In his first game filling in for the injured Trot Nixon, Wily Mo Pena provided a glimpse of what he's capable of at the plate. With one titanic blast he sent the ghost of Bronson Arroyo over the monster and out onto the Mass Pike. Or so it seemed. And so I hope.
I'm really excited to see what Wily Mo can do playing regularly over the next three weeks or more. It looks to me like he's developed something reminiscent of actual plate discipline. He's not hacking away at the sliders he was waiving at early in the season, that's for sure. He appears to be locked in. Confident.
Size-wise the guy is an absolute monster. 6' 3" 245 lbs. He's got nice wheels, too, for such a big guy. Last night's game excluded, Willy Mo is hitting .333 for the season with 5 HRs, 24 RBI and a respectable .389 OBP. He's a career .259 hitter, but I think he's figured a few things out at the plate.
But what do we really know about Wily Modesto Pena?
The Mets signed Wily Mo in 1998 when has was just 16. In February of 1999, that signing was voided, and he signed with the Yankees two months later. In 2001, he was traded to the Reds for Drew Henson and former Sox farmhand Michael Coleman. He spent a lot of time on the Reds bench in 2002, rather than in the minor leagues, so, developmentally, he's still just a pup.
The one thing that still worries me is his outfield defense, especially in right field, and particularly right field at Fenway Park. That concern may be unwarranted, though, as he's yet to make a single error this year, filling in capably in center while Coco was down earlier in the season.
While the recent spate of injuries and lack of moves at the deadline has concerns and questions about the season piling high like cordwood, I think we're about to realize we got far more than just a bag of balls in return for Bronson Arroyo.
We got a young, powerful, capable right fielder for the future.
[editor's note, by Randy Booth] I thought this is pretty significant. Check out who Wily Mo compares to through the age of 23 (Baseball-Reference):
1. Jesse Barfield (976)
2. Rocky Colavito (955)
3. Pete Incaviglia (949)
4. Bobby Bonds (947)
5. Dave Kingman (946)
6. Willie Montanez (946)
7. Billy Conigliaro (944)
8. Willie Horton (943)
9. Harmon Killebrew (941) *
10. Roger Maris (939)
* - signifies Hall of Famer
Got some good names there...