Another Possible Option for Jesus Montero

Dave · September 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A little over a month ago, I noted that the progression of John Jaso and Mike Zunino meant that there was no real reason to continue pretending like Jesus Montero had a future as a catcher in this organization. Projecting him as a regular catcher was always a big reach anyway, and now that the Mariners had better options both now and in the future, the decision to convert him into a first baseman seems obvious. The Mariners don’t have any real first base prospects in the organization, and Montero’s lack of athleticism could be somewhat hidden at the easiest spot on the field to defend. There’s also some hope that allowing him to just focus on hitting, rather than futilely trying to improve his defense behind the plate, might speed up the development of his offense.

So, given the configuration of talent in the organization, making Montero the regular first baseman for 2013 seems to be the obvious move. However, there’s a less obvious option that might actually be better for the organization – trade him.

No, this isn’t simply a reaction to Montero’s disappointing 2012 season. I’m not suggesting that any 22-year-old who doesn’t immediately come to the big leagues and tear the cover off the ball is a bust, or that we can definitively say that Montero isn’t going to become what the team envisioned when they acquired him last winter. I will suggest, however, that Montero isn’t as close to becoming that hitter as they had hoped, and now that it’s clear that he has no future as a catcher in Seattle, perhaps his particular skillset is a better fit for another organization.

Last January, I wrote a post over at FanGraphs about the career paths that similar hitting prospects over the last 20 years have taken. Using a few different variables, we came up with two dozen guys who had reached the Majors at an early age by bashing their way through the minor leagues, and the good news was that a good chunk of the had gone on to become really terrific Major League hitters. The bad news was that the majority of them just became above average hitters, though, and Montero’s minor league performances were closer to the guys at the lower end of the spectrum rather than the higher end.

Well, we now have an extra year of information, and we can reevaluate where Montero stands relative to those comparisons through his age-22 season. 22 of the 24 comparisons on the list had some MLB experience by age 22; just Chipper Jones (blew out his knee as a rookie) and Mike Piazza (didn’t reach the Majors until age 23) don’t really offer us any additional information to compare to Montero’s first full year (plus his brief debut last year) as a big leaguer. So, below is a table of where Montero fits in the list of those players, with their total Major League performance through their age-22 season.

Alex Rodriguez 2,271 7% 17% 0.229 0.341 0.313 0.364 0.543 135
Miguel Cabrera 1,716 9% 21% 0.223 0.343 0.300 0.366 0.523 131
Ben Grieve 786 13% 19% 0.169 0.346 0.291 0.389 0.460 125
Juan Gonzalez 1,390 6% 21% 0.235 0.278 0.259 0.308 0.494 119
B.J. Upton 914 10% 26% 0.162 0.362 0.280 0.356 0.442 113
Justin Upton 1,728 11% 26% 0.199 0.345 0.272 0.352 0.471 111
Prince Fielder 710 9% 20% 0.209 0.303 0.272 0.344 0.481 109
Manny Ramirez 391 11% 21% 0.233 0.274 0.254 0.335 0.487 108
Hank Blalock 787 8% 18% 0.200 0.309 0.282 0.340 0.482 108
Andruw Jones 1,890 10% 20% 0.216 0.287 0.260 0.335 0.476 108
Vladimir Guerrero 381 5% 11% 0.176 0.302 0.293 0.339 0.469 107
Eric Chavez 1,019 11% 15% 0.198 0.283 0.267 0.346 0.466 104
Adrian Beltre 1,918 8% 16% 0.160 0.298 0.270 0.335 0.430 100
Carlos Delgado 161 16% 29% 0.221 0.247 0.214 0.354 0.435 99
Jesus Montero 582 6% 19% 0.146 0.302 0.269 0.311 0.415 98
Shawn Green 445 5% 17% 0.203 0.295 0.268 0.306 0.471 95
Jay Bruce 839 9% 22% 0.220 0.261 0.240 0.309 0.460 94
Delmon Young 1,435 4% 18% 0.121 0.341 0.292 0.326 0.413 94
Vernon Wells 197 5% 17% 0.102 0.336 0.285 0.320 0.387 84
Aramis Ramirez 613 6% 19% 0.125 0.279 0.239 0.290 0.364 65
Andy Marte 244 8% 21% 0.163 0.240 0.204 0.270 0.367 61
Paul Konerko 247 7% 17% 0.112 0.230 0.214 0.275 0.326 60
Karim Garcia 421 6% 23% 0.142 0.252 0.211 0.254 0.354 51

The Alex Rodriguez/Miguel Cabrera comparisons were always a little ridiculous, but this illustrates just how far Montero is from those levels. Those guys were already elite sluggers at this point in their career, two of the best hitters in baseball with significant established track records. Of course, not being Rodriguez or Cabrera doesn’t mean there’s no hope, as there were plenty of other guys who weren’t yet what they would become at this same age.

