Why Seattle Chose Smoak Over Montero

If we are to assume the Yankees reported offer – Jesus Montero, David Adams, Zach McAllister – was on the table, it would follow that the Mariners brass ultimately made a not-so-simple calculation, and ended up with this: Justin Smoak > Jesus Montero. The comparison is a significant stance because it runs counter to the majority of offseason opinions. Only ESPN’s Keith Law, among analysts I can find, ranked Smoak over Montero this winter.

And not much has changed since then; Montero has less-than expected numbers at 20 years old in Triple-A, Smoak had less-than expected numbers at 23 years old in Arlington. Ultimately, I can pinpoint three significant reasons that Jack Zduriencik used to reach their Rangers-favored conclusion. Two are reasons that have been (and will be) well-documented elsewhere:

1. The Mariners don’t believe Montero to be a viable option at catcher, even in a diminished capacity. As a corollary, they believe Justin Smoak’s long-lauded defense at first will outpace Montero’s eventual contributions there.
2. The understanding that Safeco Field would be a better fit for the switch-hitting Smoak than the right-handed Montero. This is no revelation: “Know Thy Park” is practically a commandment of front-office work.

Yes, these were surely factors that ultimately supported the M’s decision. But I think there is a third, significant reason that you won’t hear talked about much that led to choosing Smoak over Montero:

The Mariners evaluate potential commodities from the context of potential performance during team-controlled seasons only.

The two players in question have close-enough offensive profiles that I don’t think you could make the case for trading the 20-year-old Montero for the 23-year-old Smoak (in a vacuum). Montero has a decent chance to be in the Major Leagues next season, and thus, should have the longer Major League career. But if Montero does play in the Majors next season — and considering he’s hit .312/.377/.550 since June 7, I submit that it’s likely (especially if he had gone to Seattle) — his team-controlled seasons will come at ages 21-26. The remainder of Smoak’s will come at ages 24-28.

Seattle, I think, is betting that Montero will take a couple years to find his footing in the Major Leagues. I don’t think they would question his potential, just gambling that he’s most likely to reach it after he hits free agency. They look at a guy like Paul Konerko, who before the season, I listed as a nice median outcome for Montero’s career. Konerko, from ages 21-27, hit a combined .279/.342/.470, posting an OPS just 8% above league average. Since then, he’s hit .278/.363/.513, showing more patience and power, with an OPS+ of 125.

The opposite part of that argument is Miguel Cabrera, who is clearly the top-end of what Montero could become. Miggy hit 33 home runs at age 21, and was a cumulative .311/.383/.542 through age 26. At age 20, before being called up, Cabrera had a similar number of plate appearances in Double-A that Montero has had in Triple-A. In the Southern League, Cabrera hit .365/.429/.609, with 31 walks, 29 doubles and 10 home runs. In the International League, Montero is batting .252/.328/.415, with 33 walks, 19 doubles and 7 home runs.

The Mariners are essentially gambling on Montero to be more like Paul Konerko than Miguel Cabrera. And Smoak, meanwhile, will have the ages where most hitters hit their prime at the tail end of his arbitration-eligible seasons.

Montero is a great prospect, but almost every part of his game is still projection. The power is still of the gap variety. He’s yet to play his Major League position. Smoak has struggled in the big leagues, but the skills are there. Defense, patience, power. The Mariners don’t care whether Jesus Montero or Justin Smoak will have a better career, like Baseball America does. They care about which would provide the best value while still coming cheap.




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97 Responses to “Why Seattle Chose Smoak Over Montero”

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  1. Resolution says:

    What do we think is the value of weakening a division rival? That may have had something to do with this trade…

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    • Rondo says:

      By weakening ?? You should at least note the Ms are shippin them Cliff Lee for a half a year which could lead to a chance to get far in the playoffs, extra revenue from home playoff games (not insignificant for a team in bankrupcy court), and then 2 draft picks for losing a type A to the free agent market…Plus the team already has another 1B type player in the minors in Carter. Further what team should know more about Smoak? The rangers or the Ms? Probably the rangers since they have controlled his rights for quite a while correct?

      I don’t know see any real support about weaking a division rival, your looking for like a third order thought process here and it can quickly break down.

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      • Kenny says:

        Taking Smoak and Beavan from the Rangers is not entirely insignificant.

