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.

21 Responses

  1. jcredlegs

    Still doesn’t help the putrid offense.

  2. AMaC24

    This is great Steve! I wish so much that it were true. I’ve been with you guys for the last 3 seasons to get AC in the rotation. When you have a (potential) superstar, you hand him the ball and get out of the way. What our beloved Reds do is, hand him the ball in the 9th inning of a 6-1 loss. Such a waste. Crying myself to sleep tonight and dreaming of what could be. Tony & Freddie to the pen would certainly bolster that as well. I’m going to stop now 🙁

  3. lost11found

    Its too bad that Ryan Madsen blew out his elbow in 2012’s ST. That was the real, not fictional, Chapman Moment.

    Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.

    • preacherj

      I have gone to that very moment in time more than I want to think about. On top of what that would have meant for Chappy, Madsen was a darn good closer and Marshall was still in solid form. The back end of the pen was good and we would have had Mr 105 in the rotation. Sigh.

  4. George Mirones

    Steve, glad to see that you spent your time creatively while taking in this afternoons ball game. Can I get the name brand of that bottle or were you inhaling. 🙂

  5. Dale Pearl

    I definitely agree Chapman should be eventually utilized as a starter. I don’t agree that Simon or Cingrani should go back to the bullpen, both of them would be a #4 or #5 on any other team. Cingrani gave up 3 earned runs in 6 innings in his last outing and everyone on this blog post was just about ready to throw him to the dogs. Same thing happens when Simon has one bad inning and gives up 2 or 3. giving up 3 runs in 6 or 7 innings is a good outing for a pitcher guys! How many do you think Chapman is going to give up on average? I”m going to guess 3 as well.
    Here would be my strategy with Chapman Chapman is under team conract until 2016. So if we convert him to a starter we would need to see him maximize abilities in 2015. Move Chapman to long relief role and allow Broxton to be our 9th inning guy. Move Lecure to be our 8th inning Holder and move JJ Hover to be our 7th inning holder. Keep the starting rotation as it is. When Latos returns not only do you send down Marshall you simply DFA the guy and take your losses. Every pitcher is on a 5 man rotation except Simon and Cingrani who will take turns starting on the 5th day. On the 5th day that one of those two doesn’t start they long toss all day and work on secondary pitches. For the next day or two the pitcher who doesn’t start will be available as a backup relief pitcher (set pitch count at 20).

    Now my idea appeases everyone, in theory it extends the value to both Simon and Cingrani. Provides a future path for Chapman, makes our starting pitching more flexible and makes our relief pitching more flexible. In the end it doesn’t address what we need the most : Increased ability to score and drive in runs. Because a starting pitcher who gives up 3 runs in a start is considered by most standards as a decent outing.

    • Jason Linden

      Lots of people don’t understand what a 4 or 5 starter is. I don’t like using ERA, but it will serve for this…

      Right now, Cingrani has an ERA of 4.09. last year, there were 61 qualified starting pitchers with an ERA better than that. If you drop the requirement to 130 innings, that number is 77.

      If you take each team’s 5 best starters, that equals out to 180 starting pitchers.

      Being 78th on a list of 180 does not make you a 4th or 5th starter on most teams. It makes you maybe the 4th or 5th starter on a team with really good pitching.

      Which, once Latos is back, is what either of these guys would be.

      • Dale Pearl

        yup exactly proves my point. Cingrani has a huge upside in my opinion and with the right work dedication and training he will only get better. Simon, on the hand, I think he is peaking and quite honestly if we aren’t going to use him as a starter would make for outstanding trade material. In other words Cingrani’s value is yet to be maximized whereas Simon’s value will never be higher.

      • Vicferrari

        If Cingrani and Simon continue to start they will be shut down at the end of August

      • Vicferrari

        How exactly does that work, Simon starts in July? Cingrani to the bullpen, then he starts in August with Simon to the pen?,, skipping their spots on convenient off days?

      • vegastypo

        That was, I guess still is, a strength of the Reds. I formerly was under the impression that by calling a guy a No. 5 starter, he’d be likely skipped in the rotation when offdays allowed because a team wanted to maximize the starts by its best pitchers. Price, and before him Dusty, seem inclined to stay on rotation rather than skipping anybody. So pegging a No. 1 as opposed to a No. 5 doesn’t mean much if they’re all going to get roughly the same number of starts. (I guess you could argue that the Reds skipped Cingrani earlier in the season, but that involved a DL trip, not just skipping a start.)

  6. ohiojimw

    But of course it could never really happen because these days you can’t find your mojo and learn what it takes to be a starter by pitching out of the pen. 🙂

  7. WVRedlegs

    An episode of Fantasy Island? “Look. Da plane boss, da plane.”

  8. Vicferrari

    So is their anything logically that is holding Chapman back, fear of change by management, suspicion that he cannot handle it?

    • Dale Pearl

      That is a big question that stats can’t answer. Does he have the arm strength to throw 100 plus pitches every 5 days. To be honest I don’t think that he does. He was shut down was it last year or the year before that with arm fatigue? I think that Chappy needs to prove he can throw extended innings prior to be contemplated for a starters role. Move him to middle relief and see how he handles pitching 2 to 3 innings once a week first. That alone could quite possibly give the Reds the best middle relief in all of baseball and not only that securing Chapman for physical growth as a starter next year.

      • Vicferrari

        Has he never been a starter full time? What was his role before coming to Reds? He started 13 games in 2010, I thought he pitched fine in spring training as a starter- this would probably be the best season to do it, given that Simon and Cingrani probably will not be pitching in September at the rate they are going and there is no other candidate on the horizon

      • ToddAlmighty

        That’s the part I never understood. The guy was a starter in Cuba, no? He also started 13 games in 2010 in AAA. That’s like saying Tanaka shouldn’t have been a starter because he didn’t have any MLB starting experience before this year.

        Also, the last time Simon started before this year? 2011. That’s not all that much different than Chapman’s 2010.

  9. Cinvenfan

    In the real world, Aroldis learning English after getting hit in the forehead is the most probable outcome of all this wish list.

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