However, note Montero’s placement on the list, especially in the three core skills categories – 17th in walk rate, 13th in strikeout rate, 18th in isolated slugging. While his overall performance relative to league average is basically a tie with Carlos Delgado, Delgado had already shown plate discipline and power, and simply needed to get his strikeouts under control and wait for his BABIP to normalize. Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t a great hitter at 22, but he had the best strikeout rate of anyone on the list and hit for decent power, which is of course the combination that made him so great once he took off. Jay Bruce was basically the same as Delgado, showing significant power but needing refinement in his approach.

Montero hasn’t really set himself apart in any of these areas, so in that way, he’s hanging out with guys like Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez, Paul Konerko, Karim Garcia, and Delmon Young. And, if that’s the kind of career path Montero is on, the Mariners simply can’t count on him taking a huge step forward next year. Aramis Ramirez had a good year at 23, but then regressed back to average-ish the next few years and didn’t establish himself as a consistent offensive threat until age-26. Beltre muddled around until age-25, when he went nuts in his final year with the Dodgers, the kind of production he’s only gotten close to again in his 31-33 seasons. Konerko took a nice step forward at 23 and became a productive player, but didn’t post his first season over +2.5 WAR until age-29. And of course, Young has never turned into anything useful and Garcia was a total bust.

We can talk about the huge years that guys like Vladimir Guerrero, Prince Fielder, and Manny Ramirez had at 23 after being fairly pedestrian the year before, but we have to acknowledge that each of them had shown more offensive promise in the big leagues prior to their breakout season than Montero has to date. Right now, Montero looks a lot more like the guys who took their time developing, and eventually became good hitters in their mid-20s.

The Mariners don’t have several years to wait for Montero to turn into a good hitter, especially not as a first baseman. This is a team that needs production at first base sooner than later, and it’s not clear that Montero is going to hit well enough next year to be a real asset at first base. So, instead of going through another year of growing pains while he transitions to a new position and tries to figure out how to lay off the slider breaking off the outside of the plate, maybe the organization is better off trading him to a team that can afford to be a little more patient and might still see him as a catcher.

While he hasn’t been good behind the plate, he has caught 52 games in the Majors this year without the entire pitching staff falling apart, so it’s certainly possible that another team has upgraded their evaluation of him as a Mike Napoli/Carlos Santana type of catcher, and would be willing to continue to let him develop behind the plate in the hopes of getting a premium bat at a position where those aren’t very common. A team that might be willing to be a little more patient with Montero, accepting the fact that they might need to wait a couple more years for him to turn into the kind of player that he was hyped up to be while in the minors. A team that doesn’t already have an above average big league catcher and probably the best catching prospect in baseball knocking on the door, as the Mariners do.

Maybe a team like the Pirates, the Marlins, the Cubs, or the Mets would want to continue the Montero-as-catcher experiment, and pay for the right to be the one to try and reap the rewards if he sticks behind the plate. Maybe they wouldn’t — I’m totally speculating here — but it only takes one or two teams to think that catcher defense is overrated or that Montero was better than advertised to generate an interesting offer for Jack to consider.

If Montero could net you a package of players that included a young-ish first baseman like Logan Morrison or Ike Davis (and some other stuff, as he clearly has more trade value than either), perhaps the Mariners could use Montero to fill their biggest organizational need without actually using Montero though, and come out with some other useful piece as well. Or, maybe you use Montero to get a player from another team that the Diamondbacks covet and ship that guy to Arizona for Justin Upton. Obviously, without talking to other teams and figuring out if any of them would want to pay for Montero-as-a-catcher, this is all just wild speculation.

But it’s probably the worth making a few phone calls and gauging interest. They obviously don’t have to trade him, as he gives them a first base option for both next year and the future, but my long standing issue with Montero is that the bat doesn’t look special to me as a first baseman, and now the reality of the talent in Seattle is that he has no future as catcher here. But, maybe some other team thinks he still has a future as a catcher, and sees him as a premium young position player in a market where there aren’t very many of those available.

