Originally Posted by FlightRick
Just a quick follow-up, so no one can accuse me of over-valuing Arroyo or making stuff up about his continued viability as a "#2" (and just to satisfy myself that I was not misremembering or making things up)....
I did some quick research, and the six starts Arroyo made between May 20 and June 20, 2007, were abysmal, but they followed three consecutive starts where he was pushed to the limit. I know he's always called a "rubber-armed righty" and his hippiefied demeanor lead some to believe he's not actually working out there, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Arroyo only went 120-plus pitches three times in 2007. Two of those immediately preceeded his sucky streak (his third start of the three lead-in games was his fourth highest pitchcount of the year, too: 117).
Cracks started to show in the final "lead-in" game, actually: though he only gave up 1 ER, he labored badly, scattered 10 hits and 3 walks while throwing a season high 129 pitches. Then came this:
ARROYO'S SIX GAMES OF SUCK 2007
Starts: 6 (29.2 IP, 5 IP/g)
K/BB Rate: 1.46
Awfulness, thy name is Bronson, right? Well, yeah... except that outside of that "dead arm period" (I know there are "pitcher abuse points," but is third degree armslaughter a crime, yet?), here's what Arroyo did in 2007:
BRONSON ARROYO'S REST OF 2007
Starts: 28 (181 IP, 6.2 IP/g)
K/BB Rate: 2.74
That's more like it. In fact, other than wins and losses (which were clearly affected by outside factors like our craptastic bullpen) those numbers are almost identical to Arroyo's 2006, when he was named the organization's best pitcher (ahead of Harang).
[Special Bonus Observation: scanning Arroyo's game log at baseball-reference, one finds that the only other genuinely stinky start the guy had outside of his Six Games of Suck IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED his only other 120-plus pitch outing. If this isn't a trend, I don't know what is.]
Two lessons here:
(1) Don't let the laid-back, soft-tossing appearance fool you. Instead, pay attention to the delicate, ladyboy portion of the appearance. Arroyo needs his recovery time, and should not be over-extended (say 110-plus pitches) in consecutive starts unless you want to risk diminishing returns.
(2) You don't trade away this kind of production for niche players and filler. Honestly, a trade like this is the sort of chicanery I pull when I'm playing "Baseball Mogul" or something, and the opposing artificial intelligence is SOOOOO easy to fleece. I just keep piling on the mediocre (bench players who have served me well, but are getting older and more expensive, and maybe a minor league prospect if necessary) until they cough up the grade-A player I want. Computer GMs might be suckers for that, but in real life, only a dolt would trade away a 90 in exchange for a 75 and two 60s, even if you've been taught to believe that "195 is more than 90." With lesser players or in cases that are pure salary dumps? Sure, you can get away with quantity over quality... but with your top tier players (of which Arroyo is still one), you don't give up one star and consider three (or four, or five, or 10) pieces of fringe filler to be a good return.
I don't think I over-value "Quality Starts," but I go back to Arroyo having 45 of them in the past two years. I can't help but point out that mathematical studies have shown teams should win 70% of all QS (the Reds only won 40% of Arroyo's last year, which has to be some kind of record). Arroyo doesn't have "ace" stuff where he literally takes away the opposition's chance to win the game, but the data clearly indicate he gives his team every chance to be victorious with significantly-greater-than-league-average regularity.
Me? I value that. I'm willing to pay for that. I don't think $10m or $12m a year is too much to shell out for that, even if you just blithely assume a best-case scenario for the development of both Cueto and Volquez (and Bailey). First off, the chances of Cueto/Volquez/Bailey ALL ending up as legit top-of-the-rotation guys are slim. Secondly, for all the talk of "number two" and "number four" and "league average," the truth is that no winning team is EVER going to have exactly five starting pitchers last a whole season, each slotted according to "league averages." A successful organization is ALWAYS going to need 6 or 7 (or even more) starters producing at various times during the season, and unless they want to finish in third place at .500, they need to produce above "league average" for their slot.
"Worst" case scenario is that all three of our young starters develop as aces, and by 2011, Arroyo is the highest paid "#5" in baseball history because we're "stuck" with his contract. Oh, and we're winning left and right because our "#5" is a "League Average #2 or #3," like they have on all good teams. More realistically, only one or two of our young pitchers develop like we hope, and we're paying a perfectly reasonable price to Arroyo to go out there in a #3 slot and give us every chance to win the ballgame. We are nowhere near deep enough to even think about trading that kind of guy away for table scraps.
Think about it this way: I know we couldn't demand the same kind of package in return for Arroyo that Bedard or Haren commanded.... but you're freaking insane (or just plain dense) if you throw Arroyo onto the trading block with an asking price significantly less than what the A's were insisting upon in return for Joe Blanton.
Or, to frame it another way: yes, a more productive (or more "clutch") offense combined with a less repugnant and game-blowing bullpen would have greatly changed the Reds fortunes in Arroyo's 2007 starts. Instead of going 9-13 in his QS, the Reds (even if just meeting league averages) should have gone 14-8. This would have been nice (and would be nice if we could count on this year). But, ask yourself this: what the hell good does it do to acquire these niche pieces like a RH bat off the bench and another live arm for the bullpen if you're having to give up THE VERY GUY WHOSE QUALITY STARTS YOU'RE LOOKING TO PRESERVE BY UPGRADING THE ANCILLARY PIECES OF YOUR ROSTER?
Answer: it does no good.
Thus endeth my rant. I have not only satisfied my need to be factually/statistically sound, but now have satisfied myself (and then some) rhetorically, as well....