Jesus Montero of the New York Yankees singles in the second inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Mariners Inquired About Brett Lawrie Before Turning Eye To Jesus Montero

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Michael Pineda, Brett Lawrie, And The Trade That Wasn't

For every transaction that happens, there are probably three or four transactions that might have happened, but didn't. Maybe more than that. Maybe way more than that. I don't know, I'm not a baseball insider. What I do know is that, if you're not interested in transactions that might have happened but didn't, you're not interested in interesting things. You can go ahead and get back to your collection of identical generic stamps.

One transaction that happened was Michael Pineda and Jose Campos going from the Mariners to the Yankees for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi. One transaction that might have happened, but didn't? Michael Pineda going from the Mariners to the Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie.

That's the speculation from Jeff Blair, anyway. Alex Anthopoulos said at a team function that he turned down a trade that would've taken a player from the major league roster. Blair did some digging and came up with Pineda and Lawrie. I've since confirmed that the Mariners and Blue Jays talked about Pineda and Lawrie, but talks didn't get all that far before the Blue Jays closed the door. This trade didn't come real close to happening, and I don't know how much it would've taken to make it happen.

It's still fascinating, though. The Yankees were interested in Felix Hernandez, and settled for Pineda. The Blue Jays were also interested in Felix Hernandez, and might've settled for Pineda. Then the centerpiece going to the Mariners would've been a third baseman instead of a possible catcher. The Blue Jays would look different. The Yankees would look different. The Mariners would look different. And so on.

It is funny that Blair was able to dig and come up with names. Anthopoulos said he turned down a trade, but didn't specify. Jack Zduriencik said he would've traded Pineda for one of four young position players around the league, but didn't specify. One figures there's a reason, or several reasons why each front office wanted to keep things vague. But Blair talked to sources, and Blair got his info. I'm guessing these are front office sources. Why would you ever give information to the media? If you're a member of a front office, why be free with this sort of thing? What's the benefit?

I don't understand sources. Teams would probably prefer that there not be sources. Whatever. There have always been sources, and there will probably always be sources, for some reason. And because there are sources, we get posts like this one.


LOOKOUT LANDING: Michael Pineda Could Have Been A Blue Jay

The ink has been dry on the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero deal for only a week, but rumors have been heard that this deal could have turned out differently for the Mariners.

Supposedly, the Blue Jays had been approached about acquiring Pineda, and though no names were publicly mentioned, a player from Toronto’s major league roster would likely have been involved. Brett Lawrie’s name immediately came to mind.

At Lookout Landing, Jeff Sullivan posted his thoughts on this deal that never was:

It’s really easy to see this turning into a debate about how the merits of Jesus Montero stack up against the merits of Brett Lawrie, just like how people used to debate about how the merits of Jesus Montero stacked up against the merits of Justin Smoak. That wouldn’t be fair. We don’t know what it would’ve cost to get Lawrie. The Mariners didn’t turn down Lawrie and go for Montero; the Mariners had Lawrie turned down for them, and then they went for Montero. Lawrie might have been their first choice. If it’s any consolation, based on the previous example I guess this means Brett Lawrie will be a Mariner within the next two years.

For what it’s worth, I think getting Lawrie instead of Montero would’ve made the Pineda trade easier to digest initially. People in Washington love Brett Lawrie. There’s the Canadian thing, and the Danielle Lawrie thing, and the not-Chone-Figgins thing, and so on. Montero’s not an unknown, but I think in the area he’s more of an unknown than Lawrie. Lawrie would’ve been welcomed.

In the end, Sullivan says Mariners fans will probably be happy with Montero, and at this point anything else is just make-believe, and appears to wish all of this would just go away.


Michael Pineda, Jesus Montero End Up On Proper Teams

Michael Pineda was a Seattle Mariner, and Jesus Montero was a New York Yankee. Then Michael Pineda was a New York Yankee, and Jesus Montero was a Seattle Mariner. Baseball trades are easy! Understandably, it probably comes as a shock as a player to be traded when you're that young. But now that Pineda and Montero have had time to digest everything that's happened, how are they feeling?

Really quite super, according to these quotes from Shannon Drayer. Pineda:

"I'm feeling great and I'm beyond excited. I never thought I would become a New York Yankee so early into my career," he said. "This is the best thing in the world. Pitching alongside CC Sabathia, I'm speechless. And playing alongside players such as Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter is unbelievable."

"I never thought I would become a New York Yankee so early into my career." Pineda may be young, but he's aware of the Great Inevitability. As a side note, speechless about pitching alongside CC Sabathia? Michael Pineda just pitched alongside Felix Hernandez. I'm hurt.


