Pineiro agrees to two-year, $13M deal with Cards

Updated: October 15, 2007, 6:37 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- After reviving his career as a starting pitcher, Joel Pineiro briefly considered testing the free-agent market. He ended up staying in the same place, with the team that gave him another opportunity.

Joel Pineiro
AP Photo/Ed BetzJoel Pineiro was 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 starts for the Cardinals after being acquired from Boston at the July 31 trade deadline.

Pineiro agreed to a $13 million, two-year contract with St. Louis on Monday after thriving with the Cardinals down the stretch.

"St. Louis gave me that chance," Pineiro said. "They took that chance on me. That meant a lot to me."

The right-hander went 6-4 in 11 starts with St. Louis after being acquired from the Red Sox at the trade deadline, and could have opted for free agency. The deal includes a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $5 million in 2008 and $7.5 million in 2009.

"We felt very strongly at the time of the trade that Joel had the ability to improve our starting rotation once he had time to condition himself for that role," interim general manager John Mozeliak said. "We are extremely pleased to have re-signed Joel and project him to be a steady performer for us, much like he did down the stretch this past season."

Pineiro is the third pitcher retained since the end of the season, with the Cardinals also picking up an $8 million option on closer Jason Isringhausen and re-signing right-hander Russ Springer.

Pineiro began the year in Boston's bullpen, making 31 relief appearances, and made two starts for Triple-A Pawtucket in late July before the Cardinals acquired him along with cash for a minor leaguer. He was pitching coach Dave Duncan's latest reclamation project with a 3.96 ERA the last two months, and closed out his surge by helping to knock the New York Mets out of the postseason in a 3-0 victory on Sept. 27.

The 29-year-old worked into the sixth inning in seven of his starts, and the team was 7-4 when he pitched. He credited Duncan, who also has revived the likes of Jeff Weaver and Woody Williams in recent seasons, with reworking his delivery.

"The biggest key was they were really interested in me and I was interested in them," Pineiro said. "My family loved it here, and now I think I can help this ballclub from the first day instead of the middle of the season."

Pineiro, Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper are expected to be in the Cardinals rotation next year but the other two spots are in flux. Mark Mulder may not be ready for Opening Day after a second shoulder operation in September and ace Chris Carpenter won't be back until after the All-Star break following reconstructive elbow surgery.

It's also unclear who will manage St. Louis next season. Tony La Russa was deliberating whether to return for a 13th season while awaiting the results of a GM search to replace Walt Jocketty, who was dismissed last week.

Team spokesman Brian Bartow said Mozeliak's next order of business will be re-signing shortstop David Eckstein, the 2006 World Series MVP who can be a free agent.

"I could never see him leaving," Pineiro said. "Hopefully he will still be a part of this team.

"A lot of players are coming back and if everybody stays healthy we'll have some fun."

Pineiro is 65-60 with a 4.47 ERA in 227 games for his career, including 159 starts. He combined for 30 victories for the Mariners in 2002 and 2003.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press