• He’s Got A Wipeout Pitch With That Splitter

    Posted by on March 30th, 2014 · Comments (15)

    Nope, that’s not someone talking about Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter this spring – although it sounds like what you hear everyday this spring about the new Yankees hurler’s signature pitch. More so, it’s what they were saying about (then) Yankees “stud” import starting pitcher Jose Contreras in 2003:

    The knee buckled, the pitch knuckled and, in the stands at Yankee Stadium, Billy Connors might have chuckled. When José Contreras struck out the Orioles’ Jay Gibbons on a forkball in the seventh inning yesterday, it delighted Connors, the Yankees’ organizational pitching sage. This is what the Yankees had been waiting for.

    ”When he can pitch ahead, he’s going to have great success, because he can wipe you out,” Connors said. ”He’s got a wipeout pitch with that split.”

    Consider the Orioles wiped out. Making his first appearance for the Yankees in more than 11 weeks, Contreras dominated Baltimore for seven innings in a 7-0 victory. He allowed three singles and a walk, striking out five and showing the combination of power pitching and trickery that the Yankees found so irresistible last winter.

    Contreras threw fastballs that reached 97 miles an hour, but all of his strikeouts came on splitters. Or, more precisely, they came on the pitch that is now called the splitter. ”It’s an old-fashioned forkball,” said Mel Stottlemyre, the Yankees’ pitching coach.

    For the record, two years into his Yankees career, Contreras was traded for the immortal Esteban Loaiza.

    Comments on He’s Got A Wipeout Pitch With That Splitter

    1. snuffy45
      March 30th, 2014 | 8:56 pm

      As the sun rises, Steve L. hangs crepes.

    2. Raf
      March 30th, 2014 | 9:32 pm

      Is it me or has the descriptor “wipeout” (when referring to a pitch) has been used a lot lately?

    3. Mr. October
      March 30th, 2014 | 9:42 pm

      New York Yankees: Ranking the 10 Worst Trades in Bombers History

      “July 31, 2004: … at the trade deadline, the Yankees sent Contreras to the White Sox and got back all-star Esteban Loaiza… Whether it was the pressure of pitching in New York or the league figured him out, he was dreadful for the Yankees.
      Loaiza went 1-2 with a 8.50 ERA in six starts before they buried him into the bullpen as a mop-up reliever.
      Contreras, on the other hand, went on to help the White Sox win the 2005 World Series the following season.
      Contreras was never cut out to pitch in New York, but trading for Loaiza was an even bigger mistake by Brian Cashman…”

      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1244339-new-york-yankees-ranking-the-10-worst-trades-in-bombers-history/page/8

      Interesting how so many of the “10 worst trades in bombers history” have been made between 1998-2013 for a franchise that’s been around for more than 100 years…

    4. Evan3457
      March 30th, 2014 | 10:48 pm

      As discussed before, George ordered them to deal Contreras after one last blowup vs. the Red Sox. The forced deal meant Contreras got dumped for 10 cents on the dollar for an injured Loaiza.

      Mr. October will dispute, and nobody cares, aside from him.

      ===================================================
      Armando Benitez and Raul Mondesi, worse than the Holtzman/McGregor deal with the O’s in 1976? Hardly. Yanks gave up literally nothing in the Benitez and Mondesi deals. Bob Tewksbury and two others for Steve Trout was much worse than several deals on that list. So was Rich McKinney for Stan Bahnsen. So was Jim Deshaies for Joe Niekro. So was Steve Balboni for Mike Armstrong. So was Larry Gura for Fran Healy.

      Taking Cadaret, Plunk and Polonia in exchange for the right to dump Rickey for becoming his usual Rickey self was much worse that some of the deals on that list. Doug Drabek and two others for Rick Rhoden and two others was much worse than several deals on the list. Al Leiter for Jesse Barfield was much worse than several of those trades.

    5. Mr. October
      March 31st, 2014 | 9:04 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      As discussed before, George ordered them to deal Contreras after one last blowup vs. the Red Sox.

      As discussed before, 100% false; it has never been reported, or confirmed, that George Steinbrenner ordered a trade of Contreras “at any price” in July, 2004. “Source, please?”

