Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Posted by el duque at 7:59 AM
The Yankees will trade Michael Pineda. It's just a matter of time.
Regardless of what happens in 2017, Pineda will disappear by next winter. He will become a free agent, and the Yankees - seeing Ivan Nova times ten - won't re-sign him. Even if he were to evolve into Cy Young incarnate, Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner intends to shrink the 2018 payroll below the tax cap, and Pineda would be the last person in the world - after maybe Mariah Carey (she's 46, you know) - to which Hal would give a $100 millon contract.
So the concept of Micheal Pineda provokes two existential Yankee questions:
1) When should we trade him?
2) For what should we trade him?
Number 2 is easy: Whatever the hell we can get.
As for when, let's ponder some timelines:
1. Right now. This minute. Before you even finish this sentence. Cashman presses a BAIL, GODDMAMMIT! button and - poof - Pineda vanishes from our screens, like that Malaysian flight that still haunts Wolf Blitzer. He goes to another city - (hello, Milwaukee!) - starts over anew, pitches a few shutouts, becomes Pitcher of the Month... and then... gets hammered. They stay with him, so much potential, and every now and then, he looks good, and they say, "Ah-ha! He has reached that magical zenith!" And then... he gets hammered. But we don't care. (As long as we didn't get Chris Colabello and/or Melvin Upton.)
2. On July 31, when all but four teams are chasing the Wild Card away game berths, because that's how the game is now sold. So, we're hovering around .500 - good enough - and we face two sub-scenarios.
2a) Pineda has pitched the way he always pitches- well enough to tantalize - except by now, he's driving us fucking crazy. So, we do the usual: We send him to Pittsburgh for some low-level minor leaguers, and when he pitches well, the Yankees shrug and just say the National League must be weaker (even though last year, we went 8-12 against NL teams.)
2b) Pineda has evolved! He's become a top starter, but now we only have him for three more measly months, when we will lose him for a draft pick. So we trade him and make a killing, as with Aroldis and Andy, right?
Well, I ask you: Would we have the guts?
If Pineda magically became a solid starter, the Yankees would certainly be in a good position to win the Wild Card - maybe even the Division - by August 1. Would they throw in the towel on 2017 and trade a top pitcher? Get real. They would never do it.
Listen: In a perfect world, Pineda pitches well, and we deal his sorry ass on July 31 for another Clint Frazier and a Justus Sheffield. That's how the New England Patriots stay on top of the NFL - they always reload - and this could be how the Yankees do it, too. But is there any reason to believe we would show the discipline to start making those kinds of long term moves?
I don't see it. Do you?
Either way, this is Pineda's last gasp in pinstripes. His accomplishment? He "won" the Jesus Montero trade, which at the time we thought was J-Lo for Madonna, but which turned out to be chlamydia for herpes. In fact, it's not even hard to imagine Jesus having a few good years - a la' Steve Pearce - and actually having the better career. But who cares?
The business of moving the Yankees toward Ring No. 28 is the business of finding somebody who will take Michael Pineda. I know nothing about the offers that Brian Cashman is receiving, and I don't speculate on deals, because that's what I did when I was 13, when imagining trades gave me a stiffy, but none of them ever happened, so I switched to Playboy and was much happier.
The only question we can discuss is timing.
And from where I sit, the best time to trade Michael Pineda is whenever the phone rings, and it's Milwaukee on the line.