I’ve gone back and forth on the signing of Joel Pineiro. On the one hand, there’s the lousy results as a starter. On the other, there’s the decent stats as a reliever. On the first hand, there’s the $4 million contract, not much less than gambles on more established relievers such as Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel. On the second hand, there’s the fact that he heed be only league average or slightly worse to give the Sox 25-30 saves and keep the team in contention.
In 3.2 innings against the Tigers, Pineiro retired all 11 batters in a row while not allowing a single walk. In doing so he protected just a 1 run lead. He looked like he truly belonged on the mound with a scowl and presence to match that of Mike Timlin. He kept almost all his pitches at knees of the batters while hitting the corners and getting good movement on his breaking pitches. Long story short, I watched many of the other appearances he made out of the pen and found more of the same.
Sample-size concerns abound, of course. Just because a guy looks good at the tail end of a lost season on a lost team when he’s got nothing else to lose doesn’t mean he’ll look great in the ninth for the Red Sox at, say, Yankee Stadium no matter the time of year or look of the standings.
Still, Pineiro has all the earmarks of a scrap-heap acquisition that turns it around and leads the team to victory, a la David Ortiz or Brian Daubach. That would be a terrific story. He’s a likable guy, and easy to root for. It’s easy to picture him succeeding. Hey, it’s spring training! What’s wrong with a little optimism?
(Hat tip: Baseball Musings)