Because those annoying Reed-for-Arroyo rumors won’t go away, I figured I’d do a quick explanation of why such a trade would be a terrible idea. One in a long series of terrible ideas, unfortunately.
Arroyo is actually a similar, though right-handed, pitcher to Jarrod Washburn, who we’ve discussed to death the past few days. Their overall profile is very similar.
Extreme flyball pitcher. 30 percent of the batters Washburn faced hit outfield flies, 9th most out of 216 MLB pitchers who faced at least 300 batters. He’s a more extreme flyball pitcher than every Mariner except Julio Mateo (the most extreme flyball pitcher in the majors).
Slightly above average walk rate. In fact, his percentage of batters faced that drew walks (7.75%) is almost identical to Roger Clemens (7.76%). Command isn’t a big problem for Arroyo. He throws strikes.
Pitch-to-contact starter. He struck out 11.38% of the batters he faced. Ryan Franklin’s mark was 11.16%, for comparison. Among those same 216 pitchers with at least 300 batters faced, Arroyo ranks 196th in strikeout rate.
Essentially, Arroyo has one skill; throw the ball over the plate. He doesn’t miss bats, and he doesn’t induce groundballs. He’s a use-your-defense guy who relies on his outielders to run down an awful lot of balls in the gaps and hopes that his flyballs don’t leave the yard too often.
It’s not a reliable package, as Franklin should have taught the organization. In cases where the team’s outfield defense is spectacular, and when matched with the right park, these guys can be superficially useful, as Franklin was in 2003 and Aaron Sele was in 2001. But their shelf life is short, and they’re surviving on the backs of their more talented teammates.
To make matters even worse, to acquire Arroyo and his flyball proclivities, the M’s would have to part with Jeremy Reed, who, at worst, is able to cover center field competently (I’m not sold on him being a great defensive CF yet, but he’s clearly not bad). In replacing Reed, the M’s would almost certainly have to settle for a defensive downgrade, whether it be Willie Bloomquist, Preston Wilson, or pretty much any other available center fielder. If you like the idea of replacing Reed on the open market, you may want to ask yourself why the Yankees, who are currently starting Bubba Crosby in CF, looked at these same options and said “no thanks”.
So, remove Reed from CF and replace him with Bloomquist, for instance. Now you have an outfield defense of Ibanez (average to poor), Bloomquist (poor), and Ichiro (great). Not exactly Winn-Cameron-Ichiro. In order to succeed, Arroyo requires fantastic defensive outfielders behind him. In order to acquire Arroyo, we have to remove a big part of what would be the team’s outfield defense. Not exactly the best way to make sure Arroyo’s strengths are maximized, is it?
If the M’s are determined to have a veteran pitch-to-contact innings sponge at the back of the rotation, Arroyo isn’t even superior to Jason Johnson. Johnson, a free agent, is basically a groundball version of Arroyo. Throws strikes, doesn’t miss bats, but induces groundballs instead of flyballs. Oh, and he doesn’t cost us Jeremy Reed.
Ideally, the M’s would just get over their hangup with marginal starters who depend on their defense for their value and actually acquire pitchers with some real talent, but that apparently is asking too much. So, in the vein of lowered expectations, I’m simply asking that if the M’s are going to pay several million for a replacement level contact pitcher, let’s make it the guy who doesn’t cost us Jeremy Reed, okay?