Inside The Park

Baseball\’s Future in the Emerald City

Joel Pineiro and Adrian Beltre Change My Mind, Sorta

Posted by JasonAChurchill on March 10, 2006

Joel Pineiro LookingFor Comeback Season
Many are liking what they saw out of Joel Pineiro this week as he tossed four innings allowing just one unearned run in the World Baseball Cup and even though I also thought he looked decent, I’m not going to get too excited, and neither should you.

Pineiro, even at his very best right now, is a No. 4 starter with occasional No. 3 ability. He’s not very good, nor should he ever be expected to be a frontline arm ever again. As David Cameron discusses Here at USSMariner, Pineiro is better than Meche in almost every way possible, but all that means that Pineiro is useful and Meche is not, which is among Cameron’s points.

At 27, Pineiro can still improve in some aspects, especially in the area of command and consistency. But he’s not going to re-discover a 95-mph fastball and the stamina and durbaility he displayed a few years ago when he looked like a No. 2 starter at the age of 24.

Think of Pineiro as the M’s version of Houston’s Brandon Backe.

With true TOR’s Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt in front of him, if Backe went six or seven decent innings, his club had a good chance to win, and because of the first three in the rotation, Backe didn’t feel any pressure to go eight scoreless every time out.

Pineiro’s six-plus inning outings are a bonus. It will likely mean that he surrendered somewhere between zero and four runs and threw a reasonable amount of pitches. Those efforts will give the Mariners a chance to win more ballgames than the right-hander’s typical 2005 starts did.

Pineiro’s start versus the Netherlands in game 2 of Puerto Rico’s World Cup schedule was a nice outing. He displayed solid control with his fastball, threw his curveball with confidence and even moved his pitches in and out, seemingly at will.

It was a solid first outing for any spring pitcher against any lineup… but oh, that lineup. The Netherlands have one big league bat in Andruw Jones, former major leaguers in Randall Simon and Eugene Kingsale and a group of AA equivalents – which is basically what he would have faced if he were back in the desert pitching for the M’s right now in the Cactus League.

So treat his WBC outing versus the Netherlands like he just went four innings versus the Milwaukee Brewers “B” squad.

His performance shouldn’t be taken as some sort of sign that he’s back, because he’s not, and never will be.

Like Backe, Pineiro is capable of getting things together to produce quality starts on a regular basis. He’ll appear to be a pretty good pitcher at times, and then turn around and look like Gil Meche. But he’s a capable No. 4 starter who could get the M’s 200 innings. Backe rides the fence of 200 innings, depending on how much he’s needed.

Some out there are saying, “Brandon Backe? He’s terrible, Pineiro is better than that!” If you are one of those, you’re wrong.

Backe’s 2005 FIP was 4.76 while Pineiro’s was 4.50. FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, isn’t perfect, but those numbers suggest that Backe was .26 runs per nine innings worse than Pineiro, when fielding is removed from the equation. This in a hitter’s park versus Pineiro’s performances at the pitcher’s haven that is Safeco Field that surrendered 25% less runs, and homers, as did the Juice Box.

So basically, they are the same pitcher when it comes to runs allowed.

Be happy if Pineiro dips down to the low to mid-4’s in ERA, or perhaps better if he’s lucky. He’s actually useful with an ERA in that area, but unlike Backe, it won’t earn him and his teammates a trip to the World Series.

Why?

Because Jarrod Washburn, Jamie Moyer and Gil Meche do not equal three hall of fame talents that the ‘Stros had leading their staff a year ago.

Best case scenario — Pineiro’s command is back to where it was three years ago and he gives the M’s 200 innings and a low 4 ERA behind his improved K/BB rates and a K/9 rate that could get back into the mid-6’s.

Worst case scenario — Pineiro gets hurt early and because Nageotte and Foppert aren’t ready, the M’s call up Emiliano Fruto to the bullpen and Matt Thornton and Julio Mateo share the fifth spot for half the year. Put Pineiro down for a much better season than 2005, but don’t expect him to earn any more respect than a 4th starter should. That’s what he is, after all.

Beltre’s circumstances are different, to me, in that I actually believe that the adjustment’s he has made could bring a result closer to his 2004 numbers than some believed he was capable. No, he’s not likely to hit 40+ homers or even approach a .334 batting average. But get this…Beltre came to camp at 214 pounds, 12 pounds lighter than a year ago, a sign of hard work, desire and dedication. Good news there. He never made any excuses a year ago and only mentioned his lack of getting the job done. Another good sign.

