Today the Mariners made a decision. Today the Mariners sent Jesus Montero to Tacoma in exchange for Jesus Sucre. I’m not going to make too much of this as a positive because of a bunch of things we don’t know: namely that Montero is arrogant, or doesn’t work hard, or whatever. It’s good news because Jesus Montero is a very bad catcher, and not a good enough hitter to stick at catcher.
The idea of Montero playing catcher has basically always been accompanied by the idea that he’s going to be below average defensively for the entirety of his career. He’s got a strong arm, but he’s kind of clumsy, so if he can become anything close to passable behind the plate, his bat will play much better there. He hasn’t progressed much if at all. I’m not going to claim that he doesn’t care or doesn’t try. I’ve never seen him practice extensively, and I’ve never met him. I don’t have a good baseline for effort or a good way of measuring a person’s effort.
A lot of people are saying kind of shitty things about Montero because they are mad that he’s bad, and that the Mariners are also bad. Those things about Montero may be true, I’m not saying they aren’t true. I’m saying he hasn’t become a better baseball player, and that’s a problem for a team that needs to have some of their young guys become better baseball players if they’re going to improve, and/or be good long-term.
Jesus Sucre will get painted as some sort of savior since he’s young, and also literally named after the Christian messiah. He’s probably a false idol, and I promise that is the last thinly veiled reference to the symmetry of swapping Jesus for Jesus that I will make.
But Sucre really isn’t good either. His defense may be better but he hits for basically no power, posting isolated powers under .100 in each of the past three seasons. He has walked some this year in Tacoma, but in only 59 plate appearances. Anyone attempting to decipher value from an impossibly small sample in a very hitter-friendly league is probably barking up the wrong tree. Jesus Sucre is organizational depth. He’s Guillermo Quiroz if Guillermo Quiroz had the same first name as a Mariners catcher who was once thought to be a top prospect. Jesus Sucre is to Jesus Montero what Rob Johnson would have been to Jeff Clement if Johnson’s first name was Jeff, and if Sucre had some odd-ball following.
Sucre is probably better than Montero defensively though. That’s not to say that I have a ton of knowledge of Sucre’s abilities, but rather just that I feel that Montero probably ranks well into the bottom 10 percent of professional baseball catchers in North America. Sucre has thrown out 42 percent of minor league would-be base stealers, which is something. It’s not the only thing, and if you thought it was the only thing before you saw Montero behind the plate, you certainly realize now that a catcher’s responsibilities extend well beyond throwing out base runners.
For Montero’s development this might be good. It may be neutral. It may be terrible. One thing that seems true though, is that Montero wasn’t getter better at the big league level. There may be some reason why Montero never becomes an everyday player, but it probably won’t have anything to do with this move.
The Mariners have problems right now. Jesus Montero has become one of the faces of those problems, and if you have the option to remove the face of a problem that’s usually good, especially if he’s a large part of your future, and removing him just means hiding him in Tacoma until you want to bring him back.
He’s not hitting so well that Sucre will be a major drop off, and Sucre’s defense seems to have a good chance of being ostensibly beneficial for a pitching staff that is struggling mightily.
The Mariners held one of their young top prospects accountable today. Whether you disagree with the move or love it, there’s no doubt that something exciting happened today. The path for Mike Zunino was cleared, though he probably doesn’t require an immediate call up, and the path to DH or first base for Montero was created as a last-ditch effort to coax some value from Montero.
Also, the team will need to make a corresponding 40 man roster move. While Endy Chavez may be a candidate for designation at this time, that won’t ultimately be the only solution as Franklin Gutierrez is already on a rehab assignment. The team could DFA Danny Farquhar or Hector Noesi, neither move of which would likely be “fair” based on this year’s results, but losing either guy probably won’t have much influence on the Mariners future success or failure. Aaron Harang has also been terrible.
The Mariners will have to make another move. Eventually this post will have this text struck through and show what move occurred, so check back in for that exciting event’s occurrence.