By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

How’s that trade working out?

Home runs to date:

I hear Arroyo can pitch a little, too. Maybe he can play right field.

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Going nuclear


Silverglate’s Stern warning


  1. Brian

    I still think the trade was worth it, if only because I no longer have to endure Arroyo’s cheesy Creed covers during the pre-game show.

  2. Fork Ball

    Just another fallacy of Theo power. About as bad as BY Kim for Shea Hillibrand.

  3. Anonymous

    Shouldn’t it be Pena -1?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    I’ll defend the Shea Hillenbrand trade on the grounds that getting rid of Hillenbrand was the only way Theo could force Grady Little to play Bill Mueller. But, yeah, B.H. Kim — oof.

  5. Man who's a Sox fan

    Then again, I was sitting next to my boss on Opening Day in the grandstands, and he says “Watch this – Hillenbrand will hit into a double play and save Beckett’s bacon for him.” Sure enough, 10 seconds later, Hillenbrand hit into that double play. I gave my boss a look of impressed surprised and he said “Hillenbrand ALWAYS hits into double plays.”Pity we couldn’t have traded Foulke for Pena. That might’ve been worth it. 🙂 Besides, Pena could still grow into a better player over the next year or two. It’s nice to see the team finally starting to plan ahead for more than just this coming October.Bringing this back to media for a minute, Mr. Kennedy, I haven’t heard too much from you about the Sox games moving to 92.9FM. Check out for an interesting “follow the money” breakdown that all but ensures WCRB’s classical will disappear from Boston, WBOS’s format will move to 102.5FM, and a new sports station with the Sox will appear on 92.9

  6. man who's a sox fan

    Sorry – here’s the hyperlink: I’ll also add that BRW’s findings indicate that WEEI will take a huge pounding if/when the Sox jump ship next year…but they still could be around as a sports station.

  7. Anonymous

    I know, right? In his first two starts this season, both against the Cubs, whose first four are Juan Pierre, Todd Walker, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez, Arroyo has pitched 13 and 2/3 innings, given up 3 earned runs on 12 hits and NO WALKS, while strking out 11.

  8. Wes

    Not keeping Orlando Caberera ranks among the stupidest in Sox history.

  9. Specks

    DK – The mention of Grady Little and Theo in same sentence oughta be a crime. Agree wholeheartedly with Wes. The Renteria deal was disaster to all concerned. Suspect that nobody wasted more money that Theo. And, the backstab of Arroyo is truly disgraceful.

  10. mike_b1

    wes, is that the same Orlando Caberera who hit .257 with 8 homers last year, all for the low, low price of $8m?And Dan, there is such a thing as a small sample size. I will bet you dollars to donuts Willy Mo hits more homers in his career than Bronson Arroyo does in his.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Mike_b1: Agreed. And Arroyo will pitch way more innings than Pena this year. Worse, Arroyo may pitch way more innings than Keith Foulke and David Wells.

  12. Wes

    It is the very same O. Cabrera that leads the AL in steals, and is batting .323, with 2HRs. Granted last year was off, but he wasn’t playing in Fenway. Also, I would doubt he’s have made as many poor plays in the field.

  13. Anonymous

    Dan: Leave the hardball punditry to someone else. Forget the Arroyo HRs. He’ll finish the year 12-10 or 13-11 with a high 3 ERA. A decent No. 4 starter, nothing more. It’ll prove to be a good trade at Pena continues to develop.

  14. mike_b1

    Wes, see aforementioned note about sample size. Also, you can’t steal a pennant.

  15. Wes

    Gotta love baseball! ;-)Not like the White House? Do you doubt that The Red Sox World Championship was due to a steal of 2nd?

  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous 5:20 p.m. – 12 or 13 wins with an ERA in the high 3s, plus the ability to move between the bullpen and 4th or 5th spot in the rotation, is something the Red Sox may miss this year.So far, Foulke’s got nothing, Tavarez is out again with behavior problems, Wells is a big, portly question mark, and Pena looks like he’s trying to discover a way to strike out on only 2 pitches – maybe by whirling around and missing the same high and away fastball twice?

