Mariners’ Jesus Montero is on his road to redemption
I’m sick of everyone hammering on Jesus Montero. I know his story too. He can’t catch. He can’t play first base. He’s not athletic. He was suspended last year for taking drugs. He showed up fat to spring training and told reporters that all he did was eat in the offseason.
I should be down on him, but I’m not. I’m thinking he finally gets it. The two months in Tacoma were good for him. He played consistently hard and lost weight. Someday I want to write the story about Montero falling and getting back up, how it was somehow beneficial for him to hit bottom.
He’s played in three games for the Mariners and gone 3-for-10 with a two-run homer in a 6-1 win over the Padres Tuesday afternoon.
The Mariners needed a right-handed bat with power and he’s come through so far. If you want to continue to think that Montero doesn’t deserve this chance, fine, but I look at it like this:
What do you have to lose right now by giving Montero a shot? Corey Hart’s out for another two weeks or maybe until after the All-Star break with his hamstring injury. Justin Smoak is eligible to return a week from today.
In the meantime, why not turn Jesus loose? Worst case, he stinks it up and you send him back to Tacoma. It’s not like you lose much – Mariner designated hitters were averaging around .200 before he got here.
Best case, he becomes your everyday DH. Listen, I’ll give you that the guy looks as unathletic as any baseball player I’ve seen in a long time, but forget about that. Jack Zduriencik thought so highly of him that he almost traded Cliff Lee to the Yankees to get him before sending Lee to Texas for Smoak. Then he traded Michael Pineda to get Montero.
Why? Because Zduriencik and every scout you talk to believe the kid can hit and hit for power. There were questions about his catching, but no one ever questioned Montero’s future as a big-league hitter. I always come back to that when people mock Montero.
And it’s not as if we’re HOPING he’ll be a big-league hitter. We can keep hoping that Dustin Ackley and Smoak are big-league hitters, but we already KNOW Montero is. In 18 games with the Yankees in 2011, Montero hit .328 with four homers and 18 RBI.
In 135 games with the Mariners in 2012, he hit .260 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI. This year on this team, I would take those numbers ’til the cows come home.
Yet Lloyd McClendon talks about Montero like he’s a piece of crap that he has to deal with but doesn’t want to. You’ve no doubt heard the manager’s comments. He doesn’t have confidence in Montero at first base. He thought he was just “OK” in his first two games before he hit his home run in his third game.
As much as I think McClendon’s a major reason why the Mariners are 37-35, he contradicts himself at times. He also stubbornly supports some players and has a short leash with others.
He said Montero was his only option at first base but could’ve played John Buck there in that game against the Padres. Buck DH’d. Why didn’t he just flip-flop the two and have Montero DH? I didn’t get that at all.
The way I look at it, Montero has two to three weeks to show that he belongs with the Mariners. McClendon should at the very least give him that opportunity by DH’ing him every single day against right-handers and left-handers.
If you missed it yesterday on our show, I’m such a Montero apologist that I bet a six-pack of IPAs with Michael Grey that Jesus will have more home runs than Robinson Cano at the All-Star break. Call it a stupid bet if you want, with Cano ahead 4-1 right now, but the $240 million man has four HRs in 72 games and my guy as one in three with 23 games to go.
You wait and see – he’ll be a hard-charging horse down the stretch and nip Cano at the wire, 5-4.
In another Fantasy Island hope, I’m picturing a Seattle cult hero, a bobble-head night, the best Mariners DH since Edgar Martinez and a Zduriencik job-saver all wrapped up in an oversized package named Jesus Montero.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach Jim at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.