January 18 – Happy Birthday Michael Pineda
UPDATE 2015: Year three of the Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero trade was perhaps the most bizarre. Why? Because as the Yankees prepare for their 2015 spring training camp, they can now claim they are getting the better results from the three-year-old transaction despite the fact that during the 2014 season:
– In an April start against the Red Sox, in one of the strangest episodes I’ve ever seen on a baseball diamond, Pineda was caught pitching with a dollop of pine tar on his neck, one start after he was caught on camera, doctoring the baseball with pine tar, resulting in a ten-game suspension for the hurler.
– While trying to stay in shape during his suspension, Pineda injured his shoulder pitching a simulated game causing yet another stay on the DL that lasted until early August.
– Jose Campos, the highly regarded pitching prospect who came to New York with Pineda in the Montero deal, was released by the Yankees after a third straight injury plagued season in the minors.
Still, the Yanks can claim they are getting the better of the deal because in the 13 starts Pineda did make for New York in 2014, he showed distinct moments of the same brilliance on the mound he exhibited during his first half season with the Mariners, when he made the 2011 AL All Star team. Though his record was just 5-5, his 2014 ERA was just 1.89, giving Yankee fans a glimpse of just how good this big lug could be if he remains both injury and pine tar free for a full year.
Meanwhile, Jesus Montero made it even easier for Pineda to come out on top in their head-to-head comparison in 2014. The one-time catching prospect reported to Seattle’s spring training grossly overweight and failed to even make the parent club’s roster. A Mariner scout, angry at Montero’s refusal to work hard and hustle during a minor league game, sent the former Yankee an ice cream sandwich as a sarcastic signal of his displeasure. The effort backfired badly, when an irate Montero attempted to enter the stands and attack the scout.
Pine tar, ice cream sandwiches, injury-after-injury, the soap opera known as the Pineda-Montero trade continues. Tune into episode number 4, this time next year.
UPDATE-2014: Phase 2 is now over and its becoming even harder to believe that the trade that brought Pineda to the Yankees two years ago was considered a blockbuster. None of the players involved spent a majority of the season on their parent club’s active 25-man roster in 2013 and Pineda, once again, didn’t see an inning of regular season action for the Yankees. In fact, he only made 10 starts in the minors last season, finishing with a 2-1 record and a 3.32 ERA. as he continued his rehab from shoulder surgery. Despite his continued inaction, there’s a lot of talk among Yankee brass this offseason that they are expecting Pineda to grab a spot on in the rotation this spring. I hope so but I won’t believe it until I see him standing on the mound in the Bronx with the ball in his hand after the National Anthem ends. So how could the original trade now look better for the Yanks than it does for the Mariners? Not only was Montero sent back to the minors by Seattle early last season because he seemed to completely forget how to hit, he was also named as one of the “Biogenesis Boys” and suspended for 50 games for violating the league’s PED policy.
UPDATE-2013: Phase 1 of the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade aftermath is over and the Mariners have taken the advantage. The two players they got in the deal, Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi at least both played for the Mariners last year, albeit not as well as Seattle hoped either would. Noesi had eighteen starts for his new team, going 2-12 with an ERA in the five’s and getting demoted to Tacoma for most of the second half of the season. Montero averaged .260 for Seattle in his official rookie season, with 15 home runs, 62 RBIs and an .OPS of just .685. Seattle’s Safeco Field has proven to be a tough park for home run hitters and the Mariners have decided to move the fences in for the 2013 season. I have no doubt Montero’s power production would have been significantly better if he spent his full rookie campaign in the comfortable confines of Yankee Stadium, especially with the way this kid showed Yankee fans he could punch opposite field drives over that short right field wall in the Bronx during his September 2011 debut. The real problem with Montero is that it looks like he may not have the ability to become a decent big league catcher, defensively. The Mariners were not happy with his game management skills or his arm and he spent most of his first regular season in the northwest DH-ing.
Meanwhile, Pineda never made it out of the Yankees’ 2012 spring training camp. First he reported overweight and then he had nothing but trouble trying to get his highly touted fastball to travel even 90 miles per hour. It was almost with relief that the Yankees announced he had a physical problem with his throwing shoulder and sure enough, doctors discovered a torn labrum muscle, which required season-ending surgery. The key concern I now have about Pineda is his maturity level. He turns just 24-years-old today. Has he figured out how to take care of his huge 6 foot 7 inch body and especially that golden right arm or will he just let nature take its course? Unfortunately, a warning signal occurred this past August when police arrested Pineda in the wee hours of the morning for driving recklessly and at high speeds. He was charged with DUI. Where was he at the time? In Tampa, where he was supposed to be working out and rehabbing his shoulder. Meanwhile, not quite a week after Pineda was sidelined, Jose Campos, the well-regarded minor league pitcher the Yanks acquired with Pineda, also went on the DL of his Class A minor league team with an arm injury that pretty much ended his season.
Let’s hope Phase 2 of the Pineda/Montero swap delivers better results for the Yankees. Here’s what I wrote for Pineda’s Birthday post last year:
When President Franklin Roosevelt died, his wife Eleanor met with his just sworn in successor and asked him how he was doing. Harry Truman, referring to the intense pressure he felt at being thrust unexpectedly into the world’s most important job during a time of world war, told the former first lady it was as if the sun and the moon and all the planets and stars had just fallen on him.
I’m hoping Michael Pineda doesn’t feel like old “Give em Hell Harry” did on that fateful day. A few days ago, he was the bright young pitching star of the struggling Seattle Mariners, coming off a very decent rookie season. Then suddenly, he found himself thrust into the number two spot of the New York Yankee starting rotation and the expectations on his right arm increased a thousand fold. If he finishes the 2012 regular season with the same record (9-10) that he put up for Seattle in 2011, he might very well get booed out of Yankee Stadium.
All indications are that this youngster is the real deal. “Nasty” seems to be the adjective used most when players who’ve had to hit against him, describe this native Dominican’s stuff. I can’t help remembering Derek Jeter using the same adjective in an interview a few years ago to describe the stuff of another just-acquired-Yankee pitcher named AJ Burnett.
I got my fingers crossed for Pineda (and the young minor league pitcher named Jose Campos who the Yankees also picked up in the same trade.) I was really pretty pumped about seeing Jesus Montero get a full season of at bats in pinstripes but now that is not going to happen. Instead, I can’t wait to see Pineda get that first start in April.
The only other Yankee I could find who was born on this date was also the last Yankee to wear number 5 before Joe DiMaggio.
Here’s Pineda’s Yankee stats:
|NYY (1 yr)||5||5||.500||1.89||13||13||0||0||0||0||76.1||56||18||16||5||7||59||0||0.825|
|SEA (1 yr)||9||10||.474||3.74||28||28||0||0||0||0||171.0||133||76||71||18||55||173||5||1.099|