The best news in Marinerland all spring is that Beltre has his confidence soaring right now. That’s not something you could say at any point thus far in his short M’s career. He struggled last spring, and never got things going during the season.With the Dominican team, he’s batting fifth for the most part, and has crushed three home runs in two games. Something he did just once last season with Seattle. What’s different? Beltre has altered his stance a bit, which is minor, but he’s also changed the action in his wrists and feet, which lead to him staying back on the ball and not lunging his upper body over the top of his lower body – movements that will drain power and induce strikeouts, pop ups and weak grounders.

Last year, Beltre tried desperately to hit the ball to righ field. In two games with DR, he’s driving the ball where it’s being pitched. If it’s middle-in, he’s pulling it. If it’s away, he’s shooting it into right and right-center.If you are looking for something to really get excited about in March, be excited that Adrian Beltre, who won’t be 27 until the first week of April, is dedicated to being a better hitter than he was in 2005 – and the adjustments that he and Jeff Pentland worked on really early in camp are paying off already.

Pencil Beltre in for 30 homers.

After not liking the timing of the WBC and still not watching it with any excitement, the cup may be providing both Pineiro and Beltre with a BETTER place to fix their games. Pineiro will get more innings and Beltre will get more ABs than either would have in Peoria at this stage of spring training.

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14 Responses to “Joel Pineiro and Adrian Beltre Change My Mind, Sorta”

  1. marinerswinws said

    Looks like you have become more optomistic like me.

  2. I still see 83 wins. Not 94 or 96 or whatever.

  3. marinerswinws said

    I see 94 wins and a competitive division this year. The division has improved alot and closed the gaps. Beltre and Pinero are doing well, thats a good sign.

  4. If the division has improved, and I agree it has – three of the four teams have – than how is Seattle going to improve by 25 wins?

  5. marinerswinws said

    I think major improvemnts by Beltre and Reed on offense and a full season from Lopez and Bentacourt will boost the offense. The addition of Kenji Johjima by itsef adds at least 10 games. His leadership skills along with his defense helps alot, not to mention his offense which will be alot better than last years catchers. With the addition of Raul Chavez
    Pinero and Meche could at least somewhat come back to form. Washburn will eat innings and win some games at Safeco so thats why i think we will win 94. Oh and not to mention our bullpen looks better than last year.

  6. You think Kenji Johjima will add 10 WINS?

    Beltre may go 285-30HR, but he isn’t going to do much more than. Reed could go .290/.360 and his lack of power means he makes a limited impact in runs scored.

    If Beltre and Reed both do the above, that might be adding 3-4 wins total.

    Betancourt and Lopez all year will help, but not astronomically. A few wins gain there if you add defense AND offense. That’s six wins better.

    Johjima is not worth 10 MORE wins than last year’s group, but let’s assume that he is worth 7 over the ’05 crop. That’s 13 wins better than 2005.

    Meche has absolutely no shot to be good. He might improve by .25 of a run, but in 185 innings that’s only worth 3 more wins than a year ago, maximum.

    Pineiro can’t help but be better, but I don’t believe he’s worth 10 extra wins over 2005. Maybe four more than a year ago, maximum. That’s 20 wins better overall than 2005.

    Felix may add 10 wins max – if he goes 190 innings in 28-29 starts. That’s 30 wins better (99 wins).

    I completely disagree that the beullpen is better. Soriano back will help some If he’s healthy and back to form. 7.1 innings in September tells me very little. I’m not convinced.

    I like Sherrill, but can he be BETTER than what Villone was pre-trade last year? No way. That’s a net loss of a game or so. Down to 98 wins.

    Washburn over Franklin, if you use the best statistics available, is worth about 4.5 more wins than what Franklin was a year ago. We’ll go high, since we’re using the maxes here – that’s 103 wins.

    Eddie will NOT be better than he was in 2005. That shoulder could pop at anytime which means Soriano or Putz, both VERY unproven in the closer’s role, takes over a critical inning. If Eddie stays healthy – and is still with the club after the deadlines, He’s worth at least two wins less. No way does he dupe 2005’s performance. That’s 101 wins.

    Putz is probably worth the same, but no way does Mateo repeat 2005. He’s worth at very best one win less than ’05. Doesnt mean he’ll suck, but he just won’t be quite as good. That’s 100 wins.

