You know those “Jesus is _____” bumper stickers? Every time I see one of those, I want to walk up with a pen and write “only hitting .203″ on the blank line. Sure, the vehicle’s owner might not get nor appreciate the joke, but hey, don’t buy a fill-in-the-blank bumper sticker next time.
In fact, you could make all sorts of “Jesus is” wisecracks when it comes to Mariners catcher Jesus Montero. Jesus is 0-for-15 in throwing out stealing base runners. Jesus is unable to hit a curveball. Or how about this one: Jesus is destined for Triple-A. It’s that last “Jesus is” that might be most concerning. But based on current circumstances, it should become the team’s reality.
Montero has been abysmal both offensively and defensively in 2013. He hasn’t hit for average or for power, and he hasn’t even been close to adequate behind the plate. As alluded to earlier, Montero has yet to nab a base-stealer in 15 tries and has often looked stiff and uncomfortable receiving pitches. Were he hitting .300 with a handful of home runs, no one would care that the 23-year-old was providing less-than-serviceable defense. But as the owner of a .203/.250/.324 slash line, Montero certainly isn’t atoning for his shortcomings in the field right now.
Recently, it’s been rumored that manager Eric Wedge has been pressured from the organization’s front office to play Montero on a more frequent basis. Montero has received (note: not earned) a slight bump in playing time, taking about two-thirds of the starts to backup Kelly Shoppach’s one-third. Even with increased opportunity, however, the second-year big leaguer has yet to deliver. In his past 10 games, the ex-Yankee is performing no more remarkably than he was at the season’s outset, compiling a .194 batting average along the way (though, in fairness, he has belted his only two home runs of the year in that span). Nevertheless, settling in around the Mendoza Line does not a major leaguer make. Montero doesn’t necessarily have to hit for both average AND power (it’d be nice, though), but he can’t get by with a sub-.200 line.
Aside from his hitting struggles, where player and team have most failed to align is in their commitment to one another. The franchise seems committed to giving Montero a long look at catcher. Montero, meanwhile, seems committed to proving he is not that at all. Rock, meet hard place. The end result of this mutual stubbornness is a big ol’ crap sandwich. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Everyone and their mother knows that the M’s catcher of the future currently resides at Triple-A Tacoma. The uber-prospect that is Mike Zunino has had an up and down start to his 2013 campaign. This isn’t unanticipated. Zunino has yet to play a full season in the pros, and were all to go according to plan, he wouldn’t see his first action at Safeco Field until 2014. Problem is, Montero’s struggles have accelerated the demand for a Zunino call-up.
Zunino and Montero are mutually exclusive entities. No one should believe a demotion of Montero will necessarily result in a promotion of Zunino. Montero has done nothing to earn his spot on the big league roster, however, and shouldn’t be here anymore. Not if this team is truly committed to winning.
It’s clear that if the Mariners really want Montero to experience life behind the plate, he should be playing every single day. It’s also clear that, based on the way he’s been playing, Montero has done very little to warrant an everyday spot in the lineup. Therefore, all signs point to sending Montero to the minors, giving the majority of the big league starts (for now) to Kelly Shoppach, and promoting anyone else with a pulse not named Zunino to be Shoppach’s understudy. In this case, that might be Triple-A backup Jesus Sucre, who is nothing special with the bat, but can actually live up to his job title and, you know, catch.
Of course, this begs the question of what to do with Zunino in the interim. If Montero and Zunino share a clubhouse, only one can log time behind the plate. Fact is, the Mariners need to make a hard call on their catchers. Could they teach Montero how to play first base? Maybe. Could they let both players work on their hitting while splitting time as backstops? Possibly. Could they send Montero to Double-A to work on his receiving skills? That’s also an option. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter what the organization does so long as they jettison Montero to the farm and prove to both players and fans that they a) want to give opportunities to the most deserving players, and b) believe the 2013 Mariners aren’t losers. Seriously. Because, to date, the current regime has never shown much in the way of faith for their ballclub, regardless of how many wins the team can string together at any given moment. It’s about time they display some commitment to a winning mentality, and that starts by demoting those who deserve to be demoted.
