What Went Wrong: Michael Pineda

Youkilis' agent confirms no talks with Yankees about possible return
Yankees rank middle of the pack in Baseball America's near-term farm system rankings

The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with a disastrous pick-up that still has not yet to pay any dividends.


When the season started, I said I would be thrilled if the Yankees got a hundred league average innings out of Michael Pineda in 2013. He had major shoulder surgery last May and was expected back sometime in June, so maybe asking him to throw even that many innings was a bit unrealistic. Labrum tears, even only anterior tears like the one Pineda had, are no joke. They’re career-altering injuries.

Rather than get those 100-ish average innings this summer, the Yankees got absolutely nothing out of Pineda for the second straight season. Literally zero pitches at the big league level. You know what? Forget about pitches. Pineda has not spent even one day on the team’s active roster since being acquired 22 months ago. Not one. The shoulder injury has wiped out his age 23-24 seasons and, more importantly, two years of dirt cheap, pre-arbitration-eligible production.

Unlike last season, Pineda did manage to pitch in official minor league games this summer. He started a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa on June 9th, one year, one month, and eight days after surgery. Pineda allowed one unearned run in 4.1 innings that afternoon and eleven days later he surrendered just two runs (one earned) in four innings in his second and final rehab start with Tampa. The team was off for the All-Star break between the two starts, so he threw a simulated game instead.

Pineda moved up to Double-A Trenton and made two more starts, one good (six scoreless innings) and one not so good (four runs in three innings). He was then bumped up to Triple-A Scranton, where he allowed two runs in five innings in his first outing. On July 7th, with his 30-day rehab window about to expire, the Yankees activated Pineda off the 60-day for the first time since he joined the organization and immediately optioned him to Scranton to continue working his way back from surgery.

In five starts following the optional assignment, Pineda allowed eight runs in 18.2 innings — three of the five starts were scoreless — while striking out 19 and walking four. His comeback trail came to an abrupt end on August 2nd, when he exited a game after only two innings due to shoulder stiffness. Tests revealing no structural problems, just the usual inflammation and the like. Pineda was originally expected to be shut down for 7-10 days but instead his season was over. He didn’t even start throwing off flat ground until three weeks later.

All told, Pineda pitched to a 3.32 ERA (~3.75 FIP) with 41 strikeouts (9.1 K/9 and 23.8 K%) and 14 walks (3.1 BB/9 and 8.1 BB%) in 40.2 innings across ten minor league starts. Only three times did he a) complete five innings of work, or b) throw more than 80 pitches in a start. Velocity reports from the team were good, consistently in the low-90s and touching 94-95, but those came from the team. Gotta take that stuff with a grain of salt. Reports (and box scores) indicate Pineda regularly ran out of gas around the 65-70 pitch mark, which isn’t surprising following shoulder surgery, I suppose.

The only positive to come out of Pineda’s season was that he was activated off the DL and optioned to the minors early enough to both push his free agency and arbitration clocks back a year. That’s it. Brian Cashman said Pineda was healthy when the Yankees shut him down in August — they supposedly decided it was best to let him rest after rehabbing and pitching for over a year leading up to that point. He’s not going to pitch in winter ball or anything like that. The next time Pineda will pick up a ball in a competitive environment is when Spring Training opens in February and he’s given an opportunity to win a rotation spot, according to the GM.

There’s a decent chance Pineda will never be an effective big league pitcher again and, frankly, there’s a chance he will never throw a single meaningful pitch in pinstripes as well. It’s entirely possible. Missing two full years due to shoulder surgery (at a crucial development age, remember) is serious stuff. The Yankees had one chance to shoot the Jesus Montero bullet and they fired a total dud. They’ve gotten zero return from the trade. Absolutely nothing. Wrap your head around that. The trade and Pineda specifically have been complete and total disasters. Maybe it’ll look better in a few years, but right now it’s a catastrophic failure that set the team back … I don’t know how much. But it did.

Youkilis' agent confirms no talks with Yankees about possible return
Yankees rank middle of the pack in Baseball America's near-term farm system rankings
  • Revan

    Anyone going to reference how Jesus is also a busy to defend the trade needs to learn the concept of opportunity cost.

    • Ghost of Joe Dugan

      Anyone going to reference opportunity cost to lampoon the trade needs to learn the concept of hindsight always being 20/20.

      • Algernon Blackwood

        I hear you, but there were lots of people against this trade from the start. So while hindsight proved them correct, it’s not entirely monday morning quarterbacking.