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      • Steve says:

        I think the point about weakening the Rangers is ignoring 2010, which is by any measure a lost season for the Mariners. Given the Rangers’ ownership situation (and the Yankees’ apparent interest in Lee), it’s close to a given that Lee will not be a Ranger next year, while their young first baseman will be playing for Seattle.

        The draft picks are a valid point, but I do think the argument about weakening the division rival has some merit.

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      • Brian Chase says:

        It could also be possible that if the Yankees sign Cliff Lee as well as another Type A free agent (like Carl Crawford) that Lee might not be the top Type A free agent and therefore the Rangers would get a second round pick from losing Lee.

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      • Rondo says:

        @Kenny — Taking Cliff Lee from the Ms is not insignificant either. We are talking about a team projected to win 65 games getting better by slowly bleeding someone to death by single paper cut. This is assine. Let me ask you a question: Do the ranger have a better farm system then the Ms? Do the rangers have a better current team than the Ms? How old is the Ms most product everyday player?
        @Steve — really ignore 2010? Do you think a win today is not equal to a win tomorrow? that is like the back wards time value of money theory
        @Brian — I never said a 1st round pick, you are putting wordsin my mouth,err on my keyboard, oh whatvever. I said the ranger will get 2 draft picks, whereever they end up being slotted, for losing Cliff after a half year, which is not insiginficant

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      • Rally says:

        “really ignore 2010? Do you think a win today is not equal to a win tomorrow? that is like the back wards time value of money theory”

        From whose standpoint? For the Mariners it makes virtually no difference at this point whether they win 65 or 68 games for 2010. In fact, they are better off winning fewer, and getting the better draft pick. Any hope of getting back into contention this year is long gone, and even avoiding last place looks very unlikely.

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      • Boxdfrn says:

        Tell that to the Ms fans that pay to go to the game because they thought the team would be good this year and blunked down money for ticket package. Tell that to an Ms fan that is thinking about wether to renew for next year. Because a draft pick next June isn’t going to improve the 2011 Ms. I for one am tired of being the worst team in division, and I don’t think worrying about some perceived devaulation of the best team should have been in the thoughts of the Ms front office. They should focus on getting the best player to improve a 65 win team. They should focus on better roster contruction so they don’t carry 6 DH/1B/no Def LHs. If they think Smoak is better than Montero fine, but if they Montero is better but took Smoak as a way to devalue the Rangers than that is dumb, worry about making your own franchise viable first, then work on these secondary things. And yes, a win is a win is a win, taking out 2010 for any consideration is not logical.

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      • ??? says:

        2010 is a lost cause, and there is no benefit between being in last place by 5 games or by 1. You can’t think of this from a fan’s perspective and want them to field the best team this year, it would be for naught. An extra win in 2010 for the Mariners is useless. It is quite logical for them to be looking long-term, the span in which the Cliff Lee trade almost certainly benefits them and weakens the Rangers.

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      • zzzz says:

        This isn’t going to work for a fan that paid money to go to a game, we can sit here in our basement and type away, but a payin customer is basically getting shat on. And given how young the Rangers are, and that the Ms are older at the spots they’ve invested the most cash, I’m not sure removing one young guy from Rangers is really ‘weakening’ a rival. Maybe if they had taked two or three young players I’d get it, but the Rangers loss of Smoak is partially offset by Carter + draft picks + expected additional revenue from more fans and longer playoff push. Realistically, when do you expect this team of Rangers, without Smoak, to stop being competitive and the Ms, with Smoak and no Lee, to start being competitive? Not any time soon if your realistic. This trade should have only been about getting the best player, this talk about ‘weakening’ a division rival is dumb.

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      • ryan says:

        I think it is foolish to not think that weakening a division rival does not at least play into this decision. Montero is deemed to have a higher ceiling; however, Smoak generally has everything else in his favor. So as is, it seems like a tough differentiation, but add that you are taking from a division rival, it seems to make Smoak the better choice.

        Of course, it isn’t going to destroy the Rangers prospect-rich farm system, but think how losing Adam Jones and Chris Tillman have affected the Mariner’s organization. They are just recovering from that trade. If the Mariners were in the AL East, you bet they would be doubly damaged long-term by there short-term trade.

        So to say that weakening the division is insignificant is just wrong. This trade (for the Mariners) has nothing to do with 2010. The trade will, however, positively impact the Mariners in 2011-2014 and negatively impact the Rangers during that same timeframe. And in addition, the compensation picks will not hit the MLB roster until at least 2014, so following this season this trade the Rangers will be left with nothing in the near future.

