Jesus Montero Is In The Best Shape Of Brett Wallace’s Life

Jeff Sullivan · February 12, 2014 at 6:44 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I want to give Jesus Montero the benefit of the doubt. I’m usually inclined to give the benefit of the doubt — life tends to be complex, and people tend to have reasons for doing the things that they do. Maybe Montero didn’t quite understand the question. Maybe Montero gave more of an answer, that wasn’t included in the post. Maybe Montero still isn’t entirely comfortable with and confident in his English. Maybe there are legitimate reasons for this, but I can’t get over how poorly this reads:

“I gained a lot of weight in my country,” [Montero] admitted. “So, now, I’m on a program to lose weight. I’m working really hard to get my weight back. I wasn’t doing nothing (after finishing winter ball), just eating.”

Last year, Jesus Montero got hurt. He also got moved away from a premium defensive position, and he struggled to perform, and while he was in the minors he got suspended for a PED violation committed earlier on. Montero’s value has disintegrated into near-nothingness, and given a player like that, still young, you’d think the player would do everything possible to show up to camp ready to impress. Yet after winter ball, Montero says he was “just eating”. Not even eating responsibly. Eating sufficiently irresponsibly that now the Mariners have put him on a diet to get him down to a reasonable playing weight. So that he can be at a reasonable playing weight in Tacoma, since he’s sure as shoot not making the big club.

This offseason, Jesus Montero got pudgy. Last offseason, Jesus Montero had to try to learn how to run. The Mariners have had Jesus Montero for two full offseason, and each of them has been differently embarrassing.

Not that this seals any deals, of course; last spring, Nick Franklin showed up weirdly fat after eating nothing but like Olive Garden baked butter pasta several times a day for a few months. The Mariners were horrified and worked to get Franklin back into shape, and he wound up good enough to bump Dustin Ackley to the outfield. But at least Franklin’s heart was in the right place, and he thought he was working to get himself better. I don’t know what Montero was doing or thinking, but if it was more than just lazily eating, he might consider a more extended explanation.

Two years ago, Jesus Montero was Baseball America’s No. 6 prospect. Two years ago. He was the kind of prospect you could flip for a Michael Pineda. If he were that prospect today, he’d be the kind of prospect you could use as a centerpiece to land Giancarlo Stanton. Instead, Montero today is the kind of prospect you could exchange for Mike Stanton, the other Mike Stanton, maybe, perhaps as long as you threw in some cash. He’s so without value the Mariners have nothing to do but try to allow him to rebuild some value. Montero is a month younger than Brad Miller.

From the most optimistic perspective, Montero puts the Mariners and Mariners fans in an interesting position where everyone’s given up on him, but he might still re-establish himself. The talent has to be in there somewhere, and who knows, maybe Montero actually comes out and hits like the player he was supposed to become. Nobody thinks he’ll do anything — everyone’s already accepted that he’s currently garbage — so at this point he’s pure upside. He achieved his maximum downside so quickly there’s still time and room for improvement.

It reminds me of a story from when I was younger. I’ve loved watermelon all my life, but perhaps never more than I did when I was nine. My grandparents grew a lot of fruit in their backyard, and I thought, why not me? There’s plenty of space and every watermelon has seeds in it. So one day I had some watermelon, and I collected the black seeds, and then I went out back and buried some of them under a few piles of dirt. I wasn’t sure entirely what I was doing, but that’s how you plant plants, right? You put their seeds in the ground? I covered them up and for the next few weeks I made sure the area was steadily watered. I couldn’t wait to have my very own watermelon plant.

I’d planted seeds before, so I had some understanding of what you’re supposed to observe, when things are going well. In time, I grew frustrated that I wasn’t seeing any sprouts. The seeds weren’t doing anything. Maybe I’d done something wrong. Maybe there was something wrong with the seeds. Maybe it was just bad luck. But before too much longer I gave up and stopped watering that part of the yard. It was worth an attempt, but despite all my excitement, it wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t going to live my dream.

I continued to do whatever nine-year-olds do for a while. I made stupid jokes that I thought were clever. I built Legos. My body expanded. I probably ate a lot of watermelon. There was school. I thought about the things that I thought were important to life, and then one day I went out back with my brother to start making a little mini-golf green. We’d recently come into some golf clubs, see, and everybody enjoys a round of mini-golf. We figured out where the hole was going to go, then I glanced over at where I’d planted the watermelon seeds so many months earlier. It’s not that I expected anything to be there — it was nothing but a casual glance. But something was different. I walked over, and, sure enough, there were green sprouts sticking out of the earth. Watermelon was growing. Watermelon was growing in my own backyard. I didn’t have a lot of big dreams as a kid, but this was among the biggest, and I was going to be able to live it.

