Last night, Joel Pineiro signed a two year deal with the Angels for a reported $16 million. Pineiro was the top starting pitcher on the free agent market, well until Ben Sheets auditioned and threw well on Tuesday.
Yesterday, I opined that Pineiro would probably sign quickly, and that he did. Here is what I said:
Prior to today's audition, Joel Pineiro was considered the best pitcher on the market, and he had interest from the Mets, Dodgers and Angels. Now that Sheets threw so well today, teams in the market for starting pitching will most certainly turn their attention to Sheets and keep Pineiro on the back burner.
This could result in Pineiro lowering his contract demands, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him sign quickly before the market for his services shrinks even more. Once Sheets signs, there will be only a few teams with interest in Pineiro.
In 2009, Pineiro had his best year since 2003, going 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 214 innings pitched. The ability to throw 200+ innings is a commodity in baseball, which was one of the main draws for Pineiro. Well, that and his league leading 60% ground ball ratio (GB%). I am not sure Pineiro will be able to duplicate that as his best GB% prior to last year was in 2007 at 48.6%.
Pineiro doesn't strike out too many batter-4.42%, but he also doesn't walk too many batters either-1.14%, which was his career best. Actually, it was a walk better than his previous career best of 2.12. He did increase his K/BB ratio to a career best of 3.89 as a result. Finally, he benefitted from a very low LOB%, or strand rate, of 66.9%. The league average for LOB% is around 70-72%.
Like I said, I am not sure Pineiro will be able to duplicate his 2009 season, but as long as he doesn't walk people and keeps the ball on the ground, he has a fighting chance.