Mailbag: Michael Pineda

Looking At The Yankees' Sac Bunts
Ryan Braun named NL MVP
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Tucker asks: One of my Mariners friends suggested a possible trade that sounded crazy to me at first, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense: Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero. M’s need offense, Yanks need pitching.

Well, this isn’t really a question, so I guess it’s just a statement I will expand on. I think it is a very interesting swap, and certainly more realistic than the Felix Hernandez-for-random stuff proposals we see from time to time all the time. The framework makes a ton of sense, a team with pitching to spare and in need of offense gets six years of a young, high-end hitter while the team with offense to spare and in need of pitching gets five years of the young, high-end pitcher. It’s a match made in trade heaven.

Pineda, 23 in January, finished right behind Ivan Nova in the AL Rookie of the Year voting thanks to a 3.74 ERA and 3.42 FIP in 171 innings. Blame that on his 9-10 record and Seattle’s offense. He struck out 173 batters and walked just 54 unintentionally, good for 9.11 K/9 (24.9% of batters faced) and 2.89 BB/9 (7.9%). With a big frame (6-foot-5, 245 lbs.) and a high-octane fastball that averaged 94.2 mph this past season, it’s easy to see why Pineda should be considered among the game’s best young hurlers. He’s not perfect though.

For one, Pineda is an extreme fly ball pitcher, getting a ground ball just 36.3% of the time this past summer with uninspiring minor league grounder rates to match. He gave up 18 homers (0.95 HR/9) playing in spacious Safeco Field, a number that would almost certainly climb in Yankee Stadium. Secondly, he’s almost exclusively a two-pitch pitcher, using that big fastball roughly 65% of the time and his sharp slider roughly 32% of the time this summer. The other 3% is a flimsy little changeup and the reason why lefties hit him harder than righties, a pattern he also displayed in the minors. That isn’t to say Pineda isn’t a good pitcher, he certainly is, but he has some flaws that could be really exposed in the AL East and in Yankee Stadium.

There’s a very weird dynamic here because Montero was almost a Mariner in 2010, before Jack Zduriencik reneged on the Cliff Lee trade. I don’t know if there’s any “bad blood” between the two clubs because of that, but we know the Yankees weren’t happy with the way things went down and I have to think they hold a little bit of a grudge. I know I would. I’m sure they’re enjoying the fact that Montero out-fWAR’d Justin Smoak (0.6 to 0.5) this season, I know I am. I don’t think that “bad blood” would stand in the way of a potential Felix trade, but it might for lesser players, even someone like Pineda.

Objectively, I do think Montero-for-Pineda is a pretty fair trade. The one fewer year of team control is kinda mitigated by the fact that Pineda has shown he can handle a full season in the big leagues and be an above-average contributor. As good as Montero looked in September, we have no idea if he can produce 600 plate appearances at a time. On the other hand, the Yankees homer in my says no way to this trade; Pineda’s a two-pitch guy with fly ball problems and if the Yankees trade Montero, I’d like to see them trade him for someone more established.

Looking At The Yankees' Sac Bunts
Ryan Braun named NL MVP
  • Rich in NJ

    I hope I live to see the day when the Montero trade proposals die an unnatural death.

    • Fin

      Thats an interesting trade proposal. I think it would all depend on what the Yankees think Montero’s future really is. If they think he is the future full time catcher, no thanks. If they think he is a future full time DH, the trade is much more appealing. My own opinion is that Montero is full time DH and at best a back up catcher, and possibly not even that. I can see him learning 1B and being the back up first basemen. That being said, I would still pass on that trade. An extreme flyball pitcher, going into his second year, seems to be a big risk in Yankee Stadium. Does he really fill a hole that other young AAA pitchers cant fill? I think there would be too big of a chance of another 4 or 5 starter and leaving a big hole at DH. Would rather keep Montero and sign Burhle.

  • Gonzo

    *Not a trade proposal
    Would you do it for Hellickson?

    • Thomas Cassidy

      Nope. I’d much rather go for Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey, or Miller.

  • Ted Nelson

    “I don’t think that “bad blood” would stand in the way of a potential Felix trade, but it might for lesser players, even someone like Pineda.”

