8/8/15

Reese Kaplan -- How Does Rafael Montero Fit In?

14 comments
This week there was a Rafael Montero sighting…it’s almost like spotting a yeti or bigfoot.  Terry Collins ventured to Port St. Lucie to see him, talk to him and let him know he was needed.  At least that’s what’s been reported.

Through a combination of injury, veterans’ presence on the roster, and the brilliance of other young pitchers promoted from the minors, Rafael Montero has become the Rodney Dangerfield of Mets pitching prospects.  Lost among the performances and headlines about Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and even the heretofore short career of Steven Matz, Montero was never given much of a look.  If you take a moment to ponder his minor league numbers, it seems his output rivals his would-be teammates:


Name
IP
W
L
ERA
WHIP
H/9
K/9
BB/9
Montero
446
35
20
2.72
1.067
7.5
8.6
2.1
Syndergaard
456
34
19
3.16
1.207
8.3
10.0
2.6
Harvey
245
20
10
3.48
1.290
8.1
9.8
3.5
Wheeler
391
28
20
3.56
1.275
7.4
9.7
4.0
deGrom
323
21
11
3.62
1.284
9.3
7.4
2.3

The problem now first is having him stay healthy.  Last season he had some abdominal issues that kept him from pitching and now this year it’s been arm/shoulder woes.  The other issue is defining a role for him.  He’s been a starter his entire career yet when he came up to the big leagues he sat in the bullpen while the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Dillon Gee got starts. 

Last September he was given the opportunity to start when there were no meaningful games to play and he demonstrated his talent with a totally dominating shutout performance against the Colorado Rockies in which he struck out 7 in 5 IP while only giving up 3 hits.

After that performance the skipper chose not to start him again for 17 days and he turned in another impressive 6 IP stint in which he gave up a single run with 6 Ks.   

Now if everyone remains healthy and no starting pitchers are traded away, Montero may once again find himself with no room at the inn.  Going into 2016 the rotation would appear to be deGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard, Matz and Niese with Wheeler waiting in the wings as he continues to work his way back from TJS.  Consequently the Mets have a decision to make about a hopefully healthy Montero.  

  • They could keep him stashed in AAA as insurance against injury should one of the starters require time on the DL. 
  • They could try to convert him into a reliever as his strong control and high K numbers suggest he could flourish in that role.
  • He could become a trade chip to help fill another hole on the roster.  

My preference would be to keep him as a starter in AAA both for insurance and to demonstrate his health which would thus increase his trade value.  With other relievers showing some promise – Erik Goeddel, Sean Gilmartin, Vic Black, Dario Alvarez (en fuego, according to Tom Brennan) and a large number of them at AA, it’s possible he won’t be needed in that role.  Furthermore, the irregular warm-up cycle and unpredictable pitching workload of a reliever is probably not the best environment for someone working his way back from a few years of health issues.

Where do you see Rafael Montero’s future?

14 comments:

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

I just think there is something wrong with his game right now that might be more than physical talent.

Lew Rhodes said...

Collins said yesterday that Montero has a long way to go - I think he knows - we there he was taking pressure off the kid or was serious, I don't know - but I doubt we see him again this season

That means he has ZERO trade value - the Mets will keep him as insurance and he will start in AAA next year (barring an injury)

Right now he needs to prove himself to the organization all over again - fair or not, that's how it is

Lew Rhodes said...

Collins said yesterday that Montero has a long way to go - I think he knows - we there he was taking pressure off the kid or was serious, I don't know - but I doubt we see him again this season

That means he has ZERO trade value - the Mets will keep him as insurance and he will start in AAA next year (barring an injury)

Right now he needs to prove himself to the organization all over again - fair or not, that's how it is

Herb G said...

I am hoping that Terry's comments work as a wake up call for Raffy. He needs to put the pedal to the floor so he can come up in Sept to bolster the pen. Then, next spring they should let him compete with Verrett and Gilmartin for the SP5 spot after Niese is traded.

Lew Rhodes said...

Sorry - not one of those 3 would be better than Niese - and Montero is no sure thing now

Lew Rhodes said...

Sorry - not one of those 3 would be better than Niese - and Montero is no sure thing now

Thomas Brennan said...

Raffie needs to prove himself over the next two weeks. Gee has been here, done that, so if he keeps pitching as he has lately, s/b strongly considered.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the Mets trading Niese until Wheeler is ready. Unless some team offers the Mets a crazy deal for Niese I see him as a Met until mid summer or maybe the trading deadline of 2016.
Isn't Wheeler on about the same time frame that Fernandez was a year ago? Montero is below Gee, Gilmartin and Verrett at this point and he needs to win his way back up the latter.
Richard Jones

Herb G said...

Lew-
Differences of opinion are what makes life (and baseball) interesting. IMO Montero has the potential to be a solid #3 starter. Gilmanton also can be as good as Niese. Trading Niese could just give SA enough payroll flexibility to get a deal with Cespedes done.

Reese Kaplan said...

Well, letting just Colon and Murphy go is $19 million by itself. Cespedes is probably a $20 million player, so it may not be necessary to trade Niese to make him affordable. However, if your top four include deGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard and Matz then I could live with one of Verrett, Gilmartin or Montero as starter 5 until Wheeler is ready. That brings you another $9 million to play with. Non-tendering Gee (who is already making $5.3 million) would net still more.

Of course, with the Mejia situation they will once again find themselves trying to reconstruct a bullpen. They may not want to tamper with what success Gilmartin has given them there. You have Familia, then it gets murky. The people who came in this year are rentals. Blevins is a FA and no one knows what his arm will be like after two breaks. Parnell is already earning $4 million. Vic Black and Dario Alvarez are unproven. Consequently if you want a Clippard-type for the 8th inning then you need to budget for it, too.

Cody Pomeray said...

What do people think about Wheeler as a dominant 8th inning guy?

Cody Pomeray said...

To be fair, Wheeler's been given a chance to be starter (a season and a half's worth) that Montero's never been afforded.

Mack Ade said...

Cody -

Before all the promotions and injuries, scouts had Wheeler projected ahead of Harvey.

I would give him 2016 as a starter. He could really be a great one in 2017 (with innings limitations)

Anonymous said...

Beside money coming off the books how much is Cespedes adding to the books. SNY ratings are up. More tickets are being sold. Possible playoff tickets to be sold. Wilpon has to see the connection. Put a product on the field and it will bring in more money. It doesn't work in reverse.
Richard Jones

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