Montero or Lawrie?

Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail had an interesting note in his column today, noting that there’s speculation in Toronto that the Mariners offered Michael Pineda to the Blue Jays in exchange for Brett Lawrie. They passed, and as we all know, the Mariners shipped Pineda to New York for Jesus Montero instead.

So, this brings up an interesting question – who is the more valuable player going forward, Lawrie or Montero? A year ago, Marc Hulet ranked Montero as the fifth best prospect in the game, while Lawrie came in at #35. Baseball America concurred, putting Montero at #3 and Lawrie at #40. Lawrie had a fantastic 2011 season, capped off with a monstrous performance in the Majors, but Montero hit well in his late season call-up as well. His minor league performance wasn’t as impressive, but you have to adjust for the difference in league/park and note that catching generally diminishes offensive numbers, so the gap might not be as large as it might seem on the surface.

Of course, Lawrie looks like he could be a quality defensive third baseman, while Montero offers little in the way of defensive value. Scouts seem to be a bit more sold on Montero’s bat, though, and prior year minor league performances all favor Montero. They’re essentially the same age, and both will be counted on as building blocks of their respective team’s offenses for years to come.

So, that brings up the question – who would you rather have going forward, Lawrie or Montero?

Poll after the jump.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


151 Responses to “Montero or Lawrie?”

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  1. guilhem says:

    Lawrie and it’s not close.

    +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      Interestingly, last year, the consensus was “Montero and it’s not close”. Amazing how one year changes perception so strongly.

      +39 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CircleChange11 says:

        That’s a very good point.

        If Montero starts out with a hot April and Lawrie doesn’t, the same question then could result in a completely different answer.

        FWIW, for me, it’s Lawrie, although admittingly I’ve never been much of a Jesus Montero fan. I can’t keep myself from thinking that it’s a hype machine … even if that would require “everyone being in on it”, which I know is unlikely.

        In this case, I simply figured both are good hitters. One plays the field, the other doesn’t, and the positional adjustment for DH is really high … and well, 3B is kind of a down position in MLB, so having a really good, young 3B is a big plus for any team.

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      • Dandy Salderson says:

        Lawrie had a pretty damn good year.

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      • Brett Lawrie says:

        You’re way off, Cameron. Go eat something.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • gabriel says:

        A year can and should shift our expectations significantly in some circumstances.

        The margin of error for Montero has always been extremely slim as a questionable-defence catcher prospect – and he just had a year where an inchoate consensus that he won’t be able to catch in the majors solidified. And as a DH/1B prospect, the margin of error for his bat isn’t particularly large, and he had a year which saw a significant increase in his K% without improvements in other areas.

        Lawrie, on the other hand, entered the year with good scouting reports on his bat, but underwhelming results; no clear position and major worries about his defence; unimpressive plate discipline, and concerns about his makeup. He had a year where he improved his plated discipline hugely, found a defensive home and erased concerns among many (though not all) about his defence, and hit about as well as is possible, all the while getting positive reviews from his teammates and coaches.

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      • Mark says:

        Part of the reason was Lawrie’s uncertainty. Pretty much everybody accepted Montero would be moved to 1B or DH, but Lawrie might be a 3B, a corner OF, or who knows what. Additionally Montero had been the better hitter (at least by RC+) and was already in AAA whereas Lawrie had a good but not elite season in AA.

        In 2011 Lawrie broke out, partly due to the hitting in Vegas but also due to some improvements. He cut down on the K rate, showed better power, and even improved the BB rate in the majors. More importantly, he showed that not only could he handle 3B, but he could play it pretty darn well. That’s huge, given how shallow 3B is in the majors and the fact his bat wouldn’t need to be as strong at third to make up the difference compared to if he had been in the OF.

        On the other hand we’ve got Montero repeating AAA, and for whatever reason his BB rate dropped, the strikeouts increased, and the power decreased. Again, I didn’t follow him closely, I don’t know if he was injured or whatever, but that’s never a good sign for a guy repeating a level.

        Both were pretty impressive at the majors, obviously. But with Montero basically limited to DH/1B duty and Lawrie pretty much guaranteed to continue playing at third, I think we can understand why it changed.

        Admittedly I’m a Jays fan, and I wouldn’t argue if you told me Montero was a better hitter going forward (adjusting for park, of course). But the position adjustments alone pretty much make Lawrie the better guy.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • baty says:

        let’s do an Alonso/Cashner/Rizzo based poll to set up the results for next January’s discussion…

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      • Visine says:

        Have you blinked yet?

