Sure, itís easy to take Wily Mo Penaís trip to the disabled list and twist it into another chapter in the ďHowís that trade working out for ya?Ē saga that Bronson Arroyo has dangled in the faces of Red Sox fans this season. Particularly considering the state of flux that Bostonís rotation is currently in.
So what if Arroyo is 6-2 with the National Leagueís third-best ERA? This is the David Pauley era now. At least for the next few hours.
Thatís not to demean Pena in any way. After a rough stretch in right field, Pena sort of found himself a bit in center field, and had even cut down on his strikeouts (18 Kís in 65 May at-bats vs. 19 in 47 at-bats in April). Plus, his effervescent presence in the clubhouse, a sort of Dudley Do Right-Alfred E. Neumann combination of naivetť and an untroubled nature is kind of intoxicating. Ask him how he felt about committing an egregious mistake in the field, and Pena will respond with an energetic reasoning as to why it was OK that sounds so sincere, you walk away with the excuse almost sounding logical.
The trade wasnít made for 2006, we know that by now, but it doesnít help to watch what Arroyo is doing. He continues to tear through NL lineups, which are, yes, NL lineups, granted. And no, Arroyo may never be more than a 14-win, 4.50 ERA guy in the American League, as he was last season with Boston. But you know something, guess who could use a guy like that desperately right about now.
But maybe theyíll be fine with Pauley making another start. And (Door) Matt Clement.
Perhaps Arroyo got to Cincinnati and realized WKRP had denigrated to the awful degree that WBCN has over the years and decided to quell the rock and roll thing for a while to concentrate on pitching. Or, maybe not. Whatever it is, heís gone from No. 4 guy to top-notch starter one league removed. Itíd sure be nice to have a guy like Arroyo on hand right about now. Instead we get Dave Pauley. Too bad we canít morph that new Adam Sandler flick into reality and fast forward to when Jon Lester and Craig Hansen are ready.
So until Pena can get steady playing time (which wonít happen this season, and certainly not for the next two months), we canít pass judgment on the much-ballyhooed deal. But itís not just Arroyo. Some of Bostonís old friends are making Bob Lobelís job easy on a nightly basis, especially as the injuries begin to mount, allowing him to rely on his tongue in cheek catchphrase night after night.
Freed from the pressure of having to catch Tim Wakefield, Josh Bard is finding the playing time in San Diego that Doug Mirabelli couldnít thanks to his .359 average, five homers and 15 RBIs in just 19 games for the Padres. Mirabelli, meanwhile, is struggling to be mentioned in the same breath as Mendoza (the line, not Ramiro). Wakefield actually has a higher ERA with Mirabelli (4.20) than Bard (3.90). Mirabelli has allowed five passed balls vs. Bardís 10, but remember this is a guy whoís familiar with the knuckleballer. Itís not too much to assume that Bard might have eventually caught on as well. Perhaps a trade made with too much haste. But hey, at least the Red Sox upstaged Johnny Damonís return with the inane traveling chronicles of the backup catcher, who hasnít received a standing ovation since that weird night.
Hanley Ramirez might be a leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year. Ramirez is batting .314 with a pair of homers and 18 RBIs while playing stellar defense for the terrible Marlins. Ramirez essentially replaced Alex Gonzalez, who took Ramirezís reserved spot in Boston. But no matter, you canít argue with the results so far for Boston with Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, although Lowellís injury last night and Beckettís implosion the night before might prompt some to start complaining.
While weíre on shortstops, Edgar Renteria is hitting .333 with the Braves. But letís not get carried away and proclaim all his troubles were alleviated the moment he left Boston. His glove remains atrocious, with eight errors in 41 games, putting him on pace to match or exceed last seasonís 30 miscues. And he doesnít have the Fenway infield as a scapegoat this time. Nomar Garciaparra is batting .360 for Grady Little and the Dodgers, for whom Bill Mueller was hitting .260 (before going on the disabled list) and Derek Lowe has posted a 2.90 ERA.
Up in Buffalo, Andy Marte has gotten off to a slow start for the Indiansí minor league affiliate, hitting just .251, and the same goes for Kelly Shoppach on the big league roster (.250). Guillermo Mota has a 5.64 ERA, which makes Rudy Seanez look nasty.
Down in Baltimore, Kevin Millar is hitting just .236 for the Orioles. And that Damon dude is doing just fine for the Yankees, although heís been slowed down by those bone chips in his foot lately.
Based on his popularity and his love for Boston compounded by his success and Bostonís need for pitching though, it is Arroyo who remains on the forefront of the minds of Red Sox fans. Pena might be a force. Some day. But right now, Arroyo is making the trade look bad for 2006.
But come on, itís not like heís going to win the Cy Young Award or anything. That could very well go to Pedro Martinez.
Why canít we get ... oh, never mind.