Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Montero For Pineda: Deliberations Continue

Well, deliberations should continue. It appears from talk radio, and general internet wide consensus that the Yankees were absolutely swindled in the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade, but let’s reel that back for a minute.

Of the 4 players involved in the trade (Montero, Hector Noesi, Pineda, and Jose Campos) no given player has a full season in the major leagues yet. Pineda had a very good season as the Mariners No. 2 starter last season( 3.74 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .211 BAA over 171 innings in 28 starts) . So there’s a lot of potential there, and some of it has already been realized. There’s no telling what happens to those numbers when they’re adjusted for the AL East with a smaller home park, and more games against the potent lineups in Boston and Tampa Bay, but Pineda has shown a good bit of talent in his first season in the Majors, and clearly Brian Cashman believes he can repeat that kind of production for years to come.

Montero’s small sample numbers were impressive last fall, there’s no getting around that, but it happens time and again that players put up an excellent 2 month stretch and fizzle shortly thereafter. I certainly don’t expect that to be the case with Montero, his defense is really the only question mark I can come up with at the moment, but if he can be a serviceable catcher and carry a 30 HR bat, nobody’s going to really complain, and David Ortiz has managed quite a lucrative career despite only being valuable to AL teams as a great DH, worst backup first baseman in history combo.

Hector Noesi looked to be a pretty fair swingman, being able to spot start, or come out of the ‘pen as needed, but also only appeared in 30 games averaging a little under 2 innings per appearance. That is great, but there’s no shortage of cheap young players happy to spot start in the majors or fill a few of the middle innings for a team in need, so Noesi was a throw in given the Yankees rather deep AAA pitching roster.

Campos has put together good numbers in low A ball, but that’s all he’s got, 2 years in the Mariners farm system, and no higher than A ball so far, so there’s no telling what’ll come of that piece to the trade. Either Cashman was looking to save face and get a prospect packed in, or he really felt Campos has some fairly solid, potentially underrated upside that could be useful in a few years.

That said, so far Montero has managed 3 hits, 2 strikeouts, and no walks in 4 games for the Mariners.Meanwhile Pineda helped solve the Yankees rotation debate with a case of shoulder tendonitis landing him on the 15 day DL, but preceding that had looked pretty good through the spring, working out his changeup despite diminished velocity and a spare tire that Josh Beckett would proudly sport in the spring. Noesi has only pitched 3 innings to a 21.00 ERA, giving up 7 earned runs in his first start of the season (Losing to Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers). So nobody’s gotten any “value” out of the trade yet, let’s all step back and realize that trading young players isn’t always about today, but about the several years of team control and cost certainty that have changed hands. There’s also another aspect to the trade that most people ignore: the team’s needs. The Yankees have had one of the most potent lineups in the majors for years, and losing Montero isn’t going to really change that, the Mariners are rebuilding and valued Montero’s bat (one of few in their lineup at the moment) and a potential No. 4 or 5 starter over Pineda who projected as their No. 2 again behind Felix Hernandez.

There’s no shortage of people prognosticating about this trade right now, but we all need to step back and realize that there is so much more to this trade than the first month of the 2012 season, and calling this a total loss is baseless and quite frankly stupid.

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