Saturday, 14 January 2012

Yankees acquire a Pinata

Arriba!  The Yankees have sent Jesus Christ Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda and prospect Jose Campos.  My initial reaction, without knowing much about Campos, or Noesi for that matter, is that Montero pretty much needs to stay at catcher for this deal to work out right for the M's.  The M's are pretty well set offensively at 1B/DH, 2B and RF, but beyond that, things are still looking pretty bleak.  If Montero can't cut it defensively at catcher, which many talent evaluators believe will be the case eventually, this trade is going to end up as a decent-sized fail.

Having said that, Montero would have to be outrageously bad defensively to overcome the defensive replacement value thingy (in terms of positional adjustments in WAR) to justify moving him from C to DH/1B, considering how good is bat is, compared not only to the league average, but also to other catchers.

Pineda represents basically what Brandon Morrow is for the Jays, but with worse mechanics and a lower walk rate.  They compare pretty well in terms of rates and stuff, but I worry that Pineda will be taking a pretty big step backwards with the change of leagues and parks.  A pitcher with his profile doesn't match up great with the AL East, not to mention the short RF porches in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.  Pineda had a 36% groundball rate last year.

I'm told Campos, if he were eligible in the draft this season as a 19 year old, would be a top-10 pick, and shows tremendous upside.  His numbers in Rookie-ball and low-A are pretty astonishing for someone so young, but he's still quite a ways away from the majors, whereas Hector Noesi will almost certainly be in the majors at the start of the season, though he might not amount to a ton over his career (Safeco should help him out though).

The always reliable (and now cancer-free!) Dave Cameron from Fangraphs reviews the deal, and gives us this little reminder:
Maybe Montero’s good enough by himself to justify being the sole piece of value, but based on what other teams were paying for good young pitching this winter, I would have expected the Yankees to have to surrender a bit more than they gave up. The Yankees should not only be happy to have added a big time arm to their rotation, but should be excited that they didn’t have to decimate the farm system in order to do it.
Between the Latos and Gio deals, this begins to look like a steal for the Yankees and Brian Cashman, especially since Pineda will be under team-control through 2017. I struggle to understand why Campos was involved.

The Yankees also signed free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $10MM deal last night, in a deal that, when combined with the Pineda acquisition, really reforms the Yankees' rotation.  I think the difference between [Sabathia, Nova, Hughes, Burnett, Garcia] and [Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Nova, (Hughes/Garcia/Burnett)] is pretty huge, and enough to make the Yankees a slight favorite over the Red Sox for the division as it stands right now.  Of course, we all know that the Rays are going to come from out of nowhere again and win, so whatever.  I wonder if this forces the Red Sox' hand, and makes them reach out to Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt.

By the way, Buster Olney thinks that the Pineda deal affects the Blue Jays the most, because their rotation is probably too thin to compete.  That sounds fucking stupid to me, since this trade does nothing to the Jays' rotation unless they were trying to acquire Pineda.  The rotation was probably too thin before the trade, and looks the exact same now as it did 24 hours ago, so the only way this affects the Jays is if it creates a chain reaction of acquisitions between the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees, resulting in some weird fantasy world in which the 15 best starting pitchers in baseball pitch for one of those three teams next year, which would cause the Jays to never score any runs in division play or something.

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