If you have been paying attention to the Twitter hashtag #RedsCaravan (and come on, how can you not be?), you may have come across this nugget earlier this morning concerning how the Reds may use Aroldis Chapman beginning in 2013:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Phil Castellini expects Aroldis Chapman to pitch out of the bullpen in April and maybe start in May <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23RedsCaravan">#RedsCaravan</a></p>— Miss Enquirer (@MissEnquirer) <a href="https://twitter.com/MissEnquirer/status/295303493403676672">January 26, 2013</a></blockquote>
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In all honesty, this is probably the most predictable path for the Reds to take if they are insistent on starting Chapman (and if you want a list of improbable circumstances, Bleacher Report has created an article in list form, as Bleacher Report is wont to do). The Reds expect to compete for a Worlds Series. The Reds also want to protect Chapman from fatigue-based-injuries. Ergo, the Reds will attempt to preserve Chapman for a World Series run while protecting him from pitching heavily early on in the season.
For one reason or another, several writers have directly compared the Washington Nationals
situation mishandling last season of Stephen Strasburg to whatever path the Reds may take with Chapman. While this comparison may lead the Reds to winning winter press conferences, it may not necessarily lead them to assembling a stronger team in 2013.
Starting Chapman in the pen and inserting him in the rotation in May would, in effect, take a month's worth of work off of Chapman's arm in a year where the Reds would be entering unchartered waters when it comes to the Cuban's endurance. It would also, feasibly, reduce the chances of Chapman hitting an innings threshold put in place by the front office and Dr. Poking Stick. Of course, if there is such a innings limit in the range of 100-125 IP, then it may negate one of the main arguments for Chapman starting (he'll pitch more, giving more value to the Reds); particularly if you buy into this school of thought.
I'll save the gobbledygook involving "Baseball Gods" and when teams are destined to compete for a World Series for other writers. The truth is that 2013, on paper, is probably the Reds' best chance in the foreseeable future to win a World Series. In forthcoming years, players signed long-term will begin to see their skills diminish. The Reds will also likely lose control of several of their young players, requiring the team to make several hard decisions. Other teams will also get better (HAHA J/K, OTHER TEAMS WILL BUT NOT THEM). So the time, more or less, is now for the Reds to make the most of their $30 million investment in Cuban delicacies.
Regardless of how the Reds decide to handle the situation, it will undoubtedly lead to a Catch-22 when it comes to backlash by Reds fans. Like any personnel decision, it will be quietly accepted by some and widely criticized by many. Why? Because iPads.