    I’m a bit leery of the trade with the volatility of pitching, but I don’t think the Yankees would let some perceived slight from the past stand in the way of a deal they felt improved their team. Jack Z was doing what he thought was in the best interest of his team, and I don’t see why Cashman would do anything else.

    And if he’s trading Montero for him, hopefully Cashman doesn’t consider Pineda too much lesser.

    • Ted Nelson

      If Cashman doesn’t like the guy, the best thing to do is use him to improve the team. I’m not saying that this deal would do that, but if Cashman thought it would that’s probably the sweetest revenge.

      • MannyGeee

        god Cashman must HATE Kenny Williams then, huh?

    • UncleArgyle

      Jack Z was doing what he thought was in the best interest of his team

      Glad to know Ted Nelson knows what Jack Z “Thought”.

      • YanksFan

        I think Ted is right, otherwise Jack Z wouldn’t have closed the trade for Smoak.

      • Ted Nelson

        You’re right. I should have said he was “probably” or “presumably” doing what he thought was in the best interest of the M’s.

        I would say that it’s more likely that he was doing what was in the team’s and his own best interest than doing the opposite out of some blood feud with Cashman.

  • BaltimoreYankee

    With the current state of the Yankees pitching and the potential to keep Banuelos and Betances for the future, I’d trade Montero for Pineda.

    • jsbrendog

      you have young pitching that will be ready this year or within 1-3 yrs. you have 1, one, I, uno, top tier hitting prospect. aren’t you supposed to trade from depth to acquire need?

      • David, Jr.

        This is an excellent point.

        Who would you even rate as our second best hitting prospect behind Montero? Maybe Sanchez, who is so young that you have no idea what he will be? Simply, that means that Montero’s bat will be needed.

        On the other hand, we have a pile of pitching prospects, some of which could end up being excess, meaning no room for them on the Yankees.

        This leads me to the conclusion that instead of something like this trade proposal, the following are more likely: 1. Sign a stop gap free agent, like a Mark Buehrle, thereby better allowing patience with the pitching prospects to see which ones are the real deal. 2. More of a “pitching for pitching” trade. Possibly off the wall here, but with a form more like Hughes and Betances for Cain, the result being that they keep Montero, upgrade the top of the rotation, and retain pitching prospect strength.

        • hogsmog

          But wouldn’t it be easy to flip those excess pitchers for bats, if bats are what we need, considering the weakness of the near-futre FA market for pitching?

  • pat

    Pineda reminds me of Ogando. A 2 trick pony that can dominate a team the first time they see him, but inevitably the lack of an offspeed pitch will limit him longterm. You can’t be a fb/slider guy and survive in a rotation.

    • Kosmo

      For example, Ron Guidry was a fb/slider guy and he survived. A great fastball and an exceptional slider with good control you can definitely survive,

  • KPOcala

    Mike, are you serious? I mean one, young pitcher who hasn’t made it through a few years of the shoulder/elbow grinder for a guy who almost certainly will be a star hitter for years? Silly Rabbit, trades are for kids….”

    • Ted Nelson

      “for a guy who almost certainly will be a star hitter for years”

      I’m leery of the deal too, but let’s not count our eggs before they hatch.

      • KPOcala

        Yes, but in this case we really are talking about 2 sets of eggs. Right?

  • jjyank

    I’m also leery of this trade. I like Pineda, but I have a feeling he’s due for a little bit of a sophomore slump. Not to say he’s a bad pitcher, but the lack of a true off-speed pitch and the fly ball tendencies scare me a little bit. I’m with the Yankee homer in you, Mike. If the Yanks trade Montero, I want it to be for more of a sure thing.

    Even if Montero is a full-time DH/occasional back-up catcher, there is still a lot of value in that. If the Yanks don’t want to be locked into a full-time DH, I still say you hang on to him for this year and see what he can do over a full season. If Montero mashes in 2012 and shows he can catch at least 1 or 2 games a week, his trade value will climb. I see no reason to trade a guy with his potential for a guy who could very well get rocked by some more patient AL East lineups in his second season.

  • Levi

    I believe Pineda walked 54 UNintentionally. If not, that’s pretty poor managing.

    • MannyGeee

      but the binder said to do it!

    • JAG

      This IS the Mariners we’re talking about.

