Note: Two days after I published this article, the Yankees traded for Ardolis Chapman giving up four inconsequential prospects. Though they are not saying it now, they could very well have a plan to make him a starting pitcher as the following goes on to argue……….
For a variety of reasons, including one of his own recent making, the career of Ardolis Chapman has been botched up since day one. The San Francisco Giants have a opportunity now to step in and create a win-win for both Chapman and themselves through a pairing of Chapman with one of the best pitching coaches (ever) in baseball – Dave Righetti.
For good reasons, the Cincinnati Reds are dismantling a broken team. Recently, they hired yet another non-household name as their pitching coach for 2016 (Mark Riggins) who seemingly doesn’t even qualify for a listing on Baseball Reference.
Reportedly, the Reds had a deal worked out with the Dodgers before the news of Chapman’s involvement in the domestic violence incident became public. As a result, Chapman’s status with MLB remains in limbo while law enforcement agencies sort things out. Commissioner Manfred waits for Chapman with a probable suspension following that. So, life is pretty much in turmoil for Chapman at this point.
However, there could be a way to salvage not only Chapman’s career, but his personal life as well. Needless to say, it will take some creative thinking on the part of everyone involved – but it could be accomplished.
The first thing that needs to happen is for the Reds to give up their dreams of hauling in a boatload of young talent in exchange for Chapman because at the moment he is damaged goods. Meanwhile, the Giants who are still in need of pitching to make a serious run in their Division, need to get creative themselves not only with the Reds but with MLB as well.
Ardolis Chapman was and always should have been a starting pitcher. The Reds jerked him, as well as themselves, around and for some inexplicable reason never saw the likenesses between Chapman, David Price, and Clayton Kershaw. Dave Righetti can fix that if given a chance to do it. All he needs is to add one or possibly two pitches to that phenomenal natural rising fastball – a changeup would be awesome…….and besides closers are overrated in the game anyway. And that may be why a movement is underway to change the save rule by increasing the value of “holds” in the 7th and 8th innings.
As for the naysayers who say starters can become relievers but relievers can’t become starters…….hogwash. Chris Sale (left) and David Price both began their careers in the bullpen and later made the leap rather successfully most would say to being a starting pitcher. And one other name comes to mind too…….the soon to be inducted Hall Of Famer John Smoltz (right) who went from reliever to starter and then back again….and again! Chapman is young and talented. He can make the changes physically and mentally with the proper tutelage he would get from Righetti.
In a perfect world (but not necessarily a stretch) the Giants, assuming that a suspension for his actions is in order, could negotiate a deal with MLB that would allow Chapman (out of uniform) to travel and work out with the Giants, and in particular with Dave Righetti at his side. During this time, they would work to stretch out his arm paving the way for installment as a starting pitcher as the season moves along.
This scenario could serve everyone well, including Chapman’s wife and family if counseling was made part of the negotiated package with MLB. Remember, this is a man who walked out the front door of a hotel in the Netherlands defecting from Cuba as a teenager and signing a Major League contract virtually the next day. He deserves a second chance as does his family to learn from his mistake by putting himself in a position again where he can guarantee a secure financial future for his family – as well as insuring that his baseball talent is solidified with a team and pitching coach who know what they are doing.