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      • unamuno says:

        Inchoate! In a fantasy baseball post!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • RobM says:

        Face it, Toronto fans are voting for Lawrie, Yankee fans no longer care about Montero, while Mariners fans don’t know him yet.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Oliver says:

      A year ago people thought Montero might still be a catcher.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Leo says:

        Not anybody who was realistic.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Slartibartfast says:

        This, exactly. The biggest difference between this year and last year is that, we are more sure now that Montero just isn’t going to cut it at C. That makes all the difference.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • RobM says:

        Yet, oddly, there’s a better chance he will be a catcher now than before. The Mariners plan to catch him. Why not? It’s not like they’re contending.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Josh says:

    The Jays fan in me says Lawrie, just because. The baseball fan in me says Lawrie, if only because he has a position. I feel like Montero is just a DH

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wily mo says:

      i think people should consider that montero was pegged as a pure DH in large part because he was in the yankees system, and 1B there is basically occupied forever. now people rip on his C defense and go straight to calling him a DH but i can’t remember seeing anyone seriously address his 1B defense. i mean if he’s physically capable of even pseudo-catching all the way up to the cusp of the majors, he’s gotta be able to play first base at least as well as prince fielder or miguel cabrera, right? i mean i have no idea but it seems logical.

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      • DanielL says:

        Montero is still likely a DH, since Seattle has Smoak to play 1B.

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      • wily mo says:

        sure, but that’s not really montero’s fault either unless he CAN’T play first.

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      • Steve says:

        There is a difference between being blocked by Mark Teixeira and being blocked by Justin Smoak.

        I mean, do we even know if Smoak is actually any good? I don’t think we can say that he is (or isn’t). If he isn’t cutting in a year or even 2, maybe Montero is your 1Bman. But Teixeira is in NY for 5 more years.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wily mo says:

        yeah. there’s generally still held to be Hope for smoak, on account of his down year perhaps being due to his Thumbs and Father situations. but right now you have to give montero the odds of being the superior hitter over the long term, i think. smoak’s likely a better defender, so smoak 1B / montero DH is probably still the sensible arrangement (assuming C really is out). but there’s a distinction to be made between being pushed to DH by another player vs. being LIMITED to DH by your own… limitations.

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  3. Noah says:

    There are soooooo many factors here. Lawrie was most likely ranked low partly because of his low walk rate and terrible defense, both of which he has improved. I’ve not looked into Montero too much but apparently his defense is not too impressive. Montero does play a premium position though and you don’t find too many great hitting catchers. They both had pretty outstanding ends to 2011. But I’m biased so Lawrie!!1

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    • AL Eastbound says:

      You’d have to take Lawrie here but fans need to temper their expectations for 2012. Lawrie is going to go through some growing pains when the book is out on some of his weaknesses. Dave raised a quality point, in a year from now we might all favour Montero again.

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  4. patmccaw says:

    Disclaimer: I’m a Canadian, Jays fan.

    I think the low rankings for Lawrie were due to the poor perception of his defence, especially when he was at 2B. If the visible improvements in his fielding seen in the majors last season stick his value sky-rockets. Especially when compared to Montero’s lack of any true position. Strictly in terms of hitting, Montero is the more impressive though.

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  5. Kyle says:

    As a Mariners fan, I’m fully prepared for this poll to irrationally depress me.

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ppabich says:

      I would prefer Lowrie but Montero is a good haul.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kurt says:

        Disclaimer: I’m not a Blue Jays, Red Sox, or Astros fan.

        I like Jed too, but not as much as Jesus. I do however like Lawrie a lot more than Montero.

        ——————–

        Normally, I wouldn’t say anything but considering his name is spelled for you in the top of the browser window, it’s again repeated in the browser tab, then repeated again in the title of the blog post, and used repeatedly within the context of both the blog post and the comments section, it’s really not even forgiveable and I haven’t even brought up the point about one being a top prospect for 2+ years and the other being a well-known prospect for 3+ years. I know keying mistakes happen but ‘o’ is way over there and ‘a’ is way over here on the keyboard. That’s some go-go gadget pinky sh*t or you should read some more baseball sites to get in the know.

        ——————–

        Incidentally, Montero is not a good haul. It’s acceptable at best. We gave up a great pitcher and a great pitching prospect for a DH who wears catchers’ gear and a #3 starting pitcher. Let me put this in context for you…

        Yonder Alonso/Brett Lawrie/Jesus Montero all essentially did their best Bautista/Votto/Pujols impression in their call up. All three have had their defense questioned by numerous scouts (as clear as I can tell unjustifiably for Lawrie as he’s at least average, if not a plus 3B defensively). Now all that aside Lawrie may still need to move in a few years from the hot corner at which point he could be a Ryan Braun type outfielder or a Paul Konerko type 1B. Montero is probably a 50 game a year catcher in the Mike Piazza/Jorge Posada mold, and Alonso is as much a 1B as Prince Fielder.

        Now the fun part, even though they all had an OPS around .950-1.000 at the end of last season while all batting in hitters parks, one was packaged with a *top 5 catching* prospect, a hard-throwing #3 starter(best case)/high-leverage reliever(worst case), and a guy a couple years removed from an All-Star game appearance. Another one of these guys was too valuable to their team to be traded, and the last was dealt with a hard-throwing #3 starter(best case)/middle reliever(worst case).

        Now let’s see if you can match the pitcher coming back in the previously stated trade packages.

