Meche and Pineiro

Dave · March 10, 2006 at 7:34 am · Filed Under Mariners 

In life, we like to categorize. We lump things together to lessen the amount of thinking we have to do. Generally, we do this by how much we value certain objects. I might lump Chick-Fil-A, Photoshop CS2, and my Mazda Protege5 into the same “things I’m quite fond of” category, even though there’s no relation between terrific fast food chicken, photo editing software, and my fun new(ish) car.

We do this with baseball players too. I have a group of “my guys”, players like Beltre, Reed, and Soriano, guys I’ve said good things about and who I enjoy watching. We all do it. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll find that you’ve categorized most of the players on the Mariners, too.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Almost every Mariner fan, it seems, has put Joel Pineiro and Gil Meche into the same category. They’re both perennial disappointments, guys who frustrate with their inconsistencies and who have failed to live up to a level of potential that we established for them. You’ll often see people talk about how the Mariners are counting on rebound seasons from Meche and Pineiro, almost like they’re one entity. As one goes, apparently, so does the other.

Well, I’d like to try to free Joel Pineiro from the clutches of Gil Meche, as much as I can, anyways. It’s odd that I’m now going to bat for Pineiro’s reputation, considering I’ve never been a big fan and always felt that the hype far outweighed the actual talent. But, at this point, it’s pretty much undeniable; Joel Pineiro is underrated by most Mariner fans, and his guilt-by-association pairing with Gil Meche is simply unfair.

Basically, Gil Meche sucks and Joel Pineiro doesn’t.

Lets just take a look at their 2005 seasons, when Pineiro’s ERA was higher than that of Meche, and see just who pitched better.

Innings: Pineiro-189, Meche-143. Winner, Pineiro.
BB/G: Pineiro-2.6, Meche-4.0. Winner, Pineiro.
K/G: Pineiro-5.0, Meche-5.0. Tie. This is as good as its going to get for Meche, by the way.
G/F: Pineiro-1.38, Meche-0.99. Winner, Pineiro.

Pineiro threw more innings, had vastly better control while maintaining a similar contact rate, and managed to induce way more groundballs. Those are all big advantages for Pineiro, yet somehow, Meche posted the lower ERA, and thus, in the eyes of casual fans everywhere, he gets more credit. How did he do it? Simple.

Joel Pineiro didn’t allow an unearned run all season.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone mention this, but it’s staggering. All 118 runs that crossed the plate against Pineiro were charged to his ERA, but 12 percent of the runs Meche allowed (11 of the 92) were ruled unearned, thus keeping his ERA superficially low. As most of you probably know by now, RA actually predicts pitcher performance better than ERA, and letting Meche off the hook for 12 percent of his runs allowed isn’t a very good way to evaluate his pitching ability.

You know that I love Fielding Independant ERA as a way to determine a pitcher’s real value, and the difference here is clear:

Pineiro-4.50, Meche-5.09.

Pineiro’s not a great pitcher. He’s not even good. But he’s not terrible. He might even be described as occassionally useful. Gil Meche is terrible. They don’t belong in the same category.

The M’s do need Joel Pineiro to pitch well this year. But they need Gil Meche to just go away.


25 Responses to “Meche and Pineiro”

  1. Jerry on March 10th, 2006 7:49 am

    What is Pineiro’s contract status. I had thought that he was a free agent after this season. But I looked at information about his contract and his service time, and it looked like he should have one more year before free agency.

    Is it just his contract that is expiring? Or is he going to go on the market next offseason?

    This obviously has huge implications for what the M’s do with him. If he has a good season, he could be trade bait either way. But if his velocity is up where it should be and he is pitching like he did at the end of last year, he could be a solid #4 or #5 starter.

    It will be interesting to see how Pineiro and Meche do this year. I think that both of these guys are on the hot seat, and if Bazardo, Foppert, Livingston, Nageotte, et al are doing well in Tacoma, we could see one or both get traded, demoted, or cut.

  2. CCW on March 10th, 2006 7:56 am

    Regarding Meche “going away”, he strikes me as the kind of guy who might benefit from a move to the bullpen. Dave, do you agree that’s a reasonable way to get at least a little value from him? It seems pretty clear he’s never going to be even a passable starter – why not at least give him a shot in the pen before cutting bait entirely? Have you heard if the Ms have ever seriously considered this?

  3. Dave on March 10th, 2006 8:04 am

    We’ve talked about converting Meche to a reliever for about 3 years now. I’m fairly certain that he could be a useful relief pitcher, but here’s the thing – so could 24 other guys in the organization. Useful relievers are so easy to find, the M’s cup is overflowing with them, and they won’t have room for them all.

    Move Meche to the pen, and he might be able to give you 50-60 innings of an ERA in the 3.50-4.00 range, and I’m sure his strikeout rate would rise significantly. But I’d argue that you could likely get a similar performance out of Jeff Heaverlo, Sean Green, or Scott Atchison, none of whom are going to get a real look at making this staff out of spring training.

