May 21, 2019

Mariners Win With Montero Trade Too…

January 14, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

Last night saw the rare exchange of top young players, when the New York Yankees traded catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. So far the reaction seems to be focused on what a terrific deal this was for the Yankees, and how it has catapulted them back into the discussion for top team in 2012. As it turns out, it was a pretty good deal for the Mariners too.

In Montero, the Mariners have gotten back as good a hitting prospect who exists in baseball. For the offensively moribund Mariners, he can be the first step towards rebuilding a lineup that has finished last in runs scored in the American League for the past three seasons, and second to last the year before that. While Montero has all of 61 major league at bats, he has the ability to become Edgar Martinez 2.0 if he develops as expected. His ability to hit, hit for power, and the approach he already displays as a 22 year old, all point positively towards a bright future.

Much has been made about the belief that Montero, who came up through the minors as a catcher, will not be able to play there in the majors. That may be true, but it really doesn’t matter to the Mariners. If Montero works out at catcher for them, then great. But he is just as valuable to them if his bat produces at first base or designated hitter. Now that the aging Ichiro has finally started to decline, the Mariners are starting to rebuild their lineup around young hitters. Montero and Dustin Ackley gives them an inexperienced, yet potential-laden one-two punch for years to come.

Surprisingly, there seems to be a great deal of wailing coming from Mariner fans about having to give up Pineda and Campos to obtain Montero. It is true that Pineda is one of the best young pitchers in baseball and that the 19 year old Campos could turn out to be just as good a prospect. However, in baseball, teams who want to acquire a young hitter of Montero’s pedigree are going to give up top notch pitching. That’s just a reality of the market. The Mariners have no hitting prospects that even come close to comparing to Montero, and any free agent signing of consequence will cost big bucks, so this trade made the most sense. They will get six years of team control to figure out if Montero is the hitter that so many think he is, and while Pineda had an excellent rookie season last year, neither he or Campos come with any guarantees.

Mariner fans should also be careful to not overlook Noesi. He is the definition of a sleeper prospect. He has the ability to be a good number three of four major league starter, which isn’t the ceiling of Pineda or Campos, but is still pretty darn valuable in today’s game. The right-handed Noesi cut his major league teeth in 30 games with the Yankees in 2011, showing he could hang; sporting a 4.47 ERA and 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings. The Mariners should be able to slide him into the back of their rotation in 2012 and see what he can do.

The Mariners wisely held on to proven ace Felix Hernandez and have 2010 first round right-hander Taijuan Walker quickly marching through their minor league system. Their pitching staff will be fine, and while they gave up a pretty penny to get him, in Montero they now have a centerpiece to rebuild their lineup around. The Yankees are being lauded as the big winners of this trade because of how it positions them right now, but the Mariners didn’t do too shabby in how they have set themselves up for down the road.

Andrew Martin is the founder of “The Baseball Historian” blog where he posts his thoughts about baseball on a regular basis. He can be reached at historianandrew@gmail.com. You can also reach him on Twitter at@historianandrew.

Comments

4 Responses to “Mariners Win With Montero Trade Too…”
  1. Al Featherston says:

    As a Yankee fan, I’m very happy with the dealm but I agree that the Mariners appear to have gotten what they need. I’m amazed how many Yankee fans appear to be upset by this deal. I think they’ve just been sold on Montero’s potential and don’t understand what Pineda brings.

    Obviously, if Montero blossoms and Pineda busts, the Mariners win. And if Pineda blossoms and Montera becomes the next Bam Bam Meulins, the Yankees win. But who wins if both players fulfil their potential? I say the yankees, because a 1-2 starter is more valuable than even an all-star DH.

    The Noesi-Campos comparison is also interesting. Campos appears to have more potential, but he’s farther away – more chance he blows out an arm or runs into one of those other things that make young pitchers such a gamble. But the Yankees have seven potential starters for next year (and two potential aces in AAA), so with Pineda arriving, Noesi becomes expendable, while Campos gives the Yankee system a nice talent boost at the Class A level.

    One other point that needs to be explored. I think the Yankee moves in thisn offseason prove that the team is committed to getting the payroll under control. New York refused to be a bidder for CJ Wilson … their offer to Yu Darvish was low … they refused five years for Edwin Jackson (getting Kroda for one year on the cheap). Hey, they have an opening now at DH — why not Prince Fielder?

    Instead, they pick up a young potential ace and sign Kuroda for one year at $10 million. Amazing — some fiscal responsibility by the Yankees!

  2. Brian says:

    “If Montero works out at catcher for them, then great. But he is just as valuable to them if his bat produces at first base or designated hitter.”

    This part is just not true. Designated hitter is tied for easiest position in baseball (along with back of the bullpen pitchers) to fill. With the very same hitting, Montero would have way more value as a catcher than a DH.

    I hate the trade much more for what it signals about where the Mariners see themselves as a team, though. For longtime Mariners fans, it seems like another executive level move that is designed to quell fan unrest; they could have gotten much more for Felix Hernandez, and we won’t be competitive for the duration of his current contract anyway. Moreover Felix is already showing signs that he won’t sign another extension with the team.

    Moving Felix would be enormously unpopular, and thus trading the player that fits our shot at the postseason 5 years from now but is not yet a fan favorite is the move to make if you care more about putting rear ends in seats than winning a championship.

  3. Andrew Martin says:

    @Brian – Hi Brian, what you say about Montero being more valuable at catcher might be true if he were on a different team than the Mariners. However, in Seattle, with them having the worst offense in baseball, his bat is a welcome addition at any position. If their DH spot was so easily replaceable, than they would have had a capable player there by now.

    It is a smart move to keep the established Felix to anchor their rotation. While Pineda could turn out to be as good or better, he still had 9 wins and an ERA over 4 last year, and is no sure bet for the future.

  4. @Al Featherston – Good points, Al. There are also seems to be a surge of feeling that the Yankees are now favorite because of the trade and Kuroda signing. Although not an exact science by any means, according to ESPN’s Dan Szymborski, in 2012- “ZiPS projects Kuroda at 12-9, 4.33, 2.3 WAR and Pineda projects as 11-7, 4.11, 2.9 WAR.” Numbers like that would solidify their rotation, but are no dream team.

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