  • UncleArgyle

    I don’t know if there’s any “bad blood”

    Please, it should be clear that Jack Zduriencik has very little interest in dealing with the Yankees in a serious manner. Remember 2009, when Jarrod Washburn was pitching well and on the block? Jack Z told Cashman that any conversation would have to start with a “package” of Austin Jackson. At the time, our number one prospect. (If I have time I’ll try and find a link) Cashman obviously laughed at it, and no discussions over Washburn were held. Washburn of course was ultimately traded to the Tigers for Luke f’ing French. Who was the Tigers mop up man and has posted a tidy 5 ERA as a Mariner. To me its obvious that Jack Z will only deal will the Yankees if he feels he can rape Cashman. The Cliff Lee Fiasco, falling apart over a double A second baseman flyer, just further reinforces that to me.

    • UncleArgyle

      Here’s a link where Jack Z suppossed asked for Jesus Montero for a half season of Jarrod Washburn. Claiming that they “wouldn’t just give Washburn away”. Keep in mind that Jack Z eventually settled on Luke French….

    • Levi

      Is it really the worst thing in the world that they’re asking for the highest price and ended up with something less? I mean, how do we know Jack Z. didn’t ask for Jacob Turner from the Tigers? There’s always the off chance you can swing a Casey Blake for Carlos Santana deal. Also, I don’t know that just because a trade failed to materialize in the past, Cashman would ignore Seattle completely. The team’s needs and future are pretty certainly ahead of his own pride.

      • UncleArgyle

        I personally feel there is a pattern here. Sure, theres nothing wrong with asking for the Moon and then getting more realistic in the asking price as negotiations continue. But I don’t think Jack Z has that much intrest in getting realistic with the Yankees. If he can steal from them great, if not, he’ll do business elsewhere. I have no idea why this is the case, but I believe it is.

        • Ted Nelson

          So… Jack Z has such a great personal vendetta against the Yankees that he’s willing to sacrifice his professional success to screw them over? That’s your theory? When I point out how ridiculous it is you decide to make a personal attack? LOL. What a joke.

          • Craig Maduro

            Ted, you gotta chill man.

            This isn’t a college class or a column in a newspaper. It’s the comment section of a blog. If someone wants to pop off like he or she knows more than he really does (which Argyle didn’t even do), who cares?

            In terms of baseball, you have a solid viewpoint on the Yankees and make intelligent comments that enhance the discussion. Stick to that and stop being a citation Nazi.

            • gc

              Ted is right. People talking out of their ass does not make this a higher quality site. Nobody here knows these players or front office people. When it comes to stuff like this, nobody can speak to their state of mind or even remotely pretend to know what motivates them or what goes on in their heads. Even offering an opinion based on what you *believe* they’re thinking is an exercise in futility and foolishness. I’d like to think RAB is better than that.

              • UncleArgyle

                For fuck sake. I linked to the god damn article where the Mariners were requesting Montero for half a season of Washburn. Washburn did get traded eventually for a scrub lefty who has utterly sucked before and after the trade. We all know about the Cliff Lee aburdity where there was industry wide talk that Jack Z broke an unspoken rule involving trades by backing out of a handshake deal. So we have two incidence in two years, and its way out of line to say the these GM’s don’t get along? Thats foolishness?

                • Ted Nelson

                  It’s called negotiations you idiot.

                  • UncleArgyle

                    Montero or Jackson or we’re not discussing Jarrod fucking Washburn is a negotiation? Go fuck yourself Ted

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Because you know for a fact that this was an unbiased account of exactly what happened and there were no negotiations whatsoever beyond that point?

                      Because you know for a fact Jack Z didn’t say “well, we’ve got an offer already on the board that in our own opinion only AJax or Montero would beat that for us because we don’t like your system and/or we’re really high on French?”

                      It’s possible to be an incompetent GM without having personal vendetta’s. Two examples of not making a deal with the Yankees isn’t conclusive proof of anything.

              • Craig Maduro

                If someone really makes a ridiculous comment – the type of comment that brings down the quality of the comment section of a blog – it will receive a proper response. It’s a little ridiculous to suggest that someone can’t or shouldn’t make a comment based on what he or she “believes”. Those are the types of comments we all make on here all the time.

