2013 Reds / Chapmania / Dusty's Lineup Shenanigans

Dusty Baker is wrong, Walt Jocketty is right

I hadn’t written about this subject, because I really wanted the whole issue to go away. I should have known better than to be optimistic about that. Here’s our friend Dave Schoenfield from ESPN:

Manager Dusty Baker — and the players — think Aroldis Chapman should remain the team’s closer; general manager Walt Jocketty, with the support of pitching coach Bryan Price, is telling Baker that Chapman will be in the rotation. Whether Baker likes it or not.

There are a multitude of issues in this controversy. It’s a symbolic example of today’s game, where the GM constructs the roster and even tells the manager how to use it. It brings up the argument over the value of a closer. And lurking below those two, what’s best for Chapman? We’ve seen other relievers successfully transition into the rotation — C.J. Wilson and Chris Sale to name two — but last year we also saw Daniel Bard implode and Neftali Feliz blow out his elbow.

But this situation has a pretty obvious answer:

1. Baker is wrong.
2. Jocketty is right.

Even better is Schoenfield’s conclusion:

Baker may not like the move now, but something tells me he’ll be OK with it once Chapman is 10-4 in late June with a 2.87 ERA, is leading the NL in strikeouts and makes the All-Star team.

Love that optimism.

I could go into the many reasons why I agree with Schoenfield here; a better idea would be for you to read Dave’s post on the matter. It’s spot-on, in every way. Better yet, go read Redleg Nation‘s previous posts about Aroldis. At least that will keep me from repeating myself in this space.

Meanwhile, while everyone (including Dusty) is salivating over Chapman’s perceived value as a closer, chew on this little morsel. Chapman’s percentage of recorded saves as a Red: 83%. Francisco Cordero’s save percentage as a Red: 86%. Aroldis just isn’t that much more valuable than other people who can close out games.

As a starter, however, Chapman has a chance to be elite. I just can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to see if he can handle rotation duties. The upside is enormous. The downside is negligible.

Stay the course, Walt Jocketty. You’re doing the right thing here.

86 thoughts on “Dusty Baker is wrong, Walt Jocketty is right

  1. Walt Jocketty hasn’t even expressed an opinion, other than a vague insistence that the long term plan is for Chapman to start. If he had a strong opinion contrary to Dusty’s Jocketty could have settled the matter by trading Mike Leake. Maybe ‘Dusty Baker is wrong, Bryan Price is right’ would be a more appropriate title.

    Stay the course Walt Jocketty, you’re doing the right thing by staying out of it.

    • Walt Jocketty hasn’t even expressed an opinion, other than a vague insistence that the long term plan is for Chapman to start.If he had a strong opinion contrary to Dusty’s Jocketty could have settled the matter by trading Mike Leake.Maybe ‘Dusty Baker is wrong, Bryan Price is right’ would be a more appropriate title.

      Stay the course Walt Jocketty, you’re doing the right thing by staying out of it.

      “vague insistence” that the long terms plan is for Chapman to start? That sounds pretty definite, not vague. Paying out that kind of money for Broxton, that seems pretty definite, not vague.

      • “vague insistence” that the long terms plan is for Chapman to start?That sounds pretty definite, not vague.Paying out that kind of money for Broxton, that seems pretty definite, not vague.

        Yes, vague insistence with ABSOLUTELY NO IMPLIED TIMETABLE. That is the course that Jocketty has stayed. Regarding Chapman Jocketty is treading water, repeating the same things he’s said for years, rather than throwing his support by a chance this spring. Paying that kind of money for Broxton is the same as when they paid something similar to Sean Marshall last year, and the contract didn’t make Marshall the closer (for long at least).

    • Walt Jocketty hasn’t even expressed an opinion, other than a vague insistence that the long term plan is for Chapman to start.If he had a strong opinion contrary to Dusty’s Jocketty could have settled the matter by trading Mike Leake.Maybe ‘Dusty Baker is wrong, Bryan Price is right’ would be a more appropriate title.

      Stay the course Walt Jocketty, you’re doing the right thing by staying out of it.

      And as you can guess, I posted this before I read ALL the comments…

      Why would they trade Leake? You don’t trade a strength and depth just to avoid competition.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I just finished signing for my season tickets too. These are my 1st season tickets which represents a VERY long wait for the old Cossack. My goodness but this Reds lineup and pitching rotation looks more scarier and more awesomer every time I pull it up. Votto was already locked and loaded and it looks like Choo is now locked and loaded too with Frazier and Bruuuuuuuce starting to get their strokes honed in. How long until April 1st?! BTW @Chad Dotson: & @Bill Lack: , how are the plans coming for RLN Day at GABP?

  2. Maybe Chapman could have a season like Lance Lynn’s last year. Dominant for the first half, followed by a collapse. Who knows how that collapse will happen – maybe he’ll be shut down Strasburg style, maybe he’ll get injured Neftali Feliz style, maybe he’ll start struggling like Lance Lynn did. The downside – the certainty that he’ll be shut down after reaching an arbitrary inning limit – is there and it only becomes more of a threat the closer the team gets to the postseason.

  3. The role of the closer is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the game of baseball (barring steroids). It is a complete and utter farce. Kudos to Jocketty for his stance.

