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Christopher Rosen

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Some Brief Thoughts About the Yankees' Recent Acquisitions

Posted: 01/15/12 09:58 PM ET

1. Let me get this straight: Hiroki Kuroda, an outstanding and under-appreciated National League pitcher during the last four seasons, is going to pitch well in the AL East because he's on the Yankees? Because he's had success pitching in the NL West, where he made 20 of 32 starts last year in Dodgers Stadium, Petco and AT&T Park -- three notorious pitching heavens? Just because? Kuroda gave up 24 home runs last year, the most in his major league career, and you could probably attribute that to some diminished stuff. Whenever I saw Kuroda pitch -- often, because he was on my fantasy team (3rd place!) -- he had to be perfect in his zone-nibbling, or else. (Consider that he gave up a massive 3-run home run to the immortal Jason Pridie at Citi Field in May on a poorly placed fastball.) This isn't to say that Kuroda is an auto-failure in New York along the lines of A.J. Burnett, but don't think he's even going to be as good as Freddy Garcia. His career ERA at Coors Field: 6.85. His career ERA at Chase Field: 4.89. Both places compare favorably to Yankee Stadium. Just sayin'.

2. Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. Never having drunk the Kool-Aid for either of these elite prospects, I'm not nearly as moved about this deal as others. That being said: if Montero was as can't-miss as the Yankees would have you believe (Mike Piazza and Miguel Cabrera were names tossed out by Brian Cashman, post-trade) and Pineda was as can't-miss as his rookie season would have you believe, then why would this trade happen? Why would Cashman willingly trade the next Miggy Cabrera? Why would Jack Zduriencik trade his future ace (assuming Felix Hernandez leaves town by 2014)? The easy answer is that both general managers filled a need -- the Yankees needed more pitching, the Mariners more hitting -- but did they really? The Yankees lost in 2011 because they didn't hit; the Mariners could win a weak AL West because they can pitch. Seems like an obvious case of both sides robbing Peter to pay Paul.

3. Let's talk Pineda. Great rookie season! Except: His ERA away from Safeco and its cavernous outfield was 4.40. His second-half ERA was 5.12. In four starts against the Red Sox and Blue Jays, he gave up 18 runs. Translation: he's not nearly as can't-miss as you think. Toss in the fact that he's on the cusp of his 23rd birthday and the Yankees have never shown the wherewithal to handle young pitchers (Joba Rules), and there are some red flags. If he makes 30 starts, Pineda should win 17 games with an ERA near 4.50; color me skeptical that he can make 30 starts. Why?...

4. Because it doesn't make any sense for the Mariners to trade Pineda, even for the "Next Miggy Cabrera." Young, power-arm pitchers don't grow on trees. Assuming the Mariners front office isn't filled with a bunch of idiots -- tough assumption, but go with it -- doesn't there have to be a reason they traded Pineda? After all, he's young, he's cheap and he's ostensibly good. Montero is nice and all, but Pineda has already proven he can handle the big leagues. Trading him away at this juncture makes such little sense that it almost feels like a gift horse. Does Seattle know something everyone else does not?

5. Yankees rotation: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes. Seven guys. Five of which have question marks (Nova, Garcia, Burnett, Kuroda, Hughes) and one who has only done it once in his life (Pineda). Does that really look like a championship caliber rotation? (Let me help you here: It doesn't.)

6. And what of the lineup? Jorge Posada is gone. Montero was supposed to replace him at DH, but he's gone. So assuming the Yankees sign Johnny Damon or Vladimir Guerrero, their everyday lineup has an average age of about 52. Kidding, but: Russell Martin (29 on opening day), Mark Teixeira (32 on April 11), Robinson Cano (30 on Oct. 22), Derek Jeter (38 on June 26), Alex Rodriguez (37 on July 27), Brett Gardner (29 on Aug. 24), Curtis Granderson (31 on opening day) and Nick Swisher (32 on Nov. 25). Toss in ancient Damon, Guerrero or Carlos Pena and that's not good. Plus! Hitting was the team's problem anyway! It's a bully lineup that can't produce in a big spot, didn't improve for 2012 and only got older. Seems like a perfect recipe for success.

 

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