Miguel Montero Is Dead To Me

9:04 AM | Comments (1) | by Rich Funk


It's one of the oldest parenting tropes in pop culture.

"This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you."

I have that feeling right now. And for anyone that's written about something they feel passionately about, you know as well as I do that when you know what it is you want to write about, what you end up with isn't always what you expected. So to say that's how I'll feel when I'm done writing out whatever is about to happen may not be true. I've exercised feelings of anger, frustration and loss just by typing things out before. Maybe that's how this will end up. Maybe I'll have a bit more clarity and sympathy when all of this is said and done. I really hope so, because I don't like what I'm about to say any more than you like reading it.

Fuck you, Miguel Montero.

I didn't like that. I didn't like typing it. I don't like seeing it in front of the screen in front of me. But all morning today, I just keep coming back to that...

Fuck you, Miguel Montero.

Every time I look at his comments after last night's game...

Fuck you, Miguel Montero.

Anyone who has been to this site any time over the last 11 years can tell you that we do not shy away from language around here. I try not to go too overboard and keep the saltier language just for times when no other language will do. Unfortunately this is one of those times.

If you're one of the people that turned off the Cubs game after seeing sloppy-ass baseball, you might have missed the controversy. Or as we call it around here, MIGssing the MONtroversy*.

*(Editor Jake's Note: "Nobody is calling it that.")

Good to see that I'm not mad enough to miss the opportunity to make a shitty pun. But enough with the levity. This isn't going to get any easier, so let's dive right in.

So what happened?

If you missed the Cubs/Nationals game last night, consider yourself lucky. In a game the Cubs lost 6-1 (which didn't even feel that close to be honest), the battery of Arrieta to Montero allowed a whopping SEVEN steals in just 4 innings. Adding insult to injury, Trea Turner did that thing where he stole second and then immediately stole third during the same trip around the bases. Then he did it again. Then Michael Taylor did the same thing. That's when you know you have a problem. When stealing against you is so easy that every time someone does it, their first thought is "Well shit, I might as well keep going!"

To be fair, this was a problem that Joe should have seen coming. Trea Turner is one of the fastest players in the league. And guys like Taylor and Rendon are no strangers to swiping 15-20 bags a year so it's not like we got run roughshod by the Giambi brothers. Joe is smart enough to know that the combo of Jake being super slow to the plate and Miggy having the second worst arm on the team (I'll get to that later) was a recipe for disaster. A huuuuuge heaping spoonful of the blame needs to be poured over Joe's head on this one.

And that's how I left things after last night's loss. If I had to spread around 'blame' for the Nats running all over the place, I would have done it thusly:

Maddon: 70%
Arrieta: 15%
Miggy: 15%

And I wouldn't have given it a second thought. Tough loss to a great team and their best SP. No big deal, right?

So where's the MONtroversy?

Soooo...

Well that's certainly not positive

Yeah, not great, Bob. And honestly there's a lot to unpack here. Let's take a closer look.
The biggest problem I have is clear right off the bat. Coming off a tough loss to a great team, Montero's first thought was "I'd better get out in front of this and put the blame on someone else." Stolen bases don't "go on" anyone. This is a team effort. The pitcher is involved. The catcher is involved. The infielders are involved. It really doesn't speak well to Montero's current head space if he's thinking in such individually minded ways.
Here's something that shouldn't be overlooked: Montero said 'but my pitchers don't hold anybody on'. Pitchers plural, not singular. Is this frustration with both Arrieta and Lester? The whole pitching staff? The worst part about this particular comment is that it not only throws the pitching staff under the bus publicly, it throws the coaching staff under the bus publicly too.
Any team that has 'discovered' that Jake is slow can probably see that your arm is garbage too. Gotta love the guy worried about having blame placed on him immediately throwing the blame on someone else first. Classy move.
Well, funny you should mention that...

Oh boy...

I have to give so much credit to Baseball Reference's website. Not only did they provide me with all the following statistical information that will tear Miguel Montero a new one, but they laid it out in a way where pulling all these comparisons was way easier than I expected. We here at TMS looooove Baseball Reference. You should too. Donate them some money.

I decided to do a little digging. I had some questions and they need answers. SPOILER ALERT: Miggy ends up looking like butt.

QUESTION 1: Ok, so is Miggy's arm any good or what?

ANSWER: Yes! And no! I mean, it used to be. If you look at the career numbers, things don't look too bad.

Miggy's lifetime caught stealing percentage: 27%
The MLB average over that same time period: 28%

So for his career, Miggy's been juuuuuust slightly worse than the average catcher at throwing out would-be base stealers.

QUESTION 2: Ok, but how has he been lately? Miggy's got a lot of miles on those tires.

ANSWER: You're not going to like this...

Montero's caught stealing percentage by year:

2014: 29%
2015: 20%
2016: 11%
2017: 3%

Well that's certainly not a trend you like to see. And what was the ML average over that time?

