13 January 2012

Yankees Acquire Michael Pineda & Hiroki Kuroda, Greatly Improve Rotation

The New York Yankees came into this offseason needing help in their rotation and everybody knew it. Their lineup has been consistently excellent and the bullpen was very strong last season but their weakness in their rotation was clear. But the only moves they had made before today were re-signing their ace CC Sabathia as well as the surprisingly solid Freddy Garcia. But in the span of a few hours this Friday evening they made two shrewd moves to greatly improve their starting five in acquiring Michael Pineda via trade from Seattle and Hiroki Kuroda via free agency.
The big move was the trade for Pineda. Yes the Yankees had to give up prized prospect Jesus Montero but the Yankees are desperate for offense and Montero didn't really have a position right now, he is a catcher but there are doubt about how well he can field behind the plate and he was blocked there by Russell Martin, who while doesn't swing a hot bat, he is passable for this lineup and as a catcher, he is a great fielder and did great work with the pitching staff which is why he was brought in. The Yankees also have some talent at catcher in the farm as well, most notably Austin Romine in AAA. He was blocked at first by Mark Teixiera so he would have been a DH this season. And Pineda is the kind of talent that is worth it. He's only 22 and is coming off a very good, at times impressive, rookie campaign in which he started tremendous but appeared to hit the rookie wall in the second half. He's a big-time talent who threw three times the amount of strikeouts as walks last season. It will be an adjustment going from a great pitcher's park from a great hitter's park though if the talent's there, it doesn't matter.
Now to Kuroda, I was surprised there was not a great amount of interest in him. Yes he had stated he wanted to stay out west. But this is also a guy who has among the most consistent starters in baseball. He's never had an ERA above 3.76 and is coming off arguably his finest season. Now he's no ace and he is thirty-six but he'd made a good number two or three in most rotations.
So now the Yankees have themselves a darn good rotation. Their ace is CC Sabathia, who is on of the elite pitchers in the game, and he's now backed up by Pineda, Kiroda and Ivan Nova, who is coming off a strong rookie campaign of himself. And the rotation will be rounded out by either Phil Hughes, very talented but struggled in 2011 with injuries and inconsistency after an awesome 2010, A.J. Burnett, who could follow up a quality outing with five poor ones and vice versa, and the aforementioned Garcia, who was pretty solid last season in New York. But these are wise moves made by general manager Brian Cashman that will make the Yankees feared in October, when your starting pitching is critical.

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