    6. Mr. October
      March 31st, 2014 | 9:37 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Tewksbury and two others for Steve Trout was much worse than several deals on that list… So was Larry Gura for Fran Healy… Al Leiter for Jesse Barfield was much worse…

      Agree to some extent…

      But there were many more superb trades in the 1970s, and even a few in the 1980s. Cashman still had the worst trade record of all active GMs with three or more years of experience with their current team at the start of the 2013 season, according to Baseball Prospectus…

    7. Raf
      March 31st, 2014 | 10:41 pm

      Billy Connors wrote:

      When he can pitch ahead, he’s going to have great success, because he can wipe you out

      And that was Contreras’ problem, not being able to pitch ahead. He walked too many people, an issue that followed him his other stops in the majors.

      Steve L. wrote:

      For the record, two years into his Yankees career, Contreras was traded for the immortal Esteban Loaiza.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/25/sports/baseball-what-s-32-million-more-yanks-sign-contreras.html

      “Blakely said the Yankees were excited about acquiring Contreras. ”We had four or five scouts who saw him over the last five, six years,” he said. ”We think he has a chance to be a frontline pitcher on a championship club. His last outing in Mexico he was throwing 94 to 98.””

      “The general manager of another team said Contreras had performed very well in international competition the last couple of years. The general manager said Contreras throws hard, mostly 94-95 miles an hour, has good location with his fastball and pitches well inside.”

      “”The raw ability is there,” he said. ”The question is will that ability translate to consistently good performances against the best players in the world.””

      “Another general manager said of Contreras: ”He’s a horse. He’s a 200-inning guy, a top-end-of-the-rotation guy.””

      I don’t remember seeing Contreras throwing in the high 90′s when he was with the Yankees. I do remember that he threw two different splitters.

      I saw Contreras’ ML debut, I was in Toronto Opening Day 2003. I got to my seat just in time to see Jeter carted off the field. I also remember seeing temporary closer Juan Acevedo pitch.

    8. Evan3457
      April 1st, 2014 | 12:14 am

      From Torre’s “The Yankee Years”:

      For the Yankees, it meant dumping the object of an intense and expensive international bidding war they had engaged in with the Red Sox less than two years earlier: right-handed pitcher Jose Contreras. The big man who was supposed to be an ace for the Yankees struggled with his command and the subtleties of pitching, such as pitching out of the stretch, and holding runners. He also had a particularly harmful and unforgivable flaw with the Yankees: he could not pitch against the Red Sox. Contreras was 0-4 with a 16.44 ERA against Boston.
      “He showed sparks of great pitching here and there,”, said Torre, “but he had a phobia against Boston and Boston just whipped his ass. He was tipping his pitches against them. They were in his head. They waxed him. They just waxed him.
      “His stuff was good, but he had a lot of issues I felt had to do with pitching in New York. I had gotten to the point where I said, ‘He just can’t help it.’ He just didn’t seem comfortable in New York.”
      On July 31, 2004, the day of the trading deadline, the Yankees were on their way to beating the Orioles, 6-4, at Yankee Stadium, when Brian Cashman called Torre.
      “We can get Esteban Loaiza for Contreras,” Cashman said.
      Torre quickly checked with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre before getting back on the phone with his general manager.
      “Do it,” Torre replied

      So the Yankees DUMPED Contreras. If one is capable of reading between the lines, only one man in the organization was capable of forcing the dumping of Contreras, hard against the trade deadline, for five cents on the dollar. That would be George, and George alone.

      Even if someone is not willing to concede that rather obvious point, the fact remains that two baseball men, including a fairly well-respected pitching coach, signed off on the trade.

      In the end, three things “fixed” Contreras:

      1) The White Sox, especially their pitching coach Don Cooper, corrected Contreras command and pitch-tipping problems, whereas for some reason, neither Stottlemyre nor anyone else in the Yankees organization (Billy Connors, whoever) was able to fix him.

      2) The presence of El Duque on the White Sox in 2005 to ease his emotional burden and build his confidence back up.

      3) The cutting of the pressure of pitching in New York, and particularly pitching against the Red Sox for the Yankees.

      None of those things was ever going to happen while Contreras remained with the Yankees.

      The long and the short of the Contreras-Loaiza trade was that Contreras was hopelessly lost as a Yankee, they were never going to fix him, he kept blowing up in big games, especially against the Red Sox, George Steinbrenner was not going to permit him to “spit the bit” against the Sox one minute longer and so put pressure on Cashman to dump Contreras, forcing him to trade him before the deadline. With just 6 days to work with, and at Contreras’ lowest possible trade value, this forced them to accept a damaged Loaiza, whose acquistion, in any case, the team’s manager and pitching coach signed off on.

