CC Sabathia was the first big move of the offseason for the New York Yankees. The only thing that makes that quite strange is that the Sabathia extension was three months ago and the Yankees haven't really made any moves since. That was until Freaky Friday. Friday the 13th, marked the reawakening of a sleeping giant.
Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman said all along that he wanted to improve a starting rotation that needed obvious improvement, however he would not do it at a steep price.
Apparently, the price of improvement cost them their highly touted prospect Jesus Montero and the highly thought of Hector Noesi, but in return they received a great, young power arm in Michael Pineda from the Seattle Mariners. They also received another young stud in Jose Campos, a 19-year-old power arm.
Then when the dust settled and it seemed like that was the Yankees big offseason move, they signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal.
This was a huge night for the New York Yankees. In the end, the Yankees must have figured it is greater to have a promising young fireballer instead of a promising young power hitter without a position on the current Yankees roster. Montero truly would have been a DH on this team and the Yankees' catching situation becomes much clearer with this deal. It seems like the Yankees are going to go with the likes of Russell Martin and Austin Romine at backstop to hold down the fort until Gary Sanchez is ready to make noise with the big club.
The situation of aging players is also a factor. The likes of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are going to need to DH quite a bit throughout the remainder of their contracts, giving Montero limited opportunities to make the most of his situation.
Yes, Michael Pineda had a great first half and a weak second half in his rookie campaign. In fact, in his first 15 starts he went 7-4, with a 2.45 ERA, only allowing seven home runs, striking out 94 and only walking 27. In the second half, he went 2-6 with a 5.38 ERA, striking out 79 and walking 28 in 13 starts. The potential is there though. He had 173 strikeouts and just 55 walks all of last season and he is only going to be 23 years old this season.
This trade was a gamble, but the Yankees could really have a great young rotation for many years to come, anchored by the veteran CC Sabathia at the top. The Mariners also got a good-to-great young bat with a very nice pitcher in Noesi who will probably be in their rotation. Only time will allow us to grade this trade, but on paper this looks like a very even deal for both teams.
With the 36-year-old Kuroda now in the mix, the Yankees rotation really did a 180 in just a matter of hours on Friday the 13th. Kuroda went 13-16 with a stellar 3.07 ERA in 32 starts with the Dodgers in 2011.
The Yankees on January 13th are a much better team than they were on January 12th. For Yankees fans, now the exciting part comes in Spring Training in the back-end battle for the rotation between Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett. The Yankees also have the luxury of adding a bat in return for a pitcher, which they now have an excess of.
Once again, the New York Yankees grab headlines in the offseason. You didn't really think they were going to stand pat, did you?