There were eleventeen packages reportedly out there, and only two of them were reported to have ML-ready difference-makers of Montero's and Smoak's magnitude.
It's like arguing about the difference between Joey Votto and Mark Teixeira. That's what the 14-year-olds argue about before Draft Day in roto: which first rounder can reallllly carry your ballclub.
The biggest difference in baseball is between safe and out. :- ) The biggest difference in Zdurencik's options was whether he got a player he could count on to make an impact.
The difference between Montero and Smoak doesn't matter. The difference between Smoak and Hicks matters.
=== Jesus Montero ===
As argued here before the Yankee talks became public, Jesus Montero is no less than a 20-year-old Gary Carter, and he could be more like a Mike Piazza or Jose Canseco.
Dr. D thinks that Jesus Montero is a clear four lengths past Justin Smoak, but...
=== Justin Smoak ===
... is left-handed* in Safeco and is an OBP player first. That's huge.
It is important to consider your park if you run the club in Boston or Kansas City. But in Safeco it is life and death to fit your players to your park.
Now, you can't get ridiculous. You're going to take Nick Johnson over Albert Pujols because you play 81 of your 162 games in Safeco? Of course not. And Jesus Montero is the kind of all-around, line-drive/upper-deck, pull-field/off-field monster who absolutely would hit well RH in Safeco.
But you've got to pencil Montero's OPS+ for a 10-point hit in Safeco, and you've got to pencil Smoak's for a 10-, maybe 20-point boost in Safeco. That difference may just push the two even.
=== Nationally ===
For reasons well past my perception, baseball considers Justin Smoak a better hitting prospect than Jesus Montero. It says here that all of baseball is wrong and SSI is right, just as all of baseball was wrong to have Michael Pineda outside the top 25 before 2010.
But full disclosure in this case is tasty, and there are 100's of baseball scouts who believe that Justin Smoak is an epic, epic hitting prospect.
This includes my heroes at BaseballHQ, by the way, who put Smoak behind only Strasburg and Jason Heyward, giving Smoak a thunderous 9B rating (i.e., that he'll probably be an MVP candidate).
=== Capt Jack ===
Adjusting for Safeco, anyway, your fearless leader Jack Zduriencik also values Justin Smoak considerably more than he does Jesus Montero.
The secondary packages cancel out -- McAllister is a wash for Beavan, and David Adams was a throwin just like the other two Texas guys are throwins.
In fact, consider that Capt Jack paid the following heavy toll to switch from Jesus Montero to Justin Smoak:
- He could have had David Adams, who will probably start in the majors some day for KC or SD, instead of two guys who definitely will not.
- He incurred the long-term wrath of the justifiably furious Yankees to switch to Smoak. This will cost in trade talks later.
- He could have kept Mark Lowe, and he paid that toll also, to switch away from Jesus Montero!.
So as your cheery thought of the day, remember that all of baseball had only Strasburg and Heyward ahead of Justin Blinkin' Smoak, and Jack Zduriencik couldn't agree more.
Enjoy those 12 starts boys,