For the Mariners, he’s just a first baseman going forward, and it’s not obvious that the bat is going to make him a good first baseman any time soon. They shouldn’t be anywhere close to giving up on him, but exploring his trade value this winter to see if they can get a comparable young first baseman and some other stuff in return while he still might be viewed as a catcher seems like research worth doing. If everyone else just sees him as a first baseman too, then you just keep him and hope he has a big year in 2013. If someone sees him as a guy who is still worth keeping behind the plate for a while longer, though, then Montero may very well have more value to someone else than he does to the Mariners. And perhaps he’s the chip that gets them the good young hitter that they desperately need.


49 Responses to “Another Possible Option for Jesus Montero”

  1. low on September 20th, 2012 7:27 pm

    Personally I’d be thrilled to see Montero traded for Ike Davis.

  2. tmac9311 on September 20th, 2012 7:35 pm

    the idea of montero being the main chip for justin upton never crossed my mind, but it is definitely the best thing Jesus can do for us next year. GMZ would be stupid not to aggressively shop him, worst case scenario is he stays on the team as the starting first baseman. Seems like a no lose situation.

  3. sexymarinersfan on September 20th, 2012 7:57 pm

    Unless he can’t play 1B that is.

    I’m all for giving Montero the go ahead to try and convert him. I’ve often thought about the possibility of trading him but instantly dismissed the notions because he’s a cost controlled power bat. However if we COULD use him in a trade package for something greater and possibly a big young corner INF, then I’d be all for it.

  4. ThePopeofChilitown on September 20th, 2012 7:58 pm

    Very fair assessment, and certainly outside the box. I think, perhaps, that’s a bit more ambitious than the front office may consider. Wouldn’t a Lucas Duda for…let’s say…one of the young, cost controlled relievers be more reasonable? Would a Kinney, Furbush, or Capps get that done? The Mets sure need bullpen help, and Duda would be an adequate DH or first baseman.

  5. Westside guy on September 20th, 2012 8:11 pm

    Maybe… oh, I don’t know… a team like the Yankees might be willing to trade straight across for one of their higher-ranked prospects – maybe one with a high ceiling but who looked like they were underperforming, or maybe a guy coming off an injury?

    I’ve had my eyes on their pitching prospect Piñiero for some time now. I think he could be a good fit with the Mariners organization.

  6. thurston24 on September 20th, 2012 8:28 pm

    Sorry, but I just disagree with this idea. Montero caught this year, which according to almost all people who have played makes it more difficult to hit than normal. Then, Safeco has been a bear this year, which can’t help a developing hitter. I know he hasn’t hit very well but I’d move the fences in a little at Safeco next year and see what happens. He has diminished value from his season this year and would not fetch that much of a return. The reports on Montero coming through the minors all raved about his ability to slug. Give him a chance to do so without catching.

  7. Snake Hippo on September 20th, 2012 8:32 pm

    I don’t disagree with the premise outright, but failing to mention the weirdness of Safeco’s offensive environment this season is a big omission ( Yes, wRC+ is park-adjusted, but that uses multiple-year park factors which don’t capture what has been going on this season. Montero’s road wRC+ this year is 117, which, if you believe that is closer to his true talent level, wildly alters the statistical argument. I think it’s hasty to give up on Montero’s bat based on less than a full season in the major leagues, almost half of which took place in the most offensive-suppressing park ever.

  8. _Hutch_ on September 20th, 2012 8:39 pm

    Was wondering how long it would be until you mentioned Ike Davis. If the Mets really are shopping him he’d have to be at the top of Z’s wishlist. This is just dreaming, but if Montero can really play a passable first (I’m still skeptical) – a Davis/Montero platoon at first could be pretty monster.

    Call me old fashioned, but I’m still hopeful that a little bit of plate discipline and selectivity will go a long way in Montero’s case. You’re right about the Cabrera comparison being silly, but I’m not going to lose any sleep if the dude turns out to be Adrian Beltre without the glove.

