Michael Pineda | New York Yankees | SP | Acquired via Trade
Hiroki Kuroda | New York Yankees | SP | Signed as Free Agent
The Yankees’ flurry of moves this weekend arrived as a flash flood, proving devastating to all that it touched. Between the park and division changes, new number-two starter Pineda will be in for quite the challenge in 2012. Between a 30 percent swing in home runs on contact and a 10 percent swing in strikeouts, Pineda’s stats figure to take quite a hit in Yankee Stadium. The defensive swing will be minimal, but at least Pineda will receive infinitely more offensive support, which should help his wins total rebound from the loss it will sustain from the worsened performance.

Kuroda will face many of the same challenges Pineda will, moving from a pitcher’s park to an extreme hitter’s one, though the difference in strikeouts between the parks is negligible. He’ll have the added challenged of moving to a tougher league, though; a move to the AL raises the league-average pitcher’s ERA by 0.50 and lowers their K/9 by 0.50.

These two acquisitions create a bit of a logjam at the back end of the Yankees’ rotation, leaving Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, and A.J. Burnett to battle for one spot (assuming Ivan Nova gets the fourth starter role).
Value Change: Loss for Michael Pineda; Loss for Hiroki Kuroda; Loss for Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, and A.J. Burnett

Jesus Montero | Seattle Mariners | C/DH | Acquired via Trade
Like Pineda, Montero also loses value in the Seattle-New York blockbuster, as he leaves a very favorable park for one that’s much less so. He also leaves the most potent lineup in baseball for one of the most pathetic. The good news is that he’ll hit higher in the Mariners’ order, likely somewhere in the three-four-five slots, which should allow him to maintain a good portion of the at-bats, RBI, and runs he would have accumulated with the Yankees. There’s also some non-zero chance that the Mariners use him at catcher at least part-time, which seemed incredibly unlikely with the Yankees. Montero shows all the grace of Barney the Dinosaur behind the plate, which is why he’ll only qualify at UT in most fantasy leagues to start the year. If the M’s were to give him some starts behind the plate, it would be an immense help to his fantasy value, as his bat would project him to be among the position’s elite, if not in 2012, then soon after.

More likely, Montero becomes Seattle’s designated hitter, pushing Mike Carp to left field and Trayvon Robinson into a fourth outfielder’s role (and Casper Wells into a fifth outfielder’s role). Of course, Carp and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez have more question marks than Arkham City, so there should be ample opportunity for Robinson and Wells to push their way into the starting picture.
Value Change: Loss for Jesus Montero; Big Loss for Trayvon Robinson; Big Loss for Casper Wells; Small Loss for Miguel Olivo (Big Loss if Montero becomes the catcher)

Ryan Madson | Cincinnati Reds | CL | Signed as Free Agent
There was little question that Ryan Madson was going to find a job closing somewhere, but his signing with the Reds was a bit surprising. Great American Ballpark isn’t the best home for a pitcher, but Madson’s ground-ball tendencies should help alleviate that a bit, and he’s good enough where he’ll still have plenty of value as a closer.

The biggest losers in this deal are Sean Marshall and Francisco Cordero. Marshall was in line to close for the Reds before the Madson signing, and Cordero was previously looking like he might re-sign with Cincy to close ballgames. The Reds were the team most likely to give him a job closing, and with his skills in decline, it’s not assured that he will ultimately land a job closing games for the 2012 season.
Value Change: Small Loss for Ryan Madson; Huge Loss for Sean Marshall; Loss for Francisco Cordero

Smaller Moves:

  • As I speculated when the Padres acquired Yonder Alonso, the big winner in the deal actually ended up being Anthony Rizzo, who was liberated from Petco Park with his trade to Chicago. Wrigley isn’t the best home for a hitter, but it’s better than Petco, and Rizzo no longer has three guys that he has to battle for playing time. Bryan LaHair will begin the year at first for the Cubs, but he’ll just keep the position warm for Rizzo.
  • Hector Noesi moves to Seattle in the Montero-Pineda deal, and while he was bound for a strictly relief role in New York, the Mariners will give him a chance to compete for a spot in the back end of their rotation. He could be a serviceable starter in AL-only leagues, especially in Safeco, and should come cheaply in drafts.
  • Paul Maholm signed with the Cubs, which is a good low-risk move for the team, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for his fantasy value in either direction. The Cubs are nearly as hapless as the Pirates these days, and Wrigley is a little unfriendlier than PNC. Overall, though, not a huge change in value.
  • Bartolo Colon gains value in moving to Oakland—a very favorable park, especially compared to Yankee Stadium—assuming he still has enough gas left in the tank to stick around. There are some who don’t think he’ll find much success in 2012, that he was run down by the Yankees, but his August and September peripherals still looked pretty good, so I’d be willing to take a flier on him in an AL-only league. The signing doesn’t help winter acquisitions Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock, and Tom Milone, who were hoping to vie for a rotation spot this spring.
  • I’m a big Luke Scott fan, long believing that he’s an underrated source of power in AL-only leagues, but it’s a little disappointing to see him sign with the Rays, who can’t offer him the kind of park that would make him a really undervalued sleeper in 2012. I still like him, especially if he finds a place in the middle of that order, but the Trop won’t do him any favors.
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What would you project for Colon over a full season in terms of W/L, ERA, WHIP, and Ks? I immediately intended to target him upon hearing about the signing.
Tough call. Assuming 32 GS (which is a big assumption to make), how about 10 W, 4.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.5 K/9?
Subsequent to the Pineda trade, I was offered a challenge trade in a deep (18 teams, 25 starters/10 bench players) keeper league: I send Pineda to receive Jeremy Hellickson straight up. The two players have almost exactly equal cost, and I'm rebuilding. If Pineda was still in Seattle, I turn it down due to the K's, but with the change in park and quality of opponents, I'm not sure anymore. Thoughts?
That's a tough call. I think I stick with Pineda, but it's definitely closer now that he's with New York.
How can a park be good or bad for strikeouts?
I seem to get this question every couple of months. It's a little known fact, but parks do indeed impact strikeouts. Things like elevation, atmosphere, humidity, amount of foul ground, lighting, the outfield background that the hitter looks at (or backstop that the pitcher looks at), and other such things impact a park's strikeout factor.