Tag:Francisco Cordero
Posted on: February 17, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2011 5:39 pm

Chapman to relieve, but not close

Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman will be in the bullpen, but won't be the closer this season, Dusty Baker told reporters on Thursday.

From John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer :
 “Let’s get this out of the way right now. I plan on using him like I used him last year. We’ll see how he progresses with things. How many appearances did the guy have last year?”

He had 39 at Louisville and 15 with the Reds.

“That’s not a lot of experience,” Baker said. “Not at this level. So we made concerted effort to bring him along slowly in a lower-pressurized situation. We brought him in mostly at the bottom of the order in the seventh and eighth inning. We hope to bring him along and put him in more important roles. We know the third day in a row he wasn’t nearly (effective). So we’re finding out about his resiliency, what kind of stuff he has two days in a row. Relieving is new to him. We need him more now as a reliever than a starter. The fact that he’s left-handed, the fact that he’s throwing more strikes, it might be easier on his arm right now.”

“One thing I want squash right now is closer-situation controversy. I know everyone want’s to be in a hurry to rush him in there. But we’ve got to get him acclimated to what he’s doing first. [Francisco] Cordero, even though it’s been exciting at times, he’s still second at least [in] our league in saves the last two years. That’s something that most people overlook.”
Cordero has 79 saves over the last two seasons, third behind Heath Bell (89) and Brian Wilson (86). Still, many expect Chapman to take over for Cordero, who is in the final season of a four-year, $46 million contract. He'll make $12 million this year with a club option (likely to be declined) for $12 million with a $1 million buyout. He currently has a limited no-trade clause.

The Reds still want to use Chapman long-term as a starter, but it won't happen this season. Pitching coach Bryan Price tells Fay that they'll continue to work on his change-up, but not use it in games -- as a reliever his fastball and slider are enough.

Price said the biggest thing he wants Chapman to do is to use his fastball to get ahead of batters, not worrying about placement much more than throwing it over the plate.

"Don’t put him in a position where he’s trying to shave off the inner or outer two inches of the plate early in the at-bat," Price said. "The way he comes in — if it’s the 95 or the 100-plus — he’s hard to get a good swing on. He’s a hard guy to square up. So we don’t want him to try to make the perfect pitcher’s pitch on the first pitch. We want him to attacked the zone with his fastball and slider and get ahead in the count."

As for Chapman, he tells Fay he's happy as a reliever.

“I didn’t think about it too much: My job is a reliever. I’m a reliever now,” he said. “I want to be a starter but I don’t think about that. My job now is to be a reliever. That’s job I’m going to do. The day they want me to be a starter, I’ll start thinking about it.”

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: September 16, 2010 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 3:37 pm

Reds' Baker not ready to switch closers

Dusty Baker
The Reds have the most electrifying pitcher in recent memory setting up for a struggling closer with three weeks before the playoffs start. Dusty Baker had to know the question was coming.

But the manager still got a little chippy Thursday when the idea of Aroldis Chapman taking over for Francisco Cordero came up.

"Chapman is just learning to relieve,” Baker told reporters. "The seventh and eighth inning are a whole easier than that ninth inning. Is it a place to experiment with that with a guy that hasnt been there? Then in case he doesn’t do it, do you go back to Coco [Cordero] and say, 'I was just kidding'?

"We thought we had Coco fixed. He saved 18 of 19. But people only remember the last couple times. You look at the list of guys who have blown saves ... he is not the leader (he's actually second). ... We're trying to fix the situation where we are now. Then everybody is doing what they're supposed to do."

But Baker wasn't done. Never a fan of the second-guessing that goes on around him, he used the Chapman-Cordero issue as a launching pad for a tirade against "people."

"There were some people who didn’t like the [expletive] I was doing from the time we started," he said. "They didn't like my lineup. They didn’t like this. They didn’t like whatever the hell they didn’t like. I can’t worry about those people.

"Those people don’t manage this ballclub. Those people don’t understand the psychological dynamics of your ballclub. ... I don’t care what people say. People go with who is hot at the time. I've got to look at the overall big picture, the dynamics and psychology of my ball club."

So all you "people" knock it off. Baker knows what he's doing.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: September 1, 2010 12:57 am
Edited on: September 1, 2010 7:34 am

Chapman proves worthy of hype

Aroldis Chapman

CINCINNATI – The attention was no doubt on the FM dial of pitch speeds from Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman in his big-league debut – 98.4, 86.4, 102.5, 86.9, 100.3, 102.7, 101.4 and 98.6. But catcher Ryan Hanigan wasn’t talking about the fact Chapman threw four of his eight pitches faster than 100 mph or even that seven were for strikes.

