In a February 29th article by George King of the NY Post, it was reported that only Sabathia and Kuroda have guaranteed spots in the rotation. According to Girardi, Michael Pineda would have to prove himself if he wants to be a starting pitcher for the Yankees:

“He has to pitch. He has to stay healthy and he has to pitch,’’ Girardi said of Pineda, who was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 28 starts for the Mariners but won just twice after June 17 and reported to camp 10 pounds heavier than at the end of last season. “I am a big believer that nothing is given to you in life. There are no guarantees. You still have to do your work and do your job. We are just not handing things over.’’

Now, of course Joe Girardi is going to say these things. He wants Pineda to work hard and not take anything for granted. Surely though, King doesn’t take Girardi’s words at face value. He doesn’t really believe that the Yankees’ overmanager might banish the Yankees’ best young pitcher from the starting rotation, right?

Wrong.

A few days later, on March 5th, King wrote another full-length article on how Pineda might not make the rotation because he’s a bit chubbed up:

What we know of Michael Pineda in the brief time he has been with the Yankees can’t be viewed as encouraging.

The 23-year-old righthander arrived last month and immediately admitted he was 10 pounds heavier than the 270 he carried at the end of last year with the Mariners.

That speaks to poor nutritional habits or a lack of exercise, each alarming for his age…So, Pineda isn’t a No. 2 starter. Nor is he a lock for the rotation.”

Now it’s starting to look like King is not only credulously taking the bait, but becoming a bit obsessive about the topic. On March 14th, he authored yet another piece, this time saying Pineda could be sent to the minors because he has three options left:

Paperwork might determine what the Yankees pitching rotation looks like, and it’s not out of the question Michael Pineda could start the season at Triple-A.

Wednesday, for the second straight day, manager Joe Girardi mentioned minor league options and how they may factor into the four-arm competition for the three spots left after CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.

That’s a possibility,” Girardi said about a hurler being sent to the minors to start the season. “Some of the guys have options if that’s what we need to do.”

And now King’s meme is spreading. ESPN NY posted an article by Andrew Marchand, who also speculates Pineda could be minor-league bound:

If Pineda doesn’t show control of 95-96 mph stuff, then wouldn’t the Yankees and Pineda be better served if he worked on things under the lesser microscope of the minors? It is one way for the Yankees to contain expectations, while continuing to foster Pineda’s growth.

Okay, let’s get this straight. There is no way Michael Pineda should be anything except a starting pitcher all year for the Yankees. Girardi, Cashman, Levine, and Steinbrenner all know this. Cashman did not trade the best prospect he’s ever had as General Manager for a pitcher to help out the homeless Triple-A team.

In order for Pineda to not be a starter out of the gate, Nova, Hughes, and Garcia would all have to leapfrog him on the depth chart. As starters, Nova and Hughes have xFIPs of 4.16 and 4.49, respectively. Michael Pineda is younger than both of those two and posted a 3.53 xFIP in his 171 inning debut. We respect our readers enough to not bother with an analysis of why Pineda should be in the rotation over Freddy Garcia.

Why some sports media outlets play dumb and try to convince their readers that there’s a real story line in a manager’s spoon-fed piffle is a mystery to us.