Well, down goes Pena. He was released by the White Sox on Friday.
In 2010, Tony Pena earned some regard, not for pitching well so much as pitching frequently. Frequently, often for long stretches of time with minimal notice. There are plenty of examples of this business model in place--Fast food restaurants, Keystone Light--and while no one would ever consider those comparisons favorable, they're certainly successful franchises.
Unfortunately for Tony, the commodity of his availability wore away in 2011. He went on the DL with elbow tendinitis in May, then had a ligament in that same elbow just go and tear on him during a rehab appearance in Charlotte.
He continued to pitch not particularly well when he did take the moung. Oh sure, his strikeout rate ticked up a bit, but no one cares much about that when your ERA is over 6.00. With a $1.6 million salary heading into arbitration, Pena's release was as unsurprising as it gets.
J.J. summed up the mid-season 2009 deal for Pena as "a wash", which is about as good of a result one could have hoped for when Kenny Williams jettisoned power-hitting prospect Brandon Allen for the talented but unsteady right-hander. It wasn't just his typical short-sighted win-now deal that Sox fans have slowly grown to accept, it exemplified the cardinal sin of shedding value for non-elite bullpen help.
Allen can't stop-won't stop striking out at the major league level, fulfilling Williams' eternal justification for dealing prospects; sometimes they're nothing. Oh well, hopefully the White Sox can just sidestep these two stalled out major league careers and keep hitchhiking down the road! Hip hip! Hooraaaaaay!
Also released were Shane Lindsay, Josh Kinney, Kyle Cofield, and Leyson Septimo, in what was just a hellacious purge of replacement-level bullpen arms.
Lindsay...can't throw strikes. So he's not particularly helpful.
Cofield did magnificent work in making the Linebrink trade look like something other than a straight purge, but his duty is done.
Septimo is a hard-throwing lefty who racks up strikeouts, but has control of the sort that minor-league expert larry from South Side Sox termed him "a public safety risk".
Josh Kinney posted a 10.19 K/9 with a 3.57 BB/9, but a .431 BABIP made him look more incompetent than he really is.
If baseball players make horrible causes, journeyman 33 year-old relievers make terrible causes. The only options are these: Trust that an organization that pulled Sergio Santos and Phil Humber off the scrap pile knows what it's doing when it doesn't commit to give Kinney whatever raise he's due, or show up on Opening Day wearing a Kinney jersey, covered head to toe in blood-red paint while holding a sign that reads "Kenny Williams: Destroyer of Dreams."