The Montero-Pineda trade: A dissenting opinion

Open Thread: Don Zimmer
The Importance of Gary Sanchez
(Montero by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty; Pineda by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Nearly a decade ago, in December of 2003, Brian Cashman sent Nick Johnson, a player who had not only previously been the Yankees’ number-one hitting prospect but the team’s top prospect overall for three years running (along with Juan Rivera, who at the time of the deal appeared to be the team’s top hitting prospect, and Randy Choate), to the Montreal Expos for Javier Vazquez. At that point in time, Vazquez had six Major League seasons under his belt, was coming off a 2003 campaign that saw him post a 3.23 ERA/3.31 FIP/3.41 xFIP (74 ERA-/74 FIP-/78 xFIP-), a 5th-best-in-MLB 9.40 K/9, 2.22 BB/9, and was widely considered one of the best young starters in the game (between 1998 and 2003 he was the 12th-most valuable pitcher by fWAR in all of MLB).

The 2004 Yankees had a severe starting rotation problem, in that three of their five rotation stalwarts from the 103-win 2003 squad — Roger Clemens (4.9 FWAR), Andy Pettitte (5.5 fWAR) and David Wells (4.1 fWAR) — weren’t returning. Prior to the Vazquez deal the projected Yankee rotation for ’04 was ace Mike Mussina, a coming-back-from-missing-the-entire-2003-season Jon Lieber, the recently-acquired-for-Jeff-Weaver Kevin Brown, Jose Contreras and I guess Jorge De Paula. The team pretty clearly needed to make a move for a starting pitcher, especially after missing out on Curt Schilling, and I remember thinking at the time (as did, from what I recall, seemingly everyone else) that Vazquez — as a young, dominating, strikeout-heavy righty who could front the team’s rotation for years to come — fit the team’s needs perfectly. I know I was sad to see longtime fanboy-crush Nick Johnson go, especially after all the talk that he was supposed to be the second coming of Don Mattingly, but with Jason Giambi continuing to block The Stick at first, he (and Rivera, who I didn’t think twice about losing) seemed like a reasonable cost of doing business.

Unfortunately, despite Brian Cashman’s best-laid plans in rebuilding a starting rotation that led all of MLB with a ridiculous 25.4 fWAR (for comparison’s sake, the 2011 Phillies amassed 25.8 fWAR), the 2004 Yankees got 14.5 fWAR out of the rotation, and Vazquez found himself run out of town after one tough season, though he’d eventually get a second chance to redeem himself six years later. At the end of the day, the trade worked out pretty horrendously for the Yanks, who got 2.1 total fWAR out of Javy in the two seasons he wore pinstripes, while Stick and Rivera have combined for 22.7 fWAR since 2004, though the former has of course been arguably the most injury-prone player in baseball, while I doubt think anyone thinks the latter would have been much of a difference-maker for the late-aughts teams.

I revisit this particular moment in Yankee history because it’s the closest thing I have to a benchmark for processing the blockbuster Jesus MonteroMichael Pineda trade (not to mention the stealth Hiroki Kuroda signing) that unfortunately broke on the Friday evening of a holiday weekend (in the midst of my watching “Moneyball” of all things), preventing me from fully fleshing my thoughts out about it until now.

To say this came out of nowhere would be a massive understatement. I’ve been operating under the assumption that the Yankees’ too-quiet offseason was in preparation for an all-out blitz next winter in which the potential free-agent pitcher crop includes the drool-worthy likes of Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and Zack Greinke, among others, and at no point was I expecting that Jesus Montero’s bat would not be in the 2012 Yankee lineup as the starting designated hitter.

Not only that, but being that I was in the middle of watching a movie my dad was the one who broke the news to me via a phone call, and no discredit to my dad, but as I’m generally plugged-in to what’s going on in the world of the Yankees pretty much all day every day, I was even more shocked that I hadn’t heard the news prior to his knowledge of the deal. When he first uttered the phrase “Mariners pitcher” I hoped for the best and thought the Yankees finally somehow acquired Felix Hernandez.

However, I quickly learned that the crown jewel of the Yankee farm system, a player that, similar to Nick Johnson, has been both the Yankees’ best hitting and overall prospect for multiple seasons, was instead dealt for Pineda, a hulking, fireballing rookie who had an excellent inaugural season (and who, in yet another parallel to Vazquez circa 2003, is also coming off a 9.0-plus K/9 that ranked among the top 10 in all of MLB in 2011), but didn’t immediately strike me as appropriate compensation for a hitter whose absolute best-case scenario could be Miguel Cabrera. To put it gently, my initial reaction to the deal was less-than-favorable.

Adding another layer of strangeness to the gut-wrenching I experienced in the immediate aftermath of learning about this deal is the fact that I’ve made no secret of my endorsement of the majority of the major moves Cash has made over the years. I loved the Curtis Granderson deal and liked the Home Run Javy trade both times, but this feeling of disagreement with a significant trade is rather foreign to me. It’s going to be weird to tweet “should of kept Montero” with utter sincerity the first time he hits a home run off the Yankees.

Now, we all know comping anyone to Cabrera is the epitome of an overzealous expectation, but even though Montero is unlikely to reach that particular historically-good level of hitting, his bat has been near-universally regarded as an impact, middle-of-the-order force, one that doesn’t seem outrageous to expect possible .300/.400/.500 lines from in the future. I realize both the opportunity cost and scarcity of acquiring a young, cost-controlled starter in Pineda, especially when compared to adding an offensive-oriented player, but more than four days in and I’m still not entirely sold on this being the right move.

For one, if the Yankees were going to move a premier hitting piece for a pitcher, I’d have preferred it have been for more of a sure thing. There’s no question Pineda had a great 2011, and while the oft-cited supposed “second-half decline” has been debunked, and I’m aware of the fact that were he still a prospect, he’d be at the top of the Yankees’ top ten list, the fact that he is primarily a righthanded two-pitch pitcher with a bit of a flyball problem coming to Yankee Stadium concerns me. I understand that many feel that Pineda has #1 starter upside, but that upside can only be realized if he is able to develop a functional changeup to help him combat lefties, and as we’ve seen from several of the Yankees’ own starters, the change is one of the hardest pitches to learn.

In Pineda’s favor, his two primary weapons — one of the fastest heaters in the game along with one of the nastiest sliders — are most definitely for real, and pairing the high-strikeout righthanded Pineda with the high-strikeout lefthanded CC Sabathia at the top of the rotation should form one of the nastier 1-2 punches in the game today. As our own Mike wisely noted via e-mail during the weekend, “I don’t love the trade, but I don’t think they got hosed or anything. Much easier to find a high-end bat than an arm. The first time Pineda throws seven shutout innings with double digit strikeouts, we’ll be cool.” I couldn’t agree more, and I’m sure I’ll forget all about Montero once I see Pineda start throwing.

However, the primary issue I’m having with accepting this deal is that it subtracts what was supposed to be a major source of offense from the lineup for a pitcher who has but one strong year under his belt, whereas Vazquez circa 2003 had well established himself as one of the game’s elite pitchers. Many have noted that the Yankee offense got through last season just fine without Montero’s bat for most of the year, and I certainly can’t dispute that. Still, we got a taste of what Montero might be able to do in 69 scorching-hot September plate appearances, and though he hit well above his head, he appeared to be every bit as good as advertised. For those looking to discount a September cup of coffee due to supposed lessened competition between roster expansion and teams playing out the string, the majority of Montero’s appearances came against clubs with playoff aspirations, not to mention the fact that the Yankees didn’t exactly hammer the competition during the season’s last month, posting their lowest monthly team wOBA in a decade.

The 2012 Yankees should again be a compelling offensive force, but depending on which projection system you prefer, Montero might have been anywhere from the 2nd to 5th-best hitter on next year’s team. Robinson Cano, the team’s current best player and a prospect no one saw coming (career .278/.331/.425 in the minors), hit .297/.320/.458 during his debut season in pinstripes. Of the five currently available projection systems, Montero’s (career minor league line of .308/.366/.501) average projected line for next season is .279/.344/.489, .360 wOBA. Now, not everyone becomes as good as Robinson Cano, but there’s a decent chance Montero eclipses Cano’s career line of .308/.347/.496, .359 wOBA in his first full season. Who knows, maybe Montero turns into the next Ruben Rivera and not Robbie Cano. The underlying point of all of this is to say that Montero may be the best hitter Brian Cashman has ever traded, and while there are no sure things in baseball, Pineda is as much of a risk as Montero if not moreso, due to the highly volatile nature of developing young pitchers.

Now the team is forced to scramble to fill the DH role with the remains of the offseason, and while Carlos Pena is clearly the most ideal fit, it sounds as though he may be too expensive, and so the Yankees sift through the carcasses of old friends Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and others, while also telling people they might consider using strikeout-machine Jorge Vazquez in the DH role. One of the numerous points in favor of acquiring Pineda was that acquiring hitting is always easier than acquiring pitching, which is true in a vacuum; but the new 2012 austerity Yankees may now in fact be tapped out for something as simple as a reasonable DH upgrade. I’d expect a lot of my hesitation regarding giving up Montero would fade in the event they acquired a real designated hitter, but if not I’m having a hard time accepting what currently looks to be a slightly diminished offensive attack on paper, no offense to Andruw Jones.

Moving on, many have pointed out that this deal was probably a clear win for the Yanks if Seattle can’t use Montero as a catcher, as they will have traded a #2 starter with five years of team control for a player without a position. If Montero is ultimately indeed primarily deployed as a DH, that will no doubt hurt his overall value, but if the bat becomes what many hope it can become, I think he’ll mitigate his lack of fielding value. No one in Boston is complaining about David Ortiz’s contributions to the Red Sox despite not donning a glove with any regularity since 2004. I’ve also read that there are still folks in the Yankee organization that view Montero as a catcher, to which I call BS on — there’s no way the team would have traded a potential catcher with Montero’s bat for anything other than an absolute number-one starter. But I’m sure the Yankees saying so publicly helped Seattle rationalize this deal internally.

I’ve seen others note that this is the ultimate “win-now” move for the Yankees, especially given that the window to win a championship with the current core of offensive players is likely closing. There’s probably some validity to this, given that the Yankee offense is primarily composed of hitters on the wrong side of 30, although Cashman’s done a rather commendable job of finding relatively younger players to replace aging ones — particularly in the outfield — and I’m not sure I’m sold on the idea that this particular group of Yankees only has so many more championship runs in it and that the Pineda move puts them over the edge. Does the Pineda move make them more scary right now? Absolutely. Does it make them that much better in a short playoff series? 100%. Would the team’s chances of future glory be compromised if they had waited until next offseason to reap the benefits of what could be a bumper crop of a free-agent pitching market instead of having to surrender one of the best hitting prospects they’ve ever had? I doubt it (though TYA’s Eric Schultz astutely notes that having Pineda in hand theoretically lessens the pressure of having to find a #1/#2-type next offseason, especially if some of the presumptive prize pitchers wind up signing extensions).