    Meche’s marginal value as a reliever would be counteracted by his ridiculous salary. There’s almost no chance that Gil Meche, Relief Pitcher is worth $4 million.

    It’s an idea I would have explored a few years ago. Not now. The M’s have too many relievers and too few starters as it is.

  4. Dave on March 10th, 2006 8:06 am

    And Pineiro’s contract is up at the end of the season, but he won’t have enough days of service to be eligible for free agency. He’s going to be arbitration eligible, which means that he’s going to pull in $7 million plus in 2007 as long as he stays healthy.

  5. bob montgomery on March 10th, 2006 8:13 am

    I didn’t realize that Meche walked 4 (!) batters per 9. Ouch. And while only striking out 5. He is bad.

  6. DMZ on March 10th, 2006 8:24 am

    As a percentage of batters faced:
    K: 13% for both
    BB: 11% for Gil, 7% for Pineiro
    HR: 2.8% for both

  7. Dave on March 10th, 2006 8:33 am

    Of course, the fact that Pineiro’s groundball rate was so much higher than Meche’s leads to the conclusion that, going forward, Meche will give up more home runs than Pineiro will.

  8. DMZ on March 10th, 2006 9:04 am

    He’s got a new two-seam fastball though. Everything’s going to turn around.

  9. terry on March 10th, 2006 9:18 am

    Can Joel work on giving up more unearned runs during spring training or does his participation in the WBC mean he simply doesnt have enough time to practice giving up more for this season? 😛

  10. davepaisley on March 10th, 2006 9:19 am

    28%? You sure about that?

  11. DMZ on March 10th, 2006 9:25 am

    Dropped a decimal. Fixed.

  12. Adam S on March 10th, 2006 9:26 am

    How does a fielding independent ERA of 4.50 (in Safeco) compare to other pitchers? Would it be fair to say that it’s below average overall but pretty good from your fifth starter?

    Contract issues aside, is Pineiro worthy of being in just about any major league rotation? I infer from your comments that Meche is replacement level or worse.

  13. Evan on March 10th, 2006 9:42 am

    So you’re saying I shouldn’t put Pineiro on my HACKING MASS team?

  14. chrisisasavage on March 10th, 2006 10:13 am

    4.5 fip at safeco really isn’t very good. It’s not Franklin or Meche bad, but not good at all.

  15. Mat on March 10th, 2006 11:05 am

    “So you’re saying I shouldn’t put Pineiro on my HACKING MASS team?”

    Is Milton still available? How about any of the AAA pitchers on KC’s staff? I’d explore my options before settling on someone who gets to pitch about half his games in Safeco.

  16. Evan on March 10th, 2006 11:13 am

    I tend to stick with guys I’m pretty sure will get to pitch the whole season.

    But, yeah, KC pitchers are usually a better bet (Lima was ungodly last year). Though I’m tempted to grab Franklin. He might not pitch the whole season, but in that little park in Philly he won’t have to.

  17. JMB on March 10th, 2006 11:29 am

    Ryan Franklin *screams* Hacking Mass.

  18. DMZ on March 10th, 2006 11:31 am

    Oooooooooooh baby, yeah.

  19. DoesntCompute on March 10th, 2006 11:39 am

    Never done a hacking mass team. Any recommendations for a good site?

  20. Mat on March 10th, 2006 11:59 am

    “Though I’m tempted to grab Franklin. He might not pitch the whole season, but in that little park in Philly he won’t have to.”

    You never know, if he can manage to bring his “lack of run support” reputation along with him, he might stick for the whole season. He was acquired as an innings eater, after all, right? Yeah, Franklin’s a good call.

  21. terry on March 10th, 2006 12:27 pm

    Ive got my fingers crossed for a Milton/Franklin duel at Great American Ball Park this season… I think you could win your league simply by having those guys pitch that single game 🙂

  22. Evan on March 10th, 2006 2:58 pm

    Each manager would think their guy was keeping their team in it, so they wouldn’t get pulled. It would be beautiful.

  23. John D. on March 10th, 2006 7:58 pm

    “…than that of Meche,…” Dave? Are you sure this isn’t Ron Fairly? What’s wrong with “than Meche’s”?

  24. Inside The Park » Blog Archive » Joel Pineiro and Adrian Beltre Change My Mind, Sorta on March 10th, 2006 10:17 pm

    […] Pineiro, even at his very best right now, is a No. 4 starter with occasional No. 3 ability. He’s not very good, nor should he ever be expected to be a frontline arm ever again. As David Cameron discusses Here at USSMariner, Pineiro is better than Meche in almost every way possible, but all that means that Pineiro is useful and Meche is not, which is among Cameron’s points. […]

  25. JAS on March 11th, 2006 12:48 pm

    [deleted, namecalling]

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