March 2012

Pineda Pessimist

I don’t want to be that obnoxious person that’s all, “I told you so.”

But I really did tell you so.

I really don’t want to be that fan who feels overly-bitter towards a player so soon, but I really can’t help it. It’s not like I wanted this to happen – I just had a feeling that it would. Am I glad I’m right? Am I right, or am I jumping the gun here? I’m not glad, because I want what is best for my team. And I hope I’m just overreacting.

It’s all just so confusing.

Okay, I admit it: I never really fully accepted the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade (what a surprise!).  I still think my tears and fears were justifiable. Surely, I understand that you have to give if you want to get in trades. But from the beginning, I felt this trade wasn’t equal. Jesus Montero – in very limited Big League action – went above and beyond my expectations. It’s not so much that he hit .328 with 4 HR in 18 games with my Yanks last year. It was the way he hit: raw power to all fields. The ball just jumped off his bat in a way I’ve never seen from any other 21 year old rookies. I can’t get his opposite field line drive home run out of my head.  And obviously, being the most highly-touted prospect in New York meant that the pressure was on. But that wasn’t any kind of excuse for him. Montero still performed. It would have been a lot of fun to see him grow as a ballplayer on the Yankees.

Michael Pineda’s stats from 2011 appear to have been impressive: a 3.74 ERA, a 9-10 record on a stinky team, and a guy in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. Looks pretty good. But after digging deeper into the stats and discovering that his ERA post-All Star break was an A.J. Burnett-reminiscent 5.12, and his ERA away from the pitcher-Heaven SAFECO Field was a mediocre-at-best 4.40, his “good” doesn’t look as “pretty.” What annoyed me about this trade wasn’t that the Yankees traded away Jesus Montero – it’s that they traded away Jesus Montero for a guy who was good for about half a season in SAFECO Field. Obviously, Pineda has great potential. But so does Montero. For the Yankees, I believe Montero had higher potential than Pineda does, simply because he fit the Stadium so well. And power to all fields that he possesses is something beneficial no matter what ballpark you play in. Again, I realize that both players are young and need time to develop, but if they are willing to wait for Pineda to develop, I don’t see why the Yanks weren’t willing to watch Montero grow. They needed pitching (which it’s hard to have enough of), but they do appear to have an abundance of starters as it is right now. And they have the luxury of being able to sign guys via free agency, like they did with Hiroki Kuroda, who are proven pitchers. This trade bothered me because I didn’t think the Yankees got the talent back for Jesus Montero. Pineda too has a lot of potential, but I think that for the Yankees, he won’t be as beneficial as Montero would have been.

But here’s what scares me: now, I don’t think Michael Pineda appears anywhere near as good as Jesus Montero. I thought this trade wasn’t equally balanced before. Now I’m really worried, and I know it is early, but this definitely looks like a problem.

Last night was actually the first time I was able to see Michael Pineda pitch from the beginning of a game (pitiful, I know, but I’ve been so busy between work and school that I’ve barely had time to do anything fun). I haven’t really been following Spring Training too closely, and that really bothers me because I love Spring Training (rookies galore!). I’ve only been able to get the gist of it, and all I knew about Pineda was that he wasn’t doing well. I saw it last night, and it wasn’t pretty.

My brother had told me that Michael Pineda came into camp in not-too-great shape. He was a little fat, and supposedly, Pineda has the potential to get big like CC if he doesn’t control himself. I’m sorry, but there is no excuse for coming into camp out of shape. You’re on the New York Yankees for goodness sake. Show a little respect, or some work ethic. How a young man whose job it is to play baseball can let himself go like that is something I don’t understand. I was so annoyed at Phil Hughes for being a fatty last season, but apparently he learned his lesson. Look at Hughes now – he looks like a different pitcher, just as I was ready to write him off as lazy and stinky for good. I’m proud of him. But Pineda…really? Everyone’s eyes are on you, you’ve got a lot to prove here in New York, and you have the nerve to start out your Yankees career by not being anywhere near physically prepared to pitch? That alone makes me think he’s not Yankees material. First impressions mean a lot. That’s just unacceptable.

CC Sabathia is chubby, but he can still pitch. If Pineda happens to have a larger body type that doesn’t interfere with his performance, then that’s fine. But that’s the problem: he’s not pitching well. At all. Last night, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew Pineda was a guy who was struggling, but what I saw was a guy who could not locate (Martin’s target was never hit), who had no velocity (most fastballs between 88-91mph), and who had horrible body language on the mound. He allowed 6 runs in 2.2 innings, he threw 70-something pitches, and his ball to strike ratio was awful.

Oh, and now his shoulder hurts.

Really? REALLY? Try being physically ready to start playing baseball. What did you think was going to happen? And his attitude on the mound last night showed me that he’s not mentally ready for this either. Even David Cone made a note of that during the broadcast. Michael Pineda might not even make the starting rotation – that’s how bad he has been. Imagine that: the Yankees traded away their best prospect for a guy that might not even make the team. So much for wanting to win immediately, Yankees – like a Triple-A pitcher is really going to help you out. This is the New York Yankees. If you’re not going to perform, you’re not going to play – end of story. Nothing is guaranteed just because you’re supposed to be a good pitcher – you’ve got to show it. Sure, it’s a competitive, high-pressure atmosphere in Spring Training, especially because the Yankees have the pitching depth. But that is absolutely no excuse to suck. It’s competitive for all the guys who are trying to prove their worth, and some guys have stepped up. I mean what did you expect? You’re going to pitch for the Yankees; it’s not exactly an easy ride. If you can’t handle Spring Training, how do you expect to handle Yankees/Red Sox games, or postseason games where everything is amplified and means so much more?

