May
11

Missing Montero

By

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

For the first time since January’s trade, the Yankees will get a look at Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariner tonight. The deal already looks like a disaster on New York’s end with Michael Pineda out of the season (torn labrum) and Jose Campos out indefinitely (elbow inflammation), but luckily for the Yankees, you can’t pass final judgment on a trade of this magnitude after four months. The early returns are horrible, however.

Montero has settled in as a middle of the order bat for Seattle. That has more to do with the state of the team than his actual production though, because a .268/.282/.420 batting line (.298 wOBA and 91 wRC+) is hardly deserving of a primo lineup spot. I am surprised Montero is off to such a relatively slow start but not entirely. I mean, he is only 22. We all knew a slow start was possible just because rookies tend to suck. Add in a pitcher-friendly home park and offensively incompetent teammates, and you have a recipe for a slow start. It happens and I’m sure he’ll be more than fine in the long run.

On a personal level, I’ve already accepted the trade and said my goodbyes to Montero. That sounds incredibly lame and cheesy, but it’s hard not to get attached to these guys as you follow their progress through the minors. Heck, here’s the DotF from his pro debut in 2007. We know when these kids sign, when they hit, when they struggle, when they do anything in the minors before reaching the big leagues these days. If you read RAB regularly, they become as much a part of the Yankees experience as Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia and Yankee Stadium. You get attached to them and when they get traded, it bums you out. It’s only natural.

Regardless of what they said publicly, the Yankees didn’t believe Montero was a big league catcher defensively. Actions speak louder than words and when Frankie Cervelli went down with a concussion last September, it was Austin Romine who took over behind the plate. That’s why he was traded. If he was a corner outfielder or something, chances are he’d still be in pinstripes. And that’s fine, when the pieces don’t fit you adjust. I thought Montero could be serviceable enough behind the plate in my completely amateur opinion, enough to catch 50-80 games a year for the next few seasons. He didn’t have to catch forever, but a few years back there seemed doable. The Yankees didn’t agree so they made the move.

Like everyone else, I have favorite players around baseball and Montero is one of them. I disliked the trade at the time and am pretty annoyed at how it’s played out so far, but at the end of the day I root for the laundry. I hope Montero does well this weekend (and going forward) but I hope the Yankees do even better. I miss Jesus and really wish he was the regular DH/backup catcher this year, but he’s not and that’s just the way it is. I enjoyed his short time in pinstripes but as usual, the players change. The Yankees are the constant and that’s where my allegiance lies.

Categories : Musings
  • V

    Trade pitching for hitting, not the other way around, IMO.

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      Then where do you get your pitching from?

      • Bavarian Yankee

        I just pull pitchers out of my magic hat.

        Or we just trade for Chris Davis and use him as a pitcher against the Red Sox XD

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          You must have tiny fingers. Wokka wokka.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    It’s on now.

    Let the floodgates open.

  • Opus

    For some reason, this jumped out at me from that DotF report:

    Eduardo Nunez: 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 E (both fielding) – he’s up to 26 errors in only 79 games

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      His name should be shortened to: “E. Nunez. ”

      Much more appropriate.

      • steve s

        Now Missing Nunez as well; just got sent down to minors; Chavez reinstated.

    • A.D.

      I also enjoyed the John Axford appearance

    • Neil T

      Yep I noticed that too, I came to RAB right after reading the ESPN blog post about Nunie getting sent down so it was right on my mind.

    • JCK

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • Brian

    He can field it, just can’t throw it. Imagine if he was a pitcher! He would be beaning everyone

  • Guest

    Well said. The only thing I would add is my Montero depression was pretty quickly alleviated by Pineda induced visions of playoff grandeur.

    I know a power hitting catcher is (should he be at least Posada/Piazza level serviceable behind the plate) is likely to be more valuable over the course of a season, but there’s something comforting about the idea of having two HUGE flamethrowers with great command who could absolutely shut down the opponent in a short series.

    That was why I was sad to see Montero go, but happy about the trade. Pitchers are risky business, however, so here we are.

    All of that said, I don’t care if Pineda and Campos never throw a pitch for the Yanks, I will still (1) think it was the right move AT THE TIME IT WAS MADE (Yanks took by far the bigger risk, but if not through that trade, where else were they going to find five years of cost-controlled ace potential pitching?) and (2) root for Montero to succeed.

    The laundry comes first, no doubt, but there’s absolutely no reason for me to root for a player who I grew attached to around when he could legally by cigarettes should be persona non-gratta just because he got traded. He’s still the same guy I rooted for when he was in the GCL, just now better at baseball.