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      • zzzz says:

        Ryan, i’m not following what you mean by your last sentence, the rangers will have nothing following this trade? They already have a young team, a good farm system two extra draft picks, and extra revenue. I still thnk losing 1 minor leaguer (which is what the article focused on) hasn’t really seriously devalued the rangers vs the Ms to the point that it makes up for the difference in talent, and therefore the point about weakening the division rival (again vs the Ms as the comparison) is insignififanct.

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      • ryan says:

        zzzz, I meant the Rangers have nothing from the trade. Yeah, they have their existing prospects, but if Smoak is their best young hitter, he can’t be replaced by some other prospect. Furthermore, the draft picks are so far off from seeing the major league roster (if ever), that they have little value in my eyes. So you are saying that additional revenue outweighs 5 years of run production being extracted from Texas and given to Seattle. I don’t buy it.

        My point is that, weakening a division rival while strengthening your team cannot be discounted. If Chris Davis comes up and dominates for Texas for years to come, then Texas made a stellar trade. But if Smoak dominates, and Davis becomes an average major leaguer (like many suggest to be the case), then the trade has the double effect of strengthening Seattle while weakening Texas. The point is that this is a real possible outcome and one that must be considered when evaluating trades. To just brush it off as an asinine consideration, is, well, asinine.

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  2. Mitch says:

    Great point, Bryan, and one that I don’t think has been made elsewhere. Nice work.

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  3. Jeff says:

    Seattle *would* have had the option of leaving Montero in the minors and letting his maturation happen there, without starting his clock.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      I thought I had responded to this point in the article, but I looked again, and it ended up on the cutting room floor…

      Yes, they absolutely would have. But it’s unpractical to think they would have, with a gaping hole at first base next year, failed to reward their top prospect. There’s a good chance they would have waited until June to call him up, but I think the point still stands. When Montero started knocking on the door, they wouldn’t make him wait too long to answer.

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      • Gary says:

        What about the value of locking up players when they’re young and still in arbitration or even pre-arbitration? The Mariners have locked in Felix for several years at below market value, shouldn’t that part of a players career be considered when they’re acquiring somebody?

        The M’s could have called up Montero, in a year or two signed him to a 6 or 7 year extension that will take him 2-4 years into free agency at ridiculously low prices a la Evan Longoria or Ryan Braun.

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  4. david h says:

    Great point. I also think the first comment hits on something sensible too – if the evaluation of the two is equal, or even just close to equal, the Mariners might benefit more by taing the talent away from a division rival when all they are sending back is a rental.

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  5. Steve says:

    If Montero’s endpoints are Konerko/Cabrera, what are Smoak’s? You are saying that the Mariners are betting that Montero hits the lower end of his potential from 21-27, but then taking it as a given that Smoak’s tools will all come together.

    What if Montero DOES become Konerko but Smoak becomes Casey Kotchman?

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Well I don’t consider Konerko an endpoint — rather a midpoint. But your point is understood. I can’t give you particular comps for Smoak, but I think he has a lower ceiling and a less-likely bust percentage than Montero.

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      • Steve says:

        You did say “median”, sorry about that. I just don’t think Smoak has the same power tools as Montero, and the Mariners are pretty desperate for power. Just think if you look at the Mariner’s roster and system, they needed Montero’s profile more than they needed Smoak’s profile.

        But I concede the lower ceiling/higher floor argument.

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      • JMH says:

        Also, despite the horrible year so far, the M’s still do value defense a great deal, and most of the reports say Montero is a bat looking for a place to play.

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      • Steve says:

        This is true, but the Mariner’s HAVE that place for him to play: 1B.

        The knock on Montero is not that he has stone hands or lacks athleticism, it is that his body is TOO BIG to stay long term behind the plate. It takes so much longer for him to pop up from the crouch that he might have trouble throwing out runners.

        There isn’t anything there that suggests he couldn’t become an average 1Bman.

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      • Bryan Smith says:

        Well, besides sheer size. I really do think Montero’s value comes from adding 20 more pounds of muscle, and hitting 30-40 homers a year. If he does that, agility won’t be in his favor. I think average is probably best-case scenario for Montero’s defense long-term. He actually might be *better* while learning the position than he will be down the road.

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      • Kenny says:

        Whether the M’s would like to see their hitters hit for more power or not is insignificant compared to who will bring the greater value during their club controlled years. They saw Smoak as a more major-league ready, complete 1st baseman and thus, he would provide a couple more WAR in their minds. Whether that comes with a few less home runs during that time, doesn’t matter.

