The Redleg Nation editorial staff put together a fine article on the recent developments regarding Aroldis Chapman’s move back to the bullpen. Word reached me late as I was in Jalalabad, a city near the Pakistan border that is very active — if you know what I mean. The 101st Airborne – the Screaming Eagles – are there. So you know it’s a busy place.
But back to the Aroldis Decision. The Nation, quite frankly, seems to be in an uproar. My two cents on this will be short and sweet.
This is a short-term decision. In other words, this came from Dusty Baker and Bryan Price. Chapman is a long term investment and I had visions of him being a Randy Johnson type of starter when Uncle Walt introduced him to the Cincinnati media years ago. Starting him out in the bullpen was fine. Sparky Anderson did that with Young Don Gullett in 1970 and when Young Don Gullett became a starter in 1971, he posted a 16-6 record.
Starting Chapman was a bit risky but worth it. A Cueto-Latos-Chapman trio would be formidable, if healthy. Add No-Hit Homer and always-reliable Arroyo and you have one hell of a starting rotation. And when the Reds signed Jonathan Broxton to a $21 million contract, well, that was icing on the cake. It was a done deal. Chapman would be starting. I was hoping he would start Opening Day.
But then when Dusty Baker went to the media on this and Chapman expressed a desire to stay in the bullpen, I knew it was over. Personally, I like Dusty. I think he would be a great guy to go out with it and have a few beers and talk baseball. But this decision is a short-term one, not for the long-term benefit of the Reds as an organization.
The Reds have done so many things right the last few years. Signing Joey long term, keeping Phillips and Bruce on the right side, getting a genuine leadoff hitter and trading for Mat Latos.
This can still be corrected but things would have to go wrong. We’ve seen in the last few days some near-misses with Latos and Arroyo. The Reds could alter their course (again) in June or July and make the Chapman move if Broxton or J.J. Hoover are lights out in the bullpen.
But for now, the Reds (and Dusty Baker) are going the conservative route. The safe route. The predictable route. And we all saw what that got us when the Reds were ahead of the Giants 2-0 in the playoffs.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.