    When he plays the Yanks, I hope he hits well and his team loses. Against everybody else, I will root for him without any reservation.

    • Bavarian Yankee

      I agree with everything you said. Well, not everything: I hope he strikes out 5 times every time he plays the Yankees ;)

  • DickM

    Cash got taken pure and simple.

    Pineda was arguably the best pitcher in AL in the first half of the year last year. There’s no way Seattle puts him on the block unless they know something’s not right with him.

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I just can’t take it anymore. If Jesus were the one who got hurt instead, Mariners fans would be saying the. same. fucking. thing.

      Montero’s gotta bad knee/elbow/wrist/whatthefuckever, Cashman knew about it and Jack Z. got fleeced, there’s no way Cashman trades a middle of the order bat if he doesn’t have super double top secret information about his health that he’s withholding from the world, waaaaahhhhhhh.

      And Yankees fans would be all dude, whatever, shit happens, nobody knew he was hurt, stop with the ridiculous revisionist history.

      Just stop with this shit. Post haste. It’s embarrassing.

      • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        And Yankees fans would be all dude, whatever, shit happens, nobody knew he was would get hurt, stop with the ridiculous revisionist history.

        • jsbrendog

          woo sah man, idiots like this won’t go away. ever.

      • DickM

        You didn’t address the premise …… which is why would you trade a guy who was just about the best pitcher in the league in the first half of the year (throwing 95 plus at age 22)?

        I think people forget how good Pineda was in the first half. He was pitching better than Felix.

        Do those types of pitchers normally get traded? Does it EVER happen?

        Then you factor in that he fell off substantially in the 2nd half and reported to spring training with a big velo drop. So yeah, Cash got taken.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “You didn’t address the premise …… which is why would you trade a guy who was just about the best pitcher in the league in the first half of the year (throwing 95 plus at age 22)?”

          Yes I did, by asking right back why you would trade a middle of the order 22 year old masher.

          It’s not because these guys were damaged goods. It was because the Yanks thought they were getting more value for their team, and the Mariners thought the same for themselves.

          • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            PS: This comment:

            http://riveraveblues.com/2012/.....nt-4243353

            … is totally fair game. This isn’t about extolling the virtues of the trade; you can totally argue with trading a young bat for a young arm. (Young arms are more risky, yadda yadda.) But there is zero evidence that the Mariners knew Pineda was hurt.

            Total lack of evidence aside, just for shits and giggles, imagine the reputational damage Jack Z. would have suffered if he pulled that shit. Nobody would ever deal with him again, he’d be cooked. These things have long-term ramifications, people don’t pull shit like that (and for good reason).

          • DickM

            A middle of the order 22 yr old masher? Montero hadn’t proven that. Pineda, when right, was throwing better than just about anybody in the league. I stand by my comments. You just don’t trade young pitching like that.

            • Jimmy McNulty

              For how many innings was Pineda right, though? Remember Joba? When he was starting he was better than anyone in the league…how’s that working out?

              • Havok9120

                Its not a valid comparison no matter how many times you make it. The circumstances are totally different.

                And Pineda was “right” for every start save his last. You’re correct that it isn’t a huge MLB track record, but its better than Monty’s. Hell, its STILL better than Monty’s, even after the injury.

                • Jimmy McNulty

                  What’s the difference? Pineda kicked ass as a starter for the first half and suffered in the second, the only difference is that his team let him take his lumps as a starter instead of panic and move hi back to the bullpen. I’m not saying he’ll be Joba’d but awesome young pitchers flame out.

        • Bo Knows

          The only drop off Pineda had was in ERA, he struck out more men, walked the same rate (not many), upped his groundball rate considerably in the second half.

          And to answer your question, yes those type of men get traded all the time examples from the past offseason being Gio Gonzalez, Matt Latos, and Trevor Cahill, who are all young top rotation guys who were moved.

          Prior to that plenty more top rotation type pitchers have been moved.

          • DickM

            Trevor Cahill?

            • JohnnyC

              The Trevor Cahill who won 18 games and had an ERA of 2.97 at the age of 22 in 2010.

              • DickM

                He had one good year. And they didn’t trade him after that one. They traded him after he had a 4 era.

                Trevor Cahill is not the kind of guy I’m talking about.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I don’t think so. Young pitchers are inherently risky, especially young flame throwers. If you don’t believe me just ask Joba Chamberlain. Acquiring a young flame thrower carries a level of risk that acquiring a young hitter like Montero doesn’t. There’s so many issues with Pineda: will he stay healthy (the biggest, and the answer is clearly no), will he fix his control, will he be able to keep his velocity, will the change up come along, will he give up too many fly balls for the park, etc. Not the guy that I’d trade Montero for.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Read the convo again. I specifically noted that you can argue with trading a young bat for a young arm because of risk issues, etc., and specifically took issue only with the assertion that the Mariners ‘must have known that Pineda was hurt.’

