The Yankees minor league depth at catcher has been well documented. Jesus Montero is knocking loudly on the door to the Bronx. Austin Romine is having a fine start to the season. Gary Sanchez has Montero-type upside at this point. J.R. Murphy‘s bat is hot in Charleston right now. This is definitely a position of strength for the Yankees. With Russell Martin looking a bit revived so far in 2011 and Montero and Romine relatively close to the Majors, there might be a logjam that needs clearing soon.
I’m against the idea of trading Jesus Montero, but wouldn’t be completely opposed to it if the return was right. I’ve said many times that I don’t think Austin Romine will be in the Yankee organization by this time in 2012. That doesn’t mean I want Romine to get traded, but if there’s one to go, I think it’s him. If he gets traded, he’d probably be part of a package that would hopefully bring back a good return. If he doesn’t get traded? Well, that’s cool with me, too. Why? Because there’s no such thing as too many catchers. Why do I say this?
Well, remember a few years ago in Texas? Yeah, I can’t recall specifics either, but there’s one detail I’ll always remember. The Rangers had Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Max Ramirez, and Taylor Teagarden in their system all at the same time. All were talented young catchers, ranked in the top-100 by Baseball America at least once. Neither one of the three got the love that Jesus Montero got; the highest BA ranking according the each player’s B-R minors page was Salty’s #18 ranking, but that was in 2006 when he was still in the Braves’ organization. I remember thinking to myself: “Man, what are they going to do with all that catching?! I’ve heard great things about each one of them; how are they going to balance it all out?” Well, as it turned out, none of the three has have had success.
Max Ramirez is in the Cubs organization now, hitting poorly in the Pacific Coast League. As of yesterday, Taylor Teagarden had played in just one game with the Rangers this year, despite OPSing 1.421 in AAA so far. He had a fantastic cup of coffee in 2008, but has done nothing since. Saltalamacchia has never amounted to anything more than a below average hitter and is now struggling to get consistent PT with the Red Sox.
The moral of the story? No matter how sure a situation seems, things can always go awry. With a position as important as catcher, it’s great to see so much depth in the Yankee organization. Despite how good we think some of these guys may turn out, there’s always the chance they don’t…the more backup plans the better.
P.S. This doesn’t mean I think the Yankee catching prospects will all fall on their faces, I’m just reminding myself that we need to be a little cautious sometimes. I’d be willing to be a lot that Montero outproduces all of these guys at the Major League level.