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Born A-Chen Lee Sinins reports
2003-03-10 00:11
by Mike Carminati

Born A-Chen

Lee Sinins reports that Bruce Chen has been sent down to Triple-A by the Cincinnati Reds and that he has accepted that assignment. Chen won't be 26 until June 19 but he is on his fifth organization (5 in the last three years). He played for three major-league teams last season and has yet to spent a full major-league season with one team.

Chen's overall stats are not bad: a 20-16 record with a 4.53 ERA (3% worse than average). However, he has gotten progressively worse as he has been spun through the major-league revolving door over the last three seasons. In 2000, he was 7-4 with a 3.29 (43% better than the league average) with the Braves and the Phils. In 2001, he was 7-7 witha 4.87 ERA (14% worse than average) with the Phils and the Mets. Last year he was 2-5 (with only 6 starts) and had a 5.56 ERA (23% worse than average) with the Mets, 'Spos, and Reds.

Maybe it is time for an organization to take stock of his talent as well as his mechanics in the minors before throwing him to the lions (or trading him) again. Clearly the pan-to-the-fire aproach is not working. This could prove the swan song for Chen or a whole new begining.

One thing that I find odd is that I looked him up Baseball Prospectus annual and saw that he had a 16% chance of having a breakout season, a 19% chance of total collapse, and a 56% chance of improvement. That seemed a bit overly optomistic to me. I mean, no disrespect to Chen, but a player who has had his recent history will be lucky to continue to find gainful employment at the major-league level, let alone improve or "break out". I haven't reviewed the PECOTA system behind BP's player prognastications, but aside for being named after a lousy ballplayer, it seems not well grounded in baseball reality. However, I don't want to rush to judgment (who me?) until I fully understand the system.

Anyway, Chen's odds seem to me to be closer to 5% breakout, 25% improvement, and 70% total collapse. He has to improve if he continues to pitch, but the question remains if he will do so at the major-league level. Other player predictions that I have scanned in BP are similarly overly sanguine. I just may check that SHUMPERT system out.

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