No point in having Miguel Olivo in Mariners’ lineup

Jul 20, 2012, 10:04 AM | Updated: 10:33 am

Miguel Olivo may be a strong presence in the clubhouse, but he’s hitting .202 and is in the final year of his deal. (AP)

By Jim Moore

I really don’t want to criticize Miguel Olivo anymore because he’s a nice guy and apparently a terrific guy in the clubhouse.

He’s also an OK major-league catcher, offsetting his numerous passed balls with a rifle of an arm.

Plus he had a groin injury that set him back this season.

But what’s the point of having him in the lineup anymore? The Mariners have only 68 games left in the season. Wouldn’t you rather see Jesus Montero and John Jaso sharing time behind the plate? Aren’t they the future?

Olivo led the Mariners with 19 homers and 62 runs batted in last year while batting .224. He is batting .202 this year with seven homers and 18 RBIs.

He’s making $3.5 million this year. So if you let him go now, you’d owe him around $1.5 million, which is nothing compared to what you’d owe Chone Figgins if you released him – and we can agree that it would be worth it regardless.

Montero is coming off of a sensational series in Kansas City, going 10-for-17, including a 3-for-4 afternoon in Thursday’s 6-1 win. He had a single, double and home run, giving him a shot at a cycle if he could just hit a triple in his last at-bat.

The odds of Montero hitting a triple are astronomical in any at-bat but must have been to infinity and beyond in his last plate appearance on Thursday. Love the kid, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a baseball player run the way he does – very, very slowly and looking like an odd duck in the process.

But even with a long slump in the middle of this month, Montero has rebounded to raise his average to .262. He has nine homers, and I’m still holding out hope for 20 this season.

Rookie Jesus Montero doesn’t seem nearly as bad behind the plate as some analysts thought he would be. (AP)

Montero has also shown that he’s a capable catcher. When he was acquired in the Michael Pineda deal, you would have thought he’d be an absolute buffoon back there, such were the reports from some of the experts.

That wouldn’t matter, though, because the Mariners needed a hitter, and if he were solely a DH, fine.

But Montero looks reasonably competent behind the plate to me. He may not be the best major-league catcher, but I’d offer that he’s certainly not the worst. And he’s bound to get better. The only way he gets better is to keep giving him the gear and trotting him out there.

The Mariners are 40-54 and heading nowhere. It’s a rebuilding season. If he screws up on occasion, so what? It’s not like it’s going to cost them a wild-card berth. Give him the reps that he needs.

The same goes for Jaso. I thought it was great news when I read in the Tacoma News Tribune that general manager Jack Zduriencik wants Jaso to be a Mariner for a long time.

Jaso leads the team with a .280 average after finally getting a start against a left-hander on Thursday. Afterward, Jaso told me and Steve Sandmeyer on “The Kevin Calabro Show” that he can hit lefties but hasn’t had the opportunity to prove it in Seattle.

It’s time to give him that chance. Or at least start him against every right-hander, and start Montero against the lefties. Then when a right-hander’s starting, have Montero be the DH to get him more at-bats.

Jaso’s been flat-out clutch. Don’t you always feel like he’s going to come through in pressure-packed situations? That’s because he usually does. He’s also a good two-strike hitter.

Behind the plate, I guess he’s mediocre. But Jaso threw out a runner trying to steal on Thursday, and it’s not as if he’d be replacing a Gold Glover in Olivo back there anyway, so whatever the difference, I don’t think it would be noticeable.

What’s the holdup? What am I missing here? It’s kind of like Tarvaris Jackson. You know what you have in the Seahawks’ quarterback, and you know what you have in Olivo. They’re average players at best.

Just like Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson, Montero and Jaso represent the future. Maybe they won’t be hell on wheels, but wouldn’t you like to find out if they are?

Programming note: The Sounders don’t have a game this weekend, so they won’t have a “Sounders FC Weekly” show either. Stepping in as a one-week replacement is “The Golf Show with Jim Moore and Shon Crewe” Saturday from 8 to 9 a.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Shon and I will talk to Scott Walker of the Golf Channel to get a report on the third round of the British Open; Mike Salk of “Brock and Salk” to find out about his golf game; and Dan McLaughlin, a guy in Portland who quit his job and plans to put in 10,000 hours of practice with a goal of making it to the PGA Tour. McLaughlin had never golfed before. Check out his website.

Hope you’ll find the time to listen. You can find previous golf shows on the podcast page of featuring interviews with Jim Mora, Don James, Andres Gonzales and others.

You can follow Jim on Twitter @cougsgo, and you can reach him at The Go 2 Guy also writes Monday columns for the Kitsap Sun.

Wyman & Bob

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