Don’t jump the gun on the Montero-Pineda trade just yet
Shortly after Michael Pineda ended his miserable 2.2 innings against the Phillies, Yankees fans were horrified to learn that he had been pitching with a sore right shoulder. After taking an MRI yesterday morning, Pineda has been diagnosed with tendinitis and is now on the 15-Day DL. This unfortunate turn of events eliminates Pineda’s chances of starting the regular season in the Yankees’ MLB rotation. The Yankees will now fill the rotation with Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and Freddy Garcia behind C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. This injury comes on the heels of a substantial amount of scrutiny over Pineda’s low velocity, and many share the opinion that Pineda just hasn’t looked right all spring.
Although the team is yet to play one game of regular season ball, the trade of Montero for Pineda is already being called a disaster by some. The Yankees undoubtedly gave up quite a lot for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos, losing an absolute stud of a hitter in Montero and a nice pitching piece in Hector Noesi. Montero has looked excellent thus far for the Mariners with a .306/.366/.556 line in Spring Training to this point. In 5 IP, Noesi has a 1.80 ERA and has held opponents to a .176 BAA. Meanwhile, Michael Pineda’s has an ERA of 5.68 and a .324 BAA, and both his velocity and control have been sub-par (4.74 BB/9).
As grim as it looks for Pineda heading into the 2012 regular season, is it really already time to abandon all hopes for the trade to be a success? Some fans think the answer to that question is yes.
However, by already describing the trade with words like “disaster” and “apocalyptic” based on the very short time Michael Pineda has been a Yankee, I think many fans are jumping the gun much too soon. When evaluating a trade, it is extremely important to remember that every deal is a two-sided deal. While it is certainly a possibility that Michael Pineda might not live up to expectations placed on him, the same is just as true with Jesus Montero. When Brian Cashman and Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik agreed to the blockbuster trade, they both accepted a substantial amount of risk. Pineda might never become the #1 starter that many think he can be, and Montero might never become the Miguel Cabrera-like hitter that he is supposed to become. While this is merely looking at hypotheticals, there is one thing that is known for sure in the case of both players. There is a tremendous amount of time for each player to proove the trade good or bad for his respective team.
Calling the trade a disaster now is fundamentally ignoring what Pineda could potentially bring in the future. Although it’s hard to envision his potential now because of the low velocity, control problems, and coming to camp fairly overweight, it’s important not to ignore that Pineda is some very hard work and development away from becoming one of the top pitchers in baseball. Might the trade be a detriment to the team this year? Absolutely – especially if Pineda’s injury lasts longer than expected or he pitches poorly in the regular season while Montero is mashing out there in the Pacific Northwest. However, the trade was more of a trade for the future than a trade for the present. The Yankees can afford to develop Pineda as slowly and steadily as they want simply because he is still very young and extremely cheap. More importantly, having Pineda on the team for the next half-decade allows the Yankees to devote the bulk of their financial resources to the offense, rather than shelling out expensive, high-risk contracts to the top starting pitchers of the future free agent markets.
The bottom line is that there is so much more to this trade than how Michael Pineda performs in pinstripes this season alone. He has 5 seasons to proove Brian Cashman right or wrong in his decision to trade Montero, yet many people are already calling the trade a catastrophe before the guy has even thrown one pitch in the regular season for the Yankees. Welcome to New York, Michael.