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Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Massive Update

As Promised, here comes a massive update to cover all that I missed while on the road last week... What a horrible week to be out of town. There is so much that happens leading up to the trade deadline. Winners and Losers. I feel like I've been lost at sea. This isn't likely to be the most concise update ever, just some random thoughts strung together to capture my impressions of everything that has happened in my absence.

Evaluating the Trade -- Loaiza for Contreras
It's hard to view this trade as a loss for the Sox in any way. Every way you take a look at it the Sox have come out on top in this swap of underachieving starters.

The Specifics -- White Sox acquire Jose Contreras and Cash from the Yankees in exchange for Esteban Loaiza. The cash portion of the deal works out to be $4MIL, divided over three years; $1MIL this season, $1MIL in 2005, and $2MIL in 2006. There are some conflicting reports about the amount of cash included in the deal, but the difference is only $1MIL dollars, and that should not make or break the deal.

Brian Cashman, Yankees GM, indicated that there was about $17MIL left on Contreras 4-year, $32MIL deal that he signed before the start of the 2003 season. That means the White Sox are due to pick up about $13MIL in salary for two-plus seasons remaining on the life of the contract. That figure is much less than Esteban Loaiza is likely to get in the off-season. Loaiza was making only $4.5MIL this season, so the Sox actually add a little bit of payroll in the deal this year, yet should save overall in the long run.

I was going to do an in-depth look at the decline of Esteban Loaiza, including his predilection to give up runs after the Sox had scored in the previous half-inning, but as he is now a part of the Evil Empire, I'll save myself the trouble and let some poor Yankee fan discover the "fun" that is a 2004 E-Lo start.

Contreras has dominant stuff. When asked to compare the two pitchers, one scout was quoted as saying,
Not only does Contreras have better stuff. It's two grades better. Contreras has No. 1 stuff if he can ever figure out a way to be more consistent. If I'm the Yankees, I wouldn't feel real good at all about running Loaiza out there in October. He's a guy who has had one good year. And it just happened to be his contract year."

Contreras was the most dominant starter down the stretch last season for the Yanks. Loaiza faded down the stretch last season, and cost himself the Cy Young in doing so. Loaiza has continued that slide this season, reverting to his old self, with his numbers more accurately representing his norm. Here's an old link to an Hardball Times article that asked the question "How long is a fluke a fluke?"

Contreras needs to figure out, something, and that something just may be staying away from the Boston Red Sox. He is 0-4 with more ER than IP versus the Sawks. However, the White Sox have seen some dominant outings from Contreras. Last season he threw 8 innings of shut-out baseball versus the southsiders. This season he didn't fare quite as when facing us.

Streaking -- Last year I was out of town for an extended period on two occasions. On both occasions the Sox had just gone on a losing streak against teams that they should have dominated (Tigers, TB). I wrote the team off, and didn't really check in on them too regularly from the road. The result was two extended winning streaks, and an overall record of 15-3 when I was out of town.

This season, I had complete faith that the sox would keep pace with everyone in the weak AL Central, even with the loss of Frank and Maggs. I checked in regularly to see the results and slowly became disgusted with the outcomes.
Record while out of town this season: 2-7

I've come to the conclusion that I should not concern myself at all with White Sox results while on vacation. It doesn't really add to the enjoyment of my vacation either way, and when I don't "care" they seem to have done well. The good news is that I don't head out of town again during this season, so they should be safe from another prolonged skid.

Winners and Losers -- There was a bevy of deals at the Deadline, and of course there are winners and Losers in the deals. Here's how I think they played out.