        Their was one pitcher who’ll be 24 years old in 2012 and who saw his numbers regress in all categories except IP and HR/9. ERA: +0.55, FIP: +0.16, xFIP: +0.31, WAR: -0.8, GB%: -1.9%, LOB%: -6%, BABIP: +.011, BB/9: +.43, K/9: -.64, K%: -2.1%, BB%: +1.1%. Whatevcer stat you want, he’s getting worse statistically and his personality was one of the motivating factors in him being moved, supposedly. He comes from a park that favors right-handed pitchers more than almost any other park in the majors and he has 4 years of control left.

        The other pitcher was equal to his stats in his first taste of the majors this year. He also is a year younger, comes with an extra year of control, has no peronality issues and is a hard-worker who pitched in a park that plays almost even for RH pitchers despite the stereotyping it receives because it’s a pitchers’ park.

        Logic would state that a pitcher with 5 years of control that is equal to a pitcher with 4 years of control in terms of current ability, who comes with greater upside, is one year younger than the pitcher with less years of control, should in fact be more valueable. So why did Pineda with 5 years of control + Campos a legit future #1 or #2 starter (with 6 years of control) get 1 DH type bat (Montero) and a #3 starter with 5 years of control (Noesi), while the other pitcher with 4 years of control and attitude problems (Latos) got the same DH bat (Alonso), but also was equal to a top catcher (Grandal), the same #3 starter prospect (Boxberger) with 6 years of control, and a reclamation project of a possible #1 or #2 starter with All-Star credentials (Volquez). Sounds to me like the Reds gave away too much/the Padres got a deal or the Mariners got far too little for their assets. I know:

        Montero >>> Alonso

        but: Montero, Noesi <<<<<<<<<<<<< Alonso, Grandal, Boxberger, Volquez

        Don't like that explanation? How about this reason to dislike the deal…

        The Mariners were going to trade 1/2 a season of a number 1 starter (Lee) coming off an injury that lost him over a month of the season for Jesus Montero, David Adams, and Zach McAllister, if the stories were accurate. Now that's a good haul, but more importantly, that was before all these wacky dump your farm system over and start from virtually zero, so you can trade for a #2 or #3 starter with some years of control from some AAAA team like the Athletics (Gonzalez) or Padres (Latos).

        So the asking price has gone up drastically for a starter as most will agree. If you don't agree please see Haren, Dan, who was acquired for at the time a barely borderline top 100 prospect (who everything did break right for) and a bunch of junk. Fast forward to this offseason and you see teams trading multiple top 100 prospects to acquire guys who couldn't lace Haren's cleats for him on most good days.

        Back to my point about Lee, to be more specific 0.5 years of a #1 on the wrong side of 30 or 5 years of a #2 who is 2-3 years of free agency from reaching 30. Which is more valueable? Either Montero had the most valueable 69 PAs ever by a prospect in terms of added trade return or the Mariners miscaluclated somewhere. Montero had a great 69 PAs, but SSS theater could be at work, however more important to me, he's proven less capable of improving behind the plate defensively, he's shown attitude problems due to his slow promotion to the majors, his manager showed very obvious hesitation at putting him behind the plate, and he's coming with a pitcher who is worth probably about the same as what the other two prospects (Adams/McAllister) were worth at the time in the Lee deal. Something doesn't add up. Let's look at this another way. would you trade Pineda for Greinke, today? How about for Hamels? The marginal value for this season wouldn't be worth their extra money they would be paid 4 WAR from Pineda for the minimum +4 years of additional control or a 6 WAR starter for $14MM+ and 0 years of control. Draft picks mean nothing because it would be hard to see Pineda not be worth picks when he's a free agent at 27 and his signing team will get his age 28, 29, and 30 seasons. It's at least enough of a foregone conclusion that I'm not going to add that value to Hamels or Greinke as if to assume Pineda won't be worth it in 5 years, but we don't know. So how in the hell did the Mariners get less than what the Yankees were going to give for 3 WAR of Lee after Montero's value has gone down if not leveled out?

        Pick your rational for not liking the deal, but I would have rather kicked in Walker, kept Campos, and taken Lawrie and a guy like Nicolino. Then run with the guys I got at the MLB level to fill out my rotation, rather than over pay for Noesi who is virtually the same thing as Erasmo Ramirez, just 3-4 years older. Tell me the Blue Jays say no to Pineda and Walker for Lawrie and Nicolino and I'll call you a liar.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dickie says:

      It’s like having the smoking hot bridesmaid admit she’s always had a crush on you at your wedding afterparty, innit?

      +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      It’s not like the Mariners were offered Lawrie.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • greenfrog says:

        Exactly. AA and Jack Z probably chatted about Pineda, and maybe Jack Z floated Lawrie’s name, but there is no way the Jays give up the Canadian kid (future cornerstone). This story seems to have more to do with a slow day at mlbtraderumors.com than anything else.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jared says:

      Also a Mariners fan, I found myself selecting Lawrie like pretty much everyone else. Was surprised out how sad it made me after I did it …

      That said – and as was pointed out (in not so many words) – because Lawrie is currently perceived and may very well be better, this does not mean that Montero spells more doom and gloom. He has a great hit tool and could work out extremely well for us.

