- Last Updated: 9:36 AM, May 4, 2012
- Posted: 1:15 AM, May 4, 2012
Let’s be fair: If the Yankees had never made the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade their 2012 problem would still be their problem.
They would have retained A.J. Burnett, who with the Pirates gave up 12 runs on 12 hits in 2 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Cardinals. Rather than being in the Pineda deal, Hector Noesi would still be a Yankees rotation option. And while Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said, “[Noesi] is going to be a quality major league pitcher,” that is not necessarily the case at the moment because the righty is 1-3 with a 7.83 ERA for the Mariners.
The Yankees might have used Montero to obtain another starter or looked elsewhere for rotation protection. But the likelihood is CC Sabathia, Burnett, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and Noesi would have been the unappetizing rotation buffet from which the Yankees would have been picking.
But in panning the trade when it was made in January, I assumed Pineda would be helpful or better. I certainly had no idea he would miss the year with a shoulder injury. My concern then and now is that in an era of sudden offensive depression, it is as difficult to find a No. 4 hitter as a No. 1 starter. And based on Montero’s 2011 major league cameo and reputation, I sensed a cleanup hitter on the horizon. And, with aging entities in the lineup, the Yankees were going to need that as badly as the ace they imagined Pineda becoming.
Also, history showed teams won when they had high-end offensive catchers, such as Jorge Posada, Mike Piazza, Mike Napoli, Javy Lopez and Victor Martinez, even when they had defensive deficiencies. And internally the Yankees believed Montero could grow into an adequate catcher if you could tolerate early, ugly growing pains.
Now we are just dealing with a snapshot here. The Yankees still rank seventh in the majors in runs despite getting almost nothing from Robinson Cano, who almost certainly will hit well this year.
But the worrisome regressions of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira continue. The Yankees have gone all-in on defense behind the plate, demoting Francisco Cervelli to bring in Chris Stewart, an offensive cipher. Russell Martin has been abysmal with the bat, as well. And he is a free agent after the year. His likely heir, Austin Romine, has yet to play this season because of a back injury that is going to require at least six more weeks of rehab. And after 2013, Cano and Curtis Granderson are due to be free agents, which coincides with when the Yankees have vowed to get under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold. Thus, it will be hard to sign both.Follow @NYPostsports