By now, you’ve all heard about the Michael Pineda trade. Mariners fans got their wish, as the team finally made a big move in the offseason. The Mariners traded Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos to the Yankees for Jesus Montero and minor league pitcher Hector Noesi. Regardless of how well Pineda pitched last season, all the players involved in this deal are still prospects. We don’t know which team won the trade and we may not know for a couple years. But it was still a good move by the Mariners.
Michael Pineda is a 22-year old All-Star pitcher who can throw 100mph. It’s hard to part with a pitcher like that. But not impossible. Obviously not, because the Mariners just did that. And they did so because Pineda is still a prospect. He’s unproven and he benefited from pitching at Safeco. Pineda had a 2.92 ERA in home games, but a 4.40 ERA in away games.
As with any young pitcher, there is also the risk of injury. Pineda missed the majority of the 2009 season due to an elbow strain. This injury led to the Mariners being very cautious with his innings last season. Before last season, Pineda had never pitched more than 140 innings. Last season, he pitched 171 innings and struggled in the second half.
Pineda threw 113 innings prior to the All-Star break. In 18 games, he went 8-6, with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.035 WHIP. After the All-Star break, Pineda threw 58 innings in 10 games and went 1-4, with a 5.12 ERA and a 1.224 WHIP. But despite those struggles, Pineda consistently struck batters out.
The Yankees are getting a young, hard-throwing right-hander. But that is about all we know. We don’t know if Pineda’s arm can hold up for full season and the playoffs. We don’t know how Pineda will pitch away from Safeco. We do know that the Mariners have a surplus of pitching prospects. Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are all close to being ready for the majors. Of course, all three could turn out to be the next Ryan Anderson. That’s the nature of prospects.
In five years, we’ll have a much better idea of whether or not this was a good trade. As for right now, the Mariners possibly found the big bat they’ve been looking for. Montero could become a Miguel Cabrera-type hitter. And they Mariners have six years of team control. He’s not going anywhere soon.
Due to his lack of defensive abilities, Montero will be nothing more than a DH. That’s not a bad thing though, as the Mariners haven’t had a DH that can hit since Edgar Martinez. But Montero comes with as many questions as Pineda left with, and possibly more. He’s a prospect.
There are two big positives that will come from this trade for the Mariners. First, fans will never have to listen to Felix for Montero trade possibilities. It was never going to happen anyway, now it definitely won’t. Second, the Prince Fielder rumors are done. With Montero on the roster, the Mariners don’t have room for another player that can hit, but not field. But that doesn’t mean they’re done in free agency. The hole that Pineda leaves in the starting rotation is one that needs to be addressed before the season starts. Their pitching prospects aren’t ready yet, so the team needs to look at bringing in Jeff Francis or Roy Oswalt on a one-year contract. Also, now that Fielder is out of the picture, they’ve got more money to spend on another bat. Possibly Dave Cameron’s favorite, Will Venable.
In the end, I like the trade for the Mariners. If nothing else, it will make for an exciting season. Or at least an exciting first two months.