  9. Thirteen on September 20th, 2012 9:27 pm

    Dave–I’ve tried to suggest this before, mostly just out of curiosity to see if my understanding of the statistics is correct, and my suggestion was mostly pertinent to Seager, but it applies to Jesus too: isn’t looking at the 2012 single-season wRC+ of Montero misleading? Since Safeco’s park effects this year have hurt offense much more than usual, doesn’t the wRC+ multi-year park factor under adjust, thus undervaluing his bat? I mean, he’s still not a Cabrera comp, but it could put him up there with Chavvy. I’m also not sure you want to trade Montero until you’re more assured that Zunino can really hit.

    The Ike Davis idea is interesting, though… What if the Mariners got him for a pitcher instead of for Montero and then did a four-to-make-three? Montero, Jaso, Zunino and Davis for 1B, C and DH, bench whoever has the worst platoon split against the handedness of the pitcher you’re facing?

  10. msfanmike on September 20th, 2012 9:42 pm

    I like the idea of keeping him for at least one more year, moreso than trading him. Unless the organization flat-out believes he cannot handle 1B adequately, I don’t think they should seriously consider trading him. He is too young with too much potential for improvement. A RH first baseman – with power – who could cover the C position in a pinch, would be a valuable commodity.

    I understand the reasons for the team to potentially consider it and the concept and logic behind the thought process is solid (it never hurts to see what’s out there) but in aggregate, I think there are too many potential positives to Montero’s future development. I would like to see him in a Mariner uniform for another year and then re-evaluate. He has hit very well against LHP’s and he will improve as a hitter vs RHP’s. I hear that his mental makeup and focus may be a concern (but those could just be Wedge-isms).

  11. bavasiisgarbage on September 20th, 2012 10:10 pm

    Always should be listening to offers on anyone…but we shouldn’t trade Montero unless we get a stud in return (Allen Craig?) no a project stud like Davis.

  12. ck on September 20th, 2012 10:27 pm

    Mariner’s must improve at First Base, acquire via trade or free agency the best corner outfielder they can get, and improve at DH.
    But; However;
    Maybe; I would like to see Smoak and Montero have one final shot at becoming solid offensive players as Mariners, rather than seeing more former Mariner’s make All-Star teams two years affter leaving Seattle

  13. Dave on September 20th, 2012 10:37 pm

    There’s a reason why every decent park adjusted metric relies on a multi-year park factor rather than a single year version – there’s simply too much noise in one year park factors. We simply don’t have enough information to say that the bigger-than-usual home/road splits this year were entirely the environment and not a product of the players performance. Simply discarding data from Safeco in order to make all these hitters look better is not a good way to handle park adjustments. The fact that half of their performances were outright terrible still counts, and simply looking at road data or relying on a one year park factor will lead you down the wrong path more often than not.

    As for the “one more year” argument, what do you do if you play him at first base for 2013 and he doesn’t get any better? Now you’re selling even lower, and trying to convince teams that he’s not Delmon Young 2.0.

    Keep in mind, in Jose Lopez’s age 22 season, he hit .282/.319/.405, good for the exact same 89 wRC+ that Montero has right now, and with basically the same offensive profile. The idea that these guys always get better with age simply isn’t true. If you go into 2013 with Montero as your first baseman and he’s bad again, you’ve essentially punted next year and you’ve nuked his trade value, because now he’s now no one else will look at him as a catcher and the bat will be a question mark.

    Trading a guy with this kind of offensive upside is risky, no doubt. But let’s not pretend that keeping him doesn’t come with its own set of significant risks.

  14. just a fan on September 20th, 2012 10:44 pm

    I *HATE* the idea of trading Montero for Logan Morrison-plus, or Ike Davis-plus. What’s the plus? A utility infielder? A reliever? Another Blake Beavan?

    The M’s have some solid position players, they need to be in search of an All-Star type player. The Mariners need to be the ones sending Three to get One. If Montero gets traded, it should be Montero-plus for somebody like Justin Upton (the MVP version, not the Chase Field Star version).

  15. Dave on September 20th, 2012 10:47 pm

    You’re assuming that Montero-as-1B is an All-Star type player. Go look at the first three to four years from these guys that hit like Montero. They’re not very good, especially for an unathletic goof who can’t run and figures to be well below average defensively at first.

  16. just a fan on September 20th, 2012 11:05 pm

    I’m not saying you don’t have a point about the trading Montero thing, I just don’t see what you get as a “plus” in the Morrison/Davis type deals other than a utility guy, 4th OF or reliever, which we already have in abundance with the latter two.