Jesus Montero might well go on to become those watermelon plants. That’s currently the optimistic view. After we’ve all given up on him, Montero might still surprise and bear legitimate fruit. I should also note that story never happened. Not the end of it, at least, and growing plants is hard work. I sure did bury a lot of watermelon seeds, though. And my mom never hesitated to pick up another fresh watermelon from the grocery.

Comments

43 Responses to “Jesus Montero Is In The Best Shape Of Brett Wallace’s Life”

  1. ck on February 12th, 2014 7:05 pm

    Jesus Montero. Once upon a time, he was going to Tacoma to learn first base, and then push Smoak off the team, because Jesus was a right handed power hitter. Fast forward to today. Jesus is FAT. I realize Prince Fielder and David Ortiz are also fat, but they can hit major league pitching and stay healthy throughout a MLB season. Learned today that Iwakuma is hurt, and will miss a month. Do the M’s need a witch doctor or an exorcist?

  2. smb on February 12th, 2014 7:44 pm

    That story is a perfect microcosm of what it’s like to be an M’s fan…except for the ending. Except…for the ending. Sigh.

  3. TumwaterMike on February 12th, 2014 8:00 pm

    We as die hard Mariner fans will support this team no matter what. The day will come (look at the Seahawks) when everything falls their way and they’ll be champions. There will be dancing in the streets. They’ll be parades galore. We will celebrate for days. Just like Cub fans.

  4. Sports on a Shtick on February 12th, 2014 8:04 pm

    M’s gave away a pitcher who has gone on to screw up his shoulder and get a DUI — yet still loss the trade.

  5. Steve Nelson on February 12th, 2014 8:49 pm

    The story is a perfect microcosm, because if those watermelons had gone on to produce, the volunteer fruit they yielded wouldn’t have nearly as good. Your wonderful, sweet juicy watermelon was a carefully bred hybrid. But the fruit of the hybrid is inherently warped; it would have been smaller, more bitter, not as juicy, mealier. Totally disappointing.

    Seeing the sprouts you would have had been salivating over the goodness that was coming your way – like the watermelon that produced the seeds. But sooner or later the reality sinks in; it was all a doomed fantasy.

    So it is the perfect metaphor for Mariners fandom. Your watermelon is the Seahawks. Your sprouts are the Mariners. But, hey, at least we have the Hawks.

  6. henryv on February 12th, 2014 9:08 pm

    Because fucking Mariners.

  7. MrZDevotee on February 12th, 2014 9:23 pm

    Jeff-
    It wasn’t enough to have a hurt Iwakuma? Now, after writing this: “…since he’s sure as shoot not making the big club”… Now we have to await the news of a rollover 1 car accident full of broken bones and torn ligaments featuing Zunino, Buck, Sucre and Quintero, during a “catchers only” trip to a burrito shack.

    Thanks. Thanks a lot. (sigh)

    You know it’s gonna happen. Because… (take it Henry)… Yep.

  8. MrZDevotee on February 12th, 2014 9:26 pm

    Tumwater… You had me at… (looks again)…

    Wait WHAT? Cubs fans… That’s mean.

  9. bookbook on February 12th, 2014 9:38 pm

    We didn’t get the ending, quite. Did young Jeff ever get his home grown melon to eat? did it taste sweet? Watermelon is hard to grow in a backyard garden. Especially once the squirrels and slugs cotton to what you’re up to.

  10. Ron on February 12th, 2014 10:38 pm

    This metaphor really hits home. Watermelons make my ears and throat itch but I still eat them. Starting to get the same reaction every time I look to read some Mariners news.

  11. terry on February 12th, 2014 11:26 pm

    Fucking Eh, you like watermelon.

  12. LongDistance on February 13th, 2014 12:10 am

    I have a 90-year-old uncle who’s from Chicago originally and has been a Cubs fan all his life. Try–oh the humanity–to imagine that. Every once in a while he still gets me stuff. I’ve got several FITTED Cubs caps. He also very much likes watermelon and is one of those guys who puts salt on it to give it “more flavor”. For me, that’s the sign of a die-hard optimist. In any case, he’s a great guy.

    I think I’m going to begin wearing Cubs hats to Safeco.

  13. PackBob on February 13th, 2014 4:36 am

    And I thought last year that no baseball player could run slower and look worse doing it than Montero. A fat Montero could do that.

