Toms River, New Jersey native Alois Terry Leiter was originally drafted by the New York Yankees on June 4, 1984. Two months and one week later, Melky Cabrera was born.
The left-handed Leiter pitched in parts of three seasons for the Yankees from 1987-1989. His career line as a Yankee in 22 games, all starts, is: 4.98 ERA, 7-8, 106 2/3 IP, 96 H, 110 K, 69 BB, 10 HR, 9.28 K/9, 5.82 BB/9, 1.59 K/BB
Leiter struggled with blisters early in his career to such a degree that the Yankees gave up on him at the age of 23 and dealt him to the Blue Jays straight-up for Jesse Barfield on April 30, 1989.
In Toronto, Leiter's blister problems were so severe that he appeared in just nine games with the Blue Jays during his first four seasons with the club (5.17 ERA, 15 2/3 IP, 14 H, 10 K, 11 BB, 1 HR, 1 GS, 0-0)
Leiter finally got over his blister struggles in 1993, making 32 appearances (12 starts) for the Blue Jays. That year he appeared in 5 postseason games and even picked up a win in relief (and cracked a double) in Game One of the World Series as the Blue Jays went on to win their second-consecutive World Championship.
For the next two years, Leiter was a permanent part of the Blue Jay rotation (4.18 ERA, 7.73 K/9, 5.28 BB/9, 1.45 K/BB)
Leiter signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent following the 1995 season. In 1996, at the age of 30, he had his best year yet as a major league starter, posting a 2.93 ERA, striking out 200 men and winning 16 games for the Marlins (while also leading his league in walks for the second consecutive year). His crowning achievement came on May 11, when he no-hit the Rockies, retiring the final five batters on five pitches. Less than two months later, Leiter made his first All-Star team.
In 1997, Leiter was less effective, but the Marlins, behind team OPS leader Gary Sheffield and team ERA leader Kevin Brown, surprised everyone by winning their first World Championship, giving Leiter his second World Series ring despite going 0-1 with three no decisions in the post season.
As part of Wayne Huizenga's post-Championship fire sale, Leiter was dealt to the Mets in February 1998 along with middle infieder Ray Millard for lefty Jesus Sanchez, minor league outfielder Rob Stratton and a 21-year-old righty named A.J. Burnett
Leiter finally came into his own with the Mets at age 32, turning in what remains his finest major league season in 1998 (2.47 ERA, 17-6, 8.11 K/9, 3.31 BB/9, 2.45 K/BB). He finished sixth in the Cy Young voting that year, the highest finish in his career (his other top-10 finish coming in 1996).
In 1999 and 2000, the Mets reached the playoffs with Leiter as their ace (he made his second All-Star team in 2000). Leiter pitched well in the postseason for the Mets, but failed to earn a win in seven starts and is probably best remembered for giving up Luis Sojo's series-winning dribbler up the middle on his 142nd pitch in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series. Leiter's win and double for the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series remain his only postseason win and his only postseason hit.
In seven seasons as a Met, Leiter posted a 3.42 ERA, a 95-67 record (.586 winning percentage), 7.32 K/9, 3.61 BB/9, 2.03 K/BB, 0.78 HR/9.
The Mets declined Leiter's $10 million option following the 2004 season and Leiter signed a complicated one-year, $8 million contract with the Marlins.
As you may know, the deal in which the Yankees acquired Leiter has the Yankees sending a player to be named later to Florida in exchange for Leiter and $2.4 million. Exactly how that $2.4 million is being applied to Leiter's contract, however, is a bit confusing.
According to Hardball Dollars, Leiter's contract includes a $3 million signing bonus ($1 of it deferred without interest to 2007, the rest deferred without interest to 2008) and $1 million to be paid to charity (in $250,000 chunks from 2005 to 2008). That would leave him with a $4 million salary for 2005. According to MLB.com the $2.4 million sent to the Yankees along with Leiter means that the Yankees will only owe Leiter $400,000 over the remainder of the season.
What's confusing is that if you subtract the $2.4 million sent to the Yankees and the $400,000 left to be paid from the $4 million base salary, you get $1.2 million. I find it difficult to believe that the Marlins would have only paid $1.2 to have Leiter from April through mid-July while the Yankees would have to pay (with the Marlins' help) $2.8 million to have Leiter from mid-July through the end of the year. Perhaps that $2.4 million is also contributing to the deferred signing bonus payments or some of the future charity payments.
Let's try this. It would make more sense for the Marlins to have already paid $2.2 million of Leiter's salary, with $1.4 million of the money they're sending to the Yankees contributing to the reaminder of 2005 (leaving $400,000 for the Yankees to pay). The remaining $1 million being sent to New York would then pay off either the entirety of the $1 million in charitable donations or $1 million of the signing bonus, leaving the Yankees with $3 million in additional future costs that could potentially be passed on to another team should Leiter be unloaded before the start of the 2006 season.
That's all speculation, however. Contracts are hardly my area of expertise. What I do know a little something about is what I wrote in the comments to Alex's last post:
Leiter's K/BB Ratios from 2001 to 2005:
Meanwhile, the Red Sox lead the majors in OBP because they're third (behind the Yanks and Phillies) in walks.
For some reason I've become optimistic about the prospect of Leiter stepping up to become the Yankees' fifth starter down the stretch (making the 39-year-old Leiter the third-youngest Yankee starter, and the 36-year-old Mussina the second-youngest). But, as those K/BB numbers show, I should know better.
Still, the Yankees are guaranteed to leave Boston with a split and no farther than 2 1/2 games behind. Considering the state of the rotation in the wake of Chien-Ming Wang's injury, the team and their fans should be delighted.
Incidentally, to make room for Leiter on the 25- and 40-man rosters, Tim Redding was designated for assignment. I would expect him to wind up back in Columbus. Meanwhile, for those who missed it, Mike Stanton was released back on Monday and signed by the Washinton Nationals. Called into the tenth inning of a tie game in Milwaukee with runners on first and third, Stanton threw to first and balked home the winning run before throwing his first pitch as a member of the Nats.