The Reds exercise Bronson Arroyo’s $11 million option

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Ken Rosenthal reports that Bonson Arroyo’s $11 million option has been exercised by the Reds.  He also says that Walt Jocketty wouldn’t mind tearing that up and negotiating a long term deal.

If, two years ago, you would have asked me for any one prediction about the winter of 2010-11, it would have been that Arroyo would hit free agency. While he has been a good pitcher his entire time with the Reds, that $11 million seemed awfully big, and the Reds’ chances of being in the competitive position to justify paying a pitcher that kind of money seemed awfully small. But time marches on. Inflation happens. Teams improve. And, more than anything else, people come to realize just how special a pitcher who can throw 200+ above average innings year-in, year-out really is in this day and age.

And that’s what Arroyo has done. He went 17-10 in 2010, with a 3.88 ERA in 215 innings. His strikeouts are down from past levels, his walk rate is pretty steady, and overall he’s not quite what he was a couple of years ago, but he takes the ball every fifth day, and that’s worth 11 million bucks in 2011.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.