BY Steve Rudman 03:31PM 02/23/2014

Montero was irrelevant before being ‘tub of goo’

Jesus Montero’s problem isn’t so much 40 pounds of extra weight, it’s his lack of commitment to becoming an accomplished major league player.

Jesus Montero, who opened the 2013 season as Seattle’s starting catcher, placed his career in jeopardy by reporting to camp 40 pounds too heavy. / Wiki Commons

A sports fan with a long memory may recall Terry Forster, who played for five teams over 16 major league seasons (1971-86) and retired with 127 saves, the bulk of those with the Chicago White Sox in the early 1970s. Forster gained most of his notoriety not for anything he did on the diamond, but for feats at the buffet table that, in 1985, drew the attention of David Letterman.

After the 6-foot-3 Forster ballooned to 270 pounds, Letterman referred to the lefty as “a fat tub of goo” on his Late Night Show. Forster became something of a 15-minute celebrity, appearing on the program with Letterman and recording a novelty song titled “Fat Is In.”

But Jesus Montero isn’t likely to appear on “Letterman” or any other televised gabfest. Unlike Forster, baseball’s new “fat tub of goo” has become the pariah of Mariners spring training by reporting at 270 pounds, 40 above his listed playing weight.

The Mariners expressed astonishment and dismay when they had their first gander of Montero after he emerged from a winter of face stuffing. GM Jack Zduriencik, almost always a positive sort, even distanced himself from the former highly touted prospect in unusually harsh terms.

“We are disappointed in how he came in physically,” Zduriencik said in a televised interview. “It’s up to him. I have zero expectations for Jesus Montero. Any expectations I had are gone.”

“He’s at a crossroads,” added manager Lloyd McClendon. “It’s time to either put up or shut up.”

Credit Zduriencik and McClendon for not trying to sugarcoat the situation. But it’s not like Montero inspired confidence anyway. The Mariners named him their starting catcher a year ago during spring training and he responded with 29 forgettable regular-season games that earned him a demotion to the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.

During his short stay with Seattle, Montero not only couldn’t handle big league pitching, batting .208/.264/.327 with as many hits (21) as strikeouts (21), he proved himself inadequate defensively.

After he reported to Tacoma, the Mariners began transitioning Montero, a centerpiece in their expansive collection of non-hitters, into a first baseman. But a torn meniscus in his left knee scotched that plan after just eight games. Any other plan the Mariners may have had for Montero blew up Aug. 5, when he accepted a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

Montero apologized, played winter ball and was supposed to report to Peoria weighing 230-235 pounds. Instead, he spent the remainder of the winter pigging out.

“All I did was eat,” Montero confessed.

The problem is not Montero’s bulging gut. It’s the air between his ears. Had he been serious about revitalizing his major league career, already headed south due to poor work habits and lack of a position, he would have made it a priority to report to camp in the best shape of his life.

Instead, his only push ups came off the dining room table, clear evidence that Montero is not interested in doing what it takes to play baseball at the highest level.

Montero could have atoned for his involvement with Biogenesis with a solid spring and willingness to work. But he opted to compound his mistake with career-threatening apathy. At least he’s not a major salary ($503,000 last year).

The best the Mariners can do is help Montero get into shape and hope they can find another club willing to take a chance on him. Trouble is, Montero, with no position, no  speed, and no chance of hitting his former weight, had become irrelevant before he added 40 pounds of flab.

Now, the only place he can star is the team’s minor league cafeteria.


YourThoughts

  • Edgar Martinez

    He’s the antithesis of Russell Wilson.

  • jafabian

    It’s time to trade him. Keep him in Tacoma until his bat comes around then take the best deal. I don’t see him transitioning to 1B successfully. I had hopes he’d at least be a decent catcher behind the plate when he caught the no-hitter with multiple pitchers. That couldn’t have been easy. But what a regression since then. MLB is probably watching him closely after the Biogenesis scandal. It’s not worth the headache.

    If his bat does come back he’ll make a great trading deadline deal.

    • Nosunhere

      Trade him to who? Nobody would touch him. If we were really lucky on a good day, maybe we could get a bucket of balls and some sunflower seeds. The article says it best “…Montero, with no position, no speed, and no chance of hitting his former weight, had become irrelevant before he added 40 pounds of flab.” It is easy to say trade him, but that is like saying you are going to sell your 76 Chevy Nova with body rust on blocks in your front yard. Good luck on finding a buyer.

      • jafabian

        If he returns to the form he had before the M’s acquired him he can be packaged. He was for three years named the Yankees #1 prospect and anywhere from the 3rd to 5th best prospect in the minors. His career stats were in 516 games he hit 77 HRs, had a .305 BA with a high of .356 and 329 RBIs. Get him back to that and throw in a pitcher and someone will bite if they’re in the playoff hunt.

