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Is Aroldis Chapman the Reds’ future closer?

Mar 18, 2011, 3:06 PM EDT

Aroldis Chapman

Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay yesterday that Aroldis Chapman may one day be the Reds’ closer:

“We would still leave (starting) as an option,” Jocketty said. “He definitely could be a top-of-the-rotation guy. He’s either going to have to do that or be a closer. I don’t see him being a set-up guy forever.”

Whatever. I don’t know when the meeting was held in which everyone decided that closers were more valuable than starters, but I’d really like to see the minutes. Because at some point in that meeting, someone must have stood up and yelled “People!  If you have a talented pitcher, he should start games unless and until he shows he can’t hack it for some reason! Then and only then should he be stuck in the bullpen, because it’s not in your best interest to use your better pitchers in fewer innings!”

People love that Chapman and Neftali Feliz and before them Joba Chamberlin and any number of other guys like them can throw it hard and shut people down, so they somehow assume they should be doing it out of the pen. I don’t get it.  It’s almost as if it’d be better if they were less impressive just before reaching the majors so that their teams wouldn’t be inclined to shove them in the big league bullpen for a playoff run, which in turn causes everyone to forget that they were once quality starting pitching prospects.

  1. paperlions - Mar 18, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    As a Cardinal fan, I approve of this strategy. Fewer innings the Cardinals have to face him and fewer chances for him to develop as a pitcher in general (less chance to work on his secondary stuff, on his control, and on his approach to getting outs).]
    Moves like this are akin to keeping your best young power hitter on the bench so you can use him in a key late inning pinch hitting situation.

    • umrguy42 - Mar 18, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      As another Cards fan, I second everything you just said :)

  2. jthammerstix - Mar 18, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    The man with the golden dick. The reverse apache master. Kenny powers.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Mar 18, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      I’m as equally confused as I am elated to see this comment.

      • cur68 - Mar 18, 2011 at 4:54 PM

        I’m too insecure to say I don’t know WTF it means in case it shows how lacking in cred I am.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 18, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      Been hangin’ out with Charlie Sheen, JT?

  3. spudchukar - Mar 18, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    Craig, when a guy is only 20 years old, and has yet to master his secondary pitches, the perfect place for him is in the bullpen. There he can gain confidence, work on his imperfected breaking balls, and not strain his pitch counts. Your trepidation about players getting stuck in a role is valid, but this is a team’s foolishness, not the strategy of bringing along young talented arms with care. Had the Yankees stuck to this philosophy, rather than forcing Chamberlain into failure inducing situations, they may have had a much better hurler entering 2011.

    • spudchukar - Mar 18, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      I hadn’t read the other comments, so I guess like brilliant minds think alike. Maybe it is a LaRussa thing.

    • paperlions - Mar 18, 2011 at 4:21 PM

      When a guy is 20 and lacks polish (and Chapman could use work on his mechanics, secondary pitches, and pitching approach), the best place for him is the minors, where he can pitch a lot and work on things with little concern about the outcome of the game. The bullpen is a good place for a young pitcher toward the end of the year when you are worried about his innings….but it is a horrible place for a young pitcher that lacks polish but could be an ace…because he’ll take longer to develop if he’s stuck in the bullpen.
      If they stick Chapman in the bullpen, he’s likely to stay there if he’s successful…in part because by being there it’ll retard the development of skills needed to be a successful starter.

      • cktai - Mar 19, 2011 at 4:11 AM

        I tend to agree. In the bullpen he can rely on his all-out fastball without needing much else, when he should be developing his secondary stuff and learn how to spread out his power over multiple innings. Perfect place to do that is in the minors where the manager can keep an eye on his pitch count and allow a young pitcher to work on long-term development without being under constant pressure to perform.

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 18, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    Could not agree more, Craig. I think closers are one of the most overrated positions in all of sports. They’re wasting this kid away for as long as he’s a reliever.

  5. Riddering - Mar 19, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    At least the Yankees and Rangers didn’t pay $1mil in the first season + a huge signing bonus just to thwart the development of their guys. For the Reds to have signed Chapman to big money and question whether or not they want to have him start is even more foolish. He wasn’t an established closer signing with a team going for a “win now” season. They should absolutely be developing him as a starter until it’s a dead end.

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