Michael Pineda Hot, Jesus Montero Not in Wake of Blockbuster Trade
Wow, I've finally picked my jaw up off of the ground.
The Seattle Mariners traded RHP Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the New York Yankees for C/DH Jesus Montero and RHP Hector Noesi. Pineda had an All-Star rookie season with the M's last year, winning 9 games and striking out 173 hitters in 171 IP, while posting a 3.74 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Along with newly acquired Hiroki Kuroda, Pineda looks to join a rotation in New York that has gone from being mediocre to quite formidable.
The eBay blitzkrieg for Pineda's cards is in full effect. 2011 Bowman autographs that were collecting dust at $30 Buy It Now prices are flying off the shelves for upwards of $60 each. 2011 Bowman Sterling autographs are also popular sellers, hitting $20 a piece. This is what happens when a good young player gets traded from baseball purgatory to the most successful franchise in MLB history.
As a die-hard M's fan, I just threw up in my mouth a little writing that last sentence.
Pineda should be a perfect right-handed compliment to staff ace C.C. Sabathia. At 6-7, 245 lb, Pineda has the body and potential stamina to eventually be an ace, even in the Bronx. He still needs to develop his changeup, but his fastball can touch triple digits and his slider has been given the nickname "Diabolical" by the late, great Dave Niehaus because of its sharp, two-plane break.
Headed back to the M's is prized power-hitting prospect, Jesus Montero. Last season Montero looked quite ordinary during the first half of the season at AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. His bat came alive in the second half, however, as he put up a solid line of .288/.348/.487 with 18 HR and 67 RBI. He continued to impress in his debut with the Yankees, smashing four HR and driving in 12 runs in just 16 games. Montero instantly becomes the Mariners' clean-up hitter and joins a promising young lineup of Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Justin Smoak, and Kyle Seager.
Unlike Pineda, the eBay market for Montero's stuff has been tepid in the post-trade hours. Save for a few low-dollar buys of his 2008 Bowman and Bowman Chrome cards. There have not been many Buy It Now closings since official news of the trade broke. Some of this may be disappointment in Marinerland, as Montero is being widely regarded as not enough of a return for someone of Pineda's stature. It may be because Montero is leaving the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium for a ballpark that eats right-handed power hitters alive.
What Does the Future Hold?
Pineda's stuff should remain white-hot as the ESPN hype machine and baseball prognosticators wax poetic about how this move will shift the balance of power in the American League back to the East Coast. If (and it is an if) Pineda can live up to the hype and not get gobbled up by the pressure of the New York media, his rookie cards and memorabilia could reach new summits.
As for Montero, this could be an excellent buying opportunity. True, he leaves the collecting hot bed of New York, and it's also true that the lineup in Seattle was statistically one of the worst in all of MLB history last season. But good things are on the horizon in Seattle. This is a franchise with a ton of near major league-ready talent and one that projects to be a big spender in next year's free agent market. Seattle, historically, has been a robust base of collectors and fans, and this bunch is just itching for the day when their franchise becomes relevant once again. Montero could be a the keystone figure in that charge. I think his bat will play anywhere and last September's showing with the Yankees just scratched the surface of the elite numbers he could put up.
Other Factors in the Deal
In addition to Montero, the M's also acquired RHP Hector Noesi. The 24-year-old split time between AAA and New York, working mainly as a relief pitcher, though I think he'll be a contender to be at the end of the M's rotation. Pitching home games at Safeco should be beneficial to his numbers, though his long-term upside is limited due to a glut of more promising young arms ripening in the Mariners farm system.
One of those young arms will be headed to New York. RHP Jose Campos is a 6-4, 195 lb, 19-year-old who was dominant at short season class A Everett of the Northwest League. Campos was 5-5 with the Aqua Sox, but his 2.76 ERA and 0.97 WHIP put him among the league leaders, as was his 85-strikeout total in just 81.1 innings of work. The youngster doesn't have any baseball cards to date, but he does have the potential to make Mariners fans really hate this deal down the road.
The other guy that wasn't involved in this deal, but stands to benefit greatly from it is Yankees catching prospect Gary Sanchez. Prior to the 2011 season, Sanchez was just a promising young blip on the organization's radar, putting up big numbers at short season destinations. Last year, Sanchez played a full season in Charleston of the South Atlantic League and smacked 17 HR and 52 RBI in 81 games. Sanchez has a power upside similar to Montero and, in time, should surpass one-time heir apparent backstop Austin Romine. The Yankees are fervently trying to work out a multi-year deal with current catcher Russell Martin to allow for Sanchez's bat to marinate a couple more seasons at the minor league level. Sanchez's 2010 Bowman Chrome autos are hot market commodities, currently selling for $25-30 on eBay. A more reasonably priced first-year auto can be had in his 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition cards (#/699). These copies can be had for $12-15 each.
This trade should end all the hullabaloo about the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners being silent bystanders this offseason. Each organization addressed a dire need and paid a handsome ransom for it. How it works out for each franchise will be fodder for collectors and fans alike to chew on for years to come.