I’ve read some interesting posts in the last nine hours reflecting on the Pena for Arroyo swap; some people in favor of the deal while others vehemently disagreeing with the deal. Some people envision Wily Mo Pena blossoming into a Hall of Fame caliber hitter, while others foresee a career of free-swinging and undisciplined ineptitude. Still, even more people are upset with the return of one Bronson Arroyo, whose success as a Red is met with a large question mark.
Of course, it is my belief that none of the above would be happening had management properly handled a guy who was once, and still is by some, regarded as a highly touted prospect with enormous potential.
Let’s take a step back to five years ago – almost to the day – when we acquired Pena for Drew Henson and Michael Coleman prior to the 2001 season. In retrospect, the deal was a massive win for the Reds as the large centerpiece going to the Yanks, Henson, is no longer in baseball. However, a series of horrible decisions regarding Pena still renders him a massive question mark five years later, and quite frankly, the Reds have nobody to blame but themselves.
Jim Bowden acquired Pena knowing the contract situation Pena was involved in. Pena played the 2001 season in low A Dayton, and showing signs of having some good power, also showed signs that he was nowhere near Major League ready. In 2002, he spent the season in AA Chattanooga and again showed us that he really was not ready for the Major League level.
At that point, why not just deal Pena away? Instead he sits on the bench in 2003 due to his contract.
Pena got some MLB plate appearances in 2004 and showed that he could possibly perform at the big league level despite being seriously mishandled by two front office regimes. Luckily for the Reds, we have a first baseman in Sean Casey having his best season in 2004 since 1999, which creates a market for the Reds to solve the outfield situation by moving Casey after his outstanding 2004 season.
It’s a win-win situation of selling high; we can move Casey after his monster 2004 for as much pitching as he will ever net us in a return, and we set 2005 up as a season to get Pena a full-time outfield job here. From there, we’ll have a better idea on the future performance of one highly touted Wily Mo Pena. At the very least, his trade value should be as high after 2005 as it’s been since we’ve had him.
I’ve already posted that I’m essentially on the fence about this trade, and my opinion of the trade all comes down to the K ratio Bronson Arroyo gives us. If I can fault Wayne Krivsky for one thing, it is that I do think the timing would have been better to move Pena in July, 2006 or after the 2006 season. However, I really can’t fault Krivsky too much for the deal because the situation he was presented with was downright awful.
More accurately the trade becomes a colossal failure for the Reds because of five years of front office mismanagement by two regimes in charge, not necessarily because of what Wayne Krivsky got us in return today. Bowden could have moved Pena after acquiring him, but he failed to do so. Dan O’Brien could have done the same thing, but he also failed to do so. More recently, Dan O’Brien could have dealt Sean Casey after 2004 to give Pena an chance to play every day in 2005, but he failed to do so.
All of the above just results in the enigma we now know as Wily Mo Pena. Had Pena played every day since opening day in 2003, he'd be much less of a question mark. None of this happened, and it’s largely the fault of Jim Bowden and Dan O’Brien.
Even today, the rodents known as Bowden and O’Brien are long gone, but the stench leftover still lingers throughout. Today's trade reeks of that stench, and I really do not think Wayne Krivsky had many better options than Bronson Arroyo.