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The Mariners tried to trade Michael Pineda for Brett Lawrie

Jan 31, 2012, 9:50 AM EST

Blue Jays' Lawrie acknowledges cheering crowds after he hit a walk off home run to beat the Red Sox in the eleventh inning of their American League MLB baseball game in Toronto

The Michael Pineda-for-Jesus Montero trade was pretty cool in that we don’t see tons of young-pitcher-for-young-slugger trades that don’t involve payroll things, impending free agency or any of that.  But it could have been way cooler. Well, at least if you’re a Mariners fan.

As Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail reports, the Blue Jays — who have been criticized by some for not doing anything big this offseason — defended themselves yesterday by noting that they avoided doing something big — and dumb — a couple of weeks ago:

They squandered some of that currency and Monday was an attempt to build it back up, with Anthopoulos getting in the act and stating clearly that a particular trade he didn’t make – let’s take a wild stab here, folks, and say it was for Seattle Mariners pitcher Michael Pineda – fell apart because the other team wanted a major-league-ready player off the Blue Jays roster.

(Several sources say that player was third baseman Brett Lawrie; the Blue Jays balked and instead the Mariners did some good business with the New York Yankees, landing catcher Jesus Montero.)

I guess you can’t fault the M’s for asking. But man, I can’t think of many young hitters who are more untouchable, or at least should be, than Brett Lawrie. Sure, Jesus Montero may be great one day, but at age 21 Lawrie hit .293/.373/.580, hit nine home runs drove in 25 RBI in only 171 plate appearances. And had some big, dramatic hits too.

  1. ame123 - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Big AND Dramatic? Yeah – no way you trade THAT guy.

  2. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Sure, Jesus Montero may be great one day, but at age 21 Lawrie hit .293/.373/.580, hit nine home runs drove in 25 RBI in only 171 plate appearances. And had some big, dramatic hits too.

    Huh? They are two months apart, and here are their MLB lines:

    Lawrie – .293/.373/.580 over 171 PA
    Montero – .328/.406/.590 over 69 PA

    Extrapolating on Montero’s line to match Lawrie’s 171 PA we get:

    Lawrie – 8 2b, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 16 BB, 31 SO
    Montero 10 2b, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 17 BB, 42 SO

    MiLB lines

    Lawrie – .296/.360/.492
    Montero – .308/.366/.501

    So again, huh?

    • Ben - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      Oh hai churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged, I’d like you to meet my friend Small Sample Size. He’s a useful friend in situations like this where we should rely on other data, and not extrapolate. And that other data says any sane person should take Lawrie in a heartbeat. For starters he can, you know, play a position.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:19 AM

        So 171 PA is a decent sample size whereas 69 is not? Is that how it works?

        Also, there’s zero mention of the individual’s defense/position in Craig’s analysis. That is definitely a factor in Lawrie’s favor; however, if you merely are bringing up batting and then quote those numbers…

      • Ben - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:23 AM

        No dood, 171PA is nowhere near a large enough sample size. That’s the point. Look at their minors track record, scouting reports, etc. The history suggests to me that Montero is only valuable if he’s a catcher, otherwise he’s a league-average DH. Which is a nice bit, but not worth a stud pitcher.

      • Alex K - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        Ben- What about the MiLB lines where Montero was a better hitter? That sample size is big enough.

        If we’re talking total value then Lawrie should be higher because he can play a position. But based only on hitting Montero is a better prospect.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:29 AM

        Once he was called up, Lawrie was a better and more exciting third baseman than that other #13 in New York.

      • phillyphreak - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:33 AM

        Ben you said
        “No dood, 171PA is nowhere near a large enough sample size. That’s the point. Look at their minors track record, scouting reports, etc”

        But even before that Church posted:

        “MiLB lines

        Lawrie – .296/.360/.492
        Montero – .308/.366/.501″

        Just pointing that out.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM

        Most prospect mavens think that Montero could be an even better hitter than Lawrie.

        That said, Lawrie’s positional advantage is huge, even if he ends up a corner OF, as many think.

      • paperlions - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:09 AM

        Heading into last year, Montero was ranked far ahead of Lawrie in prospect rankings….and EVERYONE already thought he would have to move off of catcher. Obviously, that doesn’t mean Lawrie isn’t the better prospect now, the primary concern about him was attitude….but there doesn’t seem to be much that distinguishes their offensive abilities….though the parks they play in will make their numbers look quite a bit different.

      • Mark - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        Let’s assume for the second that they’ll be similar hitters, just to make it simple.

        Obviously if Montero sticks @ C he’s much more valuable. But pretty much nobody expects that to happen. So he’s limited to 1B/DH.

        In fairness, nobody expected Lawrie to adapt to 3B either. But he did look pretty damn good at third last season, and SSS be damned, every metric backs that up. At this point I’d be very surprised if Lawrie moved off 3B. I can see why they said he couldn’t stick at 2B, but his reactions/arms/range is very good for 3B.

        Course, we do have to give Montero the same opportunity to prove he can play C. I haven’t seen him catch, and I’m no scout, so I’m just going by what I hear, and pretty much everyone agrees he’s either a DH or a 1B.

        So Montero is only more valuable if he sticks at C. Even if you adjust for park and he outhits Lawrie, the fact Lawrioe could/should be a plus defensive 3B makes him much more valuable than Montero.

        It’s also important to note how shallow 3B is right now as well. So I’d argue at least heading into 2012, the positional argument is stronger at 3B then it’s been in the past.

