Jesus Montero Traded for Michael Pineda: 10 Most Shocking Moves of the Offseason

Eli GreenspanSenior Analyst IJanuary 14, 2012

Jesus Montero Traded for Michael Pineda: 10 Most Shocking Moves of the Offseason

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    The Yankees traded top prospect Jesus Montero and right-handed pitcher Hector Noesi to the Mariners for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. It was a move that shocked the baseball world and sent ripples through the Internet community.

    This offseason has been relatively quiet. The AL West has been the most competitive division this offseason, with each team making big moves.

    The Angels brought in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Rangers spent big on Yu Darvish and remain in the market for more, the Athletics traded Gio Gonzalez and the Mariners traded one top prospect for another. 

    There have been seldom big signings, with trades becoming the weapon of choice this year. Teams have still gone out and spent, some more wisely than others, but that's why we are here.

    We're going to take a look at the 10-most shocking stories this offseason. 

Yankees Trading Jesus Montero

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    Let's get the one out the way that brings us here in the first place.

    Only time will tell how this trade will be viewed going forward. Will it be the Mariners traded Michael Pineda or the the Yankees traded Jesus Montero away? Both players are very talented at the moment and it could turn out to benefit both teams, but pitchers are just as hard to project as hitters. 

    The Yankees and Mariners have depth at the positions they traded away, so the move makes sense in that regard. The Yankees have Austin Romine in Triple-A, who is considered to be better defensively than Montero, and also Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli in New York, who did great work in 2011. 

    The Mariners have a lot of pitching depth, including the addition of Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, but Pineda would have certainly been a better long-term in that rotation.

    Pineda did struggle in the second half of the season, posting a 3-8 record with a 4.74 ERA in his final 17 starts. That is the most worrisome stat line to me and it could mean he will start in Triple-A if he does not impress in spring training.

    The Yankees are stockpiling pitchers this offseason because they certainly have some question marks in the rotation.

    While Ivan Nova had an unbelievable season, no pitcher is immune to struggles and teams will start to figure out what he's got. Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett also had a tough time keeping their ERA's down, and one can only hope Freddy Garcia can reach 12 wins again like he did in 2011.

    With Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, who has been one of the more consistent Japanese pitchers in recent memory, the Yankees have options that do not necessarily need to be exhausted out of spring training.

    They are not the most glamorous moves, but they should help a pitching staff that struggled in the postseason.

    The Mariners really swooped in and made a good deal. The fact that they were able to pry Jesus Montero away, who is known for having a great bat and will likely be the teams DH, could pay massive dividends in the years to come.  

Rangers Spend $52.7 Million to Negotiate with Yu Darvish

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    Now, it is easy to be skeptical of this move considering how it worked out for the Red Sox with Daisuke Matsuzaka. You can make all the arguments: he is younger, not as over-worked, but the fact of the matter is that he is likely going to cost the team a total of 115-125 million dollars when it is all said and done and no pitcher has proven to be worth that much.

    The Red Sox and Cubs are experienced bidders in the posting process, but both bid considerably less than the Rangers, which means they weren't about to make the same mistake twice. They probably thought a modest $20 million bid with a $12-15 million base salary would get the job done.

    The Rangers had other plans.

    Matsuzaka saw his ERA balloon since coming over to the Red Sox, posting a 4.25 ERA in five seasons compared to an average 2.76 ERA in the previous five seasons in the Japanese league.

    The Rangers hope Darvish can adjust and be the pitcher he was in Japan, but he will have to exceed expectations to be worth what the Rangers will ultimately pay for him.    

Angels Sign Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson

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    When the Angels signed Albert Pujols, people were shocked that it was the Angels, not the Cardinals, who landed the coveted free agent.

    He was not even that coveted! Yes, teams would have loved to have him, but it was the Cardinals race to lose and very few teams were seriously involved.

    No one can blame Pujols for taking the lucrative Angels offer. He received a hefty contract from the Angels that awards him for being the superstar player he is.

    But wait, there's more.

    The team also signed left-handed ace C.J. Wilson away from the rival Rangers, a move that gives them a big advantage in the AL West.

    Owner Arte Moreno is never afraid to pull the trigger and after seeing the Rangers make it to the World Series two years in a row, things needed to change.

Cubs Land Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer

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    It was only reported after the Cubs and Theo Epstein were in negotiations that it was for him to become team President and bring in then-Padres GM Jed Hoyer to be the Cubs GM.

