Somebody F’d With the Jesus

When he was in the Yankees farm system, Jesus Montero was considered one of the best hitting prospects in the minor leagues. He was strong. He was fierce. He had both the fire and the attitude. The Jesus was good. All that seemed to be missing was the purple leisure suit and the pony-tail. Oh yeah, and a glove. But the Yankees were almost willing to overlook the defensive shortcomings of their rising star if it meant getting that bat into the heart of their lineup. But a need for pitching took precedence and the Jesus was soon headed west to Seattle in exchange for a young, stud arm in Michael Pineda.

Regardless of Pineda’s shoulder woes and who won or lost that deal, there were immediate questions as to what Montero’s production would be like playing half his games at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. Everyone knew that it would sap some of his overall power, but he was still considered a strong enough hitter to make up for the reduced home runs with a high average and quality RBI-production. But during his first two months,the opposite held true as he was batting under .260 but had seven home runs and 20 RBI. Things leveled off and he batted .278 for the second half while seeing his home runs and RBI dip, but overall, it was a fairly successful rookie campaign considering the adjusted expectations.

Heading into this season though, with a full year’s worth of major league experience under his belt and the fences coming in at Safeco, the expectations were growing lofty again. At the urging of his coaches, Montero spent the offseason working on his defense as the Mariners were prepared to do what the Yankees almost did just two years prior. They saw enough potential with the bat that they were willing to sacrifice some defense behind the plate in order to keep his lumber in the middle of their lineup.

But somewhere along the line, the Jesus lost his mojo and his plate discipline, or lack thereof, has become a problem. His walk rate in the majors continues to plummet and while his 17.9-percent strikeout rate remains consistent with what he did last year, he is swinging through a lot more pitches and has seen his swinging strike rate spike to a very unhealthy 11.1-percent. And though his swing rate isn’t as high as it was last year, he is still swinging at nearly half of what gets thrown in his general direction and feebly popping most of it up. His fly ball rate has increased by more than 10-percent while his HR/FB is less than half of what it once was. It’s as if someone from the Bronx, stinging from the fact that Pineda has yet to throw a single pitch for the Yankees, made a voodoo doll of the Jesus and literally took the bat out of its hands.

With these struggles, Mariners manager Eric Wedge has grown tired and has demoted the once can’t-miss prospect from primary catcher to platoon-partner behind the dish with veteran Kelly Shoppach. Usually, when a manager mixes in Shoppach, it’s to make up for his other catcher’s ineffectiveness against left-handed pitching. That’s actually supposed to be one of Montero’s better assets which just tells you how disappointing he’s really been and now over the last 10 games, the two catchers have split time evenly.

Now something has to give here because there’s simply no way this situation holds all year long. At 33 years old, and having played in more than 100 games just once in his eight-year career, Shoppach isn’t going to be able to play effectively in half of the Mariners’ remaining games and until Montero re-discovers his suddenly missing bat, the team is not going to tolerate substandard defense without big-time offense offsetting it. With prized catching prospect Mike Zunino playing a strong game down in Triple-A, the Mariners actually find themselves in a pretty good situation. They basically lost nothing in acquiring Montero, so either he starts to hit the way he’s supposed to and the team comes out ahead or he doesn’t and the team replaces him with Zunino and they trade Montero, basically getting something for nothing.

Either way, this is not a good situation for fantasy owners. Montero was supposed to be a top 10 catcher this year and many made the investment with their sights set on a potential 20-homer season. What they’re sitting with now is far from it and frankly, the outlook seems bleak. It’s still way too early to give up on a backstop with such strong potential, but unless things turn around soon, you should feel like you just rolled your way into the semis and got F’d by the Jesus.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

25 Responses to “Somebody F’d With the Jesus”

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  1. SimpleMathGuy says:

    That’s just, like, your opinion man.

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  2. Terrible Ted says:

    He’s 7/23 over his last 6 games, but…yeah…

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  3. Menthol says:

    I dumped him and picked up Buck on the waiver wire. But I really want to go back to Jesus, since I doubt Buck’s hot hitting will continue.

