–Bill Madden sees Eduardo Nunez being groomed as Derek Jeter’s successor. He discusses this recounting of the failed mid-season Cliff Lee deal:
No, the real deal-breaking prospect, as far as the Yankees were concerned, was infielder Eduardo Nunez. Yankee GM Brian Cashman was willing to sacrifice Montero – despite all the scouts’ raves about his power potential – because he has a surplus of catchers. Nunez, on the other hand, is viewed by Cashman as a big part of the Yankee future which is why, when Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik asked for his inclusion in the deal as a substitute for injured second-base prospect David Adams, the Yankee GM essentially said: “Enough!” Turns out Zduriencik was right about Adams being potentially damaged goods – the hard-hitting second baseman never came back from the severely broken ankle he suffered at Double-A Trenton and then underwent additional surgery after the season, precluding him from making up for all the lost time in winter ball – but in asking for Nunez he was asking for the player the Yankees are now viewing as Derek Jeter‘s successor.
So what’s the deal with Nunez? Is he the real deal? Here’s what a couple of scouts had to say about him – and Montero.
“Nunez is your consummate ‘tools’ guy,” said the first scout. “He’s got a plus arm, he can hit, has some pop and can run. He has a tendency, however, to get lackadaisical in the field and he needs to learn not to chase so many pitches.”
“Do I think Nunez can be a ‘plus’ major league shortstop?” asked the other scout. “Yes, but he’s still got a lot to learn. The ability’s there. Will he perform to it? I don’t know. I’m just not sure about the makeup. (Robinson) Cano was the same way when he was that age, and he grew up. It says a lot for Nunez that he batted third most of the season at Triple-A. He hit a lot of mistakes which he won’t see that much of in the majors.”
I’m not so sure. Looking at his minor league numbers there’s nothing there that jumps off the page at you. But you could have said the same things about Robinson Cano or Jorge Posada, and as we all know player development isn’t just about numbers. The Yanks will need a super-sub if they plan on giving Derek and Alex more time off this year, so they may want him finish his development with the MLB club. But I have my doubts. The Yanks will say they have an internal option they’re happy with, right up to the day they make a deal for somebody better. This sounds an awful lot like “Bubba Crosby is our Centerfielder” to me.
-In that same Madden piece, he quotes two scouts on Jesus Montero’s defensive prowess, or lack thereof:
As for Montero, whom the Yankees have been hyping as being ready to step in as their No. 1 catcher next season: “That’s a real reach,” said one of the scouts. “I don’t doubt Montero’s going to hit in the majors, but his defense behind the plate and handling of pitchers still leaves a lot to be desired for me. I just don’t know if he’s ever going to do the work he needs to constantly do to be an accomplished major league catcher.“
Said the other scout: “The Yankees can say all they want about Montero, especially since they’re doing a great job of building his trade value, but you can’t tell me they’re going to turn that $100 million pitching staff over to him next year. The Yankees, above all, know the importance of catching and they’ve got a good one, a potentially very good one, in (Austin) Romine. In my opinion, Romine is ready to catch in the big leagues, and I think in time, he’ll hit .280 with 10-15 homers.”
Romine fell back with the bat after a hot start in AA, but there was some thought that he may have simply been worn down. The tag on Montero ‘not working hard enough’ is one that is going to stick to him until he proves people wrong. It’s worth noting that very same tag was applied to guys like Miguel Cabrera and Manny Ramirez, but those are also players the Yanks have passed on when opportunities arose to acquire them. It’s not just about production, there’s a clubhouse culture the Yankees want cultivate for on and off the field reasons.
–Nick Cafardo hears that Montero may be dangled again this winter:
9. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees — Though he had a decent year, there is still a lot of doubt as to whether he can handle a major league pitching staff. One Yankee insider feels Montero will be included in a big deal this winter and the franchise will commit to Austin Romine as the long-term catcher when Jorge Posada is through.
Much of this will have to do with whether or not Lee stays put in Texas and/or the commitment gets too long. If he does, I’d expect them to land a big starter and don’t think it will be Grienke. Another team will be looking to cut payroll and will listen to offers on a big pitcher, it happens every year.
–John Perrotto of BP (subs req’d) hears that Dave Eiland may land with the A’s.
–IATMS has a little fun with the Jeter negotiations. It’s going to happen quickly, neither side will want the negotiating window to expire as it did with Mariano Rivera a few years back. But I think the longer we wait, the better. The closer we get to the end of the window will signal to me that the Yanks are offering something Derek doesn’t love, just like what happened with Jorge Posada in 2007. I think the Yankee bargaining position is stronger than people realize, and this deal will surprise people on the downside. It will also include an understanding by both parties about what Derek’s role will be in the coming years.
What do you think the Yanks should offer? Both in terms of years and dollars?