Whither Wily Mo?

April 14th, 2007 → 6:27 pm @ // No Comments

It’s the 10th game of the season, which means the Sox have played approximately 6 percent of the 2007 games…and Wily Modesta Pena (or, as Joe Castiglione once called him, Wilfredo Modesto Pena) has started exactly zero games and racked up a grand total of four plate appearances. This puts him on pace for about 65 plate appearances over the course of the entire season, which is approximately how many Julio Lugo will have by the end of this week’s Toronto series.*

What gives? Pena was so highly considered by the Sox that they acquired him by trading Bronson Arroyo, a dependable workhorse who had just signed a three-year deal for considerably below market value. In an injury-shortened 2006 season, he showed flashes of the raw talent and awesome power that made him so desirable in the first place: in the first two weeks of August, he had five home runs and 10 RBIs. (It was at that time that I argued that Pena’s potential was as good an argument as any for jettisoning Trot Nixon; at the time, I didn’t realizing the Sox had $14 million a year to play around with.)

I’ve always been a fan of WMP’s, if only because when he’s at bat, there’s always a chance that someone in the Monster seats is gonna get his head ripped off by a line drive. (As Bill James once said to me, sometimes the fact that a player is fun to watch is enough of a reason to want him on your team.) But even if I didn’t like him, I’d be confused by what’s going on. There have been several obvious places where he could — and should — have gotten a start; today’s afternoon start, coming after yesterday’s night game, is one of them. (It’s not as if the team’s outfielders are tearing it up: Manny and Coco have a combined .156 batting average to go along with their six RBIs. Make that seven: Manny just drove in Eric Hinske, another one of the team’s MIA players. And J.D. Drew, the best offensive player on the team thus far, could always use a day off to keep him healthy.) If, for whatever reason, the Sox have lost faith and/or interest in WMP, they’re not helping his stock on the trade market by keeping him on the bench. And if they still think he could develop into a valuable player, they’re not helping his confidence (or his mood) by not letting him play.

Role players almost always play a crucial role on good teams. Wily Mo isn’t a selfish prick in the Jay Payton mold, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who’d be happy seeing so little action. If he isn’t in the starting lineup in the next week — which features both Monday’s 10 am start and the Wednesday-Thursday night-day combo — I’m going to need to assume he was caught doing something very bad with some very important person’s wife.

* As it turns out, Francona told the press before today’s game that Wily Mo would likely get a start in the next couple of days…which would put him on pace for a whopping total of 14 starts all year.

Post Categories: Wily Mo Pena

9 Comments → “Whither Wily Mo?”

  1. Ironhead

    17 years ago

    There’s going to be plenty of ABs for Wily Mo once Drew gets hurt or Soso Crisp gets benched.


  2. jtredsox5

    17 years ago

    I just looked at Coco today at the plate and thought to myself, “boy, he needs a couple of days to collect himself.” I don’t understand why Tito doesn’t let Coco rest a couple of days (not as punishment, but just to settle down and get some distance from his struggles), start WMP in CF, and then when Coco returns, give Drew the day off, so that WMP gets a few days of consistent ABs. Makes sense to me.




    17 years ago

    Ahh…no idea what’s going with Wily Mo. If he was a reliable glove guy his chances of playing would be a lot better. One thing for sure, when he gets his chance he better do something with it. Hinske aced his chance today. 2 for 3 plus 2 walks and 3 runs. Not bad!

    Going off topic as Seth is known to allow…check out what happened in the Jays game today. Remember the discussion from a few weeks ago about the importance of a good closer? Well, B. J. Ryan had his second extremely ugly blown save of the young season today. Came in for the ninth with a 7-6 lead and turned it into a 10-7 loss. The other was against Tampa when he turned a 5-3 ninth inning lead into a 6-5 loss. Those are not just blown saves, they are kick-in-the-groin blown games. If Ryan saves those 2 games Toronto is 8-3 instead of 6-5. Contrast that to the 2 huge saves Paps has had.