      Also, as Josh says, it isn’t like we had an option of either/or – we tried for Lawrie – they said no. So ultimately this is a pointless source of torture for M’s fans. By dangling this information in front of us all the writers are essentially doing is “tradesterbating”. Yes, it would be great if every team accepted an offer we, as fans of a particular team, felt was a fantastic haul for us. Yes it would have been great had they accepted this deal in particular. Likewise, it would have been fantastic if we could have traded Michael Pineda and Campos for Evan Freaking Longoria. The reality is, however, those deals didn’t happen, and aren’t going to happen. So speculation on all of the trades that were offered but didn’t come to pass seems a little, I don’t know … pointless.

      But its fun to play the “what would have happened if …” game. Unless your an M’s fan clinging onto their last shred of hope that is.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. ppabich says:

    Defense

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  7. ThundaPC says:

    I’m not sure who’s bat will be the best going forward but as a Mariner fan it’s hard to resist the idea of having an awesome answer for 3B. Would’ve loved to have Brett Lawrie!

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  8. Yirmiyahu says:

    Yesterday (when asked about Cespedes), Jim Callis of BA mentioned Montero as one of the top 6 prospects in baseball (along with Trout, Moore, Harper, Darvish, and Machado). Lawrie is no longer considered a ‘prospect’, so there’s no direct comparison, but I’m still pretty shocked he ranks Montero that high.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Nick says:

    As a Jays fan I say Lawrie based on defensive value (I think will be positive) and I was also very impressed with his pitch recognition/patience/OBP skills.

    I would be more interested in hearing who, specifically, Mariners fans would prefer being offered a choice of the two.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Mike says:

    If anyone believed Montero could catch, I could see taking him if you believe he can catch well enough + maximize his hitting ability. I just can’t do it when comparing him to a player with Lawrie’s offensive skills at a position that seems to be getting worse as the years go on.

    If Montero moves to 1b and plays it well enough to stick, I can see an argument where he might be more likely to stay healthy there than Lawrie (I think Lawrie’s already been banged up a time or two in his career), and that Montero potentially being more likely to start 160 games a year is pretty valuable. I wouldn’t go for it, but that might be the best thing in Montero’s favor.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      Lawrie’s injuries were freak accidents.

      The first was in minors when he got drilled in the wrist

      The other was late in the season in the bigs when he jammed his finger taking groundballs

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  11. Albert Lyu says:

    This poll could be more telling if we could get one of those Sportsnation maps, amirite?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve says:

      Probably, Fangraphs is pretty Jays happy a lot of the time (I’m a Jays fan).

      If Montero could stick at any position other then DH I would vote for him, but I just don’t see it. If 3B doesn’t work out for Lawrie defensively, he should still be a quality RF with a big bat.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      PollDaddy doesn’t have the cool map, but does have the data.

      113 votes have been placed from Canada, breaking down 110/3 in favor of Lawrie. No shock there.

      274 votes have been placed in the US, breaking down 222/52 in favor of Lawrie. Not as crazy in terms of ratios, but still strongly Lawrie.

      The 1 voter from Venezuela prefers Montero, by the way.

      +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ben says:

        It’s either Felix or Jesus voting there.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick says:

        Please out the 3 so we can tar and feather the shit out of them!

        +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MustBunique says:

        Really love this kind of info, Dave. I think it is very insightful when you can eliminate emotionally invested voters or consider regional trends (among many other ways you can interpret polling with respect to location of the voter). If you could find a way to post this information more often that would be great.

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      • Venezuelan Voter says:

        Viva Senior Montero!

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      • VB says:

        So can we safely assume that at least 49 of the 52 US Montero voters come from NY?

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      • atigersgrin says:

        @MustBunique – It’s understandable that the Canadian vote would be bias, but the US number still has bias since you can’t pull out the Seattle fans’ votes and possible the Yankee fans’ votes.

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      • RobM says:

        As I noted above, this poll would be very different if Montero was still on the Yankees.

        Yankee fans are not going to vote for Montero now. Yet Mariners fans don’t know Montero, they’re not yet emotionally invested in him. Worse, they are fearing the worst. (BTW Yankees fans are also fearing the worst, that’s the way it goes when young players get traded.)

        It’s all timing. I’m not saying Montero would have won if he was still on the Yankees, but it would be damn close. I take it back. If Montero was still on the Yankees, Montero would have blown Lawrie away!

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  12. Preston says:

    I love, love, love Montero. He really might be a Miguel Cabrera type bat. But his value is going to ride all on his bat. In my opinion at worst he’s Pat Burrell offensively. But Lawrie plays a solid defensive 3b and is a much better base-runner. He doens’t need to be the next George Brett to be good.

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  13. Joe says:

    Would it be closer if only offensive ability was taken in to account?

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  14. Oliver says:

    Not a Jays fan. Not a Yankees fan. Not a Mariners fan. I’d take Lawrie any day of the week. But I’d take Pineda over Lawrie.

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  15. West says:

    If Montero were a catcher it would be Montero.

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    • Visine says:

      Ok… but it’s been well established that’s not going to happen.

