As Ed Wade knows only too well, you can’t never have too many middle relievers. I mean, relievers. Shawn Chacon decided to sign with the Astros because (supposedly) we have “a chance to win.” Yeah. And I have a chance to have a date with Morris Chestnut, too. I would guess that the truth is that the Astros told him that he had a chance to win GAMES – in other words, that the possibility exists that he could start a few games or even close if Valverde falters.
Shawn Chacon was born in Alaska but grew up in Colorado. When he graduated from HS, he was selected by the Rockies in the 3rd round of the 96 draft and debuted as a ML starter in his rookie year of 2001. In those pre-humidor days, playing with the worst team in the NL, he managed a 5.06 ERA (105 ERA+) and a 1.53 WHIP in 27 games over 160 innings. (Remember that year? They brought in Denny Neagle and Mike “I LUUUVVV the Denver Public Skoolz” Hampton and were supposed to Win?!)
He didn’t pitch nearly as well in 02 – he had a 5.73 ERA (83 ERA+) and a 1.53 WHIP in 21 games over 119 IP. He did throw 24 innings at AAA, so he must have been sent down at some time because he wasn’t on the DL. Not sure what happened – his K rate did drop from 7.54 to 5.05 and his HR rate increased from 1.56 to 1.89/9 IP, but perhaps the fielders didn’t do as well for him: they replaced Neifi Perez with Juan Uribe, Jeff Cirillo with Todd Zeile and Todd Walker with Brent Butler.
However, he rebounded in 03 in spite of 2 stints on the DL with right elbow problems, he posting a career best 4.63 ERA (108 ERA+) and a 1.33 WHIP, significantly reducing both walks and homers in 23 games over 137 IP, and made the All-Star team.
The next year, for reasons I didn’t understand at the time and still don’t, they decided to make him the team closer, although he was very clear about not wanting to close AND he had been the team’s best SP the year before. And it wasn’t as if they were exactly overflowing with ace quality starters, neither.
Let me be kind and say that closing didn’t agree with him at ALL – he posted a 7.11 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP over 66 games, saved 35, lost 9 and blew 5 more.
The Rockies abandoned the Chacon as closer experiment – it WAS a stupid idea from the get go – and he resumed his starting in 2005. Although he had a 1-7 record, he had a 4.09 ERA (117 ERA+) and a 1.44 WHIP at the trading deadline and the Rockies traded him to the Yankees in what was an obvious salary dump for a couple of cruddy prospects. He looked like an ace the rest of the year, going 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA over 79 IP. He even pitched well in is one playoff appearance against the Angels, giving up 2 ER over 6.1 IP.
In 2006, he looked even worse than he would have had he stayed in Colorado – a 7.00 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 5.14 BB/9, 5 K/9 in 63 IP over 17 games with 11 GS and this was NY, so anything less than perfection gets you traded and sure enough off went Shawn to the NL basement for Craig Wilson. It’s not that Shawn looked exactly ace-like in his new home, going 2-3 in 9 GS over 46 IP with a 5.48 ERA, but hey, anything to escape a lynching I guess. It’s most likely that Chacon wasn’t near as good as his first 3 months in NY and he wasn’t as bad as his last 3 as his FIP showed he should have had an ERA around 4.20, not bad, but not exactly 2.85.
Last year, Chacon had a very good year as a middle reliever, a 3.94 ERA (110 ERA+) and a 1.49 WHIP in 64 games over 96 IP.
Career, he has a 4.98 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP (too many walks) – a 92 ERA+ as a starter.
Well, as Eddie Wade always sez – you just cain’t never have got your selves too many mediocre middle relievers or #5 starters. What is sad is that Chacon would most likely have outperformed both his old teammate Jennings as well as Woody had he been an Astro last year. And Woody and Wade had, um, a discussion – ahem- at the start of ST: even though Woody is getting 6 mill this year, he won’t stay in the rotation if he sucks as much as he did last year. Unfortunately, this most likely means that Chris Sampson will most likely be getting the shaft. And on NO planet is Shawn Chacon a better starting pitcher than Sampson.
It is interesting that the Astros never wanted Sampson to start in spite of his excellence. I suppose it is because he is such a GB pitcher and has a low K rate, which isn’t glamorous, or something. But Sampson pitched himself onto the rotation last year, and hopefully he will do the same THIS year.