Tag: Jose Contreras

Pittsburgh Pirates Announce Signing of Pitcher Jose Contreras

Although spring training is officially under way, there are still players finding homes with new teams for the 2013 season, including pitcher Jose Contreras, who was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

The right-handed Contreras’ signing, which was a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, was announced via the team’s official Twitter feed:

The signing was confirmed in a subsequent report by MLB.com’s Andrew Simon.

The 41-year-old Contreras is a veteran of 10 major league seasons, playing previously for the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies.

He defected from his native Cuba and signed a $32 million contract with the Yankees in the winter prior to the 2003 season.

He began his major league career as a starter but has pitched exclusively in relief in recent years.

The best season of his career came in 2005 with the White Sox, when he went 15-7 with a 3.61 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 32 starts.

Last season, he appeared in just 17 games with the Phillies, going 1-0 with a 5.27 ERA.

During his career he has a combined record of 78-67 with a 4.55 ERA in 292 games (175 starts).

CBSSports.com’s Dayn Perry wrote that Contreras has missed major chunks of the past two seasons because of elbow surgeries. He appeared in just 34 total games during that time. He will still be rehabbing his most recent procedure during camp with the Pirates.

If Contreras can bounce back from his most recent injury, he may be able to earn a role as a setup man in the Pittsburgh bullpen.

He has produced much better results in relief throughout his career, posting a 3.78 ERA and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings in that role. By contrast, he has just a 4.63 ERA and 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings as a starter.

The Pirates are seeking their first winning season since 1992. Adding a veteran like Contreras is a good gamble that could pay off if he is healthy and productive.

Statistics via BaseballReference

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Chicago White Sox: Selecting the All-Decade Team 2002-2012

It’s the offseason, a month away from spring training.  Like many of you, I’m a bored Sox fan.  In my previous articles, I have come off as extremely pessimistic.  It’s a curse, what can I say.  

It’s a new year and a chance for me to change it up.  Let’s focus on the good. Introducing your Chicago White Sox all-decade team..

For those of you who wanted to recall the illustrious careers of Dan Wright, Billy Koch and Rob Mackowiak, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Maybe if I get enough positive feedback on this piece, I’ll come up with the franchise’s worst players of the decade next week. Enjoy. 

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New York Yankees: 10 Most Highly-Touted Prospects Since 1990

The New York Yankees have been known for buying all of their players via free agency instead of bringing up young talent from their farm system. And while the Yankees have been very active in free agency and trades, they have brought up some very good players, with some of their prospects becoming stars while some have not.

International players who spent less than one season in the minor leagues, such as Hideki Matsui, will not be listed.

Lets see who the are Yankees’ 10 most highly touted prospects since 1990.

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Fantasy Baseball Digging for Saves: Is There a Closer Controversy in Philly?

Seeing Jose Contreras getting a day off on Friday was not surprising. He is 39 years old and had appeared in four games in five days. According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (click here for the article), he had thrown 72 pitches over that stretch. 

He certainly deserved a rest, but is that why he was also not used on Saturday when a save opportunity presented itself once again? Gelb has a quote from manager Charlie Manuel saying, “He’ll be ready to pitch [Sunday].” He also said that Contreras “is OK.”

Now, fantasy owners are left wondering what is going to happen. Ryan Madson certainly has the better pure stuff, but his struggles in the closer’s role in the past led to him being overlooked for the role with Brad Lidge out of action. All he’s done over the past two days is allow one H and zero BB, striking out one, in 2.0 innings of work to lock down two saves.

Could he now start to see a few opportunities? His 1.00 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, along with 10 K, over 9.0 innings of work would certainly justify such a move.

However, what has Contreras done to lose his job? All he has done is post a 0.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, along with nine K, in 8.0 innings to convert five saves.

Are we going to move to a committee situation? Will the matchups dictate who is going to be used? Will one stumble by either pitcher lead to the other getting the next opportunity?

It’s hard to imagine Contreras losing the job, considering that he has done nothing but excel in the role thus far. However, the Phillies may want to see if Madson, 30 years old, has finally matured to the point that he could handle ninth inning duties. 

It is no secret that Brad Lidge is no lock as a closer and, with his contract expiring after 2011 (the team does hold a $12.5 million option that is unlikely to be picked up), the team needs to know if Madson can handle the job in 2012 (though he is also a free agent after the year) or if they need to import another option. Madson will likely command far less than someone like Heath Bell or Jonathan Papelbon.

