Spring training is a time ripe for trades, as teams come to the
realization that they can’t fill all of their holes from within. The
Reds and Red Sox parted with depth in one area to fill a shortcoming in
another on Monday, with Cincinnati sending Wily Mo Pena to Boston for
Bronson Arroyo. The Red Sox also included cash to defray part of the
cost of Arroyo’s new three-year contract.
The Reds already had a crowded outfield that also includes
Chris Denorfia, Ryan Freel, Ken Griffey Jr., and Austin Kearns, and
Arroyo should help their weak rotation. The Red Sox have plenty of
starters in Josh Beckett, Matt Clement, Jonathan Papelbon, Curt
Schilling, Tim Wakefield and David Wells, not to mention nearly-ready
prospect Jon Lester. Pena likely will platoon with Trot Nixon in right
field and be ready for full-time duty should something happen with Coco
Crisp, Manny Ramirez or DH David Ortiz.
Pena, 24, has hit 45 homers in part-time duty with Cincinnati
the last two seasons. In 2005, he hit .254/.304/.492 with 19 homers and
51 RBIs in 311 at-bats over 99 games. Compared to Sammy Sosa while
coming up through the Cincinnati system, Pena has prodigious power and
all-around athleticism, though he still needs to refine his other
skills. He runs well enough to play center, but is somewhat shaky on
defense and isn’t much of a basestealing threat. His strike-zone
discipline (20 walks, 116 strikeouts last year) is very raw as well. He
does have a strong arm. Pena avoided arbitration by signing a one-year,
$1.25 million contract for 2006, and he’ll be eligible again after the
season. He’s a career .248/.303/.477 hitter with 51 homers and 134 RBIs
in 830 career at-bats in 302 games.
Arroyo, 29, took a regular turn in Boston’s rotation the last
two years, going 14-10, 4.51 in 35 games (32 starts) in 2005. He had a
100-54 K-BB ratio in 205 innings, while opponents batted .266 with 22
homers against him. Arroyo’s best pitch is his curveball, and the key
to his effectiveness is his ability to locate it in the strike zone.
That’s not always the easiest task, as he employs a variety of low arm
angles. His fastball and changeup are borderline average. Wanting to
stay in Boston, Arroyo signed a below-market deal in January, giving up
his last years of arbitration eligibility for a three-year, $11.25
million contract that will pay him $2.75 million this year. He has a
career 33-33, 4.59 record in 126 games (90 starts).