Michael Pineda underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last Tuesday, a devastating blow to the Yankees, who were counting on him to be a mainstay in their rotation.
But for the Yankees, the one consolation to the disastrous turn taken in the Jesus Montero trade was that the other pitcher they acquired from the Mariners, right-hander Jose Campos, was shining in the minors. Through four starts for the Class A Charleston River Dogs, he was 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA, 23 strikeouts, and a 0.818 WHIP.
Then, last Saturday, he got shelled: seven hits and eight runs in 2 2/3 innings, with three walks (two more than his previous total). Campos’s ERA rose from 1.23 to 4.01.
Red flags went up, and now there has been a new, ominous development: Campos yesterday was placed on the disabled list yesterdayby the Yankees (if you click on that link, check out the reference in the second item to Jack Cust,, who is slugging .400 for the Yankees’ Triple-A team).
The story notes that elbow inflammation can be a precursor to Tommy John surgery while also pointing out there is no indication it is that serious. But it’s definitely another setback for the Yankees in this trade, which in the early returns has been all in the Mariners favor. Hector Noesi has been hot and cold, but he has flashed real potential in two excellent starts at the major-league level (albeit against two of the weakest offenses in the majors, Oakland and Minnesota). Jesus Montero, meanwhile, is coming off a night in which he had a huge double to key a ninth-inning rally, and is looking more and more like the middle-of-the-lineup presence the Mariners envisioned.
Obviously, this is not an injury you can blame on the Mariners, nor can the Pineda injury be pinned on the Mariners, as Brian Cashman states unequivocally in this article. There seemed to be a little more equivocation by him the next day, but that followup article concludes:
As he had on Wednesday, Cashman absolved the Mariners and (Jack) Zduriencik of any blame in the matter.
“The focus should be on me and the New York Yankees, not the Seattle Mariners,” he said. “I’m responsible. I’m the decision-maker.”
It’s just part of the risk any team takes in acquiring pitching. Pitchers get hurt — always have, always will.
The Mariners and Yankees — who meet at Yankee Stadium beginning Friday — have an interesting trade history. We know, of course, about the Jay Buhner deal, which went in the Mariners’ favor, and the Tino Martinez deal, which didn’t. There was the near-trade of Montero for Cliff Lee in July of 2010 that caused some tension.
And I was recently reminded that there was a disputed trade with the Yankees way back in 1982, when the Mariners were just five years old. Here’s what the New York Times wrote in February of 1983:
The Seattle Mariners say they are considering asking Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to intercede in a winterlong dispute with the Yankees over a trade the two teams made last year. The Mariners contend the Yankees reneged on their promise to deliver Otis Nixon, a highly regarded minor league second baseman as part of the trade.
George Argyros, Seattle’s principal owner, says the Mariners are so upset they are ready to go to Kuhn. Last April 1 the Mariners sent Shane Rawley to the Yankees for Bill Caudill and Gene Nelson, and a player to be named. On April 6, the Yankees completed the trade by sending the veteran outfielder Bobby Brown to Seattle. The Mariners insist they had the option of keeping Brown or getting Nixon in place of Brown after the season.
Seattle’s president, Dan O’Brien, said he had a verbal agreement on that arrangement with Bill Bergesch, the Yankees’ vice president for baseball operations.
Bergesch, reached by telephone today at the Yankees’ spring training site in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said, ”There was no verbal agreement.”
The upshot is that the protest went nowhere, the Mariners were stuck with Brown (who they released at the end of spring training), and Nixon stayed with the Yankees (but not for long). The Mariners did have his brother, Donnell, who stole a ridiculous 144 bases at Class A Bakersfield in 1983, but never realized his potential after seriously injuring his leg in spring training one year. Otis Nixon went on to have a 17-year career in which he stole 620 bases, including 72 with the pennant-winning Braves in 1991. But he also failed a drug test in September of that year and was suspended, missing the World Series. Nixon bounced around to 10 different teams.
I’m hoping, by the way, that Campos isn’t seriously hurt and is back pitching soon, because no one wants to see a promising 19-year-old sidelined with an injury. As I’ve said from the beginning, this trade, like most, will take years to sort out.