"It is amazing to me because that is the team that I dream all of my life when I was a kid," he said. "I used to watch tv all the time when I was 11 years old and I used to watch Edgar Martinez hit home runs to right field and I used to tell my dad you are going to see me on tv one day and he saw me with the Yankees and now he will see me with the Mariners like I said to him."

Michael Pineda says landing with the Yankees is "the best thing in the world." Jesus Montero says he used to dream about playing for the Mariners. One of those sounds a little more embarrassing than the other, but you can't fault either guy for a lack of enthusiasm.

I haven't seen any quotes from Jose Campos or Hector Noesi because I don't think anybody cares about them.


Michael Pineda Officially Traded To Yankees In Four-Player Swap

I just had a little moment of panic a minute ago, when I clicked over to Twitter and saw that the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners had completed a four-player trade. Then I realized it was the same four-player trade that we first heard about more than a week ago.

Indeed, the hurdles have been cleared, the players' bodies have been examined, and the Yankees have at last officially traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners in exchange for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. The final delay had to do with Montero having a physical, but he finally had his physical, and, more importantly, he passed his physical. That would've been weird.

Pineda, obviously, will join the Yankees' starting rotation, along with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda at the front. Campos will report to the minors and be talented. Montero, meanwhile, will be a regular with the Mariners even though it's presently unclear where, and Noesi will get a chance to make the rotation. Campos and Noesi are the forgotten men here, and it's understandable why, but Campos is a very good pitching prospect, and Noesi is a strike thrower who could be a cheap and capable big league starter for a while. So don't forget their names.

The Yankees have their sights set on winning the World Series in 2012, and to that end Pineda will help. The Mariners have their sights set on something a little less lofty, at least in the short term.


Jesus Montero Has Visa Issue Resolved

It was a week ago - seriously, it was last Friday - that the world learned of a big trade between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners involving Michael Pineda, Jesus Montero and two others. The trade news was broken, the deal was analyzed quickly, the deal was analyzed in depth, and then the deal was kind of forgotten about while everybody moved on to the next thing.

Well it's worth noting that the trade still isn't official. One reason? Jesus Montero has dealt with a visa issue, preventing him from traveling to take a physical. But now that's no longer a problem. Ken Davidoff:

Jesus Montero has dealt with his visa issue and is scheduled to travel from Florida to Seattle today for his #Mariners physical.

It shouldn't be long now. And the bonus good news is that Jesus Montero has handled his visa problem, and he's still Jesus Montero, and he's still 22 years old. Wouldn't that have been something!


Montero/Pineda Trade Held Up By Visa Issues, Weather

There’s been no official announcement by either the Yankees or Mariners of the deal first reported a week ago that would send Jesus Montero (and Hector Noesi) to Seattle for Michael Pineda (and Jose Campos).

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports has the scoop on the holdup; it’s not just the traditional “visa issues” that occasionally plague players from outside the United States, but also something far more prosaic, winter in the Pacific Northwest:

And now Seattle — where Montero’s physical will take place — is dealing with the aftermath of an ice storm that has prompted Washington Governor Christine Gregoire to declare a state of emergency. So even if Montero had clearance to travel, it would be difficult for him to do so.

While visa issues for foreign players seem to be common — we hear about these just about every year — winter weather on the level experienced in the Seattle area doesn’t happen all the time. Temperatures in Seattle should move into the 40s by the weekend; once the visa issues are settled, Montero can travel for his physical and the deal should become official soon.


Brian Cashman On Michael Pineda And Jesus Montero

Friday night, the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners swung a pretty big trade that you might have heard about. The Yankees received Michael Pineda and prospect Jose Campos, while the Mariners received Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi, whose name isn't pronounced "nosy" or "noisy", reducing his overall stock. Shortly after the trade was made, or at least shortly in a cosmological sense, Jim Bowden sent out an interesting tweet:

Brian Cashman told me last night that Michael Pineda better improve the change-up & develop into a #1 starter or he will have made a mistake

Let's assume that this wasn't intended to be off-the-record. I don't know Jim Bowden, and I've never met him, but I'm guessing that Jim Bowden is a pretty terrible keeper of secrets.

So, is Cashman telling the truth? Elsewhere, Cashman compared Montero to Mike Piazza or Miguel Cabrera, which would seem to fit in. Cashman, clearly, was pretty high on Jesus Montero.

But remember: Brian Cashman just traded Jesus Montero. He traded six years of Jesus Montero, along with another guy. He got back a hell of a pitcher, but he allowed Montero to leave.

