The Transaction Oracle on the Esteban Loaiza signing. This is one of those instances where I think the stathead community ends up pulling their punches, because it is Beane (much the way the Derek Lowe contract was largely excused because Paul DePodesta was the one who signed him).
The Oracle, though, pretty much says "Wow, 3 years and $21 million is more than I thought Loaiza would get," and leaves it at that. Like the Scott Hatteburg extension, like the Arthur Rhodes contract, the attitude is, "Well, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, but Billy Beane knows more than I do, so I'm not going to be too critical." And the reality is, if Jim Bowden or Allard Baird, a "target" g.m. for another low-payroll team, signs Loaiza to a contract like this, there'd be hooting and hollering from all us computer-geek types around the country.
For a team like the A's, committing this type of money to Loaiza is just bizarre. Yes, Billy Beane knows more about this stuff than I do. Yes, Billy Beane has access to information I don't have. And yes, if Loaiza has a nice season next year, Beane can maybe flip him in a deal after 2006 the way he did Mark Redman. But for a team that has a lot of viable arms for the rotation, handing out a deal like this to an old, mediocre starting pitcher, a 34 year old with 2 bad seasons, 2 mediocre seasons and a great season in the past five years, is simply foolishness.