Chapman, not unless Chapman gets moved back to the pen regularly regularly early in the season, I don’t see Chapman having a positive “full-season effect” at one position, as starter nor reliever. I mean, if we just start him regularly, his season will be cut short because of innings. Or, because of innings, he won’t start regularly for a couple of months into the season. Or, whatever the combination. I see Chapman, if he will be pitching the entire season, at best, having a positive “partial season” effect as a starter as well as a positive “partial season” effect as a reliever. Because of what Chapman will be going through this season, I don’t expect him to be any kind of “significant reason” we do well this season, not like he was last season. I mean, last season, even though his save rate was similar to someone like Coco when he was here, Chapman was dominant last season for the most part. With Coco, his save opportunities were roller coaster rides from the first pitch that could have easily gotten blown the other way with one bad pitch.

  10. @bigklu18: If somebody is prioritizing an injury to uphold a grudge with the manager over the success of a team, that person isn’t even a fan. At this point, reality is, Dusty is the skipper. We can still be upset with what he does AND want the team to succeed. It’s not mutually exclusive.

    Besides, Dusty has been out front against the move of Chapman to starter… thus protecting himself from the “arm killer” tag that has haunted him.

  11. redsfanman
    3/1/2013 at 12:24 am (Quote)
    @Steve Mancuso: Darn Dusty Baker, worrying about 2012 during 2012! He should’ve been thinking about 2013 and beyond. Do you really honestly believe that a key part of last year’s first place finish was a mistake? Or some kind of a regrettable wasted season?

    Maybe Chapman could have started that playoff game instead of Leake. Then again, maybe Ryan Madson could’ve stayed healthy. Or Johnny Cueto. There’s a lot of blame to pass around, and I don’t think any of it comes from regrettable decisions or mistakes. They would have faced the same inning limit issue last year with Chapman.

    Wow! Where to start? I believe that the Reds, and not just Dusty have mishandled. AC’s career. Like Steve and others, I could give you reasons. But your posts imply there was just one obvious and right solution, ie, what actually was done. It’s hard to discuss something when there seems to be such unwillingness to listen. Sometimes an explanation is just an explanation and not the main point of the debate.

  12. I don’t understand what’s so important about an innings limit anyway. The guy is 25 and he’s fully matured physically. Aren’t most men at that age? And pitchers regress or improve every year, right? Whether they’re 25, 30 or 35, injuries, regression and improvement can occur with or without any increase of innings pitched vs the prior year.

    In Chapman’s case, wouldn’t a younger arm be more resilient to any preconceived negative effects of an increased pitch/innings count anyway? Aren’t there other measurables that can determine how healthy or tired a pitcher’s arm is other than a predetermined statistic? You know, of the human nature?

    I just think innings limits are a little overrated and are a result of fear, much like the overuse of punting in football.

    Even with all that, the goal should be to have him a healthy starter in October. Period. Do what you have to do to achieve that goal, right? And if that means limiting innings then for the love of Frazier, do it in the spring and summer.

    • I don’t understand what’s so important about an innings limit anyway.The guy is 25 and he’s fully matured physically.Aren’t most men at that age?And pitchers regress or improve every year, right?Whether they’re 25, 30 or 35, injuries, regression and improvement can occur with or without any increase of innings pitched vs the prior year.

      In Chapman’s case, wouldn’t a younger arm be more resilient to any preconceived negative effects of an increased pitch/innings count anyway?Aren’t there other measurables that can determine how healthy or tired a pitcher’s arm is other than a predetermined statistic?You know, of the human nature?

      I just think innings limits are a little overrated and are a result of fear, much like the overuse of punting in football.

      Even with all that, the goal should be to have him a healthy starter in October.Period.Do what you have to do to achieve that goal, right?And if that means limiting innings then for the love of Frazier, do it in the spring and summer.

      I don’t think debating the necessity of inning limits is relevant, what’s important is that the Reds support them, as seen with Mike Leake, and we’re not changing their mind. If we’re predicting how the Cincinnati Reds will handle ‘The Aroldis Chapman Project’ factoring in what the team seems to believe seems to be key. I think it’s a safe bet that they’ll handle things by the book rather than a controversial way in which ANYBODY can accuse them of risking an injury.

      I agree that the goal should be to have him as a healthy starter in October… rather than asking him to fill the same role as Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos in April.

    • I just think innings limits are a little overrated and are a result of fear, much like the overuse of punting in football.

      @RedManifesto: There are many who feel that way and it could be one of those irrational things about baseball, like the need for a closer, or the importance of lineups, or the relevance of the catcher’s ERA. I admit I didn’t hear much about inning limits before Tom Verducci came up with a theory. But maybe there is solid data to support that it is not wise to increase a pitcher’s inning by more than 50 innings a year.

      Someone who knows I lot more than I do about such matters says it is irresponsible to increase a pitcher’s innings from year to year by more than 50 innings.