Jesus is not for long in the big leagues. It’s time the Mariners filled in the blank.
Filed under: Mariners
Everyone has reported, and the spring training games have begun. it’s time to take an early look at how the different members of the roster and the invitees are doing thus far. Already on the roster are Jesus Montero and Kelly Shoppach, and John Hicks, Ronny Paulino, Jesus Sucre, and Mike Zunino are non-roster invitees hopeful to demonstrate to the coaches just what they are made of. For now, let’s look at the catchers who are on the Mariners’ roster.
#63 Jesus Montero
Despite the bit of bad press Montero has received in recent weeks, he’s been preforming well at spring camp. He maintains that neither he nor his brother (also Jesus Montero) who plays for the Cardinals have never been associated with the Biogenesis clinic. When it came to commenting on the accusations, Montero had the following to say:
“I don’t really know what’s going on,” Montero said. “I don’t have anything to do with those people. I know my agency is handling it, but I don’t know anything about it. I just talked to my family and told them there’s nothing to worry about. I’m just doing my job and trying to get ready for Spring Training and the season. What can I say? It surprised me, too.
“For me, I just want to focus on baseball, be here and pay attention to my team and be ready,” he said. “I know I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Focusing on the game is exactly what Montero has been doing. In today’s game against the San Francisco Giants, Montero showed up by hitting a double and making it home of Alex Liddi’s pop fly ball. In Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres, Montero showed his stuff by hitting a double and making it home.
Montero began his career in the New York Yankees’ organization, spending the 2008-2011 seasons with the East Coast team. His 2012 average in spring training for the Mariners was .326, and his career average is .348. Thus far in spring training, Montero’s had a .455 average and a .500 OPB. In the regular season, Montero has been batting at .267.
So long as the rumors connecting him to the PED clinic pan out to be false, Montero won’t be going anywhere. He’s a strong batter, and he knows how to make it home. He’s also the guy who gets in front of the ball and he has a .979 spring training career fielding percentage and a .993 regular season percentage. He’s definitely a solid player for the team.
#7 Kelly Shoppach
Shoppach’s relationship with the Major League dates back to 2006 when he played for the Cleveland Indians. Since then, he’s also played for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox. Shoppach was recently acquired in a free agent deal replaces Shawn Kelley on the team (he’s since been sent to play for the Yankees).
So far, Shoppach has averaged .600 in spring training. His career spring training average sits at .263, with a season low of .179 in Cleveland and a season high of .361 in Tampa Bay. In the regular season, Shoppach’s average drops – to a career batting average of .226. His OBP for last year was .309.
In Saturday’s game against the Padres, Shoppach made contact with the ball once and struck out once at his two at bats. In Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Shoppach made it on base twice and was left on base once. He made two doubles during this game.
While it’s still too early to tell how Shoppach will pan out in the long run, thus far, he’s definitely been awake during his times at bat. When it comes to fielding, he has a .989 fielding percentage in spring training games and a .990 fielding percentage in the regular season. Thus far in training, he’s got a 1.000 fielding percentage.
It’s unlikely that these two guys will be shaken up too much on the roster following spring training – so long as they continue to make solid efforts while playing and they stay out of trouble.
What have you thought of their performances in spring training thus far?
Kelly Shoppach’s signing with the Seattle Mariners is official. Shoppach, a free agent catcher who formerly played with the New York Mets, will be receiving $935,000 in his one-year contract should he live up to the Mariners expectations and play for the full year.
It appears as though Kelly Shoppach is just a physical exam away from being the Mariners’ (probable) starting catcher. The thing I remember most about Kelly Shoppach is his manliness. As I noted toward the end of the 2009 season, Shoppach took a high percentage of pitches off his manly body. An AL-leading 18 pitches pegged him that season (in just 327 plate appearances), good for 5.5% of his total plate appearances.
Fact: Miguel Olivo walked that often in just three of his ten full seasons.
The next Fact: Since 2005 when Shoppach first caught games in the majors, he ranks 5th among all batters in HBP frequency. At 3.1%, he finds himself behind only Ryan Garko, Reed Johnson, Daniel Nava and Carlos Quentin. So I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s good, but still manly for sure.
