Revisiting the blockbuster trade that wasn’t

In January before the 2012 season the Yankees went all-in on their rotation. They announced the signing of free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, a move that was largely expected, and, in bigger news, they announced they had acquired Michael Pineda in exchange for Jesus Montero. Yankee fans knew Montero well. For several seasons he was heralded as the middle of the order bat waiting in the farm system for his chance to impact the Yankees. All of baseball knew Pineda, who had just come off a successful, if uneven, rookie season. The trade was controversial. Montero had raked in his cup of coffee the year prior, but it was clear the Yankees wanted to improve the team through the rotation.

Of course the trade had exactly zero impact on the Yankee season. Pineda suffered a career threatening injury in spring training and will be back in the beginning of the 2013 season at the earliest. Montero, meanwhile, struggled in Seattle.… Click here to read the rest

Nightly Links: Kuroda, Cust, Montero

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Catching Up With Some Ex-Yankees (Part 2)

Last time we looked at the recent ex-Yankees was already 3 weeks ago, Spring Training is flying by.

  • Jesus Montero– The former Yankee top prospect, and now Mariner top prospect is 11 for 36 in March, with 2 homeruns and 3 doubles. That’s good for a triple slash of .306/.366/.556. The 22 year old and Felix Hernandez appear to be developing a good pitcher/catcher relationship, as well as a friendship for the two Venezuelans from Carabobo. Hernandez pitching to Montero was certainly a dream for us Yankee fans, unfortunately its happening in a different uniform. Also, apparently Montero can catch… fish.
  • Hector Noesi– The other part of the Michael Pineda trade’s latest spring training outing came on March 13th. Due to the amount of innings he threw in Winter Ball, the Mariners were careful with the righty. In his game against the Brewers he went 3.0 innings, gave up 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run. Noesi did get a start on Sunday in Japan though.
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Catching Up With Some Ex-Yankees

We’re only a few days into spring training games and there is already news and stats to catch up on our once beloved Yankees.

  • Jesus Montero– His debut with the Mariners started with a bang and boo-boo. The catcher hit a homerun in his first game, but also took two foul ball ricochets during an at bat and had to leave the game. After missing a game, Montero returned to the field on Sunday where he went 1 for 3 with a double. So far he has his two extra base hits in his first six plate appearances. MLB Network caught up to Montero at camp where they talked about his transition and Felix Hernandez.
  • Hector Noesi– The righty started for the Mariners on Saturday. In his two innings, Noesi gave up two walks, two strikeouts, and went hitless. Apparently that improved velocity is for real, and Noesi looked impressive in his debut with the Mariners.
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Composite Prospect Rankings

Yesterday, Jeff Zimmerman of RotoGraphs released his composite rankings for the top 100 prospect lists. What we are left with is the average rankings from all 7 major lists, Baseball America, Scout.com, ESPN, MLB, Project Prospect, Bullpen Banter, and Baseball Prospectus. Although Zimmerman’s purpose is for drafting prospects in fantasy baseball, the composite list indicates a general consensus of rankings. The first three are the usual Bryce Harper, Matt Moore, and Mike Trout, but quickly diverges from there.

Yogi ranks Banuelos #1

  1. Manny Banuelos #16- The Yankee prospects are headlined by Banuelos with a 20.1 composite rank. His lowest placement was from Project Prospect at #8, and highest was from Bullpen Banter at #30.
  2. Gary Sanchez #44- Sanchez’ 52.1 composite rank places him between Ranger’s 3B Mike Olt, and the Cubs new 1B Anthony Rizzo. His lowest rank at #39 also came from Project Prospect, and highest came from Baseball America at #81.
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The Ibanez/Jones DH v. The Montero DH

Before this offseason was dominated by big name pitchers, the Yankee fan base was most excited about the upgrade at DH. Jorge Posada and his negative WAR were about to be replaced by the future allstar, Jesus Montero. Indeed, the change would have been immense based on ZiPS’ .271/.333/.486 triple slash and an a 112 OPS+. With Andruw Jones and now Raul Ibanez signed, it looks like the team has found its replacement for Montero in 2012. The DH position might take up two roster spots, but the Ibanez/Jones platoon may perform better in 2012 than Montero would have.

Can Ibanez stop his decline at 40 years old?

The plan, of course, is to play Andruw Jones against left-handed pitchers, and Raul Ibanez against right-handed pitchers. In 2011, facing lefties, Jones hit .286/.384/.540, 144 OPS+ with eight homeruns. Facing righties, Ibanez hit .256/.307/.440, 100 OPS+ with 16 homeruns. Combined, the duo would have spotted .263/.326/.464 with 24 homeruns. While this is slightly worse than the projections for Montero, I suspect that Ibanez will have more luck hitting righties with the short leftfield porch.… Click here to read the rest

Reflections on the Yankee offseason

It’s finally here! Pitchers and Catchers report to spring training today, unofficially marking the end of the offseason and the beginning of the preseason. The Yankees will report to camp this year with some key personnel changes. In fact, this has been the busiest offseason for the team since the winter of 2008.

The most recent change, of course, is the long anticipated departure of A.J. Burnett. While the deal isn’t yet official, barring an unforeseen surprise A.J. has pitched his last game as a Yankee and his reign of terror in Pittsburgh is about to begin. The move essentially guarantees that Phil Hughes will be given every opportunity to prove himself as the Yankees’ fifth starter. Failing that, expect the Bombers to move him to the bullpen and turn to veteran Freddy Garcia as an insurance option.

The Yankees also signed Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda’s signing was somewhat under the radar, for a Yankee move, but he brings proven talent to the team.… Click here to read the rest

Roy Halladay: What a Bargain

After C.C. Sabathia’s lucrative contract extension and talk of Cole Hamels receiving a similar deal, I have to think back to Roy Halladay. After their 2009 loss to the Yankees, the Phillies traded for Roy Halladay, and promptly signed him to a 3-year, $60 million deal with a vesting option for the 4th year. It’s looking like pretty much the best big-money contract in baseball at this point.

Since the trade, Roy Halladay has been the best pitcher in baseball. He’s pitched over 483 innings with an ERA around 2.40. The Phillies have built an incredibly good rotation around him. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are no slouches, but they are somehow eclipsed by Halladay.

It’s easy to forgot that Halladay could have been sent to the Yankees instead of Philadelphia. The Yankees offered Philadelphia Jesus Montero for Halladay, straight up. They opted to pass, instead taking Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor. Taylor was quickly traded to the Athletics, while Kyle Drabek has struggled in the major leagues.… Click here to read the rest

With Montero Gone, the Banuelos Hype Machine Begins

On Wednesday, Jonathon Mayo of MLB.com released his 2012 Top 100 Prospects. The Yankees had four players land on the list, Manny Banuelos at 13, Dellin Betances at 41, Gary Sanchez at 53, and Mason Williams at 73. It was no guarantee that we’d see Sanchez or Williams on such a list, but what surprised me most is the aggressive Manny Banuelos ranking.

Courtesy of Christopher Pasatieri

With Montero out, Banuelos is clearly the best prospect in the Yankee farm system. A left handed 20 year old pitcher with low to mid 90’s heat, possible plus changeup and curveball, and with solid numbers in AA and AAA is nothing to scoff at. Despite this, there are a lot of factors that must go right for Banuelos to develop on the level he’s been hyped. Where scouts demand that he simply needs more consistency, they also say he needs to take steps forward with his breaking pitches and cutter, drastically improve the command, and add velocity to his fastball.… Click here to read the rest