  13. @TC: I’m not even sure who you’re referring to, but yes, the whole season came down to that minute, that inning. Trusting that one reliever was the problem, anyone except Dusty Baker would have known better. Hindsight is 20-20.

    The moment Johnny Cueto left the game I felt for Dusty Baker, whose plans for using pitchers in the playoffs were instantly torn to shreds. Quickly Mat Latos became a long reliever amidst questions of whether Mike Leake would have to be activated. I guess it’s nice to point fingers and have a scape goat.

  14. The Reds have a plan for Chapman. It is not the Strasburg plan, nor the Sale plan, nor the Medlen plan. It will be the Chapman plan. One that teams in the future may try to immulate. I think that Chapman and Leake will work in a tandem. Chapman goes 5-6 innings per outing with Leake pitching the last 3-4 innings. Leake prepares as a starter but will work out of the bullpen. When he comes into a game, he starts at the top of an inning like a starter. If Chapman gets into trouble before the 6th inning then Baker can use Simon or LeCure to get out of the inning and then Leake starts the next inning. Do not bring Leake into a game in the middle of an inning. If Chapman can go 5-6 innings and Leake can finish up the game then the rests the bullpen for an extra day. In the long run it also saves the bullpen some. Now, would Leake be available to pitch as a reliever in other games?? Maybe, but that would be up to their plan and Baker’s discretion. Leake however, would be available as a pinch hitter in those other games if not available for relieving duties. Does this reduce the bullpen any?? Not really. I think this gives Baker a little more versatility with his lineups. If an injury happens to a starter, then Leake is ready to step into that role immeadiately. If all goes well, then in August the Reds can possibly give Chapman some more innings leading up to October. Remember that most starters get about 35 starts a season with the 5th guy getting about 33. The Reds can set a start # that they will look to increase Chapman’s innings. Say start #25. So the Reds give Chapman 24 starts at 5-6 innings and that gives Chapman 120-144 innings. If Chapman gets 33 starts then he would have 9 more with possible increased innings and then the post season outings. I think in this scenario, with a tandem of Chapman and Leake, it makes the best possible use of Chapman and Leake.

  15. @WVRedlegs: As I’ve said before I think Dusty and Price are both by-the-book guys, not guys who write their own story on a revolutionary new way to do things. It sounds like a neat plan on paper, but NOT like something to expect from the Cincinnati Reds.

    Chapman and Leake reserved to pitch every 5th day, 6 relievers for the other 4 days. Personally I think that really handcuffs Dusty and the Reds throughout the long season. I think the Reds more value innings out of the rotation (and fewer out of the bullpen) and they’ll decide that Leake eats more innings as a starter while strengthening the bullpen (both by returning Chapman to it and cutting the final guy from the bullpen).

    As far as having somebody able to step into a rotation spot immediately, if necessary, I think that’s part of why they have AAA teams. Tony Cingrani will be there, waiting, as a substitute.

  16. So this will be such a distraction it will take away from fan excitement? Whaaa? It feels like you’re zeroing in on a very unimportant aspect of this. You sure seem to emphasize perception and image a whole lot, and under skeptical reasoning at that… if winning is the thing, then that’s the thing. There is zero way to avoid controversy around this, I think the team knows that. They’ll deal. Who cares if fans complain about Dusty. Every manager everywhere gets complained about.

    You can’t say winning is going to matter most, and then say that the distraction is going to matter in front of the winning to the point it was impact how they run the ballclub…you can’t be on both sides of that fence. The team’s plan will ostensibly be the plan they are most comfortable with for getting the most out of Chapman and doing the best for the team. While unprovable, I doubt heavily part of the planning is “But what will Richard from Springsboro say on WLW if we do this?” How they handle Chapman one way or the other (start, no start, start in June) isn’t going to impact fan excitement to the point it’ll significantly impact the bottom line. People might be unhappy all the way to the first place finish line. The goal isn’t to make everybody happy.

    You seem to have positioned yourself every which way such that unless Chapman starts in April under no injuries, then that’s the only way you haven’t called it. Your original assessment was that this is all a dog and pony show (again, to avoid negative fan worry) and Chapman is going to the bullpen, no questions asked.

  17. @redsfanman:

    RFman, you keep refering to going by the book. You see, that’s the thing, there is no book. It is not a cookie-cutter situation. This concept is so new that each team will have to develope an individual program that is specific to their pitcher and their particular situation. What was good for Strasburg might not necessarily be good for Chapman and vice versa.

  18. @redsfanman:
    You seem like kind of a young person. Not a putdown. I am envious. However, I would like for you to watch a good Clint Eastwood movie. Its called “Heartbreak Ridge”. The one thing I would like for you to take from that movie, if anything, is this: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
    With any plan, and to execute that plan, you have to keep those 3 things in mind.
    1. Overcome-overcome any obstacles that may present themselves. Remember, things rarely goes as planned.
    2. Adapt-have the ability to adapt your plan to changing situations, if needed when needed, when circumstances merit it. Remember, things rarely goes as planned.
    3. Improvise-have the ability, courage and know-how to change plans on the run to best complete the mission.
    The mission: to get Chapman to September/October so he will be able to pitch down the stretch and in the post-season effectively.

