Monday, March 23, 2009

Montanez vs. Pie: Not The First Meeting, Nor the Last

Roch Kubatko posted about Luis Montanez today and it included a telling quote from Montanez about his chances of making the team:

"I hope it's still a competition and not a hand-over," Montanez said without mentioning Pie or any other players. "I hope they're not just rewarding people. I hope it's based more on merit than just names."

Montanez could not have been thrilled when Pie was added to the club. It's not the first time that Pie may have cost him a job.

Montanez was drafted in the first round (third overall) by the Cubs in 2000. He struggled early, not having even modest success until 2004 at Low A Boise. Montanez has moved from shortstop to second. It was also this year that Montanez first crossed paths with Felix Pie at High A Dayton.

Here was a player, three years his junior, who was doing all the things with a bat that Montanez has been projected to do. Pie was just one of several talented youngsters who were passing Montanez on the depth chart.

At age 19, Pie was OPSing .799, stealing 32 bases and playing a stellar centerfield as one of the youngest players in the league. Pie would start 2005 in AA West Tennessee while Montanez would not be called up until 2/3 of the season was up.

In 2006, Montanez was crushing AA pitching...but Pie was up in AAA at age 21 posting a .792 OPS. Montanez played 82 games at AAA that year but only managed to hit .224. At the end of the season, the Cubs gave up on him and he signed with Baltimore and was assigned to Bowie.

Fast-forward two years: Montanez has played well in a 38 game stint with Baltimore and is the odds on favorite to make the team as the 4th outfielder. And who comes along? Lou must be wondering what he has to do to get rid of this guy.

Montanez is almost certainly destined for Norfolk but for the first time in his career, he has a small window where he actually looks better than Pie. It's understandable why he would twist the knife at this point.

Some of the commentary supporting Montanez below Roch's post is insane. A sample:

Also, with Pie being late to camp and not "wow-ing" anyone yet, shouldn't he be sent to the minors for Opening Day? Let him "work on some things" that, apparently, Montanez has already worked out.

Pie is out of options. That's why the Orioles were able to get him in the first place. He can't be sent down without being claimed by another team. Next:

They had to get Reimold out of there, he was really coming on. Its embarassing now, think what it would be like at the end of spring training with Reimold at .350 and 7 or 8 home runs vs the Chosen One (Pie) at less than .200 and 1 home run.

If Montanez continues to do well they'll have to move him too.

So they sent Reimold away to save face for Pie? Reimold spent his first fully healthy season at AA Bowie last year and had a nice year. He needs more seasoning in Norfolk before he's ready. It's obvious why he was sent to minor league camp. He's not ready. Pie has a good AAA resume at least.

What a complete sham. Just because Pie has played at AAA he deserves to play in the majors more than Lou? Pie is clearly Andrew's golden boy and he will have to do something illegal not to make this team.

Once again quality minor leaguers who have done their time and learned the Oriole way will not be rewarded because retreads and alleged "prospects" get first crack at the 25 man roster.

Again, yes the AAA experience means a lot. Pie has OPS'ed well over .800 in more than 280 AAA games. He has only had 260 ABs to prove himself in the majors. He deserves a real shot.

Yes, Montanez has done his time and learned the "Oriole Way"...for two seasons. He is not, explicitly, homegrown talent.

I'll say it again...I like Lou Montanez, I don't love him. I certainly don't like him enough to give him a job over a promising, more proven commodity who is three years his junior.

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