Michael Pineda Is the Yankees' Missing Piece Needed to Win the World Series

Harold FriendChief Writer IJanuary 14, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 27:  Michael Pineda #36 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field on August 27, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The New York Yankees are now the favorites to win the World Series.

Obtaining Michael Pineda is significant because it means that the Yankees have a solid pitcher to follow CC Sabathia during the season and in the playoffs. Of greater importance is that A.J. Burnett will not have to pitch crucial games.

There is little doubt that the Yankees will make the playoffs. Depending on the American League East standings near the end of the season, Sabathia opens the ALDS, with Pineda and Nova set for the next two games. 

If a fourth starter is needed, Kuroda or Hughes and/or Garcia could be used, depending on which one remains a Yankee.

The Yankees have been criticized for limiting the innings of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. That approach didn’t work out for either pitcher, but Pineda is different.

Pineda must be used judiciously and because the Yankees have enough pitching for the season, they can prevent him from reaching his limit too early. His innings must be carefully monitored in order to keep him fresh for October. He will not be subjected to being “the man” because Sabathia has proven time and time again that he can handle any situation.

Last year, the Yankees didn’t have much trouble winning the division If Bud Selig cannot implement a second wild card for 2012, it won’t make much difference if the Yankees are relegated to being the wild card. With two wild cards, the situation changes because winning the division becomes a necessity.

The point is that the Pindea isn't the difference between making the playoffs or watching them. Pineda is probably the difference between getting to and winning the World Series or not.

Forget about trading Jesus Montero. The great Yankees’ general managers of the past, such as George Weiss and Gabe Paul, based their trades on how the players they obtained would strengthen the current team.

When Paul sent pitchers Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, Steve Kline and Fritz Peterson to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for first baseman Chris Chambliss and pitchers Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw, many “experts” questioned the trade.

The 1976-78 Kansas City Royals and their relief ace, Mark Littell, discovered that Paul knew what he was doing.

It is recognized that George Steinbrenner traded away many young players (Fred McGriff for Dale Murray and Willie McGee for Bob Sykes), but that’s not what happened in the Pineda-Montero trade. Both are young players with great potential.

Russell Martin was more than adequate last year. He might be even better with a season as a Yankee under his belt. He handles pitchers quite effectively.

The Yankees offense, even with Alex Rodriguez battling injuries, Derek Jeter fighting a poor first half of the season and Mark Teixeira’s lack of consistency, averaged 5.35 runs a game in 2011. Only the Boston Red Sox, who scored 5.40 runs a game, were better. We all know what happened to our friends from Boston.

A lot will happen between now and October. The Anaheim Angels and Texas Rangers are stronger than they were in 2011. The Detroit Tigers have been a Yankees nemesis for over 100 years. The Red Sox may not collapse again, but since they are the Red Sox, one never knows, does one?

Pineda is the piece that was missing in 2011.