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  4. Jay-V says:

    I kept Montero but picked up Gattis a few weeks ago; If/when Zunino gets called up, I am dumping Jesus sorry to say. i really expected a lot from him. I passed up on McCann who will probably go on to have a better season than Montero even while missing a month and a half.

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  5. SB says:

    Zunino is not playing a strong game in AAA right now. He’s struggling mightily after starting hot. He needs more time down on the farm. It buys Montero a little time, but I agree, the situation looks bleak.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Hot start, brutal 0-for-20 slump at the plate, 4-for-8 with 7 RBI last two games though. But he’s playing well defensively which is equally important in this case. They’re stealing off him a little more, but he’ll clamp down on that soon enough.

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  6. brrr says:

    I read the title in my RSS and I think to myself “What? F’ing Jesus? What’s this all about? Is Fangraphs going all Christian on me?”. Then I click the link and I realize it’s about “hay-soos” Montero.

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  7. edgar4evar says:

    It’s an open question to me whether the M’s lost nothing. Pineda passed his physical and appeared fine, though out of shape, going into spring training last year. There’s at least a chance his injury was the result of overthrowing as he attempted to live up to the hype under scrutiny of the NY fans and media. If he came in behind already, he might have been trying to do too much too fast. It’s possible this does not happen if he’s in camp with Seattle.

    Or it might have happened anyway. It does lessen the blow of losing a potential number one starter for a guy who right now can neither hit nor catch at a major league level. I supported the trade at the time and would do it again under similar circumstances.

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  8. Andrew says:

    I was expecting a David DeJesus article.

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  9. Mat Gonzales says:

    How is this getting something for nothing?

    If they keep Pineda he’s on the shelf. Instead they dealt him for a below average player (currently). Would it not be more accurately termed “nothing for nothing”?

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  10. Pauly says:

    i dropped Jesus for Ellis. I’m in an OBP league and like Ellis’ walk rate. I’ll look for power elsewhere.

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    • Johnny Come Lately says:

      Did you get him in time for his 2 HR day the other day? I picked Ellis up 2 days before that to put Weeks on the bench for awhile. God I love it when shit like that happens.

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  11. jwise224 says:

    Having the opportunity to watch him in spring workouts at the team facility this year, I was amazed at some of the pitches he chased in live BP. When taking regular BP, he often off balance and way out over his front foot. I’m still hoping he figures it out, but he was very unimpressive when I saw him and continued to be so.

    Perhaps the Montero/Pineda swap will end up a total wash for both sides…

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  12. Luke says:

    Will read this entire post when I get done work, but just wanted to say: awesome headline. I have Montero in my money league and my team’s name is Nobody Fs w/ The Jesus.

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  13. Freakshow says:

    Was Montero ever really that good of a prospect or did he just get the New York hype?

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    • Raf says:

      Part of me says that he was that good a prospect, but looking at the way the Yankees handled him gives me pause. Posada was done, Montero could’ve gotten the call at DH and caught some games, easing the workload of Russell Martin. All the while, learning on the job; Martin and Tony Peña could’ve worked with him, I am sure.

      If the Yankees thought that highly of him, why not call him up sooner? Defense probably shouldn’t have been much of an issue; after all, they ran Posada out there a number of years.

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  14. Kiss my Go Nats says:

    Anyone who dropped Jesus based on his numbers thus far has made a mistake. the sample size of his season so far is nowhere near stable (benching or platooning make sense). He could easily end up with a BA.270 and 20 homeruns before this season ends. We aren’t yet into June/July/August the home run hitting months of the season! Heck we are not even past April yet!

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    • majnun says:

      I agree, but if the mariners are reacting to the numbers and it affects his playing time, we can talk about SSS all we want and it won’t do any good

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  15. Mike says:

    At what point do you start thinking that someone in the Mariners org is at fault and not the prospects? Is it that Smoak, Ackley and Montero are not as good as advertised or are the Mariners screwing these guys up?

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