        • just passing thru

          He has to want to. Baseball clearly doesn’t whet his appetite.

  • Greg

    Why bother? With all that this team (?) needs to concentrate on why spend $5 to get $3 in return on ebay. This new experiment in baseball terror can illl aford that kind of mentality hanging around. You’d thought he would have busted ass to get back in the mix, now it’s the ass that can’t be busted… Hopes dashed as he sails headlessly into rocks of Mickey D’s.

  • maoling

    Does the M’s FO have even a passing awareness of how their players spend the offseason? Clearly, no one is monitoring training regimens or workout schedules or even if a guy is living off of cheeseburgers for five months. Shame on Montero for having such little regard for his team or his career, and shame on the M’s for not having a clue about his condition until he waddled into camp.

  • zigzags

    Montero, a centerpiece in their expansive collection of non-hitters.

    This literally made me laugh out loud.

  • Bryan

    Being someone who has a spotty work ethic, it’s tough to say this but that has to be the #1 priority when evaluating people for your team. Mariner fans were stunned when they traded away such a talent to get Montero, and I think this will turn out to be one of the worst deals in team history (which automatically makes it one of the worst in MLB history given some of the other trades such as Varitek for Slocumb). All you had to do was have a passing eye for talent and the first time you saw Montero run down the line you knew this deal was in trouble. He needed to have a monster bat in order for the deal to be close, assuming Pineda has health going forward… That hasn’t happened and looks like it won’t. Bummer.

    • eYeDEF

      Having a spotty work ethic doesn’t mean you can’t make a contribution to make the big leagues. Exhibit 1A Manny Ramirez .

  • chuck

    What a fat terd

  • domdog

    Wants out.

  • notaboomer

    jesus just needs some diet pills.

  • jafabian

    I’ve wondered how the Yankees trading Montero affected him personally. He played 516 games in the minors and didn’t get rushed up and thrown to the wolves the way Zunino has been. They obviously believed in him, invested in him and didn’t want to risk his development. He was told he was the heir apparent to Jorge Posada and when he gets a taste of all that becoming a reality he’s traded to a last place team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001 on the other side of the US. And they got rid of their most widely recognized player for him so their best offensive player is their ace pitcher. (Remember, Felix hits well in interleague play and has a grand slam on his resume) Did he get discouraged? How can he not when he’s told he’s a lousy catcher and then moved to 1B? When he has on his resume that he caught a no-hitter? (but yeah, I can tell his catching skills need work. Don’t blame the M’s for moving him) Sometimes its forgotten how a trade can affect a player as a person. (I’ve wondered if this is partly Justin Smoak’s issues as well)

    Look no further than Jose Cruz Jr. who was told by the M’s he would solve their long standing issues in LF and was told by GM Woody Woodward they would not trade him. He was thrilled at being a part of the Griffey/Buhner OF and was a Rookie Of The Year candidate. Told that he was traded to Toronto in the middle of a game and was pulled from it, Buhner said after the game he found Cruz by himself in the locker room crying. Not unlike Montero, he was invested in by the club, brought up to believe in them and went from a playoff contender to a team that was rebuilding. In another country no less.

    Desmond Mason went thru the same thing with the Sonics. In his case it was the tean owner himself who told Mason he wouldn’t be traded. The frustration that Mason has expressed even today is understandable. Both Mason and Cruz were good players who ended having extended careers in their respective sports however both understandbly became somewhat jaded and seeing how they were good players but not perenial All-Stars I’ve always wondered if those events affected them enough to where it affected their development. I definitely think if Cruz and Mason stayed with their clubs they would have become those perenial All-Stars. Seeing as how Montero has become a “tub of goo” I question if his trade and suspension caused some sort of depression with him. It’d be interesting to find out when he started using PED’s as well. Was it when he joined the M’s? IIRC, the M’s have had several PED suspensions in the late 90s thru the 2000s in their farm system. Does that culture still exist? Don’t think all this can be taken at face value.

    Right now the best course of for all interested parties is to build up Montero’s confidence and help him get back to where he was a few years ago. Chastising him and wagging the finger never helps anyone and Pete Carroll has shown what positive reinforcement can bring to a player. Montero needs to be accountable and has been, something Brandon Browner hasn’t been for the Hawks, But like the Yankees, the M’s should take this one day at a time. These are all young men with little life experiences getting thrust into a multi-million dollar business. Not all are going to be able to handle it the same way and certainly not like an Alvin Davis, Steve Larget or Fred Brown did. Different eras, different people.