The New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners did an old-fashioned trade Friday. Trade your best prospect for my best prospect; oh and pour some sprinkles on top. The result: the Yankees send top prospect (and best hitting prospect) Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for 22 year-old top prospect/proven starting pitcher Michael Pineda. The sprinkles of the trade are Jose Campos, who the Yankees acquire, and Hector Noesi, who the Mariners steal from the Yankees. The winner of the trade? The Mariners (for now).
For those not familiar with either prospect, Michael Pineda took the baseball world by storm with his electric fastball and improving secondary material. Pineda held the Mariners together while Felix Hernandez struggled to find his old stuff. However, let’s take a look at what happened to Pineda near the end of the season:
5.42 ERA against 0.500+ Teams
5.12 ERA in second half
4.40 RA on the road
14.54 ERA against the Red Sox
12.60 ERA against the Angels
5.56 ERA against the Tigers
4.74 ERA against the Rangers
2.19 ERA against the Rays
Against playoff teams, Pineda struggled. The American League East is a completely different monster than the AL West. New York is completely different from Seattle. So for Pineda, you are replacing a prospect in Montero, who Yankees fans have been waiting for, whom they dreamed would take over for Jorge Posada. Do I think he can find success? Yes he can. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he completely chokes as well.
The Yankees also acquire a very intriguing piece in Jose Campos. Campos, 19, fits your atypical mold for a Seattle Mariners prospect. He’s big (6’4”) and is pretty much a clone of Pineda and King Felix. As an 18 year-old in Short-season Everett, Campos showed brilliance and dominance. The right-hander went 5-5 with a 2.32 ERA in 14 starts. More impressively, he struck out 85 in 81.1 innings of work, while just walking 13. The Mariners clearly had him on the fast track, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Yankees decide because they usually take time with their pitching prospects.
Now moving to the Mariners haul. The reason why the Mariners win this deal right now is because they have two MLB ready talents. You don’t even need me to introduce Jesus Montero. He’s been the most talked about prospect in the Yankees system since Drew Henson (just kidding). Montero will most likely not stay at catcher. On the Yankees, he had nowhere to go because of Mark Teixeria blocking at first base. So if he were to play in pinstripes, Montero would be stuck as a DH. However, the Yankees use the DH as a resting mechanism for their players. So would Montero have been able to see 150 games a season? Probably not.
However, since he is now in Seattle, Montero becomes the immediate option behind the dish. In 69 at-bats in New York, Montero hit .328 with 4 homeruns and 12 RBI. The average won’t stay that high. I think he’ll be a .280 hitter like he’s been in the minors but the small power sample is a glimpse into the future. He can drive in 30 homeruns and will be given a chance to play everyday. And who knows? Maybe the Mariners will have their next great designated hitter, replacing the shoes of HOF to be Edgar Martinez.
Hector Noesi came out of the Yankees bullpen in 2011. If you remember, he pitched I think 6 scoreless innings in Baltimore in his first MLB appearance, all out of the bullpen. Noesi had success in pinstripes last season. The major concern for him his control. He walked 22 in just 56.1 innings. Noesi can step in right away and be the number 3/4/5 starter, depending on where the Mariners want to use him.
Now looking at the Seattle Mariners, their team just got a little bit better with Montero. Losing Pineda is going to hurt, but the Mariners are getting hitting. With a system already slim on quality hitting prospects, the Mariners have a surplus of pitching. The Mariners have Taijuan Walker, who was a draft pick from 2010. He’s projected to be a true number one starter depending on health and development. Then you can add Daniel Hutlzen, the 2nd overall pick in the 2011 draft. Hultzen is very close the majors and won’t require much time in the minors. He could be a fast mover like the Colorado Rockies Drew Pomeranz. Add James Paxton and you have a pretty solid future.
So here’s the line up for the 2013 Seattle Mariners. I am pretty much disregarding the 2012 season because it could be a train wreck like 2011. Depending if the Mariners can land Prince Fielder, Justin Smoak will still (barely) be manning first base.
Projected 2013 Lineup:
1. Ichiro, RF – No brainer. Unless he retires.
2. Dustin Ackley, 2B – Maybe Ackley can develop some power this year. 20 homeruns isn’t out of the question. If he develops that, he could move to the 3 hole.
3. Jesus Montero, C – You could slot him at 4, but who knows.
4. Justin Smoak, 1B – Yup…for now.
5. Alex Liddi, 3B – The Italian Stallion can hit for power and should stick at third.
6. Mike Carp, DH – Once a Mets top prospect, over hyped but can swing the bat.
7. Trayvon Robinson, OF – Maybe he can turn his career around? You could easily see Carlos Peguero here.
8. Franklin Gutierrez, CF – Glove, glove, glove!
9. Nick Franklin, SS – He can hit, but he’ll be young when he’s up. So he could be anywhere in this lineup, depending on managements confidence.
1. Felix Hernandez, RHP – I do not think he’ll ever leave Seattle. He means too much to this organization and should stay around.
2. Tajuan Walker, RHP – Flamethrower. This is aggressive but you never know.
3. Danny Hutlzen, LHP – He’s polished and won’t need much time. He’s not going to be a 1/2 , but still can be effective.
4. Mauricio Robles, LHP – He’s just as good as Pineda. Needs to stay healthy.
5. Hector Noesi/Charlie Furbush/James Paxton/Blake Beaven/Whoever – Yep.
Closer: Chance Ruffin, RHP.
I conclude that the Mariners can really benefit from this trade. They have the piece in the minors that will help this team compete.