Monday, January 11, 2010

Reds Roll The Dice On Aroldis Chapman

  • A surprising destination for Aroldis Chapman:

Even with the number of surprising teams making aggressive pushes for the 22-year-old Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, an even more stunning victor in the negotiations emerged as the Cincinnati Reds have nabbed the lefty.

The Reds have agreed with Chapman on a 5-year, $30 million contract. While teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Marlins were after him, that it's the Reds that emerged from the quagmire with the prize says that Chapman's natural abilities are something to behold.

Having barely seen Chapman, there's not a great way for me to a full gauge on him one way or the other. In seeing brief snippets however, there is a way to at least get an idea of his motion; his arm action; his attitude; and his athleticism to say something about him.

He's lanky and athletic and reminds me of Brien Taylor, the star-crossed, would-be star and former top pick in the draft by the Yankees who blew out his valuable left shoulder in a fight before his career even got started full-bore. You can have a look at Chapman in the clip accompanying the story of his signing----ESPN Story/Clip.

So far, we've gotten conflicting reports of him being very raw, to having the stuff to be dominant in the big leagues as early as this season.

Who knows?

It's very interesting that it was the Reds who won the bidding. For a team with contracts----Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Francisco Cordero----that they'd love to be rid of, and a manager, Dusty Baker, who has a reputation (an unfair one in my opinion) of mishandling young arms, this can be seen as a major roll of the dice if Chapman doesn't live up to the hype.

This could be seen in several ways as a worthwhile risk of the Reds. Obviously, they have scouts who've seen him and think he's the real deal; and at his age, with his stuff and international experience, he's probably less of a gamble than a hyped, first round pick out of college. Had he been a draftee from a large college program with his dazzling skills, he'd get a bonus of around $10-15 million anyway; then the big league contract to start his arbitration clock ticking. So, it'd come to more than the $30 million the Reds are paying and Chapman may be closer to big league ready than a similar college pitcher.

Of course, there's the possibility that the Reds just wasted $30 million on a Kei Igawa, but I find that highly unlikely with the small sampling provided by Chapman's clips and the way so many respected scouts and executives have been playing him up.

The Reds made a bold move here and in watching the Cuban lefty and the way he moves, I think it's going to pay off. And big.

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka's hidden groin injury:

This guy's turning into a train wreck.

I suppose this is a dignified, Japanese version of Brett Myers making up stories of how he really hurt his eye last summer because he didn't want to admit he got his ass kicked in a fight.

In the latest from Daisuke Matsuzaka's 2009 adventure----ESPN Story----it's been revealed that the pitcher injured his groin during the ridiculous World Baseball Classic and it affected his performance once the season started and caused him to strain his shoulder.

When are these players going to learn that they're doing little more than hurting themselves and their teams with this faux tough-guy routine? If a pitcher is sore, it's one thing; if he's hurt it's another. Matsuzaka is lucky he didn't blow out his shoulder from the extra stress of trying to pitch with little more than his arm----and he got shelled anyway!!

There's being gutty and there's being stupid and Matsuzaka was being stupid. Just add this to the list of reasons the Red Sox would probably be happier if they'd lost the bidding for the over-hyped righty and never laid eyes on him in a Red Sox uniform or otherwise. Aside from the fact that without Matsuzaka, they never would've signed Hideki Okajima, Matsuzaka's been a thousand times more trouble than he's worth.

I've always liked the way Huff hits. He had a fantastic year for the Orioles in 2008 and was scuffling with mediocrity when he was traded to the Tigers at mid-season. He was heinous for the Tigers batting .189 with 2 homers.

While he won't put up the big power numbers for the Giants he did for most of his time with the Orioles, Huff's versatile (he can play first, third and the outfield passably); has power; and his slugging numbers have been mostly consistent throughout his career.

On a one-year deal, this is another great, low-cost addition to the Giants. With their pitching, they don't need that one basher who can wreck a game by himself. It would help, but they don't need that. The Giants are putting together a team that may not look like much on paper offensively, but the sum of the parts equals a playoff contender. And oh, the pitching...

  • Viewer Mail 1.11.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Vladimir Guerrero:

The Rangers' signing of Vlad sure does make the AL West interesting, especially with the reconfigured Mariners. I'd be concerned if I were an Angels fan.

I never discount the Angels. They've been down and out so many times after what was considered "bad" winters and turned around to win the division again. The year I point to with the Angels and their ability to find ways to compete is 2006----the one season out of the past six in which they didn't make the playoffs.

Looking at their season, they struggled with a shoddy offense and were 11 games under .500 by late-May. Through sheer force of will by manager Mike Scioscia and his gutty players, the Angels somehow crawled back into contention late in the season and put a huge scare into the eventual division champion Athletics before succumbing. They still won 89 games in a year in which no one would've noticed had they stumbled to 81-81 or worse.

The just find a way to replace departing players and still win.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE "garbage" stats:

I agree with you, Boss, in that there are not "garbage" stats, they can all be useful when looked in the right context.

I've got an off-season topic for you: your dream team, and your movie dream team (players from baseball movies, if you like them, that would make a championship franchise, the Princes of NY).

All stats need to be examined in all their aspects. Dogmatism is how you create a stat zombie or a fool who ignores stats entirely going with his "gut".

The dream team isn't a bad idea, but there aren't that many great baseball movies out there. It'd wind up looking something like combination of a Kevin Costner film and Major League. It could morph into a disaster. But looking at sports movies in general is a good thought. The best sports movie ever, to me, is North Dallas Forty. A classic.

For the Princes of NY, I'd need a bunch of ruthless, but heartfelt and smart gamers----like my Family----hard to find.

Jeff (Underboss) at Red State Blue State writes RE MLB Network:

Understood on the MLB Network stuff. Makes sense. Though I do have to stand up for them a bit and say that they are always on the ball with the live look ins. I have too and will have about 8 games going on two different computers, watching everything at once, and the MLB Network always cuts to the game/situation with the most interest. I kept tabs on them last year, to see how it would work. If you don't have a Direct TV or MLB.TV pass, then watching "MLB Tonight" for a few hours would make you feel like you've been watching or keeping up with all the games.

Oh yeah, and I wonder if it's possible for the people of Houston to fire McLane. Can a people fire an owner? Haha.

You're right about the MLB Network. I'll have to give it more of a chance. It's taken under advisement.

With McLane, I'm sort of torn. He interferes, but his team was remarkably successful for a mid-market club from 1998 through 2005 with six playoff appearances in that time; and they've been surprisingly aggressive when they've been in contention. He is willing to spend money for players. In addition to that, he's ignored entreaties to clean out the house a couple of times----notably in 2005 and in 2008----and it paid off.

In 2005, the team was out of it for all intents and purposes at 15 games under .500 in May, but he held his fire and their pitching carried them back into contention and all the way to the World Series. And in 2008, instead of clearing out the vets like Roy Oswalt, they were buyers and brought in Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins----both of whom pitched great----and they got back into the race before fading late; and had they not been forced to play a make-up game in Milwaukee against the Cubs (in which they were no-hit) during a blazing hot streak, who's to say they wouldn't have made it all the way back and into the playoffs again?

In the final analysis, there are worse owners than Drayton McLane.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE stats:

Every front office relies on the numbers, to some extent. If a front office uses "wins and losses" to determine who is a good pitcher, in any context, then they are a terrible front office. So why should we rely on a stat that is simply garbage?

No one's saying to take wins and losses as the final arbiter on a pitcher; but it's not something to be tossed out the window completely because how a pitcher achieved his record does have some importance when judged properly.

I don't think the Royals use stats in any context. That's why they're the Royals.

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