Reactions came in fast and furious last night, and not all of them were positive on the Yankee side of the fence. As I chronicled last night most MSM types called the deal relatively even for both sides, with a consensus viewing it as a great deal for the Yankees who traded an ill-fitting (albeit very talented) spare part for a 23 year old potential ace. But as with any deal there will be some critics, many of whom raise valid concerns although in some instances I think are missing some important facts and perspective. Here are the most common criticisms of the deal I’ve heard from the Yankee perspective:
You need Montero, the Yankee right handed bats are aging
There’s no doubt that this is true with Jeter and Rodriguez on the downside of their careers. But it isn’t a material concern either this year or in 2013. Russel Martin is 28 and has an 820 OPS facing lefties for his career. In what was an otherwise down year Tex crushed lefthanders in 2011. Curtis Granderson’s previous struggles and recent adjustments are well documented, and he hit lefthanders both for more power and a higher average last year. Swisher has a higher OPS against lefties for his career and destroyed them last year. Robbie Cano hasn’t suffered a significant platoon split over the course of his career. Some do lose power from the right side, but that’s a function of the ballpark as much as anything else. Fans need to remember that this team no longer revolves around Jeter and Alex, it is now built around Cano, Tex and Granderson. That transition has already occurred.
Pineda wasn’t as good away from Safeco and was bad in the 2nd half
This is true, but doesn’t affect the talent level of the pitcher you’re dealing with. Michael Pineda struck out 9.1 batters per 9 IP last year. That was 3rd best in the AL last year and has only been matched by 02 Roger Clemens and 08 Joba Chamberlain on the Yankees in the past 10 years. His 2.89 BB/9 isn’t elite, but is in the upper third for AL starters and very good for someone his age and with his stuff. Both of those numbers have nothing to do with where you’re pitching, those are generated by Mr Pineda himself. He was prone to the long ball, which was the cause of his 2nd half struggles and could be an issue in Yankee Stadium, but his ability to miss bats and not issue free passes should more than compensate for it. Fixing his fly ball tendencies can be something as simple as working lower in the zone and more to the right hand side of the plate facing certain batters. It’s not something that makes you take a pass on someone with his abilities. That’s not to say he’s a finished product, he needs to work on a change or cutter to keep lefties from jumping all over him, which happened at times last year. It’s also worth noting that the 170.1 innings Pineda threw last year was a career high, having thrown just under 140 in 2008 and 2010 in the Mariners farm system. As we saw with Ivan Nova in 2010, young pitchers can hit a wall when they’re working beyond their previous innings high as a rookie.
The Yanks don’t have another Montero in the system
This is just flat out false. They do, his name is Gary Sanchez. Sanchez flashed more power in Charleston last year than Montero did at a similar age, and has a far better chance of sticking at Catcher. The Yanks made it very clear last year that they loved Russel Martin, they have Cervelli backing up at the MLB level and Austin Romine behind him at AAA. There isn’t a need for the MLB club at the position, and by the time there will be they have plenty of options.
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