  14. maqman on February 13th, 2014 4:50 am

    Hey, sometimes life is the pits.

  15. Chris_From_Bothell on February 13th, 2014 6:29 am

    Montero showing up to camp fat sure does put a tragic spin on seeing him in the Wise Ol Buffalo commerical, eating a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

  16. Westside guy on February 13th, 2014 6:35 am

    Maybe he’d decided nothing else was working, so he’d try the Prince Fielder approach?

  17. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2014 8:22 am

    LongDistance has come up with the 2014 slogan:

    “Seattle Mariners: Better Taken With A Grain Of Salt”

  18. californiamariner on February 13th, 2014 8:23 am

    And now Taijuan has shoulder stiffness! At this rate, we won’t have a starting pitcher by March 1st.

  19. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2014 8:25 am

    This just in, Felix is being kept under glass until the regular season starts. Roped off, no one is allowed within 40 feet.

    Seriously. And Cano gets the little metal screen like BP pitchers get when he’s out playing 2nd base.

  20. Shawnuel on February 13th, 2014 8:35 am

    Slight correction. David Ortiz WAS fat. Current pictures tell a different story. He, Panda and CC must have worked out together this off-season.

  21. Longgeorge1 on February 13th, 2014 9:08 am

    The M’s will be the ONLY team not in 1st place on opening day

  22. Beniitec on February 13th, 2014 9:33 am

    Great post. But umm.. Brett Wallace?

  23. californiamariner on February 13th, 2014 10:42 am

    And now Franklin Gutierrez is officially out for 2014!! Can they somehow pull off a good trade for an outfielder? My goodness, this team is falling apart in February.

  24. californiamariner on February 13th, 2014 10:55 am

    Mariners baseball 2014: How much worse can it get? (right?)

  25. nickwest1976 on February 13th, 2014 10:56 am

    Mariners and Seahawks couldn’t be more polar opposites in almost every way than they are right now. Wow.

  26. stevemotivateir on February 13th, 2014 11:07 am

    Idea:

    Transform Montero into an outfielder. We get that right handed bat back in the lineup, he’s forced to run–leading to weight loss, and the M’s come away looking brilliant, having filled a hole with what appeared to be a bust. The first month or so would be a little difficult, but he should settle into comical quite nicely.

    And the fans win with this move as well. You thought watching Ibanez in the outfield was entertaining (and don’t kid yourselves–it was), wait til you get a load of Montero.

    After Mariners upper management catches wind of my suggestion, my hiring as a personal adviser to Jack should be cemented.

    Outfielder: Check!
    Right Handed Bat: Check!
    Potential Power W/O Guarantees: Check!
    Low cost: Check!

    Who needs Guti? Not us!!

  27. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2014 11:10 am

    Mariners baseball 2014: Careful What You Ask For California

    (they’re getting very specific with their slogans)

    And I thought you were KIDDING about Guty… Damn. Dave Niehaus is pissed at this team. I knew he had pull with the Baseball Gods but this is ridiculous. I guess we know where he sat on the “Fire Jack Z” fence.

  28. miscreant on February 13th, 2014 11:48 am

    I like that movie about Brett Wallace starring Mel Gibson FREEEEEEEDOM! What, wrong Wallace? Watermelons and fat former “prospects”. Hmmm. Is it lunchtime yet?

  29. LongDistance on February 13th, 2014 11:55 am

    Guti broke before we could even get him out of the box. I’m guessing several thousand people figured that was a possibility–minus the Mariners FO. But we were hoping. Which lead me to reflect on how, a few posts back, someone went deep rosterbation, but (and) managed to leave out The Broom. Everybody forgets WTFing-ehB. I’m thinking we not only should, but probably have to, rectify this. So … with no further ado:

    Hey, Willie Boy! This Is It! The is THE BROOM year! … I figure, jeez, you can go CF, 3B, 1B (everybody else is, so why not you, too?), and … why not try your hand at catching. I figure you couldn’t be worse than Fat Boy was, and that would free up Zunino to try out for OF (how much worse could we do?)

    Also, who says pitchers have to be pitchers? Why not ask to let them give you a shot? Don’t think small, it’s all wide open, starting, middle relief, closer. Maybe in one game you could play every position. We could sort of be a novelty club. Going with that, how’s Dustin’s beard doing? How ’bout they all grow them and they could revive themselves as a House of David team.

