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The always fun and informative NoMaas.org recently posted an interview with BA’s John Manuel. They covered a range of topics from farm system ranking to examining most of the organization’s top prospects individually. On the heels of my Montero piece yesterday, I thought it would be timely to look at what independent sources are saying about Jesus. Here’s what Manuel said:

SJK: The Jesus – Will he stay behind the plate and if he doesn’t, what does that do to his value?

JM: The best answer there is, the Yankees no longer speak of Jesus Montero as a future everyday catcher. They used to; they do not any longer. That’s not to say he can’t do it; he can do it, he’s gotten better at it, he’s probably a 30 defender on an MLB level but some scouts would give him a 40. But 40 isn’t good enough unless you hit like Mike Piazza. Can this guy hit like Piazza? Maybe. Can he hit like Posada, who has been a 40 receiver most of his career but is a better thrower than Montero? I think he will hit like Jorge Posada, at least produce like Jorge Posada.

But catching everyday in the major leagues is such a grind, and Montero’s bat is potentially so special, that I think he’ll be a reserve catcher, 40-50 games a year, and more of a full-time DH. I think if he’s hitting .300/.400/.550, which is realistic, then it doesn’t matter if he’s a DH, then he’s a 4-hole hitter on a championship team and plenty valuable.

Not much I disagree with there. Manuel sees him as a backup Catcher/DH who will potentially be an elite bat. But again, in practical terms that may very well mean he’s more valuable to another team that can play him at First Base than he is to us in the DH role, which was my main point from yesterday’s piece. For an elite Pitcher, a deal would benefit both teams. Think Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez. With all of the top-flight starters who were due to become free agents signing extensions recently, a trade is the most likely avenue to acquire a stud pitcher going forward. At least one (if not two) rotation spots will be opening up between Pettitte and Vasquez,  and to be honest Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes’ roles aren’t completely determined yet. We may be loaded in the rotation for 2010, but looking at  2011 and beyond you can see a need. A need that could be filled with a blockbuster deal involving Montero.

9 Responses to “Baseball America’s John Manuel weighs in on Montero”

  1. My reply will be coming at 11:00 AM :)   (Quote)

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  2. I think that the idea of trading Montero isn’t a crazy thought, but it won’t happen for a couple reasons.

    1. As has been stated, Montero will be turning 27 when Tex’s deal is up. He could DH/Catch for a couple seasons, and then move to 1B ala Carlos Delgado (who I believe Montero will mimic)

    2. Cliff Lee will be signed by the Yankees. They wanted to trade for him this year. They will have an empty hole in the rotation (or two). He is a lefty that doesn’t throw hard but has pinpoint control, and has demonstrated that he can not only pitch in the AL, but dominate the AL, therefore his age of 32 won’t be a major issue. Also, with all the top starters getting locked up, the next possibility would be Matt Cain. Figuring that as a result of there not being many front line starters, CC will have more incentive to opt out of his deal, the Yankees would be smart to sign Lee. With Lee, Sabathia, Burnett, Joba and Hughes, you at least have a dominate top three, and a possiblity to have a great top four figuring one of Joba/Hughes makes it. I still feel that dealing one of them would be smarter then dealing Montero.

    3. Yes, top flight pitching is ridiculously expensive. However, so is top flight hitting. More hitters have received 100 million dollar deals then pitchers. Pitchers also miss much more then hitters, so the Edison Volquez for Hamilton deal could look very bad for the Reds soon, if it doesn’t already. Imagine dealing Montero, who as a hitter has a much higher rate of being top of the line, for a Homer Bailey type that doesn’t develop.

    4. Going off the dealing for a young pitcher, usually these pitchers take a while to develop, even if they do become a dominant ace. Therefore, your cost controlled years (figure year 1-4) are usually wasted. This has been my arguement for dealing Hughes. Joba is ready now to throw 180 innings. Hughes isn’t. By the time Hughes can (figuring this year he spends in the pen), he will be in roughly his last year of arbitration. All the “cost controlled” years are over. So if you want to deal Montero for a pitcher, you need to make sure the pitcher is a real deal. Even one year doesn’t prove it (think of Liriano to counter your Edison Volquez), and if the pitcher has had two really strong years, his cost controlled years are getting expensive.

    5. Montero will be hitting from the time he comes up. There is a very good chance that for 400,000 a year, he will be contributing at a 8 million dollar level at least from the onset. As I said earlier, hitters are just as expensive, usually more so, then pitchers.

    In closing, I don’t know if you will agree with my post. I read through all of yesterday’s, and some I agreed with while others I didn’t. I didn’t post because I wanted to think on it first. The idea of keeping him just to root for a “home grown player” is not an argument to me. I don’t care if a player is stolen in the night from another organization, or if the player injects lighter fluid to increase his bat speed. I would even throw the match if it means the team wins. I just think the odds of Montero becoming a great hitter (there have been too many Miguel Cabrera/Frank Thomas/Carlos Delgado comps for me to think he misses) is much higher then dealing for a young pitcher. And Montero wouldn’t be enough to get a Josh Johnson/Felix Hernandez/Verlander. Therefore, I think you bring him up and use him for yourself.  (Quote)

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  3. So if there were to do a Volquez for Hamilton type of deal, who would be the pitcher they traded for? Previous poster mentioned Matt Cain. Makes some sense I guess. Anyone else a reasonable possibility?  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    I don’t think the Marlins will ever pay Josh Johnson a dime of the big money once it kicks in. He’ll be traded before that happens.  (Quote)

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  4. Manuel’s entire premise is fault. Everything I see is that the Yankees talk more about Montero staying at catcher than they ever have. And more scouts see this happening as well.

    As far as trading for pitcher, I think this is wrong. This team needs some youth infusion in our lineup. Its an old lineup and that won’t get better if you trade Montero.  (Quote)

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  5. I don’t understand how a guy who could possably hit .300 with 40 plus homeruns be more valuable to some one else? The guy at worse could be a solid back-up Catcher, sharing time with Austin Romine, and a DH. And to have these numbers for 6 years at a reasonable price, and you want to trade him? I Don’t understand it  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    For a top flight starter. He doesn’t get traded in a vacuum.  (Quote)

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    Reggie C. Reply:

    I agree. For a top flight starter, Cashman would definitely trade Montero as we’ve seen in Cashman’s attempt at landing Halladay.

    Yesterday I mentioned a Montero for Cain trade. But lets say Cash wants a LHP stud so to avoid dishing out a $100 MM contract to Cliff Lee. How do you feel of a Montero for Brian Matusz swap? The Orioles probably have the best LHP prospect in the bigs who’s also on the cusp of a ML debut, but it’d be crazy to think Matusz would be available. I honestly can’t think of a pitching prospect who might be available.  (Quote)

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  6. Manuel brings up a good point on Montero – if his bat is so good, why risk it making an oversized player crouch for nine innings a game? I can definitely see the Yankees simply handing Montero 50 games a year to catch, and the rest at DH, while letting a guy like Romine catch the rest. That way, Montero can get into over 150 games a year, instead of being limited to about 130. That extra 20 games of production, not to mention the increase in net production simply by not having to focus on catching every day, could make up for those 100 games at DH instead of catcher.  (Quote)

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