Crystal BallIn an online chat, in response to a question of starters that may be available around the trading deadline, ESPN's Buster Olney listed Tony Armas, Jr. among the potentials. I wholeheartedly agree that's a strong possibility. A few things have to happen, though:
- The team can't be in contention. I don't think this is a stretch!
- Armas has to stay healthy and pitch well enough to be valuable to a team that in contention.
- I think it'll also need to look unlikely that Armas will resign. If they think he's going to be asking for too much money, or if he expresses overtones of wanting to go elsewhere, I think they'll be far more inclined to trade him.
Basically, if they seem likely to lose Armas, the organization would be foolish if they didn't try to get as much for him as possible, particularly considering the state of the farm system. Getting ownership in a timely manner can make a huge difference here... if Armas likes DC, but is going to command a large paycheck next year, it may take some deep pockets to be able to feel confident enough that we can resign him to ride it out. In short, I say, prepare yourself for this one. It's not inevitable, but it does seem likely.
Next in my crystal ball, Esteban Loaiza. Sometime over the past day or two, I read some analyst (I think it was Gammons, but I'm having a hard time digging up the link), who thought that Loaiza had started off last year looking like his 2003 self. The implication is that there's something to Loaiza's "tired arm" theory, for why he sucked in the back half of the year. One would also have to believe that Loaiza really did become a good pitcher when he obtained a cutter. I'm looking at his per-month ERA splits (no need to look at anything fancier here):
April: 3.71 (34 IP)
May: 3.68 (36.2 IP)
June: 5.35 (38.2 IP)
July: 6.89 (31.1 IP)
August: 8.46 (27.2 IP)
September: 7.62 (13 IP)
You know, there's something to that theory. I don't think a 3.7 quite puts him in line with his 2003 numbers, but it isn't so far off, either. Then, he gets steadily and quickly worse, until he's mostly throwing meatballs (remember that one game for the Yankees where he did their part in setting a team record for runs allowed in a game?).
What does this mean for 2005? I think we might just see something similar. Esteban may start off reasonably well, and then start disappointing in June, and totally suck by July. He might even decline a bit faster this year. I think that, if the theory is correct, it's likely that Loaiza is on the fast track to Tommy John surgery. This all feels to me like the strain of being an innings eater is catching up to Loaiza, after quite a long run.
If that's the case, I can see someone giving the guy a chance when he's done. He could be the next Lieber.