Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 1/14/12


The Yankees surprised the baseball world on Friday by trading highly-touted catching prospect Jesus Montero and young pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for young, hard-throwing right-handed SP Michael Pineda and minor-league righty Jose Campos according to multiple sources including MLB Trade Rumors. There were some rumors about the Mariners making a blockbuster trade earlier in the day but the Yankees seemed to pop out of nowhere to finalize the deal. Then, after all the excitement of the trade, the Yankees made another big transaction by signing free agent and former Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a 1-year contract in the $10 to $11 million range.

Regarding the trade for Pineda, I love it from the perspective of both teams as the main players each team received fits their respective stadiums well. Safeco Field, where the Mariners play their home games, is more of a pitcher's park (try much more) than Yankee Stadium and a power-hitter like Montero is someone Seattle desperately needs to liven up that terrible offense.

In an extreme bandbox like Yankee Stadium is, the Yankees need to have as effective a pitching rotation as possible and the additions of Pineda and Kuroda to their staff greatly increased that of happening. Now, the Yankees' rotation from 1-5 looks like Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda (Pineda and Kuroda could flip-flop), Burnett, and finally Ivan Nova. There are also a few exclusions to that rotation who could find themselves in the bullpen or in Triple-A like Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, or Phil Hughes.

The moves are bringing in an excess amount of productive starting pitchers for Joe Girardi to choose from gives the Yankees' skipper and GM Brian Cashman the flexibility to try to get rid of the incredibly inconsistent and much-maligned Burnett whose contract and performance are evidence of another Yankee contract that went horribly wrong.

Montero had the chance to be the next great homegrown Yankee hopefully to be in the company of Jeter, Posada, Mariano, or even Bernie Williams but yet again, the Yankees chose to trade away the homegrown talent for a more established player that another organization developed through the minor leagues. Most of the time the Yankees have done this, the trade has overwhelmingly worked in their favor (think Granderson trade) but it has also cost the Yankees a lot of money in terms of a highly overpaid player. However, the reason that the Pineda trade seems to be one of the best ones that Cashman has made in his tenure with the Yankees is that he is being paid next to nothing right now ($414,000 which will change when Pineda hits arbitration in 2013).

With this trade, the Yankees don't handcuff themselves financially which they somewhat do with the Kuroda signing. There is no doubt that Hiroki Kuroda is a solid MLB pitcher who has posted near-200 IP and mid-3.00 ERA seasons throughout most of his career. I don't personally think that a pitcher with those stats deserves an annual salary of around $10 million but then again, they are the Yankees. Even if Kuroda turns out to be a major dud (which I don't think will happen but it is certainly possible), the deep pockets of the Steinbrenners will make that mistake somehow disappear.

If I were to grade the moves separately, I would give Cashman and the Yankees an A for the Pineda trade and a B- for the Kuroda signing. Don't get me wrong, the players the Yankees added to their team today will no doubt help the team more than the players that left would help, but I think the Yankees would have fared better to spend less on the free agent pitcher-signing and if I was GM, I would go after a less-expensive option like Edwin Jackson as a middle-of-the-rotation reliever. That's just my opinion and I'm sure its one of many about the Yankees' "Black Friday the 13th" transactions.

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