No one can argue that the prospective Yankee rotation for 2012 wasn’t full of question marks prior to Friday night, not too dis-similarly from the 2004 iteration’s predicament. Additionally, the team knows it got lucky to not only get through the 2011 season but secure the best record in the American League with the rotation it featured. I can’t blame Brian Cashman for wanting to upgrade what had been the team’s biggest weakness. But maybe the signing of Hiroki Kuroda would have been enough. All offseason we’ve been talking about adding Kuroda, and while a rotation of Sabathia-Kuroda-Nova-Garcia-Hughes/Burnett doesn’t look quite as good as Sabathia-Pineda-Kuroda-Nova-whoever, I still think the former would’ve been plenty competitive.

The Yankees now have a ton of starting pitching depth, although the Pineda trade certainly reveals the team’s true feelings regarding Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett, either of whom many now expect to be dealt; and it also reveals to a lesser extent the team’s feelings about the myriad fourth-starter-upside types they’ve been stockpiling at AAA, including Hector Noesi, who was of course part of this big trade. I know no one’s shedding any tears over Noesi, but I was looking forward to seeing what he had to offer as a starter. And I haven’t even gotten to discuss Jose Campos, whose upside seems to excite many prospect-watchers but who at this point simply remains a lottery ticket.

My judgment regarding this deal remains clouded by emotion; I imagine this is similar to how I’d have felt had Phil Hughes been traded during the 2007-2008 offseason. Still, many of the top analysts in the business have mostly been on board with the transaction being a net positive for the Yankees, while my blogging cohorts seem to be slightly more mixed, though some feel more positively about it than others.

As I noted earlier I know I’ll fall in love with Pineda soon enough and I’m very excited to start delving into the PITCHf/x data, which I’m sure will uncover even more reasons to be excited about his acquisition. However, I’ll do it with a heavy heart for Jesus, and will hold out hope that the deal — even though I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on it — ends up working out as favorably as possible for the Yankees.

Open Thread: Don Zimmer
The Importance of Gary Sanchez
  • Avi

    I totally agree:
    One year track record + being a pitcher (fluctuating performance and get hurt more often than any athlete) = too much risk to lose Montero over.

    • thenamestsam

      People are far, far too risk averse. People have been repeating constantly since the trade that they “should have gotten more of a sure thing”, but the fact is that you can’t get a sure thing with 5 years of team control left (it’s not possible really), and you CANNOT discuss the player without the contract in this case. Pineda’s contract status is a huge factor in this trade. If the Yankees had gotten Felix instead of Pineda, everyone would be thrilled, because he’s such a sure thing, but I would much rather have Pineda and $60M dollars than Felix.

      Is it a bigger risk? Maybe, but maybe not and let me explain my thinking on that. By having the extra money that Pineda’s favorable contract situation gives you allows you to dilute that risk. If you get a sure thing like Felix then you have just Felix, now with the 20M you didn’t spend on him you can get a Kuroda and another player (a DH) and instead of just Felix you have Kuroda, Pineda and say Pena for the same payroll situation. By spreading the talent through 3 players instead of 1 “Sure Thing” you have actually greatly lowered your risk through diversification.

      My POINT: Even if Pineda turns into a pumpkin, the contract difference between him and a “sure thing” allows you to rescue the situation, which is why the risk is much lower than people are perceiving.

      • Ted Nelson

        You have a point, but I think you’re going to far. Generally speaking the “sure things” are paid the way that they are because their risk is lower than a prospect or young player. (Though there’s inefficiency with some ok free agents making as much as much better players.) There’s a chance Kuroda + Pineda + Pena won’t out-WAR Felix by much combined (8.4 vs. 5.5 last season in fWAR… Felix’ career high is 6.8… Kuroda is old and moving to the AL East, Pineda may or may not repeat his rookie success, and Pena is a year removed from a 1.1 fWAR season)… and with Felix alone you’ve got another two roster spots to play with. There’s definitely a decent chance that Felix + (say) Betemit + Noesi will out-WAR your three at similar $.

        If this were a small market team I would agree with you more. When you’re spending $200 million one way or the other to fill 25 roster spots… not as much. The Yankees have to be concerned with maximizing the production from each roster spot as well as maximizing the talent under their league-leading budget.

        • thenamestsam

          I agree with you about the absolute production. I was mostly trying to address the perception that this deal is hugely risky, which I think ignores the other players that the money allows you to get. I agree that Noesi+Felix+Betemit is probably a very close match in production for Kuroda+Pineda+Pena, which is why the two packages cost about the same dollar wise. My point is that when you concentrate more of your production in one player you have higher risk because you’re not diversified even if the perception is that you have a “sure thing”.

          While the Yankees budget is huge, they still have to choose whether to spread their WAR among more players of fewer. This trade is a step towards more when compared with trading for the so-called “sure thing”. That is risk minimizing in its own way.

          • Ted Nelson

            Yeah, I agree that it’s not a huge risk vs. a “sure thing”… or at least the downside risk is justified in the upside potential.

            I was more just saying that it’s a balance. Both have advantages. And keeping Montero rather than either has its advantages.

            • thenamestsam

              So we agree. My entire point to begin with was that both have their advantages. People saying “I can’t believe they gave up Montero for a non-sure thing”, like Avi, and Larry to some extent in the article seem to be ignoring the benefits of the non-“sure thing” and looking at is as a clearly superior option. It isn’t.

              • Ted Nelson

                Yeah, we agree.

      • OOO

        Your argument makes no sense. If you have the money already why not spend it on this mystery pitcher who’s as good as Felix? Why make a trade for an unknown quantity, lose Montero and also have to end up spending millions of dollars to acquire another pitcher if the trade doesn’t work out?

  • http://riveraveblues panos

    i dont like move. pineda looks fat. his delivery looks flawed. a number of yankee hitters are regreesing. i think montero given a little time would be yanks second best hitter.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Pineda looks fat? Then what does Montero look? Hell, someone should tell CC Sabathia that he looks fat and therefore can’t be an effective pitcher.

      • TheOneWhoKnocks

        Did you even watch baseball last season? Montero was pretty thin. He’s really leaned out over the past year. Not that it matters for much, but Montero’s ‘chubby’ reputation is outdated.

        • FIPster Doofus

          Easy. I don’t think Montero’s fat. I was just making a point that Pineda isn’t fat either.

          • theonewhoknocks

            But it’s not a good assessment of the two players physiques ,Montero is in great shape and Pineda is obscenely obese.

            • pat

              “Obscenely obese” Hahahaha. Then what is CC?

              • Sarah

                Or Bartolo Colon?

                • theonewhoknocks

                  Also obsese? Can there only be 1 obese player in baseball? I didn’t say he was the fattest player around, or that he wouldn’t be any good. Just that he’s ridiculously fat. and the guy who compared Montero and Pineda’s physiques was obviously way off the mark.

                  • pat

                    Ridiculously fat? You truly can’t be serious. Is this a joke? Is this real life?

                • chcmh

                  Or Babe Ruth?

      • Voice of Reason

        I’ve been watching his highlights on, and God help me for quoting Dane Cook, but Pineda’s not fat, he’s shapes. He has a really bizarre build – kinda pear shaped, freakishly long legs, sloping narrow shoulders, huge arms and hands – and even as big pitchers go, might be the most lumbering MLer I’ve ever seen. Dude’s like Frankenstein. He can throw the hell out of the ball and clearly has the requisite athleticism to repeat his delivery but this really jumped out at me as an area of concern. He’s compared to a young CC for his measurements, but once you watch them move around it becomes a ridiculous physical comparison. He has an extremely unathletic look about him and he really should get in better shape.

        I rather like the trade and don’t usually read much into pitchers proportions and mannerisms but if Pineda’s say anything at all, it’s nothing good.

        • Bo Knows

          There is no mold for a pitcher, people who don’t watch baseball (hell many that do)just see CC as a fat guy throwing the ball.

          Lincecum (as much as I love the guy) looks like he should be in high school, toking it up in someone’s van

          there are numerous other pitchers that don’t look like they are as good as they should be but are among the best around. Really tall guys with lanky limbs almost always look kind of awkward walking around regardless of athletic ability.

          • gc

            True. Mariano Rivera looks like he would be a good tennis player, not one of the most effective and powerful pitchers to ever play the game.

          • Voice of Reason

            Yeah, no question. It’s how you pitch, not how you look while you do it, like I said, I’m not reading much into it. It’s true CC’s much fatter than Pineda (along with a host of other successful pitchers over the years), but he’s clearly a fairly nimble and well balanced athlete in spite of that. Looks can be deceiving, and probably are in Pineda’s case, but I can definitely see why someone would be more concerned about his conditioning considering how unathletic he looks.

            Not trying to be hyper-critical, for all I know he’s the most coordinated man on earth and is in great shape but doesn’t carry his weight well. Plus he’s apparently put on a huge amount of mass in a short period, maybe he’ll tighten things up.

    • Dave

      nothing about Pineda looks fat! i dont know how anyone can say that..the guy is 6-7 lol CC is fat Pineda is def not fat..can we stop saying this please…now if he gains 20lbs before spring, Ill say hes fat but right now he is most def not fat

  • FIPster Doofus

    I’m going to be ambivalent about this trade until these guys actually take the field and show whether they can do it. Though I can’t wait to watch Pineda pitch, losing Montero sucks. I’m not much of a prospect guy, but it was hard not to get attached to the kid – and have visions of him smacking opposite field bombs for a long time at YS3.

  • Mattchu12

    My feelings about this trade revolve around a simple fact: Position.

    If Montero can play catcher, which neither the Yankees nor me believe he can, then this was a bad idea. That leaves first base and DH. Teixeira isn’t going anywhere, and this is one of the reasons I was less than excited about signing him years ago.

    If we’re talking about trading a nameless prospect who can only be a DH on our team (the key part of that is OUR team) for Pineda, knowing all of his risks, I think you have to do it. It just hurts because it was Jesus Montero, whom we all wanted in pinstripes.

    • jjyank

      This is exactly how I feel. I was really excited for Montero. I even have an autographed baseball card of his, and I’ve been dreaming of him mashing for us for years. But ultimately, you’re right. If Montero can’t catch, he doesn’t have a place on this team. First base is locked up, and although he can DH, we have this one guy named Alex Rodriguez on the team who is already 36, and knee and hip issues, and is still signed for 6 more years. I don’t think we can lock down the DH slot with a rookie given our situation.

      So turning Montero into a young, cost-controlled #2 starter with ace upside, I think that’s a win. With this trade, the top 3/5 of our rotation could be set for the next 5 years. CC-Pineda-Nova. I may be being optimistic about Nova and Pineda’s development, but that’s pretty cool to consider.

      • Chris in Maine


      • mac1

        The 5 years of control really is huge. Imagine if the Yanks traded for a front line guy then had to commit long term and he imploded?

        Trading Montero is a big gamble regardless. I think Cash made a great trade (key in this is keeping both b’s) how it works out will be fascinating to watch and will probably affect future deals across mlb.

