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Jesus Montero’s future in doubt with 50-game ban

Aug 5, 2013, 2:27 PM EDT

Jesus Montero Getty Images

Two years ago, one could have looked at the group of the 14 suspensed Biogenesis players — Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli, Antonio Bastardo, Jordany Valdespin, Sergio Escalona, Fernando Martinez, Cesar Puello, Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto —  and concluded that, besides Braun, Montero had the most promising future of the group.

Now, the big Montero-for-Michael Pineda trade, which was shaping up as a winner for the Mariners a year ago, might be a dud all around. Pineda just had a setback in his return from shoulder surgery, and it doesn’t look like he’ll contribute for the Yankees this season. Montero showed some promise during his rookie season in 2012, hitting .260/.298/.386 with 15 homers and 62 RBI in 515 at-bats, but he was a total bust in the majors this year, hitting .208/.264/.327 with three homers in 101 at-bats, and the Mariners have given up on him as a catcher.

MLB has yet to make it clear how minor leaguers will serve their Biogenesis suspensions; there aren’t 50 games left in the minor league seasons, so those could linger into next year. Montero, though, is on the 40-man roster and will be suspended as a major leaguer, so he should be able to finish his suspension in September and enter 2014 with a clean slate. Still, nothing he’s done this year suggests that he should be in Seattle’s plans for Opening Day. Justin Smoak has taken a step forward and is likely to remain the team’s first baseman next year. Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez are free agents, so the DH spot will be open. The Mariners, though, don’t seem likely to reserve it for him. One imagines they’ll make an attempt to re-sign Morales. Perhaps it’d be better for Montero if they re-signed Michael Morse as a DH instead, since Morse could always shift back to the outfield if Montero emerges. That’s not an option with Morales.

Montero, though, is going to have to prove himself all over again, and that’s probably going to require some Triple-A time. He’s only used up one option year, so that’s not a problem. Since Montero doesn’t have anything going for him except his bat now, he’ll need to mash to earn another chance. He’ll be 24 next year, and if he doesn’t find his stroke then, many will start writing him off.

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Update: A source told NBCSports.com’s Craig Calcaterra that Montero will, in fact, be able to finish out his suspension this year, since he is on the 40-man roster. Minor leaguers given 50-game bans will be forced to sit out the start of next year, since there are only 25-30 games left in the minor league seasons.

  1. coryfor3 - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Start writing him off? That happened a while ago.
    My prediction is Montero and Pineda never make a blip on the MLB radar. Everyone knew Montero wasn’t going to catch. Now if he can’t field or hit I suppose he might not make a good baseball player.
    As far as Pineda, shoulder injuries that keep a pitcher out this long are career enders or changers. Right Mark Prior? How about you Brandon Webb? What do you say Johan Santana?

  2. stlsportsfan84 - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Might want to change the Morales in the last paragraph (1st word) to Montero.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      Whoops. Thanks!

  3. denny65 - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    As a Mariners’ fan, this, of course, is the suspension I’m following most closely. Most of us fans had written off Montero early this year, as the guy just wasn’t producing. He wasn’t a catcher, he swung at pitches that were clearly out of the strike zone, he couldn’t run to save his life and did I mention he couldn’t catch? Mike Zunino (last year’s no. 1/no. 3 overall draft pick) is well on his way to becoming a bonafide Major Leaguer, and backup catchers are a dime-a-dozen, witness the job Blanco and Quintero are currently doing for the Ms.

    Montero might catch on with another team during the off-season–’though not as a catcher–but most of us feel (hope?) his time with the Mariners is in our rear-view mirror.

    • Reflex - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      Montero is under Mariners’ team control for another 4-5 years, he isn’t going anywhere, and short of a trade why would the M’s give him the chance to ‘catch on elsewhere’? Either he figures it out with them, or he is a 29 year old former top prospect in the independent leagues.

  4. apkyletexas - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    So – a bunch of not very good players and injured players took roids and are getting suspended. The best of them is a .269 hitter.

    Remind me – why is this such a big story? Besides the A-Rod celebrity angle?

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      because…. THE KIDS!

    • forsch31 - Aug 5, 2013 at 5:16 PM

      The Rangers’ Nelson Cruz and the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta were suspended as well. Both sorta kinda important players for playoff contenders.

      Peralta–starting shortstop, .305 average,.822 OPS, and hey, his second All-Star game this past year.

      Cruz–currently leading Rangers in HRs and RBIs, second on the team in OPS, and hey, also coming off his second All-Star game.

  5. ryanrockzzz - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    So fast to write a kid off who is just 24. Maybe he will figure it out in the future. There have def been others, one of which (Ibanez) is having a great season. PED’s seem to have had a correlation to his play though….

  6. turdfurgerson68 - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    I trash Cashman for his terrible signings, but i still think he rooked Seattle big time with this trade.

    Montero is a joke; Pineda, if he can shake the injury bug is a potenial top of the rotation starter.

    • Reflex - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      Pineda is a Inverted W pitcher with fitness and conditioning issues, and a bad attitude about his health and mechanics. There is no ‘shake the injury bug’ with him, he is a nice guy but not serious about his job and as such is going to spend his career injured.

      Montero may or may not work out, that is the way it is with prospects. But dealing Pineda at his peak value was a no-brainer move.

      • turdfurgerson68 - Aug 6, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        ‘Pineda is a Inverted W pitcher with fitness and conditioning issues…’

        Yeah, i read that new yorker article that mentions the ‘Inverted W’ too. Its a theory by someone who has ZERO training in bio-mechanics. Nice try.

        Plenty of bigger pitchers who are doing just fine.

        If getting Jesus Montero is your idea of ‘trading high’ (like seattle apparently) well…

      • Reflex - Aug 6, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        Montero was a consensus top 15 prospect for two years, so yeah, that would be selling high. And bio-mechanics is not a recognized field, regardless of how sciency it sounds. At the end of the day, pitchers who have a inverted W appear to have a much higher injury rate. There are a number of theories as to why(and this is where most of the debate is) but it seems to be the case in general.

        Give me some ‘bigger pitchers’ who are ‘doing fine’ who are using that motion. There’s Strasburg, Garcia, Wainwright…er…wait a moment, all of these guys have had nothing but problems with their elbow and shoulder… You got anyone you can point to?

  7. biasedhomer - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Yankee prospects are constantly hyped up.

    • turdfurgerson68 - Aug 6, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      …and the Mariners bought into it 100%. Fools.

  8. mmason0071 - Aug 5, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Montero is still a long way from being declared a bust. He actually hit pretty decently last year for a rookie – OK average, a little light on the RBIs. But the Mariner’s insisted on making him concentrate on being a catcher this spring and screwed up his whole approach to the game. He is as likely to flap his arms and fly like a bird than he is to be an acceptable major league catcher. Clutziest guy I have ever seen on the field. But is he can come back next year with a healed knee and a total emphasis on being a DH he has a fair chance of being a useful player. That bar is set pretty low in Seattle.

    • Reflex - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:19 PM

      A player can’t be ‘light on the RBIs’ since they are something not in the player’s control. The Mariners have had historically bad offenses for the past several years, you could put Miguel Cabrera in that lineup and he’d be ‘light on the RBIs’ since the Mariners aren’t getting on base.

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