    If Montero gets traded, he can’t have the highest trade value in the deal.

    And I’m not discounting the Safeco effect this year so easily. We had a cold spring, remember? 😉

  17. Jordan on September 20th, 2012 11:12 pm

    Montero is a DH long-term and doesn’t profile as even passable at first. Davis is left-handed, not inept defensively and doesn’t waddle when he runs. Remove the way Davis started the year and he had a very good year. If Z and co. can convince the Mets that Montero is a catcher than you have to make this deal and cross your fingers he doesn’t become Smoak 2.0 or any of the other failed trades.

    None of this matters though because we all know Z will make a wild 3 team trade in which we end up with Upton, Eaton and Davis.

  18. Snuffy on September 20th, 2012 11:16 pm

    Stat line road & home
    H .218 .260 .333 .593
    R .305 .337 .453 .790

    He can’t run. He’s a free swinger who doesn’t walk much. I doubt he will ever be very good defensively at 1b and Wedge is not willing to try much of anything new. I do think he can hit and he has shown he can hit LHP quite well.
    For his sake I’d like to see him catch for the Cubs and DH in inter-league games. SAFECO kills him. There is zero chance the Cubs would move Rizzo.
    To the Mets for Ike Davis may be a possibility but Davis is a late night party guy… and it supposedly has affected his play.

  19. OutsidePerspective on September 20th, 2012 11:21 pm

    More than just being a 22 year old, Montero is a rookie. Comparing him to Alex Rodriguez who was in his 4th season at age 22 seems a bit off base. A rookie who hits .260 with 15 hrs and 60 RBI looks like a very promising player to me. A rookie with similar stats right now? Bryce Harper. A .260 average with slightly larger power numbers. The idea of trading Montero away because he didnt come in and hit .320 with 30 HRS is not the best move in the long term. Ike Davis wont do jack-you know what- in Seattle. He’s older and has a lower ceiling. Upton? Can he absolutely, 100% come in and put up better numbers than Montero? Morrison? Now it sounds like we all just want to trade him for the sake of trading him. Give the big kid another year. Sure, move him to first. But shipping him this off season just doesnt make sense.

  20. _Hutch_ on September 20th, 2012 11:32 pm

    One random anonymous Mets source does not a career-killer make.

  21. The_Waco_Kid on September 20th, 2012 11:37 pm

    Interesting. I never thought of this. Tough call. You worry if we keep him he’s Jose Lopez, if we trade him, he’s Adam Jones. Can’t argue with “exploring his trade value.” He’s certainly not untouchable. When you trade someone, it has to be someone who you’re not heartbroken to lose, but who still has value, someone who may have more value to a different team. Montero seems like as good a candidate as any we have.

    Also, how about Jaso’s trade value? We could get a good player in exchange that Wedge would actually use.

  22. Klatz on September 21st, 2012 12:06 am

    For the me the biggest problem is trying to compare pretty different sample sizes. Some players had been playing for several seasons while Montero one season’s worth.

    I’m not sure that sort of comparison, matched just on age, is that effective a predictive. What’s the correlation? How good a predictor is the age 22 season? Versus say comparing the first 500 PAs?

  23. Thirteen on September 21st, 2012 12:13 am

    There’s a reason why every decent park adjusted metric relies on a multi-year park factor rather than a single year version – there’s simply too much noise in one year park factors. We simply don’t have enough information to say that the bigger-than-usual home/road splits this year were entirely the environment and not a product of the players performance. Simply discarding data from Safeco in order to make all these hitters look better is not a good way to handle park adjustments. The fact that half of their performances were outright terrible still counts, and simply looking at road data or relying on a one year park factor will lead you down the wrong path more often than not.

    Does it really take more than 5000 PA to establish a decently reliable park factor? I mean, I understand why you’d always want to trust the bigger sample, but I have more difficulty accepting that this is just random variation than that this is caused by inclement weather or something else at the field. It just seems too weirdly coincidental to be true that both the Mariners and their opponents have somehow sustained .260 BABIPs over 2700 plate appearances each inside Safeco (despite their .290 figures outside it). I’ve never even heard of a BABIP drought lasting that long. And that the Mariners and their opponents would both hit the same BABIP skids, at the same time? It just seems too perfect to be coincidence.