  17. mike_b1

    Do you doubt that The Red Sox World Championship was due to a steal of 2nd? Yes, yes I do. Roberts’ steal was one lousy base, silly. The Sox had to win that game, then 7 more to win the championship. And you know how many bases they stole after that game? Two: in Game 6, Cabrera stole second, which was meaningless because Bellhorn walked right after him. In Game 7, Damon stole second; also meaningless because he was then thrown out going to home from 2d on a single; Ortiz then homered, so Damon’s steal probably cost the Sox a run.And how many did they steal in the World Series? Zero.

  18. mike_b1

    Anonymous 10:13 a.m. Why would you think that Arroyo would be good for “12 or 13 wins with an ERA in the high 3s”? Arroyo’s career ERA is 4.53; his win total is more a reflection of the Red Sox’ offense than a good pitching performance.As for Foulke, he’s coming off surgery; I think he deserves some time to recuperate. Wells is big, yes, but a question mark? Probably not: what leads you to expect less this year from him than he gave last year (where he was the Sox’ 2d best pitcher)?Pena has already shown some remarkable skills in his short career and has outstanding potential; Arroyo is already on the downslope of an average career.You are reading far, far too much into one week of baseball, my friend.

  19. Anonymous

    Mike, I don’t think so, but we’ll see. I agree Boomer was fine last year, but you know, the physical problems are accumulating, and trying to hit the ground running after knee surgery and an abbreviated spring training may be the last straw. Wouldn’t you want Arroyo around when (not if – he’s bound to miss some time this season) he breaks down?I don’t agree that Arroyo is on the downslope. But we’ll see.Wily Mo’s lack of discipline at the plate is not just a fleeting thing from the past week. It’s his MO. Maybe he can improve on that, but then there’s the issue of his glove, which someone should take away and hide from him. And the Red Sox already have a big power hitting DH signed for the next few years. Foulke is finished as a closer and the only question is whether he can set up. The good news is Papelbon is there to pitch the 9th. The bad news is Papelbon could have worked long relief when needed if he wasn’t pressed into the closer’s role. Arroyo has proven he can pitch long relief effectively and made it clear he was willing to play any role asked of him if he could stay in Boston.

  20. Anonymous

    I wish they’d never made that Arroyo trade.I am sick of seeing good players who WANT to be here shipped out of town, with the feeling of being betrayed (The Babe, Roger and Pedro come to mind, although not in the same stratosphere.)That’s the last thing we need, another good pitcher with a grudge against this town.He is not a great arm but can have some great days. He came handy often during the playoffs and his hitting would have been a big plus in NL stadiums , especially in the playoffs.Most of all, the guy left tons of money on the table just to stay here and the Sox took advantage of management confusion after the Theo dust settled to negate any Gentleman’s agreement. That was quite a low point.I will miss seeing him and if he had to go, I would have loved to see a good lefty reliever in his stead. Rare these days and we need one. It seems the Sox went for a pitcher glut to a hitter glut. I won’t miss his singing though.BY Kim was Theo’s first “genius” move in the eyes of the media. He was lights out the first months but dramatically tailed off after his injury. Had the Sox beat the Yanks that year in the OFFseason, he’d have a lot of credit. He was great that year. Ironically, they unchacteristically very patient with him during his long treatment and Korean trips. They held on to him for too long but he was worth the trade that first season.The post about Cabrera is very very unfair. That person just looked up his hitting stats, which is not the point. The Sox scored more runs than anyone in the last couple of years (or close to) They don’t need his runs although he had a couple of very well-timed hits in the playoffs. Very decent OnBase %.Cabrera had a phenomenal year last year and was a Gold Glove contender. Look at his assists and double plays and fielding stats. He was exactly what the Sox have needed for long. It even helped Lowe very very well.But after the World Series, the Sox management was only talking about reducing the payroll. PayrollPayroll Payroll. they wanted to emulate the Patriots and not get wrapped up in stardom but try to get ‘value.’ They let go Pedro and Cabrera for that reason. Orlando was asking for more than those $8Millions if I remember correctly. I probably would have let him go too if I’d free up money for Pedro. Absolute worst decision by Theo and Larry EVER to agree to that Perdo consensus.Pedro’s pitching day glues people to their seats and in front of their sets. He is amazing to watch, entertaining and unpredictable, even if he is not as over-powering as before. Still great fastball strikeout fest. He is doing wonders to please Mets fans and keep everyone rivited when he pitches.He is the only pitcher Sox announcers check on during game time. We miss him that much.I am surprised Lucchino -the business brains of the Sox- let go of such a star that heats up cash registers like very few other stars can. Very surprised.My last cooment is about one very little mentioned guy who has turned into a very successful and solid reliever. Todd Jones. I enjoyed watching him. He trailed off a bit but was a terrific closer last year. He would have been the right guy as a set-up guy if they stuck with him longer, especially last year when Embree dropped off dramatically.N.