How this will play out, no one knows, but it has become a difficult situation for fantasy owners. Both Contreras and Madson should be owned in all formats, but unless your league values middle relievers or if you are desperate for saves, both should be on your bench. In a perfect world, if you owned one you would also own the other, but we all know that’s not always possible. Given Madson’s history, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him stumble, but right now he certainly is in a groove.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Who do you think deserves the job? Who do you think will be the closer?

Make sure to check out the Rotoprofessor Closer Tracker (updated on April 24) by clicking here.


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Philadelphia Phillies: Does Jose Contreras Deserve Mention as Permanent Closer?

I’ve always been a fan of Jose Contreras. He’s 39 years old, going strong and still throwing nasty splitters.

This season, Brad Lidge was placed on the DL yet again, and the Phillies needed someone to step up in place of him. 

This has happened in the past, and the Phillies usually went with Ryan Madson. However, it was clear that he was not meant to be a closer, as he blew numerous save opportunities.

The Phillies tested Madson already, and it didn’t go as planned. So who did they experiment with this season? Jose Contreras.

Turns out, he performed spectacularly—zero earned runs in seven games and a perfect 4-of-4 in save opportunities.

We are only about a month into baseball season, so you can make the argument that it is too early. But Contreras is off to a hot start, and there’s no doubt about it. 

There is also no question that Contreras has been more than serviceable as a closer. In fact, he is pitching so good that the thought of making him the everyday closer has popped up in discussion (let’s assume for the column’s sake that he remains hot when Lidge comes back).

He is the backup and is doing a great job as stated, but the number one closer, Lidge, is granted his starting job back, right?

Well, not so set and stone if you ask me.

If Contreras keeps this up and remains consistent, how will Charlie Manuel be able to sit someone who is playing so well?

I’m not trying to pick sides here, but just trying to think how Manuel will look at the scenario. In fact, I personally thought that Lidge was going to have a rebound season.

We saw this same situation occur for the Eagles, when Michael Vick was playing very well in substitution for Kevin Kolb. 

Kolb recovered from a concussion, but was not granted his starting job back because Vick was playing too good to have him sit on the bench.

Will the same outcome occur with Phillies?

I think there’s a chance. But to be honest, I’m not quite sure exactly what the Phillies should do here. Sure, Contreras will still be able to pitch, but he has been very effective in the closing role.

The Phillies have some time to think about this considering that Lidge won’t return until late May to early June.

It’s a thought that’s up for an intriguing debate that comes down to one question: Do you sit Contreras, who is hot right now and grant the position back to your original closer, or do you keep in the pitcher who is doing well?

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Brad Lidge Out 3-6 Weeks: Can Jose Contreras Handle the Closer Role?

After receiving an MRI yesterday, it was determined that Brad Lidge’s injury woes will continue: he has a strain in the back of his right shoulder rotator cuff. In other words, according to Courier Post Online, this is equivalent to a tear, and he could even be out until July.

This is far from good news that the Phillies have received throughout this year’s spring training. Domonic Brown broke his hand after ending a hitless streak of over 15 at-bats. Chase Utley is out indefinitely with tendinitis in his right knee. Placido Polanco hyperextended his left elbow, on which he received surgery this offseason. Roy Oswalt suffered a scare when he was hit by a Manny Ramirez line drive.

And now, after returning from bicep tendinitis, Brad Lidge—who was healthy for spring training for the first time in a long time—remains on the list, which at this point seems endless.

With every injury comes a fill-in, and in this case like all others, the Phillies’ closer role is currently vacant.

While the temporary replacement of Brad Lidge has yet to be finalized, manager Charlie Manuel thinks that the role should and will go to Jose Contreras. Ryan Madson was in the running, but Manuel, among others, believes that he will do better in the set-up role for now, where he has consistently pitched well over the past few seasons.

Before we think more on this likely decision, let’s take a look at Contreras’ role with the Phillies last season.

In his first season with the Phillies last year, Contreras also pitched in his first season as a reliever. He made 67 appearances in relief last season, more than any other Phillie. In 56.2 innings of work, Contreras posted a 6-4 record with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He also recorded 13 holds and yes, four saves. He also struck out 57 batters who faced him.

Not bad considering his age (38 last season) and amount of appearances, is it?

Although the closer role is much different than a relieving or even a set-up role, let’s take a look at Brad Lidge’s stats from last season.

Lidge, who spent a long stint on the DL last season, had a record of 1-1 in 50 appearances comprised of 45.2 innings of work. In that amount of work, Lidge posted a 2.96 ERA and struck out 52, posted a 1.23 WHIP and 27 saves.