        • Havok9120

          He’s not arguing the trade itself. He’s arguing the idea that the Mariners “must have known something was wrong” for the trade to go through.

          And you’re helping make his point, so that’s nice.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    I don’t think it’s anything against Montero, it’s probably that a highly touted positional prospect has a .01 percent chance of staying on the team.

    The fact we got to enjoy a month of Montero was probably a bit too much for their liking but hey we saw Montero hit bombs, hit for average and hit in the postseason. Made the most out of it.

  • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    From the Prospect Hot Sheet linked in the DOTF post from Jesus’s debut:

    “9. Joba Chamberlain, rhp, Double-A Trenton (Yankees)

    Has officially reserved a weekly spot on this list. After seemingly being dissed in our Top 5 Futures Game arms (Chamberlain was No. 6), the Yankee righthander went on to whiff nine over seven shutout innings. In two July starts, Chamberlain is 2-0, 0.00 with a 21-2 strikeout-walk ratio in 13 innings.”

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  • JohnC

    Mike:

    Must you continue to fuel the fire with threads like this?

    • pat

      How many have there been? Two? One of which wasn’t even by Mike.

  • Adam

    Speculative question…say Jesus was putting up similar numbers in NY this year…how do you think Yankee fans would be reacting?

    • jsbrendog

      BUST!!!!!

      • Havok9120

        Nah, not yet.

        I will say that there’d be many bashing Cashman for not trading him for a young, cost controlled starter by “selling high.”

  • tbord

    It’s ok to grow some nads and call thi trade what it is: The worst in the history of the team. Heads should roll…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      “In the history of the team!” he said emphatically.

      • tbord

        That’s more better Mike… Don’t EVER mess with jesus!

    • gc

      …starting with your’s.

    • DT

      Pineda and Campos are still here for another 4 years…

      • Rick Bladt Attack

        The Yankees’ HMO should be depressed about that…

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Yeah and Campos is still miles away and Pineda already missed at least 20% of his expected time here. Best case scenario is they get 80% of the expected value and that’s if there’s no setbacks, we’re probably looking at closer to 70-75%. Bad trade, no way around it, just hope it’s not a disaster.

  • http://www.makovsky.com Gene

    I never liked the Montero trade from the jump. I don’t think you should trade an everyday player with a middle-of-the-order bat for a pitcher. Not sure about the conspiracy theories; however,it sure looks like Mr. Cashman got taken.

    • DT

      He was taken only if Seattle had a crystal ball and foresaw all this. If Pineda was pitching, and Montero continued to post up mediocre numbers like he has, You’d hear quite the opposite i bet.

    • Havok9120

      Its only getting “taken” if there WAS a conspiracy. We needed a young #2-#1 starter. They needed a bat. Neither could be traded without receiving an enormous return due to the rarity of prospects of their caliber.

      Your own opinion on the value of pitchers vs hitters (which I think is wrong, like most “hard and fast” rules), doesn’t change the fact that it was a fair trade considering the needs of the teams.

  • Fernando

    Suggestion for caption to picture above.
    Jesus Montero: Dude, can you believe all the comments on the Yankees site about me? I don’t even fucking play there anymore.

  • Rich in NJ

    I despised the trade when it was made, and hate it more now (if that’s possible), but I can’t root for Montero.

  • Klemy

    I’m not completely over my disappointment, but I would’ve made the trade as well and had accepted it as a worthwhile risk. It just doesn’t make it easy to watch him play for another team regardless.

    He was the first prospect in years I had gained an attachment to. I actually went to the AAA games here when Scranton came to town to see him play…I hadn’t done that for other prospects in our system.

    I hope we sweep this weekend, but also that Jesus gets his hits. I hope the fans at the stadium give him a warm welcome.

  • Heisenberg

    “because a .268/.282/.420 batting line (.298 wOBA and 91 wRC+) is hardly deserving of a primo lineup spot.”

    Maybe he’s bored and needs to be called up to the Super Major League team.

    /2011′d

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Hank’s totally going to find you.

  • flamingo

    at the end of the day I root for the laundry

    There is an excellent essay in the new Damn Yankees book about rooting for laundry. Literally just read it, so it’s funny to see you use the exact phrase immediately after.

  • Bo Knows

    I loved the trade, I always said that I wanted Jesus moved for a young, ace-caliber pitcher which is what the yankees got. It was a fair deal, Pineda got hurt, its unfortunate but it happens.