        • jjyank

          Yeah, there’s going to be risk either way. Montero is a great prospect, and could very well turn into Miguel Cabrera. Or he could not. Don’t get me wrong, I love Montero, but I think the people who are against this trade are assuming that Montero is a “can’t miss”. How many times has a prospect been called a “can’t miss”, and then proceed to miss?

          Pineda can implode, sure. Any pitcher can. But aside from some elbow soreness three years ago, he’s been pretty healthy. Both his scouting report and his minor league numbers back up his 2011 season, so I’m confident he can at least repeat that performance, if not improve on it.

          I agree that keeping the B’s is huge. If at least one of them pans out, our rotation can look like this for the next 4-5 years: CC, Pineda, Nova, Banuelos/Betances, 5th starter. If all we have to do on the starting rotation front is find back end fodder for the 5th spot for the next 5 years, the Yanks will be in great shape.

      • Dan

        I agree, I think with the aging vets, Girardi and Cashman preferred to have a rotating DH to allow for more half-days for the older players on the team.

      • Tags

        Totally agree, I’ve been following Montero’s career since A ball. I saw him play at Trenton, and have been waiting to see him in the Yankee lineup for years. But as much as it hurts to see him go we’re getting a cost controlled possible top of the rotation kid. The other fact of this deal is this deal is the depth in catching in the minors. Everyone agrees Romine is a more all around catcher though he will never be a feared hitter. But with the possibility of Gary Sanchez and JR Murphy the Yanks were willing to take a risk. I feel the Yanks think Sanchez can be the hitter Montero may be as be able to catch.

  • Yankonymous

    The biggest loss in all of this…all the sacrilegious front page headlines in the NY papers after a big game by Montero. The PC Seattle rags just won’t do it justice.

    • chcmh

      I had a whole season of puns and comments of Biblical proportion lined up. The NY Post writers must be drowning their sorrow in a tub of suds.

  • Andrew

    How can people point to Pineda’s 1 year track record as being SSS while Montero played for 1 month and was used as a platoon player a significant portion of that time? Pineda’s peripherals in the minors line up very well with some of the best young pitchers in the game, and he continued it in his first season in the majors. It took AL MVP Justin Verlander until his 5th season to post an xFIP lower than the one Pineda recorded in 2011. You can throw out names like Piazza and Cabrera but that doesn’t mean Montero will ever be those things. King Felix last year 8.55 K/9 2.58 BB/9 with .245 BAA. Pineda was 9.11 K/9 2.89 BB/9 .209 BAA. I’m not saying Pineda is King Felix but you have just as much justification to draw the parallel as you do for Montero’s.

    • Avi

      “How can people point to Pineda’s 1 year track record as being SSS while Montero played for 1 month and was used as a platoon player a significant portion of that time?”
      We’re not comparing Pineda to Montero but rather to the type of pitcher we’d like to receive in return for him; i.e. one with a longer track record.

      • Voice of Reason

        on the other side of the coin, pitchers with longer track records don’t play for free, which Pineda basically will for the next two years and then at a discount for three years after that.

      • PinedaColada

        We would of had to say goodbye to both of the B’s and Montero if we expected to receive a “more established” pitcher back. All of you complaining that we didn’t get an established pitcher back need to look back at what Reds gave up for Latos and what Washington gave up for Gio. Latos is a beast but Washington gave up more than the yanks for a lesser pitcher with less years of control and he walks everyone in the majors. This was a solid trade made by Cash. Now the hard part for me atleeast is having to wait for baseball to come back again so I can watch Pineda be a beast in the AL East.

    • mbonzo

      I agree with you to some extent, Pineda has been impressing on a higher level, Montero has done it longer. Pineda may have more success in the majors, but Montero had longer success and more thorough success in the minors. There is also a lot to be wary about when you compare a years worth of plate appearances to a years worth of games started.

    • Monterowasdinero

      All 4 HR’s in Sept. off righties.

      /just sayin’

  • Dalelama

    If Pineda turns out to be a clutch post season hitter I am all for this deal.

    • Avi

      Clutch in the postseason isn’t actually a skill, rather a product of SSS.

      • nsalem
        • Anthony

          So your way of disproving his point is to cite to Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax and Whitey Ford? One of which is the greatest baseball player in history, one of which may be the best pitcher in history, and the other, well, his postseason record is actually pretty mixed, so I don’t really see how Ford advances your argument rather than proof that even a hall of famer and, in fact, anyone of less talent than Ruth or Koufax may have a good series or a bad series any given October. It is true that some players have excellent postseason stats and others do not. This is something everyone knows. It does not, however, show that the players who have the excellent stats were able to post those stats because of some superhuman skill. Let me ask you, if players are able to become better in the clutch at will, why aren’t they just better at will all the time?

          • dalelama

            I think it is more of a matter of the clutch player not choking ala Swisher or Tex who nearly squeeze the sawdust out of a bat in the post season.

          • nsalem

            Most of Whitey Ford’s bad performances where at the end of his career when he was injured. You would have to do more than take a one time superficial glances at his numbers to actually know that though.

      • nsalem

        He wasn’t “clutch” either I suppose. Probably just very lucky.

        • CP

          You’ve just listed 4 hall of fame players. They were great in the post season because they were great players. Not because they were clutch.

      • dalelama

        Spoken by someone who obviously hasn’t played the game at a higher level.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          The irony here is priceless.

          • jsbrendog

            dale lama has one mean knucklecurve i heard when he played in the TLB, tibetan league baseball

      • Dave

        What’s SSS?

    • Mike HC

      When you only give up a run or two because of dominant pitching, instead of five, meaningless hits all of a sudden become “clutch.”

      I’m not saying clutch doesn’t exist, it does, I’m saying you need top notch pitching first and foremost to put your hitters in position to be “clutch.”

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on this deal, I think the Yanks are taking on the much bigger risk here. This is the first cashman trade i’ve had a problem with for many years. It’s a weird place to be in as a fan, but I’m hoping for the best. I had already slotted montero into the middle of the yanks lineup for the next 6 years and i was more excited to watch him then any other player on the team. i was attached. it’s hard to say goodbye.

    • JohnnyC

      I preferred your opinions when you didn’t capitalize your handle. That was so long ago and you’ve changed. A shame.

  • Brett Lowe

    For comparison sake, since 2004, Javier Vazquez has a combined fWar of 30.2, so I think it was definitely a good trade that didn’t work out in the end due to certain circumstances beyond Cashmans control.

  • Andrew

    Pineda was dominant at every level of the minors and based off his rookie season any more time spent not at the MLB level would be a waste of time. Why is it a bad thing he didn’t toil on the farm longer? And I don’t know if you can say Montero’s had more success while he’s been down there, BB rate under 10% and K rate over 20% with an OPS of .814 at AAA last year isn’t incredibly impressive. Don’t get me wrong I was a huge Montero fan and I’m certainly sad to see him go I’m just trying to play devils advocate here. I feel like we think Montero can only get better and Pineda can’t but if Pineda does improve on last years results then the trade is a win pretty much regardless of what Montero does bc you’ll have a cheap ace for the next 5 years

  • Carl D

    Larry, mind filling us on the five currently available projection systems? I know ZIPS for the Yanks is out, what are the other four you are referring to?

    • Larry Koestler

      Bill James, Oliver (which is behind a THT paywall), CAIRO, and Rotochamp.

  • Mike

    Biggest concern I have is can Pineada wilt or thrive playing in NY?

    • Mike HC

      He seems like the thrive type to me. Like Nova who relishes being the man and does not shy away from it.

    • Craig Maduro

      Valid concern. Unfortunately, we won’t know for another year perhaps. Hopefully we can find out sooner, but there is no way to tell until he puts the pinstripes on and takes the mound for a season or two.

    • Voice of Reason

      This shouldn’t be a concern. Every city has players that do well, and every city has players that do poorly, and all things being equal where’s the evidence that players are any more likely to fail in NY? The only difference is that if a player under-performs for the Yankees, there is the presumption that he “wilted under the pressure” (often made in hindsight) and all reasoned explanations are thrown out the window, whereas if he does well, well I guess he just thrives under pressure. It’s a nonsense narrative.

  • Frank

    I am a HUGE montero fan. Already got his autograph on a baseball, and was ready to watch him hit 40+ homers per year in YS. But, when I heard about the trade…I was excited. I still think Montero is going to be a beast, or would have been as a yankee, but you have to make that trade everyday. He wasn’t going to be a catcher, and probably not a 1b either. So, you’re trading your future DH for a potential 1-2 starter. The only part that scares me is that we’ve only seen 1 year of pineda, and as said above, he’s a 2 pitch pitcher. Those are concerns, but the kid has the body and stuff to dominate. Learning a change is going to be very important, but so was learnining to catch for montero, and I don’t think he every would have been able to do it adequately due to his body type. So, we’ll see what happens….should be fun.

    • CC Sabathia

      Hey – guess what? I was a two-pitch pitcher for the first 8 years of my career, too. I say it worked out pretty well for me.

      • Anchen

        Hey CC,
        That’s cool. You also never had arm issues either (Pineda has been shut down with a “sore elbow” before). You also started pitching in the majors at 20, so your first 8 years half were before Pineda ever got to the majors. Oh, and you’re a lefty who always had good ground ball rates. There is plenty to like about Pineda, but I’m holding my breath til I see it in pinstripes.

        • Tim

          Pineda was in the majors last year at 22. Where did you learn to do math? And when CC was a rookie, he was a fly ball pitcher. He’s only recently learned the throw the two-seamer.

          • Anchen

            For some reason I thought Pineda was 23 last season not 22. An exaggeration/joke just like his comment was. CC was about a 42% GB rate for his early career. Not a GB pitcher but still better than pineda. Plus you know, lefty/no arm injury history?

            • PinedaColada

              Did you even look at Pineda GB % by month?If you did you would see an increase throughout the season. He had a 3 month stretch right around 42%…. Oh and the injury was 3 years ago when he was lankier and less muscular not to mention he has thrown over 300 innings since with no problem

        • viridiana

          Well, let’s just wait and see if Pineda passes physical. Yanks will have to be ultra-thorough, especially in view of his lower velcity in season finale last year.

        • Bo Knows

          It was a sprain almost 3 years, a couple inches, and many lbs of muscle ago.

          • Anchen

            I’ve seen nothing about it being a sprain, just described as elbow soreness. He was healthy in 2010 and 2011, so there is reason to be optimistic but his mechanics aren’t exactly what scouts would call clean either, although he supposedly is much better than before. On the plus side he repeats his delivery well. I dunno how much of what he added is muscle. It’s hard to go from 6-5 180 in 2009 to 6-7 260 on pure muscle. That said, if he’s anything like Sabathia with the weight I guess I’ll eat my words.

            • Bo Knows

              180 lbs is seriously underweight if your over as tall a Pineda was and currently is. eating and regular strength and conditioning would would cause him to gain a ton of weight in a short time. A normal weight gain would probably put him around 220-230 range but he’d still be considered thin, its been noted over the years (in scouting reports I’ve found) that he routinely hit the weight room. Coming into this year, scouts noted that he added 10-15lbs of muscle onto his frame and did the same the year prior.