  4. V06

    17 years ago

    Good thing “Soso” Crisp (I like the nickname, Ironhead)
    was proactive in spring training by going out of his way to tell the media how he didn’t care if the fans thought he sucks. I translate that to mean HE doesn’t care if he sucks and that he already planned on sucking to start the season. Hopefully, he find a way to pull his head out of his ass and at least approach the level of player the Red Sox thought they traded Marte and Shoppach for. Granted I’ve never broken a finger (one of my one, anyway); but why, one year later, is this injury still being used as an alibi for Soso’s continuing, chronic suckiness?

    Seems to me the question goes back to what was the Red Sox FO thinking when the traded Wily Mo for Arroyo. It seems he doesn’t really have a position in the roster other than he’d be good to have when someone in the outfield or(god forbid!)the DH gets hurt.

    Why trade a quality starting pitcher for an insurance policy at best or a side-show freak at worst?

    I don’t blame Francona for Wily Mo not getting playing time or even Wily Mo for being a one dimensional player. Again, I’d question the Red Sox FO – “Why is Wily Mo in Boston?”

    Off topic: Someone should ask Bob Ryan what he thinks of that “slug” J.D.Drew now.


  5. kinshane

    17 years ago

    WiMP showed a good glove in CF and tears the frakking cover off the ball even when hitting a routine fly ball. I love Coco like a brother, but I still think Tito should sit either Covelli or JD once every 3-4 days to allow my man Wily to get a shot at it. I’m afraid we’re the Twins, and WiMP is our Papi: the next team that gets him will end up with a relatively cheap, monstrous sluggah.


  6. branatical

    17 years ago

    I think the reason we haven’t seen more of WMP so far is because Tito wants his starters to “click” (something that hasn’t really happened yet) before he starts using his bench players with more regularity. I think Tito wants to give Coco a chance to find his bat with more plate appearances, but as jtredsox5 points out, maybe a day off would be a better idea. Drew has been one of few players to contribute offensively so far. Why should Tito rest Drew’s hot bat? OK, there is a good argument to resting Drew regularly, but it makes sense for Tito to enable Drew to continue getting comfortable while he tears it up. Tito did say he was going to rest Drew before the first rainout happened, and was quick to say Drew got his day off with the rainout. So he clearly wants Drew in there as much as possible, and given the controversy surrounding his signing I don’t blame him. Drew has clearly already begun to endear himself on the faithful, something we all wish Coco would start doing.

    Speaking of WMP’s mood. I was at Saturday’s game so I don’t know if the Fox cameras got this, but WMP’s walk back to the dugout after his 8th inning strikeout was looong and drawn out. He looked like an unhappy man to me, and not sure if this was accidental or not or if I am reading way too into it, but he dropped his bat in front of Francona and kicked it. I was thinking how tough that would be to come in in the 8th and strikeout when you really haven’t been playing at all.


  7. JitteryMcFrog

    17 years ago

    “If, for whatever reason, the Sox have lost faith and/or interest in WMP, they’re not helping his stock on the trade market by keeping him on the bench.”

    Perhaps, but I’d think it unwise for a playoff-caliber team to dish out playing time based on players’ trade values (emphasis added by me, as in me, Seth). If 64 PA from WMP is what wins the most games, then so be it.

    (I’m not saying I think 64 PA from WMP is optimal; I’m just saying I don’t think the situation is as confusing as you suggest. If the Sox still have faith in WMP, they still have plenty of time to play him. If the Sox do not still have faith in WMP, then I think it’s reasonable for them to keep him on the bench.)

    See Hillenbrand, Shea, 2003. (Fine, that’s a slight exaggeration — but only slight. Read all about it in Feeding the Monster.

    — Seth


  8. ConsiderThis

    17 years ago

    Peña had an impact today that Crisp is incapable of duplicating: 6th inning, two outs, Garrett Anderson on second, Howie Kendrick singles to center. Wily Mo charges hard–Anderson is held at third (that doesn’t happen with Crisp in the game)–and throws a dart to cutoff man Kevin Youkilis, who whips it behind Kendrick rounding first too far, to nail him for the third out.

  9. […] I’ve been a WMP cheerleader since last August, when he put an absolute hurt on the ball; less than two weeks ago, I once again was pleading his case. […]


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