After a few more conversations with people in the organization, here are a few final thoughts on Friday’s rotation upgrades and the moves that made them possible.
• The trade is in no way an indication that the Yankees stopped believing in Jesus Montero. The Yankees realize they’re taking a significant risk in losing him. “The least risky attribute of everything going on is the bat,” one source said. “And (the Mariners) got the bat.” That said, the Yankees recognized they had to give up something they wanted to get something they needed. “You’re not going to rob anyone any more,” another source said.
• The Yankees believe Montero’s bat will be significant, but they also believe it’s easier to replace Montero’s potential than to replace Michael Pineda’s potential. It’s easier to lure a hitter to Yankee Stadium, and impact hitters reach the free agent market more often than impact pitchers. Just look at this year’s market. The top pitchers available were occasional all-stars C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle. The top hitters were perennial MVP candidates Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
• To reach his potential, Pineda needs a changeup. The fastball and slider are great, but the third pitch hasn’t come, and the Yankees believe he needs that third pitch to become a legitimate No. 1 or 2 starter. He’s still just 22, so there’s still plenty of room to grow, but the Yankees clearly believe Pineda is in the development stage.
• I suggested to one person in the organization that losing Hector Noesi didn’t seem so significant with so much pitching coming in (and so much pitching still available in the upper levels). “I don’t think the goal was to trade either of those guys,” the source said. “But those type of pitchers (like Pineda) don’t become available very often.”
• Amazing that a $10-million deal could get lost in the shuffle, but that’s exactly what’s happened with Hiroki Kuroda. With Montero traded and Pineda added, Kuroda is secondary, but he’s also exactly the kind of deal the Yankees seemed to be looking for this winter: A potential impact starter that comes with no long-term risk. A one-year deal is huge in this situation.
• Jose Campos is a long way from the big leagues, but the Yankees like that he combines a big fastball with good control. You don’t see that combination often in 19-year-old kids.
• No inside information to backup this thought, but I can’t help wondering how much the Mariners have been kicking themselves for choosing Justin Smoak over Montero two years ago. Wonder if that affected their willingness to make this deal.
Associated Press photo