  • Mike HC

    I’m excited for the trade. 6’7” fireballing 22 year old with a top notch pedigree. And another top pitching prospect thrown in the deal as well. Sign me up right now. See ya DH Montero and 5th man Noesi.

    • Kevin Winters

      Seems to good to be true.

  • Ace

    “should of kept Montero”

    should HAVE kept Montero

    Otherwise a nice read

    • Mike HC

      It was a joke referring back to an article written by, I think, Stephen Rhoads a while ago, making fun of overreacting fans who are stupid and make grammatical errors.

      • Ace

        Thanks. That one is a specific pet peeve of mine. I normally don’t make grammatical corrections.

  • Ace

    “should of kept Montero”

    should HAVE kept Montero or should’ve kept Montero

    Otherwise a nice read

  • Professor Longnose

    I reserve the right to say “I told you so” no matter what happens.

  • Brian in NH

    what no SOPA blackout?

    • gundisalvus

      No, this site falls under the category of bread and circus.

      This is the kind of stuff TPTB want you to spend your time on.

      Now scurry along and worship at the alter of political correctness.

      • Brian in NH

        it was a joke man, i wouldn’t expect RAB to actually blackout today, regardless of their thoughts on it.

  • Monterowasdinero

    I have Montero- signed bats/ balls/photos. I liked him just a bit. Saw him play quite a bit. Talked to him a few times. Yes he is young and maybe not as tough behind the plate as the Yanks wanted but we have no better bats from the right side for the next 5-10 years on our team or in our system. In time, his catching would have been as good as Jorge Piazza’s (so to speak).

    If ARod can stay healthy and Swish and Tex bounce back, then I think the trade will be fine for both teams although I will REALLY miss Montero’s incredible all-field power.

    Enough about Pineda being a 2 pitch guy. He has 5 including several fb variations. Scouts know this. Campos may be a big time ace too in a few years.

  • TampaRob

    The statement that people in the Yanks organization thought that Montero could be a catcher is exactly what you said, BS! I have talked to two very high up in the organization members who said emphatically that he couldn’t catch, which we all thought. One comment I got from them was that we have to remember that this guy came from Venezuela, so not only did he have to learn baseball but to speak the language. His communication with the pitchers was one of the weakest parts of his game. The trade no doubt hurts all of our hearts but if Pineda plays well, then we’ll be okay with it. Who knows, maybe by the time that Montero plays out his contract for the M’s all of our big contracts(arod!) will be off the books and we can sign him to be our dh!

    • TampaRob

      Also I posted this yesterday but Pineda is taking his physical today, so I’d expect the announcement soon although I wasn’t told when that would happen. Another nugget I was told at one point last season was that we had planned to bring up Banuelos for the West Coast swing in July against Mariners and A’s but because of his command struggles we decided against it. Wouldn’t that have been awesome!

    • jason

      Would that be the second coming? (hoping rather unrealistically to be the 1st to use that one.)

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      So Montero speaks well enough to conduct his interviews in English, but he can’t tell a pitcher to settle down because he can’t speak English? I call bullshit on your entire comment. Montero had been praised about his ability to speak English. He was speaking English when he played for Charleston. I think you need to find better “high up in the organization members” to talk to.

      • TampaRob

        Okay, you don’t have to believe me. I was the one last year to break the Larry Rothschild as our pitching coach about 6 hours before anyone had announced it. No one believed me then until it was true. I don’t really care what you think, respectfully.

        • TampaRob

          And I’m not stating opinion, I was just relaying what one of those people had told me. Also, (this is opinion) of course the Yankees are going to praise his ability to communicate with his pitching staff,why put him in a negative light when that only hurts his perceived value? Even when I talked to my guy during the season I asked about Montero and he said the plan was for Romine to be our catcher of the future…

          • Kevin Winters

            he said the plan was for Romine to be our catcher of the future…


            Someone stab me in the face please. Romine catcher of the future smh

    • viridiana

      Keeping DH spot open for 6 years because of massive blunder in 10 year A-Rod contract really seem like tail wagging dog.
      Why should Yanks reserve DH spot for a guy who may already have outlived usefulness? A-Rod’s end of season numbers pitiful. Maybe he’ll bounce back but i can’t imagine him being a worthwhile force in line up for six years. At some point the question on this blog will become: Is it time to cut A-Rod loose? (But that may not be for 2 or 3 years, I’m guessing).

      • Monterowasdinero

        Agree. ARod and his supporters will live in the past starting in 2014. Unfortunately he will be in pinstripes until 2017.

        • Rookie

          Exactly, Monterowasdinero. Exactly.

          But not as dramatic as how it went from heresy on Yankee forums/blogs in 2010 to question Posada’s catching skills to accepted fact in 2011.

  • pacman

    pitching wins championships…our pitching was in trouble coming into this year…pineda will be a #2 or a 1a type pitcher. I hate losing montero-but he is no catcher and will be a 1b/dh IMO…Yanks are not scrambling for a DH…either rotate it, let jorge vazquez get a shot or sign a pena/damon type…1 yr deal…I will cringe when we see moneteros stats, but pineda was a good get…

    • Mike HC

      Very nicely summed up. I could not agree more.

    • Plank

      A Pena/Damon type?

      Does that mean they are the same type of hitter? Or are you advocating signing either of those two?

  • Steve S.

    middle-of-the-order force, one that doesn’t seem outrageous to expect possible .300/.400/.500 lines from in the future.

    That may be the case when he’s a seasoned veteran with a few years of MLB service time under his belt. But he has a .308/.366/.501 career line in the minors, so to expect a .400 OBP next year is pretty far fetched. The one knock on his bat is showing at times a lack of plate discipline, which is an area MLB pitchers will expose mercilessly. I think a more realistic line over the next few years would be .275/.330/.475 which won’t make anyone too disappointed in this deal assuming Pineda performs.

    Also, it must be noted that the open spot on the team was for DH facing righthanders. Montero showed a significant platoon split in AAA last year, though he hadn’t in years prior. But from a developmental standpoint its suicidal to ask a young right handed bat who’s had issues with AAA righthanders to perform at a high level facing MLB righties. Its the exact opposite of what you try to do with young players, giving them a chance to wade into the MLB slowly and putting them in positions where they are likely to succeed. There simply isn’t a natural fit for him on this team from a roster standpoint.

    And for all the talk about ‘just letting him catch’, even part time, people seem to forget that both he and Russell Martin are right handed, and Martin hits like you would expect Montero to (at this point) facing Lefties (career 800+ OPS). For all the Jorge Posada comps, it took Posada 3 years of catching part time for the Yanks to trust him with the everyday role, and frankly Jorge had more agility and reflexes than I’ve seen from Montero. Most scouts don’t think Montero will ever be a competent big league catcher, and I can see why. Along the way, there were many front office battles between Torre and Cashman and many pitchers who didn’t want to work with Posada. A young Andy Pettitte had Girardi as his personal Catcher, Clemens, Mussina and others had issues.

    As to the rest of your reasoning, you wouldn’t make any deals for young, cost controlled pitchers if the cost on this one was too high. Look at what Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos went for. 3 of the other team’s top 5 prospects. I thought Cashman pulled off a minor miracle here, especially landing a 2nd high upside pitcher in Campos to boot. I know that position players are worth more than pitchers as prospects, but Pineda isn’t a prospect. He has a full year of MLB service time under his belt, wheras Montero has a smattering of carefully selected September ABs. So those who use the Position player/pitcher argument compare apples to oranges.

    Thoughtful, well written piece as always Lar, I just couldn’t disagree more.

    • Larry Koestler

      Thanks for the thoughtful response, Steve, and I think you make a lot of strong points. I still don’t think this deal was quite the slam dunk that some do, but I certainly hope to be proven wrong.

      • jsbrendog

        it’s tough to fully agree or disagree with either of you until we see what’s going on and see these two play during the season. until then it is all emotion, which is toiugh when we’re so invested in a guy like montero (i was too having his autograph and seeing him at the aa allstar game a couple yrs ago where we sat next to some of his relatives)

        only problem with this is that you can’t judge a trad ein hindsight. so, i have no idea. I like it. I hate it. eff me.

    • DM

      Excellent analysis that takes the full context of Montero’s actual track record as well as his fit on the Yankees. Larry’s article just sounds like more of the same jaded Montero love. Pineda’s track record leads to suspicion — but Montero’s leads to this penciled in impact production. He couldn’t muster more than .289 in two full seasons at AAA — but let’s use 69 Sept ABs as our benchmark instead and make him middle-of-the-order ready?

      Pineda=glass half-empty b/c a 22 yr old — who managed a nice 1st season with only 2 pitches — needs a change-up.

      Montero=glass half full b/c of 69 ABs in Sept — while downplaying 1000 ABs of much less than gaudy AAA hitting and his questionable attitude.

  • AaronGuielWithASmile

    I take issue with the statement that the deal “subtracts what was supposed to be a major source of offense from the lineup for a pitcher who has but one strong year under his belt, whereas Vazquez circa 2003 had well established himself as one of the game’s elite pitchers.”

    What happened with Vazquez has absolutely no bearing on what will happen with Pineda. None at all.

    Furthermore, I just flatly disagree with the premise that the Yankees offense is a concern for this season. I don’t think that it’s at all unreasonable to assume a modest improvement from Teixeira and a major improvement from A-Rod — that should be more than enough to cover what we lose from Montero.

    At the end of the day, I agree with Mattchu12: if it turns out that Montero can actually be a big league catcher then this is a bad deal. But if we’re getting a guy who has real potential to be an ace in the MLB for a DH, that’s a deal that you have to make 10 times out of 10.

    • Larry Koestler

      “What happened with Vazquez has absolutely no bearing on what will happen with Pineda. None at all.”

      Absolutely; no one can dispute that particular statement. I was trying to figure out how best to state that I felt more comfortable with the Vazquez deal at the time because he had had an established track record of excellence; apologies if my intention wasn’t entirely clear.

      “Furthermore, I just flatly disagree with the premise that the Yankees offense is a concern for this season. I don’t think that it’s at all unreasonable to assume a modest improvement from Teixeira and a major improvement from A-Rod — that should be more than enough to cover what we lose from Montero.”

      I’m inclined to agree with you in that overall the offense should be fine, although I generally prefer having an absolutely blistering offensive attack, which is partially why I’m having trouble letting Montero go. However, I’ve written several pieces this winter in support of what I expect to be a strong year by A-Rod this coming season. As for Tex, it’s weird to talk about a 31-year-old player being in decline, but the his numbers have been on a three-year downward trend, and so I’m not really sure what to expect. Hopefully Long can fix whatever’s ailing Tex.

      • AaronGuielWithASmile

        -Fair enough on the first point. Tour phrasing led me to believe that you were somehow conflating Vazquez and Pineda but you obviously weren’t intending to.

        -Agreed, there is legitimate reason to be concerned about Tex’s downward trend. That said, even a very modest improvement (something along the lines of .260/.360/.500) would still be fine for the Yankees purposes as long as A-Rod can stay healthy.

