Thursday, April 12, 2012

What Can We Expect From Joel Pineiro?

With Pineiro being cut by the Phillies and now being picked up by the Orioles, now seems as good a time as any to look at his career, and see what, if anything, the Os can expect from the 33 year old. Pineiro has a 4.41 career ERA, which is about as pedestrian as they come (this equates to a career ERA+ of 96), but Pineiro has only ever been close to that ERA for a season twice, his 2004 season with the Mariners where he had a 4.67 ERA (98 ERA+) and in 2007 where he split time between Boston and St. Louis finishing  the season strong in St. Louis to lower his ERA for the season to 4.33 (though his ERA+ was a 105 for the year). Looking at Pineiro’s stat sheet he has been perhaps one of the cruelest jokes in baseball. He has either been fairly dominant (5 years with an ERA below 4.00 and 6 with an ERA+ over 100) or absolutely terrible (5 years with an ERA over 5, and an ERA+ of 83 or less). Pineiro has the ability to be a No. 2 starter on most staffs one year, and the next he could have the fans clamoring for his release as loudly as Yankees fans pushed to get rid of A.J. Burnett.

Pineiro’s opportunity for success lies largely on his ability to keep the ball down in the zone. In his best seasons since leaving the fly ball friendly Safeco Field, he has been able to keep his GB/FB ratio around 1.00 or better. Last season aside, his strikeout and walk ratios have been pretty steady, strikeouts hovering between 12 and 14.4% and walks not straying far from 6.5%, so if he can return to those numbers, he could find himself having one less thing to worry about this year.

The Orioles view Pineiro as a long reliever, likely with the first crack at the rotation if someone goes down with an injury, and that might work out for them as an affordable 1 year contract. There’s really nothing to lose for the Orioles who are penciled in to take last place in the AL East this year. There is however, a bunch to gain for Mr. Pineiro. I don’t know that I can see this improving Baltimore’s chances to get out of the basement in the AL East, but they may be looking at Pineiro as a clubhouse addition more than an on the field addition, and if he can produce even 0.5 WAR this season, they’ll be happy enough to have had him aboard.

Pineiro does need to return to form after last season, and as a product of Dave Duncan’s tutelage in St, Louis he can find success with his sinker, he can’t afford to give up too many fly balls with Baltimore, Camden Yards is not exactly a spacious park, and he’ll be seeing a very potent stream of AL East teams this year. For Pineiro to be effective this year though, his defense will have to come up in a big way, which so long as fate keeps the ball away from Mark Reynolds at 3rd base, could very well happen.

1 comment:

  1. According to FanGraphs, He has a ZIPS projection of:

    142 IP
    4.75 K/9
    2.09 BB/9
    4.11 FIP
    4.37 ERA

    These projections are usually pretty decent. It all relies on the defense for JP. He's got a good sinker and he needs a strong defense behind him.