Thinking pitching

Michael Pineda, who the Yanks traded Jesus Montero for and who showed up overweight last year, hurt his shoulder, needed surgery, and who missed all of 2012, so far looks ok in spring training, according to reports.

For one thing, Pineda, 6’7″, showed up at camp at 260 lbs.—-20 pounds less than last year. He’s been doing well as far as his workouts go and so far, the staff is happy with his progress.

Shoulder injuries are difficult to judge. The Yanks don’t expect any help from Pineda until at least June. He’s still just 24 years old with just one season of major league ball under his belt. In that season, Pineda was 9-10, 3.74, ERA+ 101 at the age of 22. He made the All-Star team, finished 5th in ROY voting and struck out 173 in 171 IP.

He had two different seasons that year. After games of the 4th of July, he was 8-5, 2.58. He went 2-5, 5.35 from that point to the end of the year. Whether it was batters adjusting, the 22 yr. old running out of gas or a combination of both, it’s not surprising.

But if he can join the Yanks in mid-season and be anything like his early 2011 self, he’d give the Yanks a big jolt. Of course, where they slot him could be problematic, being that the Yanks have CC, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Nova or Phelps at the #5 with the other as a long man in the bullpen.

But things work themselves out. You never know about injuries, and as the saying goes, “You never have enough pitching.”

Speaking of not having enough pitching, guess who threw for Billy Connors and in Connors words, looked good? None other than 2006/2007 ace Chien Ming Wang. Now as for the Yanks actually signing Wang, bringing him back to NY and him actually succeeding, well, I’ll believe that when I see it. From the time he made his MLB debut with the Yanks to the time he got hurt in Houston while scoring a run, Wang was 54-20, 3.79, ERA+ 117 in 95 starts and two relief appearances—in other words, divide by three. You’d have 32 starts a year (the average for a full year) and 18-7, 3.79. He led the majors in wins in 2006 with 19 and was the CYA runner-up. He won 19 again in 2007.

But since the injury, Wang has gone 7-12, 6.39, ERA+ just 65 in 25 starts and 8 relief appearances. Roughly one season of work since the summer of 2008. Last year he was 2-3, 6.68, in five starts and five relief appearances, ERA + 60, for Washington. It’s sad how his career has unfolded since that injury.

But he’ll still be just 33 on Opening Day. He probably can come cheap (which, it seems, the Yanks are looking for these days). The Yanks squeezed out a 12-8, 3.62 from Freddy Garcia for $1.5 MM in 2011. They got just 7-6, 5.20 from Freddy (now trying to latch on with SD) in 2012 for $4 MM. Not as cost-effective. But for the money, Freddy was a good bargain in 2011.

Likewise Bartolo Colon. Colon went 8-10, 4.00, ERA+ 107 for the Yanks in 2011, but his success is questioned since he was nabbed using a PED in 2012 and is also implicated in the Biogenesis stuff going on now. He was 10-9, 3.43 for the A’s before the suspension last year. Regardless, 8-10, 4.00 wasn’t bad for just $900K in 2011.

So the Yanks will watch Wang as he pitches for the Taiwanese team in the World Baseball Classic. Maybe they can get a Colon/Garcia bargain out of him for a year. Maybe. It’s worth a look, and “You never have enough pitching.”

Meanwhile, sometimes I see people down on Phil Hughes. Yes, Hughes ERA isn’t the greatest, but how many teams can boast of a #4 starter who hasn’t turned 27 yet (Hughes will in June) but who can still boast of an 18 win season (2010) and a 16 win season (2012)? Granted Hughes’ ERA’s in those years were pedestrian (4.19 and 4.23, ERA+ numbers of 103 and 99—average) but still, 18 and 16 wins are 18 and 16 wins. He tied Kuroda for the team lead in wins last year (while leading the team in losses). Yes, those 35 HR given up drove you nuts, but think of what I wrote. How many teams would like to have a #4 starter who is just entering his prime, not 27 yet and who already has won 16 or more twice?

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