Turn Back The Clock: January 14th, 2012-Shoulder Issues vs. Ice Cream Sandwiches
Has it been three years already? The deal that shocked the baseball world at the time, as the Seattle Mariners dealt rookie ace Michael Pineda for the Yankees’ top prospect, Jesus Montero, celebrates it’s third anniversary today! While it appears as of right now, that the Bombers won this deal, it’s been far from smooth sailing for either side.
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In Pineda, the Yankees believed they were getting a young, hard-throwing stud to pair with then-staff ace C.C. Sabathia to lead into the next decade of Yankees’ dominance. The 6’7″, 265 lb. Pineda was an All-Star as a rookie, but seemed to wear out during the second half of his initial campaign, finishing with a losing record of 9-10, with an ERA of 3.74. He recorded an astounding 173 Ks in only 171 innings of work.
Jesus Montero appeared to be every bit what was advertised, as he tore the cover off the baseball in a brief big league stint with the Yankees in 2011, where he hit .328, with 4 home runs and 12 RBI only 69 plate appearances, while posting an OPB of .406 and slugging .590. This is the guy the Yankees WOULDN’T give up to the Phillies a year prior to acquire Cliff Lee during their 2010 World Series title defense. Lee ended up in Seattle, and eventually was the wrecking ball for the Yankees in their quest to repeat as champions.
The deal seemed liked a match made in heaven. The Yankees were getting much-needed pitching help for the rotation, and the M’s were getting a young, impact bat that would be in the middle of their lineup for years to come. Then reality set in.
Pineda, before ever having thrown a pitch in a regular season game for the Yankees, injured his shoulder, which required surgery, and dozens of setbacks later, missed all of the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons, rehabbing from one injury or another. He also got popped for a DUI that first year in the Yankees.
Montero had a solid, yet substandard 2012 rookie campaign in the Pacific Northwest. In 553 plate appearances, the batting average sunk to .260, but he did hit 15 home runs and drove in 62. Definitely something to build upon for the young backstop. Like Pineda, Montero ran into issues, but his were fitness and mental issues. Coming in well overweight, Montero sunk to an all-time low over the next two seasons, hitting .208 and .235 in successive years, in only 127 plate appearances. He quickly fell out of favor with the Mariners for his lack of work ethic, and his inability to stay in shape.
Pineda won the Yankees fifth starter’s job in the spring of 2014, and started out looking like the guy the Bombers had been waiting for since that January day back in 2012. Again, it was short-lived. He was suspended for using a foreign substance against the Red Sox (which he had done a week prior without being tossed), and then injured himself multiple times trying to stay sharp during his suspension and subsequent rehab stints.
After missing nearly 3 1/2 months, Pineda returned to the Yankees in August of last season, and pitched solid baseball. He split 3 wins with 3 losses over 9 starts, but won his final two outings, allowing only one earned run in 13 2/3 innings of work, while striking out 18 hitters. He continues to give Yankee fans fits, as everyone can see the potential, along with the knowledge that he most likely will never develop into the true dominant force his potential shows he can.
Montero, while wasting his days in the minors, got into an altercation with a scout, who was mocking him, and tossed an ice cream sandwich at the overweight first baseman convert. Montero had heard enough, and attempted to attack the scout, resulting in the Mariners’ organization suspending him for the remainder of the season. The good news for M’s fans however, is that Jesus Montero is still only 25-years old, and according to reports, had rededicated himself to reviving his baseball career by losing more than 30 lbs. this winter. Whether that results in his being able to hit once again, will be determined this coming spring in Arizona.
Regardless, it’s been a sideshow for fans of both teams, as this once-blockbuster deal has turned into a laugher for both parties involved. It was this day, three years ago, that the Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero trade was made. Today’s Turn Back The Clock!