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Where will Jesus Montero play for the Mariners?

Jan 14, 2012, 8:08 AM EDT

Jesus Montero

Still reeling from that trade last night. Unlike some deals that are rumored for several hours or days, this one sprung from the head of Zeus, fully-formed, in almost no time.  And also unlike so many other deals this didn’t involve a salary dump. The M’s had a stud pitcher and needed a bat. The Yankee had a stud hitting prospect and needed an arm. It was so … simple.

The hardest part of this deal is where to play Jesus Montero when he shows up to camp next month.

Montero has only caught and DH’d in the Yankees system.  And his catching, according to the Yankees and from what people who have seen him play have surmised, is poor. That only leaves a couple of options.

Designated hitter is one. However, one would normally want to avoid putting a young guy like Montero in the DH slot now because once someone DHs they tend to always DH.  The other obvious option is first base.  Except the M’s, however devoid of hitting talent they are, have two servicable options at first in Justin Smoak and Mike Carp. And even if Montero’s future is at first, the M’s are going to want to play Smoak and/or Carp for a while if, for no other reason, than to showcase them for a trade.

Personally, I’d hire the best catching guru I could find to work with Montero and get him into as good as defensive shape as I could and let him catch all year.  If the M’s are not optimistic about his defense, however, or if they’re too tied to Miguel Olivo or whoever, fine, let him DH but think about a future when he can slide to first base.

Either way, this is all a bit of a problem. Although, inasmuch it has been a long time since the Mariners have had a good bat they had to figure out how to fit into the lineup, it’s an admittedly nice problem to have.

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 14, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    So many comments from the gurus (and wannabe’s) last night to the effect “Montero’s natural position is DH”

    • paperlions - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      Everyone seems to agree that he can’t catch, too slow, good arm but takes forever to get rid of the ball. It isn’t like the Yankees didn’t give him a chance to develop at the position for the last couple of years. I’m not sure how banging Montero’s head against that wall for another year would help him.

      I could see trying him at 3B or RF is he’s athletic enough to do one of those for a few years….but catcher is hard on the body…why kill the bat by making a guy that can’t play such a demanding position try to do it?

      • vanmorrissey - Jan 14, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        Yep, unless Ichiro moves to LF, Montero smells like he’d fit in Left.

  2. bgeary8 - Jan 14, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    Ugh. Even though I like this trade that picture of Montero makes me wanna cry a little.

  3. apgreco - Jan 14, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    I have very mixed emotions about the Montero-Pineda trade. I believe Montero will be a star. We got a taste of that when he was brought up at the end of last year. He showed a great bat especially to the opposite field. I am not sure that the Yanks thought he was going to be a catcher so the likely second choice is 1st base and we have Tex already. I don’t like 22 yr old designated hitters so Cashman felt trading him for a young stud like Pineda is worth it. Time will tell. Even though he only has 1 year under his belt, Pineda should be considered a #2 starter behind CC. Pineda threw 173 innings last year and only gave up 133 hits, very impressive. He won 9 games with the Mariners……he should win at least 15 for the Yanks. And, finally, he does not cost a lot of money. Again, I have mixed emotions as I have been following the Montero experience since the Yanks signed the kid at 16. I am glad that he will be playing in Seattle and that we won’t have to see him but twice a year.

  4. Norm B - Jan 14, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    Montero won’t look as good because of Safeco.
    Pineda won’t look as good because of Yankee Stadium.
    Win/Win for the teams, lose/lose for the players themselves (In terms of future $)

    • Bill - Jan 14, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      Oh, I think it’s a huge win for Pineda. Higher ERA, but a ton more “wins” and exposure, and if he does well and people like him (which I expect will be the case), he’ll make huge piles of money and almost never have to worry about what city he’ll be living in come August or next April.

      • paperlions - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        Pitcher wins are in their death throws…no team values them, some media members and fans do….but they don’t sign the contracts.

  5. proudlycanadian - Jan 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Pineda faltered in the second half of last season. Prior to the All Star game, his ERA was 3.03. In games played after the All Star game, his ERA was 5.12. Did he run out of gas or did the other teams figure out how to hit his stuff?

    • Kevin S. - Jan 14, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      C) PC is reading too much into three-month samples. If there’s a specific reason that can be tied to the poor performance, fine, but I’m not a fan of assuming there’s a reason for small-sample fluctuations and looking for the best fit.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 14, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        A difference of more than 2 earned runs per 9 innings is not random.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 14, 2012 at 5:11 PM

        Over half-season stretches? Sure can be. There’s really just not a whole lot that can be taken from 10-15 starts, especially since most of the variance came from three consecutive road starts in July.