  21. mike_b1

    N., you do-do brain, Cabrera’s lifetime OBP is .307. That’s a pitiful number. And guess what: over the last 3 seasons it’s been .298, .320 and .309. As a hitter he sucks; as a fielder he’s overrated.Anon 1:05: someday you’ll have to explain to me why a pitcher could be “finished as a closer and the only question is whether he can set up.” That makes no sense. Here’s a Baseball Prospectus article on what spots most frequently led off innings: Tom Fontaine) The data are from 1997 but are “very consistent” from year to year. It’s very instructive about relief pitcher use, so I’m leaving in those comments.“The eighth inning opens most frequently with the #3 batter, followed closely by the #1 batter, then the #9. In any of those circumstances, the set-up man is facing the top or the middle of the order, a dangerous spot to be in. The ninth inning, on the other hand, is most likely to open with the #6 spot, followed by the #7 and #8 spots. That’s an easier row to hoe.Here’s the complete list:”Eighth inning Ninth inning1 12.49% 1 10.47%2 11.61% 2 9.78%3 12.71% 3 11.43%4 10.52% 4 10.52%5 9.73% 5 11.15%6 10.33% 6 12.42%7 10.17% 7 11.94%8 10.28% 8 11.91%9 12.16% 9 10.38%So, in short, in practice teams would rather have their 8th inning guy face Henderson, Lajoie and Ruth so they can save their “closer” for Trot Nixon. Smart thinking.

  22. mike_b1

    Oh, and N., how many games did the Sox sell out the year after “Lucchino -the business brains of the Sox” let go of Pedro Martinex (“such a star that heats up cash registers”)? All of them.Pedro’s defection didn’t cost the Red Sox a nickel. In fact, it saved them quite a bit.

  23. Anonymous

    I never said they have trouble selling tickets. They raise prices every year and they all sell out. I believe they have the MLB consecutive sell-out record.Please don’t put words in mouth.But it would have been even more intense with Pedro around, that’s all.

  24. Anonymous

    Even more intense? What, would fans have burned down old Fenway?Time to locate that rocker you fell off, old man.

  25. Wes

    Well!Nice to see a little action upon returning. And, that the good folk do get up in arms.Mike – must disagree about the importance of Roberts theft. No less a personage than Tito Francona said it was the defining moment of the post season, and responsible for the Sox moving forward. Dave doesn’t steal – game, set, match!

  26. Anonymous

    There’s absolutely no point arguing baseball with Mike B. In his mind, baseball has been reduced to simple math equations and the human condition completly removed. It is like arguing religion with a Biblical literalist. Bottom line, if Dave Roberts is a step lower to second, Red Sox lose game four (yes, I know Mike, there still would have been two outs left and blah blah blah …)

  27. Anonymous

    should read “step slower” in the above post

  28. mike_b1

    Did you ever consider that Francona says things that will play well in the press, even if he knows they aren’t true?All I’m saying is a stolen base isn’t a homerun. Had Bill Mueller hit a homer then all of that Roberts nonsense would be moot. The team won in 2004 because they outscored their opposition by the largest margin in baseball, something they did because they 1) got on base a lot and 2) hit a lot of homers. To reduce the entire season to a stolen base is simply inane, no matter what Francona says publicly.

  29. Wes

    Deception!We don’ want no stinking deception!Not the entire season Mike, the post season.You are getting a little too wired here, buddy.

