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Yanks Improve Pitching Now and in the Future



By Mike Silva ~ January 13th, 2012. Filed under: New York Yankees.

What a banner night for Brian Cashman and the Yankees. Within an hour they announced a blockbuster trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to Seattle for Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos, and then turned around and signed Hiroki Kuroda to a reasonable 1-year/$10 million dollar deal. The Yankees are huge winners tonight as these moves solidify the rotation in 2012 and beyond.

For all the hype surrounding Montero he was essentially a Designated Hitter. Some believed he would be a middle of the order threat, but there were red flags about his work ethic in the minor leagues and the Yankees never seriously believed he could be an everyday catcher. His value was at its peak and they needed to capitalize on it. If they couldn’t get an ace (i.e. Felix Hernandez), trading their top positional prospect for a young pitcher with upside was the next best thing.

Pineda is 6’7” righty that averaged over a strikeout per inning as a 22-year old rookie. His repertoire consists of a 95 mph fastball and slider. Perhaps you have the beginning of a “Big Three” in the near future that includes Pineda, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. There are a couple of concerns with Pineda. He is a fly ball pitcher that struggled outside of spacious Safeco Field (4.40 ERA), which could be problematic at Yankee Stadium. The league caught up with him in the second half (5.12 ERA), but he did pitch a career high 172 innings. Remember, with only two pitches he has to adjust as he makes his way around the league two or three times. Again, I rather take the risk on the big pitching arm that strikes out hitters at a high rate than a designated hitter with a poor work ethic.

Campos is a 19-year old RHP that owns a career MILB strikeout rate of 8.8 and walks less than 3 per 9. The presence of Pineda and the plethora of young arms in the system made Noesi expendable, so why not nibble for a young pitcher with upside in the deal? Mariners Farm Review projects Campos as a #3-4 starter. His fastball reaches the mid-90s, but it appears he needs to work on his secondary pitches. I would expect him to start the season in High-A Tampa.

As for the Kuroda move, I have been advocating this all offseason. Despite losing 16 games in 2011, Kuroda was one of the top pitchers in the National League and his ERA was good for 9th overall. Historically, he will give you 200 innings and about 12-15 wins. He seems to be the type of pitcher that has good enough stuff to translate into the American League. Will he dominate? No. But all you need is innings and consistency to round out the rotation; a number three, if you will.

Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Burnett, and Nova as the rotation will move Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia to the bullpen. Garcia can take on a long-man role and the 7-8-9 is Hughes, Robertson, Rivera. With Soriano it becomes a very deep bullpen.

Before tonight, the Yankees hadn’t made a deal since they acquired Javier Vazquez in December of 2009. This move cost them their top positional prospect, but netted a big league ready starter with top-of-the-rotation potential and a hard throwing prospect that could develop into a solid #3 starter. How often can you say you acquire a talent like Pineda and not hurt your minor league pitching depth? Add in the “win-now” move in signing Kuroda and the Yankees are sleeping much better today than just 24 hours ago.

I am not calling the Montero-Pineda deal a steal, but I think the early returns heavily favor the Yankees.

***

In case you are interested, here is some video of Campos from earlier this year

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Joe Delgrippo adds:

Here is some video of Pineda

Has a very nice delivery. Smooth.

However, he could keep the front should closed a bit longer, which would help him stay on top of slider and change up.

When front should opens too soon, the ball usually moves up and to Pitching Arm Side (PAS).

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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14 Responses to Yanks Improve Pitching Now and in the Future

  1. Steve S.

    Simply put, you could not have got Gio Gonzalez or Mat Latos for Jesus Montero straight up, and I think Pineda is better than either of them. Steal by Cash, great job of timing both the FA and trade market.

    The Noesi-Campos side of the deal appears to be a 1-1. They’re essentially the same pitcher, one is just further along in his development.

    Flat-out steal.

  2. david

    You left out Nova. I think he’d be the fourth starter before Burnett. In fact I see Burnett gone in a week

  3. Stu B

    In the NY Post, Dan Martin referred to Pineda as the AL Rookie of the Year, which actually was won by Jeremy Hellickson, and called Montero “one of the top offensive players in the game.”