    I doubt the Mariners knew anything, because had they, why did they only talk to a handful of teams? Pineda was coming off a very good year and showed everything you could imagine in a potential Ace.

    If the Mariners told everyone that he was available, Pineda alone would have cost a package of several top prospects not one elite prospect and a backend starting prospect. The fact that they threw in Campos, says that the M’s were just as desperate for a bat as the Yankees were for an arm.

    I don’t miss Jesus, deal is done he’s not a yankee. I wish him the best but when he plays the NY, I want him to have a line of: .000/.000/.000

  • Jimmy McNulty

    I disliked the trade at the time and am pretty annoyed at how it’s played out so far, but at the end of the day I root for the laundry. I hope Montero does well this weekend (and going forward) but I hope the Yankees do even better. I miss Jesus and really wish he was the regular DH/backup catcher this year, but he’s not and that’s just the way it is. I enjoyed his short time in pinstripes but as usual, the players change. The Yankees are the constant and that’s where my allegiance lies.

    Exactly the way I feel, I’m still pretty raw over the trade, I was warming up to this team around February and wasn’t concerned about Pineda’s missing velocity at the time. In the back of my head I was worried about a Lincecum situation where he suddenly lost four ticks off his fastball, and that he couldn’t work with shittier velocity…that’s a worst case scenario type thing, or I thought at the time. It was too early to get concerned, right? It’s fucking February, if he’s not hitting 97 in June then get worried. Then he missed the first part of the year, started to get a little pissed…they just traded their best prospect in a decade for a pitcher that won’t even start the season. Then I found out about the torn labrum and that he’d miss one of his five years that he’s under control for. I’d had it by then. Trade’s a failure, unless he turns into Beckett over the next four years there’s very little way that this trade can be justified, I just hope it doesn’t turn into an unmitigated disaster.

    Realistically though, it’s how the Yankees deal with pitching. They signed CC Sabathia, who gives a shit? Anyone would. If you wouldn’t sign CC if you had the cash you shouldn’t be working in baseball, even as the asshole who sells hotdogs. Nova’s worked out okay, hopefully that will work out, but they also had a lot of other failures with pitching.

    Javier Vazquez…BOTH times. Turns out that OBP Jesus was only okay so that’s not too bad, and hey they got Unit out of him and Unit’s 2005 was one of the better pitching seasons that the Yankees had in the 2000s…probably top 10.

    Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain: One seems like he was never given a real chance to start, and was jerked around from the rotation to the bullpen way too much and the other never got his curve back after a hamstring injury and never got the chance to develop as a real starter. He was having a positive season in 2009, and they moved him to the pen…no surprise next year that he fell off a cliff in the second half of the next season. Hey they got a WS out of it though, he was a very important reliever on a team that won the WS so you can’t be too upset.

    Trading Clippard for Albaladejo? What the fuck? I’m not saying Clippard would be Clippard in the AL East, but I’m positive that he’d be better than Albaladejo.

    Kei Igawa?

    Out of Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy…Kennedy is the one you trade. Yes I’d make the trade a thousand times out of a thousand too, even knowing what Kennedy would become, but he’s the one you trade out of those three? That’s what I’m pissed about.

    Pavnao…nuff said.

    AJ Burnett: bad signing. Bad move, but probably worth it. Without him they don’t get 27, I’d probably do it again to get 28, but they paid him 72.5 million dollars for one good season, that’s a shitty move. It’s a shitty move that they can afford to make, but shitty nonetheless.

    How many millions have they spent on relievers that sucked absolute ass: Farnsworth, Soriano, Marte (though it was worth it to hear Michael Kay say “when healthy he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and if you don’t believe me just ask Ryan Howard”), Feliciano, and LaTroy Hawkins. That’s about 70 million in relievers that didn’t do anything.

    All of these moves were justifiable at the time, and they all turned out terrible. When you have this many misses and really only have a couple of good seasons of CMW, Nova, and Wade to show for it…is it bad luck or is it the process? If all the justifiable moves turn out awful it’s not bad luck it’s bad process, something needs to change with the way the Yankees evaluate pitching. I’ll still root for them no matter what, and with the success Cashman has had dealing with managing the great expectations and winning well over 1300 games during his career as Yankee GM, I’m not calling for his job by any means, I’m simply saying he needs to get better with pitching. There’s no argument to the contrary that a reasonable fan can make.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      is it bad luck or is it the process?

      ..or is it a bad pool of available players and/or lack of matching trade chips to trade for the good ones? There’s no doubt Cashman’s track record with pitchers is spotty, but he also has to win annually, and play them in a great hitter’s park in the AL East. It’s easy to look smart and have all your prospects work out when you play them in Petco.

