Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reds fans need not forget about the value of Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo isn't a guy who is normally brought up much when talking up about the Reds. No, those conversations usually revolve around Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, or Aroldis Chapman. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. The Reds do boast a roster full of guys worthy of such attention, and most of the attention does go to the younger guys.

At 35-years old, Arroyo is no longer viewed as an exciting up-and-comer, but rather a seasoned veteran, instead. Fans have a tendency to look toward the future, which often overshadows the past and present. This "what is next?" attitude often leads to casting those who have laid the foundation for future success aside in the process. Namely, Arroyo, who has been a fixture in the Queen City since arriving in 2006 from Boston.

For those who may not remember, the Reds acquired Arroyo from the Red Sox (along with cash) in exchange for free-slugging outfielder Wily Mo Pena just weeks prior to the '06 campaign. The trade was initially received with mixed emotions among Reds fans. Many hated to see the team let the power potential of Pena go, but still others were happy to see the Reds finally try to bolster their lackluster pitching staff. Needless to say, Cincy has definitely came out on the better side of this deal.

Arroyo has been the epitome of consistency, reliability, and an all-around workhouse since first toeing the rubber at Great American Ball Park. In fact, you could probably call him an Iron Man.

While other pitchers have either came and went, been injured, or performed poorly, Arroyo has continued to pay dividends. And I believe it is time for someone to recognize this and write about it.

The Florida native will be entering his eight year with the organization in 2013. This makes him the longest-tenured player on the roster along with Brandon Phillips, who also began his stint with the Redlegs in 2006. During that span, Arroyo has been a model of durability. He has pitched 199 innings or more in every season while starting at least 32 games in each one. In five of those seven seasons, he has produced double-digit wins, and the two which he didn't (2011, 2007), he produced nine.

Although his ERA hasn't been extraordinary, 4.09 in his Reds career (233g), he gives you 100 percent effort every time he takes the mound. He doesn't have a reputation for striking out many batters (6.0 SO/9), but he does exhibit pretty solid control (2.48 K/BB). This includes a tidy 3.69 K/BB last season alone.

One area with which has plagued him in the past, and has probably driven Reds fans nuts, is his vulnerability in giving up the longball. He has given up 220 of them in his Cincinnati career, including a whopping 46 in 2011. Of course, pitching in hitter-friendly GABP during the humid Midwest summer will do that to a starter.

Speaking of '11, that season was marred by a bout of mononucleosis Arroyo sustained during spring training, and unfortunately, he never really shook it off until the season was over. So, we can pretty much toss out the 5.07 ERA, 1.367 WHIP, and league-worst 112 earned runs allowed he posted during the year. The whole season was very well a disappointment all the way around for the franchise.

The criticism of Arroyo reached reach an all-time high during the aforementioned '11 regular season. Some fans called for Arroyo to be yanked from the starting rotation. Some fans called for him to be released altogether. Luckily, the team stood by him and it resulted in a bounceback season in 2012.

Now, entering the last year of a 2-year contract, this season may mark the last for Arroyo as a Red. The emergence of younger players who will soon demand larger contracts will likely rule out the possibility the club tries to re-sign Bronson next winter. Well, unless the club can score a sweet television contract such as the Dodgers did this offseason. I digress.

As Arroyo approaches the 100-win mark in his Reds career, it is important to not let his efforts go unnoticed. Arroyo suffered through several losing seasons before finally breaking through into the playoffs in 2010. As a guy who won the World Series in '04 with the Red Sox, I am sure the playoff drought was a brutal thing to stomach.

Nonetheless, he continued to take the ball every time his turn in the rotation came up. He was among the team's stars for many years before Votto, Jay Bruce, and others came along. Oh, how quickly we forget. But not me. In a time when athletes seem to look for any excuse imaginable not to play, Arroyo has proved to be a classic throwback. His grit, will, and service to the Reds is not something which should be taken for granted. There aren't many "gamers" like Arroyo left in the game today, and it's nice to know that Arroyo will be around to watch for at least one more year.

So, as we clamor over the young budding stars on the roster, let us not forget the contributions from Arroyo. He has played a key role in helping turn the franchise around, and I hope he is rewarded with a world championship in the fall.


Steve said...

Nice to see that someone else hasn't forgotten what Arroyo has meant to this organization.

Anonymous said...

Complete gamer. Seems like a great teammate, too. Great article and thanks.