March 20, 2006
BASEBALL: Arroyo for Pena
A logical deal, I think: the Red Sox have traded 29-year-old starter Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for 24-year-old outfielder Wily Mo Pena.
For the Reds, this was an easy one. Arroyo is a talented pitcher who followed a promising 2004 with a rough 2005 after getting cuffed around in the ALCS and World Series in 2004. While there were some warning signs - Arroyo's HR and flyball rates went up and his K rate went down in 2005 - he's not as extreme a flyball pitcher as, say, Eric Milton (who's been eaten alive in tater-happy Cincy; Arroyo's 0.85 G/F ratio last year is still well above Milton's career 0.6 mark), and the Reds are truly desperate for decent starting pitchers while having some options in the outfield. It could be that Arroyo was just a typical pitcher taking a few lumps in his second go around the league and first season carrying a full 200 IP, and he was still just below average; he's still a reasonable bet to put together a solid season.
As for the Sox, there are three possibilities of what to do with Pena:
1. Trade Trot (or finally deal Manny; it may be that the Sox were keeping one eye on dealing Manny as an option later on).
2. Move Ortiz to 1B, move Pena or Manny to DH, have JT Snow hit the bench and let Youkilis and Lowell slug it out for the 3B job.
3. The most likely - platoon Trot, who hasn't slugged above .375 in a season against lefthanded pitching in the past 5 years, with Pena. Pena's young, so you hate to pigeonhole him, but he's a career .272/.537/.342 hitter against lefties, .237/.450/.285 against righties. He and Nixon would make a solid platoon.
Also, I would guess, without having digested all the Boston papers on this, that the departure of Arroyo signals that David Wells isn't going anywhere and that the odds of Jon Papelbon being in the rotation just went up.
Arroyo was destined to be move at the end of last year and he sealed his fate this spring with an ERA hovering around 20.00. All he throws is slop. He's the right-handed Jamie Moyer without as much experience, savvy or control. He has his good days and bad days, never has great days for the most part. He's young enough that he has upside (which made him the most tradeable item in Boston) but he also makes you nervous as hell when you watch him toss 70 MPH curve balls.
Trot Nixon, while a gamer and the right kind of ballplayer, is constantly hurt and just does not hit left handed pitching. The Sox also signed Juan-Gon to a minor league contract on the hope they could nurse a right-handed decent year out of him. He had 1 AB last year and makes Nixon look like Cal Ripken so I think the Pena trade was a more realistic option of what to do in right field.
As far as Wells goes, no one really wants the fat man, at least at this juncture of the season. I think it is possible, depending on how things shake out in the first 90 games, that he gets moved but right now everyone looks at him as a fat-assed, loud-mouthed lefty who might or might not win between 10-15 games. They have looked around but haven't been offered jack for his services. They have 7 starting pitchers so someone had to go and the only realistic option was Arroyo. He's a bit of a fragile psyche and if he starts giving up dingers in that little league park that they call All-American he could go south really fast. I think it is a good trade for the Sox.
Bah. Arroyo led the Red Sox in quality starts last season. He was never a threat to throw a no-hitter, but when he had a hot streak it was a remarkably good hot streak. Plus he had the intangible ability to make A-Rod do something stupid.
On Pena: Pigeonholing might be a problem, but keep in mind that Pena came up early because of his odd contract status. He's not a 150-game player yet, and platooning against lefties could be his version of AAA.
Leading the Sox in quality starts in 2005 means nothing. Schilling was out all year, Pedro and Lowe were gone, Wells is Wells and then it was Wakefield and a bunch of plug-ins. Arroyo, in a staff not decimated by injuries, was a number 5 or number 4 guy. The Sox have quality arms in the minors, they needed a bat and a body in the outfield and he was the only moveable commodity. I am not big on trading OK starting pitching for hitting but in this case they are relying on some veteran arm for a bit, figuring that some of their young guys will work out and they absolutely needed some offense. When the Yankees hate a trade the Red Sox make (and they hate this one) you know it is a decent trade.
Arroyo's role in the play that earned Slappy Rodriguez his name can't be underappreciated.
Anyhoo, if I'm a Sox fan -- and I'm not -- I'd have to be saddened to see yet another link to a storied team broken so soon: Pedro, Bellhorn, Damon, Arroyo, Lowe, Millar, Cabrera. Basically the whole infield & starting staff except Mueller and Schilling. And if they move Manny, it'll be the whole outfield except Nixon.
The Yanks managed to keep the Jeter-Bernie-Riviera-O'Neill-Tino-Pettite core intact from 96-00, and the results were ok, you know?
I don't disagree that some fundamentals of upper management have gone astray in keeping together a nucleus however I think there are really only 2.5 mistakes on that list. Bellhorn was done. Tons of Ks and no power killed him. Ditto Millar who simply stopped hitting anything but singles. Essentially trading Cabrara for Renteria was a fiscal and chemistry disaster that anyone who really knew that team could see coming a mile away. Train wreck. Pedro played dirty but they should have known that he would and they should have put on the 4th year and sucked it up. Their bad, but given his history you could see what they were thinking but still the error was there. Damon would have been nice to keep but that was a lot of money to commit to a guy who would have been 36/37 at the end of the contract. Perhaps things could have worked out differently but that was not a gaff. Lowe was done in Boston and that was that. Mueller decided to move on and how much are you willing to commit to a #8 hitter even if he is a .300 hitter (albeit with 10 HR power playing 3rd). I am MUCH more upset about Adam Viniateri leaving.
It is a different era and it is much harder to keep guys for extended periods of time than in years past AND even though the Red Sox payroll is huge it is still almost $100 million less than the Yankees. Keep a nucleus together is a little easier when that is the case.
With the glaring exception of Renteria-Cabrera, I'm not blaming the Sox.
I literally meant it would make me sad. I loved the 87-90 Mets, and with a few exceptions thought the front office did well. But to slowly see Carter, Hernandez, Knight, Mookie, Orosco move on was sad.
The monstrous & unforgivable 1989-90 Dykstra/McDowell for Samuel, and Myers for Franco trades, on the other hand, made me angry, not sad.
'Twas the end of an era.
Things are different. I would think it would hard to be a kid and a sports fan these days. What do you do when your favorite guy goes to play for the team you hate? Or the guy you always hated comes to play for your team?
Crank, what are you going to tell your kids 5 years from now when David Wright signs with the Yankees?
Gee, thanks Jim.
I just hurled all over my monitor.
And yes there is a baseball team the TOLEDO MUDHENS but their not no chickens there getting ready for the season
I never saw the infatuation with Arroyo. My dad just loved the guy for some reason...He never really impressed me. I will grant, however, I don't pay as close attention as I once did.
On the other hand, I've had Pena on my fantasy squad (it's a VERY deep league) and I really like his potential. He could easily be a .275/30/90 for years to come.
I gave up on Trot taking the next step two or three years ago, and a guy with a bad back really could use a platoon partner. If you look at this as replacing Millar with a slugging 24 year old, that's pretty damn good.
The Renteria signing was the single worst move of the last ten years for this team. Watching him in the 2004 World Series should have been enough to dissuade Theo.
Bill Simmons wrote some hilarious stuff about Pena yesterday (bostonsportsguy.com) including stuff about supposedly super-human strength. How can you not love a guy named Wily (with one L) Mo Pena who introduces himself as Wily Mo?