    Unbelievable. How do idiots like Martin get and keep their jobs?

  4. Daler

    Tough to get rid of RH power. They r in short supply

  5. Mike Silva

    Thanks.. stupid mistake by me and I knew I forgot someone.

  6. Saket

    Mike, I respect your opinion on this one, but I view Jesus as a right handed Prince Fielder. My heart is broken on this one.

  7. Saket

    I should have stated a reason: Pineda is a 2 pitch pitcher at the moment, who throws 30% of his pitches as sliders. The toll it will take on his elbow is tough to swallow.

    I do like the Campos for Noesi swap though.

  8. Stu B

    @Saket: Montero has a lot to prove before he can be compared to a proven commodity like Fielder. That’s why they’re called prospects.

  9. Mike Silva

    Saket

    Clearly you are correct, the 2-pitches and the regression outside Safeco puts up some red flags. With Gary Sanchez in the system I think the pain of this deal, if Montero pans out, will lesson the blow.

    As a 20-year old Prince Fielder had 20 homers and 86 RBI in the Minors – Montero didn’t put up that kind of consistency at a similar age.

    Plus, he can’t catch and that is why the Yankees felt the need to deal him while his value is high.

  10. Joseph DelGrippo

    Mike,

    As a 20 year old, Prince had 23 and 75 in Double A.

    As a 20 year old, Jesus had 21 and 75 in Triple A, plus had a higher OPS than Fielder in 73 less PAs.

    As a 21 year old, Prince had 28 and 86 in the PCL, which is a hitters haven league.

    As a 21 year old, Jesus had 18 and 67 once again in Scranton, a notoriously bad hitters park. Plus he had 4 more HRs in the majors last year.

    So, I believe Mr. Montero is pretty goddamned consistent in his power, and would have been even more enormous in cozy Yankee Stadium over the next decade.

    The more I think about this deal, the more I dislike it from a Yankees stand point.

    And when Montero is is the batters box and banging out 35 and 120 (with 30+ doubles) every season, does it really matter what position he is playing?

  11. Chuck Johnson

    The Pineda deal was a flat-out steal.

    The Kuroda signing is idiotic.

    The Yanks didn’t need pitching.

    If there’s a silver lining to this, a source told me this morning the Yanks have decided they will groom Hughes to be the eventual replacement for Mo, so he was out of any possible rotation competition in the spring.

  12. Stu B

    @Joseph: Montero has 4 homers and 12 RBI in the major leagues. Lots of guys put up numbers in the minors and fizzle in the majors. There’s no guarantee he’ll become a 30 homer a year guy – that’s why they’re called prospects.

  13. UncleMario

    Which leads to a question: Were the Mariners were in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes at all? Perhaps the Bora’s asking price was too much that the M’s traded for Montero?

  14. Joseph DelGrippo

    Stu:

    Everybody playing in the major leagues was a prospect. Those who became good to great major leaguers were actually given a good chance to succeed.

    Most guys who consistently hit the way Montero did in the minor leagues, including big hits in playoff games usually turn out pretty well.

    In addition, there are very few people in all of baseball who do not believe Montero will turn out to be a stud hitter.

    Top prospect status through out the game, an ability to hit for power to all fields, and a turnaround this past year in attitude all pointed to a very nice Yankee career.

    And as I have said many times, it is more difficult to develop a middle of the order hitter than it is to develop a #2 type pitcher.

    Ivan Nova had a better year his rookie season than Pineda did, but all everybody wants to discuss is K rate. A weak ground ball to short to end the inning is just the same as a strikeout. Might even take you less pitches, too.

    Nova flourished in his second half while Pindea struggled.

    Yanks really didn’t need pitching, but they do need a RH power bat to complement all thier lefty power. Maybe Jorge Vazquez can finally get his shot.

    I hope Pineda turns out to be a RH Steve Carlton with a pin pont fastball and deveasting slider.

    But I like a big bat in the middle of the lineup, and the Yankees might have to pay up big money to get one.

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