Did Brian Cashman set Michael Pineda up to fail?

As for the necessity of a third pitch, well, I won’t say you can definitely get by without one, but I do think we’ve gotten a little bit carried away with the concept since The Trade went down. David Price in 2010 was essentially a two pitch pitcher, throwing his fastball or curveball roughly 90% of the time according to Fangraphs, and last year Clayton Kershaw threw a fastball or a slider a touch over 90% of the time en route to the National League Cy Young Award. Now, both of those pitchers were a touch more varied than Pineda, who used a fastball or a slider in ~94% of his offerings, but he also threw his changeup more often then either Price or Kershaw threw their third offering (that’s because Price and Kershaw both worked fourth pitches in as well), and Fangraphs says Pineda’s changeup was slightly above average in terms of pitch value. And, hey, let’s not forget that Pineda did strike out just over one batter per inning pitched while a strikeout to walk ratio of better than 3:1 last season (and winning a highly esteemed award himself, I might add). That’s not to say that Pineda wouldn’t benefit from refining a third pitch over the long term, but for now his primary offerings are so good he should be more than capable of getting by as the second or third best starter on this Yankees’ roster with them.

My worry now is that Cashman’s repeated comments about Pineda’s changeup have put the young hurler in a bit of a no-win situation with the New York media and created some unrealistic expectations about what sort of improvement with the pitch Pineda is likely to show, or even needs to show for that matter. Pineda certainly doesn’t need to develop a plus changeup as a third offering to be a highly effective pitcher, a serviceable off speed pitch he can confidently throw to left-hand batters will more than suffice. But thanks to Cashman’s rather pointed words, I’m afraid that anything short of making hitters look silly with an offspeed pitch will have the writers “questioning” how well Pineda is really performing.

Maybe in the future, Cashman should avoid unnecessarily dramatic pronouncements about his young players?


Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

9 thoughts on “Did Brian Cashman set Michael Pineda up to fail?

  1. williamjtasker

    Any talk that Pineda has to earn his rotation spot is absurd. They didn't make the trade without putting him out there every fifth day. It really seems that Mr. Cashman's mouth has become more of an issue the last two seasons.

    • BrienJackson

      Also a reminder that attempts to manage the media narrative or play heuristic rhetorical games are a fool's errand. The New York press is going to write the story they want to write no matter what you say.

  2. mikeNicoletti

    Cashman seemed like he was just honestly giving his opinion on the trade and commenting how high he believes Montero's floor was as a prospect, and while I can't really kill him for it, it seems like poor judgment in retrospect. The problem I have is that the big media writers seem to need to create narrative and hyperbole to write anything that either themselves or their editors find interesting. I can't remember the last time the NYDN or the Post has written anything that made me think….

  3. mikeNicoletti

    in Buster Olney's links "3. There is a suggestion in this George King story that Michael Pineda does not have a job locked up in the Yankees' rotation. There is no question that in person, Pineda looks heavy."

  4. mcmastro

    Cashman's comments are on the border for me. I can understand where he is coming from in the sense that he saw Montero rake in person last season in his short time in the bigs, while all he's seen in person from Pineda is a guy who has come in over weight and has only 2 legit pitches. Of course, at the same time, Cashman has to be more supportive of a young guy coming into the New York media. In my opinion, if Cashman wants to talk, he can save it until the season actually begins at least. It's spring training and Pineda pitches today. I hope he strikes out 6 and has a great season, it'd be great to have Nova, Hughes, Pineda and C.C for the next 5 years!

  5. BeanTooth

    Keep in mind that King hasn't really seen Pineda pitch. It's easy to focus on weight or Cashman's comments when that's all there really is to go on. Once Pineda has his first gem as a Yankee, King will be the first to declare him the right handed CC.

    Slightly off-topic, but what's the deal with the obsession with weight around the Yankees? This is baseball, not women's gymnastics.

  6. Hippeaux

    [In Unison] "He's not that fat!" – C. C. Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain, David Wells, Bartolo Colon

    • jay_robertson

      just big boned?

  7. Ben

    Wally Matthews is in on the act as well. I've said it before and I'll say it again: What is the deal with the NY press and young Yankee pitchers and prospects in general? Why is there all of this antagonizing garbage that gets written? It's the media's job to be skeptical, I get that. But the narrative is not skeptical, it is cynical. And yes, Cashman did not say the right thing to the media. But at the same time, this in of itself is the media going out of its way to make the narrative more important than the results on the field. That's clearly what both Matthews and King did at the end of their articles.

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