Monday, March 20, 2006
A Busy Day
The Red Sox today cashed in on some of their pitching depth by trading Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for young OF Wily Mo Pena, distant cousin of the great Wil E. Coyote. Been listening to all the back and forth on this throughout the day, and my first instinct when I heard about the deal still holds -- I like it better than I dislike it, even though the Reds probably gain in the near-term. This trade highlights the gap between the 'have' and 'have not' teams. For the Reds, Arroyo - who was pitching himself out of the Red Sox rotation this spring - jumps over to the Reds and becomes their second-best starter. Insta-improvement. For the Red Sox, Wily Mo is a tantalizing project worth undertaking, and a welcome addition to the cool (Coco) name club. He may contribute this year by spelling Trot, facing tough lefties, and hitting the occasional home run -- but he is very much a work in progress, as his league-high strikeouts per at-bat ratio attests. Still, the upside is there. He's a big, athletic guy - 6'4", 240 lbs. - and he just finished playing for the Dominican WBC team. As Peter Gammons noted, he'll also be under Papi's wing...
(WEEI has Bronson on the radio right now -- let's listen in live...)
Host: Bronson, you wanted to stay. How disappointed are you?
BA: As disappointed as I've ever been in my life. I loved Boston - the fans, the city, the excitement every night. Wherever I might be traded, it wouldn't be the same as Boston. I knew we had deep pitching, six-deep, and I told them that I'd be willing to pitch out of the bullpen. How many guys that led their team in quality starts volunteer to do that? (Like how he just throws that casually in there - no doubt from recent agent research)
Host: Do you feel misled? (Bronson, against his agent's advice, signed a deal before spring training for below market-value due to his desire to stay a Red Sox)
BA: No, not really. There was never a guarantee involved. I knew that. They just move us around like chess pieces. It's all a big business. Me and Theo were friendly - he called me early to say I'd been traded before I found out from the media...
Host: You have an opportunity to be at the top of the Reds' rotation. Is that the bright side here for you, Bronson?
BA: There's a few bright spots. Number one (number one??) I don't have to move too far -- the Reds' camp is in Sarasota, which is close. And I also go in hoping I'm going to get 30-35 starts. Knowing my role will be a plus. I'm sure I'll feel better when I get there, but right now it's still tough.
Host: What are the best things that come to mind when you think about your time in Boston?
BA: Everything from the day I got there -- it was the best time, the best place I've ever played in - the city, the excitement, the passion of the fans - just to be in that uniform with so many old-timers coming around, my teammates - Pedro, Lowe, Leskanic, Millar -it was special. I'm sad to leave, but the game has become musical chairs.
Host: Do you regret signing the deal?
BA: No. I'd do it again. I was going to be traded either way -- they've got a surplus in pitching - it's easier to trade me than Matt Clement. My agent thought I should test the market, but I didn't want to - I was happy to play here; I took a discount to play here. I told Jed and Ben I would not have signed this deal in any other market.
Cool, a little live radio cut-in. Bronson definitely sounded like he was about to jump off a bridge. He's a good dude, but he is what he is performance-wise. We've seen his best, I think. He also forgot one other plus - he's that much closer to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Anyway, back to the trade. I still like it, provided that Sox management maybe knows a little something about their pitching staff that we don't. Like Wells isn't going anywhere, and maybe - just maybe - Roger Clemens is a slight possibility. Of the two, it's obviously more likely that Wells sticks around, wins his 15 and keeps calling his manager an idiot. But lately, talk has heated up around the Rocket.
Mere hours after Clemens and Team USA were eliminated by Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, Roger's four suitors - the Astros, Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox - renewed their respective sales pitches to Roger, and the Globe reported that Theo had met with one of the Hendricks' brothers last week in Fort Myers. The prevailing wisdom has it that Roger will come back and play in May or June, preferably for the team that has the best chance to win it all. That would seem to rule out at least the Rangers, though Tom Hicks has been known to throw gobs of silly dough around. Boston may be a pipedream, but one person friendly with Roger says that "he truly hasn't made up his mind yet, and that Boston is definitely high on the list." Take it for what it's worth - the source is a lawyer friend of mine who stays in touch with Roger and his family - but I do believe Boston has a good shot. For one, Roger is driven by baseball history and numbers, and you can make damn sure that the Red Sox video pointed out that he's tied for all-time team wins (192) with... Cy Young. How fitting. The source also said wife Debbie will have a huge say, and that she loved living in Framingham.
Clemens, Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield, Wells, Clement, Papelbon, Lester... yes, please. (Hey, a guy can dream)