Q.  First things first.  What is SSI's Official Position on the trade, aside the fact that Dr. D hates losing Pineda.

A.  Perfect example of a win/win deal, maybe one of the best such I've seen.  Very well balanced.

Jesus Montero is, it says here, practically a guarantee to be a #4 hitter on some level.  Of the subset of projections that are reasonable, Carlos Lee is just about the most-pessimistic reasonable projection possible; how are you going to find a decent Montero comp who is worse than Lee?  

And Brian Cashman's projection is Mike Piazza or Miguel Cabrera.  

Look, we're not talking about some blogger or Twittergeek making that comp.  We're talking about Montero's GM, Brian Cashman, and we're talking about Jack Zduriencik, who traded Michael Pineda to acquire Montero.  These aren't bloggers setting the expectation; it is the highest authorities in the game setting the expectation.  

You could say that The Official MLB Expectation for Montero is to be Piazza or Cabrera.  That's not proof, but it's comforting when you're lamenting the loss of a 300-lb. starting pitcher.


SSI's take?  As far as templates, Piazza is indeed a tremendous comparison.  The K rate, the BB rates are great matches - the young Piazza didn't do too much of either, as the high-contact Montero doesn't.  Piazza had the same mammoth power the other way.  They move very similarly, and they stick their heads into the pitches similarly, and they torque their bats to RF similarly.

Of course, Piazza represents the ceiling for that template, but Jesus Montero is the closest thing to Piazza I've seen since Piazza.


Q.  But what about a Montero fail?

A.  True, Montero hasn't yet had his 30-100 rookie season, as Pineda has had his 160-IP, 160-K rookie season.  But balancing that, Pineda has about a 30%, 40% chance of being injured before free agency.  Objectively speaking, the ROI on Montero and Pineda are well balanced.  The swap feels shaky for Seattle, but calculates solidly.

SSI doesn't take seriously the 20% "risk" that Montero might not hit.  There's a 20% risk that any MLB regular will play badly next season.  That's sort of the concept behind MLE's.


Q.  What caused Zduriencik to change his mind about Montero's worth?

A.   Yep.  Zduriencik could have had Montero for two months of Cliff Lee, and would have done it, except for Smoak.  Now, Capt. Jack gives up 5 full years of Pineda to get Montero.  One year on, Zduriencik has more data, and he has changed his opinion radically.

Of course, it was the 18 games in Yankee Stadium.  Zduriencik now has data that he did not have:  he has seen Montero's game deployed against ML pitching.  Something in those 18 games convinced him that Montero is going to be Mike Piazza.


Q.  Why did we have to lose in the second player-pair, though?

A.  We definitely won the second player-pair.  Nooooooooo question about it.

Hector Noesi is an ML-ready starter who has already passed the toughest filter of all:  he has debuted in the majors and done so very well.  7 strikeouts per nine, hot fastball, good command, all the trimmings.

Campos is what Pineda was at 19, but at 19 Michael Pineda did not yet have a 100% chance to become Michael Pineda.

It's like if I tell you, I can roll two dice and give you $1,000 per spot, or I can give you $8,500 right now.  You're sabermetricians; you know which one to take.  But that $12,000 looks so irresistible...

Hey, you know that SSI had Campos #4 among the big four, and that's #4 by a good distance.  Campos is a teenager with a located fastball.  Teenagers don't rank unless they are freaks, of which Taijuan happens to be one.  Campos isn't a freak.  SSI was never married to Campos the way it is to Paxton, Hultzen, and Taijuan.

The Mariners needed the $8,500 in the rotation; the Yankees wanted pitching later.  That's a win for both sides, too.


Okay, don't believe me?  Give me 12 more of these trades, right now, 2012.  One ML-ready 2.5 to 3.0 WAR player for one 19-year-old prospect who is #85 in baseball, and we are going to fill the roster that way, right here right now.  How does that sound?

The Mariners' WAR leaders in 2012 were Pineda 3.4, Ackley 2.7, Ryan 2.6, Vargas 2.4, and then nobody else had more than 1.5 except Felix.  How much does a 3-WAR player mean in baseball?  For your #5 org prospect?


Q.  How quick will the M's replace Pineda?

A.  That's one very cool thing about the state of the ballclub.  No more holdup on the young LHP's who are ready to take over the league.

