Jesus Montero, First Baseman

Dave · August 14, 2012 at 9:07 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Carp is going on the DL with a hip issue, so the Mariners are going to have to call someone up from the minors in order to fill the gap. It will probably just be Justin Smoak, even though he hasn’t hit very well in Tacoma, since the organization isn’t exactly teeming with first base options in the high minors. In talking to Wedge about the various options, Shannon Drayer reports that Wedge was asked about using Jesus Montero at first base – his answer:

“Not yet, he’s still working on it,” he answered. “We are not going to put him out there until we feel he is ready for it.”

Montero has been taking ground balls at first base in batting practice for a while now, but this is the first public confirmation that the Mariners are working towards using him as a first baseman. The writing has been on the wall for a while, though. While Montero has caught both of the last two games, 14 of his previous 17 outings had come at DH, and the selection of Mike Zunino (and subsequent promotion to Double-A) suggests that the Mariners have already determined that Montero’s catching career is going to be short lived. Whether they intend for him to remain a part-time catcher next year or not, the reality is that his long term future is a 1B/DH, and he’s more valuable to the organization if he can play first than if he can’t.

With Carp hurt and Smoak still broken, the final six weeks of the season is the perfect time to look at Montero at first base. If he’s not ready yet, that’s fine, but they can speed up the clock and give him more serious reps at first base before games in order to get him ready to play there, and personally, I’d like to see Montero play first base for the entire month of September. That gives them a couple of weeks to get him comfortable over there, and they can patch things together with Smoak/Ackley/whoever for a little while until he’s deemed to be ready.

It’s where he’s going to end up. There is no obvious long term first baseman in the organization currently playing the position. They have an opportunity to give Montero some work at first base in a lost season, where he can get some of the learning curve out of the way and hopefully be ahead of the game, rather than starting the transition next spring.

Hopefully, the organization realizes that they have an opportunity here to get a jump start on a switch they’re going to have to make soon anyway. With Jaso around as a quality stop-gap until Zunino gets here, there’s really not much of a need to have Montero continue catching, and there is a need for a legitimate first baseman in the organization. It’s in everyone’s best interests if the transition happens sooner than later.


23 Responses to “Jesus Montero, First Baseman”

  1. The_Waco_Kid on August 14th, 2012 9:14 am

    And if Montero is playing 1B, he can switch to catcher in a pinch without us losing our DH again!

  2. Jordan on August 14th, 2012 10:10 am

    This seems like an obvious move, but so does cutting bait with Figgins etc. and the Mariners/Wedge never seem to do the obvious move. Personally, I think they’ll call up Liddi or Jimenez (boo x2).

    if (huge if) Smoak becomes good does he become your DH/1B or do you look to package him w/ Pitching, Franklin, Triunfel et. al. to get an Uptonesque player?

  3. kennyb on August 14th, 2012 10:14 am

    I’m all for giving it a try, but I just don’t think he can handle it. I can’t remember ever seeing a more stiff looking pro athlete.
    I hope he proves me wrong. It isn’t like it can hurt anything to try this year. If he shows any ability then that’s one less thing to have to shop for in the off season.

  4. stevemotivateir on August 14th, 2012 10:14 am

    I wonder if Luis Rodriguez gets the call with Ackley moving to first, until Montero’s comfortable enough to start there. I like that idea better than Smoak getting called back up, even if it’s just for a couple weeks.

  5. terryoftacoma on August 14th, 2012 10:40 am

    I think I understand your thinking Steve but Rodriquez isn’t on the 40 man roster. Player options come into it too. This is already an option year for Smoak so it probably makes sense to recall him from a personnel management point of view. My gut feeling on Olivo is getting stronger. Someone make it go away.

  6. taylor.mariner on August 14th, 2012 10:45 am

    It’d be hilarious to see them bring up Luis Jimenez to play first, like rolling on the floor kind of hilarious.

  7. Westside guy on August 14th, 2012 10:53 am

    I get a bit tired of the “Seager to second, Ackley to first” shifting the team does because it seems to weaken the team in two different spots. Seager is, of course, fine at second – but he’s also fine at third, so I hate to see them punt 3B like that. Unfortunately bringing Smoak back up is probably the best available option for the team. He’ll be happy, but I’m not sure it’s in his (or the team’s) longer term best interest, however.

    Who knows what they’ll actually do though. This org seems to relish in being unpredictable.

    (Wait – cumulatively I guess the shifting just weakens the team at one spot, which is 3B)

  8. maqman on August 14th, 2012 10:58 am

    I agree with Dave on the logic of this move. Logic and Wedgie don’t always belong in the same sentence.

  9. Mariners35 on August 14th, 2012 11:13 am

    It’d be amusing if they end up getting Napoli this winter and spend 2013 with 3 catchers that they don’t want to have catching, all playing some first base because they don’t have a first baseman.

  10. TherzAlwaysHope on August 14th, 2012 11:58 am

    I agree with Dave on the logic of this move. Logic and Wedgie don’t always belong in the same sentence.

    I say we sign Jose Lopez. He solves all kinds of problems. Plays third base and outhits Brendan Ryan, Ackley, and a few more. Hell, give him a three year contract. There’s replacement level and then there is Mariner replacement level.

    How’s that for logic?

