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Jesus Montero may not make the Yankees roster

Mar 23, 2011, 6:05 AM EDT

Jesus Montero

Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero started spring training off positively, answering the one question that many had about him: can the guy play defense?  At least he answered it in the first couple of weeks down in Tampa, where he was reportedly solid behind the dish. Since then, however, he has regressed, Brian Cashman tells the Daily News, and he’s neither playing good defense nor hitting. It’s being suggested, therefore, that he be sent down to Scranton to begin the year.

The suspicion is that if Montero doesn’t make the club that Austin Romine would be Russell Martin‘s backup. But Romine is hitting worse than Montero is. Given that he’s had less success at similar levels than Montero — and given that he has yet to play a game above AA — you’d think that he could use more starting time at Scranton to develop than Montero does. But really, there are no good options here.

Anyone got Bengie Molina‘s number?

  1. paperlions - Mar 23, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    I don’t think Montero was ever “solid” on defense this spring, when those reports came out, there were scouts saying they had no idea what people were talking about and that he looked like the same guy back there that he always had been.
    At some point, it is unfair to continue to ask Montero to try to do something that he clearly isn’t capable of doing. The most difficult defensive position in catcher, why in the world would you continue to force a defensively challenged player to try to play it?
    If by now there is no indication that he can handle the position, and there isn’t, it is time to see if he can play a corner OF spot or just have him DH.

  2. Ari Collins - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:09 AM

    The most important thing to note in this case is that Montero needs regular ABs to reach his potential. If he makes the majors, it has to be in a starting role, and the Yankees aren’t ready (and probably shouldn’t be) to just jettison Russell Martin. So even if he had a great Spring, it would have made sense to send him down.

    • uyf1950 - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:17 AM

      …and they still might. Remember there are other options for the Yankees. There is always Posada (even though the Yankees have said he’s the DH) short term as a back up. They can give Romine a shot, short term then there is as I’ve been reminded a Molina hanging around somewhere again short term. So I wouldn’t be to concerned.

      • bigharold - Mar 23, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        It would seem that the best place for Montero is AAA, he’s too valuable to not allow for proper development and clearly he needs it.

        If they are not going to use Montero than Romnie is the answer. He’s supposed to be much better defensively and one or two games a week, the Yankee line up can stand it. Besides, Cervelli came from AA so it’s not like it’s impossible.

        At some point the Yankee have to transition from Posada because he has faded defensively in the last few seasons and almost certainly won’t be with the team next year. It would seem that he should be in used as a catcher only in the event that Martin goes down. Also, if he’s going to be an effective DH than he’ll need to stay fresh and avoid catching if at all possible.

    • yankeesgameday - Mar 23, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      All of the developmental people at the Yankees have been saying that Montero doesn’t need the at bats in the minors to help his development. They all say that being with the big league club and playing part time against major league pitchers is the thing that will help him most. As precedent to that they show how Posada came up in to the majors and was Girardi’s backup for a year, playing part time, and that it helped him make the transition without throwing him to the wolves as rookie full time starter.

  3. uyf1950 - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    For god sacks the kid just turned 21 this past November. Do fans here realize that the average age that a catching prospect makes it to the major league level is 24. He’ll do just fine where ever he winds up playing. He just needs some more seasoning and experience.

    • paperlions - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:17 AM

      Of course people realize this; scouts aren’t comparing his defensive skills to a seasoned vet, but to other players of similar age/experience who have become passable catchers. Based on his current skill set and point of development, not a single scout seems to see anything that suggests he’ll ever be a serviceable catcher.
      In addition, him being 21 means that he is more athletic now than he will ever be again in his life; if he can’t figure it out now, getting older and thicker (which is normal), isn’t going to help. Some things can be learned and some can not…for example, either a curveball is in the wrist or it isn’t…if it isn’t, you won’t learn it….either you have the hands/feel to play catcher or you don’t, experience can refine the ability, but if the fundamental tools aren’t there…

      • uyf1950 - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:51 AM

        Thank you, paperlions. So if I understand you Montero won’t be any more athletic at 22 then he is now at 21. The implication from your comment is that he will in fact be less athletic. Which I find ridiculous.
        Will he be Joe Mauer, probably not. Will he have the defensive skills of any of the great catchers probably not. But I doubt anyone can say unequivocally that he won’t be at least passable as a catcher given more time. All I’m saying is give the kid a chance. If he doesn’t improve defensively in the next 6 to 8 months he’ll still be only 22 even then. Then the Yankees and fans can decide where he’s best suited to play or may be his value to the Yankees is the greatest as part of a trade package. But of course that’s just my opinion.

      • paperlions - Mar 23, 2011 at 10:57 AM

        You’re welcome.
        Next year he’ll be about as athletic as he is this year, but considering that he isn’t athletic at all, that isn’t saying much. The kid has had a chance, he was signed in 2006 and has been trying to learn how to catch since then (and presumably was doing so before that as well), and pretty much everyone still thinks he’s horrible at it. Catcher is not some trivial defensive position where you can “hide” a defensive liability.
        He was 6’3″ and 235 last year, and probably is bigger than that now, he is very big for a catcher and not agile at all…not exactly a recipe for being a catcher.
        His defense is so far behind his offense, that it simply doesn’t make any sense to continue to wait for him to learn to catch (which almost no one thinks he will/can do) and waste a potent offensive force. I’m just not sure where the benefit is of having a guy get beat up behind the plate for a couple more years…it’ll shorten his career and productivity peak offensively…all to try to get him to be only below average defensively at a position that (no matter how much he says he likes to play), he sucks at playing.