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      • JMH says:

        And if Montero switches to 1B, he’d have to… switch to 1B. Yeah, it’s the default position for a guy who can’t play any others, but it still takes time to learn. Smoak already plays there, and plays there pretty well. He can probably contribute more over the next couple of years than Montero.

        And going with the theme of this article, that the M’s are looking at having Smoak under club control in his prime years, in 2011-2013 they’d have Gutierrez in his prime, and Felix and Smoak entering their primes.

        Plus, just as a random observation, the M’s dont’ seem to have fixed their organizational development problems, especially at C. Their recent track record with young position players is dismal. I’m sure that’s something Zduriencik wants to fix, but in the meantime, it might make Montero a bigger risk than a guy like Smoak who has already pretty much graduated.

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    • philosofool says:

      Playing the what if game is a bad idea. What if Smoak becomes Chipper Jones and Montero becomes Mike Jacobs? What if Smoak becomes Eddie Murray and Montero becomes Vlad Geurrero… Etc.

      I don’t even think it’s worth while to talk about ceilings. What’s Joey Votto’s ceiling? What would people have said in April 2008, when Jay Bruce was the top prospect in the Reds system? It’s not even a helpful way to think.

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    • Rally says:

      Given Smoak’s struggles against lefties, another good comp might be JT Snow, who eventually gave up switch hitting.

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      • philosofool says:

        Yeah, looking at Snow’s numbers, I would say he’s a pretty good comp with Smoak. He was two years older during his major league debut and didn’t quiet have the power that Smoak has demonstrated so far, but there’s definitely similarity. I’m going to remember Snow as a good floor for Smoak’s abilities.

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  6. mymrbig says:

    Any concern that Montero might have a little Delmon Young in him? Not in the attitude issues, but just the fact that he is so physically mature at such a young age, he doesn’t have as much projection left as you might expect from a 20-year-old?

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Not really, because from what I understand, Montero is a decent bet to put on even more weight. If he doesn’t reach Cabrera’s career apex, he is a good bet to reach his waist-line. And with it should come the long-lauded power.

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  7. Blue says:

    “The Mariners evaluate potential commodities from the context of potential performance during team-controlled seasons only.”

    Absolutely–this is the only rational way for a team to think in the free agent era. If Montero is gone at 26 or 27, however good a player his is from 28-31 is irrelevent to Seattle.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      My question is whether or not you want your prospect outlet to do the same? Philosophically, should prospect rankings be concerned with career potential, or team-controlled potential?

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      • Kenny says:

        Career potential. The team controlling those rights will be interested in those cost-controlled years, but I think everybody else is curious about the long-term successes.

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      • Blue says:

        I think it depends on the market the prospect outlet is aiming for. For a general interest publication, career makes more sense I’d say…but if want a list of the top Royals prospects, for instance, than a player who might only have three or four really solid seasons before exiting should probably be downgraded.

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      • philosofool says:

        Is career potential really the sort of thing we can project for a 20 year old? How well do you think we could do projecting the performance in 5 years of every major leaguer who right now has 1500 or more PA? I’m betting that no one could beat assuming that the player does (average for his age + average for his postion)/2.

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    • Steve says:

      Unless of course they offer him an extension early and buy out some FA years as many, many teams have done with their young superstars. Youkilis, Pedroia, Cano, Lester, King Felix, Josh Johnson, Greinke, Longoria, Gutierrez, Santana, Reyes, Wright, etc. etc etc.

      Not sure if Montero is a Boras client or not, but players are often very receptive of these types of deals that guarantee them their first major payout and will often make team friendly concessions. I mean, the Mariners themselves have done it twice in the last year.

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    • Rally says:

      “The Mariners evaluate potential commodities from the context of potential performance during team-controlled seasons only.”

      It’s a good point, but what stops them from keeping Montero in AAA for 2011-2012 and enjoying his age 23-28 seasons after that?

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      • Bryan Smith says:

        Addressed earlier, but simply, this doesn’t really happen in baseball. If your top prospect is ready and you have an open position for him, you bring him up or face intense scrutiny. So, to answer: reality.

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      • Steve says:

        wouldn’t the notion of giving him a year in AAA to “learn” how to play 1B be a perfectly rationaly explanation for holding him back in 2011??

        probably not all of 2012, but you have a built in excuse right there. he IS only 20 years old. No one would be screaming if they didn’t bring him up on Opening Day 2011.

