Cooper deserves to share the credit

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper inherited a project last spring. His results speak for themselves.

Updated: September 11, 2003, 4:59 PM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Esteban Loaiza has made White Sox general manager Kenny Williams look progressively smarter in five-day increments this season. How many pitchers sign $500,000 contracts in late January, show up at spring training as non-roster invitees and wind up as leading Cy Young Award contenders by September?

Hint: The list is a lot shorter than your average U.S. Cellular Field beer line.

Loaiza, who lost in his bid for victory No. 20 Thursday against Minnesota, deserves most of the credit for finally living up to expectations at age 31. After a history of fast starts and flameout finishes, of throwing 94 mph fastballs when circumstances called for 80 mph changeups, he's finally learned to pitch.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer