Sunday, September 5, 2010

Did the Pirates drop the ball on Aroldis Chapman?

If you've been paying attention lately, the Cincinnati Reds called up left-handed phenom Aroldis Chapman and his 103 mph fastball this week.

That's right, I said 103 mph. He was actually clocked at 105 mph during a minor league game a week ago. Now, I have no problem with Chapman or the fact that he's wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform. What I have a big problem with is why he's not wearing a Pirates uniform instead.

The deal Chapman signed with the Reds was for six years and $30 million. The sixth year is an option year worth $5 million and the money is spread out pretty liberally. His signing bonus, which is worth around $15 million of the deal, is spread out between when he signed the contract and 2020. That seemed to be the best way for the Reds to fit the big contract into their small budget.

If the Reds could do that then why not the Pirates? What the Pirates do need is a phenom left-hander who can hit triple digits. The Pirates have done a fine job of rebuilding the organization, but this was a guy to go out and get.

There's no excuse. You can't use the usual built in excuse that, "the Yankees will out bid us."

It's one thing to get beaten out by the deep pockets of the Yankees or Red Sox, but being out bid by the Reds shouldn't have happened. That's no knock on the Reds at all. I like what they are doing and good for their organization and their fans.

The Pirates were involved and it's rumored that they fell under $1 million short of Chapman's asking price.

That's absurd.

That should have been exactly the situation where the Pirates swept in and trumped everyone with a bigger number. Give the kid $7-8 million. We keep hearing that money isn't an issue and the Pirates will spend.

Yet in less than a year, the Pirates have lost out on two potential phenoms. They lost shortstop Miguel Angel Sano to the Twins over a mere $500,000 and must now watch Chapman excel for the rival Reds, when maybe a couple more million may have had him wearing a Pirates uniform.

Very few opportunities come along where you can get a guy that can make an impact like Chapman will, and while it's likely Chapman wouldn't have signed with the Pirates, the reality is that they had a chance and once again flat out dropped the ball.

If the Reds can do it then the Pirates better be able to do it as well.

That's right though, money doesn't matter. Remember that when both of these kids become major league stars and the likely only thing that kept them out of Pittsburgh was a tight check book.

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