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  8. Mike Green says:

    Excellent point, and one that I have made over and over again for years. My short-form for it is Mussina/Unit. Johnson obviously had a higher ceiling and reached it, but Mussina provided more value in the pre-free agency years.

    I suppose that Seattle sees itself as ready to compete in 2011. A team that saw its ability to realistically compete as more than a year away could afford call Montero up at the end of April, 2012 (a la Longoria) and postpone his free agency further.

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  9. TheImpossibleMan says:

    “Mariners brass ultimately made a not-so-simple calculation, and ended up with this: Justin Smoak > Jesus Montero.”

    Wait, WTF are you trying to say?

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  10. TheImpossibleMan says:

    OH LOLOLOLOL the “greater than” symbol showed up as a series of symbols, it was like g&;t or something like that. Hrmmm.

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  11. Bill says:

    Any chance Montero is over rated? Yankee’s prospects do tend to be overhyped and overrated. There’s a benefit to pitching in the world’s media center.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      I don’t think he has “80″ power, which was the oft-repeated quote when he was signed. But he did hit .337/.389/.562 as a 19-year-old between High-A and Double-A, half of which came in a pitcher’s park in a pitcher’s league. That’s pretty rarefied air.

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    • philosofool says:

      He’s not nearly as good as people are saying. You’re right that Yankees prospects get a lot more hype than they deserve.

      Montero’s plate discipline is okay. It’s not great. It’s not bad. It’s okay. He swings hard, and misses some. His contact skills are okay. They’re not bad. They’re not good. They’re okay. His power with that contact rate is nice, but we’re not really in Miguel Cabrera land, at least not yet. (statcorner.com actually has plate discipline stats for AAA hitters, which is why I’m contradicting some scouting reports that praise his contact skills.)

      His power numbers are very good, but if “80″ is a number, it’s a ceiling, not a rating of his current ability.

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    • Zack says:

      And if Smoak and his .215/.304/.331 line vs LHP in his minor league career was a Yankee, you’d say Smoak was overrated just because he’s a Yankee as well.

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    • Rally says:

      He’s over-rated, just like Robinson Cano.

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  12. Bill says:

    Maybe the Mariners just appreciated a great nickname like “Smoak Monster”

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  13. Big Oil says:

    Project prospect, one of my favorite prospect websites, had Smoak over Montero at the beginning of the year. This was prior to Montero’s rebound.

    http://projectprospect.com/article/2010/05/10/top-25-prospect-list

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  14. philosofool says:

    I’d like to add to this that traditional scouting ignores one of the most important tools: getting on base. It’s a real ability, it’s very important, and like any other baseball ability, it doesn’t always develop. Jose Lopez has plenty of tools, but getting on base isn’t one of them and it’s what has always held him back as a hitter.

    Smoak has 70/80 (current/ceiling) on-base skills. There’s no rookie in baseball and hasn’t been one in a few years more likely to have a career 15% walk rate. He *currently* ranks in the top 20 of MLB batters.

    Montero has 50/60 on-base skills. People pretend like learning to walk is easy. It isn’t. Most players never learn to do it. Montero hasn’t shown the ability to do it, and there’s no special reason to think he will be special at learning to do it.

    1 home run is worth 2.74 walks. Justin Smoak is just as likely to walk 27 times more per season than Montero is to hit 10 HR/season more than Smoak, especially in the club controlled years.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      I’ll concede that Montero has “50″ on-base skills right now, but I think “60″ is selling the ceiling a little low. You’re talking about a 20-year-old kid that upped his BB% by 3% by moving UP a little and a half. He clearly values the base on balls, which is half the battle. I don’t think you can rule out it becoming a real asset for him.

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      • philosofool says:

        Yeah, maybe he gets a 65 ceiling in on-base skills? I still think Smoak is as likely to get 27 more walks as Montero is to get 10 more HR, and that’s basically the breaking point.

