Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yankees make splash by stealing M's pitching stud

You didn’t really expect the New York Yankees to stand pat heading into spring training did you?

For all the talk of the Yankees’ budget, they managed to find some money for Hiroki Kuroda. With spring training right around the corner, Brian Cashman & Co was simply not comfortable with a rotation of CC Sabathia and a lot of question marks and Kuroda was the best option on the free-agent market. But in the long-term, I really do believe the Yankees are sincere about trying to get under that $189 million figure before the next contractual penalty phase kicks in, as shown by their unwillingness to give Kuroda or any other mediocre free-agent pitcher a multi-year deal.

No, the Yankees did not pry King Felix Hernandez from the Seattle Mariners’ dying hands, as many Yankee fans were clamoring for. But they got the next best thing: another potential stud in 22-year-old Michael Pineda. His 2011 win-loss record was not great, but put the Yankees’ lineup behind his 3.74 ERA and his win total is guaranteed to improve, unless Bobby Valentine is right about the Mariners trading him for a reason.  

The Yankees supposedly thought the world of Hector Noesi, with him rumored to be in the mix for a starting job in the 2012 Yankees rotation, and supposedly had big plans for Jesus Montero. But that could have been the Yankees talking up their prospects in the hopes of trading them for better players, a long-time habit of Cashman & Co.

I, for one, am not going to cry over the loss of Montero even though I liked what I saw of him last year. For all his terrific September at-bats, the Yankees were souring on Montero because they could not find a position for him. They were never sure he would put in the work to become even a decent game caller, the way a defensively-challenged Jorge Posada did in becoming a borderline Hall of Fame candidate. It was quite telling that Montero, as young as he was, was headed for an almost full-time designated hitter role, which would not have been in the Yankees’ best interest as they need to free up that slot to give Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter time off the field without breaking any hitting strides.

I’m a pitching and defense fan first so I’m supportive anytime the Yankees get a veteran arm and a couple of young pitching studs, even if they have to give up a promising power bat. Unlike Bobby V, I approve of these moves. 

Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the Michael Pineda photo.  

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