Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
One of the more interesting questions for 2010 is what to make of Joel Pineiro's 2009 season. Was it an aberration? Or a permanent performance level change?
Pineiro will begin his 11th year in the major leagues and his 10th full season when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim open the year on April 5th in Minnesota He had some early success with the Seattle Mariners from 2001-2003 (36-20, ERA at 3.78 or below, WHIP no higher than 1.27), but then went "into the tank" for the next six seasons.
After a half dozen years of mediocrity-at-best performances, we though we knew what to expect from Pineiro and as a fantasy option, that wasn't much. He was 35-47 over that period with an ERA of 4.93 and a WHIP of 1.40.
Then in 2009, the final year of his contract, Pineiro surprised everyone with a solid effort. He posted a 15-12 record over 214 innings with an ERA of 3.49 and a WHIP of 1.14. As a free agent he signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Angels last week.
The question for fantasy owners is which pitcher will show up?
Is he the National League's best ground-ball starting pitcher with an MLB-best 1.60 ground ball/fly ball ratio and a solid 1.1 walks-per-nine-innings pitcher on a salary drive?
Or is he the sub-par starting pitcher of 2004-2008?
How will leaving pitching coach Dave Duncan effect his pitching performance? Since the ground ball is so important to his success, how will his new infield of Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood compare to Cardinals infield?
In Anaheim, Pineiro was signed to take the place of John Lackey. Although he won't be the team's No.1 starter, he'll still have plenty of pressure thrust on him.
At this time, I'm not inclined to believe all the changes for 2010 are good for Pineiro and I'll likely pass on him this year. This could change in spring training if he shows he's the ground-ball pitcher we saw last season, so it's one of the things I'll be looking for during his Cactus League games.
Joel Pineiro Career Statistics