In the life of organizations there are certain pivotal moments — often precipitated by events that are unforeseen — where even their most fundamental previous judgments must, by necessity, be reconsidered. To sustain success, organizations must be able and willing to adapt to change, even if that means reversing course on previous convictions. Great organizations can turn on a diamond. They know the number 200 is larger than the number 68.
One of those opportunities has arrived for the Cincinnati Reds. The following is a fictional account, of course:
BREAKING: With news leaking that Mat Latos is ready to return to the starting rotation, the Cincinnati Reds held an unusual press conference today at Great American Ball Park. General manager Walt Jocketty, manager Bryan Price and pitcher Aroldis Chapman each made statements and took no questions.
Walt Jocketty: With Mat Latos’ return to the starting rotation this week, and with the team struggling to reach the .500 level, we felt this was the right time to make a dramatic change.
Aroldis Chapman will immediately begin the process of stretching out to become a starting pitcher. Jonathan Broxton will become the team’s closer. Alfredo Simon and Tony Cingrani will move to the bullpen.
When I had the foresight to sign Jonathan Broxton to a three-year contract at a salary well above the rate for set-up relievers, I knew the Reds would one day need his services as a closer. That day is here. As a card-carrying member of the Established Closer Society, Jonathan is eminently qualified for this important responsibility. He has put together a dominating first two months in 2014 and he is more than capable of pitching the ninth inning.
With Simon and Cingrani, Sam LeCure, Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover can help with late inning duties.
Alfredo Simon will continue to start until Aroldis Chapman can assume a place in the starting rotation in early June. We expect Simon to become a dominant force in the bullpen, capable of pitching several innings at a time.
Tony Cingrani has extensive experience in college as an outstanding closer. He’ll transition smoothly to the bullpen where his pitch portfolio is better suited. He or J. J. Hoover could become the team’s closer if necessary.
Bryan Price: As you know, starting pitchers are considerably more valuable to their teams because they pitch many times the innings. I’ve felt all along, and said so publicly, that Aroldis could handle the role of a starting pitcher.
Aroldis obviously has a great fastball. You need look no further than our own pitching staff to see that power-armed starting pitchers can get by with a dominant fastball. But Aroldis does have a good slider and he has shown an effective change-up this year that he’ll now get the opportunity to develop with more innings of work. Keep in mind that for several spring trainings, Aroldis was the best starting pitcher on the staff.
Yes, this is an abrupt reversal. In pursuit of the relentless ideal I spoke about last October, a sit-on-my-hands approach is not called for here. Remember it was an unexpected and sudden moment – when Ryan Madson blew out his elbow in the spring of 2012 – that put Aroldis in the bullpen in the first place. Otherwise he’d have been a starter now for two years.
One silver lining of Aroldis’ unfortunate accident in March is that it has shortened his season to the point where an innings limitation won’t be necessary for him as a starter.
With Aroldis in the rotation, along with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake we will match up with other elite teams in our league. And if we’re fortunate enough to reach the post-season, our rotation may be the best in the Major Leagues by then.
Aroldis Chapman (speaking English): Getting hit in the forehead by a 100-mph line drive has been a life-changing event for me. For one thing, I woke up being able to speak perfect King’s English. Beyond that, I now realize that even though my previous stated preference had been to pitch the ninth inning, what’s more important is that I sacrifice my personal wishes to the needs of my team. And right now the Reds need me to become a starting pitcher.
My teammate and good friend Homer Bailey mentioned the other day that he could give me more than a hundred million reasons why I should become a starting pitcher. But I’m not exactly sure what he meant. I understand English just fine, I think he was using an idiom. Or one of those sayings he has from Texas. Either way, I am anxious for Homer to explain all those reasons to me. That’s a very big number of reasons.
And completely off topic, have any of you noticed lately how much larger extension and free agent contracts are for starting pitchers compared to those for closers? My agent was mentioning that the other day.
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.