In the days immediately after the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda blockbuster, every email, text message and phone call seemed to be a part of one endless conversation. With scouts and executives, with outraged fans and excited fans, with my own editors and other beat writers. It was a prospect-for-prospect swap, which meant it was all potential and no promises.
Which meant the conversation was endless.
The debate could and would rage on for years, but for some reason, it seemed that everyone wanted to have the entire conversation — from start to finish — right then and there.
Of all of those early phone calls, of all the speculation and second guessing, there’s one that stands out to me. I remember one talent evaluator saying that it would be a long time before we knew which team “won” the trade, but this much was certain: The only sure thing in the deal was that Montero would hit.
Yet, here we are, a year and a half later, with the news that Montero is being shipped to Triple-A because he’s hitting .208/.264/.327. For the sake of just-for-fun comparison, Chris Stewart is hitting .265/.307/.397. Granted, some of the demotion is surely because Montero’s a not-very-good catcher, but everyone has known for years. The assumption was that Montero’s bat would be enough to outweigh his glove. It hasn’t been.
As the News Tribune points out, the Mariners top catching prospect, Mike Zunino, is also on the Triple-A roster, which means Montero is likely to get most of his playing time at designated hitter and first base. It’s worth wondering if he’s burned up his last chance to prove himself behind the plate, and now has to prove himself all over again at the plate.
Meanwhile, Michael Pineda is getting closer and closer to a rehab assignment, and Brian Cashman has talked about encouraging signs of arm strength in Pineda’s extended spring training starts.
Does this mean the Yankees are now winning the trade? Not really. Only means the conversation will continue, and after one shoulder surgery and one demotion, there’s still no such thing as a sure thing.
Associated Press photo