I can’t help but wonder if the anterior labral tear in Michael Pineda’s right shoulder could have been avoided had he spoken up sooner about the soreness in camp, but what can you do. When you tell the kid he needs to compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training one year after he made the All-Star Team, you can’t be surprised when you find out he’s been hiding an injury. He’s going to do whatever he has to do to keep his job.
People like to assign blame in situations like this, but it really doesn’t help matters any. Blame Brian Cashman, blame the medical staff, blame Pineda, blame the Mariners, blame whoever you want. It won’t make Pineda’s shoulder any healthier. If you think this whole episode is a fireable offense, I won’t disagree with you. I don’t think you can have a trade of this magnitude go sour this quickly without someone being held accountable, I just don’t know who and neither do you.
When you boil it all down, the Yankees made the trade for Pineda because they’ve been completely unable to develop their own starting pitchers in recent years. Joba Chamberlain was the team’s best hope for a homegrown ace in quite some time, but he was forced to jump through some mind-numbingly stupid player development hoops. Phil Hughes hasn’t worked out for a number of reasons and Ian Kennedy was traded away before getting an extended audition. The IPK thing doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Joba and Hughes because at least he brought back an MVP-caliber player in the trade. That Ivan Nova has lasted as long as he has is a minor miracle.
As far as 2012 is concerned, the trade is a disaster. A complete and unmitigated disaster. The Yankees basically forfeited whatever Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi could have given them and instead won’t get anything out of Pineda or Jose Campos, who is in Low-A. I suppose they could always trade Campos for a big leaguer and extract 2012 value that way, but that’s another matter entirely. Given their recent track record of developing young arms, maybe they should trade him before they ruin him too. Okay, now I’m just trollin’.
Anyway, the Yankees made the trade for both short and long-term reasons. They thought Pineda would be a rotation upgrade in the immediate future and an ace-caliber hurler down the line. Pineda came with five years of team control before qualifying for free agency, but now the Yankees are going to get four of those five years in the absolute best case scenario. That means no setbacks, no performance decline, no further injuries, no nothing. One-fifth of their expected return has already been wiped away and they can’t get it back. They’ll be lucky if they only lose that much.
Pitchers are inherently risky, but unfortunately you actually need them to win. Good ones too, and Michael Pineda most certainly was very good last year. You don’t strike out a quarter of the batters you face with a 3.15 K/BB ratio because of good luck or because you play in a big home ballpark. I said that I thought the trade was fair on our podcast right after the deal went down, but I also said I would have rather kept Montero. This whole thing just sucks. I feel bad for Pineda as a person, I really do, but I’m also furious that there’s a really good chance the Yankees will get absolutely nothing out of Montero other than those 69 plate appearances last September. Mistakes are unavoidable in baseball, but not all are forgivable.