    • The role of the closer is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the game of baseball (barring steroids). It is a complete and utter farce. Kudos to Jocketty for his stance.

      This. A thousand times this. That CoCo’s save percentage as a Red is higher than Chapman’s is all the proof you need on this issue. Using a good pitcher 180 innings is better than using the same good pitcher for 64 innings.

      • This. A thousand times this. That CoCo’s save percentage as a Red is higher than Chapman’s is all the proof you need on this issue. Using a good pitcher 180 innings is better than using the same good pitcher for 64 innings.

        Amen. The dirty truth is that the modern “closer” doesn’t really face all that many tough situations. In the end, it really doesn’t matter much who you bring in with the bases empty and a 3 run lead. Whether Cordero goes: groundout, walk, homer, walk, double play; or Chapman goes strikeout-strikeout-strikeout, the end result is the same. One’s obviously more aesthetically pleasing, but they both count as Wins.

        • The dirty truth is that the modern “closer” doesn’t really face all that many tough situations.

          It’s the 8th inning of a close game, and the other team has their 3-4-5 hitters coming up. Let’s send our second-best reliever out there – lord knows we can’t use our closer in the 8th. It makes more sense for our best reliever to pitch to a parade of pinch hitters in the 9th. Plus, since it’s not a save situation, he won’t be “into” it.

          “Closers”. Pah!

        • It’s the 8th inning of a close game, and the other team has their 3-4-5 hitters coming up. Let’s send our second-best reliever out there – lord knows we can’t use our closer in the 8th. It makes more sense for our best reliever to pitch to a parade of pinch hitters in the 9th.

          I will give Dusty a modicum of credit here. He did use Chapman 3 times before the 9th (after becoming closer in late May). That’s not much, but it wasn’t a pure Eckersley usage situation.

  4. This is the last thing I’m going to say about the matter as I think pretty much everyone who’s posted on Redlegnation have made their opinions on Chapman to the rotation clear. I think we all know that I’m generally against the move although I can certainly understand and appreciate the arguments for making the move. Two points from this article can be debated however.

    One – Giving SV% info for Chapman vs Cordero is an oversimplification of the matter. What also needs to be considered is how the club holds a lead in the 7th and 8th innings. Also, we all know that all saves aren’t created equally. So what about holding the lead in the 7th, 8th, 9th when it was a 1-run or a 2-run game? What about it being a 4-run game in the 7th but all of a sudden a 2-run game going into the 9th? When Chapman is missing and all the roles in the bullpen slot up one, how does it change the effectiveness of the bullpen as a whole?

    Two – I don’t think it can be disputed that the upside of Chapman in the rotation is enormous. The downside however isn’t negligible. Although injuries occur in the pen, are we certain that injury risk for Chapman isn’t higher in the rotation? Also, what if he gets into some bad habits as a starter, stuggles, and then isn’t effective out of the pen?

    I think if the majority of Redlegnation is correct in saying that if Chapman to the rotation is a huge success, with Chapman winning 14-16 games and pitching in the postseason, then the few of us naysayers will happily be wrong. That said, I don’t think this decision is as cut and dry as so many on here seem to think it is.

    • ne – Giving SV% info for Chapman vs Cordero is an oversimplification of the matter. What also needs to be considered is how the club holds a lead in the 7th and 8th innings. Also, we all know that all saves aren’t created equally. So what about holding the lead in the 7th, 8th, 9th when it was a 1-run or a 2-run game? What about it being a 4-run game in the 7th but all of a sudden a 2-run game going into the 9th? When Chapman is missing and all the roles in the bullpen slot up one, how does it change the effectiveness of the bullpen as a whole?

      That argument is defeated by the resigning of Broxton. There’s your closer. Everyone has the same roles they had for 85% of last season.

  5. Maybe Mike Leake is needed to replace Bronson next year. OR maybe he has more value at the trade deadline in 2013 and is great insurance until then.

    Leake is not going to bring back a lot in a trade that is major league ready to help us this year. The guy is a 4.00 ERA versus a guy who is half that.

    So what was the question again?

    Play your best players, period. Bullpen is a waste of time for a number one starter. Broxton will close at 85% this year, just like Cordero, just like Chapman.

    Coco would have more walks, Broxton will have more volume on the rubber, and Chapman throws the hardest. only one of them is a starter

  6. @reaganspad: Few responses:
    -Leake’s trade value will probably go down, not up, if he is sent to AAA, if Jocketty planned on trading him cutting from the rotation wouldn’t be the smart way to do it.

    -Maybe Mike Leake’s ERA would be twice as high (but I doubt it), but you can count on him to pitch at least twice as many innings in a season at this point. Chapman is a shot in the dark – who knows how many innings he can pitch or how many they’d let him pitch? Mike Leake can start all season but Chapman’s fate should get more questionable as time (and innings) go by.

    -Bullpen is a waste of time, alright, tell Jocketty to trade Mike Leake for Craig Kimbrel.

    • @reaganspad: .Chapman is a shot in the dark – who knows how many innings he can pitch or how many they’d let him pitch?

      Baker? Walt? Price? Those are the only ones who need to know. But, many on here can and have ascertained what the approximate value would be. It’s not that hard.

