In mid-February of this year, we began contract negotiations with the agent for free agent pitcher Shawn Chacon. During those negotiations, the player’s agent stated on more than one occasion that Chacon had offers from other teams, but that none of them were willing to give the player an opportunity to be a starting pitcher. We made it clear to the agent -and in a subsequent conversation with Chacon–that we were prepared to bring him to Spring Training and give him an opportunity to compete for a spot in our starting rotation.
At no time did we give any assurances that he would be inserted into the rotation for the entire season. Under those conditions, Chacon signed a one-year contract with the Astros on February 20. I’ll invite you to go back and read the statements made by both the club at the player at that time regarding what the understanding was regarding the opportunity to start.
Chacon won a job in the Astros starting rotation and opened the season with five solid starts, compiling a 0-0 record and a 2.45 ERA. However, beginning with his start on April 30 and ending with his start on June 19, Chacon had made 10 starts, compiling a 2-3 record and an earned run average of 6.66. In his last four starts, his record was 0-3 with an ERA of 9.35.
On Sunday of this week, prior to our game against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Cecil Cooper met with Chacon and informed him that he was being moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen. I was not present for the meeting, but was in the clubhouse both pre-game and post-game. The player made no effort to speak with me and gave short, profane responses to media questions regarding his removal from the rotation.
On Sunday afternoon, Chacon’s agent called Assistant General Manager David Gottfried to discuss the move and informed David that Chacon wanted to be traded to a team that would allow him to start. David informed the agent that our intention was to have Chacon play a meaningful role in our bullpen with the eventual possibility of returning to the starting rotation, depending upon his performance.
On Tuesday morning, I returned a call from the agent when he again stated Chacon’s desire to be traded to a team where he could start and I repeated what David Gottfried had stated two days earlier.
Following batting practice on Wednesday evening, I was on my way to the home clubhouse when a member of the media stopped me to tell me that Chacon had informed him that he wanted to be traded to a team where he could start and said that his agent had informed us of his desire. Chacon also told the reporter that he would accept his unconditional release. I went on camera with the reporter and restated our position that we had no interest in trading him because we felt that he could help us in a meaningful bullpen role and eventually earn a spot back in our rotation.
Following the interview, I went into Cecil Cooper’s office in the clubhouse. Present were Coop and pitching coach Dewey Robinson. I told them of the media conversation and said that I would like to have a meeting with Chacon to clear the air. At that point, Dewey Robinson informed me that he had asked Chacon to throw a bullpen session during the game on Tuesday night and that Chacon had ignored him. Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning with Jose Valverde pitching to close out the game, Chacon got up in the bullpen on his own and began throwing. Based upon this information, I was even more convinced that a meeting was necessary, and I asked Coop to arrange it while I returned upstairs to retrieve something from my brief case.
When I returned to Coop’s office, he and Dewey were still present. Coop informed me that Chacon refused to come into his office for a meeting, telling Coop that he had nothing to say to him and that he had no interest in coming into the office. I asked Coop if he knew where Chacon was and Coop responded that he was in the lunch room.
I proceeded to the lunch room and asked Chacon several times if I could speak to him. On each occasion, he refused to meet with me, finally telling me that anything I had to say to him could be said right there. At that point, I told him that if he wanted me to address him in front of his teammates I would, and I told him that he needed to look at himself in the (bleeping) mirror. Up to that point, contrary what was previously stated, I had not raised my voice to the player, cursed the player and had not made any defamatory remarks toward the player. Chacon responded with profane and threatening remarks and got up from his seat. He moved in front of me until we were standing chest-to-chest and then shoved me to the ground. When I attempted to get to my feet, he shoved me a second time, at which point players and coaches intervened. After order was restored, I told him that he was suspended and he eventually left the clubhouse. I then held a short meeting with the players.