    Moyer is declining and while he’s useful, he certainly isn’t headed in the right direction. Since ’03, Moyer’s ERA has gone from 3.27 to 4.28, his K/9 has gone from 5.40 to 4.59 and though his 1.96 K/BB has stayed the same, his BAA has gone up from .246 to 283 and his SLGA has gone from .367 to .441.

    He’s probably set to drop a few wins of value at best. Could be worse, but we’re going best case, so 2 it is. That’s 98 wins.

    Sexson is highly unlikely to duplicate last season, but I don’t see a big drop, either. One win down. That’s 97.

    Thornton can’t be worse, I actually think he might be worth a win more than 2005. That’s 98.

    Raul Ibanez would normally be worth about the same as he was a year ago, but at age 33 and with the time he’s going to spend in the outfield, I’ll bet the farm he has trouble staying in the lineup and staying healthy enough to maximize his value. The combo of Raul-Everett are worth at least three wins less than the combo of Raul (at DH) and Winn/Snelling, etc, in left.

    That’s 95.

    Ichiro. Hmmmm…. Since we’re going best-case, let’s go with my projection, which is optimistic at .332avg-11HR-37SB-.380OBP… he’s worth another two wins overall.

    That’s 97.

    The bench should be worth an extra win over last season with the addition of Lawton.

    That’s 98.

    Now… Last season the Mariners were a pretty darned healthy team. None of the big guns got hurt for long periods of time. Only Raul and Reed missed more than a game or two with injury and they didn’t miss much time.

    Will they be as lucky as 2005 in that area? Probably not. Two wins down due to injury possibilities. Maybe more.

    That’s 96.

    You said 94 wins and with the absolute best case scenarios for the ENTIRE 25-man roster, we’ve come to an estimation of 96.

    Now tell me how you think they’ll be that damned lucky.

    They are a 200-inning, No. 2 SP and a No. 3 hitter away from being a 95-win team.

    But they aren’t going to add that between now and the end of the year.

  7. Wow, and, with my name, I’m accused of being an optimist!

    My realistic expectation is that they’ll win 80-83 games. My best-case, optimistic scenario is that they’ll win 85-87. Ain’t no way this team is winnin’ any more than 90 (barring a WTF? trade that brings in both a TOR starter AND a true MOTO bat). Even if this were 2003 all over again, and we used exactly the same starters all season long (i.e. there’s no major injuries to any of our SP’s), we don’t have the pitching to prevent runs enough for more than that. Our offense, too, is underwhelming, and has waaaaay too many “ifs” to swing the Runs Scored pendulum (of Pythag) far enough to cover up our pitching woes.

    With all of the potential collapses of our pitchers, and the potential aging of our hitters (including Ichiro), I see 60-65 wins as MUCH more of a likelihood than 90-95.

  8. bedir than average said

    Ok, so Jason knows of my project, as do a few others. I’m running a meta or composite projection that includes a few scouting based systems. I am still trying to expand it and include more scouting and there still are two significant saber sources that I would like to include.

    But as of this moment the RS 744 and RA 690 are which gets a Pythag win of 86.5 wins.

    None of that includes significant injuries though bench and playing time are included. There are several injuries that could make the team better, some that would stick the team in neutral and there are a few guys that if injured would make the team much worse.

    Jason and I have also gone over the schedule, and though I think it is very easy, he finds it only a slightly weak schedule, about a +1 win based on true talent.

    I see really 87 wins as the midpoint, but that assumes health.

  9. Jim said

    I was wondering how that was going, Dave.

    And Jason, I love this site. For the information and insight overall, of course, but the clean look is nice, too.

  10. marinerswinws said

    Look at 2001 there was no way anyone would think we would win 116. Im not saying its like that again its just with all things going right and with the Angles and falling we could win 94.

  11. The key is “all things have to go right.”

    What are the chances of that? I’ll tell you.

    The M’s were the first team in almost 100 years to wins that many games.

  12. marinerswinws said

    I didn`t say we could win 116 again. But i do think we have a chance to win 94 and the worst case senario would be like you said 83 wins. This team has improved and will show it starting from April 3rd.

  13. Goose said

    Worst case scenario is 83 wins?

    Maybe for the Yankees.

  14. 2001’s 116 wins were up from the generally “expected” 84-87…

    This year’s generally expected win totals is under 80.

    Biased M’s fans projections don’t count.

    Having “everything” go right is pretty much out of the question and that’s what would have to happen for them to 94 with the current roster.

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