12:32 pm Apr. 26, 2012
The New York Yankees received some bad news Wednesday night, learning that Michael Pineda, the team's big off-season pitching acquisition, is lost for the year due to a labrum injury in his shoulder.
The good news is Pineda had yet to pitch in 2012, so the Yankees have no rotation hole to fill at the moment. And though some of the Yankees starters have struggled, particularly at the back end of the rotation, Andy Pettitte is busy rehabbing in Trenton to fill any holes, while long reliever David Phelps is poised to start as well.
Still, the injury will give the Yankees ample cause to regret the four-player trade that brought Pineda to New York back in January.
The Yankees acquired Pineda and pitching prospect Jose Campos from Seattle, giving up catching prospect Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. It was generally looked at as a roughly even swap between Montero and Pineda, with Seattle giving up a higher ceiling in Campos for the more major league ready Noesi.
What is the calculus now?
Well, Pineda is an enormous, long-term question mark. The full-recovery rate from labrum surgery is considerably lower than the rate attached to the more famous Tommy John surgery. Often, a pitcher's velocity is lost forever, as is his command. This is not always true, but for every recovery like that of Chris Carpenter, who went on to a successful career after labrum surgery, there seem to be a bunch of Rich Hardens and Chris Youngs, who never regained their previous skills.
Jesus Montero is off to a slow start for Seattle, with a .685 OPS, though he did have three hits Wednesday night. And Noesi has a 9.49 E.R.A. through his first three starts. Presumably, both will improve, particularly Montero, who should have a productive offensive career, the only question being whether he will do so at catcher, making him immeasurably valuable, or at designated hitter, making him merely a plus bat. Noesi, it is safe to say, wouldn't be anywhere near the top five Yankee starting pitchers, even with Pineda out.
The silver lining in the Yankees' big trade could turn out to be Campos, which, all things considered, isn't the worst thing. He was dominant in low-A ball last year at 18 years of age, and has started his age-19 season in similar fashion, with a 1.23 E.R.A. over 22 innings, with just five walks and 23 strikeouts.
He still has several levels to clear, and, like all pitchers, he needs to stay healthy. But at the moment, the likeliest good scenario for the Yankees is that their deal will come to be known as the Jose Campos Trade, and the Michael Pineda injury will turn out to have been a small bump in the road.