Along with the incidents that I’ve already covered, I believe it’s also important to point out that on Sunday, June 1, Chacon started a game against the Brewers in Milwaukee in which he allowed two hits, two walks, two hit batsmen and four runs in the first inning. When Dewey Robinson went to the mound to settle him down, he turned his back on Dewey and refused to acknowledge his presence. When the inning was completed, Chacon disappeared into the clubhouse. Cecil Cooper entered the clubhouse with the intention of calming him down, but was eventually forced to remove him from the game. Chacon was fined by Coop for those actions.
As an organization, we believe that we have fairly treated the player. His pattern of disrespect and defiance to me, the manager, the pitching coach and most importantly the organization led us to this decision.
The team has requested waivers on Chacon for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.
If he isn’t claimed by another major league team by Monday, waivers will expire and his contract will be terminated without pay.
The Astros are calling for a press conference today at 3:30 PM CT. Well keep you posted.
Shawn Chacon has always been a volatile pitcher. The Astros gave him an opportunity. He proved to be efficient enough during Spring Training, and he got a spot in the rotation.
His performance in the last month or so hasn’t been the best, that’s why the manager considered moving him to the bullpen, maybe in an effort to ease pressure off him.
What happened last night and ended up with Chacon being suspended indefinitely, his request to be traded and maybe his end as a professional baseball player (and he’s well aware of that) is definitely beyond me.
This is what Chacon told the Houston Chronicle, and has been quoted by several news services:
According to Chacon, he was in the dining room after batting practice when Cooper asked him to come to his office.
“I said, ‘What do you want to speak to me about?’ ” Chacon said. “He said, ‘We just want to talk to you.’ I said, ‘Anything you can say, you can say to me right here. I don’t want to go to the office.’ He looked at me, and I said, ‘There’s nothing for me to say to you guys.’ And I don’t think whatever they had to say to me they were going to make me happy. I didn’t want to get in a closed-room conversation.”
“I sat down to eat, and Ed Wade came to me and very sternly said, ‘You need to come with me to the office.’ I said, ‘For what? I don’t want to go to the office with you and Cooper.’ And I said, ‘You can tell me whatever you’ve got to tell me right here.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, you want me to tell you right here?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I’m not yelling. I’m calm.”
It deteriorated quickly afterward, according to Chacon.
“He started yelling and cussing,” Chacon said of Wade. “I’m sitting there, and I said to him very calmly, ‘Ed, you need to stop yelling at me. Then I stood up and said, ‘You better stop yelling at me.’ I stood up. He continued and was basically yelling and stuff and was like, ‘You need to (expletive) look in the mirror.’ So at that point I lost my cool, and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him, because at that point I wanted to beat his (behind). Words were exchanged.”
Players quickly separated Wade and Chacon, who remembers being pulled away by outfielder Reggie Abercrombie.
I have never heard anything similar in my five years writing about the Astros. I can tell you that for certain.
I’ll let you make up your own minds about it. If you allow my two cents, I don’t know whether Wade crossed the line in his actions and words towards Chacon. Maybe he lost his patience with him. Let’s be honest, a baseball team is not precisely your five-year-old daughter’s tea party, whether you like it or not. Many have remembered stories of his alleged behavior during his tenure with the Phillies.
Chacon could have waited, kept quiet, you name it. Such violent behavior cannot be tolerated. If he was fed up with Wade’s tirade, there were other ways of dealing it. And it only makes it harder to believe in what he said. You cannot treat your boss that way.
Drayton McLane stood by Wade: “We can’t have anarchy,” McLane said that he told the players. “You can’t have rebellion. If (Chacon) disagreed with what Cecil wanted him to do, he should have had the courage to sit down and talk to him. He wouldn’t come in Cecil’s office.”
Nobody wins with such a shameful incident. Chacon will weigh questions about his behavior and why he can’t amend his ways; this episode is the latest on a series of tantrums and attitude (without mentioning his two positive test for marijuana use while being in the Minor Leagues). Wade will have to ask himself why he took such a risk, that ended up coming back to him like a boomerang.