    I guess it’s not important that we know which is which, just that the Mariners’ front office does. If it’s really random variation, and they don’t do enough to upgrade the offense because they think it’ll bounce back, the Mariners are screwed. On the other hand, if it’s really the park, and they trade the current crop for a bunch of new guys, they might waste this talent crop. Theoretically they should know better than us: since they have HIT F/X data, they should be able to tell if the initial batted ball trajectories the hitters are producing are equivalent at home and on the road, and if they are, it’s probably the park. But if they get it wrong, they’re screwed, and therein lies the risk of trading Montero (or, alternately, the risk of not trading him…).

    I’m still sort of lukewarm on this idea, because while Zunino’s numbers are incredible there’s still a whole lot that could go wrong considering how (relatively) small of a sample size he’s played, but I can definitely see the arguments both for and against. Frankly I think the Mariners have enough cash and enough trade chips to fill their three significant holes in the offseason without dealing Montero, but they could decide that whatever minor league stud is likelier to play a valuable role than Montero and deal him while he’s still really valuable. It’s an interesting idea.

  24. MoreMariners on September 21st, 2012 12:17 am

    You’re missing the most important thing about this piece. With Zunino not starting the season with the club and Wedge not willing to give Jaso ABs against lefties, the Mariners will pick up Olivo’s option.

  25. lesch2k on September 21st, 2012 5:58 am

    How much trade value does Jaso have? could Jaso and Montero combine for a premium outfielder / 1B and a fill in the gap catcher.

  26. NRFully on September 21st, 2012 9:56 am

    Are you nuts? Trading Jesus? No. He’s an important part of rebuilding this whole shipwreck of the long rebuilding process. We just got him last year and is one of the only key offensive threats in our current lineup. You build around guys like this. He’s gonna be a star. This team has a bad reputation for trading away talent and it’s beyond frustrating for fans and this would continue to make this rebuilding a dark time. I usually agree with you Dave but NO!

  27. Ms4Life on September 21st, 2012 10:05 am

    Finally…FINALLY we have a couple people who can pass defensively as a catcher and hit above replacement level and everyone wants to trade them because we have a catcher who’s hitting good in AA.

    I see where Dave is coming from. And I’m all for exploring the option. But i’d personally love to have Montero, Jaso, and Zunnino next season.

    Perhaps, Jaso or Zunnino can transition to playing 1st part time. Then we just use all three of them between 1st/C/DH. I love the depth and I’m not willing to let Montero (cost controlled/top prospect his whole career)go unless I’m blown away.

    If in the end he’s Jose Lopez then so be it. In regards to trading him… I don’t think the risk is worth the reward.

  28. HighBrie on September 21st, 2012 10:08 am

    I appreciate the accretion of detail you built to suggest that Montero’s statistical profile does not necessarily foretell greatness. And you do say “We don’t have to give him away,”so you were reasonable in every way. My feeling is that a) we can’t get fair value in return and b) the reasons we traded Pineda away in the first place have not changed. Really good right handed power is rare. Montero is going to be a good hitter, and he has power. We don’t have anything equivalent to him, and there aren’t a lot of 22 year old hitters that you can point to and say “we can easily get a fair return for Jesus in this player”. And that’s the thing: we need a good hitter, with power, and a good right handed hitter to balance whatever abundance of left handed hitting we have. What available hitter has as much promise as our flawed Jesus?

  29. NRFully on September 21st, 2012 10:12 am

    My point is it’s way to early to make that bold of a decision like that. Give him at least 1 more year to figure that out. He deserves that much, he’s one of the more productive offensive players in the lineup. If you give up on someone, give up on Smoak. I say have Montero DH/C/1B. We haven’t even seen him at 1B yet, so you can’t say how he’ll perform there until you’ve seen him there.

  30. Mariners35 on September 21st, 2012 10:21 am

    They’re really done evaluating Montero’s effectiveness as a catcher after 52 games, 198 ABs there? Ok.

    And beyond that, Zunino needs another half season to season in the minors. And unless Wedge grows his facial hair out and someone sneaks chloroform into his mustache wax, Jaso will never see a left-handed pitcher. Do you really want Olivo’s option picked up? Does the organization want to spend money on a placeholder catcher with Olivo-like qualities while trading away a cost-controlled option who barely had 200 PAs as a catcher?

    We don’t know enough about catcher defense to quantify what he’s done as a catcher, and even if we did, he hasn’t been catching fulltime, or enough this season, to have a meaningful sample.