Your next question likely concerns whether or not he can keep it up. Russell Carleton chimes in with an emphatic “YES!” Getting hit by pitches may seem completely out of a batter’s control, but Carleton shows that it stabilizes after just 240 PA. Since 2008, Shoppach has been hit nearly 3.7% of the time in 1,415 trips to the plate. So you can add it to the list of things to look forward to in 2013:
1) Seeing a few of the M’s top 100 prospects play in Seattle.
3) Seeing Kendrys Morales hit homeruns.
4) And watching on as Shoppach gets plunked, each time doing his best Kevin Bacon impression, “Thank you sir! May I have another?”
It was just announced today that the Mariners were hosting veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach in Seattle. Shoppach was under general manager Eric Wedge‘s tutelage while Wedge was with the Cincinnati Reds, so he’s quite aware of what this catcher can do on the field.
He still needs to pass a physical on Wednesday before everything becomes official. Additionally, the Mariners’ 40-man roster is already full, so they will need to make room for him by either offering up someone or releasing someone.
Shoppach has a .226 batting average and hit only five homers last year. Even so, someone who consistently shows up might be a good thing for the M’s. He would be an alternate for the Mariners’ Jesus Montero, and he would replace John Jaso, who was recently used in a three-way trade to acquire Mike Morse.
The 32-year old, 6’0″ tall, player has been a part of many teams including the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, and Cleveland Indians.
According to ESPN, it will be be a one-year, $1.5 million contract with various incentives built in, including a $500,000 bonus. Before the contract becomes official, the Mariners are awaiting results of a physical, to be undertaken on Wednesday.
What do you think about this probable acquisition for the Mariners? Did they make a good move, or is this another addition to the collection of aging veterans that Jack Zduriencik has been amassing?
We’ve all been talking about what the Mariners can do to improve this off-season and while we all agree that third base is a concern a lot of fans continue to dwell in left field. While, I don’t disagree that it’s an issue, I’m less concerned with it. Yes, I would like to see a left handed bat that has shown the ability to hit major league pitching, or at least right handed pitching, ala Will Venable. But really there quite a few different individuals that could potential fit the bill. Dave Cameron threw out Angel Pagan, who I’m also a fan of, and there is Jeremy Hermida that vaguely interests me as a potential platoon partner. Then of course there is Grady Sizemore and all the murmuring that is going on with him.
We can do a lot of speculate at this point and really that’s half the fun. My real point here is, though, left is less of an issue than most people think. I certainly am not saying that it’s not a concern but when you compare it to say the major league Catchers that we have it’s less of an issue. Mike Carp, while really not very good, is someone that could be platooned to a point to where he could help out with the position while giving someone like Casper Wells, a very good defensive outfielder (and possible an solid hitter), the meat of the starts (assuming his health issues have cleared up, which is a HUGE concern of mine; SEE: Denard Span and Justin Morneau).
The point is the Mariners have options there that have shown the ability to be potentially be average if not perhaps slightly better than average. Miguel Olivo has never ever been a league average hitter, and sure he’s a catching so you take what you can get, but despite the fact that “pitchers love him” he’s a terrible with balls in the dirt. How many times has Safeco field collectively sighed at a Felix Hernandez fastball in the dirt? Don’t get me wrong, I understand the perils of catching, especially Felix, as I was a catcher in High School and not a very good one. So take perhaps the most electrifying pitcher in all of the sport and add some of the most insane movement and you have a very difficult pitcher to catch. I’m not saying that I fully understand it, but I can certainly relate.
Tags: Adam Moore, Angel Pegan, Casper Wells, chris Iannetta, Felix Hernandez, grady sizemore, Jeremy Hermida, Kelly Shoppach, Matt Wieters, Michael Pineda, miguel olivo, Mike Carp, Off-Season, Ramon Hernandez, Will Venable
Below you are about to be absorbed into my own little world. One that I’ve taken the better half of … oh well… let’s just pretend it’s been two weeks and not the last two months, because that’s just sad.
This is strictly of my own opinion, take it at face value, which is worth nothing. I understand no one cares how I would improve the Mariners and that in general most of my theories for roster construction are really just a mish mash of other brilliants minds at work.