  • Winners

    • White Sox
    • -- As indicated above, the Loiaza/Contreras swap absolutely favored the Southsiders.
    • Royals
    • -- They we able to pry away Justin Huber from the Mets, their #2 or #3 prospect for practically nothing
    • Twins
    • -- Most have the Twins listed as losers in deadline dealing, but the shipment of Mientkawhatshisname out for Justin Jones is not a high profile move, but Jones was rated as high as #2 in the Cubs system by BA. The real reason they are winners in this deal is that Justin Morneau is about to become a household name.
    • Devil Rays
    • -- They were able to wrestle Scott Kasmir away from the Mets in exchange for Victor Zambrano. Yes, that Victor Zambrano. The D-rays GM should be locked up for this theft.
    • Cubs
    • -- They addressed their biggest hole in picking up a good SS, and didn't have to give up a starting pitcher to do so. The only question is whether or not Garciaparra can hit away from Fenway. Jones and Beltran were good prospects, but this is the kind of deal prospects are used for.

  • Losers

    • Mets
    • -- WTF was Duquette thinking? He gave up 2 of his top three prospects for rental players, and those rental players aren't even that good. He also Gave up Ty Wiggington. 60 days of Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson are not worth mortgaging your franchise's future for.
    • Yankees
    • -- See Above. Loaiza pitching in October = Trouble in Yankeeville.
    • BoSox
    • -- I fail to see the improvement in a team who gave up arguably the face of their franchise for two defensive specialists who are having below average offensive years even by their standards. The Sawks didn't address their main need, pitching, and it will come back to haunt them, probably before October.
    • Rangers
    • -- Here's a team that's involved in two races; the wildcard, and the AL West division race, and they neglected to address their main issue, pitching. Esteban Loaiza, Jose Contreras, Victor Zambrano, Kris Benson, Randy Johnson, all were available. The Rangers got Scott Erickson. They can make their off-season permanent tee-time reservations now.
    • Angels
    • -- suspiciously inactive at the trade deadline. The Angels are built to win now, and they may not do that. In a race for the AL West and Wildcard. The only major improvement on the Angels is the play of Bartolo Colon lately. That may just be enough. They also ended the Raul Mondesi experiment; this could prove to be a great move.
    • Mariners
    • -- The Mariners were clearly in sell mode. They shipped out Garcia early for good value, yet Brett Boone, Eddie Guardado, Jamie Moyer, Gil Meche, and Randy Winn are all still on the team. This is a team that could have made a quick turn around, but now it looks like it may be a long process.
    • Pittsburgh
    • -- Compared to what the Royals and D-rays got from the Mets, Pittsburgh got nothing. The Mets still look like idiots in all of this, but at least they didn't overpay three different teams for 2 players.

  • Breaking Even

    • I'm getting tired of this
    • -- I've been having tons of trouble with my computer ever since getting back. I've missed teams. I know I've actually written something about every team at some point, but I've lost some of them due to my incessantly crashing computer. Those are my impressions about some of the deadline deals. Draw your own conclusions.

Random Thoughts
...Johan Santana is a freakin' stud. He would be second right now on my AL Cy Young ballot behind Mulder. If he can continue his recent hot streak, he may pass him.

...Aaron Rowand can not carry this team. He is still only hitting .245 with 1 HR w/RISP. He may be a temporary replacement in the #1 spot, but everything about him screams #2 hitter to me.

...August Wallpaper -- I've had the Calender all worked out for a while now, but I've been out of town, and haven't been able to work on an adequate background. I'll look to add something with Contreras, Jurassic, and Garcia tonight.

...Attendance at the Cell has been great this year. The fans have come out, and the front office has responded with moves. Eveything is cyclical, and it looks like the Sox are on an upturn. Combine that with what appears to be a concreate plan to build on in the future, and the Sox should have plenty of fans to build on.

...On August 1st of last season, the sox sat in a tie with the charmed Royals for first place in the AL Central. They were 3.5 games up on the most important competition, the Twinkies. We all know how the season turned out. That's a 7+ game swing over the final 2 months. I'm not worried about the current 5 game defecit to the Twins, but every game from here on out is going to be important.

...Next Tuesday is scheduled to be the next time that I see a game in person. I plan to debut a feture that explores all of the little nuances about going to the ballpark that tend to be missed by just watching the game on TV. The column will highlight the experience of a White Sox game @ USCF. I encourage anyone who goes to a game at USCF, or a Sox road game to send in a detailed account of your experience, and I'll be sure to print at least a portion, if not all of your experience.