Contreras On The Trade Block

By Francis Walker
Updated: July 15, 2005

Jose Contreras

Jose Contreras

NEW YORK, NY. — The New York Yankees have one of the greatest offensive teams in history. They’re known as “Murderer’s Row.” However, the Yankees pitching staff has struggled this season especially Jose Contreras. Contreras has had rollercoaster tenure with the Yankees and is on the block to get traded before the July 31 deadline.

Contreras has struggled. His performances are inconsistent. He has great stuff and can throw a baseball. The problem is his control. There are times when Contreras can pitch well for two-three innings before he loses control on the mound.

In 14 games started this season, Contreras posts a 6-3 record with four no decisions. Contreras’ ERA is an eye-raising 5.64, but has dropped significantly from 10.64 following the Yankees 11-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on April 23. In that game, he lasted just 3.1 innings allowing 5 earned runs on six hits (two homers).

Contreras has also allowed 43 earned runs, 68 hits (18 home runs) in 68.2 innings. Contreras has yet to pitch a complete game in his major league career, which would give the Yankees bullpen a much deserved rest.

In his recent outing against the surging Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Contreras lasted 6.2 innings, allowing just one earned run on three hits, while striking out three to help the Yankees win 7-1.

Yankees boss George Steinbrenner and manager Joe Torre would not want to see Contreras come out of the bullpen at a salary of $32 million for four years including a base salary of $9 million in 2004.

This is why Steinbrenner went out of his way to sign Paul Quantrall and Tom Gordon in order to revamp the Yankees bullpen. So that Contreras could help full the void of the departures of starting pitchers Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and David Wells, whom the Yankees lost to free agency in the off season.

Against the Mets on June 27, Contreras pitched six scoreless innings and held the Mets to just two hits during a 8-1 Yankees victory. But the lowing week on July 3, Contreras was tagged by the Mets for seven earned runs on eight hits and three homers during a dismal 10-9 loss.

If the Yankees were to make a trade, there is no doubt that the Yankees need to make a deal for another arm inn the starting rotation. Kevin Brown, the Yankees most consistent starter is injured. Mike Mussina has not been at 100% since the season started after burying his father. Javier Vasquez is having a decent year at 9-5 with a 3.50 ERA thus far. Jon Lieber, coming back from Tommy John Surgery, is 6-5 with a 4.97 ERA and has lost four of his last seven games.

It’s almost certain the Yankees will have to make a deal, but they may have to deal one of their star hitters or a prospect for another decent arm.

The Yankees (52-31) have the best record in baseball, but only by a ½ game over the National League-leading St. Louis Cardinals (52-32). If the Yankees continue to have stretches in which they score 49 runs in 6 games and only win one due to poor pitching then that’s going to keep the door open for teams like Boston, Texas Rangers, and Oakland Athletics compete with the Yankees in the standings.