  7. RE: Trading Leake… That doesn’t make sense to me even if I was 100% in on converting Chapman. You can never have too much pitching, especially starting pitching. You keep Leake as an insurance policy. Yes, there is Cingrani but he hasn’t started a Major League game and most teams need 7-8 starting pitchers to get through a year. I don’t think Leake still being on the roster can be used as a question to WJ’s resolve to transition Chapman to the rotation.

  8. By the way did anyone else notice in the Schoenfeld article that Chapman was throwing a splitter? Neat to see and I thought I’d point it out to break up the same closer/starter back and forth.

  9. The real question has nothing at all to do with Aroldis Chapman, Dusty Baker, or Walt Jocketty.

    The real question is how in the world does redsfanman know immediately when a pro-Chapman to the rotation post is made here at Redleg Nation so that he can be the first to comment on it? It’s an amazing talent. I’m beginning to think that he and Chad Dotson are the same person and the comments are just designed to stir up conversation! Has anyone seen Chad and redsfanman at the same place at the same time? I don’t think so!
    :-)

  10. @redsfanman: The problem with the argument about Chapman’s innings is that if you end up using it every year, then in the end we’ve gotten way less value out of Chapman when his contract is up.

    The Nationals took their medicine on Strasburg last year and now they get to have him in their rotation fulltime for years to come. The Reds haven’t been willing to take the medicine because there are factions in the Reds organization that got attached to him as a closer.

    People need to think about this as a three-year move. Assume that Chapman will reach his potential in both roles (because I think there is plenty of risk that he won’t reach it in either, so just think about the possibility for now).

    The best starters were worth about 6.5 wins last year, and the best relievers worth about 3.5 wins. Say Chapman just gets to 3.5 this year as a starter, and then is able to be a 6.5 in the next two years. Total you’re looking at a 6 win difference over three years, which on the open market is worth about $30 mil.

    Making good value moves like this, getting a lot more value than what you’re paying in open-market dollars, is crucial for teams like the Reds, and it’s one of the reasons the current Reds are so good. Chapman to the rotation is just another smart move like many the Reds have made recently.

  11. @al: Yep, converting Chapman is a multi-year project. The Nationals took their medicine on Strasburg last year and most fans were angry – really really angry – that they voluntarily sacrificed their World Series hopes. Walt Jocketty and the Reds could face an identical mess this year, throwing away their 2013 World Series hopes as part of a long term project with converting Chapman.

    The Reds had been rebuilding for years. Rebuilding for WHAT though? It seems like this, with a strong team and a weak division, is exactly what they’ve been building for. Is 2013 a World Series season or another rebuilding season to rehearse for 2014? I say the former, but I think many are arguing for the later.

    @reagansdaddy: It’s his fault for posting shortly after the long-awaited discussion of Shin-Shoo Choo.

  12. @redsfanman: well if your argument is just that you want Chapman available in the post-season it seems like there are any number of ways to make that happen while still building up his innings toward 135-150 this year.

    I can’t understand making an argument to limit his innings to 70 just to have him be available in the playoffs.

  13. I don’t really see an injury risk with Chapman. His motion is so easy and if he’s taking 7-8 mph off his fastball I see him being the kind of physical freak who can jump from 80 innings to 200 without much wear and tear. That is if the team lets him.

    But the part of this debate that annoys me the most is that every analyst and pro-Chapman-as-closer pundit talks like we have him under contract for life. We have him for 3 more years. If this is a transition year to a starters role, we have him for 2 full seasons in the rotation before he is almost certainly priced out of our payroll as a starter and probably also as a reliever. We took a big financial risk signing him basically sight unseen as we did. We basically wasted one year keeping him in Louisville (preparing to be a big league starter) then wasted another year using him as a middle reliever and then got some limited value out of him as a closer last year. Time to start collecting on the investment, and that means starting him right now and not wasting any more of our limited and very valuable time with him on the roster. I’m already expecting to see him starting for years in a Dodgers or Yankees jersey. At least let him help us get a ring or two first.

  14. “The Nationals took their medicine on Strasburg last year and most fans were angry – really really angry – that they voluntarily sacrificed their World Series hopes.”

    I believe Strasburg got shelled in two of his last three starts last year, so pushing him into the playoffs might not have helped their hopes. I admire the Nats org. for having a plan and sticking to it. Some (maybe most) of the fan base were upset. Some of the fan base will always be upset. We’ll see how they feel at the end of this season. And I certainly hope that the Reds org. does not make plans based on fan reaction – yours, mine or the nightly callers on WLW – any more than the Nats did.

  15. Bryan Price has a plan for managing Chapman’s innings. There is ZERO chance that plan would allow for Chapman to be unavailable for the post-season. Zero. So let’s drop the analogies to Strasburg. The more I read that Price is the one with the plan, the more confidence I have. At least as much confidence as one can have in a secret plan.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Mike Leake is an integral part of Price’s Chapman plan. Maybe Chapman starts the season in the bullpen and Leake begins the year as a fifth starter. Maybe Leake starts in the bullpen but takes one or two of Chapman’s starts every month. Leake slots in as the leading candidate for Arroyo’s spot in the rotation next year, so there is a benefit to patience with him.

    Moving Chapman to the rotation offers the Reds a chance to jump to the next level. The Choo trade helped, but may not be enough.

    • Bryan Price has a plan for managing Chapman’s innings. There is ZERO chance that plan would allow for Chapman to be unavailable for the post-season. Zero. So let’s drop the analogies to Strasburg.