      Such was the desire of practically everyone in authority in the Yankees organization at that moment in time. That’s not a recipe for a great return on a trade, or even a decent one. That they got 5 cents on the dollar in Loaiza, under those circumstances, was to be expected, and no real reflection on Cashman’s trading acumen, or lack thereof.

      That’s all.

    9. Mr. October
      April 1st, 2014 | 9:11 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      If one is capable of reading between the lines, only one man in the organization was capable of forcing the dumping of Contreras, hard against the trade deadline, for five cents on the dollar.

      It has never been reported that George Steinbrenner “ordered” Cashman to trade Contreras “Immediately” and “at any price.” Period. Steinbrenner might have soured on Contreras, but there was never a time that Cashman was “ordered” to trade Contreras “at any price” or “5 cents on the dollar,” and there is nothing to be read “between the lines” to suggest there was.

      It would not “be George” to DUMP a starting pitcher for nothing, and he didn’t; on the other hand, trading a player and getting nothing in return has Brian Cashman’s “trading ‘acumen’” written all over it. Cashman was the GM; the blame for a trade can be shifted to an owner, manager, or pitching coach only so often: Cashman still had the worst trade record of all active GMs with three or more years of experience with their current team at the start of the 2013 season…

    10. Mr. October
      April 1st, 2014 | 9:15 pm

      Mr. October wrote:

      Cashman still had the worst trade record of all active GMs with three or more years of experience with their current team at the start of the 2013 season…

      Correction: third-worst.

    11. Evan3457
      April 2nd, 2014 | 4:30 am

      Mr. October wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      If one is capable of reading between the lines, only one man in the organization was capable of forcing the dumping of Contreras, hard against the trade deadline, for five cents on the dollar.
      It has never been reported that George Steinbrenner “ordered” Cashman to trade Contreras “Immediately” and “at any price.” Period. Steinbrenner might have soured on Contreras, but there was never a time that Cashman was “ordered” to trade Contreras “at any price” or “5 cents on the dollar,” and there is nothing to be read “between the lines” to suggest there was.

      It would not “be George” to DUMP a starting pitcher for nothing, and he didn’t;

      On the contrary, instant gratification, regardless of cost, was the very esssence of Steinbrenner’s ownership.

      Ken Clay has spit the bit for the last time
      He’s a fat pussy toad.
      Bobby Meachem’s banishment for an error or two.
      Pushing to trade Jeter.
      And Rivera.
      And Pettitte.

      And over and over again.

      George pushed for Contreras. They signed him. He failed in the biggest spots. George ordered him gone, and withing 6 days. Hence Loaiza.

      That’s all.

    12. Mr. October
      April 3rd, 2014 | 8:22 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      On the contrary, instant gratification, regardless of cost, was the very esssence of Steinbrenner’s ownership.

      Great examples: Was Jeter traded? Rivera? Pettitte? Meachem’s banishment? Meachem went on to have a Hall of Fame career with what Major League team? The man owned the Yankees for almost 40 years…

      Evan3457 wrote:

      George ordered him gone, and withing 6 days. Hence Loaiza.

      Nothing to back these statements up…

    13. Evan3457
      April 4th, 2014 | 12:09 pm

      Mr. October wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      On the contrary, instant gratification, regardless of cost, was the very esssence of Steinbrenner’s ownership.
      Great examples: Was Jeter traded? Rivera? Pettitte? Meachem’s banishment? Meachem went on to have a Hall of Fame career with what Major League team? The man owned the Yankees for almost 40 years…

      They are great examples; thank you.

      Meachem had played a full season at AAA in 1983, then got called up in September. He started with the team in 1984, but in his second game of the season, the 4th game of the year, he came in as a defensive replacement, made an error that resulted in the winning run, and immediately got sent back down…to AA.

      Now, that shows 3 things:
      1) Childish overreaction and impulsiveness
      2) An inability to trust the decision making of the manager/general manager; that is, how in hell do you put a guy on your 25-man after spring training, and then decide just 4 games into the season, he doesn’t belong there
      3) George could, and did, make demands and override the judgment of his baseball people, and cause actions in extremely short periods of time.

      The Yankees fell way behind the Tigers that year, as the Tigers got off to a 35-5 start. They were out of the race by May, and pretty much everyone else in the East were out of the race by late June. They traded the starting shortstop, Roy Smalley, in mid-June, and were forced to call Meachem back up to start the rest of the year. He never became a star, that’s true. He also never really recovered from making the team in early 1984, and getting sent back not to AAA, but to AA, within a week of Opening Day.