      • yankeesgameday - Mar 23, 2011 at 11:39 AM

        Nah, you don’t reach your prime as a male athlete until 26. At age 21 you are still filling out. He has five more years until he reaches his physical and athletic prime. He has plenty of time to figure it out. At 26 he will still be lean and even stronger than he is now. The male body doesn’t start to really take on it’s fully matured “man” frame until 30, which is when the “thickening” you reference really starts to happen. And even then you can perform at an elite level for years barring injuries.

      • spudchukar - Mar 23, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        Sorry UYF, my friend, but the kid cannot catch and all the tutoring in the world isn’t going to change that. He does not have the skill set. It isn’t a matter of fine tuning. He has already proven he can rake in AAA, so more minor league time is wasting his talent. The Yanks need to DH him or trade him. Perhaps they believe he will be better bait with AAA numbers, which makes some since. Maybe a better question is what to do with Posada?

  4. yankeesfanlen - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    This is a low-level problem, at most. Expectations are raised very high and the Daily News needs something to talk about.
    Just do a work-around for now- That’s why Russell Marting was signed. The learning curve for Montero might just be longer than for some so let him learn by doing.

  5. jehzsa - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    One word. Derek Jeter.

    If he can play outfield, he can catch.

    • yankeesfanlen - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      Maybe both at once.

      • phukyouk - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:51 AM

        he is after all derek “fu*king” Jeter

  6. yankeesfanlen - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Hey conspiracy theorey enthusiasts! Go to the end of the Chipper Jones post from yesterday….There’s a great novella from some guy in Austin about who really killed JFK. Without giving the ending away, it was Gerald Ford, the Yankees, and a reprint of the 1963 Washington DC phone book!

  7. proudlycanadian - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    The first name may be Jesus, but the last name in Montero not Christ. He still needs seasoning in the minors.

    • uyf1950 - Mar 23, 2011 at 8:53 AM

      Good one. No, make that a very good one.

      • phukyouk - Mar 23, 2011 at 9:00 AM

        how many weeks is cervelli out? all we need is someone to hold it down until then. im not all that worried to be honest.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 23, 2011 at 9:18 AM

        phukyouk – my understanding when he got injured was that they estimated 4 to 6 weeks. That was a couple of weeks ago. So say he’s available the end of April or the 1st of May +/-. With days off early on in the season the Yankees are probably only looking at a backup replacement for 4 or 5 games if that. Like I said earlier if push came to shove Posada’s always there. It’s no big deal.

      • jwbiii - Mar 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        Cervelli is still wearing a boot on his broken foot. I wouldn’t count on him being back for at least another month.

        As for Bengie Molina, if he wanted a job as a backup, he’d already have one.

  8. aburns77 - Mar 23, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Regardless as to whether Cashman is earnest that Montero’s spring performance is the reason he’s going back to the minors I wholeheartedly approve the move. Montero is as talented as they come but he’s still working and improving and to put him on the bench four of five days is just not enough to justify stunting his growth. The Yankees have had some horrible, horrible backup catchers (I’m looking at you Kelly Stinett, Wil Nieves etc) and while it’s always better to have a good backup ultimately if they go a month or so with another stiff until Cerveli comes back (not that he’s Johnny Bench back there either) they’ll be fine. I say either let him start in the majors or let him get more reps in AAA

    • phukyouk - Mar 23, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      and you left out Sal “porno” Fasano on purpose?

  9. genericcommenter - Mar 23, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    He needs to start somewhere. Posada is gone next year. Maybe that will finally open up the rotating DH spot. If Martin works out and isn’t injured, maybe Montero will be primary DH, backup catcher, and A-Rod/Jeter/Other Old Guys split the rest of the DH at bats..

  10. cur68 - Mar 23, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    I’m gonna get creamed for this, but WTF: boys, it seems to me that there is inexperience in the outfield, pitching, and behind the plate. Mix in the aged, fragile and declining = something of a (>gasp<) 're-building' phase (if not year). If this were any other team (with the possible exception of the bo-Sox) I wouldn't get much argument. Perhaps, rightly so. After all with the $ Cashman commands they can buy their way into contention. It's just that they are not doing it. The only thing is that once you have room fro argument you can acknowledge the level of truth to the statement. And, as we all know, teams who are in a 're-building' phase struggle to win against good teams. With that being said, let the games begin…

  11. yankeesgameday - Mar 23, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    An interesting article was written yesterday by ESPN New York that took a better angle on the Montero storyline where they said that his greatest value to the team right now isn’t in the minors, or as a backup catcher, but as trade bait for other teams. Here’s the link What I found interesting is that they say the biggest problem the Yanks have with him is how to market his abilities, not how to develop them.

    • Ari Collins - Mar 23, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      Excellent point!

  12. macjacmccoy - Mar 24, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Well if they think Romine is never going to develop like they believe Montero will and that there production in the majors right now would be pretty much the same they would probably be more willing to hurt that development by keeping him as a backup on the big club while sending Montero down to be the everyday catcher for a minor league team. I think its the smart thing to do and they would really be learning for the Phillies lesson with Dominic Brown last year. The Phillies needed to call someone up last year but Brown wasnt ready but bc of the success all the other teams in the division had calling up there young prospects they did it anyway. After a quick start he struggled the rest of his time with the team which continued until his injury this spring. The Phillies would have been better off calling up a Guy like John Mayberry. Like Romine he is considered a lesser prospect then guys like Montero or Brown but at the time his production would have been about the same. Doing that would have allowed Brown to stay in triple AAA and play everyday without hindering his devolopment like sitting on the bench clearly did. It might not have been a good thing for Mayberry but the Phillies could have afforded him getting thrown off track alot more then Brown. Which I believe could be the same situation the Yankees are in with Romine and Montero. And they could benefit by taking into account what the Phillies did wrong.

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