        I think we all want a blistering offensive attack, but I’m willing to risk losing some from our already great offense in order to shore up our deeply questionable rotation.

        As I said, I think I’d feel differently if Montero could catch, but the fact that he was dealt at all confirms to me that the Yankees see him as a career DH.

  • jake

    This trade reminded me of the Beckett for Hanley trade. The red sox got a bunch of cost controlled years of beckett for their top prospect, and I think they’re pretty happy with that deal. I must say though, the lack of a third pitch is kind of worrying. Makes me think of hughes.

    • Tim

      If Hughes’s first two pitches where anywhere near as good as Pineda’s you wouldn’t be worrying about him, either.

      • jsbrendog

        plus highes never had the ML success pineda has, even if it is only 1 yr. or the k rate

  • Elmgrovegnome

    Good read. I agree that the Yankee offense needed a young bat, but their pitching needed the help more. So the trade is fine with me.

    I don’t see this trade erasing any possible signings next season, though. If Pineda does not perform to his #2 expectation then he would make a pretty good #3 or #4 starter.

    I am imaging a rotation like this in 2013. Sabathia, Cain, Pineda, Nova, whoever.

    • Tim

      I hope this trade does indeed eliminate the possibility of signings next off-season. That would mean that Pineda pitched up to expectations (or better), Hughes reverted back to mid-rotation form, Nova didn’t fall apart, and the prospect pool remained highly regarded with no significant regression. Haven’t we all grown tired of signing high-priced free agents only to watch them underperform to the their new contracts? This isn’t just a Yankee problem. Free agency DOES NOT WORK in helping you build your team into a winner. With the exception of the 1997 Marlins, pretty much every other champion has won by mostly eschewing high priced free agents (or at least with a strategic sprinkling only). They hamstring you WAY too much.

      • Joe Pawlikowski

        The 2009 Yankees disagree.

        • Tim

          The 2009 Yankees won the World Series NOT because of the free agent spending spree they went on prior to the season. They won perhaps IN SPITE of that – Teixeira had a poor postseason, Burnett was great in game 2 of the ALCS and WS, terrible in game 5 both times. Sabathia certainly pitched well, but let’s not kid ourselves. The Yankees won that WS because A-Rod was inhuman for four weeks.

      • JohnC

        I wouldn’t go that far. Certainly I hope Pineda succeeds and settles in as a solid number 2. But if a Cole Hamels or Matt Cain makes it to Free agency then the Yanks would be crazy not to make a pitch for them. Pitching wins championships. Pitching, pitching, and more pitching.

        • Ted Nelson

          Pitching and hitting and fielding win championships.

          • Ted Nelson

            and baserunning

            • DM

              Montero is the slowest 22 yr old baserunner I’ve ever seen.

              • Ted Nelson

                Go away.

                • DM

                  The truth hurts.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    I didn’t disagree. I am not a Montero hugger despite your ignorant beliefs. That I think he’s better than Pineda doesn’t mean I think he’s perfect or that I think Pineda is bad. All it means is that I think Montero is better.

                    Baserunning is one part of baseball. Being a slow baserunner doesn’t somehow mean you’re a bad baseball player. It’s one thing to consider among many others.

                    Now please leave me alone.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    I have been following RAB comments since the trade. Like most fans I am excited about Pineada. Big strong kid who can throw the ball through a wall & has very good control. He also has a good slider but needs to develop a curve & maybe a 4th pitch. But between his age & upside potential it is excititng. What I am concerned with is & no one will know till next yr is can this kid handle pitching in NY?
    If he can he is only going to get better & stronger & develop another pitch or two into his arsenal. Just needs to stay healthy & protect the arm (shoulder & elbow).

    As for Montero Im sure he is going to be a very good hitter but I think we need to remember he has been on the trade block for 2 yrs now. How much hype was made by the great Yankee’s PR machine? Chances are he wont develop into a good catcher & we have Tex locked up at at first for many yrs. Does anyone know if the Yankees tried Montero in RF?

    Get ready in another cpl yrs for another potential trade that will break our hearts in Gary Sanchez. Yankee braintrust project Gary Sanchez as a comparable hitter to Montero with better defensive skills. He will have another 3 yrs to develop but looks like Yankees like Romaine better.

    • Mike

      I think the Yankees see Romine more as Cervelli’s eventual replacement rather than Martin’s.

      • JohnC

        I read a few articles that said that JR Murphy is actually further along defensively as a catcher than Sanchez

    • Robert The Bruce

      Yankee braintrust project Gary Sanchez as a comparable hitter to Montero with better defensive skills. He will have another 3 yrs to develop but looks like Yankees like Romaine better.

      Lettuce have faith in Romaine!

  • Mike

    If Montero is a DH, as he was going to be on the Yankees, his upside is not at high as Pineda’s. Ortiz was a 4 win player last year. Barring injury or regression (very real risks) Pineda is the safer player with the higher upside at a position of need.

    2 concerns I always had about Montero developing into an elite bat were his modest walk totals and his low flyball totals. Those are major problems that he has to correct to even come close to his upside. Also take away his .400 BABIP and his 27% HR/FB rate in September and his debut, which it seems where a lot of the emotion for the deal is coming from, isn’t as impressive. Remember, this is the same prospect who people were on board with trading for a half season of Cliff Lee and some who wanted him to be traded for Ubaldo. One month is clouding everyone’s judgement too much.

  • Mike

    This does take a bunch of pressure off of signing a stud pitcher next year – for instance overpaying for Groenke (sic) in terms of $/years unless they are certain of his makeup, or outbidding Philly/Boston for Hamels etc.

    Even if Pineda has an ok year, IMO he will have a good w/l record because of the overall Yankee team, and the Yanks/Cash can use that to show the “growth” of Pineda, with e young Bs coming along.

    This was a move as much to maxamize value for Montero and get a young pitcher as to not have the Yanks against the wall next year for the few remaining FA pitchers ( like 2008h -where the Yanks spent almost 250mm for two spots in the rotation). While signing a pitcher should still be a top priority, this makes the failure to do so more palatable and explainable

    • Ted Nelson

      Let’s wait and see if signing a pitcher should be a priority. Yankees might have a rotation full of studs with a rotation full of studs in AAA to boot… or they might have a glaring need. A bunch of potential free agents might also re-up before they ever hit free agency.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “For one, if the Yankees were going to move a premier hitting piece for a pitcher, I’d have preferred it have been for more of a sure thing.”

    “However, the primary issue I’m having with accepting this deal is that it subtracts what was supposed to be a major source of offense from the lineup for a pitcher who has but one strong year under his belt…”

    I find myself thinking this trade was probably fair (which is a separate question from whether I like it or not – I think I do, but I go back and forth) because of quotes like the ones above – and the similar things we’re seeing from fans/followers of the Mariners.

    From our side of things, I think the common wisdom has been that the Yanks couldn’t trade Montero for anything but a number 1 starter, but we have to ask ourselves: Who was trading a number 1 starter for a prospect who looks like he’s heading for the DH slot? As sure as we all are that Montero is going to be awesome in MLB, he’s still just a prospect. That deal we were all waiting for wasn’t going to happen. That doesn’t mean you must trade Montero for less, but I do think we have to consider what the realistic options were here instead of dealing with pie in the sky scenarios.

    The organization dealt from a position of strength here, and filled a hole on the major league roster with a highly-touted young pitcher with some pretty nasty stuff (under team control for what, 5 years, to boot?). They may not have a ton of high-level hitters banging on the door to MLB, but they do have some depth at catcher in the minors, and they do have Russell Martin in MLB (and Cervelli, who is Cervelli, but whatever, he’s a fine back-up).

    I didn’t want to see Montero go because I fully believe in his offensive ability and think he’s going to anchor the Seattle lineup for the next 15 years, but I think a lot of Yankees fans who don’t like this deal are prospect-hugging (which I’m guilty of also, not attacking anyone) and missing the forest for the trees a bit.

    Also… Hey, we got a really nice, really young prospect pitcher out of the deal. I mean, sucks a little to lose Noesi, but Campos is a really nice lottery ticket to have in your pocket.

    • Larry Koestler

      Very well said, congressman.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I’m so confused by this trade, for reals. My scattered thoughts in that comment were half hangover, 75% just being totally unsure of what to think.

        When I have moments when I don’t love the trade, though, I just remind myself how Cashman totally ninja’d the starting rotation and how awesome that is. Just keep telling yourself that, when you’re down about losing Montero.

    • jsbrendog

      you’re fat. don’t corrupt pineda when he comes home and you throw him a parade. leave the donuts at home.

      and i totally agree with everything you said

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi


  • CP

    It’s amazing how much people can rip apart a 22 year old pitcher that was very highly regarded before the season and then went out and put up a 3.4 fWAR, 3.42 FIP, and >9 K/9IP in 170 innings.

    • Butch Vinegar

      Good, fair trade. I can’t relate to people who have strong opinions either way.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    Not for nothing, but the fact that there is a real thoughtful debate on the trade is a good thing. The fact that even the biggest Montero lovers can come up with a reason to like the trade means to me that it seems (at least before the players play) that we got some value and that the trade was fair.

  • Holy Ghost

    Seattle fans are just as losses about the trade as Yankee fans. That seems like a good sign.

    Two high upside players with huge question marks about their futures were swapped. Time will tell which team got the short end on the trade…

    • Holy Ghost

      I meant Seattle fans are ‘pissed’

      Stupid auto-correct

    • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

      I think both of them will be extraordinarily average. Montero is a defensively lacking and slow hitter going to a pitchers park, and Pineda is an inexperienced pitcher going to a hitters park in the AL east. Noesi v Campos decides it

      • jsbrendog

        well there are 5 years of pineda team control and 6 of montero left to decide it.

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s true, but I do think that there’s value in analyzing the process. Certainly the results can verify the thoughts that went into the process, but the way things end up working out isn’t necessarily the way that they were most likely to work out.

  • Gifted Tha Go Gitta

    I try to temper my anger (sadness) over this trade by saying Cashman could have traded Montero for Lee and we would be sitting here today without him or Pineda…

    • steve s

      But we’d most likely be sitting on a three-peat going into 2012!

  • Ted Nelson

    Yeah, to me it’s a solid enough move but I feel like keeping Montero would have been the right move. I’m excited to have Pineda and Campos… I just was more excited to have Montero and Noesi.

    My biggest concerns are longer-term, so getting a DH for 2012 isn’t really going to ease them. Pitching seems to be more volatile both year to year and in terms of devastating injuries. Montero isn’t a sure thing, but he’s about as close as they come. Pineda becoming and remaining a top of the rotation starter seems less likely than Montero becoming and remaining a stud hitter to me. I feel like the downside outweighs the upside on this deal and it might be one the Yankees regret. Nick Johnson had already proven a health risk when dealt. Though Montero isn’t risk free, I feel that his personality risks are far less tangible than Johnson’s health risks (granted I do have hindsight with Johnson). The guy Montero’s compared to in the best-case–Miggy–is/was a ragging alcoholic who told the cops to kill him when he got pulled over smashed out of his mind. Has the alcoholic bloated fat look at pretty much all times. Guy can still rake.