    Yes, the risk is that any trade value he might have had erodes. But setting us up for another catcher-go-round – because despite the projections and profiling, Zunino still has only gotten as high as AA, barely – is just not worth it.

    Split the catching duties fulltime between Jaso and Montero next year, get another 200 PAs under his belt, and then see if he’s worth more in another capacity. There’s enough depth elsewhere in the system, at last, to be able to shore up 1b/OF with quality without requiring Montero as a trade chit.

  31. bfgboy on September 21st, 2012 10:30 am

    If we were going to break up “the core,” wouldn’t it make more sense to move Ackley? We have a very serviceable second base candidate on the big club right now in Seager, and a number of pieces in the pipeline that may have just as much of a shot at decent numbers up the middle.

    I am not by any stretch, a numbers guy, but I would be curious to see which player’s potential fits more into future needs of this club.

  32. Steve Nelson on September 21st, 2012 10:32 am

    It would not surprise me one bit if they addressed the situation by trading Jaso. Wedge in the past has compared Montero to Victor Martinez, who was 24 in his rookie season.

    If that’s the thinking, then in their mind Montero has two more years to hone his catching skills, and if his bat develops as expected, the Mariners have themselves a Victor Martinez.

    In the meantime, if Wedge thinks Jaso is so poor against left-handed pitching that he can’t be allowed to take a single swing against a left-handed pitcher, the Mariners should be able to get more value from Jaso in trade than they would get from him in the lineup.

  33. Ms4Life on September 21st, 2012 10:39 am

    we straight stole Jaso. He’s 28. Give him a multi-year deal before someone realizes how valuable he is and steals him away. All this talk about throwing someone at 1st base. Jaso is the guy i’d audition there.

    Side Note: I don’t think the M’s have any intention of giving up on Smoak just yet. And I’m with them. I still think the guy hasn’t figured it out. Nothing about his career to this point adds up.

  34. 9inningknowitall on September 21st, 2012 10:40 am

    I am okay with the Mariners considering offers for any and all players on the roster. Although I believe a player like Felix should only be traded if a team offers the moon and some, other players are only untouchable if the trade doesn’t make the team better.

    Trading Montero doesn’t bother me if the return is a benefit to the club overall. Although I would like to see him stay longer with the team and see how he develops that doesn’t make him untouchable.

    Truthfully I would rather bring in a strong 3rd baseman and move Seager to 2nd and use Ackley as trade bait. Heck I’d REALLLY like Ackley and Montero for Upton. Upton in the outfield with Guti and Saunders would be fun.

  35. goat on September 21st, 2012 11:12 am

    I think I’d rather have them trade Zunino than Montero. Adam Moore hit good in AA, too. We saw what happened when they rushed him to the majors. Of course they’d have to wait until they had him under team control for a full year.
    I still think it’s best to continue with Montero as a catcher. And I think he’s better than his overall line shows at the end of the year.

  36. murphy_dog on September 21st, 2012 11:13 am

    My oh my, Dave started a Rosterbation thread!!!

    Let’s move Ackley to CF, where he played in college, Seager to 2B. It’s time to stop holding a place for Guti.

  37. _Hutch_ on September 21st, 2012 12:01 pm

    Why in God’s name do people think trading a 24-year-old top draft pick who just got off a .640 OPS sophomore season is a good idea? Anybody heard of “buy low/sell high?”

  38. ripperlv on September 21st, 2012 12:07 pm

    Welcome to Safeco Field kid.

    Almost all key Mariner hitters have been hit hard – John Olerud, Mike Cameron, and Alex Rodriguez were hit the hardest, losing power and average. In the second half of 1999, after the switch to the new ballpark, Ken Griffey, Jr., hit .255 with 19 HR, down from .304 with 29 HR in the first half. Alex Rodriguez saw his batting average drop from .316 to .261, and saw his slugging percentage drop 93 points, from the first half of 1999 second half.

    …….and the story goes…….and the story continues.

    While Montero’s splits don’t show he’s a super star, his away stats are noticably an improvement.
    I’m sure a smart GM at a hitters park would love to take Montero off our hands.

  39. stevemotivateir on September 21st, 2012 1:22 pm


    Nice cut & paste job from

    Probably a good idea to give credit to the source next time.

