The Yankees got better Friday night -- in both the short and long terms -- and it may have cost them dearly to do so. They dealt Jesus Montero, who showed the world in September and October exactly what a young slugger looks like, for Michael Pineda, Seattle's towering flamethrower.
Physically, Pineda resembles Dellin Betances, one of the Yankees' prized young hurlers. He also throws a tick harder than Betances, but controls his stuff much, much better. He also features a slider as his out pitch, whereas Betances uses a big hook to get his whiffs.
I love this deal -- for both sides.
For the Yankees it adds a young, cost-controlled starter who looked great last year and has potential to get better as he matures and gains consistency. Pineda turns 23 on Wednesday, had one of the hardest average fastballs in the league last year, and struck out the most hitters of any rookie in the big leagues. He wasn't Felix, but he was a commodity, period.
So it's not surprising that it took a great deal to pry him from the Mariners, and that great deal came in the form of Montero, whom a scout I spoke with earlier this month compared to Miguel Cabrera, and Hector Noesi, one of the Yankees cadre of potential back-end starters.
If you're a Yankees fan, losing Montero hurts. A lot. He didn't just show power in his short stint in the Bronx, he showed power to all fields. For his first trick, he pushed a pair of Jim Johnson fastballs well into the right-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. As an encore, he pulled a Jered Weaver heater into the left-field stands in Los Angeles. And to top it all off he added another opposite-field bomb off of Junichi Tazawa to help push the Red Sox farther back in their race for the playoffs.
Also, he didn't exactly look overmatched in the Yankees' brief playoff appearance, either, for what that's worth.
I have no doubt that Montero's going to be a top-of-the-stack hitter, but the Yankees have offense to spare, and good hitters come up each year on the free agent market. Look at next year, particularly toward the AL West, where Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton are free agents. Heck, Carlos Pena is out there now, and could provide a good deal of pop in place of Montero.
Finding a good, young, cheap arm, however, is decidedly more difficult, and that's exactly what the Yankees did tonight.