    Not sure why you would call bs on some individuals in the Yankees organization feeling Montero can and should catch. I would be very, very surprised if there aren’t some individuals in the organization that feel he should. Just might be that those individuals weren’t able to convince Cashman and/or ownership. The chances that every single person in the Yankees org agrees on that issue seem low to me.

    • Monterowasdinero

      It’s not as if Scranton forfeited the games he caught. I saw him catch a few games and I sat right behind the plate. We won! No passed balls!

      It happened.

    • thenamestsam

      My only argument with the idea that Montero is as close to a sure thing as they come is his BB%. Throughout his minor league career he has been at around 7%-9%. To produce at an extremely high offensive level while walking so little is going to be extremely hard for him. Now of course he’s not a finished product, and maybe he’ll learn to take a walk. That’s what happened with Cabrera. But I can’t see him ever being the true offensive force we all expect if he can’t learn to be more selective, and I don’t think that’s a completely foregone conclusion.

      For a little reference I looked at guys who had a .375 or higher wOBA for the last 3 years. Those are true offensive powerhouses. The guys with BB% below 9% are Ryan Braun, CarGo, Josh Hamilton, and Cano. All of these guys are able to sustain batting averages around .310 or higher because they’re extremely good on balls in play. They all hit a ton of line drives and/or have good speed to help them keep that BABIP up. Montero definitely doesn’t have the speed, and based on what I’ve seen of him he doesn’t look like he has the same kind of line drive swing of Hamilton or Cano. I really think he’s going to need to learn to walk to be the offensive juggernaut we all expect. Maybe he can do it, but I don’t think it’s a sure thing.

      • Ted Nelson

        I don’t think that low BB% is as important for someone with Montero’s combination of hit and power tools. I disagree that he’s not comparable to guys who have done it.

        He’s been in the mid 8s for his AAA career.

        Cano, A-Rod, Vlad, Miggy, Jeter, Holliday, Hanley… a lot of elite hitter don’t walk much or didn’t when they came up. Even Pujols started around 10% and slowly made his way to the 15% range. Heck, even walk-master Bonds started his career closer to 10% before getting to the 20% range later.

        If you’re in a weaker line-up and absolutely crush the ball like Vlad… you’re going to get less to hit and unless you’re a maniac your BB% should naturally go up. Vlad is about as much of a free swinger as they come… and his BB% did rise over time. If you’re in the middle of the Yankees or Rangers or even Brewers line-up… you’re probably still going to get pitches to hit. You’re going to come up with men on a lot and you’re going to have good hitter behind you.

        Walks are also only a proxy for plate discipline. Not walking doesn’t necessarily mean you were swinging at bad pitches. It’s more likely that you were… but you might just be putting the good pitches in play more than a hitter with a lesser hit tool.

        • thenamestsam

          I’m not trying to say it’s impossible, just that it’s not a foregone conclusion like so many seem to be treating it.

          I saw after I posted that Cameron wrote a related article about elite hitting prospects, and noted the same thing: “A significant part of the difference beween the elite hitters and the good hitters isn’t the ability to put the bat on the ball, but in how well they’re able to adapt to pitchers throwing them pitches out of the zone.” (Source:

          Sure you can list a group of elite hitters who figured it out, but I can do just as well a group of guys who were considered can’t miss sluggers who never learned to take a walk and never became the stud hitter. Delmon Young, Hank Blalock, Andy Marte. I want to make clear that I don’t think Montero will flop. I think he’s going to be damn good. I also think people have gotten carried away with the perception that he’s a sure thing based on 69 PAs where before that he was just a prospect with a good chance to make it and a good chance to flop.

          • Ted Nelson

            I don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion. I just don’t think BB% has too much to do with it given historical precedent. I do think that it’s very likely compared to other prospects and young players… including Pineda.

            Again… “taking a walk” is not the problem. It’s taking a bad pitch and making contact with the pitches you do swing at. I don’t see a ton of value in looking at BB% without looking at swing and contact rates.

            Not sure Blalock if had to do with plate discipline. Guy was a stud at first with a BB% of 10.5 his second season, but I believe had off-field issues… addiction or something didn’t he?
            Delmon Young is more extreme than Montero. His BB% was 1/2 Montero’s in AAA.
            Marte’s problem, I’d say, was more an inability to hit the ball than to lay off walks. If you can’t hit it’ll help to take more walks, but still might not make you an MLB player.
            Certainly possible Montero has personality issues that limit his performance or can’t hit MLB pitching… but again I think BB% is a somewhat marginal part of that. Could add fuel to the bust fire, but I don’t think it’s the epicenter of the fire in more cases.

            I don’t care about the 69 PAs. I understand small samples are unreliable. Shane Spencer, Shelley Duncan, Ruben Rivera… I know his hot start has little to do with future success. I’m going on the minor league record. The MLB hot start is more icing on the cake.

            • thenamestsam

              I don’t disagree with much of what you’re saying. I think we’re talking around each other slightly. I don’t think BB% is going to contribute to Montero being a bust. Honestly I think there’s very little chance that he’s a bust. I just think it matters a lot to his chance to be a superstar. The guys you hear bandied about as his upside. Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Cabrera all took a lot of walks. And that’s out of necessity. To be a superstar when you have no defensive value you need to be elite offesnively. To do that you need to be getting on base at at least a .360 clip, even if you’re one of the top sluggers in the game (and Montero has that potential). I’m worried that unless he picks up the walking, he’s going to have to hit .315 to get to that .360 #.

              So I see two paths to true greatness for Montero – one is to be a career .315 hitter like Cabrera. The other is to dramatically increase his BB%. Without one of those things I still think he can be very good. But his peak might be more like Cabrera’s down years. Take 2008 for example. Cabrera hit .292 with an BB% of 8.2%, OBP of .349. SLG of .537. Still a great offensive performance, just not the very top of the league, and with essentially no defense or baserunning (but probably still more than Montero will provide) he was worth 2.8 WAR. Montero still needs to get better if he’s going to be great. I think he has a good chance to do that, but it is not a sure thing.

              • Ted Nelson

                I agree that if he’s not walking, he’s going to have to display the hit tool. I don’t think his lack of walks is as pronounced as you make it out to be. I think it’s pretty typical for a 21 year old with the power and hit tools he has.

                Cabrera and especially Piazza didn’t take a lot of walks. And I listed several other players who didn’t/don’t either.

                Cabrera has an 11% BB% for his career and didn’t break double digits until his 4th MLB season (which was at like 23 granted). Montero has been in the 8-9 range the past two seasons at AAA. I would expect that might decline as a rookie, but it’s a pretty similar trend to Cabrera. Miggy’s BB% were like 8, 7, 10 at 17-20. Then dipped a little his rookie year at 21. Jesus was at 7.1, 7.7, 9.1, 7.8 from 17-21.
                Pizza didn’t break 8.2% BB% until like 28 years old in his 5th MLB season and was at 9.8% for his career.

                I think that increased patience is a pretty strong trend as hitters mature in MLB. I don’t think Montero stands out like a Delmon Young or Robinson Cano as someone who is just not going to take a walk. He’s closer to someone like Miggy who you claim takes a lot of walks than to a young Cano or Young.

                People act like DHing is a bad thing… for someone like Miguel Cabrera it would be a great thing. His defense is a drag on his value and his team. All else equal he’s better off DHing. Of course it depends on who replaces him at DH vs. at 1B. And there’s the managing attitudes aspect of it.

                I am in no way trying to say that Montero is guaranteed to be better than a .375 wOBA hitter that Cabrera was in his down years. If that’s sort of a “bad” no development case, though… you have a sick prospect. If he develops and is better than that…
                I think hitters developing patience is more of a trend than pitchers remaining healthy and developing. I haven’t actually quantified it, though.

                • thenamestsam

                  I think we basically agree about everything. Montero is of course a sick prospect. People have been acting like his floor is 1st ballot HOFer though, whereas I think his floor is more as a solid regular who hits for a lot of power and a good average, but doesn’t walk, and is a DH with no value on the bases or in the field. That’s above replacement level, but it’s not going to be worth much more than 2 WAR. I expect him to exceed that, but it will require him to improve his game, and there are plenty of players who never do that. A sure thing to me is someone who is capable of being an all-star caliber player (~5 WAR) with no improvement to their current skill set. I don’t think Montero is that.

    • DM

      On Jan 13th Ted says this in reaction to the trade,

      “…I have a feeling that we will remember today as the end of the Yankee dynasty.”

      On Jan 18th Ted says this in reaction to the trade,

      “Yeah, to me it’s a solid enough move…”

      Quite a difference, huh? I guess the cooling period has begun.

      • Ted Nelson

        What’s your problem? I don’t like the trade. People are going to disagree when we’re talking about projecting future outcomes. Get over it. You can like the trade. I don’t.

        Not a difference if you actually bothered to read my explanation or ask me what I meant…

        Making the playoffs almost every single year is not easy to do. Losing a stud young hitter for a volatile young pitcher is the kind of trade that can hurt your playoff chances for years.

        I didn’t hate the trade to begin with… I just think that the high degree of risk on a blockbuster trade of this nature could end the Yankees perennial playoff trips. I still feel the same way.

        • Ted Nelson

          I’m going to ignore your nonsensical comments from now on. Please feel free to do the same.

          • Ted Nelson

            I mean you seriously think Joe Girardi is the guy who came up with the idea of the rotating DH and that I’m blind and deaf for thinking that maybe the idea pre-dates Girardi’s managerial career… enough said.

            • DM

              Back so soon. I thought you were ignoring my comments? LOL

        • DM

          “Losing a stud young hitter for a volatile young pitcher”

          There it is again. A second ago they were both “potentially” guys. But now Montero IS a stud hitter and Pineda IS a volatile pitcher. What happened to wait and see? Given enough time you’ll say everything and anything on this one.

          “Not a difference…”
          So, “a solid enough move” may mark “the end of the Yankee dynasty”. Classic. Yeah, no difference there. LOL.

          • jsbrendog

            now he just has to admit he freake dout and has had more chance to think about it and relax. well played.

            • DM

              Nah, he’s not that honest. He’ll massage and parse his words to cover everything and its opposite. He claims now that he’s not a Montero-hugger, but he used to jump on me every time I brought up his less than “once in a lifetime” AAA stats — or when I suggested that he might be on the block. And when a trade finally went down he acted like the Yankees were St Louis trading away Pujols after his 1st season in the bigs. He’s creeping towards the middle now b/c he can’t be a Ysnkee fan and root against Pineda succeeding.

              • Ted Nelson

                This is ridiculous. I think Montero’s a really good prospect, which is the mainstream opinion. I did not say he’s Albert Pujols.

                There’s a difference between pointing out that Montero didn’t have an ideal AAA season–which I totally agree with–and blowing that out of proportion in terms of his long-term value–which is what you did.

                I can root for Pineda to succeed and still think that it was a bad trade. That is exactly what I will do. That I don’t think it was a good move doesn’t mean I think it was an awful move. There’s a huge middle ground you’re ignoring.

