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New York Yankees: Let’s Not Panic About Michael Pineda

With the news yesterday that Michael Pineda is seeking a second opinion – before divulging what the second opinion is about – New York Yankees fans began lamenting “what could have been ” if the team had hung on to top prospect Jesus Montero rather than trading him for Pineda.  The Yankees had originally placed the young pitcher on the DL with “right shoulder tendinitis” and have since changed that to “right rotator cuff tendinitis”.  In either case, the fact that Pineda is seeking a second opinion leads one to believe that the news coming back from his MRI is not good.  Even if it isn’t, it is not time to panic.

Michael Pineda is 23 years-old and has shown an above-average fastball and devastating slider in his short MLB career.  In 2011 he finished 9 – 10 with a 3.74 ERA and was in the top five in Rookie of the Year voting.

The bottom line is that Pineda is a promising young pitcher, and in spite of the fact that he may need to be shut down this season, there is every reason to believe that he has plenty of time to bounce back and still have a very productive career with the New York Yankees.

Jesus Montero was a promising young hitter in the Yankee system.  In his short call-up to the big league club he hit .328 with four HR in 61 at-bats – a very impressive start.  The problem with Montero was that his skills behind the plate are below-average, and catching is one position where the New York Yankees system had plenty of talent.  The future for Jesus Montero within the Yankee organization was one of a designated hitter – not normally a spot you give to such young talent.

I am normally very critical of Brian Cashman.  His recent dealings that have brought players who are well past their prime to the Yankees have left me shaking my head.  The trade of Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners that brought Michael Pineda to the club made complete sense to me, and it still does.

Four years from now the New York Yankees starting rotation isn’t going to include Freddy Garcia or Hiroki Kuroda.  They are in the sunsets of their careers right now.  Instead, it will include a group of pitchers all entering the prime of their careers.  If they manage to keep Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and some combination of Joba Chamberlain, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, or Manny Banuelos, and couple them with work-horse CC Sabathia, the Yankee starting rotation will be the deepest and strongest it has ever been.

Yes, that is some serious speculating, and yes, I am giving you the best case scenario.  My point is that even if, heaven forbid, Michael Pineda has to have surgery on his rotator cuff, he is still young enough to recuperate and be part of future New York Yankees rotations.  Let’s not panic just yet.  Given his youth and strength there is no reason to believe that Michael Pineda won’t give the New York Yankees a good return on their investment, even if it is delayed a year or two.