2014: 28%
2015: 28%
2016: 27%
2017: 28%

Not really helping Miggy's case that the Cubs pitchers aren't keeping runners on. Lester and Arrieta, the two worst pitchers for keeping baserunners honest, have both been fixtures of the Cubs rotation since 2015, the year Miggy arrived.

QUESTION 3: What about the other Cubs catchers? Do they also throw out only 3% of their baserunners?

ANSWER: Nope!

David Ross caught stealing percentage:

2014: 22%
2015: 26%
2016: 27%

Yes, Ross caught less than Miggy in 2015 and 2016, but he also caught EXCLUSIVELY for a pitcher that cannot throw to first. So no, Miguel, I don't think it's the Cubs pitchers not keeping guys at first honest that's the problem. Hell, Ross actually IMPROVED once he came to Chicago.

Willson Contreras caught stealing percentage:

2016: 37%
2017: 34%

To be fair, Willson's got an absolute cannon of an arm. But on the other hand, his caught stealing % in the majors (35%) lines up almost identically with his caught stealing % in the minors (33%), so it doesn't look like catching Cubs pitchers has affected his ability to throw out baserunners.

Honestly, this seems like the pride of a professional baseball player getting in the way of logic. I've never played professional sports, or even college sports. I can only imagine the confidence in yourself and your abilities it takes to be able to compete on that level. And a lot of athletes have a hard time grappling with the fact that they are getting older, slowing down, losing power. I think that's exactly what's happening here. I used to love hearing Miggy talk at Cubs Convention every year because he always gave very candid and very entertaining answers. But there's a thin line between being candid and being an asshole, and I'm starting to realize that Montero is not on the side that I always thought.

Well good thing this all happened in a vacuum, right?

Not so fast. Remember when Miggy started complaining to the press almost immediately after the Cubs World Series win? About how he thought he was misled about the amount of playing time he would have and all that? The funny thing is, there are a ton of similarities between that little controversy and this one:

Did it involve Miggy's shitty arm?

Yes! A big part of the reason Montero didn't play a lot in the World Series is because the Indians would run all over the place if given the chance. They were already licking their chops at the thought of Lester on the mound (and to a lesser extent, Arrieta), so having someone besides Ross or Contreras behind the plate was a bad idea (see...last night).

Was it something that Miggy should have kept behind closed doors?

Yes! Both last year's comments and last night's comments may actually have some merit. Maybe he was misled about the reason he didn't play a lot in the World Series. Maybe Cubs pitchers do a worse job than I realize at keeping baserunners honest. It doesn't change the fact that those comments should stay in the clubhouse, spoken to the people that need to know to make these kinds of problems better.

Did Miggy seem like he went out of his way to bitch to the media?

Yes! That's the worst part to me. He didn't try and hide things or even admit that ANY of the blame was his. And it's not like his comments are ever said with the expectation of privacy and overheard by reporters or off the record or anything. Miggy doesn't seem to have any problem going directly to the media and bitching to them before trying to discuss his problems internally.

Look, I get that Montero is probably frustrated. The Cubs aren't playing as well as we all expected they would this year. He's got a diminishing role on the team and had some really amazing and historic moments during last year's playoff run that are somewhat overshadowed. But holy shit, man. Did you think this was a good idea? You've been around baseball long enough to know how this would be viewed by both the media and the fans. And I was willing to give you a pass on what happened after the World Series win last year. But this is no longer an isolated incident. This is now a pattern. A pattern that I don't want to give the chance to continue.

Miggy, I love you and you've provided me with some of my favorite Cubs memories of all time. But you can go and fuck right off in my book. I know we can't DFA you immediately because we don't have another catcher to take your place, and hey, you are actually hitting when you do play.

But I gotta be honest...if we make a deal at the trade deadline and I see that we're getting a capable backup catcher back, I'm not going to be sad.

I think the worst part about all of this is that I really really don't want to be the "HURRRR GET THIS GUY OUTTA HERE HE AIN'T A TEAM PLAYER" guy. I hate that guy. But for a team that is seemingly struggling to get things going and also lost some important clubhouse leadership in the offseason, this is the last thing the Cubs need in the middle of a huge series against one of the best teams in baseball.

They don't need a catcher whose first thought after a loss wasn't "How can we go out and do better tomorrow?" but "I need to make sure I don't take any of the blame here." He didn't say that he was less at fault than it seems. He said he was not at fault period. That's really shitty. And if he's allowed to say what he wants to the public in the heat of the moment for all to hear, then he shouldn't be surprised when Cubs fans do the same.

And for that reason, even though it kills me to say it, you can fuck right off, Miguel Montero. Thanks for the memories. We don't need any more from you.

(And the weakest arm on the team has to go to La Stella. He's going to allow infield singles left and right every time he plays.)