Bronson Arroyo, the free agent pitcher who last year pitched for the Cincinnati Reds, was Mike Francesa’s guest on WFAN Tuesday afternoon and expressed interest in possibly pitching next season for the Mets. A flyball pitcher who allows a high number of home runs, Arroyo likes the idea of taking his game to the cavernous setting of Citi Field.
Arroyo called himself a strike thrower, one of the reasons he cedes so many long balls, 30 or more four times during his career. The veteran pitcher said he’s a guy who pounds the strike zone, so much so that batters get comfortable, digging into the batter’s box during an at bat.
Arroyo came off as a very confident and competitive baseball pitcher. Although he is considering offers from both leagues, the former Reds pitcher would prefer to continue to pitch in the National League. As one would expect of a 36-year old pitcher, Arroyo has set his sights on signing a contract for at least three years. He said his body still feels like he’s in his 20’s, and he’s confident he can compete in a major league starting rotation for at least that long.
Arroyo’s agent has had preliminary discussions with a handful of teams (Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Twins, Orioles). That list does not include the Mets, although Arroyo did not seem surprised at that fact. He indicated he might not be a top tier starting pitching target, and contacts and offers could start rolling in after others have been signed.
Durability is a huge selling point made by Arroyo. In a major league career touching 14 different seasons and 355 starts, Arroyo has never missed a start. Arroyo has thrown 200+ innings 8 times in his last 9 seasons missing in 2011 by a single inning. The tall righthander has thrown 2,278.2 innings over his career.
Arroyo attributes that durability to his year round throwing program. Other than a two-week break during the month of October, Arroyo throws every day of the year. Believing baseball pitchers needed to let their bodies know they were going to use their arms repeatedly, Bronson’s Dad started his son on the year long throwing program when he was 7 or 8 years old. Mr. Arroyo was a huge proponent of weight training and started Bronson in the weight room when he was only 7. Bronson still works out in the weight room every day.
As a youngster, Arroyo didn’t log many more innings that the average teenage pitcher, 80 innings in his senior year in high school, but he never took 4 or 5 months off. Arroyo feels 4 to 6 weeks of preparation after several months without throwing is simply not enough time to ready your arm and is one of the contributing factors causing so many young pitchers to injure their arms. Teams should take heed in Arroyo’s advice. He has never suffered from an injury or spent a single day on the disabled list.
Should the Mets make a play on Arroyo they would receive the pitcher who has made more starts (265) and won more games (106) than any other pitcher in the National League in the last eight seasons going back to 2006.
Arroyo is proud of his durability. Here’s what he told Bob Nightingale of USA Today earlier in the year about his lasting power and ability to eat innings.
“That’s where most of my ego lies to be honest with you. I try to stay humble, but we all got somewhat of an ego. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to compete. Mine lies mostly in my durability and my consistency.”
Perhaps Arroyo’s appeal to the Mets might extend beyond his willingness to take the ball every five days. Arroyo is a free spirited energy source in the clubhouse, an interesting character with an unusual collection of interests unlike anyone in a Met clubhouse culture that seems to value conformity. Loose and relaxed, Arroyo is a people kind of guy, the life of a party, a kind of guy teammates might rally around. That in itself would be refreshing.