            • Ted Nelson

              Do you really not see the irony in telling me not to do exactly what you are doing to me? Mind your own business if you want me to mind my business. Otherwise don’t criticize me for the same thing you are doing.

              “If someone wants to pop off like he or she knows more than he really does (which Argyle didn’t even do)”

              Argyle thinks he or she knows the content of closed door negotiations between Cashman and other GMs. That is the definition of popping off like one knows more than one does.

              • UncleArgyle

                Jack Z was doing what he thought was in the best interest of his team

                -Ted Nelson earlier this Thread. A saying about black kettles comes to mind

              • Craig Maduro

                I come on here to get the pulse of other Yankees fans and I have to pass over long ass threads because you throw a bitch fit every time someone doesn’t cite an opinion or fails to word a statement to your specifications. It inconveniences me and several others so, no, I won’t mind my business.

                “What’s your source?” “Where are your facts to back that up?” blah blah blah…every freaking time.

                The rest of us wanna discuss baseball, and as I mentioned, your baseball insight seems sound. The Nazi shit is getting old though.

                • Ted Nelson

                  So, you throw a “bitch fit” to stop me from throwing a “bitch fit” and in the process create more useless banter? Great solution.

                  I’ll make the comments I want and don’t really care what you think.

                  This discussion has nothing to do with citation. Your comment is misplaced. It is about whether or not Jack Z has a blood feud with Brian Cashman that will lead him to go against the Mariners’ and his own best interests to screw the Yankees… that’s part of MLB baseball. Get a clue and stop bothering me.

                  • Craig Maduro

                    Yea, that’s right. I threw my own bitch fit. I’m tired of your garbage and you’re obviously the one with a briquette for a brain. But since I am being hypocritical by allowing this to continue, I’ll make this my last comment.

                    In the future I’ll grant your request and stop bothering you when you assuage whatever insecurity it is that drives you to be “blog boss”.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Good for you!

                    • Carl

                      LMFAO, “BLOG BOSS” Nailed it on the nose

          • UncleArgyle

            Uh Ted, you were the first to make this personal with your little below comment there. I personaly find your overconfident ramblings amusing most of the time. My opinion, as should be clear to most others, is that I don’t think its a coincidence that in 2009 the Yankees got stonewalled by the M’s over Washburn, and then in 2010 the M’s backed out of a hand shake agreement on Cliff Lee over a injured minor league 2nd basemen, whom they KNEW was injured when they requested him in the trade.

            • Ted Nelson

              How did I make it personal?

              I said: “You’re pretending you know a lot of things you actually have no idea about… What’s the point?”

              This is exactly what you were doing and I asked why.

              You responded: “Well I felt like being Ted Nelson for a few minutes.”

              • UncleArgyle

                Ted I didn’t “pretend” that the Yankees had discussions about Jarrod Washburn in 2009. I didn’t “pretend” that the Cliff Lee deal fell through under bizarre circumstances. I didn’t “pretend” that in two years on the job that Jack Z and Cashman have had two high profile trade discussions that ended both times with the Yankees being pissed off about how everything went down. I used this information to form an opinion. So, yes, I took it personally when you insinuated I made it all up.

                • Ted Nelson

                  You pretended that you knew the details of those discussions beyond what was reported. Nothing more than hearsay and rumors. GMs have a big incentive not to be totally forthcoming with the media, and most articles that even have a source have an anonymous source or some PC comment about how the GM was “not pleased with how the negotiations turned out.”

                  You used half-information to come to what I consider a ridiculous conclusion. And semantics aside, I find your conclusion very unlikely to be true. Your theory is that Jack Z has such a personal dislike for the Yankees that he is willing to put his livelihood on the line not to make deals with them. I find it much more likely that he has just found deals with other teams that he was happier about in both cases. Ask around and see whether people are more into the “blood feud” theory or the “doing what he perceived as best for himself and his team” theory.

                  In all likelihood I believe Jack Z was looking for a ridiculous return on Washburn figuring he probably wouldn’t get it, but seeing if he could. That he then lowered his price until he found a piece that he liked. That for whatever reason he felt Luke French had put it all together in AAA in 2009 and was due to be a solid LHP. Maybe he even saw something else he thought they could fix in his mechanics or approach.