      • Mark - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        ^^

        Sorry in the second last paragraph that should say even if Montero outhits Lawrie as a DH/1B.

      • cur68 - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Hang on fellas while I clear my throat and prepare to deliver (for only the 2nd time) my new meme…*AHEM*…ok, here goes:

        Leave Jesus Alone!

        ..There. Carry on.

      • Ben - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    • Ben - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      Phillyphreak–there’s no question that using unadjusted stats Montero is better than Lawrie. But those are unadjusted, and they’re also not taking into account positional adjustment. So I’ll give you the slash lines, but it’s still nowhere near equal. The difference between a 3B and a DH is 19.5 runs/600 PA. And then you add in Lawrie’s above-average defense and you’re looking at at least a 2 WAR advantage to Lawrie, probably more. Add in Lawrie’s head-and-shoulders better wRC+ at AAA and I’d take Lawrie any day of the week, no hesitation.

      • seattlej - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        League average DH? That’s a .268/.342/.431 (wOBA of .337) for 2011 — or basically a little worse than what Damon has done as a DH over the last couple of years.

        I could certainly be wrong, but I don’t think you’re giving Montero’s bat enough credit.

      • phillyphreak - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        Ben,
        So then, your argument is value and not straight production? For one, I didn’t say that Lawrie wouldn’t be more valuable to a team than Montero. Of course adjusting for positions helps a 3B and hurts a DH. But, if I’m not mistaken, some people are predicting that Lawrie will be moved to a corner outfield slot, which while still more valuable than a DH from an adjustment standpoint, not nearly as much so when doing the comps as a 3B. I get what you are saying though I don’t think you are accurately projecting Montero’s offensive abilities.

        “Add in Lawrie’s head-and-shoulders better wRC+ at AAA ”

        329 plate appearances is still a small sample size alert right? I can’t remember off the top of my head but it’s a higher number (500? 600?) before true “skill” becomes apparent? (Note: I’m not saying this to imply he’s not going to be good, just that small sample size gets thrown around a lot).

    • yettyskills - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      Lawrie can play the field?
      Montero can’t?

      Huh?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2012 at 3:20 PM

        Thanks for responding with something I addressed over 3 hours ago.

  3. paperlions - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    AA also noted that at least 2 players took fewer years and dollars to sign elsewhere; one being Carlos Beltran….with some comment about how some players didn’t want to play on astroturf or DH no matter how much you paid them.

  4. uwsptke - Jan 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Huh. Too bad Jack Z. didn’t offer that deal up to the Brewers last offseason when Lawrie was still their property. Would obviously rather have 5 more years of Pineda than 1 more year of Marcum. Greinke/Pineda/Gallardo/Wolf/Narveson wouldn’t be too shabby for this season. It looks like the Brewers will do OK on the Greinke trade, but that Lawrie for Marcum (straight up) deal will look pretty bad down the road. Turns out the Brewers could have used him already at 3B since McGehee disappeared and has been replaced by an aging A-Ram. May have had more $$ available to ink Greinke to an extension as well if you had Lawrie instead of A-Ram.

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda, I guess.

  5. proudlycanadian - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Actually, the Mariners did quite well out of that trade. Pineda did not pitch well after the All Star break. The Mariners saw his fade first hand. The Yankees were willing to overpay for him, and the Blue Jays were not.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      Yes, if you base your entire analysis off ERA he faded during the second half. By all other peripherals he didn’t.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 31, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        Peripherals mean little when you cough up a lot of runs. He simply did not pitch well in the second half and the Mariners obviously concluded that he was not a long term keeper.

      • Ben - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:35 PM

        I’m with churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged here. Pineda’s a stone-cold beast. His K% and BB% stayed pretty much the same, the only fluctuation was his LOB% and his BABIP.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2012 at 3:19 PM

        He simply did not pitch well in the

        So everything he could control, K rate, BB rate, HR rate stayed essentially the same but because he gave up more runs, possibly due to things out of his control, he pitched worse in the second half.

        Got it…

  6. hardheadcountryboy - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Don’t forget what Lawrie means to the fan base here – the first true potential Canadian superstar to wear a Jays uniform…AA would have been dragged out of his office by a mob and lynched on Harbourfront had he made that deal and he knew it…Lawrie’s merchandise sales here are almost equal to Bautista’s, he’s that popular here…..having said that, time may prove that may have been the right deal to make but now…….no way!!!!

    • cur68 - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      This.

  7. Ben - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    For what it’s worth, Lawrie appears to be the overwhelming choice. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/montero-or-lawrie/

    • yettyskills - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      Not
      Even
      Close

  8. seattletony - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Probably worth pointing out that the Mariners currently have Chone Figgins playing third base. Now, Lawrie or Montero?

  9. farvite - Jan 31, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Yes, I can fault the Ms for asking.

  10. farvite - Jan 31, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    .. But I am excited about Montero. I mean Yankee prospects are the greatest things since sliced bread, right?

  11. damnyankee13 - Jan 31, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    I thought Seattle wanted Montero for his bat because they had a crap offense and he could help improve it< If you have a crap offense you cant score runs. If you cant score runs and the other team can and scores 1 more, you lose.An unearned run can be scored by team A and if team B cant score 2 runs, unearned, earned, birthday presents,team B loses if if the best pitcher in MLB was pitching for team B, he loses. The Yankees have a better offense then the Mariners so Pineda should be fine.. With respect to the Mariners, I am looking forward to the Yankee pitching staff more this year then I have in the past.

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