Monday, March 20, 2006

Not On The Money(ball)

The Red Sox pulled the trigger on a trade today, bringing in Outfielder Wily Mo Pena from Cincinnati in exchange for Bronson Arroyo.

The Red Sox needed to make a move, given their lack of production at most of the corner positions, which is being exasperated by Mike Lowell's struggles in Spring Training. Arroyo was expendable, with the Red Sox having a surplus of Starting Pitchers, but something tells me this was a trade made more out of desperation than anything else.

The acquisition of Pena represents a departure from the kind of acquisitons, and the type of players that have been targetted throughout the Theo Epstein era in Boston. To illustrate my point, all you need to know are two statistics from Pena's 2005 campaign:

Walks: 20
Strikeouts: 116

Something tells me they didn't run this one by Team Consultant Bill James.


At 11:53 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Yikes. Shitty trade, I say.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Yup. With him and Lowell in the lineup, expect a lot of 6-4-3 double plays.

Thank god Grady Little and his hit and run fetish are gone, otherwise this team would probably set a record for strike out/caught stealing plays.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

Interesting. Primer reaction trends towards positive from the BoSox side, I'd say. What I can't figure out is where he's going to play. DH is filled by The Greatest American Hero. Manny owns LF (unless Pena is Manny trade insurance), Coco has CF and Trot is in LF. I suppose this could be Trot injury/ineffectiveness against lefties insurance, but Pena is no great shakes against lefties-.883 OPS in a hitter's park. Much better than Trot's .632 but still...

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Alex said...

According to Gammons' blog (available on ESPN Insider), Pena figures to start off as a platoon player in Right. Nixon's terrible against lefites, and has struggled in general with injuries and inconsistency recently.

Aside from the great Adam Stern, the Sox don't have any depth in the Outfield beyond Pena, so it's conceivable that he could fill in for Manny and Crisp once a week or so, since he can play all three Outfield positions.

One last thing to consider is that if Mike Lowell and/or Kevin Youkilis really struggle out of the gate, it might necessitate a rearranging of the Infield which could see Papi return to the field, at least part time. In that case, Manny or Trot would probably DH and Pena would play in the field regularly.

If nothing else, Pena gives them another Major League-ready body, as well as some options if people get hurt or struggle, both of which they sorely needed.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

You boys are missing the obvious: Arroyo's contribution to the team this year looks to be zero, as in he doesn't have a job in the starting five. Even if he did have a job, there's something much better called a Papelbon waiting in the wings.

Little Wily has played two half-seasons in a row (04 & 05) during which he was responsible for 54 and 46 Runs Created. He's also 23 years old and costs less than $400K.

This is a great trade: converting a player who won't contribute at all into a young, cheap player who will produce.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Alex said...

A couple of points to respond to Avi:

1. You assume that the Sox won't convert Papelbon into a closer. I think it would be detrimental in the long run if they do, but as long as Foulke's status is still up in the air, and they don't have anyone else in the bullpen who can close consistently, it's a possibility. If this happens, and someone in the rotation gets hurt (probably Wells or Schilling), they're looking at calling up Jon Lester to fill the void, whether he's ready or not.

2. Understanding that he's young, I'm still concerned by Pena's low walk/high strikeout numbers. Also, are you concerned at all that he didn't progress at all (statistically) in his second season in the majors? If no, why not?

Basically Avi, I'm hoping that you can reassure me that Pena can become more than a Rob Deer-type slugger.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Strikeouts aren't absolutely evil. They can correlate to more power. Furthermore, managers of the Jamesian persuasion-such as Epstein and Beane-have plenty of players on their teams who strikeout. The 2004 Red Sox collected the 2nd most strikeouts in American League History (ignore the NL, as pitchers throw everything out the window), while still having the number one league rank in scoring. Ditto the 2002 Yankees, who have the 4th most strikeouts in AL history. The 5th most goes to the 2000 A's, who were second in the league in scoring.

It also doesn't mean that you are an impatient hitter. See Adam Dunn and Mark Bellhorn, who get a ton of walks, in addition to striking out alot. A player like Dunn has a good eye at the plate; he just swings for the fences and misses. But when he connects...

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Alex said...


Good points about strikeouts. I should mention though that his walk totals are still very low, and haven't improved at all in three years - in fact, they've gotten slightly worse. That still concerns me.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Ya, his OBP is .302, which is pretty mediocre. The upside is that he had an .881 OPS against left-handed pitching last season (Man Ram's was .885). He is right-handed, which the Sox need, and he can also platoon for Crisp and Manny, in addition to Nixon. My intial reaction to the trade was negative because I always think depth at pitching is more valuable than depth in the outfield. Arroyo led the Sox in quality starts last year, and other than Wakefield the Sox don't really have starters who are reliable in terms of health.


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