June 13, 2006
Move over Jay Buhner and Willie McGee.
Contreras and cash to the Chicago White Sox for Esteban Loaiza.
Man, at the time, it seemed like addition by subtraction, didn't it?
Posted by Steve Lombardi at June 13, 2006 09:39 AM
Def. - at the time, it was a great deal since they picked up most of Contreras' salary as well.
That's what happens - of course, if you subscribe to the theory that some people just can't pitch in NY, if we had kept him, he'd be putting up Randy Johnson (this year) numbers for us still.
To be honest, I'm not really sure what to think about him. Still, I am certainly happy for his success - with his story, he deserves it.
Posted by: James Varghese at June 13, 2006 10:13 AM
Hey, kudos to the White Sox. They made him a 3 pitch pitcher by adding a slurve to his splitter/fastball combo. Now he has the batter really guessing when he's ahead in the count instead of sitting dead red or bashing a hanging slider (change of speed and plane more important than break, especially if your slider doesn't spin, ending up as a mediocre fast...er...meatball). All this b.s. about not having the stomach to pitch in NY or against the Red Sox was silly...you can't face good major league line-ups with only a fastball you can't locate down in the zone and a splitter that's never a strike. He was never Roger Clemens, as much as the team wanted him to be. However, he's turned out pretty good for a team that knew what to do with his skill set.
I didn't like the trade, but I understood the reasoning behind it.
Loaiza wasn't all that good, and the year prior Contreras had a decent year as a swingman. I was a bit annoyed after Loaiza was allowed to sign elsewhere (DC), presumably in favor of Wright/Pavano.
I was hoping Contreras would get his act together before the Yanks gave up on him, but that's the way things are here. I remember the media hammering him at the time (shortly after his family came over...), so I guess it was only a matter of time before he was moved. I was hoping that some time with Duque would be something of a positive influence on Contreras.
I'm happy to see that he's being the pitcher that we all thought he could be, tho I wish it were here instead of there. Eh, whaddya gonna do?
One of the things I was hoping would happen with Joe Kerrigan on the staff this year was much less reliance on having our pitchers throw sliders, especially late in the count, and much more emphasis on change-ups of whatever variety. Oh, well. Take Jay Payton...please. Seriously, he's the type of below-replacement level hitter who feasts on Yankees pitching. He's a low-ball, slider-speed batter and what do we keep throwing him? Yeah. There is some belief in Yankees coaching circles that sliders induce groundballs, DP groundballs. As Kitty always says, you can hit a hanging slider a lot farther than you can hit a fastball, the added mph do make a difference if you make a location mistake. I was hoping the Yankees would finally join the 21st century in pitching strategy. Still hoping.
I have subscribed to the theory that Contreras was never comfortable with the Yankees because of lack up support for hispanic players. He plays for Ozzie Guillen and is totally comfortable. I think the Yankees could work a little harder at language and cultural barrier things. They rely on coaches and other players to translate Spanish instead of professionals. Yet for Matsui they hire a professional translator who follows him around constantly. JoeT has said many times that he thinks Wang understands what he says. Not good enough. They have to be absolutely clear that they understand each other. The cultural difference between Latin America and here is huge, I see it every day in my work. We have English as a Second Language classes, but where we fall down is there is no class for American as a Second Culture.
Posted by: Scott Coulter at June 13, 2006 10:40 AM
"Man, at the time, it seemed like addition by subtraction, didn't it?"
No, it didn't. I never liked that trade. I never thought the Yankees gave Contreras enough time and stability to get comfortable, and I knew Loiaza would be a big-time bust - how could anyone who had seen him pitch through his career think his Cy-caliber season was anything but a fluke?
Every time I see Contreras excel, I am happy for the guy, but I wince a little too for what might have been. The Yankees could really use an arm like that now.
Posted by: carla at June 13, 2006 10:54 AM
I have subscribed to the theory that Contreras was never comfortable with the Yankees because of lack up support for hispanic players.
Posada, Williams, Cairo, ARod, Sierra, Vazquez, Enrique Wilson, Duque, Rivera, among others have played with the Yanks and with Contreras.
Think of other hispanic players that have come through the Yanks over the years.
I do not think that support was the issue with Contreras.
"I do not think that support was the issue with Contreras."
Well, Raf, I do. I'm not trying to be offensive, and yes, others have survived. For him I think it was an issue, straight here from Cuba. Talk about two completely different cultures! JoeT doesn't work too hard at understanding these guys and I think he needs to work harder there. I think the Yankees need to work harder in this area. How about David Ortiz's comments that MLB in general doesn't do enough for hispanic players? Evidently Manny gets on a plane and sometimes doesn't even know what city he is going to. I think this is a big issue for baseball in general, and no, I am not a Boston fan. LOL!!
Posted by: Scott Coulter at June 13, 2006 11:02 AM
Scott: I didn't take your comments as offensive. I was just suprised given the players that have come here through the years from different countries.
But Contreras had a good year in 2003, and a not so good year in 2004 (hey it happens). He bounced back in 2005 and is having a pretty good year in 2006.
As for Manny, I think that's just Manny being Manny... LOL
Looking at his stats, I wonder if the White Sox defense is playing a big role in his success. It seems that Contreras allows the ball to be put in play; he allows less than a K per inning (which has been going down every year since his rookie year), and less than a hit per inning.
The only way Contreras would ever have been an effective pitcher for the Yankees is if Don Cooper became our pitching coach. Don is a "real" pitching coach -- he can take flawed pitchers and help them. He completely remade Contreras. He had him stop throwing over the top and adopt a three-quarter angle. It made all the difference in the world for him.
I haven't seen enough of Vazquez this year to see if Cooper tweaked his mechanics, but the truth remains: he wasn't good with the Yankees, he wasn't good with the D'Backs, but now he's good with the White Sox. Obviously Cooper earns his paycheck.
Scott, I think MLB could probably do more to help ease the transition for both Latino and Asian players. Still - and I'm not trying to be flip here - at what point is it the player's responsiblity to learn some fundamental elements within U.S. culture, i.e., language and basic customs? It's bemusing to think that some guys have been playing in the league for 10+ years and still don't have working knowledge of English.
The only way Contreras would ever have been an effective pitcher for the Yankees is if Don Cooper became our pitching coach. Don is a "real" pitching coach -- he can take flawed pitchers and help them.
I'd have to dispute that claim. Contreras had a good 2003 between the rotation and the bullpen. Contreras was varying his arm angles then too. Looking at his numbers, his k/9 has been going down, he's not striking out many people. And he's giving up less than a hit per inning, which he has been doing since came into the league. His bb/9 has declined too. He's throwing strikes, and letting the defense do the work.
Vazquez was hurt towards the end of 2004, and he wasn't as bad as the 11-15 record indicated in 2005. He was around league average, actually. Currently, he sports a 2 RSAA, which is a bit above average. Looking at his numbers, he's putting up worse numbers as a White Sox as he did as a D-Back, which I guess shouldn't be suprising, going back to the AL from the NL.
Once a Latin player arrives in MLB what exactly is MLB supposed to do to "support" him? Most teams have at least several Latin players on their roster so there's support right there. It has always been sink-or-swim on your own in MLB.
BTW..... Latin or Latino is much preferred to 'Hispanic'. There's an island called Hispaniola. Part Domincan, part Haitian. I think most Latin players resent the Hispanic use, I find it belittling to them although not Latin myself.