, and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.
"It's a business, plain and simple.
How many times have we been told that by professional athletes and their agents? They will be quick to tell you that its not about the money - but it is a business and they have to look out for themselves and their families. Bronson Arroyo found out that baseball is indeed a business - and it was a lesson that cost him a couple of million dollars to learn.
In a scenario that Ashton Kutcher would love to have drawn up and pulled off - Theo Epstein announced today that the Red Sox had traded Arroyo to the Reds for Wily Mo Pena. The story has been done to death, so I'll recap briefly. This winter, Bronson Arroyo signed a contract worth $11+M over 3 years - against the advice of his agent who felt he could get more elsewhere. In a deal that was applauded by Red Sox Nation, Bronson Arroyo was commended and given hero status for signing a deal at less than "market value" to stay with the Boston Red Sox.Aside: How anyone can call an $11+ M deal (for a guy that has 30+ wins for his career) "a discounted rate" is beyond me.
Arroyo, who was coming off his best outing of what has been a very trying spring, received word this morning that he was on the move. Theo Epstein was quick to point out today that Arroyo did not have a "no-trade" clause in his contract, nor was there any sort of agreement that Arroyo wouldn't be traded. Epstein claims to have discussed it with Jed Hoyer - what would Epstein have done had Jed said "Yes, we had a verbal agreement we wouldn't trade him."? NOTHING - Epstein would have traded him anyway. On another note, does anyone really think that Hoyer would admit it if they told Arroyo he wouldn't be traded?
Arroyo for his part told WEEI tonight that when he signed the contract, he was told that the Sox no plans to trade him in the near future (whatever that meant as Arroyo pointed out). In most cities this story would not really be an issue - certainly not a national story. But we are talking Boston, the new adopted city of Hazel Mae (ugh, it hurts to say that) - the city that lives, breathes, eats and sleeps Red Sox baseball 364 days a year...New England takes Super Bowl Sunday off from the Sox if the Patriots are playing - so its is a major event.
Early indications from Red Sox Nation is a big thumbs up for this deal - with many lauding Wily Mo as "maybe the next Mo Vaughn" or "baby Ortiz" or the next damn Hall of Fame outfielder if you look at some of the damn boards. Some of the more vocal members of Red Sox Nation (are there any quiet ones?) are applauding Theo Epstein for making a sound business decision - trading a number 6 starter to the Reds for a number 4 outfielder who has the potential to be a star (seriously...this is what they are saying).
They have politely thanked Bronson for his service, his loyalty to the Sox, and his consideration in signing a "discounted deal"...but as they say, "Its a business - and the trade was made for the good of the team." These were the same people that were ready to crucify Johnny Damon for leaving Boston for the bright lights and big money of New York. Damon must be grinning from ear to ear right about now; after being roasted in the Boston media and by the members of Red Sox Nation when he called the Sox negotiating tactics into question. I won't point out the obvious contradiction in the reaction of Red Sox nation.
I think that, when it is all said and done, the deal will not be a good one for the Red Sox - for a number of reasons, but mainly:
1) It sets a bad tone for management. Epstein leaves the team in the fall. The new interim GM team of Hoyer and Cherrington make one significant signing - Bronson Arroyo - at a "discounted rate" no less! Epstein doesn't let Arroyo make it through spring training before shipping him off to the National League. I think it was a message to the Assistant GMs and Larry Lucchino - don't think so? Don't kid yourself - dude has ego (deservedly so...but).
2) Creates a level of mistrust - both in the Red Sox clubhouse and to other players around the league. While players say that it is a business - they still form friendships with their teammates - and they see how management treats their Human Resources. Players are always hearing about loyalty to the team, to the management, to the city that loves them - and then they see a trade like this? Arroyo is by no means a star, and never was going to be one either; however he deserved a bit more consideration than he was shown...especially after signing his last contract and telling everyone how much he wanted to be in Boston. Players take note of that...how will a potential free-agent feel if he hears Epstein say that the Red Sox really want to keep the player in question in the fold? How are potential free agents from other teams going to feel when they hear Epstein's pitch? You don't think they talk? What could/would/should Big Papi be thinking the next time he goes into negotiate? I can hear you now - "But Big Papi is different...its not like he is Arroyo...its just different - they would NEVER trade him." You may know that, Theo may think that - but I'm betting Ortiz doesn't trust it...and why should he?
This impacts Boston down the road - in how they deal with their own players and potential free agents. As I saw on the Boston.com message board today "integrity is a matter of choice" and Theo Epstein acted without integrity today.
3) Killing the chemistry of the team - The members of the 2004 World Series team are slowly but surely being replaced - in some cases warranted (Millar, Bellhorn, Minky) and in other cases not warranted (Damon, Martinez and Lowe) . It is hard to see this particular group of players gelling and coming together like that World Series team. That team had a spirit about it that encouraged and brought the best out in each and every member of that group - I don't see it on this go around. Arroyo was a bridge player - he bridged that clubhouse (Millar was another one). I think all of the players in that clubhouse will be sad to see Arroyo go...but more importantly I bet they will be divided along the lines of those welcoming Pena to the team - and those resenting the fact that they lost Arroyo to bring him in. If you are a die-hard Sox fan, you'll get what I'm saying.
If I am a member of Red Sox Nation - I don't like this trade, for the aforementioned reasons...especially with what the future will likely bring - free agents putting the screws to the Red Sox when it comes time to negotiate a deal.
Long day here today...and I'm beat. I have to go post some stuff on yahoo - big shout out goes to peeps member Jenna (we had a great discussion about the trade today - she's for it and I'm not so sure). Have a great one peeps. This weeks Hazies get handed out tomorrow...lots of candidates in the "Not-So-Heroic" - lead by those over-rated, overpaid bunch of clowns better known as the "Galacticos" from Real Madrid.
Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world - I'd love to hear what you think of the trade.
Song of the Day on Hazelspeeps - for Bronson ArroyoGypsy Blood - Mason Ruffner
(if you haven't heard it...download it - great song).
Let me put it to you this way, for a city, and in particular a group of fans, that look for loyalty from their ball players -