The Indians Should Sign Bronson Arroyo
The Cleveland Indians need several things this off-season, most notably starting pitching. But beyond that and some third base help and some other bits and pieces, they need to bring in players that amuse the fans. After all, why do we watch baseball if not for enjoyment?
They’re losing one if not two fireballers to free agency in Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, and everyone loves when the speed gun tickles the mid-90’s. It’s scintillating. But that’s not the only way to get our jollies, sometimes it’s nice to have something different. Something kind of quirky, a little strange, but still effective. That’s why I suggest Bronson Arroyo.
Arroyo is by no means Kazmir or Jimenez, but I don’t want him to be. He’s probably never hit more than about 94 on the fastball, and that was with the wind at his back throwing off an oversized mound. And he’d eaten a lot of chili that day. But he gets guys out and has for a long time, and with that silly leg kick it’s a blast to watch. It’s like a teeter-totter out there. He’s got seemingly five different arm angles, three or four different pitching motions, and according to Fangraphs he has an arsenal of at least seven pitches, all distinct and all at least decent. He’s a bit of a goofy bastard on the mound, and with his pitching to contact ways there will be action to watch with the ball being in play. The only issue there is the Indians infield is less than sterling. But hey, errors are exciting too, in a hair-pulling sort of way.
On the field, Bronson brings a much needed commodity to the table in his durability. He throws 200 innings every year, making more than 32 starts and always pitching at least relatively deep into games. The stats aren’t mind blowing, but they get the job done. His last five years he’s got a 4.05 ERA working out to a 100 ERA+, meaning he’s been a dead average pitcher over that time. That’s better than Corey Kluber (98) and Kazmir (93) were a year ago, and both of them missed time on the DL.
We saw last year how having to dip into the minors for a spot start or two can end up in tragedy, not to mention how it’s impacted Trevor Bauer’s development. Bronson gives a bit of insurance on that front – with him and Masterson leading the way, and with some luck Kluber avoids a finger sprain, the rotation will stay solid and the bullpen will have pressure taken off it for the expected playoff drive into September.
One knock on Bronson Arroyo is his propensity for serving up home runs, and in a division with the young sluggers on the Royals, the newly arrived Jose Abreu in Chicago and of course Miguel Cabrera, that might present a problem. But he gave up 19 of his 32 home runs at home last year, and Cincinnati is notorious for being homer-happy. Progressive Field has proven over the years to be more a pitcher’s park that eats fly balls a bit better than the GAB, and the Indians have a pretty good outfield too especially if Michael Bourn finds himself again. Cleveland could be good to him.
It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to get Bronson Arroyo to come to town, if for no other reason than Terry Francona. Arroyo won a ring in Boston under Francona and liked the culture there enough to sign a hometown discount of a contract heading into 2006. It probably helped inspire his magnum opus, the rocking album Covering the Bases. He was almost immediately traded after signing said contract, a bit of a kick in the pants, but I wouldn’t think he’d hold a grudge on his old manager for that, would he? That was more Theo Epstein’s realm. He just seems like he’d fit in the clubhouse so well though, and though chemistry isn’t everything, it’s a thing. These guys do spend a lot of time together, it helps to like each other. His first name isn’t Charles though.
There’s something special about a junk baller, that ability to get the best hitters in the game out purely on guile and location, it’s the art of true pitching. If the Indians signed Bronson Arroyo and he was able to strike out Miggy at some point, to me that’s worth the whole contract. Seeing Salazar mow them down for five or six with triple digit heat is fun, but it’d be cool to bookend a series with that and Bronson’s 88 mph something or other. He’s a bit of a throwback in the mold of Jamie Moyer and sometimes that change of pace can be nice. Combine that with his very real effectiveness as a pitcher, Arroyo could be just what the Indians need to fill out that rotation.