For those unaware of Mike Montgomery he will be 26 on July 1st. He was the first round draft choice of the Kansas City Royals in the 2008 amateur draft, 36th overall. In 2012 he was traded to Tampa Bay in the deal that sent James Shields to the Royals. Tampa was not happy with his development and this spring were trying to convert the left handed starter to a reliever.
But then the Rays traded him to Seattle for Erasmo Ramirez at the end of training camp, March 31st of this year. The Mariners needed a starter at triple A as insurance should one of their Major league pitchers get an injury. When James Paxton went down, Montgomery got the call, making his major league debut against the New York Yankees June 2nd, allowing one run in six innings.
Tuesday night at Safeco Field, pitching against his former organization the Kansas City Royals, Montgomery pitched a complete game 4-hit shutout striking out ten, walking nobody. It evened his record at 2-2 with a 2.04 ERA. In 35.1 innings he has allowed 26 hits, 8 walks, struck out 22 and given up one homer. He also has shown the ability to get out of jams. The Royals had the bases loaded in the first, no outs, and did not score. In the second inning they had runners at first and second, no outs, and Montgomery struck out the side.
The thing is there was nothing in his unremarkable minor league career to indicate how well he has pitched at the major league level. Before his promotion, he was 4-3 at Tacoma with a 3.74 ERA. He had pitched 53 innings in his nine starts, not quite six per start. But the batting average against was .240. His entire minor league career shows a 46-50 record with 4.24 ERA in 159 starts and 5 relief appearances. More remarkable is he had only two complete games in his 159 starts and not one shutout. Not one, none, zip, never happened. His shutout of the Royals was his first professional whitewash.
They say-and we know who they are-that lefties develop later and it could be the Mariners have a steal and for once another organization, or in Mike’s case, two, are the ones getting fleeced not the Mariners. Seattle has lost Adam Jones, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo to name but three they should have kept.
The Mariners currently have five starters doing well, though Felix in June has struggled. The King will not come out of the rotation, so it will be interesting what happens when Iwakuma and Paxton are once again healthy. Who leaves the rotation and where do they go? Tacoma? Unlikely. Bullpen? Stay tuned. But General Montgomery in command of all his pitches doesn’t look to be going anywhere.
For some time Mariner fans have complained about Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Jesus Montero. But there might be a reason why General Manger Jack Zduriencik keeps them in the lineup, when they are not sent to the minors, of course. He might be haunted by the legacy of previous GM Bill Bavasi.
Does this man have a satanic look? He still haunts the Mariners today.
Bavasi single handedly ruined the Mariners with terrible trades. How terrible? He traded away five young players, all of whom ended up on all-star teams, and in return got zippity-do-dah.
The biggest trade was Adam Jones to Baltimore, where he has become the Orioles franchise player. Jones, George Sherill, lefty reliever, and Chris Tillman, starting pitcher were shipped off for Erik Bedard, who liked to pitch six innings, then take the rest of the night off.
In 2006, Bavasi made two separate deals with Cleveland, sending them Shin-Soo Choo for Ben Broussard in July after trading Asdrubal Cabrera in June for Eduardo Perez. Broussard never cracked the Mariner lineup and has disappeared off the baseball radar. Perez, an average utility player, retired after playing 43 games with Seattle, getting hits as often as Brendan Ryan. (Truthfully, Ryan hit better).
Matt Thornton, the White Sox number one lefty out of the bullpen for years, was traded from Seattle to Chicago for Joe Borchard, who followed Broussard into baseball oblivion. And relief specialist Rafael Soriano left Seattle for Horacio Ramirez, a starting pitcher as exciting as Carlos Silva or James Baldwin.
Recapping those stalwart Bavasi trades shows he traded away five all-stars for Erik Bedard. He is the only one who made even a negligible contribution. In three years and 46 starts for Seattle he was 15-14. Bedard was not well liked by fans or players (so it was rumored).
Those were not the only mistakes by Bavasi, but due to time constraints we must move along. He did draft Brandon Morrow instead of two time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum though. Just saying.