Be prepared to be completely disappointed. I, like many others, love talking trades. I love discussing how to make this team better simply because, My Lord they are awful this past year, but really I can’t believe they are as bad as they really are. As I’ve previously discussed my sole goal for this team is to do the following:
- A) I want to give this team a trampoline. The goal is to give them the opportunity to bounce forward from this point. Start this coming year as a 77-80 win team and give them the opportunity to better themselves to becoming an 85-90 win team. Next year starts this year.
- B) You can’t move forward without talent. I’m not just talking about acquiring talent either, it’s about cultivating and helping it grow towards being healthy and productive. The Mariners are never going to compete, let me reiterate this for everyone, NEVER going to compete again unless they can eventually grow internal talent. Doug Fister was good, Dustin Ackley is of course way better, but there needs to be less gap time between the time periods and more players. Really, what this team needs to figure out is how to grow position players and while you need to give them time you need to have the talent to step in for if those young guys fail.
- C) With growing talent it means keeping it. My goal is to keep as much internal talent possible while moving forward. This is extremely difficult and it relies on… more risk. You can’t get premier talent without giving up premier talent but you can acquire certain individuals that are available around the league for less than they potentially could be worth. This takes a lot of time and is a huge risk. But the important thing is all your giving away is at bats. The talent you have to give up to get them was hardly negligible. Bottom line: I hate giving away young cost controlled arms for risk/reward situations. There is a time to hold ‘em and a time to … well deal them. I see few moves that could should be made by dealing away any of the young arms the Mariners have collected to this point.
- D) I know Seattle fans are looking at the potential 20 million dollars and they feel like finally they can spend it. Oh they have the money free right now and it’s already starting to burn a hole in their pocket. The unfortunate truth is we can’t just throw that at the “best” guy possible. They have to spend it wisely or be doomed to repeat more of the mid -2000’s. Likewise it means acquiring talent that is on the mend that other teams have deemed “too much time to invest or too pricey due to lack of production” some call it dumpster diving others call it investing. We need to come away from this season with more money in our pockets next year. As I continue to say getting to .500 is easy. Once we’re there it’s going to take money or prospects to make that last push. We’ll discuss that more as we get into the free-agent section.
Without further ado I give you my EPIC king of the off-season post.
Tags: Adam Moore, Blake Bevan, Brandon League, Casey Blake, Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin, Charlie Furbush, Chris Capuano, Chris Gimenez, David DeJesus, dustin ackley, Erik Kratz, Felix Hernandez, franklin gutierrez, grady sizemore, Ichiro, Jason Vargas, Josh Lueke, justin smoak, Kelly Shoppach, King for a day, kyle seager, Landon Powell, Matt Antonelli, Michael Pineda, Mike Carp, prince fielder, Ramon Hernandez, Raul Ibanez, Scott Rolen, Shawn Camp, shawn Kelley, Tom Wilhelmsen, Will Venable
Yesterday Geoff Baker wrote
Peguero is indeed frustrating because he seems to strike out every time up. But on those few occasions when he actually makes contact, look out. Those foul balls of his are menacing — and I’m not saying that as a wisecrack. Talk to any scout who watches those foul ball line drives to right field and their eyes light up. Those aren’t the foul balls of just any scrub prospect being run out there to save the team a few bucks (which, let’s face it, is indeed a byproduct of running Peguero out there).
No, they are the foul balls of a potential 30-homer guy.
All the team has to do is find a way for Peguero to consistently put his bat on the ball and hit something into fair territory. Again, it sounds like I’m joking but I’m not. If you’re sitting there wondering why the team is bothering with Peguero, that’s the reason.
Somebody upstairs and probably a few folks down at field level truly believes Peguero is not too far away from hitting more fair balls than he currently does. And that, if the switch is flipped this year, he could be a starting left fielder come 2012.
I don’t entirely disagree with Baker’s article. While a lot of people use specific adjectives such suck, awful, horrible, terrible, disgusting, blinding and more, I’m a little more inclined to say that he’s just over matched at this point. Sure it’s basically the same and I’ve been guilty of using one or more of those cruel adjectives to describe a particular at bat.