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      • Barry Johnson says:

        I don’t think it’s “well established” at all. The Mariners will work with him at catcher, and then we’ll see. It’s “well established” by some scouts and other anonymous baseball people, but mostly by fans who gobble up that kind of thing like Ding Dongs. That said, he IS a pretty big boy.

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  16. fiyazkanji says:

    As a Jays fan I would take Lawrie in a heart beat over Montero for the additional value that he generates for my team. If there was a way to capture “Additional Revenue above Replacement”, Lawrie would be much higher than Montero.

    Another thing to remember about the (Pineda for Lawrie) vs. (Pineda for Montero) is the trading Organizations needs. The Jays do not need a potential top of the rotation pitcher. They need a high upside 3B. The Yankees on the other hand needed a pitcher to fill the #2 spot.

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    • Spiggy says:

      Good point. And the Mariners just need a bat, which is why they’d take either.

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    • Ron Brown says:

      I’d disagree with the assessment that the Jays don’t need a top of the rotation starter. This is something that the Jays would love to have – just not at the price of Lawrie.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • atigersgrin says:

      I think both the Yankees and Blue Jays would have wanted Pineda to a similar degree. It’s that the Yankees don’t need Montero as much as the Blue Jays need Lawrie.

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  17. TDW says:

    Lawrie based purely on defense, Montero may continue to be a 400+ wOBA hitter but as a DH unable to handle RF I would take the guy who has hit from the hot corner

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  18. Spiggy says:

    Not to be a jerk but it’s just “Globe and Mail”. No “Toronto”.

    I wonder what the poll would look like it if was Lawrie or Pineda, or if it was a three-way choice between Lawrie, Pineda and Montero.

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  19. baty says:

    I don’t see how you can make a decision based heavily on defensive contributions at this point. A year ago, Lawrie wasn’t a legitimate prospect by so many’s standards because he was a defensive liability. I think most forgot the fact that he had only been playing non-catching positions for a short while… Now all the sudden people are buying into the fact that he is a legitimate defensive contributor… A lot can change in a year as Dave pointed out.Montero still has a chance to make up the difference with his hitting. I think anything is possible at this point. Both are great, but completely different players.

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    • dan woytek says:

      By, positional adjustment alone, Montero would have to be 20 runs better with the bat is Lawrie is an average 3B

      10 if he turns into an average RF

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    • baty says:

      …Could be, and at this point I don’t see any way to reasonably compare the two as hitting projections. Both may still have extreme ceilings, and it’s too hard to say where they’ll end up . It’s easy to take Lawrie as the complete package, but run-wise who knows what Montero might be.

      As a side note, I remember quite a few throwing up their arms with the Lawrie for Marcum deal… There’s no way a Pineda for Lawrie deal at that point would have happened… The Mariners were still building pitching prospect depth… no one wanted to admit to a defensive home for Lawrie, and most were positive that Lawrie couldn’t hit enough to take a corner outfield spot.

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  20. Oliver says:

    Dave, can we have another poll where it’s a three-way between Pineda, Lawrie and Montero? I’m curious.

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  21. kid says:

    Lawrie, because he has the aspect of overall athleticism that teams covet. In their hitting primes we would expect Montero to probably (slightly) trump Lawrie with the stick in terms of wOBA or whatever other metric you want to use, but it’s no secret that compact, athletic players age a lot better than the huge, hulking types. It’s hard to look at most 6’4/225-lb ballplayers and not think about how they’ll run the bases when they are 30.

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  22. johnorpheus says:

    What matters is that both of them are better long term options than Pineda. I have Lawrie better, and the M’s obviously thought so since they went after him first. But Montero, IMO, is a great haul for any pitcher who’s not an established #1.

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  23. piratesbreak500 says:

    Maybe part of this is post trade bias? AA is pretty well respected, so there may be a bit of a tendency to agree with his judgement. Also, if the Mariners asked about Lawrie first, they think he’s a better fit for them, and the Jays “balked.”. For my vote, Lawrie, because he has a position. Montero is a better bat though.

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  24. grandbranyan says:

    This whole thing makes me wonder how much, if at all, Melvin explored a Marcum for Pineda swap before trading him for Marcum.

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  25. Choo says:

    So Johnny Baseballfan, who has yet to see Montero play a single inning at catcher, is sticking a fork in his glove. Meanwhile, Johnny Scout, who has been watching Montero develop over the course of 300+ games, is at least suggesting patience due to his strong arm. Is Montero worse than Mike Piazza was at this stage of his career? Mickey Tettleton? Jorge Posada? Javy Lopez?

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    • Steve says:

      Actually, that isn’t quite right. Most scouts feel that his strong arm will never materialize into anything really because his throwing motion is too long. And the biggest part of catching (receiving) he will never be considered more then below-average according to scouts because he lacks athleticism and isn’t good at handling a pitching staff.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      I thought it was Johnny Scout who had stuck a fork in Montero’s glove.

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      • johnorpheus says:

        Yep, Johnny Scout has stuck a fork in Montero the catcher, and it is actually Johnny baseball fan who entertains the magical notice that Montero may someday catch. But what does Johnny GM think? Now that’s a question.

