Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Responding to Arroyo comments

Oh, I appreciate that the man was loyal, and it is sad to see him go. The problem, of course, was that he was loyal to a team that didn't necessarilly have a role for him. Look, as much as I like the guy and I was one of his biggest supporters, he is an average pitcher with no defined role on the Sox, and he could have seen that when he signed.

He was one of 7 starters this year, probably 6th on the depth chart as currently it stands, with Paps likely to overtake him at some point during the year. The bullpen is also a pretty crowded place. When counting Arroyo, the Sox essentially had 13 or 14 pitchers that could make the major league roster on a lot of teams (depending on whether you count Vermilyea, a rule 5 draftee, and Van Buren). Additionally, though some of the starting pitchers are old and probably won't be back next year, the farm system has a bunch of young pitchers on the way up both for the rotation and the bullpen, with Papelbon likely taking a starters role next year, with Lester a possibility, and maybe even AAAs most consistent starter last year: Lenny Dinardo (who has the advantage of being left-handed).

That said, Arroyo could have been a very capable swingman. However, he signed a (discounted) starters salary on a team that may not have a role for a starter anytime soon, and has a couple cheaper swingman options inhouse (Dinardo, Alvarez, Paps & Lester this year). Whether or not he is better than those guys, and he probably is even though if he can be inconsistent and can't get out lefties, he is more expensive than them and the Sox needed a power bat to pinch-hit and platoon with Trot. Further, the Sox are better having Pena getting 300-400 ABs than with Arroyo as one of two swingmen in the bullpen. Going forward, the Sox may have an inhouse option for right field, and in the form of a righty power bat no less (which can be spectacular), and several capable and/or cheap swingman and starter options. As much as I liked Arroyo, if his role in his 30s (which he will be before opening day 2007) was a continued bullpen guy who was a liability against lefties, I'd rather have Pena.

I guess the point is this: I don't think Arroyo was smart taking the hometown discount, as he isn't really good enough to make the decision which team he ultimately plays for because he isn't talented enough to always be a starter, but at the same time probably should be paid more than a reliever. Sure, it was great of him, but if he wanted to play in Boston and not get traded he really needed a no-trade clause. A hometown discount will only work with star players, because their production is not easily replaceable. If you could get Johan Santana to sign a 3-year, $12-million deal (or even twice that), there is no way in hell you would trade him. But, as much as I love the guy, Arroyo isn't Santana. Arroyo signed a contract that meant he either was a cheap starter (of which the sox had an over-abundance), an expensive bullpen arm (of which the sox had an over-abundance), or an affordable piece of trade bait for a team that needs a starter and could probably bring talent back into the sox (which he did, in the form of a young bat). Of course, if he had signed for the league minimum, he probably would still be a Red Sox (although I don't think he should have done that).

So, the lesson here is that a guy shouldn't take a hometown discount unless he is talented enough to ensure he is the best the team can afford, isn't one of numerous options, or he is cheap enough to fulfill another role. And he should still get a no-trade clause.


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