Doesn’t it sort of feel like we’ve been here before? This is pretty much exactly like last year, when the Chapman-starting-pitcher experiment happened, and then didn’t happen. Except now, there’s no ‘good’ reason, like Ryan Madson coming down with a bad case of broken elbow. That’s the only thing that drives this from ‘mild pout’ to ‘full-fledged exasperation’. There is nothing true about Chapman, Leake, or any other pitcher on the Reds today, that was not true back in the off-season when we were treated to a whole lot of “Chapman is totally definitely probably maybe going to be in the rotation this year.”
Of course, it’s not a clear-cut decision. A GM changing his mind, even without any clear change in information (other than your player and your manager both openly opposing the move) is not exactly pitchfork and torch worthy. It just seems like there’s been so much hand-wringing and pearl-clutching all winter long. So many tedious debates. If they had just said “he’ll be the closer” back in December. Well, one, we could’ve skipped signing Jonathan Broxton, and used that money a little better, and B, I could’ve whined about it for about two weeks, and then largely forgotten about it.
I’ve firmly been in Chapman should start. Partly, because I think it’s better for the team going forward, and partly because the idea of a hard-throwing 6’4″ lefty starter with great strikeout records is pretty exciting. Now, I’m looking for things to make myself feel better about the whole thing in retrospect.
Basically – that’s this season. We have a pretty exciting team for 2013, and I don’t know that Chapman to the rotation helps that much this year. Mike Leake certainly doesn’t add anything to the Reds 2013 bullpen, and I’m not very confident that we can pull off the 2012 – 5 starters/161 starts crazy witchiness we did last year, so I don’t think we should trade him away. Plus, Chapman’s 70 innings in 2012 really limits how much we should think about letting him throw in 2013. I think it’s insane to believe he would be worth significantly more than the 4.3 WAR that Strasburg put up last year. When you compare that to the 1.5 WAR Mike Leake put up last year, and then consider that Mike Leake’s bat was worth 1.0 WAR – that’s normal replacement. Chapman’s probably worth a small negative amount, if anything, with the bat. So with Chapman in the rotation, you’re going to lose as much as 3.3 WAR out of the pen, and gain maybe out most 2.5 in the rotation? (Yes, this is very irresponsible math, but hey, I’m just trying to make myself feel better.)
Am I hoping that we’ll see a Kris Medlen style move, especially in the case of a major injury in the rotation? Yes. Definitely. And maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I’m not about to let this move interfere with enjoying the hell out of the 2013 Reds season.