Shawn Chacón

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Shawn Anthony Chacón

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Biographical Information[edit]

"There's a lot more polish to him...he's growing up as a pitcher and as a man." - Clint Hurdle

Shawn Chacón pitched 8 major league seasons. An All-Star in 2003, he was one of the few big leaguers in history to assault a member of his team's front office, physically confronting Ed Wade, the General Manager of the Houston Astros in 2008. In 269 games, working evenly as a starter and reliever, he finished 45-61 with a 4.99 ERA.

Amateur Career[edit]

Shawn was adopted as a 4-year-old after his mother placed him in a foster home. In high school, he went 10-0 with 2 saves and a 1.51 ERA as a senior, leading his team to a Colorado state title while allowing only 14 earned runs all season. He had a scholarship offer to Arizona State University, but the Colorado Rockies took him in the third round of the 1996 amateur draft and he signed on the dotted line.

Minor Leagues[edit]

Chacón had a fine minor league debut, going 1-2 with an Arizona League-leading 1.60 ERA for the AZL Rockies in 1996; in 56 1/3 innings, he allowed 46 hits (only 1 home run) and 15 walks while striking out 64. Baseball America rated him the 3rd best prospect in the league, behind teammates Jake Westbrook and John Nicholson, and well ahead of Ramon Ortiz (10th) and Brad Penny. Promoted to the Portland Rockies, he was 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA late in the year. He was ranked the 7th best Rockie prospect, between Westbrook and Doug Million. In 1997, Shawn was 11-7 with a 3.89 ERA for the Asheville Tourists and fanned 149 in 162 innings. Baseball America rated him the 7th best South Atlantic League prospect, ahead of Westbrook. Chacón missed much of 1998 due to elbow trouble; he was 0-4 with a 5.30 ERA for the Salem Avalanche. He again was limited in Salem in 1999, going 5-5 with a 4.13 ERA. In 2000, he moved up to the Carolina Mudcats and was 10-10 with a 3.16 ERA, striking out 172 in 174 innings but walking 85. He led the Southern League in both strikeouts and walks as well as shutouts (3).

Major Leagues[edit]

Chacón began 2001 with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, making four appearances in AAA (2-0, 2.25) before being promoted. He was 6-10 with a 5.06 ERA (105 ERA+) for the Rockies; his 134 strikeouts set a franchise rookie record, breaking Armando Reynoso's mark. Only Roy Oswalt had more strikeouts among rookies in the National League. Injuries limited him somewhat in 2002; he was 5-11 with a 5.73 ERA for Colorado and 2-0, 4.79 for Colorado Springs. At the plate, he hit a respectable .257 in 35 at bats. Chacón was a fierce 11-4 with a 4.27 ERA in the first half of 2003 and was named to the 2003 All-Star Game, in which he did not play. He was 0-4 with a 5.68 ERA in the second half and finished the year 11-8, 4.60 with a 108 ERA+.

Chacón became the Rockies' closer in 2004 by virtue of the team having no idea who else they could give the job to. He finished an ugly 1-9 with a 7.11 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, but with 35 saves (and 9 blown saves, tying for the NL lead). He was the third major leaguer to record 30 saves in the year in which he made his first relief appearance; Billy Koch and Kazuhiro Sasaki had done so previously. Chacón was put back in the rotation in 2005. He was 1-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 13 games before being dealt to the New York Yankees for Eduardo Sierra and Ramon Ramirez. He went 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA for the Yankees, snapping the 2-20 skid he had been on since the 2003 All-Star break. He made the lone postseason appearance of his career with a start in the Division Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, allowing 2 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in Game 4.

Counted upon to build on his late success in the Bronx, Shawn went instead in the opposite direction by going 5-3 with a 7.00 ERA in 17 games for the Yankees in 2006. At the trading deadline, he was foisted off on the Pittsburgh Pirates for Craig Wilson. He had a 2-3, 5.48 record for the Pirates down the stretch in 9 starts. Chacón battled with Tony Armas Jr. for the 5th spot in the Pirates rotation in spring training 2007, creating the odd spectacle of the two highest-paid pitchers on the club fighting for a minor role. Chacón lost and spent most of the year in relief, going 5-4 with 1 save and a 3.94 ERA in 64 appearances, re-establishing himself at the fortuitous precipice of free agency.

Shawn moved to the Houston Astros on a one-year, $2 million deal in February 2008. He had a 4.14 ERA after 9 starts with no decisions despite not getting yanked early much (54 1/3 innings), setting an MLB record for the most starts to open a season without a decision. Chacón was credited with a win in his 10th start, and had lost his last start of 2007, so he just missed the record of ten straight no-decisions at any time, set by Dick Stigman and tied by two others. He was pulled from the rotation in June, with his record at 2-3, 5.04 in 15 starts.

On June 25th, Shawn was suspended indefinitely by the Astros for insubordination. The incident which spurred that decision began when GM Ed Wade asked Shawn to leave the team dining room and speak with him in his office, with Shawn refusing. Some words were exchanged and Chacón exploded, grabbing Wade by the neck and throwing him to the ground, then knocking him down repeatedly until other parties could intervene. The following day, he was waived and, when unclaimed, had his contract terminated for cause. He caught on with the Newark Bears in 2009 and pitched well enough to get a shot in the Oakland A's system, but never pitched in the majors again.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (2003)
  • 30 Saves Seasons: 1 (2004)

Primary Sources[edit]

Related Sites[edit]