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Arroyo Signs with Red Sox

Bronson Arroyo's new three-year deal was signed with the absolute wrong team for his skill set. I know Arroyo is concerned with staying in a place that keeps him happy, and I commend him for going against his agent's wishes and taking what was supposedly less money in order to stay in Boston for the next three years, but the poor guy will never get the recognition he deserves pitching in Fenway for half of his starts. What exactly am I talking about? Let's see what the Day by Day Database has to say about it:

2004 Arroyo in Fenway
AB: 301
Opp. line: .291/.353/.476
ERA: 5.35
K/9: 6.9
BB/9: 2.9
HR/9: 0.95
K/BB: 2.42

2004 Arroyo on Road
AB: 379
Opp. Line: .214/.281/.343
ERA: 3.06
K/9: 7.3
BB/9: 2.0
HR/9: 0.79
K/BB: 3.65

2005 Arroyo in Fenway
AB: 436
Opp. Line: .275/.331/.468
ERA: 4.92
K/9: 4.1
BB/9: 2.4
HR/9: 1.23
K/BB: 1.72

2005 Arroyo on Road
AB: 366
Opp. Line: .254/.311/.402
ERA: 4.05
K/9: 4.7
BB/9: 2.4
HR/9: 0.66
K/BB: 2.00

He is a completely different pitcher on the road it seems, as his strikeout rates improve, his K/BB improves, his HR/9 drops dramatically, and his opponents line is significantly changed. Of course, lefties are still a huge issue for Arroyo, as they hit .288/.343/.488 against him in 2005 (.269/.341/.429 in 2004). If the Sox are able to, and this may be difficult considering the age of the rotation, they should attempt to manipulate the starters in a way that gives Arroyo more road starts than home starts. They could certainly use the help in their rotation, one led by Tim Wakefield, which is the last starter you would think would lead the team in WARP coming into 2005 (unless you are me and you are an obsessed uber-fan of Wakefield, but that is just over optimism at work).

  • WARP Boston Starters 05'
  • Arroyo 4.7
  • Wells 5.0
  • Clement 4.6
  • Schilling/Miller 4.0
  • Wakefield 6.5

WARP is of course Wins Above Replacement Level, a Baseball Prospectus statistic that measures player value as compared to a replacement level player. Somewhere between 4 and 5 is average, which means the Red Sox had 2-4 above average starters (just barely in three cases) in their rotation in 2005. Arroyo is one of the just barely starters, but he is much less expensive than Matt Clement. Josh Beckett should certainly help, but he is not the savior he has been billed as, since he sports a 5.9 WARP himself in 2005, the highest in his career.

To reiterate a point that daily readers will remember from the beginning of the offseason:

A.J. Burnett Opponents Line

2004 Home: .188/.275/.277
2004 Away: .297/.335/.451

2005 Home: .226/.308/.305
2005 Away: .245/.314/.354

On the road, Burnett and Arroyo are not that much different of a pitcher. Considering Arroyo is staying in a hitter's haven, and Burnett is moving from one of the most severe pitcher's parks into a severe hitter's park, their value should be relatively the same, especially if Arroyo doesn't have to face lefties over 450 times in 2006. Of course, Arroyo is set to make $2.75 million in 2006, whereas Burnett will receive $7 million in the bargain year of his deal ($12 million per year in the other four seasons). And Burnett's WARP was only 5.2, which is half a win better than Arroyo in 2005. The Jays already locked up one of their pitcher's at a bargain in Josh Towers, so things aren't all bad, and at least Burnett can pitch to lefties. Arroyo really is not that far away in value from Burnett though, and if he was outside of Fenway for 35 starts a year would certainly be a better known and more valued commodity than he currently is.

Update [2006-1-20 8:10:45 by Marc Normandin]: David Appleman at The Hardball Times thinks Arroyo's 2005 problems stem from overuse of his changeup, which was his most hittable pitch. Throwing his curveball and slider more often in 2006 would certainly bring him back to a more successful level, and he would be even more likely to surpass Burnett in overall value.