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      • johnorpheus says:

        *notion

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    • jdbolick says:

      This, 100 times over. The notion that Jesus Montero CAN’T be a regular catcher is nonsensical hyperbole. It’s a relative certainty that he’ll be a below average catcher defensively, and quite possibly one of the worst, but it’s not as if this is a guy who was just moved to the position on a lark and has no business being there. Definitive statements that he should never be behind the plate for Seattle are ridiculously premature. Let’s face it, Mesoraco had near-universally bad reports about his defense prior to 2010. Montero’s shortcomings were highlighted in the Yankees’ system because they don’t need his offense as badly, and because they had so many other catching options who were far superior defensively.

      Statistically, though, where is the basis for saying that he definitely shouldn’t be a catcher? Haven’t studies largely undermined the idea of catchers having a huge effect on pitchers’ performance? Aren’t his passed ball and caught stealing numbers below average, but on par with other offensive-oriented catchers of the past? In my mind, the only legitimate reason for not giving him a chance to catch in the major leagues is if you feel it would inordinately depress his offensive potential due to the rigors of the position. But the idea that he can’t play there because he’s just that unskilled has no basis in reality as far as I can tell.

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  26. JMag043 says:

    Lawrie as a ballplayer by a wide margin.

    Montero as a human being because of this picture.

    http://www.thevictoryformation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Brett-Lawrie-11.jpg

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  27. The Real Jeff Nye says:

    Does it really matter?

    We don’t know whether the Mariners would have gotten Lawrie for the same assets that got them Montero, much less Lawrie PLUS something equivalent to Noesi.

    In an absolute vacuum, I’ll take Lawrie, but people who are saying “Lawrie and it’s not close” are ridiculously overvaluing a single year.

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    • EarlSweatshirt says:

      As long as we’re bring context to the table, you might want include that Jose Campos was part of that package as well, and depending on whether you want upside or MLB ready talent, Campos and Noesi are fairly interchangeable from a value standpoint. BA ranked Campos #5 in the Yankees org rankings, and I have a hard time believing Noesi would’ve been that high (not that it really matters). I just find your comment funny, since the Campos vs. Noesi element may make this whole question even more lopsided.

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      • The Real Jeff Nye says:

        First you say that Campos and Noesi are fairly interchangeable, and then you say the Campos vs. Noesi element may make it even more lopsided of a question?

        Which is it?

        The important piece of context in my mind isn’t that bit anyway, it’s whether we have any idea that the Blue Jays would’ve taken their “version” of the deal. We simply don’t know.

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      • benedict cumberbatch says:

        By using “interchangeable” you’re kind of conflating. He’s saying that since Noesi and Campos have roughly even value (and I think that’s close to fair), as a result the deal is essentially is Pineda for Montero because Noesi/Campos cancel each other out.

        So if you’re saying that Pineda + Noesi=Lawrie, you’re implying that both Pineda and Montero have lesser value than Lawrie.

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  28. Llewdor says:

    On a random team? Lawrie.

    On the Mariners? Montero.

    First, the Mariners really need a catcher, and I think Safeco would hurt Lawrie would than it would Montero.

    Don’t get me wrong, I htik Lawrie is terrific, and if I had been AA I wouldn’t have traded him for Pineda. But for the Mariners I think Montero will be more valuable.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      1) Montero is not a catcher.
      2) Why would SafeCo hurt Lawrie more than Montero? They’re both RHH’s, and Montero depends more on IsoP, which is what SafeCo destroys.

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  29. Shane Heathers says:

    Sweet comeback CAM-MAN! Can I call you CAM-MAN, it’s got an awesome ring to it. On a side note it’s just to early to tell. If Lawrie turns into Kevin Seitzer and Montero turns into Edgar Martinez it would seem the Mariners made the right deal.

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  30. Rico says:

    Lawrie by a wide margin for me. A blistering 2011 across two levels seals it, and that’s in spite of some hand injuries. It wasn’t at all lucky from what I see in the stats: 18% K rate in the bigs is stellar, and likely normalizes quickly even though we only have 45ish games sample. Throw in the “is Jesus a catcher or not” issue combined with the low quality in general of 3B’s, and it’s an easy choice.

    I’d argue that catcher hitting, though more premium than 3B hitting, has gotten closer. And with catchers being more injury prone and shorter career prone, it’s probably a moot point.

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  31. baty says:

    While many were excited, at that point, there were still a decent amount of people squawking that Lawrie’s 2011 MILB showing was a PCL induced mirage.

    It’s amazing how the Lawrie detractors disappeared so quickly, and rightfully so… I imagine they’ll be back though if he gets off to a less than desirable start this season… and if Montero picks up where he left off, we’ll need to put up another poll to present the flip in support.

    It’s fun speculating, and it’s even more fun when people believe their prospecting claims are more valuable than an educated guess… Not disrespecting anyone, just interesting to pay attention to…

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  32. Chairman Wow says:

    Who are the 15.8% who voted for Montero? If you see them, avoid eye contact and back away slowly in a non-threatening manner.