The Mariners got two young ML-ready impact players for one:  they took a great young pitcher and traded him for a great young hitter.  Preposterous as it sounds, they plan to replace Michael Pineda, leaving them simply +1.

Montero's got to make us forget Pineda.  It's a tough get, but he probably will.  Take two box seats and call me in the morning.


Dr D


Nick's picture

Took three or four hours before my mind created the first image of Pineda pitching that actually makes me choke up in sadness) for the first time. It will be sad. Awkward and sad.
But we get a pretty good consolation prize :) Guess who doesn't have to ever play the what if game of Montero vs. Smoak? We don't!
Which brings me to my question Doc, or anyone else: Can someone please quell this pit in my stomach that Smoak won't be a Mariner in 2012? I really, reallyyyy don't want to lose him. I want him here for the successful run we're about to go on. Sandy, your post from a couple weeks back about the lack of specialness with imports really struck me. I don't want to be the Marlins or the Yanks. It feels too business-y. I want to do it with OUR guys. Yes, I'm emotionally attached to Smoak. We were there when he lost his dad and the organization gave him so much support and patience. We've been there for the glimmers.
Honestly, you give me Fielder or Smoak? Now that we have Montero? I'll take the younger, healthier, cheaper home guy (ok, he wasn't a year and a half ago but he is now) with the upside we know he has.
So what are you guys gauging as far as his place with the team?

Taro's picture

Noesi's 2011 was largely in the bullpen (higher velocity, though still got hit hard), but you never know how command types will pan out until you let them pitch. MOR mid-proj for the most part. Some concerns about his BABIP ballooning at AA and higher.
Still a little burned on Campos, but Noesi is a solid piece that could suprise.
Apparently Montero had a little more value than Pineda in trade talks, which is understandable.

Taro's picture

I'm really rooting for Montero to stick at C.. You are talking two different ends of the defensive spectrum between C and DH. A whopping 30 run full-year positional adjustment.
30 runs of hitting value was roughly the difference between Joey Votto and Melky Cabrera in 2011 (ONLY hitting runs).
Even if staying at C hurts Montero's hitting ceiling a bit, it really increases his value significantly if he can play it to a mediocre level.


If they don't wind up with Prince, you figure Justin Smoak plays first base.
1 Ichiro
2 Ackley
3 Jesus Montero, c
4 Prince Fielder, dh
5 Carp, lf
6 Smoak, 1b
7 Mark Reynolds, 3b
8 Wells, cf
9 Ryan
Just saying.  First team in baseball history to improve its offense by 300 runs :- )


Two GMs putting in on the line in some high-stakes poker here.
Plan B was obviously going to be to package young arms for a big bat.  To get a potentially huge bat under club control is awesome.
Certainly this makes them need Prince less, but it also doesn't keep them from still doing it (though now they'd have to shed Smoak).  Great position to be in with Boras.  Jack thinking two steps ahead, and maybe setting up getting PF at a "bargain" contract.
Do Plan B and Plan A?  Giving up Smoak is worth that (though it doesn't seem likely, it's still possible).
I was a huge advocate of both guys (Pineda and Campos), and was one of the first to tout Campos on this site.  But this kind of deal is exactly what you do with your stockpile of young players.  Maybe Jack had this in the back of his mind all the way back to picking Hultzen.
Iwakuma-Noesi-Hultzen-Paxton are all capable of filling the gap created by Pineda and Campos.
Montero, on the basis of his minor-league results, is pure sterling.  His age-19 and age-20 seasons are as good as any you'll see -- and he was ridiculously young for the levels he was in.  Producing huge power with very low strikeouts -- that's what the truly great ones do.  Dipped some at age-21, but he'd already shown what he can do in the minors.
I reeeeeally hope this moves Carp to primary LF and Wells to spot duty.  That itself is another huge upgrade.

Anonymous's picture

To be clear I still like this deal for the most part.
Noesi wasn't as important from my perspective as he was to Z/Cashman.. would have much prefferred sending a lesser spec than Campos without Noesi involved..
But if theoretically Pineda+Campos was absolutely neccesarry to nab Montero, I can still understand pulling the trigger. Montero is a rare shot at an elite offensive C and has opposite field hitting power that should solve Safeco.

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