Take a look at the ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP. These stats between the two are oddly similar. And while innings pitched, record, appearances, and saves are incomparable (due to injury and different roles), the comparable stats are very close to each other. Although ERA is a bit more distant that Ks and WHIP, 38 points isn’t too far off.

So the question now is this: will Jose Contreras be able to handle the temporary role of closer?

There are arguments on both sides. One could argue that he can because he did so well as a reliever and closer last season, and the fact that he was 38 years old shows he’s durable and can continue posting such stats. In fact, both pitchers allowed the same amount of home runs (five), and Contreras actually allowed fewer walks than Lidge in more innings of work—Lidge allowed 24 walks; Contreras allowed only 16.

On the other hand, Contreras only has one season of relief work under his belt and his ERA is a bit too high for a reliever. He could also be drilled this way: there is only one closer on the team, and there are four or five relievers. Relievers can be split up by day and batter; closers must face all batters in the ninth inning in order to record the save.

And then there’s more. Since the rotation will most likely go deep into games—at least seven or eight innings per game—only a reliever or two will be used, and the closer will be used often. If Contreras had to pitch three or four out of five games, would he be able to handle such stress on his arm? Remember that he was a reliever for the first time last season and would be called upon maybe every three days. Starters are called upon every five days. An average closer could be called upon four of five days. That’s a lot of work.

If the cons ultimately outweigh the pros, Ryan Madson could look like a great option. He’s in a contract year and he’s got to deliver. If he shines and Contreras falls, then this might be the golden opportunity for Ryan Madson to nab the closer role and more money for the 2012 season. Madson, who’s been a reliever for most of his career, knows how to handle the eighth (and somewhat the ninth) inning situation through much experience. Could he end up as the Phillies’ closer?

For the meantime, Phillies fans’ minds are wondering whether Contreras is the right decision for the closer role.

Is it the right move?

Only time will tell.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Fantasy Baseball Digging for Saves: Who Will Replace Brad Lidge?

Brad Lidge is the latest closer to go down with an injury and how long he will be out is completely unknown. The pain in his shoulder has yet to be identified, meaning he could be out a week, a month or maybe more. It was just a few days ago that I questioned if Lidge was even worth owning (click here to view) and now things look even more dubious. 

Obviously, there are two options for the Phillies to turn to, either Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras. The question is, who will it be? Or, will fantasy owners face yet another “closer-by-committee” situation?

According to Todd Zolecki of mlb.com (click here for the article), the latter does not appear to be in the cards. Pitching coach Rick Dubee was quoted as saying, “Guys are more comfortable when they’re slotted into a role. It’s preparation. You know when your time is coming. When you’re grabbing at straws, guys are a little leery about what’s going on. You like to have that back end set up.”

So, knowing that it is likely going to be one or the other, which is the player that fantasy owners should be targeting?

Ryan Madson is clearly the more dynamic pitcher. He has the better stuff and you would think that he should excel closing out games. However, he has never seemed extremely comfortable in the ninth inning. It is a small sample size, but in 2010 he converted just five of 10 save opportunities. Over the past five seasons he has 19 saves in 35 opportunities.

In Zolecki’s article, Dubee is quoted as saying, “He doesn’t get to the same comfort level. There’s a little anxiety there. The ninth inning is a little different than the eighth. There have been solid eighth-inning guys that haven’t been able to pitch the ninth. One day they learn how to do it.”

Contreras, however, thrived in his brief chance as closer in ’10, converting four saves in five opportunities. In his first season in the bullpen he posted a 3.34 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 56.2 innings of work. That’s not to mention a 9.05 K/9, significantly better than he did while in the starting rotation.

If Friday’s spring game was any indication, you can tell which direction the Phillies are leaning:

Eighth Inning: Ryan Madson allows one hit in an otherwise clean inning as the setup man.

Ninth inning: Jose Contreras is perfect, complete with two strikeouts, picking up the save.

Should we be looking too much into spring strategy? Of course not, but past success clearly is going to factor into the Phillies thinking. Small sample size or not, you can tell by Dubee’s comments that Madson’s past struggles are certainly going to play a role. 

Obviously, to be safe all Lidge owners should be hoping to stash both Contreras and Madson. You really don’t know exactly what is going to happen at this point. However, if push comes to shove, all signs are currently pointing to Contreras getting the first opportunity to close out games. Right now neither appear to be a long-term options, but those looking to steal a few saves early on will want to probably nab Contreras.

What are your thoughts?  Who do you think is going to get the save opportunities? 

Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings:

Top 15 Catchers
Top 15 First Basemen

Top 15 Second Basemen

Top 15 Third Basemen

Top 15 Shortstops

Top 30 Outfielders

Top 30 Starting Pitchers

Top 15 Closers


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Free Agency: Power Ranking the Top 10 Relievers on the Market

Believe it or not, the 2011 MLB season is just around five months away, and one of the rising topics in  many circles is where exactly some of the free agent relievers are going to wind up, or what is going to happen to them prior to spring training.

I picked out 10 guys who are sure to draw attention—some more than others—as we slowly move along the MLB offseason.

You’ll notice that two teams in particular (Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox) are the most active teams with a bevy of players they are either getting rid of, and/or considering.

Let’s take a look at who I have, and if there is a name you want to throw out there, do so below in the comment section.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Who’s Not Enjoying This?


Yesterday, my son wanted to go to the Dairy Queen. Since I’m trying to eat healthy, I inquired about the selections they had that didn’t resemble candy.

The girl offered me a chocolate covered banana.

I said, “That’s it? Don’t you have a more phallic desert?”

Obviously not. So when she handed the treat my way, one thing crossed my mind:

I’ll have to hold this in a way that makes me look like I’m not enjoying it.

But there’s no way I can hide my pleasure about the series win in the Bronx.

Everyone’s thinking the bat formation in front of Chase Utley’s locker before the Thursday whooping was the series clincher, but I believe there’s only one thing that can cause a change this profound:

Charlie Manuel is on performance-enhancing drugs.

Of course I’ve alleged that before. But how else do you explain Greg Dobbs getting a hit, Raul Ibanez stealing a base, or the Phils finding a rally without Jimmy Rollins?

When’s the last time the team hit back-to-back homers? When’s the last time they even got the ball over the fence?

And when’s the last time we spelled bullpen relief like this: Jose Contreras.

I haven’t had that many questions since I spent the night with Jose Cuervo.

And what about that guy named Placido Polanco? His name doesn’t yet roll off our tongues like Rauuuuul Ibanez, but since the questions surrounding his ability to be effective in the hot corner surfaced at his signing, having a guy named Polly has been nothing less than poetic.

He’s the only guy in the starting lineup still hitting .300-plus and he has the highest fielding percentage of third basemen in the National League.

But when he saved Kyle Kendrick from ruin in the sixth by mounting the tarp, his face had this taunt appearance as if he was up to no good.

I’ve seen the same expression on my dog.

He was having a good time too.

That brings us to the most pleasant surprise of the series—Kyle Kendrick. He was welcomed to the show in 2007 and was up against some heavy hitters for Rookie of the Year like Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Hunter Pence.

Although he’s hardly lived up to the accomplishments of those guys, do we dare hope he’s finally on pace?

Last night he not only had his tempo down, he could lead the marching band. Maybe with the pressure of JA Happ’s return and the question of who’s moving to the bullpen, Kendrick was forced to pitch more like a guy who belongs in the rotation than someone who just got lucky.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The great irony is, three days ago Roy Halladay was considered the key to taking this Yankees series. Instead it was won with a kid that caused my ulcer and a grandpa named Jamie Moyer who’s intent on being the oldest pitcher to do everything.

Wait, that made Jamie sound like my dog.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It might be too early to sing Kyle’s praises—he still walked two and only fanned three, but the composure he showed made him look as stoic as that other strawberry blond, Roy Halladay.

There’s one thing the two hurlers didn’t have in common last night—Kyle Kendrick smiles when things go his way. I saw a big toothy smile.

And barring a great hit here or a good catch there, there’s been a drought of things to smile about lately.

So the big question remains: Have the Phillies turned things around?

That depends. Are you arranging knickknacks in your curio cabinet or talking baseball?

I will say this: There’s no doubt I’d rather be enjoying Phillie wins then munching down on a treat of extraordinary size with a guilty look on my face.

But let’s face it—every game is 27 outs. Charlie went as far as to say if they win every series, they’ll be sitting pretty.

And if they do that, there’s no way I can act like I’m not enjoying it.

Regardless of what my husband says.

See you at the ballpark.


Copyright 2010 Flattish Poe all rights reserved. Catch life one-liner at a time at http://twitter.com/ABabesTake

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB: Top 20 Players Who Look Odd in Their Current Jerseys

Most of the greatest players of all time spent the final year or few years on teams for whom they did not spend their entire careers, and it just didn’t seem right.

Whether it was Willie Mays with the Mets, Hank Aaron with the Brewers, Babe Ruth with the Braves, or Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins with the Athletics, seeing iconic players in some strange team’s uniform is always unsettling, like when your grandfather needs help going to the bathroom.

Guess what? Major League Baseball currently sports a gaggle of such players. Let’s have a look.

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