Bit of a surprise for a Monday morning. I mean, I certainly knew that there was an excellent chance Arroyo would be dealt, but it always surprises me when things happen early on a Monday. Why aren't these people just drinking coffee and relating uninteresting tales from their early-to-mid-30s weekends?
I like the deal. In fact, I like it a lot. In my opinion, Arroyo was as good as he would ever get, and Pena has a ton of potential. In fact, looking at highlights of Wily Mo, one could argue that he IS a ton of potential. I am not trying to bag on Saturn Balls; I like him. The thing is, he couldn't get lefties out (at all - three year splits against him by LHH are .275/.338/.455), and he was getting killed every other start. His K/9 rate had dropped alarmingly from 2004 - 2005; guys were just figuring him out. If his curveball wasn't locating, it was over.
Pena on the other hand has some problems of his own, notably that for much of his MLB career he has never seen a pitch he didn't like. His astronimical (read: Cliff Johnson-esque) K rates support this crazy assertation. The thing is, and Theo alluded to this in today's report, he has had extremely poor developmental support in his career. He was signed to a major-league contract at 16 and had to be kept on the Reds' roster by age 20 since he was out of options, so he didn't really get a chance to develop as a player in his maturation years. Still, he seems to be improving, and despite his high K rates, his HR rates are very nearly the same as those of Big Papi and Manny over the last full season. He could very well be an utter monster by 2007. He played in the winter league in the DR, and his numbers were much much better: over 1.000 OPS and a 15:27 BB/K ratio. Granted, the sample size alert is going off all over the place, and the DR winter league is not the big leagues, but the kid seems to be confident that he can get better at taking pitches, and understands how that approach can help him. From the Dayton Daily News article (here):
"Pena said he can't wait for fans to witness the new, improved Wily Mo Pena, the one that developed this winter in the Dominican Republic Winter League.
'You'll see,' he said. 'Much different, much better. My swing is better. If I take the same approach I had in the D.R., everybody is going to see. More home runs. I was taking a lot of pitches, not swinging at bad pitches, getting my pitches to hit. And I was hitting balls all over the field.' "
Maybe I'm being a little too optimistic with Wily Mo, but c'mon. He spells his name with one "L". He spells it "wily", and that means cunning, and crafty, and according to one of my oldest postulates, kids always turn into their names. So I think he's going to get it.
The crappy part, kind of, is Arroyo's "hometown discount" deal. The Sox are going to get killed in the press for trading him after they said they probably wouldn't. As it actually turns out, Arroyo would have been the long man in the pen this year since Paps and Wells are most likely better. This means that in 2007 he'd have gone to arb and would probably have gotten less money than the current deal guarantees him for the next three. thanks to the trade he's in Cincy, sure, but at least he starts. Heck, in Cincy he's the #2. And even if he totally gags, he's making money for the next few years. So I'm not going to lose too much sleep over the "back-stabbing" angle, but I'm betting Shaughnessy goes ballistic, just because he can.
One last comment on this point. Ask yourself this: if you went in to sign the contract to buy a house and asked "does the foundation need repairs?" and the response was "probably not", would you sign? On some level, there has to be accountability on both sides.
Back to the deal...
The biggest detractors on this trade will hearken back to the old adage "you can never have too much pitching", and they have a point. The crux of this deal, in my opinion, hinges on two premises:
1) Dinardo gives you similar performance as your #6 starter / long-reliever (and can get lefties out, which Bronson could simply never do) until Lester is ready
2) Nixon is more likely to go down than the other players at risk in the deal(Schilling, Wells, Beckett) and once he does your market leverage is nil
Take that for what you will. Sitting here, analyzing this, I feel saddened that I am coming at it with such a business-like approach, because I think Arroyo is a good guy with class who loves the city of Boston, and that should count for something. Moreover, it bothers me that so few of the guys from 2004 are still around. The things is, what can you do? These guys are the 2006 Boston Red Sox, and we just have to embrace them. I just have to remember, we root for the laundry. Meet the new Sox; same as the old Sox.