Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Not To Keep Your Job (Exhibit A: Shawn Chacon)

The Boston Red Sox will be playing a three game series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park this weekend. One pitcher the Sox will not be facing is Shawn Chacon.

The Astros put Chacon on waivers yesterday after he physically attacked Astros General Manager Ed Wade on Wednesday by choking him and throwing him to the floor. Chacon, who signed with the Astros as a free agent in the off season, was struggling with a 2-3 record and a 5.04 ERA in 15 starts. He had been demoted to the bullpen and was not pleased about it. The altercation took place in the office of Astros manager Cecil Cooper.

Chacon is one of those million dollar athletes with a ten cent head. He had enormous potential. Chacon won 11 games in his rookie season with the Colorado Rockies in 2003 and was named to the National League All Star Team. The following season he became the Rockies closer. He saved 35 games although he finished with a miserable 1-9 record with a 7.11 ERA. When he was good, he was good. But when he was bad, he was awful with everyone around him. He fell out of favor with the Rockies and they shipped him off to the New York Yankees in the middle of the 2005 season. Chacon pitched well in the Bronx, winning 7 games down the stretch helping them win the AL East. But Chacon was ineffective in 2006 and in mid-season the Yankees, too, got tired of his act and traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he pitched the remainder of the season and in 2007. The Astros were Chacon's fourth team in four seasons.

Given the physical altercation, it is likely that Chacon's major league career is over at the age of 30. If Chacon had worn out his welcome in the usual manner he would have hooked on with someone else. Case in point. Earlier this month, the Texas Rangers released pitcher Sidney Ponson despite the fact he was pitching effectively with a 4-1 record. However, he did not ingratiate himself with teammates or management including the club owner. Ponson ran into similar trouble with the Baltimore Orioles when they released him at the end of the 2005 season. He has two incidents of DUI and assaulted a judge in his native Aruba. Ponson has since been signed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees, with whom he briefly pitched in 2006. When he did not pitch effectively as a starter he was demoted to the bullpen which Ponson accepted. Ironically, had Ponson not accepted his demotion they would have released him and kept Shawn Chacon. If any organization does take another chance on Chacon it would be the Yankees. But even Ponson hasn't assaulted non-player personnel. Not yet anyway.

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