Time for a decision on Montero

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.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

21 thoughts on “Time for a decision on Montero

  1. Brien, stop reading my mind!

  2. David

    Is there any harm in bringing him up and splitting his time at 1B, C and DH — getting rid of Cervelli or Jones off the roster to make the move — to both a) get him time with significant ABs and b) test out his defense behind the plate and seeing if he can spell Tex a day or so a week?

    • BrienJackson

      Well Tex doesn't need to be spelled once a week, so there's not really playing time available at 1B. But still, you can easily get him 4-5 starts a week between catcher and DH if you want too. Especially since Martin has cooled off.

      • mikeNicoletti

        I agree, as long as he doesn't embarrass himself behind the dish.

        • I've seen enough reports on Montero's defense over the last couple seasons that makes me think he should be fine behind the plate. He isn't going to win a Gold Glove, but I think all signs point to him being good enough.

  3. Bill

    The Yankees are showing a rather disturbing tendency to give these young players a true shot. At the moment, Jesus Montero cannot be much worse defensively than Francisco Cervelli and is obviously a superior offensive player. As has been said several times here and in many other blogs and articles, it is almost a certainty that he could start 4 to 5 times a week right out of the box and if he shows the ability that everyone believes he has, then playing time becomes a moot point. Spell Martin a couple of days a week and DH him a couple of days regardless of how the pitcher. If he comes up after the break, he'll get 200+ ABs and we'll see exactly what they have. And if he washes out, so what? You bring back Cervelli and go with what they have now, which at them moment isn't too shabby. But I'd be shocked if he washed out and I think most people would be as well.

    • Bill

      Of course I meant a disturbing tendency NOT to give these guys a shot. Hit the button too quickly.

  4. not Montero's dad

    I am in favor of keeping him away from catcher. Nort so much becasue of his skils or lack thereof (I don't really know, I only know what I read), but in the interest of keeping him healthy. Not just gunshy about the Posey thing, but just in general, like Joe Mauer and other big catchers who get hurt.

  5. eddie

    elmer fudd would be an improvement over cervelli!

  6. BrienJackson

    Meh, he was offered for Cliff Lee and reportedly offered in a semi-serious proposal for Roy Halladay. I don't think that's indicative of much of anything. Even the most bullish of believers in Montero wouldn't have tanked a deal for Halladay in the 2009-10 offseason over him.

  7. TommyF

    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.

    While checking out which teams might take a shot at Albert Pujols this winter, I noticed that almost every team either has an established 1B, or a young and very promising one.

    Given Montero’s bat, either the Yankees or some other team should stick him behind the plate just as the Blue Jays should have done with Carlos Delgado. Montero’s offensive contribution will more than make up for below average defense.

  8. Gene

    As much as I want to see Montero in the show as soon as possible, with the Yankees to boot, you cant disregard defense at catcher, arguably the most important defensive position. Assuming he hits, his offense should offset his defensive woes a little, and a little offense from your backup catcher would be better than what they're getting right now from Cervelli, but I envision about 13 or 14 Burnett curve balls finding their way to the backstop because Montero cant move to block them.

    • BrienJackson

      Cashman himself said in no uncertain terms that Montero is a better catcher than Cervelli right now. So if Cervelli is good enough for the Yankees to abide him as a backup catcher, it stands to reason Montero is as well, doesn't it?

      • Gene

        If thats the case, then the Yankees are just scared to bring Montero up and answer the questions that will arise if he struggles early on.

  9. Tom

    The solution to the problem is obvious and I can't believe people have not mentioned it…

    teach him how to play LF so Girardi has a long term solution on how to platoon Gardner.
    (he can get the rest of his ABs at DH and catcher)

    • Jim

      Platooning Gardner should never be a long term plan…

  10. Bill

    I have a feeling that the Yankees do NOT want to bring him up yet. They may be looking to use him as a trade piece (not speculating on for whom).

    Right now, the sky is the limit for Jesus Montero, as is his trade value. We can only imagine how awesome he'll be. Once he steps up to the plate in a MLB ballpark, its time to prove it.

  11. StuckInPgh

    I may be one of the few here thinking this way but why would you promote someone who was recently benched for lack of hustle? That is like giving a promotion to someone in the real world who is never on time and always misses deadlines. I realize he is still just 21 years old — but he is hitting .291/.337/.410, with five home runs in 234 at-bats. I would hardly call that dominating at his current level. His defense behind the plate remains a huge liability. For me his lack of maturity and his total lack of decent catching skill put him in a place where I personally don't see enough value in him being on the Yankees roster. He still may develop to be a fantastic MLB talent but enough crowing over a prospect who isn't tearing it up in any way at his own level. Maybe just maybe if you could get him to take Jones place on the roster I could potentially agree, but then you need to find him a place to get enough ABs where he can contribute and become tested against MLB pitching.

    A final thought enough with the flawed logic of sitting Gardy for other players. He is one of the top 5 LF in MLB right now why would you sit him for anyone?

    • BrienJackson

      "enough crowing over a prospect who isn't tearing it up in any way at his own level."

      Montero's career slash line in Triple-A is better than Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams at that level.

      • StuckInPgh

        @BrienJackson I can appreciate the comparison but I still don't think he is ready. Yes I agree Cervelli is awful and Molina is not any better however, if he is "bored" then he should focus on honing his defensive game. While I think his initial signing bonus of 2 million may have been reduced, I would guess the Yankees paid him a reasonable signing bonus. It is time to grow up and meet the expectations that have been set and have made him the crown jewel of the Yankees minor league system. While I was big fans of Cano, Posada and Williams my memory is foggy but Cano matured most quickly in terms of slash line at the MLB level.

  12. nelamburghost

    ha. not bad )

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