Dusty Baker questions Bronson Arroyo’s health after latest poor start

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Bronson Arroyo allowed five runs in six innings yesterday, giving up at least four runs for the six straight start as manager Dusty Baker wondered publicly whether the veteran right-hander is pitching hurt:

I don’t know. We have to discuss it and find out if indeed there is something wrong. Everybody’s a little banged up. We have to discuss it and hopefully he get a truthful answer from Bronson.

Arroyo had mono during spring training and dealt with a back injury earlier this season, but told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s healthy now. “I feel decent, but I’m just not getting it done.” Instead he spoke about how not being able to “lock teams down” and “giving up way too many homers” is “totally frustrating.”

Arroyo’s strikeout and walk rates are basically identical to last season, when he won 17 games with a 3.88 ERA and was given a three-year, $35 million extension at age 34. However, he’s allowed a league-high 30 homers in 127 innings after serving up a total of 29 homers in 216 innings last year and his average fastball velocity is just 86.8 miles per hour compared to 88.0 mph in 2010.

Maybe he’s pitching through some kind of injury or maybe he’s just a 34-year-old fly-ball pitcher who lost a little velocity that he didn’t really have to spare in the first place. Either way, the Reds can’t feel very good about the decision to sign him to an extension that pays $7 million in 2012, $6.5 million in 2013, and $15 million in deferred payments going all the way to 2021.

Giants making Brandon Belt available

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Giants have made first baseman Brandon Belt available in a trade and says that several teams have expressed interest in him.

Which is kind of weird, really.

Belt turns 31 early next season. He hit .253/.342/.414 with 14 homers over 112 games last year due to a knee injury and time lost to an appendectomy. He has a history of concussions and has averaged only 115 games over the last five seasons. Oh, and makes $48 million over the next three years.

Yes, he could be a very useful player if healthy, but taking on that kind of money, even a part of that money, when many very affordable first base/DH options are out there on the market makes little sense to me. Matt Adams. Justin Bour. Lucas Duda. As good as Belt? No, I don’t think so. But way cheaper and requiring less of a commitment.

But hey, rumors are rumors. Let a thousand flowers bloom.