Instead, it was the fourth pitch – the second slowest of the night – that caught his attention. It was a slider that started on the outside of the plate and ended up near the shoetops of Brewers catcher Jonathan LuCroy. Lucroy gave a soft wave at the pitch before heading back to bench having managed just a foul ball (which was in itself impressive, because he made contact with a 102.5 fastball), but had no chance when the next pitch was the slider.

"That thing … that pitch … that's a whole different ballgame," Hanigan said. "His breaking ball is what people should be talking about. His slider is absolutely ridiculous. He's got to be able to throw it for a strike and he's got to get into counts where we can call it. So getting ahead is big, but if he can throw that breaking ball for a strike … good luck. It's a hammer. I saw it in Triple-A. It's 88-to-93. It's moving about a foot and a half. That's not something that anyone wants to hit. I don't care how good you are.”

Yet, it was an afterthought on Tuesday for Chapman's debut because of the velocity.

Rumored to have hit 105 in the minors, many wanted to see what was possible in a major-league stadium on a more accurate gun and the Pitch F/X system installed in each ballpark. The 102.7 registered on Chapman’s final pitch to Craig Counsell was the prettiest girl in the school. Counsell grounded out weakly to short for the out and the 19,218 at Great American Ball Park saw exactly what they were hoping to see.

If home runs are what grabs attentions for batters, it's radar gun reading for pitchers. The triple digits had rarely – if ever – been seen in the seven-year history of Great American Ball Park, Chapman registered four triple-digit readings in his eight pitches.

The crowd chanted "we want Chapman" throughout the game, took pictures of the home team's bullpen and cheered loudly when he was shown warming up in the bottom of the seventh.

"I’'e never seen anything like it," Reds closer Francisco Cordero said.

Cordero, no soft-tosser himself, said he'd never seen 102 on a scoreboard before. "I got that," he said, "in my Ferrari."

Chapman was asked about it afterwards.

"Once in a while I'll take a look and I see it, and yeah, I'm surprised, and I'm happy when I see what it is," Chapman said through translator Tomas Vera.

GM Walt Jocketty, the man who committed $30 million to the Cuban, was asked if he was impressed by that kind of velocity.

"Absolutely," he said with a smile.

Aroldis Chapman The Reds still plan on using Chapman as a starter in the future, but for now he'll be used much like the Rays used David Price in 2008 or, if all goes well, like the Angels used Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. The addition of Chapman gave an already confident team another energy boost – and it didn't hurt that the Cardinals dropped a fourth game in a row at the same time the Reds finished up an 8-4 victory over Milwaukee to push Cincinnati’s lead to seven games in the National League Central.

"I think it's exciting for all of us, and it's very exciting for his teammates to see the electric stuff he has and the contribution he'll give this club throughout the pennant race and hopefully in the postseason," Jocketty said. "It's very exciting, I could tell by the reception he got when he went in the dugout, too."

This is just the first step – Chapman has struggled at times with command in the minor leagues and the trio of Lucroy, Counsell and Carlos Gomez is hardly Murderers' Row. But regardless of who the competition was – the number 102.7, plus seven strikes on eight pitches, bodes well.

"Big-league hitters can time fastballs, no matter how hard they throw," Hanigan said, "but with him, first of all, he's left-handed. Second of all, he's ass and elbows coming at you. He throws from a weird arm slot, it's not from over the top. It's got a little three-quarter action and he hides the ball well. The ball coming out of his hand that hard is a lot tougher than something straight because the ball's moving. It's running a little or cutting a little, which is obviously makes it that much tougher to hit."

Reds Frisbee-tosser Bronson Arroyo said he can imagine what it’s like being a fireballer at a different level than anyone else. He was once there, when he was 9. He recalled parents pushing their kids up to the plate to face him.

Since he turned 10, Arroyo’s lost some of that intimidation. He said the hard-throwers can always have a little bit of confidence when they know in the back of their mind if they’re not sharp, they can reach back for something extra.

So what’s the limit of the human body as far as velocity?

“I guess it's 105,” Arroyo said.

We haven’t seen it yet, but it seems like it may only be a matter of time.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: August 15, 2010 12:29 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2010 4:09 pm

Reds' Cordero understands boos

Francisco Cordero The Reds are in a virtual tie for first place in the National League Central thanks to Saturday's victory against Florida that saw closer Francisco Cordero record his 31st save. Cordero's third in the National League in the stat, behind San Diego's Heath Bell and San Francisco's Brian Wilson, but still dealt with boos throughout his appearance that saw him walk two batters, give up a run and rely on a double play to wrap up the victory.