  30. Anonymous

    Mike, Foulke is still done as a closer. Stats are useful things, but they can be manipulated to say anything you want them to. There may be some statistical liklihood that this, that, or the other spot in the lineup tends to come up in the 9th inning. But that doesn’t take into account the enormous intangible of human emotion when a player comes to bat in the 9th inning with his team down a run or two. In that circumstance, I want a closer with hard, nasty stuff with life to it, not a changeup specialist who can, and has been, amazing when everything in his mechanics is juuuussst right, but will get lit up otherwise.It also doesn’t take into account pinch hitters and runners.Also, it depends on your sample size. If you get those numbers from looking at all major league games over a season, or several seasons, maybe the 6,7,8 spots come up most in the 9th inning. But what if you only look at games which end with a save situation? That’s a much smaller sample of games. What spots come up most then?Finally, who you callin’ a hoe?

  31. mike_b1

    Anon 5:26, you need to read the study. And the frequency of which spot in the batting order would in no way be affected by whether something is a save situation. The point is that every inning counts the same. The guy who pitches the 8th inning is just as important as the guy who pitches the 9th. “Closer” is a 1980s-on term; we old guys remember Mike Marshall, Rollie Fingers and Sparky Lyle coming into the game in the 7th and closing it out from there.Wes, I refer you again to the fact that the Red Sox won the WS without stealing a single base. Even if Roberts’ steal won them Game 4 (which makes no sense at all; after all, how did they score the other runs, each of which was just as significant?) they still needed to win 7 more games. But if you want to attach some weird significance to Dave Roberts, that’s your right.

  32. Anonymous

    Mike, I still disagree. No, every inning does NOT count the same. It’s who’s ever ahead after the LAST inning that win’s the game. The psychological impact of that is not addressed in your thesis.Anyway, whhat I’d interested to see is this:In RED SOX games last year, in which the final inning represented a save opportunity for the RED SOX, what spot in the opponents’ batting order led off with the highest frequency? If you include all major league teams in such an analysis, you’re mixing in National League games, which involve many more substitutions, and lots of automatic outs on the pitchers, meaning they will generally move through the batting order at a different rate from American League teams. And you shouldn’t look at all American League games, either, because many of those teams do not have the kind of productive offenses the Red Sox generally put out there. Obviously, more offense means moving through the batting order at a different rate.

  33. The Chief

    There are so many problems with the way you are trying to disect this I don’t know where to begin. So I’m just going to quit now.

  34. Anonymous

    Mike_B1To answer your question: “Why would you think that Arroyo would be good for “12 or 13 wins with an ERA in the high 3s”? Arroyo’s career ERA is 4.53; his win total is more a reflection of the Red Sox’ offense than a good pitching performance.”I didn’t bother to look up his ERA, but I knew it was somewhere around there. Usually AL pitchers that go over to the NL drop a half run or so from the ERA. So I figure Arroyo’s win total would stay about the same [the Reds can mash pretty good, too, especially for an NL club] and his ERA would drop.

  35. Fork Ball

    Season Stats – ArroyoSPLIT G IP H R HR BB SO W L Sv P/GS WHIP BAA ERASeason 2 13.2 12 5 2 0 11 2 0 0 104.5 0.88 .231 1.98Career 128 602.0 623 354 64 190 378 35 33 1 92.0 1.35 .266 4.53Last 7 1 7.0 6 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 — 0.86 .231 0.00Projected 36 234 216 90 36 0 198 36 0 0 104.5 0.88 .231 1.98Through April 14 – Current stats updated real-time, Career stats updated nightly.Boosted from ESPN

  36. mike_b1

    The NL league ERA in 2005 was 4.45; The AL was 4.76, which is 1/3 of a run. Not sure where you get the data suggesting pitchers drop half a run or so — that’s may have been true years ago but I see no reason to think it is now, even in a division where you play a Dusty Baker managed team 19 times. (Plus, you need to account for interleague play.)The Cincy team ERA in 2005 was 5.03; the park plays as a more or less hitter neutral venue, so there’s little reason to think Arroyo would suddenly turn into Greg Maddux, especially when his K/9 ratio has been in decline (it dropped from 6.7 in 2004 to 4.3 in 2005 while his BB/9 ratio climbed slightly).