      Steve, you are spot on. I have said this many times. It is absolutely mindless to compare the Chapman and Strausberg situations. Not even close. Its like comparing apples to watermelons. Nothing ventured nothing gained. It is well worth the risk. The reward outweighs the risk by ten-fold.

      • Steve, you are spot on.I have said this many times.It is absolutely mindless to compare the Chapman and Strausberg situations.Not even close.Its like comparing apples to watermelons.Nothing ventured nothing gained.It is well worth the risk. The reward outweighs the risk by ten-fold.

        Yes yes, Bryan Price is a miracle worker. He snaps his fingers and all concerns go away. He should join Joe Morgan in the business of selling used cars.

        • Yes yes, Bryan Price is a miracle worker.He snaps his fingers and all concerns go away.He should join Joe Morgan in the business of selling used cars.

          Whether you like being called a troll or not, this comment is NOTHING but trolling. It does not advance the discussion one iota. I tire of your act.

        • troll

          I have to agree. I turned it right back on him one post, making his simple position more complex, and he said I was the one simplifying the situation too much.

  16. As for Jocketty’s actual preference, he’s stated it:

    (1/25/2013) “We’ve got a strong bullpen and just think that with Chapman in the rotation, he gives us five quality starters,” Jocketty says. “In the long run, we just feel Chapman should be slotted as a starter.”

    (2/16/2013) The Reds told Chapman at the end of last season that they were planning to make him a starter. Their other five starters are right-handers, and Chapman — whose fastball has been clocked at 105 mph — would give the rotation a much different look.

    “Chapman has the chance to be a top-flight starter,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “I always wanted to have a left-hander in the rotation.”

    Chapman threw mostly fastballs as a closer, mixing in an occasional slider. He has worked on his changeup in the offseason, knowing he’ll need another pitch if he starts.

    “He didn’t throw the changeup too much, but it is better than his slider,” Jocketty said. “He is a great athlete. You ought to see him hit. He is one of the fastest runners on the team.”

  17. I’ll preface this in saying that I think the potential for Chapman as a starter is well worth giving it a go. That said, Aroldis Chapman might be the next coming of the Unit or Sandy Kofax but I don’t think he is nearly as polished a complete pitcher as Chris Sale, CJ Wilson, David Price or Stephen Strasburg at the same point.

    I kind of await to see how Chapman does when he has to conserve his energy and work through the lineup multiple times. The good strikeout pitchers get better as the game goes on, but they also have a second pitch that usually makes that speed really effective. Even as a closer, Chapman wasn’t quite same guy the third day in a row. And he wasn’t quite the same guy after a few months of work, he seemed to really benefit from having a break to re-charge.

    I know he had a great spring last year, but based on his time as a reliever and what he did as a starter in Louisville a couple years ago, I think I’ll have to see it to believe it.

  18. @Steve Mancuso: Yes, Bryan Price has this BRILLIANT plan. It’s sure to work absolutely perfectly. The problem is that you have absolutely no idea whatsoever what that plan is. None of us do. The only thing you know about it is that you like Bryan Price. It is indeed a secret plan. I guess I don’t put as much faith in vague and secretive plans.

    As I said all along I think the plan is to see if another starter gets hurt in the spring, forcing Chapman into the rotation as one guy in a five man rotation. After that it’s a matter of time until questions and problems (like inning limits) develop.

    The Republicans and Democrats both have plans. They each have a plan to cut the budget deficits. Unfortunately the plans are always vague because when they get more specific everyone seems to dislike all the details.

    Alrighty, thanks for pulling up some quotes:
    “In the long run , we just feel Chapman should be slotted as a starter”.
    -”In the long run” is the key part of that quote, it says everything…and absolutely nothing. When does that start? This year? Next year? Midseason? Once he’s gone from the Reds? Jocketty hasn’t publicly cast a ballot either way. He vaguely refers to Chapman’s future without addressing the present.

    “Chapman has the chance to be a top-flight starter… I always wanted to have a left-hander in the rotation”.
    -So? He said that in 2011 and 2012, and Chapman missed out of the rotation both times. It’s nice he’s optimistic about Chapman but he didn’t act on it before. Last winter Jocketty added lefty Jeff Francis, who didn’t make the team. The Reds currently have another lefthanded starter, Tony Cingrani, in camp. Jocketty resisted the temptation to replace Mike Leake with a lefty as recently as last season.

    The Reds told Chapman at the end of last season that they were planning to make him a starter.
    -They said that the previous year also, but it didn’t happen. If they were impressed by how he pitched in spring training last year, why would they ask him to change his routine this year? Even if they were 100% certain he’d close I wouldn’t want him changing his training routine.

    “He is a great athlete. You ought to see him hit. He is one of the fastest runners on the team”.
    -Mike Leake is also a good hitter, everyone knows that. So what?

      • Note to self: stop feeding the trolls.

        I don’t appreciate that, being called a troll – don’t make the point if it can’t stand up to skepticism. You knew what kind of response your post would draw. The first post said “the downside is negligible”, which is very much false, and the whole thing is a drastic over-simplification based on the crazy expectation that Bryan Price is a miracle worker will come up with some miracle plan with all positives and no negatives. The first post ends with “Stay the course Walt Jocketty. You’re doing the right thing here”, but Walt Jocketty’s course (regarding Chapman) is just him treading water, telling you that there’s hope somewhere on the horizon.