                  I find it unlikely that he has a personal hatred for the Yankees that causes him to go against his own best interest. In my experience and from my education that is not generally how human beings act. As I said earlier in the thread, if he hates that Yankees the best thing to do would be to “beat them” in a trade.

              • rfwarrior

                You are so unbelievably annoying.

    • Ted Nelson

      You’re pretending you know a lot of things you actually have no idea about… What’s the point?

      • UncleArgyle

        Well I felt like being Ted Nelson for a few minutes.

        • UncleArgyle

          My point is that the Mariners aren’t doing business with the Yankees, so there’s no point in pondering this scenario.

          • Ted Nelson

            My point is that you have no clue what the Mariners are or are not doing, so stop pretending like you do.

        • Tags

          Love the answer UncleArgyle!

          • thenamestsam

            I also laughed a little

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah, except that I make a big point of not presenting opinion as fact to the point of spending most of my time arguing with people who do.

          • UncleArgyle

            Ok buddy.

            “except that I make a big point of not presenting opinion as fact”

            Why don’t you read my comment from 1250pm again and tell me how I’m presenting opinion as fact. I would figure that using the phrases “personally I” and “I believe” would leave an intelligent person to conclude I was stating an opinion. Then again maybe I need to re-evaluate my definition of “intelligent”

            • Ted Nelson

              “Please, it should be clear that Jack Zduriencik has very little interest in dealing with the Yankees in a serious manner.”

          • The Internet

            “Pujols defies the rules, huh? A bit like A-Rod defied the rules? 90-99% of the players in the history of baseball who defied the rules of age were juicing.”

            -Ted Nelson

            “Yeah, except that I make a big point of not presenting opinion as fact…”

            -Ted Nelson

            • Ted Nelson

              Clearly an exaggeration, but still a fact. How many (non-junk baller) players defied the rules of age at that high of a level without juicing?

              • The Internet

                Your source, dickhead?

                1) Make up statistic
                2) Tell someone they shouldn’t make up statistics
                3) Claim your statistic was hyperbole

                • UncleArgyle

                  Hillarious. Goodness I love the internets

                • Ted Nelson

                  Here is my source:

                  I have made is clear numerous times now that the statistic was hyperbole, but that the spirit of what I was saying is that far more players defied age and were confirmed to have used PEDs than in any other era in the game’s long history.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    If you really think Albert Pujols is not a human being, good for you. I have no idea. Maybe he’s a droid or alien or superhuman or divinity. I am going to go out on a limb and say he’s human.

                    If you want to keep arguing semantics rather than the meat of the issue… go for it.

                    • The Internet

                      Yes, I think Pujols is a droid.
                      You are a grade A douche.

                      My source:
                      Just check the comments section. You will see what I mean.

  • dean

    The Yankees need young offense more than they need Pineda.

  • thenamestsam

    This trade would make me feel a little sick to my stomach but if my scouts felt as good about Pineda as sites like Baseball America etc. seem to I think you have to grit your teeth and do it. I think Montero is more likely to be the better player, but the rarity of pitchers makes taking the slight downgrade palatable. There are certainly reasons to hesitate with Pineda, the flyballs, the lack of a third pitch, etc. The guy isn’t even 23 yet though and if didn’t have those flaws he’d be completely unavailable. My conclusion is that most GMs probably don’t make the trade because they’re so risk averse (if you don’t make the trade and it would have worked out well for you noone ever knows for sure if it was available, but if you do and it fails you get killed) but I think its probably the right move.

  • gehrig27

    In my opinion the key of the whole thing is in the last sentence:

    “If the Yankees trade Montero, I’d like to see them trade him for someone more established.”

    If that is not the case, then as someone already said, “the Montero trade proposals should die an unnatural death.”

    The Yankees were ready to trade him for Cliff Lee. Now will they trade him for a rookie with many questions about his future development? Come on, let´s be serious…Montero should only be traded for someone who is ready to be the number 2 in the rotation, period.