This is where a former Cincinnati closer might give the fans the finger, Cordero isn't complaining about the boos. In fact, he says he understands them completely. Following Saturday's outing, Cordero told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon , he's sympathetic to the boo birds:

"I have to stop walking people," Cordero said. "I've got to do that or it's going to be like that every time. I see how upset the fans are with me. I understand that. Every time I walk someone, that guy comes in to score. It's not like I'm giving up a lot of base hits. It's walks. I really don't know what to say about that. It's not my style. It's not me. I've never been like that my whole career. I have to keep working and try to be better every time out."

"I created that myself, walking people. I've got nobody to blame but myself. Putting me in that situation, putting the team in that situation and putting the fans in that situation, it's why they're upset with me right now. I've been walking too many guys. [The fans] have been great, unbelievable to the team. They're coming out on the road, coming out a lot to the stadium. They want to win. Putting the fans in that situation is not fair.

"In the end, we got to go home happy. I know they got to go home happy."
Cordero's been anything but a shut-down closer this season, despite earning $12 million. His 1.548 WHIP is his highest since 2001 and his 34 walks are more than he had all of last season. His 5.8 walks per nine innings is his most since 2001 and his 1.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio is his lowest since that same season, which was before he established himself as a closer.

So far, Reds manager Dusty Baker has stuck by his closer and shown no signs of replacing him. Last weekend, Cordero loaded the bases without giving up a hit in Chicago before being lifted for Nick Masset in a 4-3 Reds victory at Wrigley Field.

Masset would be next in line, but something drastic has to happen for Baker to lose faith in his high-priced closer. Masset, another big right-hander, had a rough start to the season, but since June 29, he has appeared in 22 games, allowing two earned runs (0.83 ERA) and limiting hitters to a .164/.256/.233 line.

That's not likely to be an issue, so it's good to see someone like Cordero understands why he's not the most popular man in the Queen City, but has responded like a real pro.

UPDATE: Cordero picked up his 32nd save of the season in the Reds' 2-0 victory over the Marlins on Sunday, but again it wasn't without drama. He allowed a leadoff double to Mike Stanton and walked Cody Ross with two outs before striking out Donnie Murphy to end the game.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: August 8, 2010 6:25 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2010 6:29 pm

Baker not removing Cordero from closer's role

Francisco Cordero Reds manager Dusty Baker doesn't want to hear any criticism of closer Francisco Cordero, who has a 4.11 ERA -- second-worst of his career, worst as a closer -- for a team struggling to stay atop the NL Central and hold off the Cardinals.

“I don’t get nervous handing him the ball,” Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer after yanking Cordero Saturday when the closer gave up two runs and three walks, getting just one out in the ninth of a 4-1 lead. Nick Massett closed the game out, much to Cordero's chagrin:

I could tell he didn’t want to give me the ball. He gave me the ball. I got no problem with not wanting to do something — as long as you don’t show me up. That’s not going to happen.

He’s supposed to have problem with coming out. But I’ve got to do what I got to do to help us win. I’ve also got to stick with him enough for him not to lose confidence, not to think we lost confidence in him, because he could lose confidence in himself.

Cordero's problem this year has been walks, with his 5.7 BB/9 the third-highest in his career behind two partial seasons in 1999 and 2001, totalling 21 1/3 innings in all. All told, he has 32 walks in 50 1/3 frames.

“He has a good delivery, but like anyone else it can go south on him," pitching coach Bryan Price said of Cordero's struggles. "From my perspective — this is second time we’ve talked about it over the course of the year — he collapses his back leg and then he throws off his heel. That’s why we saw [Saturday] a lot of his pitches were getting pulled to one side of the plate. He got away form being in a good position to throw strikes. The last time it happened it was a quick adjustment.

“It’s been pretty easy for him to clean it up in the past.”

Meanwhile, Baker wasn't done defending Cordero.

"We’ve got 63 wins and he’s got 30 saves," the skipper noted. "How many other closers have that ratio of saves-to-wins? That shows you how many close games we’ve played."

Well, even though saves-to-wins is an inherently flawed ratio using two flawed statistics to begin with, let's see if Baker is spot on about how high Cordero ranks in saves-to-wins.

The answer? Not very -- out of closers with enough saves to rank in the top 15 in the majors, Cordero ranks sixth. The leaderboard:

Name Saves Wins SV/W
Joakim Soria, KC 31 47 .660
Matt Capps, WAS* 26 44 .591
Brian Wilson, SF 32 63 .508
Heath Bell, SD 31 63 .492
Leo Nunez, FLA 26 54 .482
Francisco Cordero, CIN 30 63 .476
Matt Lindstrom, HOU 22 47 .468
Rafael Soriano, TB 31 67 .463
Neftali Feliz TEX 29 64 .453
Francisco Rodriguez, NYM 24 55 .436
Kevin Gregg, TOR 25 58 .431
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS 27 63 .429
Billy Wagner, ATL 27 63 .429
Bobby Jenks, CHW 23 63 .365
Mariano Rivera, NYY 23 68 .338
*Wins and saves are only during Capps' tenure with the Nationals. Capps was traded on July 29.

