Yesterday around 7:45 Eastern Time, Twitter got a little extra crazy. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted that the Mariners were close to acquiring an “impact” bat. Rumors swirled, Adam Jones jokes were passed among Orioles fans (that’s all we have), but eventually the world focused on the New York Yankees because that’s where the universe usually focuses.
As a straight-up trade, it seemed a little odd that the Mariners were taking on a DH (Jesus Montero) for a top starting pitcher prospect (Michael Pineda). Of course, a few seconds later we heard that the Mariners were adding Jose Campos to the deal and the Yankees were adding Hector Noesi.
Oddly, on its face, this deal hurts the fantasy value of both signature players.
There is no denying how good Pineda was last year, during his age 22 season. He had a 3.74 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 3.53 xFIP and 9.11 K/9 rate. He had a little help from his home ballpark and a .258 BABIP, but Pineda looked like a solid option going into 2012.
In fact, he was a sure bet to strikeout 180 batters, with upside depending on the amount of innings the Mariners let him pitch. In the new reality, Pineda’s security blanket, his home ballpark, has completely disappeared and that’s a tad worrisome.
Pineda had a 4.40 ERA and 1.17 WHIP away, but a 2.92 ERA and 1.01 WHIP at home. That said, he actually had a better K:BB rate away (3.37) than at home (2.93). So there’s a chance those splits are just small sample size white noise.
Really, the only concern with Pineda moving cross country is that he had a 44.8% FB rate last year and just a 9.0% FB/HR rate. If he keeps giving up that many fly balls in Yankee Stadium a few more are going to leave the park. Still, the increase in ERA could be easily offset (from a fantasy standpoint) by the increase in wins. As it stands, Pineda looks like a sure bet to win 15 games, with the aforementioned 180Ks. I’ll pencil him in for a 3.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, but there is risk given the media circus. He’s a darn good get.
As for Jesus Montero, well, this isn’t a good thing. He leaves a productive insulated lineup and a smoking hot ballpark for a poor lineup and a ugly ballpark. The only silver lining is the Mariners are more likely to use Montero as a catcher, so he might retain/reclaim that eligibility for fantasy purposes.
It could take some adjustment for Montero, but he has real power and skills. This deal probably zaps a few HRs from his final ledger. So his range is more like 17-22 HRs, whereas, before it was 22-27. He’s still capable of hitting .280. Unfortunately, this move has turned Montero into a Billy Butler clone.
While there are other “minor” parts in the deal, both Noesi and Campos have real talent.
I was trying to find a way to make Noesi a sleeper this year, and thanks to Brian Cashman (who I love/hate), I now have a way. Aside from 24 innings at AAA, Noesi has had great command (posting walk rates routinely in 1.00s per nine in the minors). In addition, he has struck guys out at a decent clip. If he can find his way into the Mariners rotation, he could post a sub-4.00 ERA with a reasonable amount of Ks (say 6.8 per nine innings). He might end up just a reliever this season, however he has become a true sleeper.
As for Jose Campos: according to Kevin Goldstein, the 19-year-old Venezuelan has power stuff and huge upside. He hasn’t pitched outside of A Ball, but he has dominated at every stop so far. He posted a 6.54 K:BB rate last year in 81.1 IPs at A, for instance. File him away for dynasty leagues or any league where you can keep minor leaguers without burning a roster spot.
The last outstanding issue: who will be the Yankees DH? Did Scott Boras somehow orchestrate this trade? Does Jorge Posada feel bad about his proposed retirement? Will Prince follow in his father’s footsteps to Yankee land?