      George did rule for about 30 years…then he spent the last 5 or so gradually deteriorating, and turning things over to others more and more, as his health failed. And all during that rule, which includes 2004, he brought a very high desire to win, and the resources to get any player he wanted that was available, but also a very counter-productive childish impatience, because he took the team’s results personally. Every time they didn’t win it all was a personal failure for him. The 1980′s saw that played out; the collapse at the end of that decade was the result.

      George built the Yankees up, but he also crashed them down.

      Evan3457 wrote:
      George ordered him gone, and withing 6 days. Hence Loaiza.
      Nothing to back these statements up…

      George’s nature backs it up.
      George’s history backs it up.
      Contreras’ record vs. the Red Sox backs it up.
      The last blowout vs. the Red Sox was 6 days before he got traded.
      6 days.
      The Yanks had 6 days to trade him. Hence the trade for an injured Loaiza, which both Torre and Stottlemyre approved of at the time.

      Your choosing to ignore all this is not surprising, and also, not important.

    14. Mr. October
      April 5th, 2014 | 6:34 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Meachem had played a full season at AAA in 1983…

      Booby Meachem sucked, to put it bluntly. I would certainly give Steinbrenner more credit for banishing him than I would give Lou Piniella for describing Meachem as “the yardstick by which all Major League shortstops will someday be measured.” But Steinbrenner didn’t “banish” Meachem – your narrative is a lot of nonsense (e.g. “[h]e also never really recovered from making the team in early 1984, and getting sent back not to AAA, but to AA…) – what Meachem never really recovered from was a lack of talent…

      And Steinbrenner didn’t order The Swordsman to trade Contreras before the 2004 trade deadline. Steinbrenner overriding the judgment of his baseball people on more than one occasion in the early 1980s has nothing to do with a false contention that he “ordered” one specific trade in 2004.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      George built the Yankees up, but he also crashed them down.

      He crashed them down by bringing in this moron to be the GM: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2259036/Brian-Cashman-told-mistress-Louise-Neathway-Yankees-manager-help-child-custody-case.html

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Your choosing to ignore all this is not… important.

      Then stop replying…

    15. Evan3457
      April 5th, 2014 | 8:44 pm

      Mr. October wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      Meachem had played a full season at AAA in 1983…
      Booby Meachem sucked, to put it bluntly. I would certainly give Steinbrenner more credit for banishing him than I would give Lou Piniella for describing Meachem as “the yardstick by which all Major League shortstops will someday be measured.” But Steinbrenner didn’t “banish” Meachem – your narrative is a lot of nonsense (e.g. “[h]e also never really recovered from making the team in early 1984, and getting sent back not to AAA, but to AA…) – what Meachem never really recovered from was a lack of talent…

      Missing the point, as always.
      Meachem wasn’t banished because he lacked talent, and certainly because George was the only who recognized he lacked talent. The team was convinced enough about his ability to include him on the Opening Day roster of a team expected to contend. They also thought enough of him to trade away Roy Smalley because Smalley’s bad back had diminished his defense to the point where he wasn’t a quality shortstop anymore.

      He was banished because he made an error that cost them a game in his 2nd appearance of the season, the team’s 4th game of the year. That was George’s managing style in a nutshell. After Smalley was traded, they were forced to try Meachem again. But it was too late, his confidence was shattered, and he never became the player they had thought he could be, Whether or not that original judgement was correct has nothing to do with the damage George did, and George did that damage out of emotional pique, not because he was any great evaluator of talent.

      And Steinbrenner didn’t order The Swordsman to trade Contreras before the 2004 trade deadline. Steinbrenner overriding the judgment of his baseball people on more than one occasion in the early 1980s has nothing to do with a false contention that he “ordered” one specific trade in 2004.

      Sure he did. It’s obvious to anyone who looks at the situation objectively. Contreras was an important part of the rotation 7 days before the trade, then he got shelled by the Sox one last time, and then by the O’s 5 days later, and he was gone 2 days after that, and for 5 cents on the dollar.

      Evan3457 wro-+te:
      George built the Yankees up, but he also crashed them down.
      He crashed them down by bringing in this moron to be the GM: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2259036/Brian-Cashman-told-mistress-Louise-Neathway-Yankees-manager-help-child-custody-case.html
      Evan3457 wrote:
      Your choosing to ignore all this is not… important.

      I ignore it because it has nothing to do with whether George ordered them to dump Contreras. You, on the other hand, obsess over that.

      Then stop replying…

      No thanks.

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