The Jesus Montero Deal Is Looking Golden


The Rybka 4 chess computer is now rated higher than Vladimir Kramnik, the world's top player.  By three standard deviations.  

When Rybka beats him, Kramnik sometimes does not comprehend what the computer was doing, in order to achieve its superior positions.  That's a little scary, if you think in terms of Skynet vs. John Connor.

There is a feeling associated with losing to a chess computer when, no matter how hard you try after the game, you can't understand why in the world it played Bishop to c6 - you know only that Bc6 was the best move for some reason or other.


Q.  What is SSI's opinion on Michael Pineda's reduced velocity this spring?

A.  I like the even-handedness of this Cameron article on the subject.  And SSI is sure that Michael Pineda would be a very fine ML pitcher even at 91 mph.  His strengths were never limited to velocity.  He's had superb command, a tremendous "slider," and outstanding makeup.  

He'll develop a change, not that he needs one even at 91 mph.  Pineda is going to pitch well, assuming that he doesn't leave an elbow ligament in the trunk of his car.


But!  I'm alarmed that Michael Pineda reported to camp and had to labor to reach 91 mph.  Fourteen months ago, he'd have been able to fall out of bed in January and hit 97 mph.  It's well-and-good that Pineda knows how to pace himself now -- but after all this rest, he really should have been able to throw an easy 95 when he chose to.

Pineda has had elbow problems in the past, he actually does have a moderate "inverted W" as Taro emphasizes, and .... it suddenly dawns on you that in 2011, Pineda might have gotten a little too caught up in the excitement of seeing his 98 fastball on ESPN.  Very easy for a Kerry Wood type, or Stephen Strasburg type, to throw caution to the wind.

We're hardly writing Pineda off, but if I'm Brian Cashman, I'm alarmed.


Q.  Meanwhile, Hector Noesi is throwing lights out, eh...

A.  Over the winter, baseball simply did not know where Noesi's velocity would be in 2012.  They didn't know.

It's looking very optimistic that Noesi's fastball is the better version -- the one that is as hot as Felix Hernandez'.  

If this is the case, then Noesi's slider and curve don't matter nearly as much.  He has always had the command in the strike zone.  At 94 mph, Noesi is truly a mature incarnation of Jose Campos.

Do yourself a favor and go sort the Fangraphs leaders by velocity.  See how many 93 mph pitchers there are who aren't 110+ for ERA.  With his decent changeup, his 94 mph, and his command, Noesi is above average, whether or not he has a good slider.  If he does have the slider he's liable to be Matt Garza, real quick.*  (*We'll see about Noesi's makeup; I have questions on that.)

Armstrong's revelation, that the M's declined Ivan Nova for Noesi, is sensational and it's one more testament to the outrageous courage of Jack Zduriencik.  It would have been sooooooooo easy for Zduriencik to take a 16-4 Yankee pitcher and have everybody instantly sign off on his Pineda deal.

One trade after another, after another, after another, Zduriencik hangs himself out to dry on trades that are guaranteed to draw second-guessing.  And one trade after another, his scout's eye cashes the checks that his courage is writing.


Q.  Jack Zduriencik crushed Brian Cashman on this deal?

A.  I don't usually get into the "who won the trade" silliness.  But this one has got to be very unnerving to Yankees fans.  

Cashman is no rube.  But this trade gives me the same kind of feeling as when I'm losing to a 3200-rated chess computer.  I'm losing, and it's not even clear to me why I'm losing.  The computer is working towards good positions with methods I cannot even perceive clearly, after the fact.  It's a scary feeling, when your opponent can't even explain to you the differences between you.

Jesus Montero's hitting stardom is 95% a given at this point.  On the day of the trade, it looked pretty even.  Only a few weeks later, you wouldn't trade Montero for Pineda even steven, much less to make the Yankees throw an ML #2-3 starter in as profit.

I wouldn't.  Offer me Pineda, a health-risk pitcher, for Jesus Montero right now and see what I say.  Offer me Pineda and Jose Campos for Montero, and see what I say.

You know what, at the time, Zduriencik put a whale of a lot of effort into protesting, "This wasn't a deal anybody won.  It was just a win-win deal."  He pushed that line just a little too hard, and SSI smelled something fishy even then.

I'm getting that HAL-9000 feeling, like there is a level of expertise here that is beyond my perception.  Zduriencik isn't HAL-9000, but he is certainly laying some lumber to his fellow GM's.


ghost's picture

Baker has the scoop...turns out he broke his wrist on Tuesday...the third metacarpel to be exact. Wow...he was really clobbering the ball early in ST and once again, just as the promise flashes, he gets snake-bit. This kid just cannot catch a break (for lack of a better word...*grimace*)...I hope when he latches on with another org that he finally stays healthy and gets a real chance to prove what he can do.

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