2011 Reds / The Phenom

Ummm…no, Dusty.

Check out what Dusty Baker said about Aroldis Chapman last night:

“Can you afford to give him three or four days off so he can throw as hard as he did tonight? Or will he get conditioned to going a couple of days in a row? Remember, everybody wanted him to be the closer. You can’t be the closer right now going a couple of days a week. A closer has to go three, four, five days in a row sometimes. Then, you might not use your closer for a week. That’s how things go.”

Ummmm….sorry, Dusty. That’s just not true. Everybody wanted Chapman to be a starter; at least, everyone here at the Nation did (and does).

If Aroldis Chapman can’t pitch “a couple of days in a row,” the ideal solution is to move him to the rotation. Even before it started to become clear that Chapman isn’t ideally suited for bullpen work, it was obvious to most observers that having him start games was the perfect way to maximize his value. Of course, we’ve been saying this same thing for months and months.

Send Chapman to Louisville and put him in the rotation, immediately.

30 thoughts on “Ummm…no, Dusty.

  1. Typical Dusty way of putting it on the fans. He takes a reporters question and spins it so now the fans are the bad guys.

    A reporter ask dusty “People have been saying maybe Chapman should close while Cordero struggles”

    Dusty translate this to “Eveyone wants Chapman should be the closer”

    He does this quite often when anyone questions him. He did it last year when Gomes was struggling saying things like “everyone wanted me to play Dickerson when Stubby was struggling, and now everyone wants me to play Heisey not to long ago, now hes hitting .210”

    Its deflection and it’s honestly a back handed insult to reporters who fall for it.

    • Its deflection and it’s honestly a back handed insult to reporters who fall for it.

      The beat reporters are afraid of seeming critical of Baker when they ask him questions. They frame anything that can be interpreted as questioning of his lineups or decisions as “the fans wonder…” which is pathetic. And the thought that one of the reporters would ask a tough follow up question when Baker says one of these howlers is beyond the pale.

      • The beat reporters are afraid of seeming critical of Baker when they ask him questions. They frame anything that can be interpreted as questioning of his lineups or decisions as “the fans wonder…” which is pathetic. And the thought that one of the reporters would ask a tough follow up question when Baker says one of these howlers is beyond the pale.

        It’s such a double edge sword for them also since Baker is basically their employer. If Baker doesnt answer their questions they suddenly have a much harder job to do.

        I dont think its a stretch that some of them mail it in because they just want their couple of quotes so they can go and republish the same story with slightly different details.

        A fan never gets a chance to explain how something is taken out of context.

  2. This REALLY worries me, because it sounds like Dusty is set on grooming him as the new closer. Feeling the need for a star closer is such an out-dated philosophy. I don’t know how many articles have been written over the last few years comparing the impact of an elite starting pitcher to an elite closer, particularly in the post-season. A top starting pitcher is FAR more valuable, and that should be obvious to everyone by now because of the size of the relative contracts. And that’s what I really hope this is not about – money. This team can afford an elite closer. They’ve been paying Cordero like one for years now. But they can’t afford a Roy Hallady or a Cliff Lee-type contract, which Chapman could demand in a few years if he reaches his potential. Financially, they could be trying to set him up as a closer so they have a better chance of keeping him beyond his current contract and they don’t lose their featured attraction, regardless of how that decision might impact the wins and losses.

  3. why louisville? didn’t they do that last year and at best had mixed results?the reason they put him in the pen was he had no control over his pitches. what good is it if he can throw 105 if he has a dozen walks to go along with his strikeouts. I say send him to A or double AA where he can work on his control and when he can dominate there then send him to louisville untill he dominates there. and by dominate I mean go more than the 5-6 innings our starters here go and throwing a 100 pitches while doing that. again what good is all that speed if he can’t control it? if it takes all year for him to do it then the reds will just have to wait untill he gets it right. I do not want to see a repeat of the way they brought up Homer up and down. keep him down untill he proves he can pitch consistantly without the control issues he had last year.

    • the reason they put him in the pen was he had no control over his pitches.