    If that is not possible, then keep the kid, he certainly can bat, he is veeery young (the very youngest in a team with many ageing stars), there are many years ahead under team control, etc. etc. etc…

    • thenamestsam

      I think getting Pineda back for Montero is much better value than Lee contrary to what you seem to be suggesting above. They would have gotten Lee for half a year at a slight discount, and maybe a slightly improved chance to resign him to a deal that is unlikely to provide much, if any, surplus value over the next six or so years. Sure Pineda is no Lee, but you’d have him for at least five years at a middling price while he’s (potentially) still improving. If you trade Montero for a more established pitcher you’re going to be getting less years and significantly less upside than you get with Pineda. The Yankees have the resources to make taking gambles like Pineda worthwhile.

      • Ted Nelson

        Let’s not ignore the potential downside.

        • thenamestsam

          I’m not trying to ignore the downside, I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate a little bit. I’m definitely on the fence about this idea, but I see a lot of people saying they should only trade Montero for an established #2, as gehrig27 did above, and I’m just pointing out that Pineda has real advantages over those types of pitchers (which is why he has roughly the same value as some of them) to go along with the obvious disadvantages that have been brought up repeatedly.

          • Ted Nelson

            Yeah, I agree about the trade off between upside/$ and proven performance. Tough call.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    This trade is about the assumption of the player moving into the very good area of performance. Both exhibiting potential that is inviting. My issue with Pineda has been expressed by prior blogers. Being a two pitch guy and throwing the fastball 66% of the time. MLB players can sit on his fastball avoiding the breaking pitch until two strikes then Pineda has to throw a good one for the out. If he’s throwing 94mph now. It will eventually go down making him more hittable.

    Montero on the other hand has some great potential as a hitter to improve. If they take the DH out of baseball which I don’t think they’ll do. Montero’s value will come down. This being said. I stay with Montero trying to work him into the lineup slowly. Getting him AB’s at the catching position.

  • mike

    Pineda also takes the Yanks out of the overpay for Wilson/Darvish sweepstakes, leaving “room in the budget” to find offense either this year via trade or next year post-Swisher.

    I would take Pineda over both of those guys, especially with the cost-controlled aspect of his contract figured in.

    Pineda is basically what the Yanks dream Hughes can become

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Hughes was at one point what the Yankees dreamed he would be. Pineda could turn out the same way.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher


  • Mike HC

    I would rather keep Montero.

  • JonS

    Let’s say Ivan Nova wasn’t a Yankee. Would you trade Jesus Montero for Ivan Nova? If not, why? Him and Pineda are pretty similar.

    • Ted Nelson

      You’re not trading for last season, you’re trading for the future.

      I’m not saying I trade for Pineda, but I think it’s easy to make an argument that being two years younger with much better FIP numbers and MiLB numbers he’s likely got a brighter future than Nova. Not that it’s for sure, just that it’s likely.

  • nycsportzfan

    First off What we lack in offense is not the ABILITY

    • nycsportzfan

      whoops sent post on accident! Anyways what i was saying is we need to keep our guys who can actually “HIT” and not just HIT HRS and hit in general at a crazy streaky clip Jesus can be added to Cano going forward as guys who aren’t just streaky power hitters but can flat out Rake in genearl Pineda could be another edinson volquez or whatever I like PIneda but i just think hes got a better chance to not be top notch for a long stretch as Jesus does And also Jesus gives us a great overall “HITTER” which is what we need going forward

  • cranky

    I’d trade Montero for Pineda.
    But Pineda’s not on the block and won’t be for a while.
    Pineda’s one of the very few guys for whom I’d trade Montero.

    Montero is a very, very special young hitter. Potential-wise, we’re
    talking Miguel Cabrera or Manny Ramirez. You don’t give up a kid like
    Montero for anything other than Grade-A+ prime young-enough talent.
    Pineda qualifies, along with just a few others. But none of the uber-talented
    young starters–Kershaw, etc.–is going to be traded any time soon.

    The Yanks’ depth is in catching and RH pitching and those are the kinds of
    players around which deals should be made.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Our offense/power from the right side is going to look pretty awful in a few years without Montero. The man is going to be a Yankee legend who will overcome the binder and everyone else’s fears who haven’t seen him play. RIDICULOUS UPSIDE. Never trade him. The marketing department fortunately know$ this all too well.

    Hey where is TSJC????

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

    Nostradamus. Bitch.