Friday night brought baseball fans a blockbuster deal between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners. The four-player swap will send catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to Seattle in exchange for 2011 breakout pitcher Michael Pineda as well as minor league pitcher Jose Campos.
On the surface this seems like a great trade that includes some of the baseball's most highly touted young players.
In 2011, Michael Pineda showed the baseball world why he may be a future number one starter. He finished the season with nine wins and a 3.72 earned run average. A seemingly great campaign for a rookie pitcher.
After being called up on September 1, 2011, catcher Jesus Montero wowed Yankee fans as he batted .328 with a .406 on base percentage. Montero was considered MLB.com's number six prospect in 2011.
Immediate reactions around the league seem to be positive. The Yankees add a stud pitcher to what was a below average rotation, and the Mariners add offense to a team that has struggled to produce runs in recent years.
Despite the positives, all may not be as good as it seems. In fact, both the Mariners and the Yankees may look back on this trade and regret it.
An immediate concern for the Yankees should be whether Michael Pineda can perform at a high level in New York. There is a vast difference between pitching in Seattle and pitching in the Bronx.
The very first observation should be that Yankee Stadium plays much smaller than Safeco Field. In recent years, Yankee Stadium has greatly favored hitters while Safeco has greatly favored pitchers. Also, when taking into account divisional foes, Pineda will be pitching in hitter friendly ballparks like Fenway Park and the Rogers Centre as opposed to the Oakland Coliseum and Angel Stadium. He will also face much stronger offenses than he saw in the American League West.
Pineda also did not fare too well against the strong offenses of the AL East in 2011. He recorded just two wins in eight starts against AL East opponents and posted a 4.75 ERA.
Against teams with at least a .500 winning percentage, Pineda recorded only four wins with an ERA of 5.42.
All may not be well for Seattle either. They traded away a 22-year-old pitcher who is under control for many years and can pitch well in their ballpark. One has to wonder why Seattle has not decided to take the route of building a strong pitching staff to compete in the AL West, since it is difficult to sustain a strong offensive team in Safeco.
By bringing in Montero, Seattle is taking a risk with a hitter who only has a small sample size in the majors and whose power may not fare well in a large ballpark. In fact in nine games away from Yankee Stadium, Montero had only five hits and a .161 batting average. At Yankee Stadium, he collected three out of his four home runs and 11 of his 12 runs batted in while also batting .500.
It is very possible that both Montero and Pineda thrive with their new teams, and one can only hope for the best for these two young players. While their futures seem bright, one has to wonder whether or not their new teams will regret this deal in 2012 and beyond.