|Coming off a stretch in which they lost eight of nine games, the White Sox may have raised the white flag when they traded 37-year-old righthander Jose Contreras (and Jim Thome later in the day). Chicago sent Contreras to the Rockies, an NL wild card hopeful, for Triple-A righthander Brandon Hynick.
The Rockies missed out on both Brad Penny (Giants) and Jon Garland (Dodgers), a pair of righthanders who went to division rivals.
The Yankees signed Contreras, a native of Cuba, to a lucrative four-year deal in late 2002, but he spent only a season and a half in the Bronx. New York shipped him to the White Sox at the '04 deadline, where he served as a front-line starter for Chicago's World Series-winning club in '05. In the years since, he's served as a mid-rotation starter at his best.
The past two seasons have been roller-coaster rides for Contreras and his employer. He has moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen and then from the big league squad to Triple-A. On the year, Contreras was 5-13, 5.42 with 89 strikeouts in 114 2/3 innings for the White Sox. Worse, he had allowed 30 runs in 24 2/3 August innings. Still, Contreras has shown flashes of being an effective pitcher this year. In each of his five wins, he went at least 6 1/3 innings and allowed fewer than one run. In early June, Contreras hurled eight scoreless innings in consecutive starts. One was a one-hitter and the other a two-hitter.
Contreras throws a four-seam fastball and a split-fingered fastball, as well as a sweeping slider. He has been known to alter his arm angle, dropping down when he's ahead in the count.
|The Young Player|
|Hynick, 24, made a name for himself June 30 when he threw a seven-inning perfect game for Colorado Springs against Portland. The righthander was 10-9, 3.83 in 26 starts for the Sky Sox, with 92 strikeouts and 48 walks in 155 innings. A third-round pick in '06 out of Birmingham Southern, Hynick sits in the high-80s with his fastball and complements it with a changeup, curveball and split-fingered fastball. Hynick isn't much of a groundball pitcher and doesn't boast of a strong strikeout rate, but he can be effective with his stuff. He projects as a back-of-the rotation starter or a middle reliever in the big leagues.|
|The Rockies took a hit when Aaron Cook went on the DL on Aug. 22 with a shoulder injury that will cost him the season. The Giants then swept Colorado in a three-game road series, during which the Giants' rotation held an advantage in every matchup. Instead of using Josh Fogg or Russ Ortiz as their fifth starter, the Rockies can now use Contreras, a serviceable veteran with playoff experience. Contreras' Chicago manager, Ozzie Guillen, announced on Aug. 24 that Contreras would pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season, which lowered his trade value for the White Sox.
Hynick was expendable thanks to the pitching depth the Rockies have developed in their minor league system. Jhoulys Chacin, along with Esmil Rogers and Christian Friedrich, are set to make an impact in the next few years.