The one saving grace Baker has after seeing Cordero so roundly defeated in this leaderboard, with Soria almost .2 points higher than Cordero, is that Cordero ranks fourth of teams still considered in the postseason race, although the sample size of these closers shrinks down significantly.

It's not so much about how many saves one has against how many wins. It's how used that closer has been over the season. After all, a closer's job is just as important in a tie-game in the ninth inning as it is with a one-run lead -- even moreso than a three-run gimme that Cordero, as well as other closers, grab without a sweat here and there.

Of relievers that are on the above leaderboard, Cordero is the second-most used closer with 50 1/3 innings, trailing K-Rod's 55 1/3 innings. Now that's a much better indication of how much Coco has been asked to throw.

While Cordero has been struggling, he still remains one of the team's better relievers. As Baker points out, it's hard to find lockdown closers.

Everyone wants you to go get somebody else and put them in there. Who are you going to find out there that’s better?

The fact it’s not a clean 1-2-3 ... if you put them out there soon or later something is going to happen. You can’t be getting out of it all the time. How many clean 1-2-3 save people are there in the world?

Unlike his saves-to-wins point, this one is an excellent point. Legitimate, shutdown relievers are rare. It's why there is such volatility in the position and why teams are increasingly leery of handing closers long-term contracts. Even the best can fall, as Eric Gagne once proved.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 30, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 6:24 pm

Reds' Rhodes bounces back

Arthur Rhodes CINCINNATI -- Tuesday night Reds reliever Arthur Rhodes had a streak of 33 consecutive appearances without allowing a run snapped by the Phillies in a 9-6 loss.

So what did Rhodes do on Wednesday?

"Start a new streak," Rhodes said.

Not only did he exercise his daemons against the same team, he did it against the same hitters.

Tuesday Rhodes gave up a double, walk and double to Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez in the 10th inning, to give Rhodes the loss. Wednesday afternoon he struck out Howard and Werth before getting Ibanez to fly out to end the eighth. Not only that, thanks to Jay Bruce's homer off of Roy Halladay in the eighth, Rhodes picked up his third victory of the season.

"I had revenge on some guys I have to go out and get," Rhodes said.

Reds manager Dusty Baker has always stressed the importance of getting a reliever back in a game after a bad game to give him an opportunity to make good, and Baker said it was just as important for a veteran like Rhodes to get that chance as any rookie.

"Arthur was the first one to come in and say, 'Thanks for getting me back out there,'" Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I really didn't need that, I was going to get him back out there no matter what. It's important to anybody. It's apropos he got the loss last night and the win tonight."

Rhodes' streak of scoreless appearances tied for the most in one season, shared by Mark Guthrie of the Mets in 2002 and Mike Myers of the Rockies in 2000.

Rhodes had stopped talking about the streak to the press -- not that he speaks much with the press anyway -- but hadn't stopped thinking about it.

"It was only mind for a little bit, when you've got something going on like that, a hitting streak or a home run streak, you think about it every day" Rhodes said on Wednesday. "That was on my mind the whole day. Now it's over with and started a new one today."

At 40, Rhodes is having an All-Star calibre season, allowing four runs (three of those last night) in 37 games and 33 innings, good for a 1.09 ERA. He's struck out 32 batters and walked 12, while allowing 18 hits.

"I'm pitching about the same I did in 2001," Rhodes said. "I've got to keep it going, doing what I'm doing."

In 2001, Rhodes went 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA for Seattle.

Also in 2001, Bruce was 14.

"That is a long time, I'm not going back further than that," Rhodes said. "I don't want to."

Bruce had yet to turn five when Rhodes made his big-league debut in 1991 and 10 when Rhodes finished 20th in MVP balloting in 1997 with Baltimore , where he was 10-3 with a 3.02 ERA.

Rhodes has likely been more valuable to the Reds this season, three years after Tommy John surgery. While many of the Reds relievers, including closer Francisco Cordero and Nick Masset, have struggled, Rhodes has been the bullpen's rock allowing the team to battle for first place with St. Louis. That's why it was nice to see Reds fans acknowledge that Tuesday night, when they gave him a standing ovation as he exited the game in the 10th inning, having just given up runs that would mean the team would drop out of first place.

"They appreciate quality, they appreciate what this guy has meant to the organization and the pride of the city in winning," Baker said. "He's one of the real warriors, I enjoy having on the team."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com