i'm in chicago, so you can understand what the far-and-away #1 news story is: that crazy ramon-spelled-backwards guy coming over here.
but lost in the nomar buzz is the whitesox' trade of esteban loaiza to the yankees for jose contreras.
on the surface, both of them suck this year and it's looking insignificant, but this is a GREAT trade for the whitesox and a "what the are they thinking" trade for the yankees.
esteban loaiza is a career 4th-5th starter, with a perennial 4.25+ ERA, lots of home runs, and no more than 11 wins in his career.
god only knows what happened last year, but i wouldn't rule out steroids (seriously), check out loaiza's stats last year:
21-9 -- 2.90 ERA / 1.11 WHIP : 226 1/3 IP, 196H 56BB 207K with only 17 HR given up.
now btw, for his career, he is actually above .500 (99-87), but he would be .500 if not for last year, as a matter of fact, he'd be exactly .500. his career era/whip is 4.60/1.41. he's only reached over **100** strikeouts three times in his career, and that does count last year's 207.
this season, he's somehow 9-5 with a 4.86/1.43 in 140 2/3 innings. 156H, 45BB, 83K. while the Ks are actually still high for loaiza, he seems to be almost less than 50% of what he was doing last year. oh yeah, btw, and save 2001 where he gave up 27 dingers in 190 IP, he has given up a 2nd-to-career-high 23 HR in **140 2/3** IP
so basically, for him, loaiza is having a better-than-average-loaiza season, especially in the W-L totals.
having watched a good handful of loaiza-pitched-games this season (once again, i do live in chicago), i can tell you this: he cannot hold a lead to save his life. kind of like roy "the big O" oswalt earlier on in the year, whenever the sox spot him a lead he gives it up, sometimes with an "and thensome". he's anti-clutch, and quite frankily, save garland at and schoeneweis at their absolute worst, he was prolly the whitesox WORST pitcher.
now contreras isn't god, in fact far from it. especially this season, where he's 8-5 with 5.64/1.41 in 95.2 IP, however, he's given up 93 hits, 42 walks, and 82K. so even though he sucks most of the season (i think he's very mortal in the stretch), and giving up 22 HR in 95.2 IP (obscene!) he's still looking to have more promise than loaiza. last year conreras was 7-2 in 18 games (9 starts), with 3.30/1.15 in 71 IP, 52 H 30 BB and 72K.
so contreras feasibly can pitch right around 1K/IP, and if he gets his act together he's got legitimate upside, as last year proves.
i dont think that loaiza has any upside, basically you just pray he's like 2/3 of what he was last year and hope the downside doesnt kick in soon.
contreras has actual upside, when he's on he could be a pretty damn good pitcher... so while he might blow chunks at times, get shelled, hey, thats what loaiza was doing just about every start. even if conteras is bad, you just gave up loaiza who was only signed through this year. obviously, the yankees gave up on contreras and want his salary for 05 and 06 off the books so they can sign an actually good pitcher, but for the whitesox, hot damn, this is a great move.
i mean, how often do you trade, arguably, your worst SP for a guy who is currently sucking, but has maybe 15-20 win sub-4 ERA 1K/IP upside?
not very often. hats off to ken williams for pulling this off. i dont know if contreras will do anything in a whitesox uniform, but still, this is a damn good move that can potentially give them a 2 or 3 starter for the next 2 1/2 years. kudos!