      This is somewhat misleading. While perhaps he didn’t show dominant “starter stuff” in AAA to bring him up as such in the Bigs, they put him in the ‘pen because he could contribute to a pennant race that way. If a guy is as ineffective as you make him sound, he doesn’t get called up to play major league ball in any kind of situation.

  4. I doubt that it is Baker’s decision to use Chapman in relief…that decision, with a player as valuable as Chapman, is above his pay grade. (Okay…not literally pay grade, but it is likely the GM’s decision).

  5. @metalhead65: I don’t know what good sending him to A or AA would do. He’s already proven he can get big league hitters out. That’s the only difference – the level of competition. So unless you’re concerned about the Bats’ record there’s no reason to not have him getting ready against the highest level of competition possible. It’s not like there’s a MORE important pitching prospect whose place he’d be taking in Louisville.

  6. Shouldn’t this be a Walt Decision? I am willing to bet that for whatever reason the brain trust of the Reds see Chapman as the closer to be given the depth of our starting pitcher. I would be shocked to see chapman ever a starter with this club unless he just physically can not pitch out of the pen and i think the Reds will do their best to tax that kids arm down there to see if he can.

  7. It is in all likelihood a Walt decision – if not a Castenelli decision. And maybe in the long run it does make sense…if you know you’re never going to be able to keep him for the long haul as a starter, maybe you turn him into your Mario Rivera and leave it at that. Would we rather have him closing for us or starting for someone else?

  8. @metalhead65: i think you’re blowing his control issues out of proportion a little. he had 4.9 bb/9 with the bats, but still had a 2.5k/bb ratio. he’s the type of pitcher that can be effective with some walks because he gets so many strikeouts.

    if he can get that down to 3.5 or 4bb/9, he’d be more or less golden. remember, he also had a 3.57 era and pitched a complete game in the minors, it’s not like he was walking the league.

    i think he still has things to work on in the minors though, i just don’t see any reason to send him back to where he can just throw his fastball by everyone in A or AA. i think in addition to command, the biggest thing he needs to work on to be a starter is a third big league pitch.

  9. @eric nyc: isn’t that looking a little too far down the road? we already spent the $30+ mil to have him for 6 years. in baseball terms, these days, that’s a long time. we should just be getting the most out of him while we have him and not worry about what’s going to happen in 2016.

    the thing is, i don’t know what happened to all of their brains. it looked like everyone was on the same page last year. he started for a while, built up some innings, then came up to relieve for a while so as to not burn out. why didn’t he keep starting at the beginning of this year? it’s like they had a plan, and then just said screw it, the fans love the heater!

  10. @al: Does anyone know Chapman’s BB by inning at AAA? That seems to me to be the crux. I think Chapman has pretty good control for a flamethrower…until his second day in a row pitching. I’m wondering if we have evidence that he starts walking people in the 3rd, 4th, 5th innings of his starts.

  11. @metalhead65: And, Chapman got exactly 13 starts. Not exactly a lot of time considering the transition to the States and everything else. I’m reluctant to call any new minor league starter a bust after only a 1/2 season of starting. The Reds decided he could contribute to a winning ball club in the ‘pen and that changed a lot of things. They do need to go back to Plan A though. Build up his arm and let him loose as a starter.

  12. @eric nyc:

    As of yet I don’t see him as a great starter, now that could change with development and such and I don’t see him right now able to be a closer as his body can’t go every day. Right now I see him stuck in between the two and an organization not sure what to do with him.

  13. @dn4192: The only reason you, or anyone else, hasn’t seen him as a great starter is because he hasn’t really been given the chance. He was shaky in AAA last year, but EVERYONE fully expected that. No one in the organization or the fanbase was surprised that he was going to need some time to develop. And by the end of the season, he had shown enough improvement that he was deemed capable of helping the big club make a pennant push and go into the post season. It was handled just right. And just like Al said, everyone took their eye off the prize at that point. That’s why I think this is a Castenelli decision. When Chapman came up last year, it was the biggest news in the league. And this offseason he dominated the media again – listed as the top prospect in baseball by pretty much everyone. So when Spring rolled around, Castenelli had to decide if he was going to let his media golden boy spend another 2-3 months in Louisville – where he would draw no media attention, no ticket revenue, no nationally televised games, no jersey sales – or find SOME role for him in the majors, regardless of what was best for the team. I don’t think you can discount how big of an impact Chapman’s “star power” is in all of these decisions. Now there’s a real danger of not only wasting a once-in-a-generation acquisition for the team, but also of ruining a young man’s career by misusing him like they are. He’s simply not built to throw on less than a few day’s rest, and if they keep trying to force him to he’s not going to suddenly “get used to it.” He’s going to get hurt. And then who wins?

