In hindsight Pineda trade was not necessary

Count me among the people who thought that Brian Cashman had pulled a heist at the time of the Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos deal. Hindsight is 20/20, but knowing what we know now it makes less sense. The Yankees went on to sign Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte, Noesi has been lights out in Spring Training and Montero has been Montero. Phil Hughes has come to camp in the best shape of his life and is poised for a big season.

If the Yankees hadn’t made this trade, they would still have seven excellent pitchers for five spots; CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Andy Pettitte, and Hector Noesi.

Noesi was showing improved stuff over the winter before the trade. Would it have been so bad to have him under team control for four or so more years? The question becomes whether or not the extra production Pineda will provide over Noesi for the next four to five years is worth Montero. At this point Noesi could actually be better than Pineda during that span. If that’s the case, this trade can and will be considered a failure.

We can’t forget about Jose Campos in all of this. He’s got great stuff, throws hard, and has impressive control. He doesn’t yet have a third pitch. Without that pitch, he’s a late inning reliever. Campos has time to learn, so don’t mistake this for an attack. The point is he’s young and talented, but still really far away. A lot can happen that will change his career course.

Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez are taking up roster spots. Jesus Montero is a better, cheaper DH option. Jones could be relegated to the fourth outfielder, and Raul Ibanez would not be needed. Jesus could have even caught some games for the team, allowing Russ Martin to DH or take a day off.

Seattle is willing to let Montero catch. Maybe he’d be our backup catcher, and then Cervelli’s roster spot is up for grabs. Clay Rapada, Cesar Cabral, and Justin Maxwell are fighting for one spot. If Montero was still here the team could keep two. Maxwell has been phenomenal this spring, and was great in Triple-A last season. He looks ready. It is going to hurt to watch him go somewhere else and produce. With Cabral’s injury it’s actually possible that all three could have stayed with the team.

Some injuries have occurred that make this trade seem worse. Austin Romine‘s back injury means that the organizational depth at catcher is lacking. Pineda’s shoulder could just be rest and rehab, or it could be more ominous. If the shoulder injury to Pineda is serious the trade will unjustly be considered a failure. While it’s not a fair judgment, I think it is safe to say that most New York fans would be upset that Cashman gave up Montero for a pitcher who got injured before he ever pitched Bronx and was never the same. It’s most likely just some inflammation and time will heal it. He can spend some time in Triple-A while it heals and can finally get into game shape. I’m going to assume that none of these injuries took place, since that is not a fair argument to evaluate this trade.

ESPN New York refers to Montero as Babe Jeteriguez, because fans made him out to be a future hall of famer before proving anything. While this is true, the team would be in better position now if Cashman never made the trade. The lineup is not currently in need of help. They scored the second most runs in the league last season, and this was mostly without Montero. At this point the rotation doesn’t need any help either though. With aging players such as A-rod, Jeter, and Teixeira, and the contracts of Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, and Russell Martin expiring within the next two years, the future of the offense is a concern. Couple that with the fact that the team has many pitchers who are close to the majors and almost no major league ready bats.

I’m not suggesting that the Yankees are in trouble, or that the team will not contend in three years. I am optimistic about the team’s ability to compete, even with the austerity budget, for years to come. I am suggesting that this trade might have been a bad idea. The whole premise of the trade was for the future, not for 2012. That has become more apparent as it becomes obvious that Pineda is heading for the DL. The future of the pitching staff without Pineda currently looks better than the future of the lineup without Montero. As far as maximizing the team’s future success, the team may have been better off keeping Montero and Noesi.

The Yankees are financially capable of staying within the constraints of the austerity budget, re-signing one or two of the expiring contracts, and trading some excess pitching for a young cheap hitter or two. This is why the team will always be a contender. After this trade though, those tasks became necessary. Before the trade, there were much more attainable offensive goals, since Montero was sure to provide the team with some good offense.

This is a retrospective analysis, which means I have had the benefit of looking at the events that occurred after the trade. Panic is a strong word, but the front office was clearly concerned about the pitching staff and made the decision to go through with a drastic trade to alleviate that concern. It remains to be seen whether this trade will be deemed a success or a failure. The trade was nothing if not a substantial risk taken on the part of Brian Cashman, and hopefully that risk will pay off for the team and the fans.

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21 Responses to In hindsight Pineda trade was not necessary

  1. Billy ball says:

    Bad posting looking to drum up conversation. Regardless of what happens, the trade made sense. Noone can predict future so find another way to drum up interest in your blog.