    • Baker seemed please with Chapman’s outing yesterday.I was almost surprised.

      I’m curious, what did you expect him to say? “Darn, I’m disappointed, I wanted him to get beat up so he’d be the closer”?

  19. @WVRedlegs: I’m in my mid-20′s, if you consider that young. I’ve watched the Reds since 1999. Last time I saw Clint Eastwood (on TV) he was talking to a chair, and that movie doesn’t sound any more exciting.

    I agree with those points, like that they have to overcome obstacles as they are presented. Then again, certain choices (like Strasburg’s situation) create roadblocks down the road, and I think it’s important to consider inevitable roadblocks you set up before making a decision.

    Adapting, all along I said I’m for converting Chapman if somebody gets hurt this spring and there’s an injury in the rotation. At the moment things haven’t changed – there are 6 starters for 5 spots. Pushing Leake out of the picture/starting role isn’t adapting, it’s making a big change.

    Improvising, I keep suggesting following the example of Kris Medlen, converting Chapman to the rotation midseason IF AND WHEN there is a need for a starter. That’s improvising. That way they can succeed in the mission of getting Chapman ready to start effectively in the postseason.

    Are you really a fan of Clint Eastwood?

  20. @Matt WI: I didn’t think that was mean, I think the implication was that 2012 was a wasted season. I disagree with that, I was happy to see a team with a recent history of losing finish in first place.

    I think the Reds made a smart move to do their best to win in 2012 considering the way things unfolded (particularly regarding Madson). It’s unfortunate that they didn’t win the World Series but I don’t have any regrets about what happened. Did the Reds waste valuable time with Chapman in an overrated role? I don’t think so, if they did something differently (like start Chapman) I would’ve been much angrier for them not trying their hardest to win in 2012.

  21. I still think they should go with a 5.5 man rotation.. Leake had 30 starts as the #5 last season. So assuming Chapman would be in line with that… if Chapman could get 2 games on, 1 game off.. the other being filled by Leake who would also be in the bullpen while Chapman is starting. That would give Chapman roughly 20 starts, and assuming they’re about 6 innings each it would be 120 IP at the end of the year. Then if you like what you saw from Chapman all year, 120 IP is still low enough that he could start in the post season as the #3 or #4.

  22. It would also keep the other 4 starting pitchers on a normal 5 day rotation, so nothing would change for Cueto/Latos/Arroyo/Bailey.

  23. Have all the second guessers forgotten why Chapman went back to the bullpen last year? They lost not only their closer, Madson, in spring training, but also two key members of the bullpen in Masset and Bray. When half of your bullpen goes up in smoke, key members of the bullpen at that, you go to plan B. No one wanted Chapman starting more than I, but fate had other ideas. The injuries forced the Reds’ hand.

    Not to mention that Walt had no idea what he was getting in scrap heap pickup Simon, and late trade Hoover.

  24. Oh, and I certainly never “implied” that 2012 was a wasted season for the Reds. It was a great year, and an experience that will hopefully pay off in spades this tear. For Chapman and his development, though, yes it was a wasted season.

  25. My frequent and consistent complaints against idiot as the manager are not restricted to his past (pre-Reds) record, although I threw Darren Lewis out there (and I didn’t even throw out Todd Hollandsworth’s name!)…but batting the two lowest OBPs in the NL first and second in our order should be sufficient to expose his inadequacy…and despite repeated posts of mine, I hope maybe RC’s will hit home with some that mine didn’t on how regardless of how fun it was to watch Aroldis blow them away in the 9th, it really didn’t do much more for us than a “ridden out on the rails” Coco Cordero did the year before…

  26. @redsfanman: Cueto leaving cost us HOW many games, exactly? (Sorry, I thought we won that one…) Rolen’s error cost us one, and Leake starting cost us another…
    And Stubbs, of course, batted a healthy .211 (pretty close to his season total…)

    • @redsfanman: Cueto leaving cost us HOW many games, exactly? (Sorry, I thought we won that one…) Rolen’s error cost us one, and Leake starting cost us another…
      And Stubbs, of course, batted a healthy .211 (pretty close to his season total…)

      I’d say Cueto’s injury cost them one win, the game that had to be started by Mike Leake as a contingency plan when everyone hoped the Reds would have the ace on the mound. And they only needed to win one more game to win the NLDS.

  27. @redsfanman: Fair enough – but all things being equal, I’d feel a lot better with a Cueto-Latos-Chapman postseason rotation – with Bailey a replacement starter; seriously…it was fun watching Chapman blow teams away in the 9th, but not that vital considering he was only one save better than the pariah Cordero the year before…he always was a starter, wants to be a starter, and was signed to be a starter…why hold him back?

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