  37. Anonymous

    Mike_B1Like I said, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to add footnotes to my post. Sorry about that. Next time I’ll come more prepared. But a quick Google search turned the following in an 2005 Globe article [which quotes Arroyo!]: “A study of the last 10 seasons shows that the ERA of a pitcher who ended one season in the NL and began the following season in the AL climbed by an average of 0.46. Clay Dreslough, the Lead Designer and Lead Programmer for the Baseball Mogul line of simulation games, did the following calculations, beginning with anyone who ended 1995 in the NL and began 1996 in the AL.Those pitchers allowed 8,964 earned runs in 17,899.1 innings their last season in the NL, an ERA of 4.51. Those pitchers, in the AL the following season, allowed 10,175 earned runs in 18,415 innings, an ERA of 4.97.Bear in mind that the AL is the more offensive league. In the last 10 seasons the average AL ERA was 4.69, while the NL average was 4.32.The most obvious reason why pitching in one league is different than the other is the bottom-of-the-lineup dynamic.Forced to bat in the NL, the pitcher in the No. 9 spot in the order represents a near-automatic out. NL pitchers made 5,734 plate appearances last season in 2,465 games, equaling 2.33 per game. They hit just .146 with a .179 on-base percentage and .187 slugging percentage. Including pinch hitters, No. 9 batters in the NL hit .184 last season with 113 home runs and 702 RBIs.In the AL, No. 9 hitters batted .244 with 156 home runs and 874 RBIs. In the case of the Red Sox, the No. 9 spot in the order came up 653 times last season and those who batted ninth combined to hit .262 with 12 home runs and 85 RBIs.But it’s not that simple. The presence of the pitcher in the ninth spot in the NL significantly weakens the eighth spot.”Without question,” said Bronson Arroyo, who pitched in Pittsburgh before joining the Sox. “You always know where the pitcher’s at and you always know whether he’s going to get that at-bat or not. You play for that last out, knowing if you can get two outs you can pitch around the eighth hitter or be very careful and know you can take that free out, especially late in a game when you’re in a jam.”

  38. mike_b1

    First, you can’t assume that the ERA increase of pitchers going from the NL to the AL would be the exact inverse of those going the other way. Second, you skipped the part in that Globe article that explained how the data can be skewed: ‘Pitchers tend to switch leagues after a poor season,’ said Bill James, senior baseball operations advisor for the Sox and author of the annual Bill James Handbook. ‘Derek Lowe going to Los Angeles now, rather than after his 2002 season. This creates a `weighted’ sample, which tends to weight the data in a way you might not anticipate.’ “(As evidence, another study found that pitchers in camp with NL teams had a aggregate and craptacular 4.89 ERA in the AL the previous year.)Third, in the same article Curt Schilling said the transition was “not as big a deal as you make it.”Fourth, the data you quote may (it’s impossible to say from the article) not correct for interleague play, which would have to be excluded to be accurate. Fifth, going into this season Arroyo had an ERA of 5.44 in 187 innings in the NL and 4.19 in 401.3 innings in the AL. So his track record would suggest he’s in for a lousy season.Sixth, you need to read James Click’s June 2, 2005 study ( on pitching around the 8th spot. Here’s the summary:”If the pitcher gets an extra PA and everyone else 1/8th fewer, the lineup adds -0.103 (the pitcher) and removes 0.013 (the average of everyone else) for a net loss of -0.116. Now we must consider the probability that the eighth place hitter gets on base on his own if pitched to: his OBP. (While it’s interesting to note that the OBP of eighth-place NL hitters is artificially inflated by the intentional walks they draw batting in front of the pitcher, we’ll assume for the time being that their OBP is a fair approximation of their ability to get on base regardless.) As noted above, eighth-place batters reached base at a .323 clip in 2004 in the NL, so there’s just a 67.7% chance that the above strategy will work, meaning the expected difference for the rest of the game is -0.078, again assuming that the pitcher is not replaced by a more talented pinch-hitter.”Let’s sum things up: In our four situations in which the eighth-place batter is intentionally walked the most often, the strategy is effective when there are two outs, but in the case when there is one out, walking to get to the pitcher carries a negative run expectation based on average eighth-place hitters and pitchers. Further, attempting to get the eighth place hitter out as opposed to walking him generally gains a team 0.078 runs per game by removing that one plate appearance from the end of the game. Going back to run expectation differentials, suddenly only with runners on second and third with two outs looks like a viable situation in which to employ this strategy. In that case, the run expectation in the inning in question drops from .5783 to .4213 runs if the eighth place man is walked for a gain of .1571. Subtract from that .078 (the expected runs lost by granting the extra PA to the other team) and the net gain is .0791. Walking with a runner on third now costs a team .0516 runs, with a runner on second it’s dead even, and with only one out and runners on second and third, it’s .213–more than a fifth of a run.”In general, with average batters in the eighth and pitcher’s spots in the order, walking the eighth-place batter to get to the supremely weaker hitter appears to only make sense with runners on second and third and two outs, of the situations in which the strategy is typically employed. There may very well be other situations in which this strategy is positive, but the high cost of granting the opposing team another PA makes the likelihood of finding immediate returns that outweigh that cost small.”So while I’m sure Bronson Arroyo thinks it’s a great idea to pitch around the 8th hitter to get to the pitcher, I’m equally sure that he doesn’t know jack about this study, or why it’s usually a bad idea. I’m also sure that as a strategist, he’s a pretty good singer.

