Remember Aroldis Chapman? He was good.
For a long time, especially on our podcast, I’ve been lamenting the fact that Aroldis was never really given an opportunity to be a starter for the Reds. Yes, I know he started in spring training for three consecutive years, but it’s the biggest “what might have been?” in recent Reds memory.
Honestly, I need to forget about this and move on. It’s probably evidence of some kind of mental disorder that I can’t stop thinking about how valuable Chapman would have been as a starter for our Cincinnati Reds.
Chapman has moved on, and I thought I had put all this behind me. Well, recently I was doing some research on Chapman (for a project that will be announced soon), and something I saw caused me to do a double-take.
It has been my theory for some time that Dusty Baker got into Chapman’s head and convinced him that he needed to be a reliever. Certainly, it was the best thing for Dusty’s job security at the time that Chapman be his closer, or at least it was reasonable for Dusty to think that — even if it wasn’t the best thing for the Reds, long-term.
I’m sure you remember when Chapman declared that he wanted to be a closer. It wasn’t always thus.
Here’s a piece from Sports Illustrated back in 2009, after Chapman defected from Cuba:
Chapman expresses reluctance to move to the bullpen, though he worked as a closer for part of the 2006-07 National Series season. “It went OK, but I like being a starter better,” he says. “The difference in starting the game is that you can impact the game greatly. You can pitch a lot of innings. As a closer, you only get one or two innings. You pitch more frequently, but I don’t have a lot of interest in being a closer.”
Aroldis understood why being a starter was more valuable than closing! What happened?
I almost wish I hadn’t read that quote. Now I’m obsessing over the idea of Chapman as a starter once again.
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.