Jesus Montero is an enigma. An enigma who can’t hit right-handed pitching. An enigma who doesn’t hit well at DH. An enigma who is in danger of losing his job.
Jesus Montero is currently slated to start at catcher for the Seattle Mariners. He will be backed-up by Kelly Shoppach and/or Ronny Paulino (I sure hope Paulino). In 2012, Montero played 78 games at DH, and 56 at catcher. In those 78 games at DH, he batted .227, while when behind the plate, he batted .310.
When Jesus played at Safeco, he hit .227. Away from home, he hit .295. Against lefties, he hit .322n and against righties, he hit .228. When hitting against lefties, away from Safeco, he hit a whopping .388 in 80 at-bats.
Based on those stats, Jesus was good, maybe great–about a third of the time. But the Mariners won’t be able to have their everyday starting catcher playing poorly two-thirds of the time.
Will Jesus improve on his 2012 campaign? Probably. Enough to avoid getting the boot in favor of Mike Zunino? It might happen.
All we know now is that Jesus is stuck at catcher because not only is he blocked at DH, he also doesn’t play well there. Mike Zunino is looking more and more to be the catcher of the M’s future, especially with his performance last year in the minors.
So what can the Mariners do with Montero? Let’s look at the options:
- let him run around behind the plate until Zunino gets called up, then trade him
- have him catch until Zunino gets called up, then trade Morales, and move Montero to DH
- Montero backstops until Zunino gets called up then bench Montero
- he calls games this year and not call Zunino up in 2013, then trade Montero next year
- trade Zunino this year or next year
1. If the M’s keep Montero at catcher until they call up Zunino, then trade him, it is a no win situation. Here’s why: if Montero is doing poorly, they won’t get any return for him. If he’s doing well, then the M’s just lost a good player, which would be counter-productive (duh). This option isn’t best.
2. If he’s behind the plate until Zunino’s arrived, then they trade DH Kendrys Morales, Montero would likely play very poorly, as he always does at DH. However, the M’s do get to keep Montero, a semi-fan-favorite, while giving a prospect his cup of coffee.
3. If the M’s simply bench Montero and make him part-time DH part-time catcher, they would be getting the Montero from last season in smaller, better sample sizes, as they could pick his matchups more often.
4. If Zunino is not ready for the Majors this year, this could happen. The M’s would then have another offseason to contemplate different plans for their catching position.
5. Trading Zunino would not be a great idea. The M’s would be giving up a top prospect for no real reason, and they would be banking on Montero becoming great. Which would be bad management.
None of these options are ideal for Montero, Zunino, the Mariners or us fans. So what would be the ideal situation?
Montero could decide he loves to DH, we would trade Kendrys Morales midseason, put Montero in the DH spot, plug Zunino in at catcher, and win lots of games.
The M’s have some tough decisions to make at the catcher position for the next couple of years. Based on the current situation, nothing they can do is ideal. Let’s just hope that whatever ends up happening ends up being the best option possible for the M’s and us fans.