There were two articles in the New York Daily News yesterday that involved catching, and more specifically, Jesus Montero. The first was from Anthony McCarron and it reminded us that Russell Martin is the team’s starting catcher. Despite that, Montero is obviously determined to catch (as he should be):
“I want to be behind the plate,” Montero said Tuesday during a break from a session in the batting cage. “I want to show everybody that I can catch with the Yankees.”
This hearkens back to something we heard from Montero about a year ago. It seems as if nothing’s going to keep Montero from working on his defense and becoming a viable catcher in the Majors. We should realize, though, that’s a process that won’t be complete any time soon. From GM Brian Cashman:
“Russell Martin is the starter,” Yankee GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday. “With Russell, it gives us the ability to transition to the next generation in the best way possible”
While Cashman acknowledges that Martin is the starter, he also makes what we were all already thinking known: Russell Martin is essentially a stopgap until Jesus Montero is ready to catch full time. That could be in 2011, it could be in 2012. We know that Jesus Montero will more-than-likely see time in the Majors at some point this season. The only question is the role that he’ll play. I can’t see him being with the big club unless he’s going to play every single day.
McCarron mentions the “competition” for back up catcher job involving Montero, Austin Romine, and Francisco Cervelli. This is about as much a competition as last year’s fifth starter competition was. This job is Francisco Cervelli’s, no matter what. Even if Montero and Romine rake in Spring Training while playing passable defense, there’s no way the Yankees put either one of them on the bench. While Romine’s stock dove in 2011, he’s still got upside and needs to be playing every day to improve. It doesn’t need saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Jesus Montero needs to be in the lineup every day.
Next, John Harper has notes about Montero being a keeper. This is obvious. I’ve argued all along that the Yankees need to keep Jesus Montero at almost any cost. Even if he can’t catch, his bat will still be cheap and is likely to play anywhere on the diamond, including DH and 1B. Harper shoots down the idea of the latter:
With Mark Teixeira signed for six more years, first base is not an option for Montero
Not so fast, John. Montero may not be able to play first base consistently for the next six years, but afterwards, the possibility is most definitely open. Tex’s contract expires after the 2016 season. Jesus Montero will turn 27 after the 2016 season. He will be entering his age-based prime and will have had a few years of experience at the ML level. Even playing first base would add positional value for the Yankees and Montero.
Harper ends the article with this:
If it’s Felix Hernandez, the decision is a no-brainer. But what if it’s Chris Carpenter? Surely Montero would be too much to give – unless the Yankees were three games out of the wild-card race and six behind the Red Sox.
Desperation could make that a call Cashman prays he doesn’t have to make.
1. The Mariners aren’t trading Felix Hernandez. Though I should note that Hernandez is the only type of player the Yankees should look to acquire if they trade Montero: a young, top-flight starting pitcher.
2. Harper’s right to say that Chris Carpenter is not worth giving up Montero. However, his caveat is also wrong. Even if that scenario comes true, the Yankees should NOT give up Montero for Carpenter–or anyone.