I can’t believe this. I didn’t think he would be this bad. I finally was able to see Pineda pitch last night, and I thought I would see a little something to get me excited, to get him on my good side. Nope. The complete opposite happened.

Am I being too harsh? Perhaps. It is only March, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not….only March and already having physical, performance, and maturity issues with this kid who was supposed to be so great. My brother jokingly said that the Yankees should try and swap Pineda now while he still has some value. I wonder how long that will be a joke for. I just knew this was going to happen. I really didn’t want it to. I want to win this year. But I didn’t think this move was right, and so far, it’s showing.

Michael Pineda, I know it’s early, but it’s wearing thin already. You’ve got a lot of work to do. I don’t want to hate you, but if you’re going to make me hate you, then I have no choice but to hate you. I know you didn’t mean for this to happen, but it’s up to you to fix it.

Show me you can do it.

 

*Update: MRI showed that Pineda has shoulder tendinitis. He’ll begin the year on the DL. WOW. :(

ANDY PETTITTE IS COMING BACK!

How long has it been since my last post? Really, it’s been THAT LONG? The combination of trying to remain on the Dean’s List, and the fact that I just couldn’t fully get over trading Montero left me with a lack of time and a lack of desire to post. My spring break is winding down now, and I told myself that I wouldn’t put off my biology and political science papers any longer, but this is way too important.

For the first time since the Yankees traded away my baby Jesus, I’m excited again.

And it’s all thanks to a familiar face: Andy Pettitte.

Surely everyone is aware of the news by now: Andy Pettitte is out of retirement, and he’s coming back to the New York Yankees. I don’t care what anyone else thinks – I love this.

I first heard the news when I logged into facebook yesterday afternoon. My brother was beside me on the couch, and I gasped, “Whaa? Huh? Oh my God…dahh oh my GOD…”

He didn’t respond. He probably thought I was looking up pictures of Guns N’ Roses (I usually have a somewhat similar reaction…don’t judge). He made me say it.

“THE YANKEES SIGNED ANDY PETTITTE!”

Doubtful, he responded, “What? Virginia let me see that. You’re probably reading some fake thing.”

We proceeded to go to RiverAveBlues, but of course, Optimum Online failed me. After making the trek to the downstairs computer – and achieving the small victory of having internet access  – RiverAveBlues confirmed that it was indeed true: Andy Pettitte was coming back.

Everyone in my house was elated over this news. Andy Pettitte has been a favorite of ours for as long as he’s been in pinstripes – and that’s a pretty long time. We all knew he could still pitch, and his retirement left us all with an empty feeling inside. He was my favorite Yankee pitcher, and one of the guys who was there since I started watching baseball.  I vividly remember going to a baseball card shop as a young girl and buying just two cards – both really pretty shiny cards of Andy Pettitte. Saying goodbye was extremely difficult, especially because I knew he wasn’t a finished ballplayer. At age 39, many wonder what he can still do, but I know he can still do plenty to benefit my team.

I know a few people who are annoyed by Andy’s coming out of retirement, and I don’t understand that at all. Anyone who knows Andy Pettitte knows that he is a great man: a good Christian, Texan, family man, and teammate. He may not be perfect, but I avidly admire him. Andy, as far as I see it, has never been one of those guys who seeks attention. So when people criticize him for wanting to come back, I’m confused.

Andy Pettitte is not Roger Clemens. The Yankees didn’t “come and get him out of Texas.” Andy asked to come back, because he has the heart and genuine passion for this game. They didn’t pay him $28 million and make a big fuss over his return during a game. A mere $2.5 million is fine for him, although we all know that’s a steal if he pitches the way he did in 2010. Andy Pettitte is not coming back for any other reason than because he has the desire to pitch for the Yankees. Why should he hold back and miss out on something he wants, and something I know he can still do well?  That’s another concern people have about Pettitte – that he won’t pitch well, or that he will disrupt the rotation. There is no doubt in my mind that Andy Pettitte will be successful. In 2010 he was an All-Star with an 11-3 record and a sparkling 3.28 ERA, which was his best since 2005. He did have an elbow issue, but he assured us that his retirement after 2010 was influenced by his heart, not his arm. At age 39, health concerns are not unreasonable. But injuries can happen to anyone in baseball. Pettitte works hard and is smart enough to keep himself in shape. And if he wants to come back this badly, he knows what he’s getting into – the vigorous workouts, exercise, practice – and he’s ready for it.

Pettitte wouldn’t start the season in the Bigs because he needs a full Spring Training of his own. I’m not worried about where he will fit into the rotation. The Yankee rotation may seem all well and good right about now, but a lot can change over the course of the season. Injuries and ineffectiveness must be considered, and that is why you can never have too much pitching. The safety net of knowing you have a crafty, veteran, future-Hall-of-Fame lefty who knows how to win in New York is quite comforting. Who knows when he’ll make his appearance in pinstripes? All I know is that when he does, he’ll be ready, I’ll be ready, and we’ll both be happy.

Another reason I just love this news is because Andy Pettitte is synonymous with championships. He is the best starter in the history of postseason baseball. When the pressure is on, Andy buckles down and gets the job done. If the Yankees make it to the postseason this year, Andy will definitely be a key player in the postseason rotation. I’ll never forget how he won each clinching game in the 2009 playoffs for my boys. I say it’s about time my Yanks get back there. Sure, the teams have been very good since then, but they were just lacking something to push them over the top and make them go all the way.

Andy Pettitte is just what the Yankees need.

And he’s just what I need, too.

It’s March, I’m on spring break, the weather has been giving me a tease of summer, and baseball is back – and oh, does it feel good to be excited for my Yankees again.

Thank you in advance, Andy.

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