January 25, 2010

My New Hero: Joel Pineiro

Man. I need to get throwing again.

WANTED

“Mid-30s junkballer. Must be willing to be lit up like a Christmas tree on every fifth day and prove that the PEDs epidemic is past.”

It’s a result of bad pitching. It’s …

LEFTY preferred.”

OK, so I haven’t seen that in the want ads anytime recently. But, I just wish I could turn back the sands of time and roll back to my youth. I would have kept working on locating my low-speed junk that barely registered on the dunk tanks at school carnivals.

In all seriousness, I just shook my head when I saw the dollar amount associated with Joel Pineiro’s reported two-year, $16 million deal with the Angels. I recognize that Pineiro posted a fabulous 2009 season for the Cardinals, winning 15 games with a 3.49 ERA. I get that.

I applaud Pineiro and his agent for brilliantly working the market and securing a big-time deal.

I’m just left confused about how the five-year period from 2004-2008 somehow gets overlooked in the negotiation process. Was the argument simply that Pineiro was still the same pitcher that racked up 30 wins in the 2002 and 2003 seasons? Was the argument that he’d return to the AL West and dominate?

Again, where was the consideration of the five-year period between those high points? He was a disaster in 2008 for the Cardinals. Opponents batted .301 against him and his ERA sat at a bloated 5.15.

 You have the switch away from the NL Central (seven of his 15 wins). You have the return of a DH to the list of challenges. The lineup supporting him in LA is chock-full of questions. And, he’d struggled terribly for five consecutive seasons prior to last year’s rebound campaign. Did I mention that?

 Pineiro is a good control pitcher. He effectively limits walks and routinely posts a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2-1 or better. That’s moderately encouraging.

 Don’t get me wrong. I believe in Mike Butcher. I believe in Mike Scoiscia.

 The Angels needed to fill the void left by John Lackey’s departure for Boston. They found a pitcher who * may * give them some innings, but whose hit rate could get him chased early.

 I look forward to watching the Angels and Pineiro from my southern California home. My Angels fans around the office and in the Twitter-verse are hoping that Pineiro figures it out and repeats his strong 2009 season. His BABIP and inability to punch out hitters to erase those baserunners might limit their cheers.

 In the interim, I’ll continue to promote the marketing brilliance of getting the “Los Angeles” tag on the team name for another year to those fans. That issue should have cooled by now, but it still gets people fired up.

 Pitchers and catchers report in about three weeks.