  • forensic

    I never understood the part of rooting for ex-Yankees when they’re playing the Yankees. I hope he kills it in the other 156ish games of the year, but goes 0-25ish against the Yanks.

    It’s like when people cheered for Matsui hitting a homer against the Yanks a year or two ago. I hated that.

  • Brian L

    Bottom line, Pineda is going to come back throwing awful Hugheslike 91 mph fastballs after this shoulder surgery. Worst Cashman trade yet.

    • Havok9120

      You should play the lottery more. Especially since, judging by your conclusion that this is “his worst trade yet,” you predicted this exact injury before the trade even occurred.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        How many trades has he made worse than this? Albaledejo for Clippard? That’s the only one that’s up there, really.

  • Holy Ghost

    Don’t get too attached to Yankees prospects. Most of the time they’re hyped or over valued so the Yanks can get more offers for trades.

    Montero will be a good ball player but I think as a prospect he was overrated by Yankee fans.

    • Guest

      Aaaand all the non-partial observers? Their opinions meant nothing?

      How about noted Yankee water carrier Keith Law (sarcasm font) who compared him to Frank Thomas?

      I liked the trade (though I recognized Yanks were taking the bigger risk), but to say Montero was a creation of a Yankee hype machine is just not correct.

      Most may have doubted the glove, but many thought he was at worst a solidly above average major league bat with the potential to be a generational type talent as a hitter.

      • Havok9120

        Yes, but the people HG is referring to are the ones who seemed to think that he was infallible and immoveable. Of which many people exist on this site.

        No one is saying he wasn’t a great prospect, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be overvalued by the fanbase.

  • cr1

    Excellent strategy to have a Montero thread in advance.

    We don’t want to risk having the blog turn into lohud for the next few days, with every thread swamped by teary-eyed Montero fanboys regardless of subject.

    Hope this gets all that out of the way.

    • Havok9120

      Unfortunately, it will all depend on his performance and nothing Mike does will change that. If he straight up mashes, which he hasn’t all season, we’ll be swamped with “SEE!??!” posts in every Game Thread. The half-dozen or so people who already only show up when we’re losing will be supplemented by Montero troll posts, both by trolls and non-trolls.

  • mt

    I think Montero has done pretty well given that he is catching a lot more than he probably thought he was going to do at this point. He still is 22 in his first full season in bigs.

    It just sucks that both Pineda and Campos are hurt – (by the way, the way the trade has started offf, I am now waiting for the “inevitable” announcement of Tommy John surgery for Campos.) – right now, we can point to absolutely no progress or developments on our side even an A pitcher’s minor leeague starts. Also a labral injury is severe enough that we must entertain the possibility that Pineda never approaches his old form. My understanding is that recovery rates from TJ surgery are higher.

  • dannyc

    I miss montero bigtime, cashman is a dick , but i just saw jack currys interview on bp show with montero and he came off as such an asshole, it was a very akward interview. I suggest u guys check it out. I guess that if i was traded by the yanks to seattle id be an asshole to the yankee.beat guy too

  • https://twitter.com/#!/Paddock9652 Stratman9652

    One thing people really forget is how short of a window that DH spot would have been open for Montero. A-Rod isn’t getting any younger or healthier and is beginning to see a considerable amount of time at DH already. We all know that the Yankees will give a veteran, highly paid player a lineup spot over a young kid, so beyond the next couple of years or so A-Rod would be the DH.

    Clearly the Yankees weren’t satisfied with Montero’s defense to even use him as a backup last year. Expecting him to improve into an everyday catcher at the major league level after struggling for how long in the minors is a bit of a stretch.

    A trade was ineveitable and getting back a front of the rotation arm with room for upside was an excellent and fair return and filled an area of need for the present and future. The fact that he got hurt sucks but shit happens.

    • herby

      Watching last nights game and some other games aside from the Yankee game Montero has shown that he will be a better catcher than the Yankees expected him to be. Sure does sound like a lot of judging going on of him from some on just a small sample of his major league experience. I watched that homer yesterday and just imagined how many of those could he have hit in a Yankee uniform.

  • wes

    LETS FACE IT CASHMAN GOT SCREWED AND HE KNOWS IT.I HATED THE TRADE FROM THE START AND STILL HATE IT.I SAID AT THE TIME THAT NOESI WOULD WIN MORE THAN PINADA OR WHAT EVER HIS NAME IS!

  • Gonzo

    Look at Montero’s splits in the past two years and this year. Nobody was worried about it when he was a Yankee. He can improve, but let’s not act like he was a finished product.