Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Nats Interested in Loaiza

I heard this morning driving in (specifically, when I was taking an illegal left turn onto D street, S.W.) that the Nats were interested in Esteban Loaiza, one of the ultimate rags-to-riches-to-rags pitchers of all time (confirmation of said interest at MLB.com is here).

Here is Steve's career thus far:

Before 200310.555.442.561.164.88

As a White Sox fan, and having watched Steve throw gem after gem in 2003, I can say that Loaiza does have greatness in him. He was truly amazing in 2003, and even though we kept expecting the real Loaiza to show up (i.e., the pre-2003 one), he maintained his performance pretty well throughout the year.

Unfortunately, that may have only been one year's worth of greatness. He threw 226 innings in 2003, by far the most in his career. In 2004, the speed of all his pitches was down, and hitters started laying off his cut fastball and teeing off on his fastball. Whereas his fastball was consistently 94 mph in 2003, he had real trouble breaking 90 in 2004. After he was moved into the bullpen and rested by the Yankees, he did pitch well in the playoffs for the Yankees - he had a 1.08 ERA (although with a 1.44 WHIP) in 8 1/3 innings of relief. His velocity was (anecdotally) also up in the playoffs.

This is kind of a puzzling interest on behalf of the Nats. The possible rotation - Livan Hernandez, Zach Day, Tony Armas Jr., Tomo Okha and Jon Rauch - is not altogether offensive. In fact, it's down right presentable when you consider that Rauch has a lot of upside and Okha has pitched well his entire career. So the Nats are not in desparate need of a starter such that they need to take a flyer on Loaiza.

Loaiza, hoping to cash in on the irrationality of this offseason's spending on free agents, is apparently holding out for a multi-year deal priced at untold millions per year. All Nats GM Bowden will say is that "if Loaiza does not knock his price down, we cannot compete." The word compete suggests that Loaiza has apparently attracted multiple teams willing to give him a multimillion multiyear deal.

The word "pass" comes to mind, Jim. 1 year $1.5 million sounds about right. Let him pitch his way into a bigger contract. The Germans have a saying about this - Einmal ist keinmal (literally, "one time is no time") - something that happens once (Loaiza's 2003 season) might as well have never happened at all (when negotiating his next contract). See also Jaret Wright. Accord Carl Pavano.


At 4:21 PM, Blogger Elrod said...

As a fellow White Sox and Nats fan I must admit I'm puzzled at Jon Rauch's seeming return from nowhere last year. I mean, he just flat out sucked on the Sox. Forget the whole incident where he jetted the clubhouse before his Angels debacle ended. He just didn't fool anybody. 6'11" of straight ball. I noticed his stats on the Expos were much better though. Do you think he'll actually pan out into what they said he would after his great minor league career?


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