Something tells me Brian Cashman wouldn't have made a trade that he thinks would only be fair if the pitcher he's getting develops even further. That would make this an uneven trade, with the potential to become an even trade. That isn't how general managers move. I suspect that, in private, Cashman is rather pleased with this trade, with the potential to become even more pleased. He knows that Pineda's already real good. He knows that Montero is facing a number of questions. He loved Jesus Montero, but again, he traded Jesus Montero.

Brian Cashman is an honest guy. He's established a track record as such. I do not think he's being completely honest here. Which is just fine. I'm not accustomed to my baseball executives being honest anyway. Lie to me! Tell me more lies!


Comparing The Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero Trade To The Other Deals Of The Offseason

The Mariners stunned the baseball world by trading a young pitching phenom for a single prospect, when other teams received several players back for their young pitchers. What were they thinking?


Should Jesus Montero Catch Or DH For The Mariners?

Jesus Montero was likely going to be installed at DH for the Yankees in 2012, until the trade that sent him to the Mariners for Michael Pineda, with others also involved in the deal.

Will Montero’s move to Seattle mean he’ll get more time behind the plate, his original position? At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron examines the issue, noting that catching has a “tangible effect” on a hitter, on both a daily basis and for his career value:

If the Mariners decide to keep Montero behind the plate, they should expect a lower level of offensive performance than if they move him to DH. The amount of the surge differs for each player that is moved to another position (some players can handle the load better than others before wearing down), but it is generally estimated to be in the +5 to +10 run per season range. We’ve also observed that DHs hit worse than when they play a non-catcher position on the field, so the effect would be smaller by moving him there than if they put him at first base, but there’d still be an uptick in offensive performance if he had to turn in tools of ignorance.

There’s quite a bit more, including some numbers for current catchers and how their defense might affect their offense, but Cameron concludes:

This isn’t an open and shut case. There are reasonable arguments to be made for either decision – let’s just be willing to acknowledge that a lot more should go into the decision simply pointing at how awesome Montero’s offensive value could be relative to the average catcher.

The Mariners might get good value from putting Montero behind the plate, but would it be enough to displace the incumbent, Miguel Olivo? More likely, Montero will take Mike Carp’s place at DH in Seattle.


MLB Daily Dish: A Roundup Of Reviews

Over at MLB Daily Dish, Justin Bopp has collected links to tweets and Pineda/Montero-related articles for your edification. There's probably a second wave coming today and tomorrow. But for now, this will do just fine.

One point from Jon Morosi that I hadn't thought about:

Yankees know a lot of their older regulars will need DH days to stay fresh. Thus, less painful to trade Montero.

With Alex Rodriguez going to Germany to get Bavarian cream syphoned into his knees, Derek Jeter approaching forty, and Mark Teixeira having two down years in a row, there's something to be said about the Yankees keeping the DH spot relatively open for a carousel of thirty-somethings.

But on the days that the Yankees aren't resting someone at the DH spot, they'll be relying an awful lot on Andruw Jones and whoever is the left-handed complement. And on the days the Yankees are resting a regular at the DH spot, that means they'll have a lesser hitter in the field. A whole lot of Eduardo Nunez is what I'm getting at. I can see the logic, but I'm not sure it's automatically a great thing.

Also of note: Andruw Jones being a DH makes me feel older than if I heard through the grapevine that my high-school girlfriend just became a grandmother.


Pinstripe Alley: Everybody Wins

We've heard from Lookout Landing, but what about Pinstripe Alley? Here are a couple of chunks of analysis from PA's williamnyy:

Now that Pineda and Kuroda have been added, the Yankees' rotation is suddenly bursting at the seams. With Sabathia and Ivan Nova already entrenched in the rotation, that leaves three pitchers for one spot. In a perfect world, the Yankees would be able to unload A.J. Burnett's contract, allowing Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia to battle for the fifth slot during Spring Training. Both pitchers would not only be more than adequate in that role, but the odd man out could also prove to be an invaluable sixth man. However, getting rid of Burnett is probably wishful thinking, so it seems more likely that he will open the season as the fifth starter. And, who knows, maybe a lightened burden will translate into more success for Burnett?

I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the Yankees are going to pick the best man they can for No. 5 starter. I don't think they're going to give the job to Burnett, merely because they still owe him $33 million. Granted, that's a lot of money to just eat, but I think both Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner are well familiar with the concept of sunk cost.

