By Jim Callis
March 20, 2006
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).