It doesn’t take much to create a lasting legacy. We aren’t even talking about a first impression, just the kind of performance that lines but with the kind of snap judgements that we all use to streamline our lives.
Bronson Arroyo doesn’t throw hard and he sort of looks ridiculous when he pitches. He was never a great pitcher but was an especially bad pitcher in 2011. He gave up about a zillion home runs and was really, really bad. But one year does not a distinguished career as an innings eater make.
Sometimes it isn’t even a bad year (like the kind of season in which you give up 46 home runs, as Arroyo did in in that fateful 2011 season). Sometimes it can be just one start. The worst start Bronson Arroyo ever made came in 2008 against the Toronto Blue Jays, wherein the funky righty allowed as many home runs (3) as outs recorded (3). The Jays touched the Reds starter for 10 runs on 11 hits in one inning of work.
It took a long time to come around on the idea that what I watched was just one start. It was one day in a long career of remarkable adequacy. A legacy of innings and competence. A career spent banging out 200 innings in tiny ballparks amid little fanfare. A career spent accumulating value that sort of creeps up when you zoom out and realize a guy’s been at it since 2000 and basically has one below-average season to his name.
There is value in that combination, a value the Diamondbacks put a dollar amount on over the week. The Snakes gave Bronson Arroyo two years at $9.5 million apiece, with an option for a third at $11 million that Arizona can buy out at $4 million.
In some ways, it is the perfect Arizona Diamondbacks signing. They most average team in America (the nation’s first baseman notwithstanding) adds a back of the rotation innings eater after spending the winter in “hot pursuit” of an ace. Steady guys they had, it was performance they sought.
So they opted for depth. Depth is good. The Diamondbacks are deeper today, thanks to Arroyo. There was some concern about his ability to keep the ball inside Chase Field, given his homer-happy tendencies and the homeristic ways of the desert ballpark. Those who worry about Arroyo in Arizona forget he just spent eight years in one of the jokiest joke parks around.
It is easy to overlook how much of a bandbox the Great American Ballpark plays like. It is one of the most homer-happy locations in all of baseball. According to Stat Corner’s park effects, home runs fly out of GABP and they always have. Chase Field in Arizona is slightly above average but remains a pale imitator of the tiny Reds’ home.
Which is to say – Bronson Arroyo will be fine. If not fine, at the very least he’ll be Bronson Arroyo. He’ll fill out their rotation and provide steady cover for the oft-injured likes of Brandon McCarthy and the performance-underdetermined likes of Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley.
To say nothing of Arizona top prospect Archie Bradley, the big-armed goon looming over their proceedings. While Kevin Towers and friends tend to burn through their top prospects with uncommon speed, the ace-like potential of Bradley could be the reason for their settling on a sure-thing like Arroyo. For a team that expects (rightly or wrongly) to compete for a playoff spot, a typical place-holder for Bradley is not something they can afford.
Of all the teams in baseball, Arizona operates with the most freedom from conventions such as service time gaming and the like. They simply don’t seem to care. The mission statement is one of winning baseball games, as many as 83 in a single season!
“With Archie, it’s not about trying to save a year or save money,” he said. “We need to win games; we want to win games. If we think he’s ready coming out of the spring and that we’re a better ballclub with Archie being on it, he’s going to be there.”
If Bradley makes the team, he makes the team, in other words. Arizona can easily deal from their starting pitching depth, should the need arise. Not that any team with Brandon McCarthy on their depth chart should be at all comfortable with their starter depth.
If nothing else, the Arroyo deal gives Arizona options. They can deal Randall Delgado or move him to the bullpen as he is out of options. They can deal Trevor Cahill with one year and two options left on his contract after 2014. They’re Arizona, they can basically do whatever they want.
Bronson Arroyo’s former and current teams became embroiled in a social media war over the weekend, as MLB’s “Face of MLB” bracket pit Joey Votto against America’s First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The winner? It’s a social media popularity contest so nobody, those these folks get marks for their creativity.
— Reds (@Reds) February 8, 2014