[Photo Credit: Sam Falk/The New York Times]
I’m looking forward to seeing if Michael Pineda gives the Yanks anything this year. Whadda ya think?
[Photo Via: XM MLB Chat]
Steven Goldman on Michael Pineda’s season-ending injury. I hope the kid is okay when he returns next year. I was looking forward to watching him pitch. The few times I saw him last year was enough to get me excited. This injury is especially tough because the Yanks gave up such a promising young stud like The Jesus to get Pineda.
This is a bummer, man.
[Image via: Faust Arp]
A sore shoulder could be what’s been ailing Michael Pineda. David Waldstein has more in the Times.
Good thing for the Yanks they’ve got plenty of arms to fill out the starting rotation.
[Photo Credit: Ron Antonelli, N.Y. Daily News]
At It’s About the Money, Stupid, Brien Jackson thinks it’s time to stop worrying about Pineda’s velocity.
Meanwhile, at River Ave Blues, Mike Axisa recaps last week’s top Yankeeness.
Michael Pineda pitches tonight. Andy Pettitte will talk with reporters.
[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]
“That’s my baby,” Pineda said. “I threw a very good slider today, but I’m very excited because my changeup was great. I threw a lot of changeups today and felt comfortable. … Last year, I didn’t throw a lot of changeups, so this year, I’m focused a little more on my changeup and making a good pitch all the time. I’m not worried about my fastball. I don’t know how my fastball is right now, but it feels good.”
That’s the progress the Yankees were hoping to see.
“It’s nice to have success when you’re working at something,” Girardi said. “If you’re making a change or you’re trying to learn a new pitch, it’s nice to have success because I think if you don’t, you’re going to get frustrated, and you’re going to question, do I use it or not? But he’s had some success.”
And more, from Russell Martin:
“I think he was like 88-90 in Clearwater, so it’s coming along. I’m not worried about it. I just want to see the guy pitch. He’s a pitcher like anybody else out there. I just wanted to see him execute pitches. His velocity, he has it in him, it’s just a matter of time. As soon as you put on your uniform, you’re in New York and you get the juices flowing, the velocity is going to pick up no matter what.”
…And if you’re looking for more fastball specifics: “(Pineda) was a little inconsistent trying to throw his fastball away to right-handers. It looked like he was pulling off a little bit.” Martin said it’s an easy thing to correct and could be fixed in a single bullpen.
I’m really looking forward to seeing this kid pitch.
[Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin/ New York Daily News]
Yesterday, the baseball analyst Dave Cameron sent out this tweet: “So, apparently, it takes as long to complete an AJ Burnett trade as it takes for AJ Burnett to get through five innings.” Burnett to the Pirates could be close but nothing is imminent. You know the drill.
[Photo Credit: Ron Antonelli/N.Y. Daily News]
The Pineda-Montero deal is official. Chad Jennings has the details.
[Photo Credit: Appleplusskeleton]
When breaking down a player’s value, it’s easy to fixate on his weaknesses. Pineda’s got some question marks, but two of the main criticisms levied against him — that he was a lousy pitcher away from Safeco Field and that he faded badly down the stretch last season — don’t hold water. Dave Cameron broke down both those criticisms, noting that Pineda’s core skills stayed strikingly consistent, and that luck and regression toward the mean played far bigger roles in his fluctuating stats.
Within that post, Cameron explained that despite its enormous reputation as a pitcher-friendly stadium, Safeco doesn’t play as an extreme park in right field, only left-center. That part is true: Safeco dinged homers by lefty hitters at a relatively modest 5 percent rate. Problem is, Yankee Stadium’s ludicrously short porch in right helped inflate homers at that park a massive 43 percent. That’s not to say that no right-handed pitcher can possibly survive in that park. Some chap named Mariano Rivera’s been pretty OK there so far. Like Rivera, Pineda offers a pitch that’s highly effective against left-handed hitters, a slider that at its best bites down and in. It’s just a one-year sample size, but Pineda held lefties to just .237/.296/.357 in 2011. Still, there’s a seed of doubt here. Pineda posted the seventh-lowest ground-ball rate among all qualified starting pitchers last year. You can try to apply a simple park adjustment to a fly-ball pitcher moving from a homer-suppressing stadium to a nightmarish launching pad, but it’s unlikely that Pineda’s move to Yankee Stadium will be that easy to predict. He might see one too many elevated fastballs scrape over the wall, panic, change his approach, and fall apart. Or maybe he’ll become a Yankee in the Paul O’Neill mode, embracing his new digs and playing above his already considerable talent.
