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Oct 182010

Jim Callis was asked who the best hitter currently in the minors is, and he gave a response certain to please Yankees fans:

I’d take Montero, too, for the reasons that Grant suggests (Note: Grant suggested “his scouting reports, track record and the way he dominated Triple-A pitching in the second half of the season”). I don’t have confidence he’s going to stay at catcher for the long term, but I fully believe in his bat. There isn’t a minor leaguer who can match his ability to hit for average and power. He started slowly this year but rebounded to hit .351 with 14 homers in 44 games in the second half—as a 20-year-old in Triple-A. A career .314/.371/.511 who always has been extremely young relative to his competition, Montero has strength, bat speed and the ability to barrel balls seemingly at will.

Of the players Grant mentions, only Moustakas is in the same league as Montero in terms of power. The only member of the group who I could see outhitting Montero would be Trout, who’s just as precocious and can use his top-of-the-line speed to beat out a lot more infield hits than Montero will. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, has more raw power than Montero but isn’t as polished or pure a hitter.

It is possible that Cliff Lee will be the reason the Yankees do not win the World Series through his helping Texas win the ALCS, or that the lack of Lee in the Yankee rotation will cost them should they advance to face Philly or the Giants. Nevertheless, if Doc Brown showed up at my door, I would not go back in time and trade Jesus Montero for Lee.

The title of “best hitter in the minors” is a lofty one, and suggests immense potential. Montero is a top 10 prospect in baseball even if he does not end up at catcher, and has particularly high value to a team with a lineup that is aging quickly. Middle of the order bats rarely hit the open market until they leave their prime, making it imperative that the Yankees develop them on their own. Montero is the only such bat currently in the system, making him an important piece going forward as players such as Jeter, Posada, and Rodriguez begin to show that they are not impervious to the effects of aging.

I would certainly love for the Yankees to win the World Series this year, and I think they are the favorites even without Cliff Lee. More importantly, though, I want the Yankees to avoid the decline period that some expensive teams have when their older players with unmoveable contracts stop performing at a high level. I want them to be able to contend well into the future, and Montero is poised to be a very important means to that end. The Yankees are lucky that the Cliff Lee trade never happened.

11 Responses to “Yankees Lucky To Have Montero”

  1. I agree. Why trade for someone that you can sign in the off-season, especially when that means giving up Montero. Even though the MSM would leave you to believe that Chuck Norris, Tim Tebow, and Cliff Lee can do no wrong, I’d rather the Yankees keep the prospect and sign Lee in a few months.  (Quote)

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  2. I can remember when trading pitchers for top tier hitters was considered foolish.

    The likelihood of Lee being more valuable than Montero even in two years is, in my opinion, less than 50%. Two years after that and it’s far less likely. It was the kind of trade that rarely doesn’t look silly five years down the road.  (Quote)

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  3. I can understand Cashman’s thinking at the time; ‘if we get Lee we pretty much have the WS locked up’. Even though in the game of baseball nothing is really guaranteed.

    But at the same time the deal didn’t make sense. Especially with Cashman’s mantra previously had been ‘why pay twice?’
    It’s one thing to trade Austin Jackson who was a B/C level prospect. But an elite bat such as Montero? Knowing guys like Arod and Posada are aging. Odd to say the least.
    Perhaps he thought a little too much of “catching depth” in the organization. That’s fine but Austin Romine who is the closest to ML ready out of the catching prospects, is not in Montero’s league. Nice prospect but more of a 7th or 8th hitter in a ML lineup imo. Definitely not someone who can replace an Arod/Posada with…..if you project.

    The potential deal reminded me of something George in his heyday would do. Not something I expected from Cashman based on previous talk/action.  (Quote)

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  4. We may or may not win this year. But we’ve won a lot. I don’t feel the need to win this year like I did last. I mean, I’ve seen them win 7 times in my life. A little losing just make the winning that much better. I’m just glad we’ve had a good season and a fun, competetive post season.

    But the main thing is, unlike Texas or Tampa or San Fran, I know this isn’t it for this team. If we don’t make it back this year, we will soon enough. Only the Yankees could consider a 5 year absence from the WS a drought. So, I can be patient.

    But what I really want to see is another Great Yankee. We haven’t made many of them lately. Cano, I suppose, though time will tell if this year is indicative of future performance. But since we got the Core 5 in the 90s (Bernie, Andy, Mo, Jeet, Jorge), the farm’s been kinda quiet.

    I look back to the mid 90s. Would I have given up Jeter or Jorge or Bernie to have won another series? Of couse not. Jesus has that sort of potential, and I look forward to watching him for years to come. If that costs us a World Series, so be it.  (Quote)

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  5. I can understand Cashman’s thinking at the time; ‘if we get Lee we pretty much have the WS locked up’. Even though in the game of baseball nothing is really guaranteed.But at the same time the deal didn’t make sense. Especially with Cashman’s mantra previously had been ‘why pay twice?’It’s one thing to trade Austin Jackson who was a B/C level prospect. But an elite bat such as Montero? Knowing guys like Arod and Posada are aging. Odd to say the least.Perhaps he thought a little too much of “catching depth” in the organization. That’s fine but Austin Romine who is the closest to ML ready out of the catching prospects, is not in Montero’s league. Nice prospect but more of a 7th or 8th hitter in a ML lineup imo. Definitely not someone who can replace an Arod/Posada with…..if you project.The potential deal reminded me of something George in his heyday would do. Not something I expected from Cashman based on previous talk/action.  (Quote)

    I suspect that Cash was only willing to make the trade because the Yanks are stocked at the catcher position, and could have another great prospect up just a year after Jesus. Plus,at that point, Jesus had just started to find his swing again, so his star had waned slighty.  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    No, he would have made that trade because it’s the right move.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    You still think we should have delt Montero for Lee?  (Quote)

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  6. apparently the Royals have finally put Zack Greinke up for trade “at the right price” I just hope that Cashman doesn’t see this as a chance to get a top flight young pitcher over Lee and trade Montero away.

    I really want to see this kid in pinstripes!  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    If there’s someone you’re going to trade Montero for, though, it’s Greinke (or someone like him). He’s young, still immensely talented, and comes at a manageable price.  (Quote)

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  7. I’d stay away from Grienke if was was a big market team. He’s even on record saying he does not want to pitch/play in a city like New York.

    I think you listen to a player when he says something like that. Especially with what he’s been through.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    Bingo! His anxiety issues are a huge red flag coming from Kansas City to New York the kids not David Cone here mentally.

    If there is anyone I would want on the Royals it’s Soria but I wouldn’t trade Montero or one of the killer Bs so we can’t get him.  (Quote)

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