Maybe it's just me, but I feel like there aren't a whole lot of times when Larry Rothschild is speaking in great detail about his pitching staff. So when he does, I tend to pay a little more attention to it than I normally would. Yesterday, Chad Jennings of LoHud posted some highlight quotes from an interview Rothschild did on Sirius talking about his pitchers, and his comments on Michael Pineda were troubling:
"With shoulders, really, I think you take him off the radar screen, bring him back as the injury allows. But I don’t think we can count on him for next year at all. And hopefully he comes back and it’s a great addition, but if you count on him and think he’s going to be back by a certain point, you have a pretty high percentage of being disappointed with that. So I think you’re better off just approaching it that he’s not going to be back next year."
Recently, we were told Pineda was looking at a June 2013 return, something that would limit his innings and basically be more about preparation for 2014 than anything but would still get him back on the mound pitching in games. But if there is weight to what Rothschild is saying, and 2013 is going to be another completely lost season for Pineda, that trade officially becomes a complete loss for the Yankees.
Not even bringing the numbers into it, what that would leave the Yankees with is just 3 guaranteed years of control over a player who has not played a single game in 2 years in their organization compared to 5 more guaranteed years of control for Jesus Montero and 4 for Hector Noesi, players who have already played 1 full Major League season each since being traded. And while Pineda's remaining years all come into question in terms of how effective and productive he can be coming off of shoulder surgery, Montero and Noesi can be expected to improve and come closer to reaching their potential based solely on the fact that they're healthy and playing. Throw in Jose Campos' elbow problems this season in the Minors as a potential red flag for his future possibilities and the Yankees are looking even worse.
Throw the numbers back into the mix, see that Montero and Noesi combined for -0.9 fWAR this season, and it's easy to feel a little better about the Yankees' situation. But again, those players' ceilings and opportunity to improve upon those numbers are significantly higher than Pineda's right now, simply because they are healthy and on the field. And with Pineda essentially starting from scratch whenever he does get back while Montero and Noesi will be building on previous experience, the chances of him exceeding the combined production of Montero and Noesi over the life of everyone's remaining team control is incredibly low.
Maybe this is just Rothschild tempering expectations for Pineda early, before he even has the chance to get back on the mound and get put under the microscope. But with the uncertain and spotty recovery history of Pineda's type of injury, and his conditioning already coming into question before, there is a possibility that what Rothschild is saying is true. We won't know anything for sure for a while, but if Pineda goes another season in pinstripes without throwing a single meaningful pitch, this trade will be one that could haunt Cash for a long time.
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