  40. sexymarinersfan on September 21st, 2012 1:56 pm

    Olivo and Montero both have -0.1 WARs right now. Obviously most of us believe that Jesus is going to develop while Olivo could be on his way out.

    Chris Iannetta could be a free agent this offseason. He’s right handed and is posting a 1.1 WAR as of right now. I wouldn’t mind us making him an offer if he were available.

  41. Badbadger on September 21st, 2012 2:38 pm

    Not too crazy about this idea. Even if Montero can’t play first we still need a DH. Let him play there-I don’t see how his skill set fits another team better. I guess it depends on whether or not you think he’s going to develop into a good hitter. If he does, trading him now would probably be selling low.

    I really don’t like trading him for a lesser player “and stuff.” Our whole team is lousy with “stuff.” We have a good bullpen, we have a fourth outfielder (Casper), utility infielders aren’t that hard to get. If they’re going to trade Montero it should be Montero and stuff for a better player.

  42. SonOfZavaras on September 21st, 2012 3:11 pm

    Briefly, goat…Zunino cannot be traded until August 2013. Less than a year in the org.

    Montero for Ike Davis. Make it happen.

  43. TheMightyMariner on September 21st, 2012 3:18 pm

    I think we should hang on to Jesus unless we get a good return in a need position. He can be the relief catcher/DH.

    We need an upgrade at 1B and OF. I still hope Smoak does something to turn it around. Ackley is becoming a concern and the OF does not have a great all around regular.

    Monetero is still developing so who knows. I would like to see us get a better option at 1B and a good OF player. Also maybe Ackley back out in RF could help his mental game cuz he is not doing well at 2B (offence).

  44. thurston24 on September 21st, 2012 7:51 pm

    I understand that park factors are multi year to avoid sample size swings but if we are using Montero’s stats for player comps it makes sense to remember Dave’s post about how Safeco has been crazy suppressive this year. Otherwise, it would be like failing to account for regression in an analysis. Given all of the variables with the catching, Safeco Field, and newness to the league I really think that you can’t utilize stats with player comps to foretell his development this year. He may end up not being a good player (i.e. Delmon Young version two) but I think you need another year for proper evaluation. As Dave mentioned, you run the risk of depressing his value but you have to take risks for high potential talent and every scout listed Montero with a very high ceiling coming up.

  45. 300ZXNA on September 21st, 2012 9:25 pm

    While it appears that Monetero is blocked here due to Jaso/Zunino, the analysis of his catching defense seems to indicate that he is passable. Why is it assumed that his defensive ability at first would be sufficient?

    What are the odds that his defensive performance at first might leave him less valuable than his defensive performance behind the plate?

    While he doesn’t have the typical catcher body type, with how slow he runs/moves I wonder if his lateral quickness would be sufficient for even 1b . . .

  46. jr on September 22nd, 2012 12:30 am

    I’m open to the idea of trading Montero but…Ike Davis? Really? Is there something I am missing from his 224/300/441 slash line that indicates he’s all that great? Or 0.9 WAR? Not sure why people are so stoked on him. Please enlighten me on why he wouldn’t just be another bust.

  47. sexymarinersfan on September 22nd, 2012 2:21 am

    Agreed. I don’t see the fair value in return from Montero. You might as well offer Smoak too.

    I bet Je?us has a better year next season.

  48. djw on September 22nd, 2012 8:51 am

    Adam Moore hit good in AA, too. We saw what happened when they rushed him to the majors.

    goat, with all due respect, what on earth are you talking about? Do you consider 5.5 years in the minors “rushed to the majors”?

    Adam Moore was a minor prospect who turned out to be a bust. There’s no comparison between him and Zunino.

  49. Rainiers_fan on September 22nd, 2012 1:49 pm

    I think what Dave suggested is an option, nothing more. He didn’t mean rush into a trade.

    Part of what makes a good organization successful is selecting the right player and another part is developing said player. Another piece is evaluating which ones will contribute and which ones won’t. If I was to point to a flaw in this organization it would be that last part. Every team has a story of the one who got away but ours seems to span several volumes. We can all recite the list of good players we lost in ill adivised trades and others we kept far longer than we should have. There is a point of no return indicating when it’s time to cut bait on a player. Figgins and Olivo are past that point and Montero hasn’t reached it, IMO. It is way too early to give up on Montero unless someone else really wants him and is willing to pay.

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