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    • q says:

      In what context is a HR worth 2.76 walks? Is there any benefit to saying you’d like to have 1B with a higher slugging pct given that no one else on the team does?
      I think there is a very real possibility that Montero at Yankee staduim in his club controlled years will easily out Homer Smoak playing in Safeco in his club controlled years by well over 10 dingers. In fact, if it was possible I’d bet quite a bit of really real money on that wager and sleep very well at night in my giant house with all my profit from said wager…

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      • philosofool says:

        The linear weight value of a home run is 1.7 runs. The linear weight value of a non-intentional walk is 0.62 runs. 1.7/.62= 2.74 runs.

        http://www.insidethebook.com/woba.shtml

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      • q says:

        Thanks, got it. I wonder how many 2bs/3bs we would expect Smoak to hit compared to Montero? Probably pretty close to each other, but is still think Montero will out homer Smoak by a wide margin.

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      • philosofool says:

        Well, given that one is a catcher and the other grades low on speed, I think triples are going to be pretty rare for both.

        It’s a tough question, but I’m guessing that both have plenty of extra base hitting ability. Both have done well at is so far.

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    • hank says:

      Power = more than HR’s and this is where comparing walks to HR’s is just another transparent (and logically flawed) attempt to knock Montero down a bit because “Yankee prospects are generally overrated”

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    • theinternet says:

      “There’s no rookie in baseball and hasn’t been one in a few years more likely to have a career 15% walk rate.”

      Jason Heyward.

      “1 home run is worth 2.74 walks.”

      Not really.

      http://www.tangotiger.net/runscreated.html

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  15. emwej says:

    Long time Brewers fan here. Long story short Z was told to get an MLB-ready player for Cliff Lee. That would NOT be Montero even though he was Z’s choice. Z got over ruled on this one by Lincoln/Armstrong and it’s a shame. He came to Seattle with a load of promises and is getting treated like crap. He’s a nice guy who doesn’t stand up for himself so he ignored his instincts and did what he was told. Also it looks like $$$ is the priority for the owner

    I wouldn’t blame him for walking away from that mess. The Brews did the same thing to him, he got out, and now rinse and repeat from the Mariners

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  16. algionfriddo says:

    Interesting comments re: Smoak out of Texas now that he has been traded. I was surprised to read that he has a very poor arm (not all that important at 1b but still of note). They saw him as one of the slowest firstbasemen in MLB. Smoak has not looked good defensively (SSS) and Ron Washington said he looked forward to getting Chris Davis back in the field as Smoak wasn’t getting the job done with the glove. I don’t see many Ranger games but the comments re: Davis are of interest. He seems to be well thought of defensively (again SSS but +/- and UZR don’t see it). He has a gun for an arm. Comments here often refer to Davis as below average. I love Smoak’s OBP potential and Davis is not in the same league there.

    My feeling is that ‘Z’ liked Smoak plain and simple. He has watched him develop from early on and this was his guy. Personally, I would like to see Smoak get another 100 AB’s in the PCL but ‘Z’ knows best.

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  17. xsacred24x says:

    “Long time Brewers fan here. Long story short Z was told to get an MLB-ready player for Cliff Lee. That would NOT be Montero even though he was Z’s choice. Z got over ruled on this one by Lincoln/Armstrong and it’s a shame. He came to Seattle with a load of promises and is getting treated like crap. He’s a nice guy who doesn’t stand up for himself so he ignored his instincts and did what he was told. Also it looks like $$$ is the priority for the owner

    I wouldn’t blame him for walking away from that mess. The Brews did the same thing to him, he got out, and now rinse and repeat from the Mariners”

    I can assure you right now Lincoln had no hands in this like he has in the past Lincoln wouldve terminated this deal right away when he found out Lueke was in the deal for what Lueke did in 2 years. This was what Z wanted and hes been on his radar for awhile and sounds like a Z guy.

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  18. bberdl20 says:

    I read somewhere that the health of Adams had something to do with the Yankees offer falling short as well. If Adams health was not in question the deal would have happened with the Yankees.

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  19. Jeff Wiser says:

    Smoak’s power is somewhat of a mystery for me. Everyone talks about big power potential but he is really yet to show it. His ISO in the minors and in the bigs is rather unimpressive so far. I’m sure it will improve over time, but I don’t know that he will ever be the Mark Teixeira-type player everyone thinks he will be. There’s a Smoak/Teixeira comparison article at the website below.

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  20. anonymous says:

    Miguel Cabrera is arguably the top hitter in baseball… are we really ready to say Montero has that kind of potential? Any chance he’s overrated from the NY media hype machine?

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  21. maqman says:

    Montero’s home run output playing in Safeco Field would be 10-20 percent below what it might be at Yankee Stadium or Fenway type fields (see Beltre). Smoak is just a better fit for the field and the team. As was stated by GMZ, they wanted a major league ready hitter, Montero is not ready yet to play any position other than DH possibly.