• That’s what makes this trade so fascinating. Though it’s not a swap of players at the same position, it still resembles what you’d call a challenge trade. Before this offseason, you’d have to dig deep to find examples of high-impact young players traded for each other; deals tend more often to involve one veteran for a bunch of prospects, or pretty much any other combination that’s not two wildly hyped 22-year-olds changing teams. One of the biggest (and only) ones that immediately jump to mind was 2007′s swap of Delmon Young for Matt Garza — and even that’s cheating, since Jason Bartlett was also a key part of that trade. There’s also Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez, but for whatever reason, this type of trade has suddenly become all the rage. There were other players involved, but Mat Latos for Yonder Alonso fits the profile. So too does Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner. If two teams laying it on the line by trading young, potential impact players is about to become a trend, I’m all for it.
[Photo Credit: Martinico37]
Jorge Posada still hasn’t made his decision official, but it’s become common knowledge that he has decided to retire rather than continue his career as a backup catcher in Tampa Bay, Baltimore, or Philadelphia. While I would never begrudge a player who wanted to prolong his career as much as possible, there is some artistic symmetry in Posada beginning and ending his playing days in the same place.
Posada represents the latest in a long line of great Yankee catchers, a succession that began with Bill Dickey before continuing with Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson. Dickey and Berra are members of the Hall of Fame, Howard and Munson are not, and Posada will become the focal point of what should be an interesting five-year debate over his worthiness for the Hall of Fame.
The comparison of Posada and Munson has long fascinated me. Based strictly on OPS (.848 to .756), one would conclude that Posada was the superior of the two. Posada certainly had more career value, thanks to luck and longevity. But using an eyeball approach–assuming you’re old enough to have seen both players–Munson was the better player, especially when you factor in the areas of fielding and baserunning.
As much as I like Munson, he just didn’t have the career longevity that is needed for a Hall of Fame player. I would also vote “no” on Posada’s entrance into Cooperstown, though I’m open to change my mind. The relatively late start to his career, along with his defensive deficiencies and baserunning misadventures, render him just short of my personal Hall of Fame line. But that should not be interpreted as some kind of insult. Any player who is even considered for the Hall of Fame is a player of achievement, a player of longevity, a player who is worthy of praise and appreciation. Posada’s offensive excellence—encompassing his ability to hit with power, draw walks, and do damage from both sides of the plate–made him a modern day version of Ted Simmons.
And let’s not forget that early in his career, Posada was a respectable receiver who generally developed good rapport with his pitchers. For every A.J. Burnett, there have been dozens of pitchers who came to trust and rely on Posada’s enthusiasm, passion, and leadership abilities. By all accounts, Posada has been a good and well-liked teammate who has blended well with the vast array of personalities the Yankees have had over the last 15 years.
Posada’s career path is rather remarkable given its origins. It’s worth noting that he was not a highly touted player when first signed by the Yankees. He was a 24th round selection in 1990. He started his professional career as a second baseman with the Oneonta Yankees, a short-season Class-A franchise in the NY-Penn League, before someone in the organization had the foresight to convert him to catcher. When the Yankees first brought him to the major leagues, they often used him as a pinch-runner. It’s almost as if the Posada of the 1990s was someone else, some alien life form who possessed the powers of self-transformation. I guess his makeover is proof that players are adaptable, than they can evolve, and that a longshot can become a success in the game of major league baseball.
Farewell, Jorge. Next stop, Old-Timers Day. I think you’ll be pretty popular that day.
