New York Yankees: 5 Reasons Why Pitcher Michael Pineda Is a Great Addition
Last week, the Seattle Mariners traded their young ace-in-the-making, Michael Pineda, to the New York Yankees for a future-slugging backstop named Jesus Montero. New York also shipped starter Hector Noesi to Seattle in exchange for minor-league righty Jose Campos.
Needless to say, this deal is all about Pineda and Montero.
The Yankees felt uncomfortable with the club's starting pitching, and the Mariners were uneasy about their offensive potential, so the two matched up. The trade addresses weaknesses on both sides while drawing from each organization's respective strength.
From New York's perspective, this move could be a tremendous catalyst in the team's quest for a 28th World Series title. Here are five reasons why Michael Pineda can be more than just fresh blood.
1. He's Already Quite Good
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The last time a Yankee starter besides Sabathia was that effective was 2009, when Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett racked up 3.7 and 3.5 WAR, respectively.
That just happens to be the last time New York won the pennant or the World Series.
It may be a coincidence, but having a pitching staff that doesn't rely so heavily on its ace certainly improves a team's chances in the postseason.
2. He's Proven He Can Pitch in the American League
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The Yankees notoriously acquired several veteran pitchers between their 2000 and 2009 championship years—many of whom were from the National League—and most didn't stick around for long.
Think Randy Johnson, Javy Vazquez (who was traded to New York twice) and Kevin Brown, just to name a few. Only time will tell how the latest product of this strategy will pan out.
Luckily, there's much less uncertainty regarding the quality of Michael Pineda's competition, as he's only pitched in the AL. In fact, Ivan Nova and his new teammate compiled the 21st- and 22nd-best ERAs of all starting pitchers in the Junior Circuit last year.
However, Pineda's peripherals were much stronger, as he struck out more batters per nine (9.11) than anyone in the league, except Brandon Morrow. He also walked fewer men (2.89 to 2.98) than division rival C.J. Wilson, who just got a $77.5 million deal from the Angels which could be worth even more.
We'll see how the AL East adapts to Pineda, but all signs point to him being more than ready.
3. He's Under Team Control for 5 Seasons
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Another trap the Yankees have often fallen into is lengthy free-agent contracts. Michael Pineda won't turn into an albatross for at least five more years, as he's not due for free agency until after the 2016 season.
Even for a big-budget club like New York, cost control is pretty valuable.
One caveat is that he may be eligible for arbitration four times instead of three if he reaches Super-Two status. Before that happens, though, the Yankees could sign him to an extension and avoid it altogether.
Going forward, Brian Cashman and company can rest assured that at least one member of the rotation will be intact, and since Pineda just turned 23 on Wednesday, the Yanks are also getting him for the prime years of his career—his mid-to-late 20s.
For an organization that regularly pushes $200 million in payroll obligations and fills its roster with expensive, has-been veterans, Pineda provides some much-needed flexibility.
4. He's Got Impeccable Tools
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It's not often that 6'7" athletes choose baseball over other sports, but Pineda is one of the few. He's basically got CC Sabathia's body, circa 1998.
Besides the big frame, Pineda also sports a big fastball, clocking in at an average of 94.7 miles per hour—just a few ticks behind David Price and Justin Verlander and ahead of his veteran teammate, Sabathia.
There is concern that his right elbow could act up in the future, as he missed time in 2009 due to soreness. However, 2011 was a resounding success, and the Yankees are well-known for preserving the physical condition of their players following injuries, especially pitchers.
The Yanks could always tweak his motion, but like many big gunslingers, Pineda gains a lot of velocity by leveraging his legs rather than his arm.
All things considered, there's no doubt he's an imposing threat to hitters across the league.
5. He's Still Got Potential
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Unlike the few free-agent starters available this winter and most viable trade candidates, Michael Pineda has a lot of room for growth. At just 23 years old, he's already achieved a great season, and it's hard to imagine him not getting better.
Pineda performed quite well amongst his fellow AL rookies; only Alexi Ogando had more WAR (3.6).
The Texas Ranger had very similar peripherals, with the exception of strikeouts—Ogando was more than two K/9 behind Pineda.
If the Yankee hurler can cut his walks a bit, keep the K's coming and pick up a ground ball here or there, he'll be well on his way towards a contract extension and much more. New York will do its best to keep him healthy.
The future is bright for the pinstriped sophomore, and the stage is even brighter.