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  22. Paul says:

    The notion that taking away those players from a division rival has value, but the only player with relevance on this point is Smoak. I’m not bashing him, but it’s true that there is a split on him, as there was going into the draft two years ago. Don’t forget that he struggled really badly for most of his last college season, much like Grant Green. Both guys fell and so far appear to be great values for the team that picked them. In this context, the doubts about Smoak are going to persist until he proves otherwise. If Jack Z is right and Smoak is Tex, this is a fair point. But he has to be right.

    Because… if he’s not and Konerko is the comp for Smoak, as noted above Texas has at least one player with that type of projection. There were two references to “Carter” above, and I’m wondering if that should be Davis. While Texas has not given up on him, I think it should be noted that many within the organization think Mitch Moreland is the better player. And in fact, those same people had him ranked above Smoak since last season. That’s not the conventional scouting wisdom, just within the organization and it’s been pretty widely reported (Moreland was their player of the year last season, so there has been some mainstream pub). I’m just noting information that surely was taken into account by Texas in making the decision to trade Smoak. They think Moreland is better anyway.

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  23. xsacred24x says:

    Actually Paul beavin will be a starter he has great command but bad control if he learns to keep it down hes going to be great. Lueke is another interesting guy he can throw anywere from 92-97 with a split finger so he can be Lowes replacement the other guy was a throw in though or a stop gap until Ackley is ready.

    Also Paul you know another struggling first basemen? Adrian Gonzalez who has had it together the past 2 years and they still have him next year. Just because there struggling in the majors means nothing this is Smoaks first year let him adjust. Besides Montero is struggling in triple a Smoak>Montero in Safeco.

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  24. xsacred24x says:

    Anyways we will see in 2 years im not worried about his struggling at all not all rookies come in being sensations in the MLB level right away anyways very few actually.

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  25. Bsmith says:

    Ok, I’ve been reading a lot about this on the internet, so, of course, I am now an expert. :) But seriously, the more I read the more I am convinced that taking the Texas package was a no brainer for the following reasons:

    1. I believe the M’s want to win sooner rather than later. Besides this being obvious, here are three other points:
    I have yet to read this suggestion, but Jack Z. needs to win in the next 3 yrs or the M’s will probably let him go. That corresponds with the excellent point above that Smoak is likely to provide more value over the next 6 yrs than Montero.

    2. The M’s have so many holes on their team and the Ranger’s package seems to potentially fill more of those holes. Even if Montero would be better (at C or 1st) than Smoak, if Smoak fills first, pudits seem to agree Beavan is more likely fill a middle/end of rotation spot, and Lueke (personal issues aside, which is a concern) could fill a hole in the bullpen. Three holes filled and about 6 more to go. The yankee package seems to fill 1 hole, perhaps that hole would be filled better, but the dam is leaking, the M’s need to patch as many of the holes as possible.

    3. Back to the winning soon, M’s payroll decreased this year. Attendance is down. The M’s need to win sooner rather than later to keep the revenue coming in and payroll up.

    Then there are the points that others are making, Smoak has a defined position, is already in the big leagues, and is likely a better fit for Safeco park.

    Also, I find it interesting in comparing the fact (noted above) that most analysts perfer Montero but Joel Sherman surveyed 6 “personel” people with unaffiliated MLB teams and 5 of them prefered Smoak (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/hardball/up_more_thoughts_on_lee_trade_fZPq0skMLfj9mAUNIURryN). Could be front offices do look at prospects differently than analysts?

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  26. Bsmith says:

    Sorry, I somehow submitted my post while still editing….the three reasons to win soon, which likely favors Smoak over Montero include:
    1. Jack Z’s job security
    2. The need to reverse the M’s declining revenue, attendence and payroll.
    3. Taking advantage of Ichiro, Felix, Franklin, etc in prime performance years.

    Then, it seems to me that the Ranger package has the potential to fill more holes than the yankee package.

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  27. xsacred24x says:

    I thought we got pretty good attendance Bsmith sure its not the 30k we used to get but we attract 16k people if you look at other teams stadium that lose alot theres only like 1-2k people.

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    • Bsmith says:

      Just checked and we are pretty much even with this time last year with an average ~27,500. I thought we were worse, but it is still off from the hey days a few years ago and a few nights with 14k/15k (record low) have to be a concern to management.

