Michael Pineda and the Great Yankees Heist
During the offeseason, one the biggest trades to happen in baseball was between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners. The M’s, flush with young pitching, sent rookie phenom Michael Pineda to New York in exchange for Jesus Montero, the most highly touted hitting prospect in their farm system. Montero had been linked to attempted deals in the past couple of seasons for Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, so the Yanks had a high opinion of the young slugger. However, an aging rotation stretched then by injury and an increasingly crowded competition behind the plate made the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman more open to trading him, and they felt they got a good young piece to build up the starting rotation for the future. Turns out, the future’s going to have to wait for a bit.
New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda will miss the entire 2012 season because of a right shoulder anterior labral tear.
Pineda will have surgery May 1, the Yankees announced Wednesday.
So ends Pineda’s sophomore season even before it had a chance to begin. Pineda started the season on the DL after experiencing shoulder pain during spring training that was hurting the young pitcher’s velocity. The team downplayed the shoulder issue, saying it was merely fatigue after throwing a lot of innings last year in Seattle and coming into camp 20 pounds overweight. He was originally diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis, but a second opinion revealed the tear.
When the trade took place, many people thought that the M’s had been swindled. Sure, Montero was regarded as a good and maybe someday great hitter, and yeah, Seattle was in desparate need of anybody who could swing a bat after finishing last in every statistical category in 2011, but Montero for Pineda? It wasn’t any secret that Montero was a defensive liability and would likely never become an every day catcher, and Pineda was supposed to be Felix 2.0. He was the guy Dave Niehaus called “diabolical,” for crying out loud! You’re giving up that for a right handed DH when Safeco is designed to dampen right handed power?? It was crazy!
Or was it? Montero showed up for spring training, ready to go, while Pineda showed up overweight with a sore shoulder. Maybe there was something in that second half letdown for Pineda in 2011 that the M’s saw that they weren’t telling other people. Mariners fans started to smile, thinking that Seattle had finally pulled off a coup of a trade, coming out on top for once, selling high on a lemon while getting a needed piece back. Maybe Jack Zduriencik knew about Pineda’s arm and pulled a fast one by Cashman?
“Impossible!” said Yankee fans, “Couldn’t happen!” The New York faithful said they were happy to be rid of Montero, who after years of being tradeable for nothing less than King Felix or Cliff Lee or some other Cy Young winner, was dead weight for the Bronx bombers, a lazy prima donna who failed to do things “the Yankee Way” and that’s why he was no longer with the team. So Pineda came in overweight with shoulder soreness? No big deal, said Yankees fans, it’s just that he’s out of shape and hasn’t been living the “Yankee way,” but they’ll get it out of him. This trade was all about the long-term, not this season. Cashman wouldn’t get bamboozled in a deal, especially not with the Mariners! As one Yankee fan put it to me, “The Yanks give prostate checks to 20-year olds. That’s how thorough they are. If he made it through that, he’s fine.” I’m pretty surprised they didn’t see any signs of this injury up his butt, then.
So, for at least one brief shiny moment, the Mariners come out on top of the Yankees. Montero is playing every day, doing all right hitting .254 with a pair of home runs, while Pineda is shelved for the year without ever throwing a pitch in pinstripes. The Yankees pitching is thin, and it won’t be getting any relief from their offseason acquisition this year. Andy Pettite will hobble back into the rotation in late May, though, so some help is coming. Plus, they’re still the Yankees, so they’ll end up competing for the AL pennant while the M’s are much more than a single bat away from being relevant in September and will likely lose more than they win again in 2012. But at least for today, the Mariners win.