Good morning Fackers. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the Winter Meetings to start up next week. It's getting to be pretty slim pickings out there for things worth talking about.
Two weeks back, I expressed some concern over the Yankees interest in Aroldis Chapman, based largely on the success - or lack thereof - of previous Cuban players. We followed that the next day with a some more Chapman content, including a scouting report from Baseball-Intellect.
Tuesday, Sports Illustrated ran an in depth profile on Chapman (Joel Sherman was upset about this, as he felt SI should have profiled Noel Arguelles instead). Again, perhaps it's more confirmation bias on my part, but the SI piece has made me more leery of Chapman.
Building on questions of character that arose from Chapman's decision to switch agents two weeks ago, SI talks about Chapman's first, badly botched, attempt at defection and refutes the story that his exclusion from the 2008 Cuban Olympic team was punishment for that. It also touches on his decision to defect just days before his daughter was born.
I'm hesitant to criticize Chapman's decision making process as it relates to his defection decisions. I don't know what it's like to live under a communist regime; I don't know what it's like wrestle with the thought of leaving friends and family behind for a lengthy stretch of time; I don't know what it's like to have the prospect of $50M contract waiting for me on the other side.
I am however concerned about the likelihood of Chapman being a successful Major League pitcher and worthwhile risk for the amount of money he's commanding. On top of the less than glowing scouting report from Baseball Intellect, the SI piece suggests that Chapman's exclusion from Beijing a year ago was performance based and not a punishment. It illuminates Chapman's alarmingly high walk rate in competition that generally features free swingers and generous strike zones. It points to Baseball Prospectus' Clay Davenport's projections of Chapman having a K/9 over 9, but an ERA over 6.50, and compares him closely to pitchers who are struggling to make it out of AAA. It features a quote from Chapman indicating that he isn't too willing to be anything but a starting pitcher.
None of this means that Chapman won't be or can't be successful. But all of it - for me at least - makes it all the more dubious that he will be. And it makes me just about certain that he's not worth the investment it would take to ink him to a deal.
The more I hear about Chapman, the more I'm reminded of the fabled Sidd Finch.