        • qwerty

          The only people against this trade were fans who didn’t want to see Jesus go. Only a select handful had anything negative to say about Pineda, I being one of them.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Not quite. There were plenty on both sides on here at the time of the trade.

            It’s all pretty irrelevant at this point.

  • hogsmog

    Yeah, it was pretty bad. Often I found myself thinking, “Well, it isn’t SO bad- Montero hasn’t been much better, so we sort of broke even.” But what’s important to remember is lost opportunity cost- Montero was widely considered one of the best prospects out there, and it was easy to see his little flash of power at the end of 2011 as a hallmark of things to come. There’s a nonzero chance he could have been part of a package for an immediate contributor, even (*gulp*) Mike Trout…

    And something like that would have completely changed the narrative of “Yankees are unable to develop their players”.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Just shtop it with the Trout stuff. Overall point taken, but the Angels would have turned down Trout for Montero and the Statue of Liberty.

      • Rupert Pumpkin

        Robinson Tilapia – an authority on all things Yankee, lover of many women, and doesn’t live in Mom’s basement.

        Also Cuban – don’t forget that. Very proud to drive an old car. Viva la raza.

        • WhittakerWalt

          Do you have an actual point to make, or are you just here to level personal insults?

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I love many women, Walt. Whether they love me back is another story.

          • And in merrie olde England

            They’re insults?! I’ll take that man’s punishment.

      • qwerty

        Cashman would have offered his prized player, Phil Hughes. That would have gotten the Angel’s attention.

    • D$1184

      Even at his best, no one really thought there was a good chance Montero was going to be an everyday catcher which means he would need to be pushed to 1B/DH. Even with his bat being thought of as highly as it was at the time, that severely diminishes his trade value. Not a lot of teams find themselves in need of a 1B/DH. There’s usually a bat-first player like Montero that they can stick over there (Mike Napoli types). It’s up the middle talented players that are hard to find.

      • Mikhel

        Also remember how many times Pineda had been hurt before he could throw in the majors.

        It was a risk to make a trade for an injury prone pitcher, who had a good first half and an awful second half, with good stats in pitcher’s paradise but not so good stats everywhere else.

        All that was said back then at the time of the trade, not just today. Montero in his first season with the M’s had good home/away splits but later he diminished a lot.

    • the Other Steve S.

      When in the history of baseball has an organization traded their ‘Can’t miss’ prospect for somebody else’s ‘Can’t miss’ prospect that also has no position to play. I’ll wait while you ponder that.

      • Gomer

        I’m actually astonished by the naivete of this group. The Montero/Pinero trade was actually quite simply. It was a bet that a no-talent batter, sans drugs, could produce better than a pitcher without a shoulder.

        I think they were both wrong and the trade was a waste of time.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixiera – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

    Am I in the minority to think the Montero would have been a competent big leaguer for the Yankees and turned out differently than his tenure in Seattle thus far?

    • pat

      I can see it. Much better park for hitters, especially a RHB with a penchant for going opposite field. Wouldn’t have been asked to basically carry the offense and hit cleanup. Lots of vets around to keep him centered. I could see it. Then again he’d have the steroid stuff about 1000x more in his face so who knows.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      No clue. I’d *like* to think that, but it means absolutely nothing.

    • qwerty

      He definitely would have hit more home runs if nothing else.

  • WhittakerWalt

    Cue the whining about Jesus Montero.

  • Robinson Tilapia


  • AC

    Dony give up on Pineda. Yeah we are all waiting to see what we hit in return. Now it’s been 2 years. Let’s see how he responds and is in Spring Training 14′. He may never hit 97-98 on gun but maybe he’s not as bad as your saying it on your post here. Montero isnt a gold gem in Seattle either. Would have been nothing more than a DH in
    pinstripes. Wasn’t he even demoted last year ? If Pineda can be a better consistent version of Nova we will take it. He’s young not 38 and he’s not throwing 88-89 so let’s all come off the ledge a bit it’s not like he’s the 2 nd coming of Pavano or Igawa. Exhale and give him a chance.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      No one’s giving up on him, but he’s now missed two seasons due to shoulder injury and rehab. There’s folks here talking about “opportunity cost,” and it’s hard to disagree with that. They had one chance to fire the Montero bullet, and they fired it on this guy. Maybe he comes back and is an ace next season but, while there are worse scenarios that could have played out, there aren’t many.

