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Could Locals Battle Over Chapman?

By Mike Silva ~ September 21st, 2009. Filed under: Mike Silva.

Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman is just weeks away from free agency after establishing residency in Andorra, a tiny country of about 84,000 that borders Spain and France.

It’s always hard to assess Cuban talent thanks to the “iron curtain” established in the communist country. Everyone has heard about Chapman throwing 102 MPH in the World Baseball Classic, however the Baseball Reference Bullpen provides you a more detailed history of the left hander. That description gives you the feeling that he is far from a sure thing.

There is a certain amount of risk that all Cuban imports bring when you sign them. Orlando Hernandez, Livan Hernandez, and Jose Contreras worked out very well, but you also had failed signings like Rolando Arroyo and Adrian Hernandez. When it’s all said and done you just don’t know how the talent will translate into American professional baseball.

There already are rumors of the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox having interest in Chapman. Would it be wise for the Mets to get involved? It probably would be safer for the Mets to spend any disposable cash on a John Lackey, but you might have a better chance of landing Chapman instead. Signing the Cuban defector along with a rebounding pitcher (i.e. Erik Bedard), might make more sense than breaking the bank for Lackey. It’s hard to say until you know what kind of budget the Mets plan on establishing for 2010.

The Yankees have tons of young pitchers, but adding Chapman would give them additional depth with tremendous upside. Adding this type of arm may allow you to make some of your other prospects available in the event a team puts their on the market (i.e. Roy Halladay). The Yanks have never been shy about signing Cubans to big dollar contracts. Back in 2006 they gave Juan Miranda $2 million dollars and he has only been given a cup of coffee during his pro career. Chapman will probably cost more, but when has that been an issue? Kei Igawa is probably the most expensive 4-A player in history.

The Subway Series may be over, but the locals could go head to head for an international star. Last time we saw this was during the winter of 2006 when Daisuke Matsuzaka was available. Back then Boston snuck in and stole him from both teams. Chapman is an interesting talent, but by no means a sure thing. That is why I think it might make more sense for the Yankees to take a shot at him than the Mets. Omar Minaya can’t afford an expensive international mistake. If I had to make a bet, Chapman will wind up in pinstripes.

Professor Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria joined me to talk about Cuban Baseball and his book “The Pride of Havana”. You can download it here and check out other interviews in our Variety Archive.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Could Locals Battle Over Chapman?

  1. RonOK

    I have no idea about this Chapman guy …. from all I have read, the Mets will not have a lot of money to spend in 2010 …. with so many needs — C, 1B, LF, Starters, Bullpen — I have no confidence in Minaya.

    Here’s an exchange with Btian Costa of the Star Ledger:

    “Given Pelfrey’s struggles, it would seem unrealistic to expect him to be a No. 2-caliber starter in 2010. But Minaya left open the possibility that Pelfrey could be back in the same role next year.

    “I’m comfortable with Mike Pelfrey,” the GM said.

    As a No. 2 starter?

    “Yeah,” Minaya said. “When I say yeah, I mean, what is a No. 2? I think Mike Pelfrey is still developing and he’s going to get better. What does that mean? I don’t know. I know one thing: I know a No. 1, and we have a No. 1. Now, where (No.) 2, 3 and 4 go, they’re very close in baseball right now.”


    Minaya is a moron.

    I cannot wait for the day that he is escorted out of Citi Field.

    He is destroying this franchise and no one is doing anything about it.

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