Friday, October 7, 2011

The Cuban Missile Crisis Solved?

The "Cuban Missile"
The word coming out of Reds camp yesterday is the team plans to move hard-throwing, left-hander Aroldis Chapman from the bullpen to a starting role for the 2012 season. This according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer in his latest blog post.

The announcement should come as no surprise as the club even dangled the idea of transitioning the 23-year old before this past year as well.

In 69 career relief appearances over parts of two big league seasons, the Cuban fireballer has compiled a 6-3 record, a 3.27 ERA and 90 strikeouts over 63.33 innings.

I for one like this decision by the franchise. An arm such as Chapman's is too good to be relegated to the 'pen, unless of course the club was to tab him as their closer, which isn't going to happen if the team strikes an accord to bring veteran closer Francisco Cordero back for a couple more years.

I totally understand the mindset of both easing the youngster into MLB culture and not burning his arm out, but I think the time has come for the lanky 6'4 southpaw to emerge as a fixture in the Cincinnati rotation. If you're concerned about his arm wearing out prematurely consider this: he started 38 games in his last two seasons in Cuba, racking up nearly 200 innings combined during that span including 118 during his last campaign where he posted an 11-4 record.

Now consider this: Chapman tossed just 50 total innings in all of 2011. For the kind of stuff he possesses in his pitching arsenal, that total is just too low. If I'm a GM of any team, I want that guy taking the ball from the start of the game every fifth day -- not 2-3 times a week for an inning or so each.

Not only is he too talented to be watching the games from beyond the outfield walls, but he's not getting any cheaper either. Chapman is set to earn $2 million for each of the next two years, $3 million in 2014, and holds a $5 million player option for 2015. That's simply too much cash to dish out for a setup man, or a left-handed specialist -- unless you have money to burn like Boston, New York or Philly.

I'm not guaranteeing this move will propel Chapman to the Cy Young Award anytime soon, but I do think it's a move (and a risk) the club needed to make eventually. And on the heels of a disappointing season, some shakeup of the current makeup is in dire order.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully spring training will show whether he can keep the velocity up through a 5-inning start. This kid isn't Randy Johnson yet.

RedlegsWriter said...

I don't think the velocity will be a problem. He has started before. It will be whether or not he can consistently throw those heaters for strikes.