The Reds have finally made a decision on Aroldis Chapman for the 2013 baseball season. The left-handed phenom went to spring training with all intents of transitioning to the starting rotation. However, the past few weeks have seen Dusty Baker voice his displeasure over the original plan. Last week, Chapman publicly said he would prefer to be the teams closer, which set off a chain reaction of emotions from fans and analysts around the baseball world.
On Friday, general manager Walt Jocketty announced Chapman will resume his role as the teams closer. The announcement means Mike Leake will start the season as the fifth member of the rotation. Jocketty had this to say on the matter:
Like last year, it was a tough decision, but I think we felt what gave us the best opportunity as an organization to win this year would be to leave the rotation as is. We had four guys that pitched 200 innings. Hopefully we can do that again. We have another guy who is capable of pitching 200 innings in Leake. That’s a very strong rotation.
While the aforementioned rotation is strong, Chapman could have made it among the best in baseball. Although many analysts agree with leaving Chapman in the closer’s role, it seems the Reds could be limiting his overall impact on the game. Chapman pitched only 71 innings last year and had zero impact in the NLDS loss to the San Francisco Giants.
There is no secret this is the decision Dusty Baker has wanted all along. For a manager who has been criticized for ruining the careers of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, it was clear Dusty wanted Chapman in the closers role. It makes his job easier to rely on the uber talented Chapman in the ninth inning of close games.
Bashing Dusty and questioning organizational decisions seems a bit overplayed, but it will be interesting to see how this decision affects the long-term career of Aroldis Chapman. The Reds have mishandled his talent and development from the very start and now find themselves wavering on what to do with their most talented pitcher every spring. At what point does Chapman become the starting pitcher the Reds signed him to be in 2010? He is halfway through a six-year deal and has never started a regular season game at the major league level. Perhaps it’s time to realize Chapman will be the closer for as long as he’s wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform.
In the meantime, lets enjoy one of the best bullpens in baseball and get ready for what should be another great season in the Queen City.