Jim Callis answered a number of questions regarding Yankee catching prospects in his ESPN chat today, and made some interesting points. Let’s break them down by player:
I like the Piazza comp. That’s a lot to put on Montero, but he has that potential impact bat and that lackluster defense behind the plate. But the bat may be enough to not worry about his defensive inadequacies.
Callis gets more specific on this point later in the chat:
First base (Teixeira) and DH (a slew of older players) are locked up for a while, so catcher is still going to be the best fit. I think the Yankees are going to try to make that work, and if they have to sacrifice defense for offense, they may just do that.
This course of action makes the most sense for the Yankees, as it allows them to extract the most value possible from Montero. What I found interesting was that Callis did not dismiss this course of action as entirely ridiculous or unworkable. It seems to me that the general vibe surrounding Montero’s defense has gone from “it’s awful” to “it’s bad,” which should be enough to keep him at catcher.
Finally, if you are wondering about his value should he fail as a catcher:
Is Montero still in your top ten if he never picks up a catcher’s mitt again?
Jim Callis (2:57 PM): Yes. His bat is that good.
Are you excited yet?
He has a chance to be a solid regular. I don’t see him as a potential star, so he probably won’t make my Top 100 list.
Later, Callis defines a solid regular:
A guy who can be an everyday player for a number of years on a good team. Using the Phillies for an example, guys like Utley, Howard and Rollins are stars, while Victorino, Werth and Polanco would be solid regulars.
One thing I think Callis slightly glosses over is that there are simply fewer solid regulars at catcher than there are at other positions. After the first 6-8 guys, everyone else is fairly interchangeable. A solid regular at catcher is actually a good asset that has plenty of value. I am bullish on Romine, but would certainly be pleased if he turned into a solid regular by Callis’ definition.
Finally, JR Murphy:
He flew under the radar in the draft a little bit, might be a very nice get for the Yankees in the second round. He can really hit.
If either Montero or Romine make it as a catcher, you might see a guy like Murphy, whose offense outstrips his catching, moved to left field. The Yankees really are stacked at catcher, with Murphy and Sanchez joining Montero and Romine to provide amazing depth. These guys should be a lot of fun to follow.