Michael Pineda is better than Gio Gonzalez: The implications of trading for the A’s young lefty.

Michael Pineda is better than Gio Gonzalez, and trading for Gonzalez shouldn't mean that the Mariners trade away Pineda.

The Mariners have recently shown interest in Gio Gonzalez. There will certainly be some organizational shuffling if they trade for Gonzalez, as the team figures to trade a couple of their upper level prospects, for Gonzalez. The A’s already asked the Marlins for Mike Stanton or Logan Morrison (read Dustin Ackley) and for John Danks, who has three less years of team control for any team trading for him (though he’s basically the same age), the White Sox asked for two of: Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos for Danks.

Trading Dustin Ackley is a bad idea. He’s got potential to be one of the most valuable players in the league, as he’s got a highly-advanced plate approach, and some pretty non-characteristic power at a non-premium position. He holds many of the same advantages as Chase Utley, especially if his statistically above-average defense holds.

But speculation that has led some fans to believe that trading Michael Pineda for a “bat” (those fans included me, at first) is the Mariners next move if they trade for Gonzalez. I don’t think that it is good process though, and the only reason to do it, seemingly, would be to appease the fanbase, rather than improve the team.

You see, if the Mariners were going to trade say James Paxton and Taijuan Walker for Gonzalez, and then turn and trade Pineda for a bat, the moves would essentially be redundant. The team must have an opinion of Gonzalez, an opinion of Paxton and Walker, and an opinion of Pineda, but if Gonzalez is Pineda’s equal, why shuffle the organization to come out even, to lose a year of team control for a top pitcher, and to lose a couple of top prospects?

Not only that, but in Michael Pineda the Mariners hold an advantage. They’ve had
him in their system for several years. They’ve seen him develop, they know his personality. They know that he and Felix are buddies, they know that Pineda saw Felix sign an extension to stay in Seattle, and they have also seen all the medicals and personality flaws that Pineda may have, and probably have a pretty good guage of whether or not they’d like to sign him long term. A Pineda trade may piss Felix off. A Pineda trade may piss the whole team off.  And they’d lose all of that advantage trading Pineda in conjunction with a Gonzalez deal. Not to mention, Pineda is three and a half years younger, and is already a better pitcher than Gonzalez.

So basically, if the Mariners view Gonzalez as Pineda’s equal, there would be logic in taking advantage of opposing teams higher-valuation of Pineda, but considering Pineda’s age and displayed ability, the Mariners would be very stupid to view Gonzalez as Pineda’s equal, and such a trade would probably be presented during a press conference for the newly-rehired Bill Bavasi.

Even the fact that Gonzalez is left-handed barely helps him, as his numbers already come in the pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum, and his main demon, the base on balls, isn’t something that Safeco’s spacious fences can cure.

If the Mariners trade for Gio Gonzalez, consider him the third pitcher behind Pineda. If the team wants to, or wanted to trade for a bat, or anything of high value, they’d probably have to include some combination of Pineda, Paxton, and Walker for that bat, sure. There is no more fluid currency in baseball than young pitching. Every team needs it. So why couldn’t they instead just trade Paxton and Walker for a bat? Why make a lateral-at-best move to facilitate a possible move that improves the team?

But to think that somehow kicking up a cloud of dust and coming out with say, Gio Gonzalez minus Pineda, a bat, and a farm system void of top prospects yet again makes the team better is probably inaccurate.


By the way, any thought that the A’s would trade Gonzalez for only one of those pitching prospects is crazy. It doesn’t make any sense to trade an established young pitcher for a pitcher with relative warts that haven’t thrown off a big league mound yet.  Especially considering that for Mat Latos the Padres got Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez. EDIT: And Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger, Reds first round picks from 2009 and 2010. 

That move, by the way, may make either Alonso or Anthony Rizzo available for the Mariners, but probably makes Joey Votto even more untouchable than before.