Stopped before he starts: Aroldis Chapman is staying in the Reds’ bullpen

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Aroldis Chapman spent all offseason and the first month of spring training preparing for a potential move to the rotation, but with Opening Day right around the corner the Reds have decided to keep the flame-throwing left-hander in the bullpen.

Ryan Madson undergoing season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery likely played a part in the decision, as did the Reds having plenty of rotation depth beyond Chapman, but manager Dusty Baker also told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that “Bill Bray isn’t ready to be late-inning lefty right now.”

That seems debatable at best considering Bray has a 3.40 ERA and 74/27 K/BB ratio in 77 innings during the past two seasons, with the raw stuff to match, and has held opponents to a .201 batting average during that time. If healthy Bray could certainly serve as the primary lefty setup man in front of lefty closer Sean Marshall.

Of course, that doesn’t mean keeping Chapman in the bullpen is the wrong move. In theory giving a young pitcher every opportunity to show that he can handle a 200-inning starting role before relegating him to a 65-inning bullpen role makes all kinds of sense, but Chapman’s control problems provide plenty of reason to be skeptical that he could thrive as a starter. Still, the waffling on his role after rushing him to the majors isn’t helping Chapman’s development any.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?