Swing and a miss? Mariners don't get much in Pineda trade to Yankees

Jan 19, 2012

We get a bat, but not much else. That's what KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel has to say about the Mariners trading starting pitcher Michael Pineda to the Yankees in exchange for hot young hitter Jesus Montero.

Good at the plate, but not behind it

Montero comes to the Mariners as a catcher, but he's not known for his skills behind the plate. Art says he will likely be a designated hitter for the Mariners, which still leaves a hole behind the plate.

"That means if you've only gotten a designated hitter out of the deal, you need to go out and spend club treasure on getting a better solution at catcher rather than Miguel Olivo, who's coming back and who probably was the worst defensive catcher in the American League last year. They hired a guy named John Jaso from Tampa who'll be a platoon guy, which is OKAY. But there's a lot of consternation in the Mariner fan base about this trade. It's not necessarily terrible but it isn't signing a free agent where you only give up money."

Gave up a lot to get a little

Art says he would call the Montero-for-Pineda deal "marginal." And he says fans don't care about marginal.

"Fans care about substantive. And, unfortunately, when you engage in a trade of this magnitude - even though it's fascinating, it's intriuging, Montero is a really attractive hitter - it isn't enough.  Because they had to give up their best young pitcher. Michael Pineda was an All-Star last year. He was also an attractive personality, a fun guy to get behind if you're a fan. And now he's going to pitch for the Yankees. And everyone is assuming he's going to win 20 games a year for the next 20 years."

Prince Fielder still out there

Art calls it a longshot, but he says the Mariners are still in the hunt for free agent slugger Prince Fielder. He says teams like the Yankees, Cubs and Angels have supposedly decided not to be part of the pursuit of Fielder.

"He's a very valuable slugger at age 27. His agent wants a 10-year contract of more than $200 million. The Mariners can afford it if they want to. But they don't want to pay that kind of money for a first baseman who would probably bump one of the few hitters they like who has a future - Justin Smoak."

Art says there could be a scenario where the Mariners are the last suitors standing and would be able to get Fielder for less than that, but it's too soon to tell what will happen.

"They could get lucky. But getting lucky is not a way to build a baseball team."

AL West rivals flexing financial muscles

The Rangers and the Angles are both spending newfound television contract money on pricey players that give them a competitive edge in the division.

The Rangers this week signed Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish; and they spent a lot of money to do it. The website bleacherreport.com says the Rangers found a replacement for star pitcher C.J. Wilson, who was recently acquired by the Angels. But the website points out the Rangers won't be able to afford to go for Fielder now that they've spent so much money locking down Darvish.

In addition to signing ace C.J. Wilson, the Angels also made headlines this offseason by signing top free agent slugger Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $240 million contract.

Mariners getting shown up

Art says it's like the other big players in the division are wearing "big-boy pants" and the Mariners are in knickers. He says we'll have to wait and see if the Mariners have anything else up their sleeves before spring training, which begins in less than a month.

"The Angels and the Rangers have gotten much better and the Mariners more or less have stood still. And that's a great source of aggravation to the Mariner fan base."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.