Monday, January 11, 2010

Chapman to Cincinnati... but why?

Aroldis Chapman is a 21-year-old fireball left-handed pitcher, recently defected from Cuba.  That added up to $30.25 million contract over six years from the Cincinnati Reds.

I hope I'm wrong, but this looks like a bad move for both Chapman and Cincinnati.

The Reds are about high-ceiling guys, with talented arms like Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Homer Bailey at the Major League level and J.C. Sulbaran among others coming up through the Minors.  Add Chapman to that crew now.

But the Reds don't feel like the Tampa Bay Rays, who've reaped benefits from their young arms.  Instead, they're more like the mid-90s New York Mets, who came up with Generation K -- Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, and Paul Wilson -- and then watched all three prospects get overworked, get rushed to the Majors, and then succumb to arm injuries, with not one of them giving the Mets anything to brag about.

Here's what's happened with the Reds' arms:

Bailey was rushed to the Show at age 21 in 2007 and got bombed in nine starts, was even worse in eight starts in 2008 at age 22 and was on the cusp of being traded, then improved to 8-5, 4.53 in 20 starts last year.

Cueto went 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA in 2008, then improved slightly (with greatly decreased strikeouts) to 11-11, 4.41 this year.  Not anything to brag about yet.

Volquez went 17-6 in 2008, then was injured last year and has had to undergo Tommy John surgery.  He'll be out for a while.

Aroldis Chapman is younger than the rest of those guys but is getting paid much more money.  How long will the Reds be able to keep him in the minors in order to work on his secondary stuff, his command, and, most importantly, his composure?

For his sake, I hope he stays healthy and doesn't make his MLB debut until late 2011 or early 2012.

Somehow, I doubt that will happen.

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