- Last Updated: 4:04 PM, May 12, 2012
- Posted: 1:22 AM, May 12, 2012
Somehow, Jack Zduriencik said, he evaded detection at his Manhattan hotel yesterday. Which is pretty impressive for the guy who ruined the Yankees’ season.
No, no, not really. First of all, maybe the Yankees can overcome their so far disastrous trade of young bat Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to Zduriencik’s Mariners for the injured duo of Michael Pineda (out for the year with right shoulder surgery) and Jose Campos (out for at least a few weeks with a right elbow condition).
Moreover, while it’s natural to want to point fingers, there’s insufficient evidence that either Zduriencik or his counterpart Brian Cashman committed baseball malpractice.
“Pitchers get hurt. There’s no way to get around that,” Zduriencik said at Yankee Stadium, before the Yankees defeated the Mariners, 6-2, in the series opener. “That’s just the way it is. It’s the nature of the business. You’ve got to have them to win.
“... I feel bad for Brian. I feel very bad for the Yankees. I wish this thing would’ve been a little different. But again, the fact that [Pineda] is so young, the fact that he’s strong, he should bounce back from this. They’re just going to have to wait a little bit for their rewards.”
Time will tell; shoulder fixes are much less of a sure thing than are Tommy John surgeries for elbows. Ironically, the Yankees overcame a Montero homer last night when their replacement for him at designated hitter, Raul Ibanez (starting in left field), slammed a go-ahead, three-run homer off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez with two outs in the sixth inning.
Yet the nature of the business, too, is for instant trade evaluations to take place, and for heroes and villains to be cast accordingly. Zduriencik neither agrees with nor enjoys this process. Yet he knows he can’t fight it.
“Fans are fans,” he said. “They’re going to rationalize whatever they’re going to rationalize. You respect them, because they’re your fans. You need them. In this case, there’s nothing and Brian knows this, and I know it, and anybody involved in the deal knows it. It’s just one of those unfortunate circumstances that just happened.”
The smoking gun has been that Pineda’s velocity dropped in his final start last season, September 21, which came on 10 days’ rest. Maybe the Yankees should have read more into that. Yet as the Roger Clemens trial renews our appreciation that people are innocent until proven guilty, this hardly qualifies as irrefutable proof.
If anything, the Yankees should wonder what prompted Pineda — whom Zduriencik described as “one of our great workers” — to report to spring training out of shape, a development that also surprised a second Mariners official. That seemed to put Pineda in a bad spot, during a spring in which he was looking to prove his worthiness in the big trade. It’s an answer that the Yankees may never receive in full.
This doesn’t mark the first time that Zduriencik has found himself in the role of the evil, cunning GM in New York. In his first winter running the Mariners, he dealt relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green to the Mets as part of a three-way deal (also including Cleveland) and received a haul of prospects in return. Putz, the key player from the perspective of the Mets and then-GM Omar Minaya, didn’t even make it through the first half before going down with season-ending surgery.
“At least from my standpoint, I’ve never tried to win a trade,” Zduriencik said. “I don’t think you enter a deal thinking that you’re going to win a deal. I think what you do is, you have common sense and respect for all parties involved and say, ‘I hope this helps all organizations.’
In the fraternal industry that is Major League Baseball, GMs can make enemies quickly if they don’t operate above board. Cashman has repeatedly acquitted Zduriencik of any wrongdoing.
If the Yankees’ starting pitching continues to struggle, though? The next time the Mariners come here, in August, Zduriencik might want to consider wearing a disguise.Follow @NYPostsports