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Over the last season and a half or so, Jesus Montero has reportedly been offered to various teams in exchange for pitchers such as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Many pundits have taken to including him in hypothetical trades for lesser players, suggesting that his lack of a clear position makes him more valuable as a trade chip. While I understand the sentiment and agree that Montero does have some question marks that need to be resolved, the performance of some key Yankee veterans displays why trading Montero is a bad idea.

Put simply, the Yankees are going to need a young, middle of the order bat at some point over the next few seasons. Alex Rodriguez has had a down year to this point, and while I do expect him to recover somewhat, his age and health suggest that predicting a return to the elite player he has been in the past may be wishful thinking. Derek Jeter has an OPS of .722, and he too is at an age where it is legitimate to question whether he will ever recapture his former glory. Jorge Posada can no longer be counted on to stay healthy for a full season, and is likely to hang up his cleats at some point over the next few seasons.

With Curtis Granderson being a disappointment, the only players on the club for whom I would feel reasonably confident in projecting them to approach or replicate this season’s performance are Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira (and the first two have some BABIP issues that concern me a bit). While all of the players noted as being in decline will still be useful cogs, they are unlikely to provide the Yankees with the dominant middle of the order production that we have become accustomed to for much longer. Even if Jeter and A-Rod bounce back, it is folly to depend on both to be superstar caliber hitters three or four years down the road.

This is where Montero comes in. Jesus is a 20 year old who, after a slow start, is mashing in AAA much like he did at the lower levels. He has shown himself to be a complete hitter, hitting for average and power, as well as displaying an increasingly solid batting eye. He hits both lefties and righties, early in the year and late, with men on and the bases empty, when trailing and when leading. Any way you slice his minor league splits, he looks like a major league hitter. The scouts love his bat, and I have seen many of them state that his is an elite stick no matter where he ends up defensively. Additionally, he is the only real middle of the order bat that the Yankees have close to the majors, and possibly in the entire system.

Yes, it is possible for the Yankees to supplement their lineup in free agency. But holding onto Montero allows the Yankees to forgo handing out huge contracts to free agents who are just old enough to be leaving their primes. And yes, it is very possible that he does not stick at catcher. But for a team that will need his bat soon, that should be largely irrelevant. You find a position for that sort of potential at the plate. You split his time between DH, C, 1B, maybe the outfield. You do everything you can to get Montero into that lineup on an everyday basis. He is 20 years old, and will be only 27 by the time Teixeira’s contract expires. Looking at the team now and saying that he is blocked is shortsighted. The Yankees should hold on to Montero. If they do not, I think they will regret it fairly soon.

15 Responses to “Yankees Showing Why Trading Montero Is A Bad Idea”

  1. Yes, yes and yes. Having a player with a set position is nice but not a necessity, especially with a bat like Montero possesses. It’s been a while since the Yankees had a top prospect who would be required to jump around but Montero will be valuable anywhere the Yankees can put him. It’s not a great comparison but as the Rays bounce Zobrist around–because his defense allows it–so the Yanks can work Montero into the big league lineup because his bat demands it.

    I didn’t disagree with Montero being offered for Halladay and Lee but I am glad neither of those trades worked out. A prospect like him is once-in-a-generation type of thing. It’s not likely the Yanks will soon develop or be able to sign/draft a player like him.

    I’m curious–why wasn’t Cano included in the players who can be relied upon for the future? He likely won’t repeat 2010 but I don’t expect him to regress far from his production over 2009-2010.  (Quote)

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  2. Slight correction… “Yankees showing why trading Montero is a bad idea…. with help from the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners”  (Quote)

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  3. Well said, Moshe. You hold on to a guy with this sort of talent at all costs.  (Quote)

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  4. Question: Would you consider .266/.339/.459 “mashing” in AAA? If so, please describe Brandon Laird’s performance in Double-A this year.  (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    I said since his first month of struggling, and even then,for a 20 year old in AAA,yes that’s mashing. And I know you are obsessed with Laird, and he’s turned into a nice prospect, but he isn’t in Montero’s category as a prospect.  (Quote)

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    lenNY's Yankees Reply:

    After Montero’s year in Double-A last year, I still wouldn’t say he’s mashing in Triple-A after his slow start. He’s only 20, but just about every scouting report will tell you his bat is close to major-league ready. To me, that makes his age irrelevant and not an excuse for an average first season in Triple-A.

    As for Laird, I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with him. He caught my eye when he hadn’t earned himself a promotion, then it did happen and he had an incredible night. Worthy of two posts, I’d say. But I do agree with you, of course, that Montero is still on his own level in terms of Yankees hitting prospects.  (Quote)

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    Angelo Reply:

    Montero has been mashing of late.  (Quote)

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    lenNY's Yankees Reply:

    Ha, yes.  (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    “He’s only 20, but just about every scouting report will tell you his bat is close to major-league ready. To me, that makes his age irrelevant and not an excuse for an average first season in Triple-A.”

    This doesnt make sense. He’s MLB ready at 20, that’s a plus, not a minus. It suggest he’ll be superstar ready at Laird’s age. Age is far from irrelevant. After a brief adjustment, he’s shown a bat that is likely to be star caliber in the majors.  (Quote)

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    Alvin from JC Reply:

    yes, montero had a bad start coming off season ending injury in 09. laird might become a good major league player in the future but stats arent everything.  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    A. That’s a red herring; no one’s talking about Brandon Laird. This is a discussion about Jesus Montero.
    B. Considering many things, that’s actually a really impressive line. First, Montero is 20 years old; most 20 year olds don’t sniff AAA, let alone hold their own. Second, he’s a catcher; most catchers don’t hit like that. Third, he started off so slowly that the fact that his line is so “good” is awesome. Fourth, those peripherals–a .079 IsoD and a .193 IsoP–are great.  (Quote)

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    Angelo Reply:

    This is how you debate!  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    What happened? I blacked out.  (Quote)

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    lenNY's Yankees Reply:

    OK… I’m just really picky with words. I’d like to reserve words like “mashing” for performances like Laird in Double-A. (I wasn’t trying to divert attention from Montero, just giving an example to back up my point.) For the sake of debate, considering your other points you brought up which weren’t mentioned in the article, I’d go as far as saying he’s having a “good” season in Triple-A. :)   (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Fair enough.  (Quote)

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