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Jose Arredondo comes around

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He's undergone Tommy John surgery, been non-tendered, stabbed, rehabbed, pitched in Spring Training and rehabbed again. Patti Smith wrote a song about his beach. His last name, which contains the Spanish word for "round," is a fitting enough descriptor for the vicious cycle he's been stuck in since the injury to his elbow. Though the word is cliche and often trivialized in sports, the adversity he's fought through has been thick and sustained. Last night, his rehab limit expired and the Reds have a decision to make. Jose Arredondo is out of options, so he must be added to the 25-man roster, sit inactive on the disabled list or passed through waivers (and likely be snatched up).

The Reds have five relief pitchers out of seven (Cordero, Masset, Chapman, Bray and Ondrusek) who aren't going anywhere for various, but mostly obvious, reasons. Chapman, despite having completely lost his fix on the plate in his last few appearances, is staying put. Mike Leake represents a possible sixth, given the Reds do not seem to have much interest in demoting him. Arredondo would have to take his or Sam LeCure's spots in the bullpen - or remain in DL limbo on some kind of trumped-up injury. John Fay reports that the team wouldn't activate Arredondo until their home-stand begins this Friday.

Arredondo had an uneven spring, garnering rave reviews in his February bullpen sessions at Goodyear and looking pretty convincing in his first few outings. But while he missed some bats, he proved far too hittable (13 H in 6.2 Cactus League innings) for the Reds to feel confident taking him Northeast. So he wound up on the "disabled list," with the plan being to run out the rehab string. His stint in the minors been far more successful than his spring fling. Between AA Carolina and AAA Louisville, he's pitched 15.2 innings, compiling a 2.25 ERA, 1.021 WHIP and an especially encouraging 12.1 K/9. That strikeout rate hints at the kind of stuff that gave Walt reason to sign Arredondo before the 2010 season, despite "make-up" issues and a year of rehab ahead.

Arredondo was spectacular in his first major league season (2008) with the Angels. though he proved far more vince-able the following year, in the lead-up to his injury:

Year Age Tm W L ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2008 24 LAA 10 2 1.62 52 61.0 42 15 11 3 22 55 275 1.049 6.2 0.4 3.2 8.1 2.50
2009 25 LAA 2 3 6.00 43 45.0 47 30 30 6 23 47 73 1.556 9.4 1.2 4.6 9.4 2.04
2 Seasons 12 5 3.48 95 106.0 89 45 41 9 45 102 128 1.264 7.6 0.8 3.8 8.7 2.27
162 Game Avg. 9 4 3.48 68 76 64 32 29 6 32 73 128 1.264 7.6 0.8 3.8 8.7 2.27

If healthy, Arredondo is a bona fide bulllpen arm, with a ceiling as a set-up man or closer, owing in part to a fastball that topped out around 97 in 2008. Either of the men he would replace, Leake or LeCure, are converted starters. Aside from the redundancy - a team only really needs one long-reliever - it would be nice for one of them to stay stretched out as a starter, especially given the tenuous health of the rotation. If his rehab numbers are any indication, Arredondo is likely to be a more valuable bullpen asset than at least one of these in the very near future. That's not to slag off Leake or LeCure. LeCure may grow into a great bullpen arm, while Leake's development need not be stunted by waiting around for mop-up duty. Both would be able spot starters. Unless there's something about Arredondo's ligament integrity we don't already know, this decision seems easy enough.

If he is headed for the Reds on Friday, as 'credsfan noted this morning, there remains a question of what role he'll play. Was last night's 2 inning outing a test of his long relief chops? He wasn't used strictly as a one inning force in his time with the Angels, though I tend to think last night's 45-pitcher was an effort to get the most out of his last rehab day before Friday. They may start him low on the ladder, in some mop-up situations.