  6. bigleagues - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    proudlycanadian:

    I followed Pineda pretty close this year. I’d say it’s a combo of fatigue and effectiveness, which is to be expected of a rookie SP no matter how high his ceiling is.

    There was a scout early this season who felt Pineda was overrated and lacked strong secondary pitches. Obviously the Yankees feel they can fix this.

    Montero is a stud hitter. He could either be Edgar Martinez with more pop or at best Piazza Part Deux.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM

      Thanks!

    • wlschneider09 - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM

      I seriously doubt that Montero approaches Martinez or Piazza. He doesn’t really have that much power, and his BA over 1500 minor league abs was around .290. Nice bat, but probably no where near either of those two.

      • paperlions - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        Seriously? Scouts say the guy has tremendous natural power. The Frank Thomas comparisons arise because he even has great power when he is fooled and hitting off of his front foot (like Thomas did).

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 14, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        It wasn’t so much a knock on Montero as it was a statement that people forget how good Piazza and Martinez were. As for the power, I don’t see it in his minor league record, and I can’t imagine him getting away with the front foot thing in the majors. Thomas could pull it off because he was 6’5 275 and ripped.

        I know nobody wants to hear anything but glowing reports about prospects, but for every Mike Piazza there’s a whole bunch of Jeff Clements.

  7. bigleagues - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Just occurred to me: the Yankees passed on Ubaldo and got Pineda. Rather shrewd.

    • joshftw - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      The Rockies wouldn’t allow a physical first. Considering that and how he flopped in Cleveland he must have been hurt. Yankees really dodged a bullet there.

  8. DJ MC - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    After the last guy the Mariners tried to force into a defensively position before playing him at DH full-time, they may want to consider letting him play there from the beginning.

    • Bill - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      Meaning Edgar? He was a fine 3B, just couldn’t keep his bat in the lineup there with his injury problems.

  9. hammyofdoom - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    I think you HAVE to groom Montero to be a catcher. As we’ve seen with players like Piazza and Posada, if you have an A+ bat like Montero has the potential of having and is at least not disastrous behind the plate the player has way more value than just having been a DH. And even though the best offensive players at this point for the Mariners this side of Ichiro are at 1B I think it’d behoove them to get him at least some time at first. I mean look at Mike Napoli, the ability to have him catch, play 1st and DH made him incredibly valuable to the Rangers, and I think the Mariners have a chance of having a Napoli-type catcher.

    • paperlions - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      Yeah, I’m sure the Twins are thrilled that they kept Mauer behind the plate to get extra value from his bat…he was awesome last year. Long-term, it just doesn’t make sense to beat up a stud hitter by having him play a position he isn’t good at to begin with (referring to Montero, not Mauer) and reducing his offensive effectiveness.

      • hammyofdoom - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:30 PM

        Well they have places they can put mauer (especially with the 1B gap they have) but 1B is taken up by their better offensive players, I think he’s too young for DH, and that big outfield is no place for him. Not saying its ideal, but its probably best they have

  10. derekjetersmansion - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Why didn’t they just sign Fielder and keep Pineda?

    • derekjetersmansion - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      Nice job, Jack. Make your team worse, thinking it’s better.

    • wlschneider09 - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      I’m gonna take a wild guess and say it’s money related.

      • derekjetersmansion - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM

        Mariners aren’t small market. They have a Japanese billionaire owner. And were sniffing around Prince. No excuse.

      • Bill - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM

        This (derekjetersmansion) is the kind of seriously flawed thinking Geoff Baker’s dumb column from the other day is going to really drive home in Mariners fans. Having money doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to spend that money (and the relative wealth of the owner is almost entirely irrelevant–no owner spends money he doesn’t think he’s going to make back from the product). If you think Prince is an early-breakdown risk and you’re not really going to compete for a couple years, and I suspect the M’s think both, signing Prince is a bad idea whether you can afford it or not.

  11. joshftw - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Montero will be missed in The Bronx in a few years. But considering how hard it is to develop an ace, and how teams are getting smarter about locking down talented young pitchers, the Yankees had to let him go for a deal like this. They need the arm a lot more than they need the bat.

  12. shawnuel - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    DJ MC…..nice revisionist history there. Martinez was a serviceable (average/decent) 3B for about 10 years (including milb time) before a horrendous leg injury forced the switch to DH.

    jeter’smansion…….you do realize that the PLAYER actually has a say in where he goes, right? Therein may be a clue as to why Jack made this move instead of signing Fielder. I think Zduriencik stayed in the Fielder sweepstakes as long as he could. Now that the Rangers and soon to be cash rich Dodgers seem to have entered the fray (and don’t sleep on the Yankees, now, either)the writing is on the wall. I still think we could have received more for Pineda, but it is a fair trade for the most part.

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