This morning the Red Sox traded righthander Bronson Arroyo to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for right fielder Wily Mo Pena. I heard speculation last night that this trade was about to be made, but you hear these rumors all the time, and most of them never get done. But this was completed, and for me, the jury is still out on it.
Arroyo was going to pitch out of the Red Sox bullpen this season, so going to Cincinnati will ultimately benefit him, as he will be one of their main starters. But I heard he was shocked by the deal, as he signed a three-year contract with the Sox earlier this winter, at a "hometown discount" and against the advice of his agent. I really thought he would be staying, especially after signing the contract. From now on, players better be careful signing those type of contracts with the Red Sox. I can't say I'm thrilled that the Red Sox brass did this after reaching a "handshake agreement" with Arroyo about a deal (or no deal) this past January. But I guess that business is business, and it was really hard for the Red Sox to pass on this trade. I would bet the Sox would rather of dealt Matt Clement, but they would had to have eaten too much of Clement's contract.
I'd been saying for a year that Arroyo belonged in the bullpen, as he was way too erratic as a starter. But now he's off to the Reds, and I wish him well. He'll always be "one of the 25", one of the players who brought a championship to Boston in 2004. I'll never forget July 24, 2004, when he hit Alex Rodriguez and started that now-famous brawl that seemed to be the turning point of the 2004 Sox season (whether it was in reality or not).
For us Red Sox fans, he'll always be known as "Saturn Balls", a nickname Curt Schilling stuck on him for his tenacity and guts.
Good luck in Cincinnati, Bronson. Thanks for being part of the 2004 championship club.
Wily Mo Pena is 24 years old, and is coming off a terrific year in the Dominican Winter League. He figures to split time in RF with Trot Nixon and will face lefties in the platoon. He has a strong arm, but is not known as a good outfielder. He hit 19 HRs in Cincinnati last season, in 311 at-bats, with 51 RBI and a .254 average, but doesn't have good plate discipline, as he strikes out way too much. Perhaps with the guidance of fellow Dominican David Ortiz, Pena may finally blossom into the star a lot of people think he can be. The Red Sox have him under their control until at least 2008.
This trade might signal the end of the line in Boston for Trot Nixon, as he is a free agent after 2006. And Dustan Mohr, who's had a terrific spring in RF with the Red Sox, may end up being traded as well.
This is one of those "only time will tell" trades. I hope it works out well for the Red Sox.
I also want to acknowledge the retirement of Al Leiter yesterday. He was pitching for the Yankees out of their bullpen, and decided to call it a career after 19 years. I was always a fan of his, as I always admired his guts and guile as a pitcher, and was instrumental in getting the Mets to the 2000 World Series. He was also a classy guy as well, especially off the field. I hated to see him go back to the Yankees, especially after he beat the Red Sox in his first start last July. But he went out on his own terms, and his next stop figures to be the YES broadcast booth. I thought he did a fine job as the third man in the booth during the 2004 ALCS, so I'm sure he'll be good at YES as well.
Good luck Al.