Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Mystery of Joel Pineiro
By Zach

With the Mariners' season just about done, it's clearly time to start thinking about the off-season. While it's clear that the team needs to add some depth in the rotation, what isn't clear is who will stay from this year's squad. King Felix will obviously be around, and it's looking more and more likely that Jamie Moyer will be back as well. In the wake of his terrible season and steroid supsension, it's hard to believe that Ryan Franklin will return, and Gl Meche is, as always, a massive question mark. That leaves the most baffling, intriguing member of the M's rotation: Joel Pineiro. As recently as a month ago, I was advocating cutting him loose, and I was far from the minority. His numbers from 2002 and 2003 might as have been a different player.

But since King Felix entered the rotation, Joel seems to have regained his form.

Before All-Star break: 3-4, 1.47 WHIP, 1.40 K/BB, 4.7 K/9, 5.44 ERA, 1.31 HR/9
OPP AVG: .294/.352/.458
Four “Quality Starts” (out of fifteen)

Since King Felix entered the rotation: 1.16 WHIP, 3.1 K/BB, 5 K/9, 3.54 ERA, .64 HR/9, Seven “Quality Starts” (out of eight).

To me, the biggest number is that he's just about cut his walks in half. Pre-All-Star break, he was walking 3/9 IP, now he's walking 1.6/9 IP. You can also see that his K/BB has more than doubled, his WHIP has come way down, and he's cut his HR/9 in half as well.

Of course, the unknown question is whether or not the Joel Pineiro from after August 1, 2005 is the Joel Pineiro who would show up next year. Part of the problem is that there's not really any concrete evidence indicating why he's suddenly started pitching better. Maybe following King Felix in the rotation takes some pressure off. Maybe he's figured out a mechanical flaw, or is healthier, or sold his soul, or whatever. The truth of the matter is that if he finishes the season strong, the Mariners are going to have to think long and hard about bringing him back next year. His arbitration price is probably going to be somewhere around $6 million, which makes the risk that he'll revert to 2004/early 2005 form just about acceptable. If the Mariners can add a quality starter at the top of the rotation through free agency or trade, a back end of Moyer, Pineiro, and whomever doesn't look too bad.


*** EDITED 2:30 PM 9/13/05 ***

So it looks like Dave over at USS Mariner has been reading my mind. His take is a bit different than mine, and probably a bit more in depth. The big issue he raises is that if a guy like Joel isn't striking many guys out, and is giving up very few home runs despite giving up a decent number of fly balls, it probably means he's just going through a stretch of good luck, not improved pitching. There's certainly some validity to that. We all know what pitch-to-contact guys can look like when they're good, and when they're bad. Additionally, considering that he's allowed 3 HR in 3 starts on the road during his good stretch, and only 1 at home in 5 starts means he might also be benefitting from larger parks. On the other hand, the other periferal numbers are still a massive improvement, mainly the lowered walk rate. Dave raises the idea of trying to trade Joel now, since his value might be somewhat decent. I don't really have a problem with that, but I do think that if they don't move him, they probably still have to bring him back in hopes that his current performance is a better indicator of 2006 than the first half of the year.

2 Comments:

Blogger RotoAuthority said...

I dunno man...I'd trade him or even cut him. $6MM is a lot to spend on a question mark starter. Millwood likes one year deals, why not offer him one year for $10MM? Or even more? The marginal salary is not great, but he'slikely to pitch a lot better. I think the Ms will take a shot at Burnett as well.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Millwood is a guy I really like, especially if he can be had with a one-or-two year deal. Here's the thing...the money on Pineiro is already spent. I think he can pitch above Replacement Level, which means he should have a place in the rotation if they can't trade him. The real question is if there's another team out there who's willing to give up some talent for him.

As I said in my post, if Joel is at the bottom of a 2006 M's rotation, I won't complain too much. If he's the 2-3 starter, we're in for another 90+ loss season.

9:18 PM  

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