Chapman dazzled baseball fans when he hit 103 MPH on the gun during his first outing on American soil. It seemed as if the 24-year-old Cuban Missile was destined for greatness. But injury and uncertainty plagued the young lefty early in his career. Although he tossed at speeds that are pretty much unheard of (including a 105 mile per hour pitch, which would be a Major League record), Chapman’s control was a question mark. Many predicted he would be a dominant starter, yet he couldn’t prove it to his own manager, Dusty Baker. And maybe Baker was right after he witnessed his 6-foot-4 hurler walk a disappointing 41 hitters in 50 innings last year.
But Baker better be second guessing what Chapman can do for his club in 2012. After losing out on a back-end of the rotation job to the formerly highly-touted prospect Homer Bailey in Spring Training because of control issues, Baker elected to throw Chapman back into the bullpen. The manager’s decision only proved to be a wake up call for the velocity-driven youngster.
It seemed like the young outfielder’s decision wouldn’t be made until Spring Training rolled around and it appeared like the Miami Marlins had the bait to sway Cespedes to Florida. But in a surprising move, the Oakland Athletics shocked the baseball world by signing Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal Monday. For the entire offseason, the A’s looked as if they were going to settle into their ways of dumping young talent while trying to build a competitive roster with a very low payroll. This signing was the complete opposite of that, throwing the entire MLB a major curveball that not a lot of people saw coming. (more…)