  11. msfanmike on August 14th, 2012 12:49 pm

    ” … with 3 catchers that they don’t want to have catching, all playing some first base because they don’t have a first baseman.”

    This made me laugh. I think it will be a lot less amusing if it ends up becoming true; but nicely done – regardless.

    ” I say we sign Jose Lopez … There’s replacement level and then there is Mariner replacement level. How’s that for logic?”

    This almost made me cry. I would have to vote for it as being equally amusing, as well as a bit more frightening

  12. make_dave_proud on August 14th, 2012 1:09 pm

    Speaking of first basemen, Baker says Smoak is coming back.

    Oh, yay! I sure hope Wedge runs him straight out to first base so he can occupy the space we need Montero to get reps in.

    Oh the humanity…

  13. wilchiro on August 14th, 2012 1:17 pm

    Smoak hasn’t done jack in Tacoma sense being sent down. Why couldn’t they have gone a couple of weeks with Ackley at first base while Montero continues to get reps and learn the position?

    Looks like it’s now or never for Smoak.

  14. stevemotivateir on August 14th, 2012 1:53 pm

    ^Because that would make sense! Seriously though, Smoak’s probably working on something specific, that might not reflect positively in his average right away. But that’s all the more reason to keep in in Tacoma. Let him get it completely figured out -if it’s even possible.

  15. furlong on August 14th, 2012 3:13 pm

    I would love to Jose Lopez back in a Mariner Uniform but I doubt that will happen. How about Lyle Overbay he is available and he is in Centralia.

  16. terryoftacoma on August 14th, 2012 3:46 pm

    Our 40 man roster lists 20 pitchers and 20 position players most of the position players are already on the active roster. Those left were Liddi,Martinez,Triunfel,Smoak,Chavez,Peguero,and
    Gutierrez. With those options available, bringing Smoak back for a couple of weeks is a no-brainer.

    Based on Wedge’s comments they don’t think Montaro ready to play first base and won’t put him there until they do. I’d be mildly surprised if he plays more than a game or two there between now and the end of the season. But at least they’re working on that idea which is something.

  17. californiamariner on August 14th, 2012 3:51 pm

    I have a feeling Wedge is going to be extremely stubborn on this. I plead for him to let Montero get some game action at 1st. It is not like they are in a playoff race anyway. Its not like first base is the hardest position to play, let the guy figure it out, he is not going to be nearly as valuable to the team if all he can do is DH.

  18. Mariners35 on August 14th, 2012 4:17 pm

    Olivo, Carp… now Smoak back up… let’s hope groin pulls run in threes.

  19. ivan on August 14th, 2012 5:24 pm

    Just wondering: Has anybody asked Jesús what he wants to do, or how he feels about catching, or if the organization’s contingency planning includes making him into a better catcher, Zunino or no Zunino? Or is everybody’s mind already made up?

    I mean, the guy is 22 years old and in his first full season. IMO it’s preposterous to think he can’t become a better catcher, if he has the motivation to become one. I have seen a lot worse than him, believe it.

    Jesús has little to no lateral range that I have been able to determine. That would be fatal at 1B. But if he’s squatting behind the plate? Not so much.

    Carp looks like Teixeira or Keith Hernandez in comparison to what Montero would be. Is that what you guys want in the infield? You need to be careful what you wish for.

    Let him catch and DH. If he becomes Victor Martinez to Zunino’s Alex Avila, that’s just fine with me.

  20. sjudy on August 14th, 2012 5:45 pm

    In a chat on Fangraphs, I asked Dave about Smoak as a change-of-scenery guy. He replied he thinks the organization will shop him hard this winter and I agree. I think his days are very limited and this may be a final audition for other teams. I keep telling my buddy Smoak would kill at Miller Park.
    Anyway, all that aside, I love Montero but a 22 year old shouldn’t be just a DH. If he can somewhat handle first and be a backup 1B/C in addition to DH, I like it. I’m not hoping for a defensive whiz at 1B. Someone that can stretch and make the rest of the infield’s job easier. Plus, it would help keep the DH spot open for someone needing rests (Ackley, we are all looking at you and your wild swings the past 2 months), Jaso, or a new bat. I’m down with Montero at 1B (and so would my fantasy teams as a 1B/3B option).

  21. bongo on August 14th, 2012 6:04 pm

    I like this idea. Olivo and Jaso can share the catching (or they can bring up Quiroz), and they can also bring up Jimenez to help with DH duties.

  22. Snuffy on August 14th, 2012 7:37 pm

    Montero working out at 1b… about frickin’ time!
    Wedge is soooo slow to see workable options.

  23. bongo on August 15th, 2012 9:28 am

    “It’d be hilarious to see them bring up Luis Jimenez to play first, like rolling on the floor kind of hilarious.”

    At first base, Jimenez and Limonta make Marv Throneberry look like a golden glove winner. Not only do they have limited mobility, but their footwork and ability to catch throws is suspect. However, Jimenez can hit, and even if his OPS drops from 900 to 750 that would still be an improvement.

    Agree on Wedge’s slowness to adapt to reality. How many games did we lose because of Wedge’s bad choices? His attempt to rehabilitate Figgins, his choice of Noesi over Iwakuma in the rotation, his use of Ichiro on an every day basis, etc.? At least 5 games, IMO. With a decent manager, this team would not be a contender, but they’d be closer to .500 than they are now.

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