Danny Knobler has a column up today asking a question a lot of Reds fans have probably been asking themselves for some time: why in the heck is Aroldis Chapman still the Reds’ setup guy?
He hasn’t allowed a run all year. He has retired 22 of his last 24 hitters. He has a K/BB ratio of 34/5 in 19 and a third innings. He’s simply dominant. And, given that he was a starter in Cuba and a starter in the Reds minor league system before being put in the pen last year, he should probably be given a chance to start, yes? No, say the Reds. At least not yet:
“On our team right now, he should stay in the bullpen,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “We need someone in the bullpen like him” … [General Manager Walt] Jocketty doesn’t rule out Chapman in the rotation at some point this year, but he also said, “We may become resigned to the fact that he may spend this year in the bullpen.”
Walt: you run the team. How do you become “resigned” to this? Dusty Baker is in the last year of his contract and you’re his boss. There’s no way to force that issue here?
Yes, he’s an amazing relief pitcher. But Roy Halladay would be an amazing relief pitcher if you turned him into a setup man. As would every other good starter in baseball. Given that a starter pitches three times as many innings in a season as a setup man, you shouldn’t leave a guy like Chapman in the pen unless and until he shows you he can’t start.
And he can’t show you that until you give him a chance to try.
Yasiel Puig made a public appearance today. He was a guest barista at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Los Angeles as part of a charity . . . thing. I dunno. I just hope that, after finishing the foam on someone’s latte he airmailed it past his fellow barista at the counter and got it to the customer on the fly 300 feet away, after which he flipped the espresso machine. Gotta stay on-brand.
After that he talked about baseball. Puig, who was demoted last season and then brought back up in a part-time role, said that it’s his goal to be a starter again, if not in Los Angeles than someplace else. As for the someplace else, the Dodgers explored a Puig trade last season and it was thought they’d try again this offseason, but it’s been all quiet on that front.
What is Puig, for his part, doing to become a starter again? Getting in shape. From MLB.com:
Puig has been working out at Dodger Stadium the last two weeks. He is conditioning his leaner body to avoid injuries that have plagued him and working with batting coaches in search of regaining the impact bat that once had him on the verge of superstardom . . . The 6-foot-2 Puig, who last year was listed at 240 pounds, now has a personal chef to prepare healthier foods.
A leaner Puig. That’ll certainly be a game-changer, right?
Yet as a new season dawns, the team still hopes he can recapture the form he displayed as a rookie in 2013. The organization asked Puig to slim down and focus on durability rather than musculature. Friedman sounded pleased with the result. Puig had suggested he weighed about 240 pounds, down 15 from his listed weight in 2015.
Oops. That was from January 30, 2016.
If he keeps getting leaner each offseason eventually he’ll just disappear, right?
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.