Archive for Michael Pineda
Via Bryan Hoch & Erik Boland: Michael Pineda has dropped 20 lbs. during his rehab from shoulder surgery and so far everything feels strong. “I won’t make this mistake anymore,” said the right-hander about showing up to camp overweight. “I’m feeling very excited, I’m feeling good. My shoulder is stronger right now.”
More importantly, the 24-year-old Pineda has started throwing off a full mound — he had his first session earlier this week and is scheduled for another tomorrow — and will begin facing hitters under controlled conditions next month. Controlled conditions means behind a L-screen, live batting practice, simulated game, that kind of stuff. Or at least I think that’s what it means, anyway. Brian Cashman said he is “cautiously optimistic” but still doesn’t anticipate getting Pineda back before June. Still .. progress!
Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa today, and Joe Girardi held his annual start-of-spring press conference this morning. The biggest news concerned (who else?) Alex Rodriguez, who will not join the team in camp and will instead rehab his hip in New York. Other than that, the press conference was pretty standard stuff. Here’s a recap of the session, which was partially streamed on ESPN and covered by the usual suspects: Mark Feinsand, Chad Jennings, Dan Barbarisi, Bryan Hoch, Jack Curry, and others.
On position players and the offense
- If the season started today, Brett Gardner would be in left field and Curtis Granderson would be in center. The team will discuss flipping the two, but Girardi said “right now there’s no plans to do anything.” If they do decide to make the switch, they’ll try it out early in camp first.
- Girardi said one of his biggest concerns in camp is finding a right-handed bat to complement their all-lefty outfield as well as the DH spot. Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz appear to be the two leading candidates for the job and will compete in camp.
- It sounds like Austin Romine is on the outside looking in as far as the catching competition goes, at least right now. “He still has an opportunity here,” said Girardi.
- “Our offense is going to be different, but I believe we’re going to score runs … We’re going to have to find different ways to score runs,” said the skipper when asked how the team would replace the power lost when Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and others signed elsewhere.
- Girardi doesn’t have a set lineup in mind at the moment. I think we all have a general idea of who will bat towards the top of the order, who will bat in the middle, and who will fill out the bottom anyway.
On players coming off injury
- Girardi said there is some concern about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera as they come off ankle and knee surgery, respectively. He expects both to be ready for Opening Day, however. The Cap’n ran for the first time yesterday.
- As for Michael Pineda — who did throw off a full mound today — Girardi said he’s “still in the early stages (of rehab) … we’re happy with the way he’s progressing.” Don’t expect to see the right-hander in a Spring Training game.
- “I don’t worry about where I’m going to be next year,” said Girardi about his contract, which expires after the season. “I’m worried about the next 162 games and getting to the playoffs and getting to the World Series. That’s my concern. That’s what I worry about.”
- Girardi, always the optimist, said “this team could win 95 games and get to the World Series (because) there’s a lot of talent in this room … If we play up to our capabilities, I believe we’re a very good team.” He is right, you know.
Via Erik Boland: Pitching coach Larry Rothschild confirmed Michael Pineda is progressing well during his rehab from shoulder surgery. There’s a chance he will be able to throw off a full mound as soon as next week.
Pineda, 24, has been throwing off a half-mound for a little more than a week now after spending several months on flat ground. Getting back up on a full mound is a big milestone in his rehab, but don’t confuse it for a sign that he is close to returning. Pineda is still weeks away from facing hitters behind an L-screen in batting practice, nevermind pitching in any kind of game situation. Still, I’m sure he and the team will take all the good news they can.
Via Erik Boland: Michael Pineda‘s rehab from shoulder surgery continued today with his latest half-mound session, which lasted roughly 25 pitches. He’s been throwing off a half-mound for about a week following nearly five months’ worth of flat ground work. I imagine it’ll be a while before he gets up on a full mound, but every day Pineda gets through without his arm falling off is a positive.
Via Dan Barbarisi: Brian Cashman confirmed that Michael Pineda will throw off a half-mound tomorrow for the first time since having shoulder surgery in early-May. Pineda, who turned 24 a little more than a week ago, has been throwing off flat ground since at least September. Moving up to a half-mound isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a big step in his rehab from a very serious injury. Good news.
Got some injury updates, courtesy of Chad Jennings…
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) is still throwing off flat ground from “extended distances” according to VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman. He’s been throwing off flat ground for more than a month now is still on target to return sometime in May or June.
- Jose Campos (elbow) is currently throwing off a mound and is expected to ready in time for Spring Training after missing almost the entire 2012 season. “The doctors say he’s healthy. We’re going to proceed based on that recommendation,” said Newman, who confirmed Campos will begin the season back with Low-A Charleston.
