Saturday, April 19, 2014

Card #18: Fernando Arroyo

Who Can it Be Now?
Fernando Arroyo was born March 21, 1952 in Sacramento, California.  The Detroit Tigers drafted him straight out of Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento in the 10th Round of the 1970 June Draft.  Without a doubt, he was the second best player drafted in that round, as the Reds picked Ray Knight 6 picks earlier.  

Arroyo signed with Detroit and began working his way through the Tiger Minor League system.  He spent 2 years at AA and a full season at AAA in 1974 before appearing in 14 games in 1975 with Detroit.  1976 and 1977 were atypical -- he spent the entire year in AAA in 1976 and the entire year in the majors in 1977.  

Otherwise, Arroyo was one of those guys who was the first to get sent down when a roster spot was needed for someone but also of being the first guy called up when someone went down.  In other words, Arroyo was essentially a replacement level player -- never good enough to stick for good in the major but never bad enough -- before 1982 -- to get cut.

Arroyo was traded in December of 1979 to the Minnesota Twins.  He kept up his yo-yo act between AAA and the majors for a couple of seasons, and then spent the entirety of 1981 on the major league roster -- one can speculate that the 1981 players' strike cost the Twins the opportunity to send Arroyo back down to AAA again.

1982 was the last time that Arroyo appeared on a baseball card as a player.  Oddly enough, he appears twice in the 1982 Topps set -- on this card and then again on the "Team Leaders" checklist for his 3.94 ERA in 1981...a fact which pretty much underlines the absurdity of that concept.

Arroyo's big problem is that he was an extreme soft tosser.  In his career, he only walked 2.7 batters per nine innings -- that's not too bad.  On the flip side, he only struck out 2.9 batters per nine innings.  That's awful.  He also gave up nearly 10 hits per nine innings as well. Pitchers do not have long or successful careers when they can't strike guys out.

Don't You Want Me?
We've seen the "Everybody Wants You" tag used before for a player who was traded for during 1982.  Here's the flip side -- a player whose team (or multiple teams) cut him during 1982.  

After looking at the transaction log, perhaps I should rename this category Fernando after Arroyo and that 1976 Abba song.  1982 was a tough year to be Fernando Arroyo in terms of remaining employed.  After pitching just 13-2/3 innings during the first six weeks of the season (at a 5.25 ERA, mind you) -- well, to be fair, all of the innings were before April 22 -- the Twins decided that they no longer needed their returning ERA leader and released him on May 18.

A week later, Arroyo signed with the Oakland Athletics.  They put Arroyo on the mound for 4 appearances in AAA Tacoma and in Oakland for 22-1/3 innings.  In those 22-1/3 innings, Arroyo posted a 5.24 ERA.  That apparently was not what Oakland had in mind when they signed him, so they release him on July 27 -- about two months later.

Perhaps needing someone to fill out a staff in AAA, the Chicago White Sox signed Arroyo and had him pitch in AAA Edmonton for the rest of the year.  Arroyo pitched for the Sox's AAA affiliate again the next two years -- this time in Denver.  Before the 1984 season, the Sox cut him, resigned him, and then let him move to Mexico to pitch for the Yucatan Leones.  

Arroyo's final appearance in the majors was his only one after 1982 -- and it came in a mid-August game in 1986.  He came in, faced three batters, and walked all three of them.  That was the end for him.  

He went on to be a pitching coach in the minors for Detroit, Florida, and Oakland and even went along with Jerry Royster for two seasons of being a pitching coach in the Taiwan Major League.  As with many major league baseball players, he eventually was inducted into his local baseball Hall of Fame in 2013.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
I probably could not have picked Fernando Arroyo out of a police lineup in 1982.  Or today, for that matter.  He only faced the Brewers one time in 1982, pitching 2 innings for Oakland. For his career, Milwaukee teed off on him (as they did to a lot of pitchers in the late 1970s and early 1980s), hitting .296/.330/.495 with 9 homers in 201 plate appearances.

One of the interesting (to me) things that this blog is allowing me to do is find out what the players have done with their post-major-league/post-1982-Topps lives. Some players are more interesting than others, obviously; I mean, Steve Carlton being certifiably crazy is a great story.  Arroyo's life appears to have been pretty mundane by comparison -- I mean, being a pitching coach in Taiwan (without any demonstrated or claimed Chinese language skills) is pretty cool, but it's not like there are any stories about anything crazy happening to Arroyo over there. 

So, all I've got is this:  Arroyo is now the President and CEO of ARMTRAK LLC in Vero Beach, Florida, according to his LinkedIn page.  Armtrack is a product that Arroyo invented to help pitchers to avoid arm injuries and develop the proper throwing motion.  Hopefully it works and is successful.  

Good luck, Mr. Arroyo -- and tell us some stories about Taiwan!

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