      Catastrophic? No, that’s silly as shit. An awful trade for the team? Two years in, oh yeah, and it has little to do with the performance of Montero.

      I hope Pineda comes back strong in 2014 and changes this narrative.

      • qwerty

        Not one pitcher who has a similar shoulder and has come back has been anywhere near as long as Pineda. Take what you will from that. He was done the moment he was diagnosed. I had no reservations for calling it at the time.

        • qwerty

          Jesus my grammar sucks. The first sentence should read,

          Not one pitcher who has had a similar shoulder injury and has come back, took anywhere near as long as Pineda.

          I’d also like to add that those who have taken two years or more to “recover” are all pretty much out of baseball.

          • bpdelia

            Damn dude. With your revision disregard my post. Though those are narrow parameters you set and we don’t know if pinedas schedule is base on his health or the teams long standing Policy of being absurdly conservative with all non meter injury rehabs. If pineda was with another team is possible, likely even, that he throws 100 innings this year including the majors. The Yankees are scared to death that he reinjures himself. I think the potential for further embarrassment is making their decision making re pineda highly questionable.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            My only concern with him is the soreness that occurred at the end of the season. What we’ve read says that some soreness is expected and that stopping him was precautionary, but it’s perfectly understandable to hear “reinjury” and question for a bit.

        • bpdelia

          To be totally accurate anibel Sanchez, Roger Clemens and Curt schilling all had the same injury and came back as good as they were before the injury. Now they represent a tiny fraction and most guys do not cone back as good as before. But there have been success stories. True there are 10 priors for every Clemens but it’s happened.

          • qwerty

            The Mark Priors are the only the ones we know about, what about the guys who get injured in HS, college or the minors that no one knows or cares about? There are countless pitchers like that, and they are all out of baseball. You just named three pitchers. How many pitchers have never come back from labrum surgery since Clemens had it in 84? I don’t even want to guess, Pineda is done.

    • Mikhel

      Hughes is young and throws above 90 mph… and… YIKES!

  • JGYank

    The worst part is even if Pineda makes it to the bigs, he’s going to be on a really restricting innings limit so his value is limited for 2014.

    As for the trade, it could have been worse. We could have taken on a guy with a huge contract that never panned out. At least Pineda costs nearly nothing. Losing Montero was rough at the time but it’s hard to find good young starting pitching that can throw the ball hard so I thought it was a fair trade. Just hasn’t worked out for either side. Yanks couldn’t have predicted this would of happened to Pineda and the Ms probably thought Montero would be a staple in their lineup. Just shows every trade is a risk and has an unpredictable outcome.

    Speaking of trades, isn’t Nunez the reason we don’t have Lee? Not that I want another huge contract but I think the Ms (again) wanted Nunez and the Yanks said no since they had already thrown in Montero and others that I don’t remember (might of been Adams and one more guy). Looking back that probably would have been a steal even with Nunez in it. None of Adams, Montero, or Nunez have produced at all even if they still have time to improve.

    • Bubba

      That and the fact that he didn’t want to be here.

      The Montero/Lee trade would have been a epic disaster. We still have the possibility of getting some value out of Pineda. Having Lee for a few months and then having him walk. That’s a disaster.

      • Chris In Maine

        Not if it brought NY #28

      • mike

        Flags fly forever

      • Mikhel

        Lee changed his mind and avoided NY like the plague when the Rangers acquired him for Smoak and his wife was showered with spits and other stuff, back then that’s when Lee said he changed his mind and would never sign with the Yankees (same with CJ Wilson who asked the Yanks for an outrageous amount of money to increase his value). Fans it was said, cost the Yanks the chance to sign Lee.

    • Ed

      The M’s agreed to a trade with Adams in it, then decided they wanted Nunez instead. The problem wasn’t that they wanted Nunez, it was that they agreed to a trade then wanted to re-start negotiations. Cashman felt that the M’s didn’t actually want to trade with the Yankees and were just using them as leverage to get a better package from someone else.

      • David

        That’s my recollection also, with the addition that the M’s Doctors didn’t like what they saw in Adams ankle injury, thought some people thought that was just an excuse. Considering how long Adams was out, and the Yankees track record with injuries, I suspect the M’s have better medical staff than we do.

    • qwerty

      Wouldn’t it have made much more sense to trade for Mat Latos if they wanted young cost controlled pitching? The whole point in trading prospects is to get a sure thing back, not someone who was practically a prospect himself. Cashman pulls one these stunts every few years and it always comes back to bite him and the fans in the ass.

