July 7, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman (54) is congratulated by manager Dusty Baker (left) after a 6-5 win against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Baker and Chapman: Who is Covering for Whom?

Jul 1, 2000; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) is congratulated by manager Dusty Baker (12) at the end of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Brewers 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Decision day will need to happen sooner than later. The Enquirer’s C.Trent thinks it could happen as soon as Friday.

Baker has openly expressed disinterest with moving Chapman from the pen to the dugout, or at least said he has his own opinion, which obviously differs from Walt Jocketty. But when did the plan for Chapman suddenly change course? Was it after he recorded 38 saves last year, which tied him for 7 overall? One year after Cordero gave the Reds 37?

Joel Hanrahan recorded 40 saves for the Pirates in 2012. They Pirates probably didn’t even watch the first round of the playoffs on television.

I digress. I initially expressed slightly more than mild frustration with Baker going to the press about his opposition to making Chapman a starter. A: I think it’s wrong. B: see A. C: disagreement internally probably happens everywhere – why let us know about it?

Because it’s what Baker does. Let’s operate under the assumption that Aroldis Chapman genuinely does want to close. “I would like to be a closer, but that’s not in my hands,” Chapman told CBSSports.com.

Fine. Only, last year, Aroldis Chapman was singing a tune so different you’d have to open up a new search in iTunes. In an interview with USAToday, Chapman told Jorje Ortiz:

“I’ve always been a starter since I began playing,” said the 6-4 Chapman, now a muscular 210 pounds after initially joining the club at 193. “I signed as a starter and they later moved me to the bullpen. But I’ve always wanted to be a starter and now plan to take advantage of my opportunity.”

So the real question becomes: who is covering for who? We know that Chapman had every intention of becoming a starter, but did the appeal of being a high profile closer entice Chapman more?

“At the beginning, when I started closing, I didn’t know,” Chapman said. “Then I started getting into the late part of the game, and I liked it. The adrenaline goes up,” said Chapman to CBSSport.com’s Danny Knobler.

Consider this along side a speeding ticket that landed Aroldis in the back of a squad and a hotel mistress in bondange,  it’s pretty evident that he has an appetite best suited for Kenny Powers. So if Chapman really changed his mind, it only makes sense that Player Manager of the Century Dusty Baker would come to his defense. This topic has enamored the baseball community, and many people on #TeamStartHim are becoming increasingly more frustrated with the hesitation and indecision – myself sincerely included.

Is there any other manager in baseball better known for jumping on media grenades and shielding his players from critical shrapnel than him?

Only those inside the Reds know what’s going on. But either Chapman became star-struck with the idea of being nightly Broadway at GABP, and Baker is trying to protect his decision, or Chapman is playing the good son for the Skipper who wants his 9th Inning Geico.

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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds Dusty Baker Spring Training

  • JD Rentz

    I think it’s a very interesting perspective if one is actually “covering” for the other or if the perspectives are personal and not intertwined. Baker’s comment came first, which I guess cleared the way for Chapman to share his. It is confounding that Chapman changed his opinion so drastically from just a year earlier. He’s entitled to do so if the role really changed his mind, but it is contrary to the place he used to be. Did Baker influence or sway him to get to this point? We’ll probably never know.

  • beeker

    #TeamLetHimClose still wonders what is going to make Chappy a dominant starter when he has to throw at what Smoltz called “cruising speed,” which seems to be the mid-90s. His repertoire is small and his control is iffy at times. Triple digit speed offsets that most nights. What happens at “average” speed?

    • Josh Bresser

      He gets hit. Hard.

      • beeker


    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      Wait…did you just use a hashtag?

      • beeker

        Look at me getting all 2010 on you :)

  • Josh Bresser

    I think we all know why Jocketty wants Chapman to start, and it rhymes with “bicket bales.”

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      You lost me ;)