Mariners could afford to move Pineda

Jan 16, 2012, 4:53 PM | Updated: Jan 17, 2012, 9:42 am

By Shannon Drayer

So, I have had a weekend and a snow day holiday to think, talk to more people and listen to reaction of the trade that is in the works between the Mariners and Yankees, and the reaction in particular leaves me shaking my head.

“The Mariners aren’t going to get anywhere if they trade all of their good pitching!”

Really? While I will say that it is tough to see three good arms go (Doug Fister, too) in the last six months, pitching is the Mariners’ strength. Seriously, better to trade an arm than a bat if you are going to make a move. But the kicker here is, have we not forgot that the Mariners have been losing with great pitching because they have had a historically bad offense? I am a huge fan of pitching but even I need to see more than three runs a game. Will Jesus Montero, Casper Wells and Francisco Martinez remedy this? Time will tell, but these are three bats the organization didn’t have and sorely needed.

Then there is the “We didn’t get enough for Pineda!” crowd. A little off topic but I wonder if this is the same group that was salivating at trading Felix Hernandez for Montero and three Yankees pitching prospects last month. I said all along that wasn’t nearly enough for your ace, especially since the Mariners didn’t particularly need young pitching. Montero was the centerpiece and you still have Felix. Safe to say the Mariners can find someone to slide into the number two spot in the rotation behind Felix much more easily than they could have found someone to replace him.

I did question whether the Mariners got enough in the trade, but in the end decided that even if it wasn’t enough it was probably close. I would have been more comfortable with a deal that brought a young bat over that had a bit more of a track record at the Major League level. I am going to guess that other options were explored. Jack Zduriencik is thorough and I would have to think that he inquired about Miami’s Mike Stanton, for example. Maybe Pineda was not enough to land what I would like to think he could. Really tough for us to know.

One of my favorite protestations is “The Mariners are nothing more than a farm system for the Yankees, who take their best players!”

Yankees fans might be saying the same thing right now. The Mariners gave up ONE of their best young pitchers for the Yankees’ best young hitter. You don’t see trades like this very often. You don’t see top hitting prospects like Montero moved very often. Why? Because they’re rare. So rare that teams just can’t afford to part with them. Which leads us to …

“If the Mariners had money they could have afforded to keep Pineda!”

Back to our friends, the Yankees fans, who are saying, “If the Yankees could develop young aces we could have afforded to keep Montero!”

Two different currencies here. While Pineda does not quite equal a blank check, his development has allowed the Mariners to get something of value that better suits their current need. While the Yankees had all the money in the world, what they needed was something that other teams had, which cost them next to nothing – young pitching.

From the day he got here Jack Zduriencik has talked about the value of young pitching. It is not by accident that the Mariners have the wealth of starting pitching in the minor leagues, it is by design. While it is tough to see your team trade young talent, it is something that the Mariners can afford to do because under Zduriencik they have made plenty of deposits into their young pitching account and can afford to make a withdrawal right now. A withdrawal that hopefully will return a profit.

Organizations can be built through the draft and player development, trades, and free-agent signings. Good organizations have a healthy balance of the three. The Pineda move should not be confused with some of the moves where previous general managers gave up young talent. Some of those moves were made in desperation. This move is by design. The earlier moves depleted the farm system. The farm system now is very healthy.

The deal comes with risk, more risk than any other deal that Zduriencik has made. It also comes with the potential of great reward if Montero lives up to the billing with his bat. I have always said that there is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to prospects, but you have got to feel good about this one offensively. I wasn’t sold on Montero initially but the more I hear about him the more I like what I hear. I am looking forward to watching him for six more years and I am looking forward to seeing Danny Hultzen and James Paxton in the near future. Prince or no Prince ($200 million and he has to want to come here, let’s face it, long shot at best) the foundation is set and it’s looking a lot better than it did six months ago.

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