Thursday, June 24, 2004

Good News For Jose

Jose Contreras' wife and children have finally escaped Cuba, with Contreras taking off from the team yesterday to join them in Miami.

Myriam Contreras, who had been repeatedly denied a Visa to the U.S. since her husband defected from Cuba two years ago, was smuggled out of Cuba, avoiding the Coast Guard to reach the freedom of American soil (for those of you not in the know, Cubans who travel illegally to the U.S. get near-instant residency status, and are on a fast track to U.S. citizenship; the trick is they only get these things if they physically set foot on U.S. soil. If the Coast Guard catches you on the water, you get sent back to the loving arms of Fidel Castro).

I doubt many of us can imagine the kind of stress this situation put on Contreras. His family was left behind in the arms of a totalitarian administration that hated him. Not only was Jose denied the company of his wife and daughter, but rumors had the Castro government arresting Contreras' wife on charges of prostitution.

But the big question (from a baseball perspective) is, will this good news make any difference for Contreras' performance on the field? No one can doubt the strain Jose was under, but does that have anything to do with the lackluster performance Contreras has given the Yanks so far?

1 Comments:

Blogger lichmd said...

While I'm happy for Jose and his family I'm uncertain that this will translate into an improvement in his performance. Bill James in his book on pitching ranks Contreras in the top 10 for fastballs for the half decade of 2000-2005. He ranks fastballs by a)how hard they are thrown b)how much life they have c)control over placement and d)consistent ability to maintain velocity. But Contreras' problem isn't his fastball, it's the fact that everyone knows he goes to the forkball with 2 strikes. They layoff his heater and tee off on the splitter. Having his wife and kids at the Stadium won't do shit for his pitch selection, nor add deception to his movement. It may prevent him from falling apart, but I personally find it hard to understand how Brad Halsey (Bullpup or admiral JR?) can display more composure than a guy who crossed the rather treacherous waters from Cuba to the Bahamas. We're not talking a cruise ship here, I'm talking about a crappy open cabin 21 foot boston whaler. Sharks, dehydration, hunger, none of these dissuaded the man from seeking his fortune (not to mention the unpleasantries that uncle Fidel has in store for those who fail). But a couple of baserunners and this boy practically wets his pants. I hope Myriam brought his cojones back with her and we can finally get value for the money, otherwise I say flip'im as quickly as we can.

June 24, 2004 at 10:27 PM  

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