    • mike says:

      It didn't make sense because at the time there were three good pitchers available who could be had for money instead of talent: R. Oswalt, E. Jackson, and Kuroda. Proven starters that didn't have as many question marks as Pineda (bad second half, bad stats away from Safeco, he had been injuried before, he lacked a second pitch).

  2. DSRG says:

    I’m still in favor of the trade. To succeed in the postseason, you need pitchers that can get K’s, not groundball pitchers who rely on aging infielders for outs. Pineda has a 9.0 K per 9 rate. Good pitching beats good hitting every time.

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      If that were the case then Seattle would have been a much better team last season. They had two pitchers who fit your description and a couple other good pitchers too. Yet they were only 67-95. You need both pitching and hitting to win.

  3. Matt_DC says:

    Hindsight will not be applicable until the dust settles. Greg, I agree with some of your points but this is way too early for judgment. Baseball is too fickle to say good or bad before the season starts (and hey, in August as well – ask last years' media anointed BoSox).

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      There's plenty of time. I'm not saying this was a bad trade. I think the major takeaway point from this editorial is that with the moves that were made after the trade was made, it wasn't as necessary as it seemed at the time. It's a long season and the value of this trade will be decided over many years, so I am not attempting to say that it was a bad trade, just an unnecessary one that may have detracted too much from our future offense.

      • Matt_DC says:

        Fair enough. Personally, I err on the side of pitching over offense. I love the bat but I just didn't see where Montero fit on this aging roster. I would rather have Pineda's potential (and Campos) than the original Cliff Lee package, and especially Lee's aging-by-the-minute contract moving forward. That said the signs aren't good! But we'll find out eventually . . .

        • Greg Corcoran says:

          I can certainly understand valuing pitching over hitting. At the time of the trade they clearly needed rotation help. I'll be interested to see how Pineda and Noesi's careers stack up against each other.

  4. Frank says:

    This trade made 100% absolute sense in every way possible for the Yankees.

  5. Keena says:

    Great article Greg, I agree with you 100%.

  6. manny says:

    Well I think the trade was a great trade by cashman,pineda has a great upside and campos two;I understand some people is going to question the trade because pinedas injury but let remember this kid is 22 years old,6 7″ and a very high upside.

  7. theboogiedown says:

    In other words, "if I could see into the future and have known Pineda would be less than an instant ace, I wouldn't have made the trade"
    Give us all a break. That's like saying, "If I had known my first grader was going to get a B- in reading, I would have never had a child"
    If you could see into the future you probably would have never written this article, amongst many other things.

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      Read a little bit closer, the article is not trying to say that the trade was unnecessary because Pineda got hurt, or wasn't an instant ace. The article states many other reasons, and in fact states that the injury was being discounted in the analysis. It has more to do with the subsequent pitching signings, Noesi and Hughes' success, and the lack of certainty with the future of the team's lineup

      • Cuban Bee says:

        Ok – subsequent signings, sure. But Hughes' and Noesi's "performance"? IT'S SPRING TRAINING!!!!!!!!!! Their performance right now means jack-diddly-squat-nada-zip-zilcho. If Noesi wins the Cy Young this year lets talk. And how did Montero really give them more certainty in their lineup? Yes he was young, but he was still far from a sure thing, and it was becoming more and more clear that they just didnt have a position for him.

        • Greg Corcoran says:

          I agree with you on the Spring Training stats. By performance I mean a change in their stuff. Noesi had a significant uptick in his velocity starting in Winter league, before the trade. Phil Hughes showed up in the best shape of his life, and is back to the velocity that allowed him to have success in the past. Those are just two out of the seven guys who could have contributed to the starting rotation without Pineda. As far as Montero not having a position, I addressed that in the article. Seattle is willing to let him catch. If he's good enough to catch for a major league team, why isn't he good enough to be a backup? He can DH on the days when he doesn't catch. Pretty sure that was the plan if he wasn't traded.

          Good point that he wasn't by any means a sure thing. According to scouts though, his bat was about as close to a sure thing as a prospect can get. He drew comparisons to Miguel Cabrera. If he has that kind of bat for real, then that's yet another reason to question whether this trade was necessary or not. I'll grant you that this is a big if though.

          Again I want to emphasize I am not saying this is a bad trade, but I do think it is a trade that has to be questioned, especially considering some of the things we know now (excluding injury). The jury is going to be out on this one for a while.

          • Seattle is willing to let him catch? That must be why every fantasy baseball expert says he won't be catching-eligible until at least May. And he only needs 10 starts at catcher to get there.