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    • Malicecrew says:

      Montero hands down! Montero has pure 80 power to ALL fields. Mariners will allow Montero to catch. They have put up with Olivo and Rob Johnson behind the plate for years, Montero’s defense cannot be worse than those two unless Montero has no legs! Also Lawrie’s bat isn’t good enough to negate the Safeco field effect like Montero’s is! Don’t get me wrong I love Lawrie but for the Mariners and Safeco fields sake Montero was the smarter choice by a long shot! The poll is just overwhelmingly favoring Lawrie because most of the voters are Jays fans so there fandom gets in the way of looking at the big picture!

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      • Steve says:

        Well thats just not true at all. Scouts have graded Montero to have 70 power.

        He’s not a huge basher like a Stanton, Harper or Fielder.

        His value is added to by his 70 hit tool.

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      • Steve says:

        Also, just because he’s allowed to catch doesn’t make him more valuable. Playing the position at a certain level matters.

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      • gabriel says:

        The 5:2 exclamation mark to period ratio leads me to discount all the content in the above comment.

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      • Sean says:

        @ gabriel

        I’m scared that that’s how you evaluate content.!.!.!.! Is one to one better?.!.!

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  33. jcxy says:

    i predict in august we’ll look back at this and laugh because one answer will be really clear. then, two years from now, we’ll look back and the opposite answer will be similarly clear.

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  34. greenfrog says:

    Lawrie just seems like a more dynamic player overall (taking into account, for example, defense and baserunning). I’m also not convinced that Montero is going to be the offensive monster that some are projecting – as Dave C has pointed out, he may prove to be more Carlos Lee than Miguel Cabrera. Which is fine, obviously, but Lawrie could climb into George Brett territory.

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    • the tourist says:

      If Montero could be Carlos Lee instead of Miguel Cabrera, then Lawrie could easily be be a slightly more powerful Chris Sabo instead of George Brett. And I even voted for Lawrie.

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  35. Jason says:

    Major league sample sizes are too small to be meaningful for both players. This includes offense and especially defense. The most conservative route seems to be to trust the scouts. It is my impression that the scouts generally favor Montero. Also, Montero seems to be a better fit for the Mariners. He has tremendous power to right field (important in Safeco) and is generally thought to be the better hitter. The Mariners are, shall we say, offensively challenged. They need all the help they can get.

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    • gabriel says:

      I’m not sure I quite agree with your implication that Lawrie’s defensive advanced stats were “too small to be meaningful”. We know defensive metrics don’t stabilize until you generate a large sample, but Lawrie’s defensive stats are consistently excellent across different measures, and his DRS is so good that it seems unlikely that it could be the result of randomness overlaying an average, let alone a poor fielding performance.

      In order to acumulate a +/- of +14 over a third of a season I’d say you need both some positive statistical noise and a good underlying performance.

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      • Jason says:

        …defensive metrics never stabilize as far as I can tell. Just because his fielding metrics are consistently good does not mean you can ignore the sampling issues. Every single player that has ever worn a glove has had stretches where they would rate as Ozzie Smith. It doesn’t take much. That is the problem with small samples.

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  36. Matt says:

    Lawrie with a bullet!

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  37. Jay says:

    Lawrie steals bases and is not a dh. He’s also a leader

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  38. Matt says:

    The Say Eh Kid!

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  39. durr says:

    It’s really funny how much effect 1 year of data has on people. No way does the poll result look even remotely close to what it is now if it was done a year ago.

    I’d still take Lawrie over Montero, but it should be a whole lot closer. 60-40 or something.

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  40. chris d says:

    I think Lawrie would be better but as M’s fan I am happy with Jesus and he might hit better in Safeco than Lawrie would….time will tell. I am just glad to have one of them. Beats Jack Cust or Ken Griffey, Jr. (of 2010).

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  41. JJ says:

    Given the skills each has displayed, I would say Lawrie’s floor is 20-20-.280. Montero’s would be about 22-0-.280.

    Although I would give the slight nod to Montero in power, the difference is not large. I’d gander that AVG should be similar (Montero’s has a better LD%, but Lawrie should be able to beat out more GBs). Given the similarities in power and contact skills, the large discrepancies in base running/defense/position scarcity make Lawrie seem like a no brainer here.

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  42. Dan M. says:

    Not that Montero isn’t a top notch prospect, but when you are clearly the best player in the Yankees system you sometimes get over-hyped. If Brett Lawrie had been a Yankees prospect we would have heard A LOT more about him, believe me. Hard to know if/how that could affect the various ranking systems. Also, Montero’s ranking was inflated somewhat by positional scarcity. No one outside of the Yankee organization really thought he was a credible catching prospect (who knows if the Yankees really thought so themselves).

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    • Frank says:

      I don’t like this argument. Who over-hypes these players? The fans in New York drool over Montero hoping he becomes another Cabrera. But what fan base doesn’t hope that about their prospects? It’s more pronounced with the Yankees, I agree. But INDEPENDENT talent evaluators have followed Montero and Lawrie for years. They all agree (as far as I know) that Montero has been the better prospect. I don’t believe they base their opinions on hype, what the common fan thinks, or what Wallace Matthews at ESPN New York says. I’m not saying they’re right or wrong. Lawrie is clearly a very talented player. But I don’t think that “hype” has any influence on independent ranking systems.

