It’s starting to seem like there’s a growing consensus among evaluators that Montero is ready for the big leagues. That’s certainly more true of those who are more bullish on his defensive skills of course, but there seems to be less and less waffling from the people who pay the most attention to the minor leagues that Montero isn’t really benefiting from more time in Scranton. I don’t necessarily have an opinion on that, because I haven’t seen him play, but from where I sit I’m mostly worried that the Yankees just don’t seem to have any idea what they’re doing with Montero.
Last week, Brian Cashman indicated that Montero isn’t coming up because they want him to get regular playing time. That’s fine and good in theory, but in reality there’s really no reason that should be a problem in the majors right now either. The Yankees have a backup catcher who has absolutely no business being on a major league roster at the moment and a primary DH who has already been relegated to being a platoon player. Between being a backup catcher and part-time DH there’s no reason Montero can’t get four or five starts a week for the Yankees right now, so the playing time argument just doesn’t hold water.
Yes, I suppose you could bring up his struggles at the plate this season, but that seems more like a convenient excuse than anything else to me. Montero has already torn up the International League at the plate for an extended period of time, something you just don’t fluke your way into as a 20 year old. He’s proven he can handle this level with the bat and then some, and there’s no reason to be fooled about a month’s worth of struggles now, especially when everyone who’s watched him have all more or less said that he appears to be “bored” or otherwise frustrated with his situation. That’s not necessarily a positive thing, of course, but it’s also perfectly understandable, and it would be flat out stupid to punish a 21 year old for having a natural human reaction to a frustrating situation.
At the end of the day, I only have one demand; the Yankees must put the interests of Montero above pretty much everything else right now. Yes, Jorge Posada is still on the roster. Yes, Russell Martin is doing well enough as the starting catcher. But neither of those guys are anywhere near as important to the future of the organization, even in terms of the 2012 season, as Montero is. They simply can’t be allowed to impede the youngster’s progress (assuming that’s the case, of course) because that’s going to damage the organization. Especially Martin, given his recent track record and how much he’s come down to Earth since his hot Arpil start. If the Yankees are letting Russell Martin block Montero’s path to the majors, that’s an inexcusable blunder on their part.
Beyond that, I think the Yankees really just need to figure out how Montero fits into their medium term plans, and soon. If they see him contributing to the Yankees, either as a catcher or a DH, then it’s time for him to be brought up to get his feet wet and be worked in to the major league plans. If they don’t, then they should probably shop him hard at the deadline and see what sort of a haul they can get for him. There are enough teams that would happily take a young bat like his, even if just to play 1B or DH, that they ought to be able to find a return that does fit their plans. But the current situation just isn’t helping anyone.
And that’s really the long and short of it. The Yankees have to make some sort of decision on Montero in the next 2-3 weeks. Mo help us, I hope they make a better decision with him than they have with some of their other young players recently.