We’ve known the condition from the start as Chapmania.
It’s about to come to an end in Cincinnati.Ã‚Â According to various sources, the Reds front office is aggressively shopping Aroldis Chapman at the GM meetings in Florida. The team’s closer of the last four years may be moved in the next 72 hours. There ought to be a countdown.
Chapman has been an excellent pitcher for the Reds. Even in a market full of shut-down closers, the Reds should do well trading him – expect at least 2 high-probability prospects in return. The Boston Red Sox remain a promising match.
The club deserves credit for scouting and signing the once-a-generation left-handed pitcher. But their subsequent handling of his development and career is the worst malfeasance relating to Cuba since the Bay of Pigs. If you’re looking for a single word, take your pick from theÃ‚Â synonyms for catastrophe.
Edsel, Snapple, Three Mile Island, Exxon-Valdez. It’s hard to express the enormity of the mistake the Reds made with Chapman. The closest parallel may be the guy who threw away a winning lottery ticket worth $181 million.
Who gets the blame?Ã‚Â Speaking of his failed invasion of Cuba, President Kennedy paraphrased a clichÃƒÂ©Ã‚Â while notingÃ‚Â victory has a hundred fathersÃ‚Â but defeat is an orphan. In Chapman’s case, we’d need a transport ship full of paternity tests. Start with Bob Castellini, Walt Jocketty, Dusty Baker, Ryan Madson and even the man himself, Aroldis Chapman.
Four years ago, the Chicago White Sox decided to convert their hard-throwing, left-handed reliever, Chris Sale, to a starting pitcher. Sale has since thrown 785 innings for the White Sox, 530 more than Chapman has pitched for the Reds over that time. Sale earned 22 WAR compared to Chapman’s 10 WAR. That’s the difference between Joey Votto and Logan Forsythe, between Andrew McCutchen and Trevor Plouffe.
Chapman has averaged 36 saves/year since 2012. The Reds previous closer, Francisco Cordero averaged 38. Chapman’s save conversion rate of 91% is better than Cordero’s rate of 86%. That works out to a difference of 2 blown saves a year. Keep in mind that teams don’t lose all the games when their closer blows a save.
The playerÃ‚Â himself will pay a steep price for being a relief pitcher. Aroldis Chapman will be just 28 years old when he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2016 season. As a top-tier lefty starter, Chapman’sÃ‚Â next contract would be worth more than $200 million. Watch what David Price hauls in and he’s 2 years older than Chapman. Clayton Kershaw will earn $35 million/year for his age 28-32 seasons. Chapman the closerÃ‚Â sets $100-150 million on fire.
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Aroldis Chapman’s performances for the Reds have often been exhilarating. The highest high. It was addictive, ninth-inning baseball crack.
But his time with us here also triggered an avalanche of angst. Should Chapman start or should he close? Should the manager use him more in the eighth inning? Should he throw his change-up more? No matter how much elation Chapman’s strikeouts generated, discontent lurked.
The word mania has two meanings and I’m afraid they both apply to our relationship with Aroldis Chapman. Mania : (1) extreme enthusiasm for something that is usually shared by many people; (2) mental illness typically characterized by feelings of euphoria, lack of inhibitions, racing thoughts, risk taking and irritability.
Soon, theÃ‚Â two sides to Chapmania won’t matter. At least not to Reds fans.
Honestly, it will be a relief.