It has been reported throughout the day that former Cardinals’ starter Joel Pineiro has signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
I was happy to see that the Nationals didn’t take a chance on Pineiro, especially at that price. But many pundits seem to think this was a good move by the Angels.
One of my favorite sites, mlbtraderumors.com, said the signing—when compared to the Nationals signing of Jason Marquis—was a steal.
Said Mike Axisa, “Pineiro will apparently receive just $1MM more than Jason Marquis despite having a much better 2009 season. Pineiro pitched like an ace, with a 3.49 ERA in 214 innings for the Cardinals.”
Well, he’s right of course, but he couldn’t be more wrong.
In 2009, Pineiro crafted a record of 15-12, 3.49. In 214 innings, he allowed 9.2 hits and an astonishingly low 1.1 walks per nine innings. Marquis went 15-13, 4.04 in 216 innings, giving up 9.1 hits and 3.3 walks.
True, Pineiro had a lower ERA, and didn’t walk anyone, but he didn’t win any more games than Marquis.
But one season does not a career make.
Pineiro burst onto the baseball scene with Seattle during the Mariners’ magical 116 win season of 2001. Over the next three seasons, he pitched brilliantly, going 36-20, 3.29, allowing 8.1/2.8/6.4 (hits, walks and strikeouts per nine innings).
From 2004 through 2008, however, he was horrible. Pitching for the Mariners, Red Sox and Cardinals, Pineiro struggled to a 35-47, 5.34, 10.5/2.7/5.4 record.
He returned to form last season with the Cardinals.
Prior to 2009, Joel Pineiro played nine seasons, and had true success in just two of them. Five times, he ended the year with an ERA over 5.00. In 2008, he won just seven games with a 5.15 ERA.
After failing to crack the Braves’ Hall-of-Fame rotation in the early 2000s, Jason Marquis was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of the J.D. Drew trade.
Since 2004, Marquis has a record of 80-68, 4.29, 9.3/3.4/5.5. In that time, he’s been an All-Star and has won the Silver Slugger Award. Pitching for the Rockies last season, he had a better ERA at home (3.92) than on the road (4.16).
In other words, wind him up and watch him go.
Take a look at the career numbers for the two pitchers:
Hits/Walks/Strikeouts per Nine Innings
Opponents Batting Average
Opponents On-Base Percentage
Opponents Slugging Percentage
Overall, their career numbers are similar. So it would make sense that both pitchers would garner similar contracts.
Or would it?
Of Pineiro’s three successful seasons in the major leagues, only one happened in the last six seasons. Of Marquis’ six successful major league seasons, all of them happened in the last six seasons.
Jason Marquis earned his $15 million contract with the Nationals based on what he’s accomplished over his last six seasons. Joel Pineiro earned his $16 million contract with the Angels based solely on what he did last year.
Since 2004, Marquis has averaged 204 innings and 13 wins. In that same period, Pineiro averaged eight wins and 150 innings. There is little chance that Marquis, at 30, will have his first truly bad major league season. Pineiro, on the other hand, could just as easily revert to his old form in 2010 as to continuing on in his new-found success.
The Angels are taking a greater chance and paying more for the privilege. By the end of the season, there is little doubt that Jason Marquis will have earned every cent of his contract.
And what of Joel Pineiro? We’ll just have to see how the Angels’ $16 million steal works out.