Baker sticking with Cordero over Chapman

Baker sticking with Cordero over Chapman

CINCINNATI -- As Francisco Cordero has hit another rough stretch of appearances for the Reds, there has been the inevitable clamoring to install rookie sensation Aroldis Chapman as the closer.

Reds manager Dusty Baker tried to squash those thoughts on Thursday, but it became a spirited discussion on how he's handled his team all season.

"It hasn't changed. Chapman just learned how to relieve," Baker said. "That eighth inning and seventh inning is a whole lot easier than that ninth inning. Is this the place to experiment with that? With the guy that hasn't been there? In case he doesn't do it, do I go back to Coco and say, 'Hey man, I was just kidding.' Then you lose both of them."

Baker has defended slumping players all season and perhaps no one has gotten more defending this season than Cordero. But he also left the door open an inch that he might consider Chapman as a closer during the postseason.

"There's a situation like [David] Price in Tampa Bay in the playoffs [in 2008]. If that comes up, we'll see," Baker said. "In the meantime, let's not stir it up. There's already enough stirring up whenever [Cordero] comes into the game. That can't help when he comes in the game and gives up one ball or one hit, the boos start. That makes it worse.

"Let's enjoy what we have instead of thinking about what we don't have, how about that?"

When it was brought up by a reporter that Baker has one pitcher throwing 103 mph and another that's been a shaky closer, Baker became agitated.

"There are some people that didn't like [stuff] I did at the start of the season," Baker said. "They didn't like my lineup. They didn't like this. They didn't like that. 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.

"There were people that wanted [Chris] Dickerson to play and they started booing Dickerson. They wanted [Laynce] Nix. There's people that wanted [Jay] Bruce sent to the Minor Leagues. There were people that wanted [Chris] Heisey to play every day. There are people that wanted [Drew] Stubbs sent to the Minors. There were people that wanted [Nick] Masset out of here at the beginning. ... I'm not worried about what people say because people go on who's hot at the time. I have to look at the overall big picture, the dynamics and the psychology of my ballclub."

Chapman, the 22-year-old Cuban lefty, came into the day with one unearned run, four hits and two walks over eight appearances with 11 strikeouts. Cordero is third in the National League with 36 saves, but he blew two saves over the weekend vs. the Pirates and nearly blew another one in Wednesday's 7-5 win over Arizona. It took Jay Bruce's spectacular catch at the right-field wall to rob Adam LaRoche of a two-run homer.

"We thought we had Coco fixed," Baker said. "He saved 18 out of 19, don't forget that. People only remember the last couple of times out there. If you look at the list of blown saves this year, he is not the leader."

Actually, Cordero is second in the NL with eight blown saves. Compared to other NL closers that qualify, he's also second in walks (36) and hits (63) and second-worst in WHIP (1.51) over 65 2/3 innings.

Before last Friday, Cordero hadn't blown a save since July 9. That doesn't mean they've been shutdown saves along the way. Most of the time, he makes it tense in the ninth by putting people on base.

"He was walking people before and now he's throwing too many fat strikes," Baker said. "That's a start when you're throwing strikes and not walking people. And he's getting two strikes on people."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.