The Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade is pretty irksome for, oh, about three reasons.
First, it's disheartening to see the Yankees fall into a long-term solution for their rotation issues without purging anything that hampers them in any immediate way. Chances are the 2nd best offense in baseball can figure out a way to stay OK without their in-house DH candidate.
Second, as someone who's grown fond of the Mariners and their just-like-us good-pitching/crap-hitting ways, it's disheartening to see that they've now succeeded in stripping away everything from what was one of the best rotations in baseball in the 1st half last season besides Felix Hernandez (the franchise cornerstone) and Jason Vargas (the meh). Pineda, the most valuable former member of that Seattle starting staff, was dealt for a most-likely DH in Jesus Montero and maybe-more-than-a-reliever in Hector Noesi. One doesn't need to go much beyond saying "Konerko-for-Cameron" to state that sometimes acquiring an offensive centerpiece--especially when it's a pressing need like it is for Seattle--can override differences in pure value. Still, with the M's still quite unlikely to be competing next season in their dicision, it feels like they shed the better asset for an immediate need.
But finally, and mostly, Pineda getting dealt continues the trend of the off-season. Pineda, goes along with Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos, and Trevor Cahill, as solid starters dealt with 4 or more years of team control left. Some might want to include the trades of Mark Melancon and Sergio Santos as part of the trend too.
For the Mariners, the reason they felt comfortable making the deal--beyond just staving off a fan revolt over the run drought--is apparent with a glance at the Seattle top prospects list, which reveals still three top-end starter prospects remaining, even with Jose Campos going to New York alongside Pineda.
As someone who has followed the White Sox for some time now, this seems like an interesting way to assess such a personnel situation. The Mariners see Michael Pineda as promising, but not irreplaceable due to the lack of a competent third pitch, or over-reliance on fastball velocity, or something about him that lack the promise of someone like No. 1 prospect Taijuan Walker. Whereas Kenny Williams would see someone who's a proven above-average starter in Pineda, and a 19 year-old who's never pitched above A-ball that other GMs are willing to serve up major league talent for, and have responded by blacking out and not coming to until he had traded for a whole new infield.
Accordingly, Chris Sale owned the closest thing to untouchable status this off0season, as the White Sox place a strong emphasis on pitchers who have proven to have gotten through to the majors without busting. Even when the Sox got in on the party by trading a very cheap and cost-controlled closer, it only came when relief-prospect Addison Reed hit the majors in September without losing momentum. They much rather assume the cost of guaranteed performance, than eat the cost of absorbing a bust.
It's easy to envision such a process making Williams a poor GM, because it's been smeared all over the walls for the past couple years. Extreme veteranophilia begat weak investment in acquiring young talent and short-sighted deals. However, if he's going to give the time of day to his international scouting director now, and hopefully, push the next year's draft to its spending limits, it's possible to see how Williams could re-emerge as a fairly effective GM simply by being such a contrarian.
It's hard not see the Pineda trade and think that a guy with minor league strength to burn and an aggressive streak could really do a bit a work around here. Unfortunately White Sox only have one of those conditions sealed up, and it's probably the most important one. Going against the grain and trying to turn mid-level veterans into minor league depth has been met with the unfriendly responses of a market where building minor league systems and producing cost-controlled contributors is paramount. So much so that it's fairer to Williams to commend him for his effort than praise him for drawing value.
Applying the rules of the market to the White Sox is odd, and possibly a fool's errand, but it beats the grim resolution of knowing what's coming.
Tags: addison reed, baseball, Chris Sale, felix hernandez, gio gonzalez, hector noesi, jason vargas, jesus montero, jose campos, Kenny Williams, mat latos, michael pineda, mike cameron, New York Yankees, Paul Konerko, Seattle Mariners, Sergio Santos, taijuan walker, Trevor Cahill, White Sox