Jesus Montero made a big splash when he joined the Yankees for 18 games in 2011 and hit .328/.406/.590. That’s why it was so hard to see him traded for a pitcher who almost immediately landed on the DL with a major injury almost immediately.
However, in the year and a half since Michael Pineda went on the DL, Montero has struggled quite a bit in Seattle. Last year he hit a weak .260/.298/.386 while playing mostly DH as a rookie. He’s been even worse this year at .208/.264/.327 in 29 games so far. Montero even got a chance behind the plate this year, but was a colossal disappointment as he allowed 23 stolen bases in 25 starts and just one caught stealing.
This caused the Mariners to demote Montero to Triple-A on Thursday and by most accounts it is not going to be a short trip. His bat, which was supposed to be can’t-miss, needs to be revitalized and, more importantly, they need to find him another position. That’ll most likely be DH, but he’ll get some work at first base too as they try to find a position for the 23-year-old.
Pineda, obviously, wasn’t an immediate success story for the Yankees. He showed up to Spring Training last year out of shape, he hurt his shoulder, and then got a DUI last August. However, Pineda has by all accounts turned his career around since the DUI.
It started with him showing up to Spring Training in great shape this year. He has also been very diligent with his rehab and has managed to avoid the dreaded setbacks that most pitchers coming off shoulder surgery experience.
Lately, Pineda has been pitching in Extended Spring Training and the reports have been positive. Joe Girardi said he thought the ball looked good coming out of his hands and the velocity reports have seen him in the 93-95 mph range. He’s up to 65 pitches and is expected to reach 75 pitches in his next, and final, Extended Spring Training game.
After that he’ll move on to real minor league games probably starting at High-A Tampa where he’ll be nearly ready to pitch full games almost from the start. Once he does that he starts a 30-day rehab period which, considering he’ll be going in stretched out to about 85 pitches, should be plenty of time to get him ready for a late June/early July return to the Bronx.
A year ago everyone and their mothers were bashing this trade saying that the Yankees got ripped off. Already I have heard the opposite that the Yankees will “win” this trade if they get anything at all out of Pineda. However, I would caution that it’s still too early to determine.
The trade looked bad for the Yankees a year ago and now, while it doesn’t look great, is looking much better. The thing is though that both players are still very young. Montero is a mess offensively, but he’s also a mess defensively and I can’t help but wonder if one is carrying over to the other.
Meanwhile, we have not seen anything from Pineda yet. So while the reports of his return are completely positive we still haven’t seen if his shoulder can still get major league hitters out. Signs are positive though. We’ll just have to wait and see.
• The Yankees are interested in Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka, who is expected to be posted this offseason, according to Nick Cafardo. He’s 24-years-old and has a 2.08 ERA, 45 K’s, and nine walks in 52 innings so far.
Photo credit: (May 18, 2013 - Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America).