Jesus Montero is the Mariners scapegoat du jour for fans of this team, and that honor couldn’t go to a worthier guy. You know who’s relieved that Montero is drawing all the negative attention as this team scuffles to a 3-games-under-.500 record as of May 9th? Dustin Ackley. I would lump in Justin Smoak, but he’s already had this treatment, last year.
2012, probably right around this time, was when the legions of Mariners fans jumped off the Smoak bandwagon once and for all. He had disappointed for far too long, and by gar he was going to get dozens upon dozens of blog posts belaboring how much he sucked!
Well, it’s 2013 and Smoak still sucks, but Montero sucks MORE. And he’s different, he’s a different person, with all new ways of sucking!
Oh sure, there are still the old standbys: unable to hit his weight, unable to drive the ball out for home runs with any regularity, having been traded for a once-great player with the intention of being a core piece to our rebuilding puzzle, unable to hit right handed pitching. But, with Montero, we get to tack on the fact that he’s a catcher who can’t throw out base-stealers!
He is currently 1 for 16 in throwing out people trying to steal a base. That 1 happened yesterday when the runner got a great jump, slipped partway, stopped, and was caught in a run-down as Montero threw the ball to the first baseman. I don’t have to tell you that Jesus Montero is nobody’s everyday catcher. I also don’t have to tell you that this team doesn’t have the luxury of playing Montero at Designated Hitter; that job’s taken!
Our options are: keep Montero as the starting catcher until Zunino is ready to be brought up, make Montero a backup to Shoppach until Zunino is ready to be brought up, demote Montero to Tacoma and let him play DH everyday (or convert him to a first baseman) until Zunino is ready to be brought up, or demote Montero to AA and let him play catcher everyday (or DH, or convert him to a first baseman) until Zunino is ready to be brought up.
Here’s a thought, though. If you’ve been following the team closely, you may have heard rumblings that the top Mariners executives are pushing Eric Wedge to play Montero at catcher more regularly. Apparently, Wedge would rather go with Shoppach every day, because he’s the better overall catcher and – right now at least – the better overall hitter. There are also rumblings that Montero’s work ethic is lagging, which has to stick in Wedge’s craw like nobody’s business. Any real baseball man would be irritated to be forced to stick with a dud like Montero who both sucks and doesn’t seem to give a damn that he sucks. BUT, what does this tell you? It tells me that the Mariners want Montero showcased. They want him playing as much as possible. They want him to get every opportunity to bolster his numbers, because they’re planning on trading him and they want to get back as much as they possibly can.
Think about it: why look to hang on to Montero long-term? Just to be a DH? I’m not gonna lie to you, Montero isn’t quite the hitter everyone thought he’d be when we traded for him. He DOESN’T hit the ball to the opposite field like Edgar. He DOESN’T have a good eye for pitches; he’s a free-swinger in the vein of a Miguel Olivo. Do you want Miguel Olivo as your designated hitter? Because I sure as shit don’t! He’s a hitter who will hit for a poor average with so-so power; there would be value there if he actually played a position like catcher, but as you can plainly see THAT ain’t hap’nin’.
In short, Montero doesn’t have a future with this team except as a frustrating reminder of Jackie Z’s ineptitude on his biggest of trades. But, it just takes one team to believe that they can turn him around. That they can put him in a different ballpark, give him the keys to their pitching staff, and let him do his thing. Maybe we can recoup some of our losses. Then, when Zunino’s ready, we move on from this ugly period in our team’s history.
Because we’re absolutely NOT thinking about the possibility of Zunino being just as big of a loser as all these other guys on this team, right? There’s no WAY he’s the second coming of Ackley’s highly-drafted bust status. That would never happen, not to this team …