        • I don’t appreciate that, being called a troll – don’t make the point if it can’t stand up to skepticism

          Listen, RedfanStrawMan… You don’t acknowledge when other call you out on fallacious statements, you misrepresent what others say, you have an unnecessary sharp tone, you don’t make many points unless they are contrary. You make ridiculous statements like “I don’t understand what you are saying, but I disagree” (that was a few days ago.) I and many others are to the point where when we see your name we ignore what you wrote.

          One of our long standing citizens who I have had the pleasure of reading since 2006 (Pinson343) no longer posts because of you. You may not be a troll, but you have many of the annoying qualities of a troll. Start treating others with respect and the editors won’t call you a troll.

          How is it you haven’t been banned?

        • I don’t appreciate that, being called a troll

          Then, don’t be one.

          don’t make the point if it can’t stand up to skepticism.

          Who said everyone’s post had to live up to skepticism? This is a fans blog, not a Mensa meeting (with all due respect to Mensa, which I am a member of). We all should be able to post on here without any fear of someone coming back dissing us.

  19. @redsfanman:

    Why do you do this? The post was:

    “Play your best players, period. Bullpen is a waste of time for a number one starter.”

    And you come back with a sarcastic response that every starting pitcher is better than every pitcher in the bullpen?

    “Bullpen is a waste of time, alright, tell Jocketty to trade Mike Leake for Craig Kimbrel.”

    FOR A NUMBER ONE STARTER, yes, the bullpen would be a waste. Does that mean that no quality pitching can be in the bullpen? Of course not. If the Braves thought Kimbrel would have more value as a No. 1 starter potentially, maybe they’d be having this same debate.

    But please, don’t misrepresent what is said here.

  20. The only thing I’m worried about in all of this is that Dusty may attempt to sabotage Chapman in order to make him fail just so he can go back to Jocketty and say ‘See? I told you so!’

    How can Baker do this? By leaving Chapman in when he’s obviously gassed and in a jam and then promptlyhas the game blown open against him. Baker can justify his decision by saying. ‘Well, he’s a starter now, he’s got to learn how to pitch out of trouble.’

    I really wonder if Baker will purposely manage to lose Chapman’s starts just to prove his point and get what he wants.

  21. @CI3J: I think Dusty Baker’s top priority will be winning as many games as he can in 2013 rather than intentionally sabotaging players to get back at the front office. Dusty’s message all along hasn’t been that Chapman is incapable or undeserving of starting, it’s that Dusty feels the team will do better in 2013 with him in the bullpen. Blowing games won’t achieve any goal.

    Maybe you can accuse Dusty of being too shortsighted, prioritizing today while Bryan Price prioritizes things a year or two down the road. But, as the manager in 2013, trying to win games in 2013 is Dusty’s job and I think he’s entitled to his opinion on how to do that.

  22. The one thing we don’t know anything about is what is being said between Walt and Dusty privately. Is Walt applying pressure to Dusty? Is Dusty resistant? Or is he merely passive-aggressive? I would love to hear the conversations between those two men. On a lot of topics, actually.

  23. With Chapman, Baker/Walt may be right or wrong. No one can tell because Chapman hasn’t started yet. If I was to bet, I would bet it wouldn’t work based on the scouting reports when he tried to start, what, about 3 years ago in AAA. But, with his time in the league now, it can be different. I would like to think Chapman would be on a short leash as a starter. We only have him signed, what, through next season.

    But, I will say this. If the culture is “Walt is right, Baker is wrong”, Baker set this up himself some by playing players like Stubbs, Gomes, Harris, Patterson, Tavaras, etc., way too much/too long. Several have talked about how to keep Baker from doing this, how the only way would probably be to Dusty-proof the roster. It seems to me that Walt is simply looking to do that job.

  24. Am I the only person that does not want Mike Leake traded? Guys, I see another Greg Maddux when I look at Leake. It took several years for Greg Maddux to find his zone. How many of you remember that he went 6-14 in his second big league season? He was 18-8 his third season and 19-12 in his fourth season. Leake is still a kid yet. Let’s give him a couple of more seasons in Cincinnati before we get ready to run him out of town. Also I want to see what Chapman can do in the starter role. Maybe he is a 20 game winner and Broxton just shuts everyone down. I hope that is the way it plays out!

    • I tire of your act.

      With that proclamation by the head honcho himself, I will venture into the Chapman/Leake discussion once again.

      @icee82:

      Am I the only person that does not want Mike Leake traded? Guys, I see another Greg Maddux when I look at Leake.

      Not at all Icee. In fact I can’t recall any valid opinions expressed here that propose trading Leake. The Reds do not need to (and should not) trade Leake in order to convert Chapman to a starter, whether Chapman succeeds as a starter or not. Price just has to work out the process to support both pitchers and maximize their effectiveness this season. Next season, Arroyo will almost certainly be gone and the Reds will need a 5th starter again even with Chapman starting.

      With the superb 2nd half performances by Bailey, Latos and Leake last season, I’m hoping and looking forward to the Reds extending two of those pitchers. Maybe WJ will have some more late ST surprises for the Nation this season.

