Friday, March 31

Bronson Arroyo

Not very special

FENWAY PARK - For those who pay little attention to the sports world, Red Sox nation was singing the blues on March 20, when Bronson "Cornrows" Arroyo was traded away to the Cincinnati Reds for Wiley Mo Pena.

Many may have wondered why the Red Sox traded a budding, young, popular pitcher - accompanied more astoundingly with cash - for an outfielder who will see limited playing time this year and had more strikeouts last year (116) than Mark Bellhorn (112). Bellhorn, for those who may not remember, was traded from the Sox in part because of the number of strikeouts he racked up.

While Wiley Mo Pena performed well in many categories in 2005, particularly Home Runs (19) and RBI (51), there are other areas in which his game needs to improve. He'll see limited time in the outfield due to the starting positions already being filled. Again, one wonders what Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein was thinking when he made the trade.

At the moment Boston has an abundance of pitching. However, what will happen in another year or two when two of their starters, David Wells and Curt Schilling, decide to either retire or leave the team? Then the Red Sox will be forced to look for more quality pitching for their starting rotation, a spot Arroyo could have easily filled.

Finally, this is a bad trade because of Arroyo's popularity among teammates, fans, and the community. In the two and a half years he was with Boston, he achieved a rock-star-like status and he helped keep the team in good spirits in the clubhouse. Perhaps more importantly, with Arroyo gone, the karaoke club will have yet another significant hole to fill. They still haven't found a replacement for the spot vacated by first baseman Kevin Millar who joined the Orioles this season and at this point one has to shudder at the thought of David "Big Papi" Ortiz and Manny Ramirez singing "Keep on Rockin' Me Baby."

Perhaps that is why on Wednesday, March 29, the Red Sox made a move to reacquire the popular right hander from the Cincinnati Reds. While details of the trade are still uncertain, it is reported that the Red Sox traded left-handed pitcher Wells, first baseman Hee-Seop Choi, and cash considerations to reacquire Arroyo. While it seems that the reacquisition of Arroyo was made to bolster an already formidible pitching staff, it seems that the real reason behind Arroyo's arrival back to Beantown is because Epstein's band was having a hard time landing gigs since he shipped his lead singer/guitarist to Cincinnati. Perhaps the Red Sox are finally starting to catch on, after a number of years, that you don't keep players because they're good, you keep them because they're popular and can do just about anything else well but play baseball.