- Cesar Cabral (elbow) is basically doing the same thing as Pineda right now, throwing off flat ground from “extended distances.” The Yankees plan to keep the 2011 Rule 5 Draft pick next year, but Newman said he’s unlikely to return until May. Cabral has to spend at least 90 days on the active 25-man roster next season to satisfy the Rule 5 Draft rules.
Newman also confirmed to Jennings that top prospect Mason Williams (shoulder) has resumed swinging a bat in Tampa. He had surgery in August and was recently cleared to begin workouts. Sounds like he’ll be ready to go once camp starts.
All 30 managers meet with the media for 30-ish minutes during the Winter Meetings, and Joe Girardi held his Q&A session late this afternoon. It’s pretty typical of Yankees people to speak a lot of words but not actually say much, and this was no different. I don’t have the audio to share because the quality is awful, but here’s a recap…
- Girardi confirmed what Brian Cashman said yesterday, that A-Rod didn’t say anything about his hip until being pinch-hit for in Game Three of the ALCS. “His hips weren’t firing right. It wasn’t pain but he felt it was not the explosiveness … I was somewhat worried because he’d been through it on his right hip and you’d think he’d know what the feeling was like. It wasn’t firing the way he thought.”
- A-Rod went for an MRI on his right hip after the game, and when it came back clean Girardi kept playing him. He did acknowledge Alex “did look different than he did before he got hurt.” The team doesn’t know exactly when the injury happened.
- On losing A-Rod for the first half of next year: “It’s big. You go into an offseason and you feel you have to address certain areas and all of a sudden you get a little bit of a surprise. It’s a pretty big hole to fill, and it may not necessarily be (filled) with one person.”
- “I’m not sure,” said the skipper when asked about any tension in his relationship with A-Rod. “It probably answers a lot of questions — he wasn’t the Alex we saw before the injury. Now we have a reason, possibly why.”
A year ago, the Yankees somewhat surprisingly won 97 games and a division title despite featuring a patchwork rotation behind CC Sabathia. Rookie Ivan Nova was given a rotation spot and excelled, but behind him you had a struggling/injured Phil Hughes, a junkball specialist in Freddy Garcia, and the definition of a retread in Bartolo Colon. He hadn’t thrown more than 80 innings in a big league season since 2007. Yet the Yankees won and won a lot with that starting staff.
When the offseason came, Brian Cashman & Co. set out to improve that patchwork rotation. They brought Garcia back for depth but otherwise waited the market out. And waited. And waited some more. Then, in one fell swoop, the Yankees swung a four-player trade for Michael Pineda and signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contract. News of the two moves broke within about an hour of each other, and just like that the rotation was fixed. At least in theory. Kuroda was fantastic this season, but things hardly went according to plan for Pineda.
* * *
Pineda, who turned 23 a few days after the trade, was coming off an All-Star season with the Mariners in which he became the first rookie in baseball history (!) to record a 9.0+ K/9 with a sub-3.0 BB/9 while qualifying for the ERA title. His fastball lived in the 94-96 range and his mid-80s slider generated a swing-and-miss nearly 40% of the time (38.5%, to be exact). He needed to work on his changeup and the Yankees knew that, but pitchers that young who can miss bats and limit walks are rare breeds. With the 2014 payroll plan looming and the club in desperate need of a young, high-end arm, Pineda seemed like exactly what the Yankees needed.
With the media circus circling like vultures and waiting for any slip-up, Pineda came to Spring Training overweight. He said it was ten pounds but Brian Cashman said it was 20. For a kid that big (listed at 6-foot-7, 265 lbs.) gaining 10-20 pounds isn’t a huge deal but it wasn’t a good first impression. The club griped about Seattle’s unconventional offseason workout regime — their pitchers don’t start throwing until a few weeks before Spring Training — but that was mostly just frustration being vented. Pineda did his work and set out to lose the weight.
When the Grapefruit League schedule opened a few weeks later and Pineda made his first start, his trademark fastball was in the 88-91 range. First start of Spring Training? Not a huge deal. Next time out he hit 93 on the gun, but in his third start he was back around 90-91. After three starts you’re expecting to see some improvement as the arm strength builds and the cobwebs are shaken off, but it wasn’t happening for Pineda. His fourth and fifth starts featured more of the same, and what was supposed to be his sixth and final start of Spring Training wound up being his final start of 2012.
The Phillies pounded Pineda (six runs in 2.2 innings) on March 30th and after the game the right-hander complained of soreness in the back of his right shoulder. He had felt it before the game but declined to tell anyone. The Yankees sent Pineda for an MRI, which revealed only shoulder tendinitis and no structural damage to his labrum or rotator cuff. He was to be shut down for 10-15 days and placed on the DL. Pineda gradually worked his way back, first playing catch, then playing long-toss, then throwing a bullpen session, then throwing to hitters in an Extended Spring Training. He felt weakness in his shoulder during that ExST game was shutdown after one inning.
