Friday, February 15, 2013

Should Pineda Pitching Differently?

I don't get it, what's so funny about the longest bone in the arm?

Yesterday we posted an update regarding Michael Pineda's rehab, and a friend of mine (who is not a Yankee fan, and therefore has an outsider's perspective) had an interesting response... particularly to the part where it was mentioned that Pineda's mechanics have not seemed to change since the injury.
Let me get this straight, Pineda had major shoulder surgery on presumably an injury, presumably caused by damage created throwing since he is a pitcher. He has emerged to throw with the same exact delivery as he had pre-surgery and this is a good thing? Shouldn't we be able to logically presume that there is a mechanical flaw in his delivery somewhere that is placing pressure on the shoulder? Otherwise why would he need surgery?
Before sharing my response I wanted to point out that throwing a baseball upwards of 95 mph, or with as much break as MLB pitchers generate, is not healthy for the shoulder. Steve Silverman, a blogger at, points out that "when the shoulder moves, it is the result of four small muscles pushing, pulling and rotating the shoulder. These four muscles are small and they make up the rotator cuff. When placed under stress or used improperly, these muscles can be damaged or torn." I don't recall anybody saying that Pineda's mechanics were in some way improper, or add excess stress to his shoulder, so I'm filing his injury under "it happens". I don't believe Michael's torn labrum is the result of a mechanical flaw in his delivery, as my friend says, so I see no reason to change it.

Here's my actual response to my friend...
Good point. But on the flip side, if his delivery were different, then there's no way at all to know how he'll throw when healthy. At that point we could have a totally different pitcher. Might as well see what he can do the same way and hope the surgery was done in such a way that it prevents further damage.
I feel the same way about my friend sometimes.

Say Pineda changed the way he threw, and due to those changes he couldn't generate as much velocity on his fastball or break on his slider... then who knows the type of pitcher he'd be? My guess is that he wouldn't be an ace-caliber pitcher, and may not be effective at all. I mean, have you ever heard of a pitcher of that high caliber changing his delivery, and still being a pitcher of that high caliber? Might as well take the chance on Michael getting hurt again... right?

It's a heartless way to think, but unlike with CC Sabathia the Yankees won't lose much should Michael Pineda go out there later this season and messes his shoulder up again... maybe this time permanently.

So far the Yankees have paid Pineda $528,475 (it may be lower as I'm not sure if a player on the 60-day DL makes his MLB salary). Let's say he gets the same amount this season, as it's unlikely he gets a raise for being out all of 2012. In his first appearance of the season, and first in pinstripes, Michael blows out his shoulder and is lost again for the season. In the offseason it's learned that his shoulder is beyond repair, and his career is prematurely over with. In that case the Yankees would have spent a little over a million dollars, which is more than an acceptable loss for a team that has spend 2/3 of a billion dollars on payroll in the last three years.

"You ready to talk about me again?"

Some may point out that the Yankees would have lost Jesus Montero for nothing as well. My response to that comment would be simple... that chapter in the Yankees' history is over. I still hear bloggers and other Yankee fans whining about the team dealing away Montero, but he's gone... get over it. At the time of the trade it made sense, as the Yankees lacked young ace-like pitching talent in the minors (at least in the upper level), and didn't have a position for Jesus with the big club. Playing around with "what if" scenarios can be fun, but the bottom line is that at the time of the trade it made sense. Although, if you want to play the "what if" game, then I can point out the fact that young ace-like pitching isn't even reaching free agency anymore, so trading for one of those guys is necessary (see Felix Hernandez, and soon Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw). And with the new CBA teams are willing to spend more, so the Yankees may never get a chance to sign a CC Sabathia again.

Again it's a heartless way to thing about things, but if Pineda is lost because he came back and threw the same way as when he got injured, then the team isn't out a whole lot.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)