Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Loiaza Out, Saarloos In by Rick Kaplan

Rick Kaplan
Staff Writer

OAKLAND (April 18) – First, it was the radar gun that was spooking Esteban Loaiza. Now, according to Ken Macha, it was actually the WBC that has caused the hurler’s weak debut.

The things that $21M will make people say. Goodness!

Next, the story will be that Loaiza lost his fastball when he accidentally flushed it down the toilet.

And with an 11.42 ERA and 17 hits thus far in 8 2/3 innings, maybe some people will believe him.

Click below for more!It sounds an awful lot like Loaiza has already conceded tonight’s start to the Tigers, according to the Oakland Tribune. He explains that he is still in spring training. (Tuesday, April 18, Sports page 1). I guess this game doesn’t count to him.

But it does to the A’s and their fans. Macha, listen, if he’s not ready then send him to Sacramento to get his work.

Instead, the A’s manager is comparing Loaiza to Johann Santana, Bartolo Colon, and Kelvim Escobar in today’s Trib. ‘Those guys went to the WBC and are struggling too,’ explained Mach.

Forget about Loaiza being mentioned in the same breath as that elite group. We would be happy if he could get out of the fourth inning.

And get over the WBC-as-a-distraction attitude, Ken. Remember, Japan and Korea and Cuba (heaven forbid, Mr. Gonzalez) looked better than us. (Incidentally, the MLB players, with the exception of Ichiro, weren’t even good enough to make it to the finals. So, whining about Loaiza suffering because of the WBC is kind of like the skipper at Sacramento complaining that the A’s ruined his rotation when they took Dan Meyer to spring training.)

The argument that Loaiza didn’t get his work in at the WBC is baloney. When his stats for the World Baseball Classic and spring training are combined, we find that Loaiza threw 22.2 innings. This leaves him smack in the middle of the pack of the A’s rotation. Rich Harden had 14 innings, Joe Blanton 21.1, Barry Zito 25, and Dan Harden hurled 29.2.

Besides, we’re not looking for a complete game two-hitter from Loaiza. The way he has been throwing thus far, A’s fans would be happy to still be in the game after the bottom of the first.

Is there a better explanation in the house for Loaiza being lousy?

Could coming from modest “success” in a single season in 2005 in the National League(Triple A) be a clue? Loaiza arrived in Washington last season a near-.500 career pitcher in the American League (and sub.500 if a mysterious 21-9 campaign in 2003 is subtracted). Having been rented by the Yankees for the 2004 stretch drive – and quickly demoted to mopping up – after that peculiar 21-9 year with the White Sox in 2004, Loaiza had a decent 12-10, 3.77 ERA season last year in the NL.

But when the A’s looked at those numbers they apparently forgot to look at the league he was pitching in. After he could not get anybody out with the Yankees (61 hits in 43 innings and an 8.50 ERA), they should have realized that the 21-9 fluke was almost entirely due to a new-look cut fastball which wore out AL hitters until they realized there was nothing else in the arsenal to worry about. They started sitting cutter, and it was bombs away.

Maybe a guy can get by in the NL with an 88 fastball (to give him the benefit of the doubt) and mediocre location, but not in the bigs.

On the other hand, Kirk Saarloos has the twin 86-88 MPH heaters that dive in both directions, possesses great poise, and is down in the zone most of the time. That’s why he is almost always good for those five or six innings everyone is always looking for.

Saarloos has a 1.45 career HWIP (hits and walks combined per inning) compared to Loaiza’s 1.4. Saarloos had a 4.17 ERA in 2005, and Loaiza was at 3.77 (and, more significantly, 4.60 lifetime, almost entirely in the AL).

And Saarloos gave the A’s nearly 6 innings a start compared to Loaiza career just over 6.

As reported in this column previously, his stats, and his heart, match up well with Loaiza, and his $400K might help to defray the cost of a Zito replacement, if the A’s can unload Loaiza before he is a completely lost cause.


1 Anonymous { 04.19.06 at 1:45 pm }

Rick: On December 9th, 2005, when the Giants were supposedly competing with the A’s for his services, I wrote, “Allowing the A’s to outbid them for Loaiza may very well turn out to be a wise move,since the A’s may discover that there is a reason why Loaiza has had only one outstanding year in an eleven year major league career”.


2 Anonymous { 04.19.06 at 9:34 pm }

Ed: Loaiza looked last night a little bit more like promised, so I am temporarily not aking any more passengers on the anti-Esteban bandwagon that I have been driving (Of course you are welcome at any time). Besides, if there is one thing that I would rather be than a saavy sportswriter, it’s a happy A’s fan! Go Esteban! Keep running your cutter!

3 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:13 pm }

4 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:50 pm }

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