Yesterday, Ruben Amaro Jr. told FoxSports the Phillies would like to add reasonably priced rotation depth. Today, they reportedly found their man in right-handed veteran Joel Pineiro.
Beerleaguer: Nifty little signing and another example of how Philadelphia has become a premier destination for aging players positioning for a final shot at a title. Details are limited; Jayson Stark, the first to break the news, says it's a minor league offering. There could be an opt-out included; it's a little surprising Pineiro didn't hold out for a guaranteed deal somewhere. I can't imaging he would be willing to spend an entire season toiling in Triple-A.
Then again, he was a total flop last season and fell out of the Angels starting rotation in August due to ineffectiveness, which may have been triggered by early season shoulder tightness. The 33-year-old right-hander finished 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA (74 ERA+), a career-worst 3.8 K/9 and a fastball that was clocking at 87.1 on average. Lefties banged him around to the tune of a .846 OPS. Strikeouts have never been the groundballer's forte; when he's right, he's putting in "six quality innings" by commanding four pitches (fastball, slider, curve, change-up) and forcing ground outs. His best season came under the watchful eye of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan in 2009 (117 ERA+).
In 12 seasons, the Rio Piedras, PR native is 104-93 with a 4.41 ERA, the exact same career ERA as fellow groundballer Kyle Kendrick.
Flawed and injured also describes Joe Blanton, who pitched about 100 less innings than Pineiro last season and is two years removed from a quality campaign of his own. Blanton can ring up batters and profiles better than Pineiro in the bullpen; that matters only if the Phils seriously audition the final spot in the rotation. Pineiro is not a reliever.
There's nothing like a little healthy competition. I'd still give the edge to Blanton, 31, to secure that final spot in a contract year, but everyone knows a big-league starting rotation is never five deep. Seven or eight hands are typically needed to get through all 162.
I'm not sure there's enough left in Pineiro's arm to sway the Phils away from their Blanton investment this spring, unless Blanton's elbow swings the pendulum the other way.
Other names to ponder: Believe it or not, I Googled 'Joel Pineiro' earlier today after reading the FoxSports report that said the Phils were looking into additional left-handed relief, bargain rotation help and outfield speed. Other names that were Googled, as free agents or trade targets: Will Venable (Padres), Franklin Gutierrez (Mariners), Zach Duke (Free Agent), Juan Pierre (Free Agent). I like Venable's profile, but I think the Padres like him, too. The Pads also have Jesus Guzman, a right-handed outfield and infield corner with pop and versatility; the Pads have some redundancy due to the Carlos Quinten deal.
You know, Amaro has never pulled the trigger on a non-obvious salary dump trade where he sent prospects to a poor-sap club for their star.