It's official, Joel Pineiro is an ex-Cardinal. He's signed a two-year, $16-million contract with the Angels.
Projections at the end of last season called for Pineiro, coming off a 15-win season, to command a five-year, $50 million contract which surely put him out of the Cardinals' reach. But I wonder if GM John Mozeliak would have done things differently had he been able to know he could sign Pineiro for what he got from the Halos.
Would Pineiro at $8 million a year be a safer bet than Brad Penny at $7.5-$9 million for one season?
It's a tough call in my book. I think Penny has more upside. He's a power pitcher who recently won 16 games in back to back seasons. But Pineiro seems to be the more likely pitcher to be consistent. While Penny has had arm troubles the last couple of years that make one wonder if he can so it again, Pineiro has been pretty durable. While last season was a breakout for Pineiro, the reason for his success is simple: He finally embraced the sinker and became one of the best ground ball pitchers in baseball. Now that he has overcome his mental barrier that previously kept him from throwing that pitch, it would seem Pineiro is primed for a good 2010.
I guess it doesn't matter to the Cardinals, though. When they signed Penny, Pineiro was still thought to be looking at a $10-million a year deal for three or four seasons. The Redbirds needed to shore up their staff and they couldn't afford to gamble that Pineiro's price would come back to them...
I just hope Penny's arm holds up. If it does, the Cardinals gamble could pay off in the form of a third pitcher in the rotation who is capable of winning the Cy Young award.