            • Ted Nelson

              My wording was an overreaction, but DM is ignoring my actual points and reading whatever DM would like to read.

              I said that I think we ***COULD*** look back and see this as the end of the dynasty not because I think it’s an awful trade, but because I think it’s an unnecessarily high risk trade. Perhaps I should have chosen different words or explained it better originally, but DM is ignoring all of my subsequent explanations.

          • Ted Nelson

            Stop. I am not being inconsistent. You are misinterpreting what I am saying.

            Montero IS a stud *young* hitter. Yes. At the levels he’s been at… he’s been a stud. Especially at his age. That is a factual thing, not a projection thing. I did not say he’s an MLB star. I said he’s a stud. He is.

            Pitchers ARE volatile. Pineda is a pitcher. Again I am not projecting this. Pineda is in fact a pitcher.

            “So, “a solid enough move” may mark “the end of the Yankee dynasty”. Classic. Yeah, no difference there. LOL.”

            This is a projection thing. We have to deal with the probabilities of different outcomes. I feel that the deal is solid because Pineda does have a lot of upside. I just feel like his downside and lower upside compared to Montero make the possibility that their run ends significant. Is that a pessimistic projection? Yes. It’s my opinion. You can disagree. I don’t care. Just stop acting like I am stupid for expressing my opinion. In the process you are exposing a whole lot of stupidity on your end.

            • DM

              Still reading and replying to my comments? I thought you were done? I guess you’re flip-flopping on that too.

              Why would a person who believes a move could endanger playoff appearances by the Yankees team also deem that same move “solid”? You have a feeling it will end a dynasty but it’s also solid? Utter nonsense.

              • Ted Nelson

                I’m going to ignore you are soon as I feel like you understand my point. I’ll try to use short, simple sentences for you.

                I’ve explained this to you a bunch of times now.

                We are projecting the future. There is no certainty. Various outcomes are possible. All we can do is assign values to the probabilities of these various outcomes. Here comes a big sentence… try to stay with me… Though I feel like Pineda is a good enough player projected forward to not make this a terrible or bad move, I feel that his upside is less probably enough and his downside is more probable enough that there is a risk this ends up poorly enough for the Yankees (ending their dynasty… which any series of moves could very easily do) that it was not a justified move.

                I think it’s a high risk, high reward move. I think keeping Montero was a lower risk, higher reward move. How hard is that to understand?

                • DM

                  So, you overreacted. I got it.

                  Can you explain how Noesi — using all your favorite stats — succeeded in his time AAA? You said he succeeded at every level — and called him a “potential front end starter” based on that.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Wow… this is worthless.

                    Read a scouting report on Noesi if you don’t think he has front-end potential. Being projected as a #3 starter means you could potentially be better than that which would make you… drum roll… a front-end starter. Tell DM what he’s won!

                    By what stat didn’t Noesi succeed in AAA? His FIP was 3.2 or less both partial seasons there. His ERA was 3.28 his second partial season there.

                    In AAA Pineda had a 3.6 FIP and 4.76 ERA… by the way.

                    • DM

                      I didn’t say Pineda succeeded at AAA.

                      “By what stat didn’t Noesi succeed in AAA?”

                      His whip? hits to innings pitched? BA against? his lack of total innings pitched to evaluate him there? his 2-2 record? that spells AAA success to you? Geez, Pineda should be labeled far more than merely “promising” considering what he did at the MAJOR league level at age 22. If you call Noesi successful at AAA with his track record there, what must you call Pineda and his track record at the major league level?

                      Why did Cashman say that they subverted Noesi’s development last year by keeping him in the pen? Why is he last man on the major league starting pitcher depth chart if he already proved himself at AAA? Why was the plan to start him there next year? Why sign Garcia or consider Kiroda, Jackson, Colon, etc if AAA proven front end potential Noesi is ready to go? I never hear them talk about Banuelos, Betances — and Noesi in the same breath. Noesi is in the Phelps, Mitchell, Warren tier. In fact all those guys had more proven success in AAA than Noesi did.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Succeeding somewhere doesn’t mean you got enough time there or proved all you needed to prove. In the opportunities he had… Noesi was successful overall. You are way out there… a player can’t control where their organization puts them. All they can do is try to take advantage of the opportunities they’ve had.

                      Did I ever once say that Pineda wasn’t successful in MLB last season?????????? Do you really not see how he is an example that AAA success is not a prerequisite for MLB success?????????? Seriously, do you think about what you’re going to type before typing it?

                      I’m done now.

            • CJ

              Ted you don’t like a cashman move, that is frowned upon here.

  • MattG

    I have reason to believe that Pineda has tools to limit home runs. The evidence is hearsay, circumstantial, and less than overwhelming, but it exists, and can be viewed optimistically. This is it:

    1) different scouting reports have explained that Pineda uses different grips on his fastball, and in fact has 3 or 4 different fastballs. Presumably, he uses the fastball differently against righties and lefties.

    2) this shows up in the splits: vs righties, he allows 47.1% flyballs. Vs lefties, it is 42.9%.

    3) More importantly, vs righties, he allows 10.4% HR/FB, while vs lefties, it is 7.6%.

    4) His HR/FB rate also goes against the grain in his home/road splits: 10.5% home, 7.8% road.

    All of this could mean that he has the ability to pitch differently based on the handedness of the batter and the park in which he is pitching, and could lead to the optimistic view that Pineda knows how to limit home runs in certain situations.

    Why wouldn’t he pitch that way all the time? There are probably drawbacks, or maybe, because of Safeco, it just wasn’t necessary. The point is, he may already be prepared for Yankee Stadium.

  • mt

    Couple of thoughts:

    1) I also tried to think of Beckett and Hanley comparison (win/win) to this trade but Beckett of course had more of a track record including being MVP in World Series before Red Sox got him.

    2) I also had initial feeling that “we should have gotten more of a sure thing” but now that I reflect on that, was that realistic for Montero and Noesi? Let’s identify who that would have been. Montero and Noesi for ??
    a) two years of Matt Garza at his multi million salary
    b) one year of Cain for free agency
    c) four years of someone like Scherzer??

    Exactly what “sure thing” should we have gotten for a package of Montero and Noesi (without adding Sanchez, or Killer B’s) given the Latos and Gio Gonzalez packages (where the pitchers were more costly in terms of surrendered prospects and also were less cost-controlled)

    3) I would love to know whether there is a scenario where once Kuroda, Garcia, Burnett and Soriano are gone we can still get Hamels and meet the austerity budget. If we got a Matt Garza or Gio type now, getting Hamels/Cain would have been more out of question. Also I guess if Pineda blows up and does not develop or gets injured, the free agent market will have to be mined.

    4) This deal definitely makes more sense for Yanks given albatross of contract of eventual DH AROD. Given there are no do-overs (AROD is going nowhere until 2017), we cannot just say Montero would play DH for next six years.
    5) If Montero can catch even adequately, that will make Yanks look real bad.
    6) this deal only works if we are patient with Pineda’s bumps along road – will be hard to do (especially for day to day rabid fans) if Montero immediately starts raking from Day 1, whether as DH or catcher.

  • Hardy

    I looks like you have talked yourself into comparing Pineda & Damon with Montero & Hamels and then decided that you prefer the second combination.
    I think that is a skewed way to look at the Montero-Pineda trade.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Well for one thing, it could end up being Pineda, Damon, and Hamels.

      •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        …or Pineda and Damon, followed by Pineda and Hamels.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’m just over it.

    At this point, I’m as excited about the season as I would have been if the trade had not been made. My excitement to see what Montero can do has been replaced by excitement over Pineda. A bit more dread? Sure, but it’s more likely to be because you don’t focus as much on one hitter in your lineup struggling than you will over the guy standing there by himself on the mound.

    Over it. Said as much as can be said. We’ll see how the trade went in a few years time. My gut says both teams will be pleased as peach with who they got.

  • Pasqua

    “For one, if the Yankees were going to move a premier hitting piece for a pitcher, I’d have preferred it have been for more of a sure thing.”

    While I certainly respect your opinion and skepticism, this passage highlights the main problem I have with the argument. When you state that you would prefer a “sure thing,” you seem to be suggesting that Cashman settled for Pineda. I think it’s been pretty clear that deals for proven studs would have required a lot more than Montero and Noesi. We’ve heard rumor after rumor about Montero being packaged with Banuelos, Nova, etc., but nothing ever materialized. While these deals would have produced sure things, they also would have slashed and burned the farm system.

    Perhaps we didn’t get a sure thing in return for Montero because a stud prospect returns a stud prospect, and anything more than that would have been too expensive.

    • Larry Koestler

      Great point; and it underscores one of the primary issues that admittedly arise with prospect-hugging. In our eyes Montero is/was worth his weight in gold. At the end of the day, the trade boils down to stud prospect for stud prospect, with both teams filling a need by trading from strength.

      • jsbrendog

        but it isnt stud prospect for stud prospect because pineda has a full ml season to his credit and despite his falloff in the second half his peripherals are steady. and for a 22 yr old kid to throw up more than a k per inning, ~less hits per innings pitched, and a 1.1 whip…..sign. me. up. he is now a major leaguer and montero is still a prospect.

        now, saying that, that does not guarantee sustained success BUT of the players in teh trade oonly pineda has a season’s worth of data with noesi and his 60 innings next, then montero, and then the superunkown of campos.

        • Ted Nelson

          I think you’re putting way too much weight on one season.

          • DM

            Where does Montero’s weight come from? 69 Sept ABs or his career .288 BA at AAA over 2 full seasons? Melky Cabrera hit .280 in the big leagues at age 21 for 460 ABs. He must be a stud too.

            • Pasqua

              I think Ted Nelson is making the point that we shouldn’t just claim Pineda to be a better bet than Montero because he has a full season under his belt. For all intents and purposes, he’s still a prospect, albeit a prospect with a few more months of MLB experience than Montero, which essentially brings us back to the trade being a stud prospect for a stud prospect.

  • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

    “the trade worked out pretty horrendously for the Yanks, who got 2.1 total fWAR out of Javy in the two seasons he wore pinstripes, while Stick and Rivera have combined for 22.7 fWAR since 2004”

    Irrelevant. Vazquez has provided 30.2 WAR since 2004, more than Nick and Rivera combined. The fact that the Yankees only held onto Vazquez for one year is irrelvant to a WAR-Based comparison– you can’t assume they would have held onto Rivera or Johnson past 2004. When you are making a comparison between A and B, you need to do it within a consistent framework– that applies to any logical argument.

    • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

      In fact the WAR-based comparison works against your premise if you base it on Vazquez-Johnson-Rivera. Vazquez was a “high risk” power pitcher, while Nick was a “low risk” hitter with a great batting eye at a very young age. Yet as it worked out, Nick walked into too many pitches, or whatever, always ended up a the DL, and ended up providing much less value in the end.

      Adding to that, even if the total WAR had been close, getting similar WAR out of one player rather than two is more valuable, given the fact teams are limited to a 25 man roster, and can only play 9-10 at a time.