I think I’ve been as big a booster of Jesus Montero as anyone who writes for The Banter, so you might expect that I’d be unhappy with the trade that sent him and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. Granted, I’m a little disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to see Montero play every day in pinstripes, primarily because I think he is going to be a star hitter, the kind of player who will hit .300, slug .500, and carry a team’s offense for days at a time.
As much as I like Montero, I love the trade. Scouts praise Pineda the way I rave about Montero. At six-feet, seven inches and 260 pounds, he’s been described as a “monster,” even as a “leviathan,” which may be the first time I’ve heard that word used to refer to a ballplayer. (He looks like a bigger version of Lee Smith, if such a thing is possible.) With his 95 to 98 mile-an-hour fastball and bone snapping slider, Pineda makes mitts pops and heads turn.
If Pineda duplicates the way he pitched for the Mariners, particularly over the first half of the season, the Yankees have a perfectly formidable No. 2 starter. If he adds a third pitch to his repertoire and pitches to a reachable higher level, he becomes a full-fledged No. 1 starter, someone who can eventually wrestle with CC Sabathia for the mythical top spot of the Yankee rotation.
As a bonus, the trade with the Mariners also netted Campos, whom some scouts project to be better than Pineda. With his smooth delivery and live fastball, the 19-year
-old right-hander will start the season at Single-A ball, but could move up to Double-A by midsummer.
While the Yankees often deal prospects for established veterans, they don’t often make trades where they deal young talent for young talent. In fact, I can’t remember Cashman making this sort of transaction in the past. This deal reminds me of the 1978 trade in which the Yankees traded Mike Heath, a highly touted young catcher, to the Rangers for a power-throwing left-hander named Dave Righetti. (The deal also included a longtime veteran in Sparky Lyle, but Heath and the three other prospects going to Texas were really the keys to the trade.) Righetti became a serviceable starter before Yogi Berra made the controversial and still-debated decision to move “Rags” to the bullpen, where he had some level of success but never became a dominant closer.
I think Pineda will turn out to be a better pitcher than Righetti. He’ll need to stay healthy, and have some luck along the way, but I think his chances of success are pretty good. With Pineda and the bonus addition of free agent Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees now have their deepest rotation since the days of Clemens, Pettitte, Mussina and Wells…
As with any trade, the Pineda deal leads to the inevitable question: what is the next move? The subtraction of Montero leaves the Yankees without a DH. Joe Girardi has said he wants to rotate some of his resting veterans into the DH slot, but that’s not a fulltime proposition that can be sustained through 162 games. There will be plenty of days when the Yankees will want–make that, need–a proper DH who can put up some raw numbers. Two free agent candidates appear to be at the top of the list. They are Johnny Damon and Carlos Pena.
I’d be fine with either one on a reasonable one-year contract, but my preference would be Pena. At 33, he’s five years younger than Damon, outslugged him by 44 points in 2011, and has a history of launching long balls at Yankee Stadium. With 28 home runs and 101 walks for the Cubs in 2011, Pena fits the Yankee offensive blueprint to a tee.
Pena can no longer hit for much of an average, and he must be platooned, because he’s become like Oscar Gamble against left-handed pitching. The Yankees have a solution for that in the re-signed Andruw Jones, whose prowess against left-handed pitching has been well documented. A Jones/Pena platoon would be an ideal fit for the seventh position in the Yankee batting order.
On the other hand, Damon still has something to offer. He can hit the long ball (16 home runs) and can still steal a base (19 stolen bases in 2011). He would bring more of a contract presence to the lineup, an ingredient that was sometimes missing in 2011. And we know that Damon would have no trouble fitting into the clubhouse dynamic or dealing with the New York City press.
Damon or Pena, which is your choice?
[Photo Credit: Seattle Mariners Musings]
Bruce Markusen writes “Cooperstown Confidential” for The Hardball Times and can be found from time to time on Facebook.
It is remarkable how news is delivered and digested in the Twitter Era. It comes at us in a flurry–rumors, confirmations, reactions, analysis. There is little time for reflection and an overload of hyperactive reaction.
