Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yankees Sign Kuroda; Trade Montero, Noesi for Pineda

So much for a quiet offseason.

As per Wallace Matthews of ESPN, the Yankees made two big moves yesterday--one that most fans in Yankeeland might have expected; the other that I'm sure probably comes to many as a complete shock.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jesus Montero, the Yankees young, prodiginal power-hitting slugger and Hector Noesi, one of the Yankees top pitching prospects who proved his mettle in the Bronx late last season, were traded to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Michael Pineda, the 6-foot 7-inch phenom who turns 23 years old next week.

About an hour later, the Yankees added another big arm to their rotation, signing former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal worth $10 million. The deal is contingent on Kuroda passing a physical.

This is a big disappointment to many fanatics who fell in love with Montero after his stellar showing with the Bombers last season. In 18 games, Montero batted .328 with four home runs, four doubles, 20 hits and 12 RBIs. He also had a perfect post-season going 2-for-2 and scoring a run in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers.

But it has always been my contention that Montero would at some point be traded for stellar pitching. Groomed as a catcher, he doesn't have good defensive numbers behind the plate and I always felt that he was too young to assume the role of a DH which is the position he would have been slated for. It was clear that the Yankees thought highly of Montero as they refused to use him in many trade offers, so it's obvious that the team and Brian Cashman think very highly of Pineda.
Otto Greule/Getty Images

The Dominican-born soon-to-be former Seattle Mariner pitched a 9-10 record in 28 games with a 3.74 ERA and 173 strikeouts in his first major league season last year. Pineda's showing was impressive enough that he was selected to the All-Star game and came in fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Pineda's top pitch is his fastball which reaches the mid to high 90's, a hard slider with good tilt and a changeup that he throws in the high 80's. Don't be surprisd if this kid pitches second in the rotation behind CC Sabathia.
Associated Press

Kuroda posted a 13-16 record and 3.07 ERA last season with 161 strikeouts in 32 starts. The righty has three pitches: a fastball that sits in the low 90's, a slider that reaches about the mid 80's and a split fastball that tops out at about 87 mph. The Yankees being able to sign Kuroda to a one year deal at $10 million was a bargain compared to what they would have given up in payroll to Edwin Jackson who they were still in talks with. Jackson was rumored to be looking for a multi-year deal at $15 million per.

So on this Friday the 13th, a day for bad luck and superstitions, the Yankees pull off moves that could possibly make them the team to beat in the AL East. With all their pitching questions answered, what's left is probably the re-signing of Eric Chavez, hopefully.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

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