      Cashman didn’t want to give up Nunez for Dan Haren either. I swear he falls in love with these prospects like he’s another member of RAB.

  • UncleArgyle

    Not to Joba him, but I do wonder if Pineda’s future is in the Pen. If he could still it 94-96 in short bursts with the fastball….combined w that slider…might be the best way to utilize his talents at this point

    • JGYank

      Since he will probably have an innings limit next year, I’d could see him as the long man in the pen just to build his arm up again. But long term, I’d try to keep him as a starter until he proves he isn’t fit for that role. Don’t want to hurt his value any further.

      • mitch

        I doubt they’d subject him to the unpredictability of a long man schedule. I think they probably just build him slowly in AAA and bring him up if/when he’s deserving…then shut him down at a certain point. Hopefully he’s good enough that we get to the point where an innings limit is an interesting discussion.

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      Always plenty of time to move him to the pen. Would like to find out if he can still be a solid starter.

  • ropeadope

    At least the contributions of Stewie, Cervelli, and Romaine buffered the pain of losing Montero. And I do believe (hope) Piñeda will have a long, effective, and prosperous career with the Yankees.

    • Havok9120

      The performance of those three is largely irrelevant. All indications are that Montero wouldn’t be catching. Not that our DH/1B battalion last season was much better, but still. Not like the Yanks can plan for the kind of injuries that opened a spot for Montero.

      • Robinson Tilapia


  • Mike B.

    I’ve read all the comments above and have only one thing to add…Seattle sold us damaged goods. And can you blame them? It’s like we EVER went for damaged goods before, right?


    • Bob Buttons

      Always gonna give you up
      Always gonna let you down
      Always gonna trade you in-jured play-ers.

      Always gonna make you cry
      Always gonna say good bye
      Always gonna turn around and hurt you

      -Old Z to the Yanks.

    • qwerty

      I don’t think they knew he was damaged, but they probably predicted an impending injury based on his bad mechanics, which was why they were desperate to trade him. Who trades someone like Pineda? That’s like the Cards trading Michael Wacha.

      • bpdelia

        Yeah, though who trades Montero? The royals did it got an established high end #2 borderline ace in his prime for two reasonably priced seasons and got lambasted for it. Sometimes we forget how much hype and value Montero had. He was Carlos Santana. A guy who could be a four war dh and maybe catch 80 games for three or 4 years. He had warts but he was a grade a slice of prospect.

        • qwerty

          Montero was still a prospect, whereas Pineda had a years sampling of work behind him. With his stats and his 99mph fastball I can’t imagine any scenario in which a team would trade a young talent like that, and especially not for another prospect. Think about how much more valuable Pineda would have been on the open market if he had two seasons under him. Seattle could have easily kept him and traded him after two seasons for an enormous haul from some team. Instead they were desperate to get rid of him after one season? Why?! They knew something was up. AA from Toronto didn’t take the bait, but Cashman did, and Michael Pineda’s corpse is what we end up with.

  • http://yahoo. bobby sira

    Cuando los yankees cambiaron montero por pineda Yo dije que pineda no lanzaria un bola con el equipo de los yankees. y parece que el tiempo me dara la razon.ojala que no sea de esa manera

    • WhittakerWalt

      Sí, claro.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      No me acuerdo de esta prediccion.

  • Dick M

    Pineda was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the first half of the year. And he was real young. You don’t see pitchers traded like that unless there’s a reason.

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    It wiped out two years of cheap, pre-arbitration production?

    What are you talking about, Mike? They have Pineda for exactly as long as they did this time last year.

    Pineda’s injury doesn’t end careers, as both Roger Clemens and Anibal Sanchez can attest. Get off the ledge, man.

  • qwerty

    I just finished reading the article. You got to be kidding me. Cashman actually said that Pineda will compete for a rotation spot? Is he high?

  • BigHeadKay

    This would be the year for Pineda to show that he can recover from this injury. If we get nothing this year, then we may as well chalk it up to another instance of the Yanks getting BONED on a trade.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Boned? By who? The mariners? There was no winner in this trade. No one boned anyone.

      • qwerty

        Yeah, I’m pretty certain that jesus’s career isn’t over quite just yet, whereas Pineda’s is all but terminal.

  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

    Someone call the wahmbulance.

  • stan

    Montero is a bust & a druggie.

    Pineda and Campos still have huge upside.

    Yankees win trade.

    ’nuff said.