Then again, they might figure that with this rotation, they can afford to give up a few wins, in the interest of getting Burnett back on track, at least to the point of becoming attractive enough to another club that the Yankees could actually trade him (while no doubt still eating a big chunk of the contract).

By acquiring Pineda and Kuroda, all of the dominoes on the pitching staff have fallen into place. However, the absence of Montero now leaves a big hole at DH. To address that need, the Yankees have reportedly expressed interest in Carlos Pena, who would form a nice lefty/right DH platoon with Andruw Jones, while also strengthening the bench. There are a myriad of other options too, ranging from veteran free agents like Vlad Guerrero and Johnny Damon to potential value buys like Kendrys Morales. Also, the Yankees could instead target a more versatile player (someone like Martin Prado), which would allow Joe Girardi to use the DH slot as a resting place for his aging veterans. All of these options are viable, which is probably another reason why Cashman decided Montero's bat was expendable.

Agreed on all points, but I think the single biggest reason for Montero's dispensability is Alex Rodriguez's contract, which runs for six more seasons. I think the second-biggest reason for Montero's dispensability is Mark Teixeira's contract, which runs for five more seasons. The Yankees didn't seem to think that Montero would be a catcher in the long term, which presumably would leave two positions: first base and DH. Teixeira's got first base locked up, and I suspect that Rodriguez will soon become a part-time DH, and perhaps a full-time DH, in the interest of keeping him in the lineup.

I've often thought the one weakness of a franchise like the Yankees is that they can get hamstrung by huge contracts given to veterans like Rodriguez and Teixeira, thus blocking cheap hot prospects like Montero. Of course, that problem looks a lot less serious when you can flip a guy like Montero for a guy like Pineda. The veterans can still be a problem, of course, if they're not playing well but their salaries compel you to play them anyway.

To this point, that's not been a real problem. It might still become one, if Rodriguez and Jeter continue to decline. But this roster now has a great deal of room for error.


Lookout Landing: It's Neither Fresh Out Of The Oven, Nor Moldy

Lookout Landing's Jeff Sullivan -- you might recognize that name from elsewhere -- has weighed in on Friday's big trade from the perspective of someone who has watched every single Seattle Mariners game since 1977*, and like almost everybody on either side of the deal or on no side at all, he's at least okay with it:

* exaggeration

If I had to rate this trade on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is fresh homemade lasagna and 1 is lasagna that's been sitting in a Tupperware container in the fridge for four months and you can't tell if that's mold or cotton, I'd probably give it a...5? I was originally going to say a 4 or a 5, but I've learned more about Noesi over the past several minutes. I like him more than I used to.

Yeah, I think that's about right. The fourth player in the deal, minor-league pitcher Jose Campos, has been impressive ... but he pitched in the short-season Northwest League last summer, at the tender age of 18. His tender age makes his performance -- 2.32 ERA, brilliant strikeout-to-walk ratio -- all the more impressive, but his tender age also means that he's at least two or three years from pitching in the majors, and a lot of terrible things might happen in those two or three years.

If you were to score the players on a scale of 1 to 10 -- sorry, no culinary analogs this time -- I think you would give Pineda a 9, Campos a 4, Montero an 8 and Noesi a 6.

So the Mariners win!

Or not. Your numbers might differ. This just looks like a pretty even trade, fresh out of the oven.


FanGraphs: Yankees Land Potential Ace, Don't Pay Retail

FanGraphs' Dave Cameron has weighed in on the big Yankees-Mariners trade, and he's not alone in thinking the Yankees picked up a great young power arm for a bargain price:

Pineda is the third quality young arm to get traded this winter, following the trades that shipped Gio Gonzalez to Washington and Mat Latos to Cincinnati. Given that both pitchers come with one fewer year of team control and lack Pineda’s dominating fastball, a strong case could be made that the Yankees new starter is the most valuable asset of the three guys that were moved. However, compared to the other two packages surrendered, the Yankees didn’t really pay much of a premium to get Pineda, and one could even make an argument that they gave up less value overall than what the Reds surrendered to get Latos.

I think it's absolutely true that the Yankees made out well in this deal, especially compared to the Reds.

Which doesn't mean it's going to be a great deal for the Yankees. Jesus Montero might become a great major-league hitter, and Michael Pineda might blow out his elbow this summer. And the other two players in the trade, both of them solid prospects, could easily swing this thing one way or the other.

Today, though? The Yankees are looking pretty good, and the Mariners have picked up a 22-year-old designated hitter.


Yankees, Mariners Trade Jesus Montero, Michael Pineda

The Yankees sent Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Michael Pineda in a four-player deal.

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