A good-looking young hitter with no position for a legitimate No. 2 starter right now and a future ace?
Some baseball analysts call this a fair swap. Put me in the other camp, the one who politely shake their heads in disbelief or impolitely snicker behind the other general manager’s back.
Unless Jesus Montero evolves into the next Edgar Martinez for the Mariners, the Yankees absolutely stole Michael Pineda from Seattle in last night’s four-player deal.
I won’t even mention the two prospects who were included in the swap. Nor will I go into the Yankees signing free agent Hiroki Kuroda last night, which along with the Pineda trade makes New York the clear-cut favorites in the A.L. East this season.
Let’s take a look at the main event: Montero vs. Pineda.
Montero played in 18 games as a rookie. He had 69 at-bats and showed an ability to hit for average and power. Four home runs, 12 RBI, a .406 on base percentage and a .590 slugging percentage.
That kind of production from such a young player translates into a middle of the order hitter in Seattle, the lowest scoring team in the league in 2011.
But where did it leave him in New York?
Montero was touted as a slugging but defensively challenged catcher when he first came to the Bronx. That assessment soon changed to a slugging designated hitter. But the Yankees have no need for a 22-year-old designated hitter, especially as A-Rod is starting to break down and an aging Derek Jeter needs a break from shortstop every now and then.
Where else can Montero play? He hasn’t shown the athletic ability to play a corner outfield position and Mark Teixeira is set in stone at first base.
So Montero goes to the baseball hinterland of Seattle while Pineda takes his 6-foot, 7-inch, 260-pound frame to the bright lights of the Bronx.
I think this young man is going to shine in New York.
Pineda, who will turn 23 Wednesday, was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in his rookie season. But there’s other numbers that tell the story.
He made 28 starts last year. In 171 innings, he allowed only 133 hits, struck out 173 and walked just 55 batters. His WHIP was 1.10, eighth best in the A.L. His strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked 14th best in the league. As a 22-year-old!
Pineda consistently throws in the mid-90s and can reach 98 mph on the radar gun. With an excellent fastball and nasty slider, he’s the No. 2 starter on the Yankees right now, even as he works on improving his change-up.
And, contractually, the Yankees have control of him for the next five seasons. His current salary is the bargain-basement price of $414,000 per year.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is too much of a professional to snicker after fleecing a fellow GM in a deal, so I’ll do it.
The Yankees absolutely robbed the Mariners on Friday. If you don’t believe me, see what the Red Sox and Rays think of the move as the season progresses.
Today’s Saints-49ers NFC playoff matchup comes down to whether or not you believe that San Francisco can score enough points to keep up with New Orleans. I don’t.
The Saints have too much firepower to be stopped for any length of time. Even by the 49ers’ outstanding defense.
I’m taking Drew Brees and his wide assortment of offensive weapons over Alex Smith’s ability to score consistently. In the end, New Orleans will move on to the NFC title game while San Francisco will learn and return next season, perhaps with another offensive weapon or two.
Saints 27, 49ers 16
The Tim Tebow and the Broncos’ ride has got to end sometime, right?
I thought it would end last week, even though I didn’t have a lot of confidence in the Steelers. I find myself in the same position this week. I think the Patriots will beat the Broncos tonight, but I have a sneaking suspicion that New England isn’t that good either.
And that makes an upset in Foxboro a distinct possibility.
In the end, this game is somewhat like the Saints-49ers matchup. Tom Brady fills the Drew Brees role while Tebow fills the Alex Smith role. Neither Smith nor Tebow are equipped to keep up with their prolific counterparts.
Patriots 34, Broncos 23