Hindsight is 20-20. At least that is how we like to put it. We can only judge something after it has occurred, and if we do not, we run the risk of preemptive judgement. We see this all the time in politics, stocks, and even in our social lives. Now taking that theme, this 20-20 vision that we now possess, how can we apply it to the sport we all know and love, baseball?
On January 13, 2012, the Yankees made a pair of moves that would change the industry’s perspective of them for this 2012 season. The first, signing former Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda to 1 year, 10 million dollar contract, was seen as a wise value move for the club, and it helped to solidly what had seemed to be a weak rotation at the time. The second was a move that largely overshadowed Kuroda’s deal and sent shock waves through the baseball industry; the Yankees had traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.
The deal at the time was viewed by baseball analysts as a true “baseball trade”. Each team putting forward one of their best assets and getting the other in return to fill their needs. The upside present in the deal was tremendous for both teams, with Montero having been compared to Miguel Cabrera by Brian Cashman, and Pineda demonstrating an exceptional skill set that promised ace potential during his rookie year with the Mariners. The only potential negatives about the trade were that Montero was not known for his catching ability and that Pineda’s numbers dropped during the second half of the season, possibly due to arm fatigue. However, these concerns were not prominent at the time the Yankees and Mariners made the trade, and were not expected to be much of a problem in regards to the futures of the two players. One could have said that trading for a pitcher was much riskier than trading for a hitter, but it was a necessary move for the Yankees at the time as it was essential that they bolstered their depleted rotation. The cynic however, was correct in this instance, as on April 21, 2012, the Yankees announced that Pineda was shut down for the 2012 season and would need arthroscopic surgery to repair an anterior labral tear.
It was news that presented a serious problem to the Yankee organization and justified the potential risks in dealing for a pitcher. Pineda’s drop in velocity had been a constant focus of the media during Spring Training, and while the Mariners claim that Pineda was not injured at the time of the trade, one can only wonder. The loss of Pineda did not leave the Yankees with a hole in their rotation as the final spot was filled by Freddy Garcia, but it did leave them with serious doubts about their long-term investment.
Say that Pineda’s velocity does not return when he recovers from the injury and he is unable to make the adjustments necessary to succeed in the challenging AL East? What will be the Yankees’ next course of action? What if Jesus Montero develops into that Miguel Cabrera type slugger that Brian Cashman forecasts him to be? Will this trade go down as the worst one in Yankee history? Only time will tell, and that is why hindsight is 20-20.