      • Larry Koestler

        Yeah, I realize in hindsight my methodology was flawed there. I may just go in and delete the WAR comps; they don’t make sense.

  • Greg

    What this really says is that the Yankees aren’t confident about the guys in AAA. If Noesi was deemed ready for prime time, then merely the adding of Kuroda was probably enough. And if the Yankees felt that Warren and/or Phelps could help now, then it’s surely enough. Plus the B’s next year. But by trading for Pineda, they Yankees are basically saying they aren’t confident that any of those 5 guys are likely to be Pineda any time soon. And that’s why they had to trade their best young hitter.

  • Mike

    Montero is a sure thing to be a 2 to 2.5 win player. I get the feeling that people are saying he’s a sure thing to be a much better player than that. He would have to improve other areas (defense, drawing walks, getting the ball in the air, etc.) to do that. Even then, the ceiling is limited if he’s a 1b (no one knows if he can play there and there’s no reason to assume he can) or DH. Some improvements are likely since he’s so young, but Pineda is already a 3.5 win player without any improvements. It’s an upside and team need trade.

  • Kurt

    I also hate to see Montero go but here’s the thing. If Montero can’t catch, the Yankees have no position for him. They are contractually committed to Tex for several more years (2016) at first base. They are also committed to Alex Rodriguez through 2017 and he will have to become the full-time DH in another year or two at the most in order to stay healthy and deliver reasonable value to the Yanks. Where does Montero play long-term if he can’t catch?

  • jamie

    “the primary issue I’m having with accepting this deal is that it subtracts what was supposed to be a major source of offense from the lineup for a pitcher who has but one strong year under his belt”

    I tend to disagree with this statement because if Pineda isn’t a proven source of strong pitching, what does that make Montero? Montero has only one month of MLB experience, and Larry already noted what people say about September. For me, Montero is still a prospect while Pineda is a big leaguer – we can look at data and know how Pineda reacts to the stresses of MLB, but for Montero, we only have a small sample size.

    Somehow, against all odds, the Yankees pieced together a starting rotation that performed great in 2011 – it was a miracle. When it comes down to it, I prize a great rotation over a great offense. The Yankees offense is good enough – we don’t need an All Star at all 9 spots, and besides, I don’t see A-Rod spending a lot of time at 3rd for the rest of his career; its just going to get worse as time goes by and Montero, who I bet the Yankees don’t believe can really catch, would just create a log jam at DH with A-Rod – if not this year, than next year. we’re better off with 1 yr deals at DH until A-Rod ends up there full time, which is going to be sooner than later.

  • OldYanksFan

    I do NOT believe Cashman is jumping for joy over this trade. I believe, as many have alluded to, that Montero is a DH on a team that could NOT afford a full-time DH, and considing this situation, Cashman was doing 2 things.
    1) Trading HI on Montero (before other teams either saw him Catch or saw that the Yankees would not allow him to Catch) -and-
    2) NOT raising payroll. Yes, Cashman could have waited and used Jesus as a chip for a ‘known thing’, but known things that are elite Pitchers, are very expnsive.

    And Yes… we could use Montero’s bat.
    And Yes… ALL pitchers are risky, especially one without a longer track record.

    But when you consider how young (ie: length of cost controlled years) and the potential of Pineda, that this was a ‘smart’ deal. Not necessarily smart in a vacuum, but ‘smart’ considering the factors that Cashman is dealing with.

    The magic $189m payroll definitely played a part in this. Had we not been in ‘cost restraint mode’, I think a different deal is done.

  • rev maximus

    with all due respect, can we get a little editing at RAB. this article was really really long and felt like a personal journal entry with all the waxing and waning and metaphysical confusion about the trade. Love RAB but beginning to see less as a place to get real information.

    • Larry Koestler

      I don’t disagree that this piece could stand to be cut down some; but it’s not often a transaction of this magnitude is executed. When a player you’ve been following for five years gets traded by the team you spend 365 days a year analyzing, writing about and obsessing over, there are a lot of points and counterpoints to consider and it’s tough not to get a little self-indulgent.

      I think there’s been some terrific back-and-forth in the comments of this piece, and many of the observations that have been made are pushing me further toward hopping fully on board the Pineda train.

    • Carl

      I second that. Hard to put together a good piece when emotions are raging. I’m surprised nobody else mentioned this.

  • Jared M

    No one knows exactly what Montero or Pineda will be. The bottom line is that Montero is a 22 y.o. DH. Pineda (Happy 23rd BDAY) is a 6’7″, 260 lb. brick house of a starting pitcher who throws 98 mph. As such Pineda is a much scarcer and more valuable commodity than Montero. What do you do with a 22 y.o. DH? There is NEVER a time when you can’t get a decent bat to fill that slot. I would love to see Damon or Matsui back for one more year. When the Yanks decided that Montero couldn’t handle being an everyday catcher, I thought they might look at moving Tex to 3rd and slotting ARod as a more or less full time DH, with Montero at 1B. That was really the only option other than trading him. They are going to need an increasing number of ABs at DH for ARod and Jeter as the years go on.

  • Kevin

    If Montero was supposed to help win championships, isn’t it an issue that if he couldn’t be an everyday catcher he’d only be playing in 3/4 out of 7 world series games? If he couldn’t be a solid defensive catcher in the regular season, we are hardly going to have him suit up in the World freakin Series when neither he nor the pitchers are used to it. May or may not make a difference, but shouldn’t the Yankees think about that at least? You can’t anchor your lineup on a guy who won’t be there in the WS.

  • Trevor

    I could’nt agree with the author more. Cashman may be basking in mis-appropriated glory right now but this “exchange” of assets will prove to be disastrous for the Yankees.

  • Kurt

    The more I think about this trade, I’m questioning Seattle’s strategy. Like it or not, they are looking up at the Angels and Rangers for the next couple of years and building for the long-term future. Why move a good young pitcher like Pineda? Why not ship King Felix to the Yanks for a package that includes Montero, Noesi and one of either Betances or Banuellos? That would give them a great core of young talent going forward.

  • WayneD

    I meant to post this yesterday but I was too busy at work and my home PC was out of commission.

    I empathize with your concerns about trading Montero, but, unlike you, I’m not buying into the trade being even a possibly good deal because the statistical evidence seems to indicate otherwise when you look at Pineda’s stat’s in more detail, as shown below.

    Note: I posted this info in response to another RAB article, but I haven’t seen anyone from RAB comment on these largely disconcerting facts about Pineda.

    Pineda had a 3.74 ERA pitching about half his games in the best pitchers park in the AL, which means his ERA could easily be in the 4.50 to 5.00+ range in the AL East. His home/away splits also indicate he benefited from pitching in Seattle.

    The following facts are more disconcerting, however. Against:

    Boston (1 start): 14.54 ERA, .381 BA, .619 SLG, 1.028 OPS (impressive, huh?)

    Angels (1 start, but sans Albert): 12.60 ERA, .619 SLG, .967 OPS (got a woody yet?)

    Tigers (2 starts): 5.56 ERA, .413 SLG, .746 OPS

    Yankees (1 start): 5.40 ERA, .681 OPS (an HR cost him dearly, pitched well otherwise; but that AJ’s problem, too.)

    Texas (3 starts): 4.74 ERA, .465 SLG, .735 OPS

    Toronto: (3 starts): ERA: 5.30, .432 SLG, .750 OPS

    So, who did Pineda have great success against???

    Inter-league (4 starts): ERA: 1.71. (Oh, what a surprise: he beat up on the AAA league.)

    Twins (2 starts): ERA 1.64

    A’s (2 starts): ERA: 2.00

    Padres (1 start): 0.00 ERA (Now that’s truly impressive, nobody shuts down that powerhouse!)

    In all, he pitched really well against 2 (!) really good teams: the Rays, who are know more for their pitching than hitting, and the Phillies, who had an off year at the plate.

    So, where do you see a “#1 potential” in the above shitty pitching? (I wrote in response to another reader’s post)

    This could go down as the worst trade in Yankees’ history!

    I hope to hell I’m wrong, but the evidence to the contrary isn’t impressive at this point. And think back to the last guy we gave up on and shipped to Seattle. Uggggggggh!

    Frankly, Larry, I do foresee a decline in our offense this year and next as many of our stars age further, and I think a young hitting star of Montero’s caliber would prove to be more valuable that Pineda long term.

    I also don’t buy into the idea that Montero could never have a defensive position or contribute defensively. Manny was frequently horrible in the LF for Boston, yet they wouldn’t have won two pennants without him.

    Also, both Posada and Piazza were never elegant behind the plate, yet one and possibly both of them will end up in the HOF. I don’t buy into the idea that Montero will be worse than Piazza defensively, and I think he can hit as well (if not better) than Piazza.

    Furthermore, it seems to me we won 4 World Championship with Posada as our catcher. And almost every analysts cites our hitting in three primarily defensive positions (C, SS, CF) as a major reason we won those championships.

    So, if Montero produces 50-65 XBHs a year over the next few years, as I expect him to, the deal is a bust unless Pineda turns out to by a #1-type pitcher. If he ends up being a 3-5, Cashman should be fired because the evidence cited above didn’t support making this trade. (As you know from previous exchanges, I’m not a big Cashman fan.)

    • yanquiphonehome

      I for the most part have liked cashman´s decisions over the years, but I agree that he should be sacked if this trade backfires for the yankees. montero is one of the best prospects the yankees have ever had. When he was signed as a 16 year old in venezuela, he was the best talent available, a kid with uncanny bat speed and strength that was evaluated as 80 on an 80 scale, the kind of high end young talent that the yankees have no access to in the draft and with the new spending limits on international signings will be hard pressed to come up with again. In those days, the yankees had a run where they usually got the best latin american player available, but unlike jose tabata and gary sanchez, montero never developed attitude problems or any kind of setbacks going up the ladder. he just worked his ass off,got better and better, got into great shape, and developed all aspects of his game while patiently waiting for his oportunity with the yankees. by trading montero, the yankees not only lose their best young hitter, one who historically hits best late in the season, but they have no hitter even close to ready to come up and help the major league team, they will have the same offense as last year, an offense that starts breaking down at the tail end of the season, couldn´t get a hit to save their lives for the most part last year in the playoffs and will only be a year older. the strength in their upper levels, pitching, will be totally blocked (they already have 7 major league starters)and useless to them except as more trade bait. so much for the yankee youth revolution. Personally, I think the Yanks should have signed Yu Darvish, only 10 million a year would count towards the luxury tax, signed Kuroda and not traded anyone (except AJ probably). I think the only excuse for not signing darvish and for getting rid of montero is that cashman and his scouts must see some important weaknesses in their respective games. Maybe montero will not develop into one of the best young hitters in baseball, maybe pineda will be dominant and the rangers will look like fools for commiting so much money to a man with no major league experience. But if Darvish excells in Texas and Monty in seattle, Cashman will be revealed as a dumass with unforgiveably bad intelligence info, and will forever be remembered for trading away the best yankee prospect to come around in a really long time for a pitcher when he could have kept him and aquired a better pitcher while only having to give up money.


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