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    • RobM says:

      Actually, it’s the opposite. Because he played for the Yankees, his weakness at catcher was known from day one and has been a focal point in his rankings. His rating have been lowered every year because of his defense and the belief that he can’t stick at catcher.

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  43. Antonio Bananas says:

    I choose the guy who can play defense. So Lawrie. Plus I have this perception that Yankee prospects are overrated. I’m not sure if there is anything to back this, but it just seems that a lot of their prospects aren’t all they’re cracked out to be.

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    • Frank says:

      Prospects fail in every single organization. The Yankees failures are more pronounced, just as their successes are shoved in your face as well.

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    • Jason says:

      I don’t actually think its true that Yankees prospects are over hyped. There is a common perception that Yankees prospects are over hyped. But what is the hype and who is hyping them? In recent memory there are only a few Yankees prospects that had any real hype. Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Jesus Montero. Hughes and Montero were rated as top 5 prospects by independent organizations. Hughes turned out to be a back of the rotation guy. We have yet to see with Montero. Kennedy wasn’t rated as highly, but he turned out to be a pretty good NL West pitcher.

      But what about other Yankees prospects? The Yankees actually do a pretty good job of developing major league talent considering when and how frequently they draft. Remember all the hype for Robinison Cano? There was none. No hype for Brett Gardner. None for Mark Melancon. None for Ivan Nova. None for David Robertson. There was a little hype for Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata, but no one thought they would be superstars, but rather serviceable players.

      If you want to see hype, look at Tampa! Every player in their organization is Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax!

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  44. bstar says:

    Lawrie. It’s a small sample size, but what he did in a third of a season was just amazing. Projecting his totals over 150 games, he would have tied Jacoby Ellsbury at 9.4 WAR for the best mark in baseball last year.

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  45. Eric W. says:

    Lawrie. I admit that I haven’t got to see Montero play much, but watching Lawrie at the plate is really something. He’s developed such a good eye at such a young age already, and on top of that he’s built like a brick shithouse!

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  46. RobM says:

    I’m confident if a Montero vs. Lawrie poll is done next year that Montero will win. (Note, not a Mariners or Blue Jays fan). I think Montero’s bat is substantially better and that will become evident over the course of a full season.

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    • SideshowBob says:

      Even so, Lawrie’s position, defence, and baserunning will more than make up the gap between their respective bats. Montero hit to the tune of a 1.000 OPS during his stay in the majors last year and all that got him was 0.6 WAR, or 5 WAR over a full season. I don’t think Montero’s bat is in that elite company yet that possess 1.000 OPS bats (the Bautistas, Cabreras, Pujols’, etc.), nor do I think he ever will be (though, I’m confident that he’s a top 25 bat year in and out). So in all likelyhood, you are looking at a player who might not be anything more than a 4 WAR player, barring him turning into one of the top 10 bats in baseball. Lawrie on the other hand could and should easily eclipse that mark with an OPS just over .800, given his baserunning and seemingly plus defence. In other words, you’d have to bet on Montero becoming a top 10 bat in baseball and Lawrie staying in the low .800 OPS range for Montero to be the more valuable player.

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      • RobM says:

        True, but the problem I see through most of the notes is the hard belief that Montero is only going to be a DH. That is no longer the case. He is going to catch. The question is how much. Even if he only catches 55 games next year, the fact that he’ll be providing that much offense from the catcher position substantially elevates his value.

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  47. Jason says:

    One thing worth considering: If Jack Z. preferred Lawrie, it is almost certainly the case that Montero will be better. That guy is never right about hitters. Never.

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  48. Sen-Baldacci says:

    taking WAR as our basis of voting, then Lawrie obviously gets a big edge, but if we’re talking about which hitter would you rather have anchoring your #3 spot in the lineup for the next 6 years…I’m still leaning towards Montero until proven otherwise.

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  49. Budyzer says:

    I take Lawrie all the way. He can actually play defense and at the hot corner not just squatting behind the plate. How much does Montero having been a Yankees prospect drive his popularity

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    • RobM says:

      Zero.

      Professional talent evaluators care nothing about the organization or the city when assessing players.

      We’re not in the 1950s, or 60s, or 70s. With non-stop coverage on all teams on the Internet and TV, the whole idea that players are unknown because they don’t play in NY, or on the east coast, is nonsense. We heard as much about Eric Hosmer debuting as we did about Jesus Montero.

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      • SideshowBob says:

        Disagree. With all due respect, a year ago Austin Romine was making top 75s and Gary Sanchez was prematurely making top 50s. One has a future as a backup catcher for a very long time, while the other is a DH who strikes out 27% of the time and might not have any future at all… Who’s the last good DH that struck out 27% of the time in the minors? You put those players in the Marlins or Pirates system and nobody even hears of Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine.

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