  39. Anonymous

    Mike_b1: I was thumbing through the Prospectus the other night and found some stuff that supports my instincts [again, it was a prediction, so we’ll have to see if it plays out]. From memory, I looked up pitchers that had gone from the AL to the NL over the last few years to see what their ERAs were. Here’s what I found: Pedro Martinez 3.90 in 2004, 2.82 in 2005 [Difference -1.08]Tim Hudson 3.53 in 2004, 3.52 in 2005 [Difference -0.01]Mark Mulder 4.43 in 2004, 3.64 in 2005 [Difference -0.79]Derek Lowe 5.42 in 2004, 3.61 in 2005 [Difference -1.81]Chris Carpenter 4.09 in 2001, 3.46 in 2004 [Difference -0.63]John Lieber 4.33 in 2004, 4.21 in 2005 [Difference -0.12]Cory Lidle 5.74 in 2003, 5.32 in 2004 [Difference -0.42]I also included on player who went from the NL to the AL: Miguel Batista 3.54 in 2003, 4.80 in 2004 [Difference +1.26]Taken together, you get eight pitchers whose ERA was an average of 0.77 lower in the NL than the AL immediately after changing teams [except in the case of Carpenter, where I used his most recent full seasons]Arroyo’s ERA last year was 4.52. If you subtract .77 from it, you’re left with an ERA of 3.75. I said he’d have an ERA in the high 3s, so it’s not as crazy as a prediction as you’d like to make it seem. Also, it should be noted that the Reds led the NL in runs scored last year, so there’s a good chance Arroyo could continue to have good run support. And according to the Prospectus, they play in a “slight” pitcher’s park [with a park factor of 0.988], as opposed to Fenway, which is a “moderate” hitters park [with a park factor of 1.028]. Also of interest: David Wells went from the AL to NL and back to the AL from 2003 to 2005. His ERAs from those years: 4.14, 3.73, 4.45Same for Javier Vazquez, who went NL, AL, NL. His ERAs: 3.24, 4.91, 4.42. Anyway, it is what it is. Makes me want to see some SABRmetrician geek do a real comprehensive study of pitching performance when a pitcher goes from one league to another.

  40. mike_b1

    Bill James has said he has done such a study but I don’t have the results of it. You can’t pick cherrypick 8 pitchers (two of which — Martinez and Hudson — have perennially been among the major’s best) and extrapolate like that. And Arroyo’s own record would be a better indicator, anyway.Arroyo has a problem with the longball — and the Reds new park is a homer haven — and his K’s trendline is going down, which means he’ll have to rely more on his defense getting outs (not too enticing a proposition in Cincy this year) and that his gopher balls may come with more men on base than in the past.But we will see. Good discussion.

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