    In all fairness to The Broom, at the very least, his FUed signing, which is now sticking out like a sore thumb (oops) doesn’t have the stellar FUepness of the following rich … mostly Bavasi-esque … stew:
    RichieWTFSexsonMiguelWTFBatistaCarlosWTFSilva
    ScottWTFSpiezioRichWTFAuriliaChoneWTFingFFiggins
    PokeyWTdoubleFReeseKenjiWhyTFJohjima
    CarlWTOMGFEverettBradWTFWilkerson.

    Obviously, we could be worse off. It’s all relative.

  30. californiamariner on February 13th, 2014 11:57 am

    Haha Steve, that one had me laughing..

    This team currently has Saunders, Ackley, Almonte, and probably Hart/Morrison playing the outfield.. Joy

  31. Longgeorge1 on February 13th, 2014 12:08 pm

    Speechless!

  32. Westside guy on February 13th, 2014 12:41 pm

    Holy crap – poor Guti.

    If Zduriencik STILL thinks Cruz is what this outfield needs… well, actually, I guess at this my opinion of him wouldn’t change much at all. I bet he thinks exactly that.

  33. Swungonandbelted on February 13th, 2014 12:52 pm

    My only hope for the M’s is that somebody over there after the first couple of weeks of 10k attendance happens to watch the Seahawks parade on replay, and realizes once and for all that if you don’t suck, the fans will show up… and if this leads to them getting the baseball version of John Schneider to run the team, things might just turn around…..

  34. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2014 1:46 pm

    I’d put the odds of a sinkhole opening up in the middle of the Mariners/Padres Peoria Complex and swallowing 2/3rds of the team at about 50/50.

    Cross your fingers.

  35. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2014 2:00 pm

    We really ARE the Bad News Bears… A fat catcher constantly eating candy bars (Montero), a foul-mouthed SS with a serious Napolean Complex (Willie F’n Bloomquist), a hypochondriac outfielder named Lupus (Guty), a nearsighted pitcher (LOOK OUT, Kuma, the fence!!!!)… And a GM (manager) who makes a desperation attempt to right the team by adding the most talented kid in town when nobody gives him a chance (can Cano ride a motorcycle and blow bubbles with his chewing gum? Grow his hair out? The sideburns are kinda Kelly Leak’ish)…

    Felix is obviously the ubertalented pitcher that the entire team’s hopes hinge on (Amanda Bernandez?)…

    My obvious name change is now: MrButtermakerDevotee

  36. californiamariner on February 13th, 2014 2:17 pm

    Except the Bad News Bears made it to the championship game :(

  37. seattleslew on February 13th, 2014 2:20 pm

    What is wrong with Gutierrez? I don’t think I’ve read of an exact cause for his gut issues. Is it Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease?

  38. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2014 2:22 pm

    Oh… right. (sigh) But we can DREAM!!! Someday maybe the M’s can lose a championship on a close play at the plate– y’know, if the opposing pitcher gets pissed at his dad and holds onto the ball, to let us score 3 runs intentionally.

  39. msfanmike on February 13th, 2014 3:01 pm

    Hey, here’s some potentially good news:

    FEBRUARY 13: Talks between Cruz and Seattle are on hold, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. With disagreement over contract value persisting, the club may be turning its attention to other priorities, says Cotillo.

    In the meantime Mr.Z Devotee – we need you to remain as the perpetual farter of rainbows for overall site morale. The rest of us can handle the role of cynic.

  40. MrZDevotee on February 13th, 2014 4:12 pm

    I do indeed fart rainbows– I thought no one knew? And they smell like strawberries, if you can believe it. (I almost went “chocolate covered” but, no… Not even I can paint a pretty picture of that.)

    Signed,
    MrBDevotee

    (whenever we loose or get bad news I let my 6 year old into the beer cooler, in honor of Buttermaker! Obviously, my 6 year old has a serious drinking problem at this point.)

  41. stevemotivateir on February 13th, 2014 4:54 pm

    ^Strawberry Fields Forever!

  42. John W. on February 14th, 2014 7:36 am

    This was a heck of an article! I’m into the Mariners again! YEAH!

  43. Beav on February 15th, 2014 9:04 pm

    First off, I’m going to go buy a crap-load of watermelon and plant all the seeds. Luck maybe?

    My question is Nick Franklin and Jesus Montero were both not spoken to by staff members this offseason. Now at some point, a kids balls have to drop, but I don’t think you just leave these guys to the wind.

    Franklin has an opportunity with this club to play some outfield and provide an extra utility guy as well. But not even going over what to expect. That doesn’t seem too good for a guy like Franklin or Montero, I’d argue almost polar opposites.

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