The Pineda trade: the trade isn’t a bust–yet
When the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade came to light on January 13, 2012 fans were excited to see the young right hander pitch for the New York Yankees. But starting in Spring Training, there were concerns about Pineda which made fans a little wary if this was a good trade. First of all, Pineda’s velocity wasn’t what it used to be when he was with the Seattle Mariners. In Seattle he would hit 95-97 mph on the radar gun while in Spring Training with the Yankees, his fastball would top at 90-93 mph. When Pineda was placed on the 15 day disabled list with shoulder tendonitis, it seemed that the Yankees had found the problem to Pineda’s low velocity. But fast-forward to late April, last week in fact, when Michael Pineda was shutdown after feeling soreness in his right shoulder. He made a trip to New York to get an MRI and soon his agent requested a second opinion to see Dr. Altchek, the Mets team doctor.
In the end it was revealed that Michael Pineda had an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder that would require season ending arthroscopic surgery. After it was revealed that Pineda needed surgery, fans took to Twitter and Facebook and wrote how the Mariners got the better part of the trade which was a young 21 year old that was the #1 prospect in the Yankees farm system. I don’t think the Pineda trade was a bust–just yet. There are certain factors that come into play that make it almost impossible to assess the Michael Pineda trade at this point.
1. It’s too early to tell: As we all know, the trade happened in January. We can’t determine that it was a good or bad trade in 4 months; it’s not possible. The Yankees viewed Michael Pineda as a plan for more of the future, kind of like how they signed David Aardsma more for 2013 than for 2012. Michael Pineda is under team control for the next 5 seasons, so we might want to hold off on jumping to conclusions saying that the trade was ” the worst trade Brian Cashman ever made.”
2. Age: We aren’t talking about guys that are in their 30′s and their baseball careers are almost over. We are talking about Michael Pineda who is 23 and Jesus Montero who is 21; both just beginning their Major League careers. They are both young so they have a while to prove themselves. It’s not like their Major League careers end tomorrow.
3. Pineda might come back strong: I know that arthroscopic surgery isn’t the best bet for a pitcher and it’s also a risk, but Michael Pineda might come back and be a better pitcher that he was before. A lot of pitchers have had surgery and they have never been the same, but there are some pitchers (2 that come to my mind) that have had arthroscopic surgery and have succeeded in their Major League careers: Chris Carpenter & Curt Schilling. Carpenter had surgery in 2002 and won the Cy Young award in 2005. Curt Schilling had a slight labral tear in 1995 and returned posting the best numbers of his career (especially with the Red Sox from 2004-2008). The odds seem to be against Pineda in this category, since many pitchers that were successful in the beginning had labrum surgery, which hurt the rest of their careers. Examples: Jason Schmidt (he spent a lot of time on the DL after the surgery) & Erik Bedard (he had multiple set-backs while rehabbing his shoulder but he’s now a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates). But Curt Schilling himself believes that Michael Pineda will make a big bounce back when he returns next season. Let’s hope Schilling is right.
Who knows where the trade will be in 5 years or so. Maybe Michael Pineda might be the best thing that the New York Yankees ever had while Jesus Montero struggles mightily for the Seattle Mariners. Or maybe it’s Jesus Montero that goes onto play in All-Star games while Michael Pineda is struggling in the Yankees rotation, or he might be with another team. We can’t judge the trade right now because of all that’s happened so far. It’s only been 4 months. Once Montero & Pineda finish their tenures with the Yankees & Mariners then we can decide if the trade was worth it. But for now, all we can do is sit and wait.