  14. @Dave Lowenthal: can’t find anywhere that lists walks by inning, but with only 13 starts it wouldn’t really be enough of a sample to tell anything anyway.

    and a lot of pitchers lose control for an inning and walk a bunch of guys, and then get it back. i think it would be tough to pick up a trend.

  15. @eric nyc: very much agree. would have really liked to see what 2-3 months of starts in AAA would have looked like this year.

    remember, last year he was 22 and had just defected. he was pitching to older competition and competition that had been in the minors for an average of 3-4 years. the fact that he was holding his own as a starter should have been more than enough to keep the process going, because those are some serious hurdles.

    with a full year in the states, the experience of a pennant race, and lots of exposure to major league hitters, it seems like he could have been set up for success at AAA this year.

  16. If part of the reason that he didn’t succeed as a starter is the lack of a third quality pitch, he’s not going to work on that in his current role. Matt from WI is right, the Reds switched him from SP to RP because it was the way he could most help the pennant race. In theory, they could duplicate that again this year, having him in AAA working on being a SP and then moving to the bullpen in August/September and (hopefully) the playoffs.

    Keep in mind that if he only pitches 70 innings this year, even if we moved him to a SP role next year he couldn’t come anywhere near 200 IP. It would be more like 140-50.

    Yes, we have him on a six-year deal and that seems like forever, but he’s already done one, he’s in the middle of year two (as a 70-inning set-up pitcher) and next year he would *at best* be a 140-inning SP. So we would possibly have him for three years as an elite SP if all goes well.

    • Yes, we have him on a six-year deal and that seems like forever, but he’s already done one, he’s in the middle of year two (as a 70-inning set-up pitcher) and next year he would *at best* be a 140-inning SP. So we would possibly have him for three years as an elite SP if all goes well.

      That’s why I’m talking about his “next contract” even though everyone thinks that’s too far sighted. He still has at LEAST one more full year of development before he could even be considered to be the ace of a rotation. At that point you have him for 3 years. That means after 2 years you have to make a decision as to whether you’re going to try to keep him around or trade him to get some value before he leaves in free agency. These contracts with developmental players, especially ones with the ceiling of Chapman, run up REALLY quick.

  17. This is definitely Walt’s call. If Baker strongly wants Chapman in the bullpen this year, then it would take a lot for Walt to go against that, even if he could. To some extent, part of your job as a GM is doing what your manager wants.

    But remember, this was one of those issues (along with Renteria and Lewis) where this spring we had competing statements from Baker and Walt. Walt said starter, Baker said reliever.

    Walt’s position was undercut when we didn’t resign Rhodes.

  18. @eric nyc: i’m not aying they shouldn’t think about his future in longer terms, but if they got three years of a top tier starter, that would be awesome, period. that’s what they should be going for, at least.

    and i think chapman, if sent to AAA to start right now, could be ready to be a very good starter next year, if not a true “Ace.” four years of a very good starting pitcher is worth so much more than 5 years of a very good relief pitcher.

  19. I could be thinking too optimistically here, I freely admit. One could, perhaps, maybe, see a glimmer of something in Dusty’s statement. Is he realizing that, perhaps, maybe, inconceivably, Chapman isn’t a “natural reliever”? Or is he just saying take the training wheels off and let him get used to falling off of the bike? He must work at these statements. They are, without fail, mind bogglingly opaque.

    • @Steve:

      How was undercut when he didn’t resign Rhodes?

      If they had resigned Rhodes, Baker would have had Rhodes and Bray from the left side in the bullpen and his argument that he needed Chapman for that role would be very weak. Without Rhodes, Baker could say he didn’t have his eighth-inning lefty which he has to have. So Jocketty’s view to use Chapman as a starter was undercut.

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