Friday, January 13, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Jesus Montero to Seattle

Jon Heyman of has reported that the New York Yankees have traded uber prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners. Also going west is promising young right-hander Hector Noesi, in exchange for stud starting pitcher Michael Pineda and minor league pitcher Jose Campos.

The Yanks have found exactly what they were looking for, a starting pitcher who can make fans feel like they don't have to start a countdown to the next time that CC Sabathia takes the hill. But at what cost?

Growing up, there was never any reason to pay attention to the Yankee farm system because George Steinbrenner mandated that those players be traded for established big leaguers. But when General Manager Brian Cashman gained enough power in the front office, he made it a point to re-tool the Bombers' minor league affiliates. And out came the goods. Phil Hughes. Joba Chamberlain. Ian Kennedy.  The list went on. Now, a good batch of homegrown players is something in which Yankee fans can take pride. I am beaming at the thought of Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos throwing straight heat from 60 feet, 6 inches. But most of all, I was ready to see Mr. Montero swing the bat.

I got my chance when the young buck was called up last summer. In 18 games, Jesus hit for a .328 average, with an OPS of .996 (and an OPS+ of 159). Inserted into a lineup where many of the regulars were old enough to be his father in a dysfunctional family, Montero provided a spark that only a young, blue chip prospect could.

I am sad to see a homegrown player leave, but make no mistake, this isn't a Yankee move of yesteryear. Pitching does not grow on trees, and young stud pitching sprouts only when cultivated by the finest gardeners. Michael Pineda is a fireballer. His fastball has been clocked around 97-98 mph, and it's complemented by a power slider at 85 with a TWO-PLANE break! (Ask me if I know what that means.) He averaged more than a strikeout per inning last year and ties up a loose end in the Yankee rotation. It remains to be seen whether or not he can handle the New York media, but then again, 18 regular season games and 2 playoff games are hardly enough of a sample size to proclaim that Jesus can face the music.

So who fills the DH role next year? Odds are that Girardi again uses it as a rotating position, and sure enough, most of the position players could use a half-day off every once in a while. Interestingly, as friend of the blog TuckRule suggested, maybe this results in the team throwing gobs of money at Prince Fielder to come DH in the Bronx. God knows how many cheapies he'd get with that short porch in right field (and alleged jet-stream).

Hard to blame Cash for this one. We weren't going deep into the playoffs with the starting rotation as constituted before today. So if we're better today than we were yesterday, the Yanks get a thumbs up from Mambino.

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