Thoughts on Pineda for Montero

The Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees agreed upon a swap of potential hitting star, Jesus Montero, for potential pitching star, Michael Pineda with a couple differing pitching prospects thrown in (Campos is very young, oozes potential, Noesi was much more experience higher floor/lower ceiling). This trade is a highly logical, fair trade for each team. The Mariners and Yankees each traded from a position of strength to improve a current unit in need.

The Mariners offense was atrocious last year finishing last as a team in all the triple slash categories(.233/.292/.348) with a combined 82 OPS+. All this production was actually an increase from the historically bad levels of the Mariners offense in 2010. Pitching has not been as much of an issue because the Mariners have at least treaded water on that part of the field. Acquiring a potential middle of the order force in Montero, who OPS’d .996 in around 70 at bats and who scouts have consistently rated as a game changer at the plate, is a no brainer. The Mariners now have a solid potential core of Dustin Ackley who OPS’d .766 at second, Montero at catcher if they want to try it, and Justin Smoak who was acquired for Cliff Lee. Its interesting that Zduriencik now has acquired the two best prospects he was offered for Lee.

The Yankees problem was their lack of trust in his abilities to call a game and keep the running game in check. Montero had no future as a catcher in New York, no future as a first basemen because of Texiera, and the DH position will be clogged for the length of Jeter and Rodriguez’s contracts. The position is also stocked in the minors with the competent Austin Romaine coming through the system and the potentially very talented Gary Sanchez behind him. The Yankees largest need was at major league ready starting pitching. That’s where Michael Pineda comes in.

Pineda by all accounts had a very successful rookie season finishing with more K’s than innings pitched, and throwing over 170 innings. His frame is ideal for a potential top of the rotation pitcher as he stands at a very robust 6’7”, making him a rather imposing pairing with CC Sabathia. He had the 4th fastest average fastball in the American League last season, hitting 94.7mph. He produced 2.8 WAR in his first Major League season and projects as a successful number 2 pitcher in a rotation. Pineda may see an increase in homers coming to the AL East, meaning his numbers might not be as good in 2012, but he provides the Yankees a power arm which will come in handy during the pennant run. The Yankees should look to manage his innings early in the season to keep him fresher for October if they intend on playing that deep in the year.

This trade coupled with the addition of Kuroda a couple hours or minutes apart the Yankees have turned a relative question mark into a strength boasting a deep rotation with a legitimate ace. Cashman now has the potential to explore other trades that could involve anyone from AJ Burnett to Phil Hughes. The bullpen also figures to gain from this crowding at the top as some of the pitchers will fall to long or middle relief, with the most likely to be Phil Hughes. Hughes was excellent as a reliever during the 2009 World Series run and could potential revive that role again to form a dominant Hughes-Soriano-Robertson-Rivera monster that could end games after 5 innings. The Yankees 2012 roster has been dramatically improved by these two additions.

Overall this trade looks like it has tremendous potential for both teams and could wind up resembling a smaller version of the Granderson-Scherzer-Kennedy swap from the 2010 offseason.

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