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  28. joeyp says:

    ive seen both smoak and Montero several times each in the minors, and It could be just the luck of the draw of course but up close, Montero looks to be like a young Miguel Cabrera. He just exudes confidence at the plate, Talks incessantly to the catcher and umpire too, but really seems much older than his peers.

    Smoak on the other hand has that long swing, few minor league pitchers had the consistent stuff to get him out but I think Major league pitchers will find it easier to do, I am no scout so I cant rightly project what they will become but based upon what I saw with my own eyes, I have to hope that the other three prospects are worth something. or Jack Z got burned worse than we did in the Bradley trade

    I’m afraid that Smoak will be the second coming of Jeff Clements

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  29. TedWilson says:

    I just love how the small sample size crowd has now seen enough of Smoak to say Montero is the better player. Smoak has less than half a season in MLB and Montero has 0 abs. Yet so many fans here are CONVINCED!!!! Montero was clearly the better player.

    I ask a basic question.

    How many of you have seen Montero ever swing a bat? TV or in Person? I bet less than 1% of you here.

    Think about your opinions now. You are going to forcefully hang your hat on something you have never witnessed?

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  30. joeyp says:

    @tedwilson

    as I said in my post Ive seen both, albeit both for small sample sizes, and as an M’s fan I pray what I’ve seen is not prescient, but based on my personal evaluation, Montero is clearly better, He carries himself as a hitter better and at 3 years younger than Justin, he was more impressive. In Oklahoma city which is where I saw him in 4 games, he had 2 hits, both flares fought off down the right field line, and my immediate impression was of a bigger Jeff Clement.

    Clement as we know could pound the baseball in the minors, but had enough holes in his swing that Major league pitchers could exploit, that it made him expendable, Montero, on the other hand reminded me of Miguel Cabrera when he first came up, with the marlins, he just carried himself up there as a hitter.

    Im no scout, so I hope Jack Z who is one, knows something I dont

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  31. B-runnin says:

    I’m a Rangers fan and I’ll tell you that Montero will have to hit a helluva lot of HR’s to have 10 more than Smoak. Smoak showed good power and I can remember several warning track shots that could go out once he matures and gets stronger. Also Smoak’s defensive value and on base skills will make him at least Montero’s equal. Once people get the fantasy of Montero playing C out of their head they will see a that he isn’t really as special a prospect as people make him out to be.

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  32. nick says:

    If you SERIOUSLY think the name Jesus Montero and GAP power go together, you have NO BUSINESS WRITING A SPORTS POST…………….NONE WHATSOEVER.

    His ONLY undeniable talent is POWER.

    Really, COME ON!

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  33. nick says:

    oH

    Again, bryn, you don’t think he got the highest grade possible for power? Did you REALLY WRITE THAT??

    What, now, making shit up as you go along??

    Look, he’s the real deal, now. If the Yanks had smoak and the Rangers had Montero, it would be a friggen LANDSLIDE for how montero is the next albert pujols….but, like always, yankee hating gets in the way. And this article is a PERFECT example. If you think Smoak is better, fine. But to say Montero DIDN’T GRADE OUT the hightest possible for power and his power is GAP

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  34. nick says:

    is just to hideous for words.

    Red sox fan for sure.

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  35. phoenix says:

    i think that the Ms want to make a more immediate push. they dont have time for montero to mature either as a C or a 1B. they want proven (Smoak is in the majors now even if he hasnt been great yet) over purely projection (0 ML at bats for montero). Montero may end up hitting 40HRs a year and 30 doubles to Smoak’s 30HR and 40 doubles or something like that, but smoak will hit his sooner. also smoak’s skill at getting on base is better than monteros by a mile. not saying montero cant learn it because he is obviously attempting to (thats half the battle. hitters like vlad just dont care about walks), but im saying that smoak has the skill now and the Ms dont need to worry about if it develops or not. in essence: smoak has a lower ceiling but a higher floor and he’s more likely to hit his ceiling with the Ms than montero is given his age and major league experience.

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  36. nick says:

    A. Its funny if you go back and read the posts when the Mariners were gonna get Montero, MONTERO couldn’t be beat as a prospect. The best. NOW, he’s OK, but hes no SMOAK.

    HAAAAA! SEATTLE FRIGGEN BLEW IT WITH A CAPITAL B. MONTERO is one for the ages, Smoak, even as an allstar will be HALF the player. BOOK THAT.

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