The point is that the legacy of Bill Bavasi, is a dark funereal shroud that stares at Jack Zduriencik every day. Jack does not want to give up players who may star for other teams, a rich Mariner tradition, so he hangs onto them, hoping, willing, and praying that Ackley, Montero, and Smoak succeed. Trader Jack is either patient or stubborn, maybe both, but Jack will stay with them, going down with the Good Ship Mariner if he must. He won’t blink in the face of Bavasi and trade them away.
Kyle Seager is doing well, he looks legit. Nick Franklin could be as well, time will tell. But in the end the Mariners can’t win. They trade young talent and come up short; they keep young talent and they come up short. It makes you wonder if the Good Ship Mariner is a cursed derelict drifting in the waters of the Twilight Zone.
I don’t know if Dustin Ackley was shocked about being sent back to AAA Tacoma, but I was mildly surprised. It was however, a good decision, a wake up call if you will. Eric Wedge jokingly said Ackley was a bit stubborn. Two days later Ackley was sent down. Perhaps Wedge wasn’t joking. One could read into Wedge’s comment that Ackley was resisting coaching suggestions.
He seems to have woken up with the Rainiers. True it is only seven games, but Ackley is 13 for 32, a .406 average with an on base percentage of .513 thanks to seven walks. It is one thing to be aggressive, but his walk ratio is much better at AAA in those seven games than it was for Seattle, where he walked only eight times in 45 games.
It is too early to tell if Dustin got the message and got his game into high gear, or if it is just the mediocre pitching he might be facing. But at least he is hitting, no doubt with an eye to returning to the Mariners. What happens though if Nick Franklin does not stumble, plays his position, and hits between .250 and .280? He already has a two homer game. Ackley had one lone homer in his 45 games.
I feel the Mariners are watching both Ackley and Franklin closely. One of them could be the second baseman of the future, not that the Mariners seem to have a future, at least if the last decade tells us anything. But we can pretend can’t we?
Nick Franklin does not have a shortstop arm, but he does have one for second. Ackley could play the outfield next year, if the Mariners feel Franklin is for real. Of course they said that about Ackley in 2010. It would not surprise if the Mariners traded one of them at the deadline in July. It does not make sense on the surface, given the Mariners stance on building a team with young players for the long term. But consider in the past they traded young players like Adam Jones, Shin-Soo Choo, and Asdrubel Cabrera. All three made all-star teams. So if a trade is made, then watch that player make an all-star team or two, while the player the Mariners keep becomes the next Mario Mendoza.
Trayvon Robinson is young, fast, likeable, plays hard, but in 90 games for Seattle the past two years has hit .215. He is a decent fourth or fifth outfielder for Seattle. The question, as with most young players, is will he get better, or has he hit his plateau. A lot of young players are out of the league after a few years because they never improve, never make the big adjustments, their contributions are minimal, and there is always another young player coming along who may be better.
The Mariners get Andino who is a .235 career hitter, but in 2012 hit .211 for the Orioles in over 400 at bats. He can play all three outfield positions and play third, short, and second.
This is a trade of one backup for another. Obviously neither player figured in their respective teams future, and in the long term, I doubt either player will make an impact with their new teams.
I understand the need for a good utility player, someone like Mark McClemore, who played everywhere for Seattle in the Pinella years when Seattle was at the top. He was more than a fill in, more like a 10th player in the lineup, starting nearly every day to give a somebody a rest. With Mark in the lineup, the Mariners never missed a beat. A player like Mark is rare and Andino is like the 24th or 25th player on the roster. He has no power and does not strengthen the lineup in any way.
Some trades are one-sided, some trades can not be assessed until years later, other trades improve both teams, and some trades, like this one, mean nothing.
This is a typical Thanksgiving trade, one turkey for another. Unless of course, Trayvon Robinson becomes the next Adam Jones for the Orioles. Now that was a turkey trade for Seattle. Erik Bedard for an all-star outfielder. Thank you Mr. Bavasi-speaking of turkeys.