    • Am I the only person that does not want Mike Leake traded? Guys, I see another Greg Maddux when I look at Leake. It took several years for Greg Maddux to find his zone. How many of you remember that he went 6-14 in his second big league season? He was 18-8 his third season and 19-12 in his fourth season. Leake is still a kid yet.

      Except that Maddux was 22 when he went 18-8. Leake is already 25.

  25. My perspectives on the move are known so no reason to repeat them. Even with my reservations I don’t suspect a Strasberg type of innings limit for Chapman if he goes into the rotation. The situations are different with the primary difference being that Strasberg was coming off of major surgery. Another consideration is that Stasberg was entering his age 23 season and Chapman is entering his age 25 season. That two years is a significant difference.

  26. @icee82: You are not alone in not wanting Leake traded. I don’t think it’s in the Reds’ best interest to trade him. My opinion stands rather Chapman’s conversion to the rotation is successful or not. You can never have too much pitching, especially proven starting pitching.

  27. I would so much rather the Reds try this out and find out it didn’t work than to not have tried at all. If Chapman is the Lord of Saves, than I fail to see what the harm is in trying this out and sending him back if it needs to happen. He’s going to lose his fastball? As Chad said in the original post, the downside is negligible. Even the injury risk isn’t all that concerning: People will get injured any time any place. People may want to assign blame for an injury on the move to starting after the fact, but honestly, there will never be a way to prove it wasn’t waiting to happen one way or another. I admire Jocketty and Price for not living in that kind of fear.

  28. I have resisted posting on this topic in the past because so much has been said that I was confident I had little insight to add that hadn’t already been addressed. But the conversation has taken a turn to where I find I can’t help but throw in my two cents (or maybe my two dollars):

    On baseball:
    - I’m glad Mike Leake is still a Red. He is a capable 4th or 5th starter with potential to be more. Almost certainly not Greg Maddox more, but we’ve all seen extended stretches of really solid starting pitching. He may become REALLY valuable if any of the following happen: a) One of the first 5 starters gets hurt, b) He’s needed to give Chapman an innings break, c) Bronson Arroyo is gone after this year, and/or d) he finds his inner Maddox. I second the “you can never have too much pitching” motion.
    - If Chapman has lights out stuff, I hope he pitches more innings, not less. That seems so obvious I’m astounded by calls for keeping him in the bullpen. If I suggested we use Joey Votto (or even Todd Frazier) as a pinch hitter because he’d be so much more valuable if Dusty Baker could decide precisely when he was used than if he just batted a lot I’d be directed to the fan site for the Cincinnati pro bowling league. I think it’s a very good idea to TRY Chapman as a starter. I hope he’s good.
    - I am strongly in the closers-are-overrated camp. I do agree that situational use of an excellent reliever can be more effective than a ninth inning, save situation usage. But still. I don’t have the statistics at my fingertips but I’m quite confident in saying that for DECADES prior to the closer era, the Yankees won games that they led going into the 9th inning at almost EXACTLY the same rate as Mariano Rivera has saved games in his first-ballot-hall-of-fame career.

    On this discussion:
    - To the posters, all of whom I automatically like because you are like me, serious Reds fans: I love Redleg Nation because it continually hosts intelligent, respectful, thought provoking exchanges that are rarely petty or mean spirited. Please stop beating on each other and let’s get back to intelligent conversations about baseball and the Reds.
    - To the RN staff guys, thank you for maintaining sanity most of the time. I know it’s a tough job. But this type of discussion is too perilous. The concept allows us to speculate wildly then pretend we’ve made some important point just because something is possible. It’s possible that aliens will invade but they only eat Cuban starting pitchers so the Reds made a big mistake not keeping Chapman in the bullpen (and I’ll miss Livan Hernandez) so clearly Chapman should close. Can we consider a moratorium on the “should Chapman start?” threads until the regular season starts? Please?

    Finally:
    - My name is Chris DeBlois. I don’t post often, but I’d like to post under that name and help to start making this site, already one of the best baseball blogs going, even more of a home for open minded, informed, respectful adults. How do I change my user name?
    - Is it April yet? I’m ready for games that count!

  29. I like Mike. I’ve always found the Maddox comparisons interesting, and not entirely inappropriate.

    Mainly because Leake’s best pitch is the one Maddox lived on. Of course Leake hasn’t come anywhere near Maddox’s control of it, and possibly for that reason, doesn’t get the calls that Maddox used to get. Leake gets squeezed by umps pretty often, and when he does, there’s not much of a plan B.

    But I still have some hopes for the kid.

  30. @Chad Dotson: I think CFD3000 and the policy of the editors are right on here. I’m Kyle Farmer and would be fine being identified by my name on my posts. Can you make that happen Chad because I don’t see how to do it on the log-in page. Thanks!

  31. @TC: That’s why Pinson (I love that guy!) no longer posts??? This is just wrong. Yes, like you, I simply skip @redsfanman: his comments. I mean, just quit sucking the oxygen out of the room all the time. Here’s a helpful hint—2 comments per post. You’d stand a better chance of someone reading them at least.

  32. The sole objective is to win games. This team won 97 last year with Chapman in the pen. So how many do they win this year if he say gets 20-25 starts over the season?

    • The sole objective is to win games.This team won 97 last year with Chapman in the pen.So how many do they win this year if he say gets 20-25 starts over the season?