            Montero was being looked at as the DH this year, but that doesn't mean the team was totally cool with that. Just look at the left side of the infield and you can see why anybody would be un-easy about that.

          • Greg Corcoran says:

            Understandable, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a backup catcher with more than 10 games caught before May. If he has 10 catching starts by May I think that shows that the Mariners have a good amount of confidence in his catching ability.

            As for the argument about the left side of our infield, I have a few things to say about that. First of all I don't see Jeter spending a ton of time at the DH. His bat simply doesn't belong there at this stage in his career. A-rod will definitely spend time there. I believe, a la Jorge Posada, Montero could have learned behind Russell Martin this year and caught more and more games every season. I think he is capable of providing slightly below average defense to go with way above average offense at catcher. That's a debate for another day though.

  8. emc says:

    Nice article, a lot to think about there. I also still like this trade on the grounds that you can never have too much promising young pitching. Losing Montero does bring up a huge problem in the lineup though, as the key pieces are getting older and either will be getting expensive or already have large contracts. A-Rod' in particular is going to really hurt when it comes time to get under salary cap and stay competitive (thank you Hal).

    I just don't think the Pineda-Montero trade (and thus Pineda's roster spot) is the right frame for these problems. I think the unneeded signings (like Jones and Ibanez) and the high contracts on the books are the larger issues.

  9. Hiroki Kuroda, Freddy Garcia, and Andy Pettitte are on one year deals, and there's absolutely no guarantee any of those three return in 2013.

    Phil Hughes is in the best shape of his life? Gee, I've never heard that said about anybody that went on to have so-so to poor seasons.

    Ivan Nova has had one good full season. Let's see him do well in a 2nd full season before writing him into the rotation for the next 3 years.

    Hector Noesi has thrown 56.1 innigns in MLB. And you want to toss his name into the mix for the future rotations?

    I'm not saying Michael Pienda is a sure thing, but when it comes to the future of this team he's closer to a sure thing than anything they currently have outside of CC Sabathia.

    On the Montero side of things, they have plenty of bats and enough resources that they didn't have to hang onto a 21 year old DH-only. BTW, DH-only guys in NY are not a good idea thanks to ARod and others that need regular time off now or will need it in the future.

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      Hey Bryan,

      My faith in Noesi goes beyond what he did in 56.1 innings last season. Cashman himself said that Noesi belongs in the rotation. With the uptick in velocity, that only made his case stronger.

      Even without Kuroda, Garcia, and Pettitte, the rotation depth for next season includes CC, Phil Hughes, Nova, Banuelos (who many feel is better than Pineda), Betances, Noesi (in the hypothetical situation where this trade never happened), Phelps, Mitchell, Warren. That's 9 guys who would all be ready for the rotation next season. Several of those options are capable of being number two guys behind CC Sabathia.

      As for Nova, valid point. He still has a lot to prove this season. Nova failing still doesn't put a dent in the depth of this system though.

      It's not even about Hughes being in the shape of his life. It's about his stuff being where it was when he was effective. That, plus he's got two more years of experience under his belt. The fact that he's in great shape can only help, and it certainly won't hurt.

      You're right about Pineda, he's not a sure thing either. At this point he's just depth, and a guy we HOPE will become a number one type pitcher long term.

      The last paragraph is where I disagree. We have plenty of good bats, but as I stated in the article, many of them are coming off the books in the next two years, and there aren't many major league ready bats in the minor league system that can replace that production. I did acknowledge in the article that the Yankees do have the resources to make the necessary moves to improve their future offense. To me, the problem lies in the uncertainty, since there's no way to know whether these moves will ever actually happen or not. I do have faith in the Yankees organization, but they have a lot of work to do in the future to make sure this lineup stays potent.

      Bryan, I always enjoy debating with you and you always make good points.

      • Jim says:

        What is best about this deal is it did take a bit of guts, a potential great bat for a 23 year old pitcher. Pithing prospects go south faster than bats so the risk was slighted toward the Seattle side– Campos might never make the bronx or he could be amazing 3=5 years from now– Pineda might benefit from sore shoulder that keeps him under wire until we have a season underway- it is safer to keep the bat BUT gutsy and not in character to make this deal– if anyone thought Pineda was a lock at 23 + 2nd year in majors to contributing they were naive– that all said given the arms on our farm one must have assumed Pineda was world beater potential–and he might be— but Yankee fans how dull would this lead up to 2012 be if Montero was DW in waiting and we NEEDED Andy to come back– I appreciate cashman making it interesting and the pay off could be huge– wait and see but enjoy the wait