The Yankees sent Pineda back to New York for another MRI and two doctor’s examinations — one by the team doctor and one by a doctor of Pineda’s (and his agent’s) choice per league rules. Both exams revealed the same thing: he had an anterior labral tear and would need arthroscopic surgery. It wasn’t the kiss of death SLAP tear (a full labrum tear, all the way around), but the surgery would cause him to miss then entire season and the start of next season as well. Pineda had his surgery on May 1st.
The Yankees moved on without Pineda and were fine, they won 95 games and another division title. His rehab progressed slowly down in Tampa and various check-ups came back positive, but on August 20th, less than four months after his surgery, Pineda was arrested for driving under the influence down in Tampa. We haven’t heard anything about his sentencing or punishment, but that could still be pending. That really doesn’t matter though, DUI is an inexcusable crime in my book and it reflects terribly on him.
Reports indicated that Pineda was scheduled to start throwing around September and Cashman recently confirmed that Pineda has in fact been throwing off flat ground. Earlier this week the right-hander was cleared to continue his throwing program following another check-up, so his shoulder rehab appears to be going well. He still has a very long way to go though. Cashman said he doesn’t expect him back until June, so he’s not even halfway through the process yet.
Regardless of what happens going forward, Pineda’s first year in pinstripes was a disaster. Within his first eight months as a Yankee he showed up to camp overweight, hid an arm injury, and was arrested, plus he still has to come back from the shoulder surgery. The Yankees don’t know what they’ll get out of him going forward and there’s a chance he’ll never be the pitcher he was in 2011 again. The injury could sap velocity, command, or both. We won’t know until he gets back on a mound in a game situation. Jesus Montero‘s disappointing year (90 wRC+) might have softened the blow a little bit, but you can’t sugarcoat it. This year was pretty much the worst case scenario for Pineda.
Via Buster Olney: Michael Pineda was checked out by a doctor in New York today, then continued his throwing program at Yankee Stadium. Brian Cashman recently confirmed that the right-hander has been throwing off flat ground down in Tampa, and I assume today’s visit was a routine check-up.
Pineda, 23, had his arthroscopic shoulder surgery in New York back in May and has been to the city for a check-up at least one other time since then. Cashman said he doesn’t expect Pineda to return to the big league team until June and even then they aren’t count on him, they’ll treat whatever he gives them this year as a bonus. Either way, the fact that he came through the check-up fine and continued his throwing program is good news.
JW asks: Given that the Yankees truly appear committed to 2014 payroll plan, does the Michael Pineda trade look even worse in hindsight? In other words, it always seems like there are starters who can be had on one-year deals, but as we can see, even guys like Torii Hunter look to be in a position to command multi-year deals. In other words, for payroll management, the Yankees would have been better off with the relatively low-cost hitter under control instead of a pitcher.
I disagree with that, I think the exact opposite it is true. It seems to be much easier to find position players willing to take a one-year contracts than starting pitchers, or at least starting pitchers who can have a real impact. Let’s not go off memory though. With some help from the MLBTR Transaction Tracker, here’s a breakdown of one-year contracts by position over the last three years…
- Catchers: 31
- Corner Infielders: 29
- Middle Infielders: 32
- Outfielders/DHs: 63
- Starters: 50
- Relievers: 69
These are guaranteed contracts only, so no minor league deals. If you click the link and dig through the data, you’ll see that nearly all of the catchers were backups and that the vast majority of the starting pitchers were reclamation projects, guys like Erik Bedard (three one-year deals), Chien-Ming Wang (three), Ben Sheets (two), Bartolo Colon (two), Scott Olsen (two), Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer, so on and so forth. In fact, the best one-year deals given to starters these last three years went to Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. It’s not all that close either. Feel free to look for yourself.
I didn’t like the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade because a) I (foolishly?) held out some hope that Montero could catch for at least two or three years before moving out from behind the plate, and b) I thought the Yankees needed the young bat. That said, it was easy to see why they made the trade. Ivan Nova was the team’s only other established starter aside from CC Sabathia, and he had one full season under his belt. Compared to what other young guys like Trevor Cahill and Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez were fetching in trades, the Yankees actually got a steal. That sounds hilarious in retrospect, but it was true at the time of the trade. Things have just gone horribly wrong since.
The Yankees need to add some offensive pieces at the moment, but their top four prospects are all position players. With Phil Hughes due to become a free agent after next season, Nova and David Phelps represent the team’s only two young and cost-controlled starters at the big league level, and Nova just had a terrible year while Phelps has eleven career starts to his credit. Pineda has been a non-factor at this point and I’ll continue to consider him one going forward until he actually gets on a mound. Outside of Kuroda and Pettitte, there are no starters available on one-year deals who are slam dunks to upgrade the rotation. There are plenty of hitters who could help on one-year pacts, however.