    It was a bizarre turn of events for the Red Sox, who after facing the embarrassing collapse due in part to unfocused players, lose their manager and general manager in the same week.

    The move may turn out to be Tom Ricketts' most celebrated as an owner, who showed everyone he is in it for the long-haul and expects Theo to be there with him.

    The move signals the end of an era for the Cubs and ushers in a new philosophy and set of goals, all built around the same idea.  

Tony La Russa Retires

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    Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is a living legend. 

    He was considered one of the best managers in baseball in the late 80s when he was in Oakland, and has two World Series under his belt with St. Louis. 

    He had been leaning toward retirement for some time, signing one-year deals in consecutive years, waiting for the right moment. 

    This year proved to be the right moment as the club lost its best offensive piece and was coming off a World Series title.

    Still, Cardinals fans still have not recovered from the move. 

The Miami Marlins

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    The Miami Marlins unveiled their new stadium and manager at the end of the 2011 season, and hit the ground running this offseason snatching up everyone in sight. 

    The Marlins got their man in Ozzie Guillen as manager, which opened the doors to the Marlins signing former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle and former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

    They also signed Jose Reyes to play shortstop, moving Hanley Ramirez over to third base which he probably realized was inevitable given his size and weight.

    They also signed Heath Bell and are looking into Cuban export Yoenis Cespedes.

    Simply put, the Marlins went on a tear this offseason and were more efficient than anyone expected.  

Robin Ventura, Mike Matheny Become Managers

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    While it is hard not to root for a former player in his first-time managerial gig, it is very easy to be skeptical of the move as well.

    The White Sox named Robin Ventura manager to replace Ozzie Guillen, but he has no prior managerial experience.

    GM Kenny Williams said he had strict criteria in picking the new manager, and after picking Ventura he said he believes he will be a great long-term manager for the team. 

    The White Sox certainly went in the opposite direction with Ventura, but it could work in the long run.

    The Cardinals made a similar move in naming former catcher Mike Matheny their manager, succeeding Tony La Russa. 

    Matheny was with the Cardinals from 2000-2004, but has been an adviser to the team since 2008 and is familiar with the organization. 

    There were several more high-profile, and experienced managers or coaches available that would have jumped on the Cardinals or White Sox positions, but both teams went with a guy that is familiar with the fan base and generally liked by the organization. 

Ryan Braun...

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    Boy, was this a bombshell. 

    When it came out that NL MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for PEDs, it shocked everyone in the baseball world and reminded everyone of the early 2000s when those sort of things were prevalent. 

    And for someone like Braun to test positive, a guy like him, it really rattles people's trust in the game's top players.

    I believe Braun, but I believe his appeal process will be upheld and he will have to serve a 50-game suspension.

    It appears Braun will fight this out to the bitter end, in large part to clear his name of any wrongdoing. His reputation certainly took a hit, but at least he is young and has time to reshape his image.

    Very tough news if you're a Brewers fans. 

Astros Moving to AL West

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    There has always been discussions about a realignment, but it finally happened this year with the Astros moving to the AL West in 2013 to even out all the divisions at five. 

    Picking the Astros out of the NL Central certainly makes the most sense. Of the westernmost teams in the NL Central—the Cubs, Cardinals, and Astros—the Astros are clearly the closest and would join the Rangers as the other AL team in Texas.

    But the Astros are going through some tough times right now. Prospects are not panning out, they have not had success in the free agent market, and the fan base in dwindling. A move to the AL West may be just what they need.

    But now the Angels and Rangers have beefed up and are far superior to the Astros. Even the Mariners are moving in the right direction while the Astros appear to be stuck in motion.

    It is a long-term move that will help baseball but might not benefit the Astros anytime soon.  

Moneyball and the Oakland Athletics

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    Moneyball hit the theaters in 2011 and was a huge success. Brad Pitt played Billy Beane to near-perfection, likely earning himself an Oscar nod in the process. 

    But it also brought the Athletics and their future to the forefront, as the Moneyball-A's of the early 2000s has seemed to become a common practice around the league today.

    As much as you may disagree about this being one of the top stories of the 2011 offseason, it has certainly been a topic of discussion in Major League Baseball's front office. 

    The A's have been working hard for years now to get a deal approved with the city of San Jose to move the Athletics out of Oakland.

    The stadium and the franchise are in a tough spot and need a fresh start in a true baseball stadium to get things going for them. A's GM Billy Beane has already made moves with the move to San Jose ultimately in mind. 

    A decision is expected on a potential move before the start of the 2012 season, so should be relatively soon.