      If that’s the metric used, then we should all be prepared to be disappointed.

      I will go out on a limb and say the 2013 Reds do not win 97 games. Injuries + a more a competitive NL + no Astros equals less wins.

      Fortunately, using that metric would be foolish. The real metric is: what wins more games this year & what puts the Reds in the best position to win the World Series (with a eye towards winning more games/the world series in 2014 and 2015)?

      • @CP: Exactly. Amount of games won is relatively meaningless. It’s win enough to win the division. Have a team as best suited as possible for a short playoff series.

  33. @Chris Garber: I have considered the signing of Broxton and that was a big reason I was a proponent of moving Chapman in the beginning (before chickening out). Broxton is an excellent addition to the pen and his presence does help the Reds’ bullpen be a strength even without Chapman.

  34. At the start of spring training games, Dusty/Price had Leake and Chapman pitching on the same days. (Unsure if the rainout and off-days have changed that any.) Wonder if that is because they might be piggy-backed somehow for Chapman’s starts in the rotation when the season starts, or whether it’s to keep Leake steady in that rotation spot in case Chapman ends up back in the pen.

    • At the start of spring training games, Dusty/Price had Leake and Chapman pitching on the same days. (Unsure if the rainout and off-days have changed that any.) Wonder if that is because they might be piggy-backed somehow for Chapman’s starts in the rotation when the season starts, or whether it’s to keep Leake steady in that rotation spot in case Chapman ends up back in the pen.

      Leake and Chapman just pitched again on the same day yesterday (or was it the day before?), in scrimmages against Reds minor leaguers in what was otherwise an off-day. I don’t think rainouts have been a problem, or that a piggy-back plan is likely. I think they’re just keeping them both ready before settling on one shortly before they board the plane for Cincinnati.

  35. You also have to consider this–if Chapman stays as closer, the combined salaries of him, Broxton (big overpay), and Marshall would be utterly ridiculous in the context of a mid-market team using their resources wisely. Walt would look really foolish.

    • You also have to consider this–if Chapman stays as closer, the combined salaries of him, Broxton (big overpay), and Marshall would be utterly ridiculous in the context of a mid-market team using their resources wisely.Walt would look really foolish.

      Walt Jocketty would get credit for using limited resources to put together the best back-end of the bullpen in MLB. Other teams would be jealous rather than consider him to be foolish. What was that award they won last year? Organization of the Year?

      All that’s left to decide if the overpaid bullpen is the best in basebll – with Chapman in it – or a weakness with Broxton closing.

      • What was that award they won last year? Organization of the Year?

        They pass out rings for that, right?

    • @bearcats2004: That’s a good article. Thanks to @CP for the reference and to you for posting the link. I have seen similar studies with basically the same findings. It would be interesting to see a deeper study looking into leads by inning (adding the 7th and 8th) or looking at it team-by-team. It could be a HUGE amount of work though… Hmmm, perhaps I see my next research project coming up. I’m not sure I’d have any results for weeks however. Maybe I can contact some of my SABR buddies and get some help though.

  36. My season tickets were just delivered!

    My seat is in the same section (130) as last year although I moved closer to the field by about 10 rows and am now on the aisle instead of the middle of the section.

    Can’t wait for Opening Day!

    • My season tickets were just delivered!

      My seat is in the same section (130) as last year although I moved closer to the field by about 10 rows and am now on the aisle instead of the middle of the section.

      Can’t wait for Opening Day!

      Congrats! What happens to the tickets in the meantime? Do they go on display or anything?

  37. Great stuff from Joe Posnanski, as usual. Of course, I especially liked the article because it underscores my point (and on that has been made here many times by many others). Closers just don’t matter that much. Obviously if you have a really bad one you can’t let him keep closing. But most managers don’t put up with that for long, and Dusty Baker certainly won’t either. If a team has a 1 or 2 run lead going into the 9th 60 times in a year, and two closers polish those games off at success rates of 85% versus 90%, that’s 3 games a year (and of course you may not lose all three of those games). I firmly believe that upgrading a starter is MUCH more likely to improve a team by 3 wins than an upgrade at closer. This is even more true since Chapman is NOT a lock down closer. He’s great fun to watch when he strikes out the side on 11 pitches, but he gives up a lead at about the same rate as just about every other good closer. I’m excited to see how he’ll do as a starter. And I expect Broxton to be an effective closer. But if he’s not, I’m pretty sure Marshall can be. Or Hoover. Or…

    • And I expect Broxton to be an effective closer. But if he’s not, I’m pretty sure Marshall can be. Or Hoover. Or…

      If Broxton starts blowing saves, it’ll be JJ Hoover to the rescue. He has that closer mentality and makeup. I think JJ will be closing by the all-star break and Broxton traded before the July 31 trade deadline again.

    • @Chris DeBlois: As much as I like Poz usually, I actually have to say that this article was pretty bad. As several of the commenters on the post pointed out, the analysis is flawed from the start.

      When you look league wide, you are getting into “law of large numbers” territory, which is to say, things tend toward the average and you’ll miss the variations.

      People cite that year after year, save percentage across the league is about 85%, so closers must not matter. But it stays so constant because you’re including all of that year or decade’s good and bad players, so really you’re just measuring the talent level. What Poz actually shows is that relative to batters, pitchers have been pretty much the same, except in the 90s as he points out, when hitters made some gains.

