Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yankees Trade Jesus Montero

Yankees get: Michael Pineda and Jose Campos
Mariners get: Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi

Of course the day after I come out with my top prospect as Jesus Montero he gets traded.  Montero's name has been brought up many times before in trade talks but they have always broken down.  Most notably in a trade for Cliff Lee with these same Seattle Mariners.  However, it seem that unless they were blown away with the player they were getting back that Yankees would end up keeping Montero as a staple in their lineup for years to come.  This means that the Yankees are very enamored with Michael Pineda and with good reason.

Last year in his first season in the Majors he went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 28 starts and  171 innings.  He also made the American League All-Star team.  This is a very good rookie season and with this trade the Yankees will have two of the top rookie pitcher from last season (Ivan Nova being the other).  However, I'm gonna focus mainly on his time in the minors.  Pineda was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005 at the age of 16.  Since then he has had a very impressive minor league career.  His first professional season was in 2006 in the Dominican Summer League.  There he went 2-1 with a 0.44 ERA in 20.1 innings.  He spent a second season in the DSL and again dominated.  He went 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA.  In 2008 he had a dominant season in A ball.  He went 8-6 with a 1.95 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 138.1 innings.  He then pitched 2009 in High A.  There he only pitched 44.1 innings so I assume he got hurt at some point during the season.  There he went 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA and 48 strikeouts.  He again got promoted in 2010, starting at AA.  There he continued his minor league domination.  In his first year as a full time starter he went 8-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 13 starts.  He then got called up around mid-season to AAA.  There he struggled for the first time as a professional.  In 12 starts he went 3-3 with a career worst 4.76 ERA and 76 strikeouts.  In total he pitched 139.1 innings.  Except for struggling a little, this is a very impressive minor league career.  And since he was signed so young he is still four days shy of his 23rd birthday.

The other pitcher the Yankees got in the trade is 19 year old righty Jose Campos.  Campos' minor league career isn't as impressive as Pineda but he did have a very nice 2011 season.  But lets start at the beginning.  He was signed out of Venezuela in 2009 at age 17.  He spent his first season in the Venezuelan Summer League.  There he went 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA in 33 innings.  He then spent the next season in the same league.  2010 was a much more impressive season.  He went 8-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 57 innings.  This past season he was called up to Low A Short Season (Equivalent to Staten Island in the Yankees system).  There he went 5-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 81.1 innings.  Since Campos has not played above Low A he is hard to project into the future.  But from everything I have read about this trade he seems to have very good stuff and could be a top of the rotation pitcher if he continues to mature.

This trade reminds me a lot of the Matt Garza for Delmon Young trade in 2007.  A top young hitting prospect for a pitcher who had about a season worth of major league experience.  With one team needing pitching and the other needing hitting they just swapped top prospects where they had bigger need.  The Yankees had a very potent offense last season and have pretty much everyone coming back.  What they don't have is a young number two starter who is MLB ready.  Was I very excited about Montero's bat in the majors?  Yes, but the one big thing about Montero is that he doesn't really have a defensive position. And with the aging Yankees needing DH at bats for the likes of Jeter and A-Rod, Montero was somewhat expendable.  Especially with Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez behind him at catcher in the minors.  Pineda looks like he is the real deal and I really like what the Yankees did with the other prospects in the deal.  They traded a back of the rotation MLB ready starter in Noesi, that they now have no need for with the depth of the rotation for a young arm with loads of potential.  Right now the Yankees are overloaded with back end starters in Burnett, Garcia, and Hughes, so having another in Noesi was completely worthless.  Campos on the other hand will start the season most likely at Low A Charleston and hopefully have a good full season there.  He is about 3 years away from the big leagues but at that point who knows what the Yankees rotation will look like, depending on who pans out and who doesn't.  And if there isn't room for him he could be very attractive trade bait for a team in need of a starter.

When I originally heard of this trade I did not like it.  I am a big Montero fan and have been waiting for him to be in the majors for about three season.  Then right when he is MLB ready he gets traded.  However, looking at what the Yankees get in return this trade has started to grow on me.  A rotation of Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Nova, Hughes excites me a lot.  And yes I have penciled Hughes in as the #5 starter since I am higher on him then Burnett and Garcia.  He is still only a season away from his 18 win season.  Especially after following him for years as a top prospect I still have faith he can be a top of the line starter.  Then I'm hoping the Yankees can move one of the Burnett or Garcia for another bat and put the other in long relief or for spot starts.  Then, and I know this is getting a little ahead of myself, if the Yankees were able to sign a top free agent pitcher in next years class to take Kurado's spot, that would be a scary rotation.  And if they don't sign someone then Manny or Dellin could take that spot.  This trade shores up the rotation for years to come and we all know the saying that pitching wins championships.  After the crazy day that was yesterday I am very excited for this upcoming baseball season and could see this team making a major World Series push especially if they can add one more bat.

Baseball America has a very good breakdown of the player in the trade.

ESPNs article on the trade.

ESPN article doing a good breakdown of the trade.

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