So much for Friday the 13th being unlucky! Here are my random thoughts from the craziest day of the offseason:
Michael Pineda is exactly what the Yankees have needed since about 1996: a young pitcher with a proven record of major league performance, a high upside, and several years of team control remaining. He is what Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain could have been and what Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances may or may not become. Obviously, there is always an injury risk with a pitcher this young, but Pineda is 23, not 20, and his workload was well-monitored in the Seattle organization.
- Part of me is glad to see Jesus Montero go. I've repeated this ad naseum (and I will change the tagline at the end of my posts after this one last honorary hurrah), but with 1B and DH effectively blocked by older, more expensive players, his only place on this roster was as a catcher, something the Yankees brass never seemed that enthused about. Giving him the Jorge Posada treatment by easing him into full-time catching duties would have been a phenomenal waste - Posada didn't get 500 plate appearances until his 4th full season, and with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter both on the wrong side of 35 and likely to need significant DH at-bats sooner rather than later, the odds were just far too high that Montero would wind up sitting on the bench during half of his cost-controlled years.
Jose Campos is at least two years away from contributing in the majors, which is basically an eternity in baseball years, but he's performed well in the low minors and is at least a solid B-level prospect. That the Yankees were able to acquire him in exchange for Hector Noesi, who's ceiling was probably that of a decent 4th/5th starter is just an added bonus.
Looking back, I still don't hate the Freddy Garcia signing this offseason. He's likely to give a team 140 innings above replacement level this season, and every team besides the Phillies had a need for that kind of pitcher last year. $5 million is peanuts to the Yankees, and although his presence on the roster is now most likely unnecessary, this kind of problem is much better than the one we were facing yesterday.
You can never have too much starting pitching, but the Yankees now have a logjam in their rotation and are going to need a plan that makes sense for both 2012 and beyond. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Michael Pineda will obviously fill the first three slots, and from there I would dangle both AJ Burnett and Freddy Garcia on the trade market and take the best deal available for one of them (regardless of how much money I had to eat). Barring injury or ineffectiveness, I would give Phil Hughes the 5th starter spot out of spring training for two reasons - he still has upside as a starter, and since he's scheduled to hit free agency after 2013, I'd like to give him one last chance to realize it. Ivan Nova would go to Scranton and be ready as soon as somebody struggled or got injured.