Years ago, I remember seeing a 60 Minutes episode where the former, shall we say "colorful" owner of the Reds, Marge Schott was being interviewed. At one point (I think it was Ed Bradley who interviewed her) brought up salaries, and Ms. Schott mentioned John Denny, who was signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati club off a pretty good career. The year before Denny was 11-14, 3.84 with the Phils.
Denny managed one mediocre season (11-10, 4.20) season, Denny blew out his arm and never pitched again. Well, the Reds had to keep paying Denny, much to Schott's dismay, and she asked if there was anything she could get for her money. Schott's advisors told her that was not how it was done, and she shook her head at this, looking at Bradley, and saying, "couldn't he at least come an mow my lawn?"
Well, I fear a similar fate for Joel Pineiro, not that I think he will be injured, or relegated to yardwork, but more that he will become again ineffective now that he is away from Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan.
It is true that Pineiro enjoyed major success at a young age, going a combined 30-18, with an ERA in the mid-three's at age 24 in 2002 and '03. Still largely a hard thrower who was able to keep hits allowed under his innings pitched, Pineiro did still struggle with his control (151 walks to 76 walks in 2003, and though his WHIP over those two years was 1.255, it was never below 1.392 in six subsequent years, and that low number was largely due to a split 2007, when Pineiro was dealt to the Cards by the Red Sox). Though his WHIP was 1.27 after the swap and 63 innings that year, it was 1.61 over 34 before.
In other words, ugly.
In 2008 the WHIP went back up to 1.448, though Pineiro did begin throwing more strikes as his strikeout-to-walk totals went to 81:35, although he allowed 180 hits over 148 innings.
Finally, last season Pineiro put it back together, going 15-12 with a ratio of 1.14, holding hits-to-innings pretty steady at 218 hits over 214 innings. But, his whiff-to-walk total is what showed the leap, as he walked just 27 while whiffing 105.
And, he was apparently too expensive for the Cardinals, signing now with the Angels, back in the AL West, for $8 million a year (for a career total of 87-79, 4.39, hardly worth it) over the next two seasons.
Now, I love Mike Scioscia, and have faith he knows what he is doing, especially as a former catcher. But, I don't have any faith that Pineiro will retain the lessons of Duncan.
I see struggles, but at least thanks to that big contract, Pineiro will not be relegated to selling major home appliances at Sears in order to put food on the table.