Last night, the trade of Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Michael Pineda, prompted conflicting feelings for Yankee fans. Many are disappointed to see Montero leave. Here is a player that was nurtured by the organization–even though they dangled him a year-and-a-half ago to Seattle for Cliff Lee–a guy who looked more than promising when he arrived in the Bronx late last year. Montero was hyped, of course, this being New York, but he was also a player that many of us felt would be a pleasure to watch in pinstripes for the next decade. And now that is gone–whoosh.
Montero is being replaced by the another promising player, a young pitcher with a great fastball and an effective silder, but Pineda is not our guy. We’ve got no attachment to him yet. He’s just a face, a stat line. He’s not The Jesus.
The arguments run both ways–hitters aren’t as risky as pitchers, a starting pitcher is more valuable than a DH, a great hitter catcher is even more important than a good starting pitcher–and they are all valid. Yankee fans are experiencing duel emotions but there is room to mourn the loss of Montero and to be eager about the addition of Pineda. The risk involved in trading something as precious as Montero and Pineda makes this all the more unsettling. So we’re anxious, and that’s what makes this exciting and gives us baseball nerds something to keep our engines going in the middle of winter.
Here are reactions around the web from: David Waldstein (The Times); Cliff Corcoran (SI); Paul Swydan (Fangraphs); Steven Goldman (Pinstriped Bible); William J (The Captain’s Blog); can’t forget No Maas, and over at It’s about the Money Stupid, check out this fine collection of links from around the web.
Finally, here’s Dave Cameron with a scouting report on Pineda over at Fangraphs:
Among qualified AL starting pitchers last year, only Brandon Morrow and Justin Verlander posted a higher strikeout rate than Pineda, who whiffed 24.9% of the batters he faced. His K% was better than David Price, CC Sabathia, and yes, even Felix. Pineda’s live fastball and willingness to live up in the strike zone led to a lot of swinging strikes, and that had nothing to do with the park he played in.
Lots of young pitchers can throw hard and rack up strikeouts, however. What sets Pineda apart is his impeccable command at such a young age. 66 percent of the pitches he threw last year were strikes, and his 7.9% BB% was below the league average. It is highly uncommon to see a kid with that kind of live arm arrive in the Major Leagues pounding the zone, but that’s exactly what Pineda did. 94-97 MPH fastballs to get ahead, and then an out-pitch slider or a fastball out of the zone with two strikes to get the K. It was a recipe for success, and Pineda used his command of those two pitches to establish himself as one of the game’s best young starting pitchers.
So, while he’s not perfect (his change-up is lousy and left-handers can still jump on him from time to time), Yankees fans should be thrilled with their new addition. And, given the price that other young arms have been fetching this winter, they should be even more thrilled with the cost.
Pineda is the third quality young arm to get traded this winter, following the trades that shipped Gio Gonzalez to Washington and Mat Latos to Cincinnati. Given that both pitchers come with one fewer year of team control and lack Pineda’s dominating fastball, a strong case could be made that the Yankees new starter is the most valuable asset of the three guys that were moved. However, compared to the other two packages surrendered, the Yankees didn’t really pay much of a premium to get Pineda, and one could even make an argument that they gave up less value overall than what the Reds surrendered to get Latos.
Dag, I leave the Internet for a few hours, and the Yanks spring into action. Word has it that they’ve shipped out The Jesus and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and another young pitcher named Jose Campos. In another move, they will sign Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contract pending a physical.
Didn’t figure the Yanks would stay on the low forever. They move Montero for another promising young talent in Pineda. I’m not expert but seems like a win-win sort of deal. As much as I would have liked to see Montero, I’m thrilled that the Yanks are getting a gifted young starter in Pineda. And I know they’ve coveted Kuroda since last season.
Wonder if they’d go nutzo and make a play for Prince to DH. Doubt it, but hey, let’s have some fun. And what about the starting staff? Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett? What’ll happen? After a quiet winter, put another log on the fire and let’s have at it.
[Photo Credit: Super Ninteno Sega Genesis]