      But take last year for example. Among all closers with at least 10 saves, the save percentage was 86%, so right in line with year-to-year averages. So closers must not matter, right? Well, no, not necessarily. Because when you drill down, you see that the range among those pitchers was from Ryan Cook’s 66% to Fernando Rodney’s 96%. Which, I would say is a pretty huge swing.

      Now granted, Cook only got 21 save opportunities to Rodney’s 50, but that in itself says that closers matter, because the A’s pulled Cook. If they had given him 50 save opportunities and he’d continued at the same rate he would have blown 17 saves to Rodney’s 2. There was no way the A’s could have survived that and had to pull him.

      Now I am solidly in the Chapman to the rotation camp, but I think this analysis misses the point pretty badly.

      • @al: We don’t disagree on your basic point. I agree that ignoring the trees for the forest can be dangerous in statistical assessments. And I agree that the difference between Ryan Cook and Fernando Rodney is huge, and no starter could make up for that. And Posnanski’s analysis does have a bunch of flaws. Heck, the save statistic has a bunch of flaws. For one example, a pitcher can blow a save in the 8th inning, but he can never earn one.

        But I look at the fundamental premise and extract this thinking from it: On average every team is going to win 95% of the time they take a lead into the 9th. There’s just not much room for improvement in the win/loss column once you get to that average. So the search for an Eric Gagne type flawless year is a fool’s errand. There just aren’t many more wins to be found. I think once you’ve identified a good (not great) closer there are much more important things to focus on, namely getting to the 9th with that lead. So I’m strongly in favor of starting Chapman with that goal in mind. I’m also strongly in favor of using your best reliever (who may or may not be the “closer”) to get crucial outs in the second half of the game, perhaps as early as the 6th inning. I’m waiting for that manager – my money’s on Joe Maddon – who will figure out that managing to the save is pointless, it’s managing to the WIN that matters. Now if you promised me that Chapman or Kimbrel or Rivera or any other elite reliever would be used for the critical outs whenever they happen during a game then you might convince me that a great closer mattered nearly as much as a really good starter (and yes, I know it happens occasionally – even Dusty Baker brought Chapman in before the 9th a few times last year). But until that’s an every day strategy, I don’t buy it.

        • @Chris DeBlois: For the most part I agree with where you’re going, my point is that I don’t agree with the premise you state in the second paragraph, and that’s the problem with Poz’s article.

          He states that a) if you take all the teams together for a decade and look at the winning percentage with a lead in the 9th it’s 95%. But then he talks about it (and let’s the reader believe) that ALL teams ALWAYS win those games at a 95% rate. That’s the premise you stated, that there’s no room for improvement with a great closer because every team is going to win at 95%.

          And that’s why I posted those radically different save numbers*. It’s not true to say that all team’s save out games at an 85% rate just because that’s the league average. The difference between having Cook and Rodney last year over a full season would be 15 blown saves, which would kill almost any team.

          To me, Chapman in the pen could make sense if our bullpen was terrible and our rotation was elite. Relievers are valuable. But that’s not the situation. The difference between Broxton (88% saves and holds**) and Chapman (90%) is not very big. Basically one game over a full year.

          The difference between Mike Leake (solid #4 or #5 pitcher) to what Chapman could be (potential #1 – #2) might be very large. And that’s what the Reds need to find out.

          *Save numbers are easier to get than winning percentage (don’t have to mess with retrosheet) but the idea is the same.

          **Holds is how you counter blown saves in the 8th.

  38. And Chad – thanks for updating my ID. I’m proud to be a Cincinnati Reds fan, proud to be a small part of the Redleg Nation family, and happy to post as – Me.

    • @Chris DeBlois: Welcome. Rest assured this place will be much more boring this year without the daily lineup arguments. I hope it just devolves into fights about whether Joey or Bruce should be front runner for MVP.

  39. OK seriously – how can one seriously believe a pitcher with Chapman’s stuff should NOT be tried as a starter? Randy Johnson would likely have been a lights-out closer, but would his career have been comparable had he been? I’ve been following the Reds for 35 years, and they have (even before then) been gifted at turning up effective closers…Rawley Eastwick, Doug Bair, Tom Hume, Ted Power, John Franco, Randy Myers, Rob Dibble, Jeff Brantley, Jeff Shaw, Danny Graves, Jeff Williamson, Cordero…hell, even David Weathers! Many of those closers were near the tops of their contemporaries…how many starters have we had since them who were among the game’s top starters? Not sure what the sabermetricians would say, but I believe a top-of-the-line starter has MUCH more value than a top-of-the-line closer.

  40. Additionally…Chapman as the closer improved upon Cordero by a single save (38/43 vs. 37/43). If he replaces Leake in the rotation, think he might improve upon 8-9, 4.58 ERA by more than a game? If not, bury him back in the pen…Must admit I’m pleased to read the front office seems to be leaning toward making Chapman a starter – and perhaps idiot may be trumped and have to try starting him!

  41. Also must admit, I was amused by the post title…Dusty Baker wrong? If that were so, Corey Patterson, Todd Hollandsworth, Darren Lewis, Tyler Colvin, and Drew Stubbs would not be locks for the Hall!!!!

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