Loaiza Gets an A's

Wow, the A's beat out the Giants for the services of Esteban Loaiza, signing him to a contract of $21.4M over 3 years plus a $7.5M team option/$0.375M buyout (as reported by AP). Loaiza was one of a number of free agent pitchers that the Giants have targeted for signing - Matt Morris is another pitcher who the Giants are pursuing, according to reports. Apparently the Giants offer was very close, basically the same deal only without the option year.

Thank goodness! Loaiza has great stats overall in 2 of the past 3 seasons, so that probably fooled a lot of people into thinking he reached a new plateau or something. But he is a career 4.60 ERA, 1.41 WHIP; his ERA has been above 4.50 in 8 of his 11 seasons in the majors, but 2 of the 3 below 4.50 has been in the past 3 years, hence the interest in him.

But his 2003 season was a confluence of good factors, one of which was his pitching 3 games in Detroit, one of the best pitching parks in the majors. Then he benefited from pitching another 3 games against them at home, as they were one of the worse offensive teams in 2003. But still, overall it was a terrific season, one unlike any other that he had pitched, basically it was his Brady Andersen 50 homer year, when he just was able to put it together for most of the season. But even that year, it was mainly a dominating pre-All Star performance - 2.21 ERA, 1.06 WHIP - that carried him through the year as he was closer to career post-All Star - 3.84 ERA, 1.19 WHIP.

And his 2005 season was totally a home-made creation. He had a 2.86 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .233 BAA at home, with 110 IP, 96 hits, 23 BB, 95 K. However, on the road, he had a 4.71 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .306 BAA, with 107 IP, 131 hits, 32 BB, 78 K. And, guess what, surprise, that is very close to his career road numbers: 4.54 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .288 BAA with 926.1 IP, 1047 hits, 276 BB, 581 K. A comparison of his skills rates between road in 2005 and career:

Skills Rates - h/9 - hr/9 - bb/9 - k/9 - k/w
2005's Road - 11.0 - 0.8 - 2.7 - 6.6 - 2.4
Career Road- 10.2 - 0.9 - 2.7 - 5.6 - 2.1

As one can see, his skill rates was virtually the same in 2005 as for his career. He gave up almost 1 hit per 9 IP more but countered that with 1 more strikeout per 9 IP. So his 4.54 ERA is about what the A's can expect to get for their $7M/year. That is not worth that much money.

Overall, these rates are OK. His h/9 is very high (9.0 per 9IP is the max for good performance, in my opinion), but his hr/9 is just under the 1.0 maximum for a good performance and his bb/9 is just under the 2.7 maximum for a good performance. His k/9 career (5.6) and k/w (2.1) career are borderline acceptable but his k/9 2005 was good at 6.6, resulting in a k/w of 2.4. However, despite his improved skills rates for 2005, his ERA and WHIP was much higher than usual for his career.

Thus, I think the A's (and especially their fans) will not be very happy with his performance given his $7M average salary. Some are currently happy because it deepens their rotation and perhaps allow the A's to trade Barry Zito for some more offense. But that would leave a rotation of Harden, Loaiza, Haren, Blanton, and Scarloos/Kennedy. Loaiza is no better than a middle of rotation guy, he shouldn't be one of the aces of the staff.

Better them than us. Hopefully the Giants can get a better deal for a pitcher than that.

ADDENDUM: some websites note that Loaiza learned a new pitch in 2003 which allowed him to do so well. As we Giants fans know from our Tomko experience, this can be all bull (2003, spoke to old coach; 2004, spoke with sports psychiatrist; 2005, he worked out during off-season so that he can get to a fast start out the chute; none stuck, he couldn't continue success), performance will be the key. And he didn't perform well at all in 2004 plus in 2005, while his road stats were pretty much what it was previously, he benefited from RFK's pitcher-oriented stadium. Assuming he can continue to strikeout people at this higher rate, he could perform OK, have to check the charts in the Ron Shandler book to see what they say about his stats in 2005.


Anonymous Lyle said...

Amen. Thank goodness the A's overpaid for him and not us. I'd much rather have a younger pitcher who has a potential upside (and is *cheaper*) than an overpaid veteran.

Wed Nov 30, 06:10:00 AM PST  
Blogger Teh Neifi Chicken said...

In fairness, Loaiza did learn a new cutter, that much is true.

And Tomko did well with SF, he outperformed his previous numbers in both his years with SF.

Loaiza is just a risk IMO because of his age and the 3 years.

I'm glad the A's won the bidding

Thu Dec 01, 05:43:00 PM PST  

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