== This is what you get …==
1. The Non-trade.
It all started when Cliff Lee fell into the Mariners lap for a handful of what we would characterize as “non-elite” prospects. Of course, it turned out that Lee wasn’t much help to a team that would end up 61-101. So the Great Cliff Lee Auction began.
But after the apparent agreement in principle, the Mariners balked on injured Adams, and, instead of working with the Yankees to work out an alternative deal, threw the door back open, at which point they found that Texas was offering the guy they really wanted: Justin Smoak.
Not only were the Yankees upset, but the salt was ground into their wounds when Lee struck out 13 in a masterful ALCS beatdown that put Texas on the verge of the World Series (which it would ultimately lose to the Giants).
Karma Police Rebound: Although the M’s seemed to get the better deal by using the Yankees’ Montero offer to pry Smoak loose from the Rangers, Seattle, in its haste, didn’t do its due diligence on reliever Josh Lueke, for whom a quick google search would have revealed unsavory criminal charges. In addition to that unpleasant episode, Smoak has yet to become worth all the trouble (and pitcher Blake Beavan has been a non-factor). And Lee didn’t stay in the AL (signing back with Philly who had moved him in the first place), so, except for the one playoff game, the Yanks didn’t incur any long-term damage. They later used McAllister to acquire a partial season of Austin Kearns (and McAllister has been fairly successful for Cleveland).
2. The First Actual Trade
Most folks thought the Mariners and Yankees would never talk trade ever again, but amends were made quickly. The Yanks knew Seattle still coveted Montero, so they offered him up for emerging star RHP Michael Pineda. He was coming off an age-22 season with a 1.10 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 in 28 MLB starts. Pineda and younger RH starter Jose Campos went to New York for Montero and RHP Hector Noesi.
But before Pineda could take the mound in pinstripes, his shoulder went out and he ultimately missed the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons. And Campos got injured as well and has not blossomed.
Karma Police Rebound: Again, it looked like the Mariners had gotten the better deal and had maybe even pulled a fast one on New York. But Montero ended up a disaster as a catcher, and also never caught fire as a hitter. While in the process of being “reinvented” as a first baseman, Montero injured his knee and was suspended 50-games for involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. Then he was in a car accident. Then he mailed in winter ball. Then he came to camp 40 pounds overweight. The M’s declared that they had “zero expectations” for the future. Meanwhile, Noesi, whom the Mariners supposedly picked ahead of Ivan Nova, was also a complete bust.
Karma Police Re-rebound: Just when Pineda had climbed all the way back into the Yankee rotation, and was looking like a much better asset going forward than Montero, he got himself suspended for back-to-back bizarro pine-tar episodes against the Red Sox. Meanwhile, Montero seems rehabilitated and has 6 HR in his first 18 games in AAA (.629 SLG). And Nova faces Tommy John surgery and is out until 2015.
3. The Second Actual Trade
Of course it was just a salary dump and a graceful exit for a fading star. It didn’t matter whom the Mariners got back in exchange for Ichiro, so long as there was a “soft landing” and no-muss, no-fuss. As it was, they got a mediocre starter and a journeyman reliever who had already been selected off waivers twice that season.
Most people just referred to them as “warm bodies.”
Karma Police Rebound: While Ichiro had his lowest hit total ever in 2013, the second “warm body” suddenly showed up in the Mariner bullpen throwing unhittable darts. Danny Farquhar turned in a 1.83 FIP and dominated the 9th inning when given the chance to pitch there.
Karma Police Re-rebound: Farquhar was supplanted by free agent Fernando Rodney, his walk rate has crept up, and he hasn’t found much favor from new skipper Lloyd McClendon to date. Meanwhile, Ichiro has appeared in 20 of the Yanks’ 25 games (although frequently as a defensive substitute) and his .333/.350/.385 line (13-for-39) is back closer to his career norms.
4. The Third Actual Trade
It seemed like just a swap of spare parts when the Mariners dispatched Shawn Kelley, who had been designated for assignment to open a roster spot for Kelly Shoppach, to the Yankees for unheralded outfield prospect Abraham Almonte.
It was thought that Kelley was sent off because his arbitration-eligible status had resulted in a near-$1 million deal, leading the M’s to want to go with cheaper options. And Almonte just seemed like another random outfielder for the usual “spaghetti against the wall” approach. Shoppach, of course, lasted less than a season.
Karma Police Rebound: Both players unexpectedly ended up with key roles. After the retirement of Mariano Rivera and injury to David Robertson, Kelley ended up as the Yankee closer, getting four saves and a 1.76 FIP. Almonte, who revealed that some of his prior struggles were related to alcoholism, won the heart and pencil of McClendon, who installed him as starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.
Karma Police Re-rebound: Robertson came back and reclaimed the closer role, though Kelley remains an important setup guy. Almonte has done a face-plant at the plate, with McClendon finally lifting him after he had taken the AL lead for most strikeouts.
The final scorecard:
|M’s got||Yanks got|
|Noesi (for awhile)||Campos|
|Smoak instead of Montero in 2010/11||Lost ALCS to Lee|
|Lueke fallout||Use Montero for Pineda instead of 1/2 season of Lee|
|Beavan||Retain Adams & McAllister|
|Use McAllister for 1/2 season of Austin Kearns|