"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News Update – 3/15/10

This update is powered by . . . my favorite Natalie Merchant song:

(Batting Coach Kevin) Long said Montero reminded him of Robinson Cano — “another kid who can wake up out of bed and hit.” He has already shown a consistent ability to put the barrel of his bat on pitches and hit to the opposite field, and the Yankees are most impressed with his gift for making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and from pitch to pitch.

Cashman recalled an instance from last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, when Montero, after falling behind to Jesse Crain, 0-2, sensed that an outside breaking ball was coming. It did, and Montero poked it down the right-field line for a double.

“It’s amazing that at 20 years old he’s a .320 lifetime hitter,” Long said. (Montero’s career average is actually .325.) “But he’s got to get his body in shape and turn from being a soft kid to a hard-nosed man. He’s got to do it in a hurry because he owes it to the organization. He owes it to everybody around him.”

. . . According to the Yankees, Montero usually needs 1.9 to 2.0 seconds to catch and throw the ball to second base, whereas an elite catcher, like Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, can do it in about 1.7. Long after his teammates had finished their morning workout Saturday, Montero remained in the Yankees’ bullpen to work on his throwing technique with Girardi.

(Catching instructor Tony) Pena said: “He has a strong arm — a very strong arm — but he can’t rely on that. If he has the proper mechanics, everything else will take over, and then we’ll have what we like.”

“He’s just doing what he does,” Girardi said, adding: “What I’m most happy about is he’s ahead in the count all the time. He’s strike one, 1-2, lot of 1-2 counts, 0-1 counts. That’s what you love to see. Guys love to play behind those types of guys, too.”

“Everything that is done here is done with a purpose. Everything. We have a team full of guys who have had great success in their careers and that won a World Series last year. These guys act like they haven’t accomplished anything, though. It’s really been an amazing thing to see.”

How’d I Do in 2009?: I set Montero as the overwhelming favorite to be the best, but that wasn’t very hard, and things go downhill from there, with Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman also getting good odds. Little known coming into the year, Arodys Vizcaino, now with the Braves, was given breakout potential.
The Incumbent: Montero is the only Top 101 prospect in the system, and it’s hard to see a scenario where he gets 130 at-bats with the Yankees this year.
Other Possibilities: If it’s not Montero, it’s a wide open race. The Yankees have a lot of young talent with plenty of promise but little in the way of a pedigree.
Trade Bait: The Yankees have the prospects to make moves come July, just not a big one without including Montero, which seems unlikely.
Best Chance To Move Into The Top 101: The Yankees’ 2009 first-round pick, Slade Heathcott, offers easy Top 101 tools; he just needs to perform now.

  • A feature read on Mariano Rivera, from his humble beginnings to his dominance as a closer, from the Daily News’ Christian Red.
  • Boss George to show up for Opening Day at the Stadium?
  • Big book news:  Banter columnist Emma Span‘s book “90% of the Game is Half Mental” is being released tomorrow (available on Kindle too!).   I hope you all support this witty and wise writer.
  • Happy 50th birthday to Mike Pagliarulo.
  • Wayne Granger (seven games with the ’73 Yanks) turns 66 today.

Back on Thursday.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 Sliced Bread   ~  Mar 15, 2010 9:47 am

great tune, and great version, better I think than the more polished radio mix. The piano seems to be more up-front.

2 a.O   ~  Mar 15, 2010 10:42 am

That piece on Montero (not excerpted) suggests the team is fully committed to keeping him behind the plate. I'm not advocating he stop working to develop bis catching skills, which will take up a lot of his time, but wouldn't it make sense to have him work out at first or third as well? Especially if, as the Yankees say they believe, his bat is ready now? Sure would be nice to see him get those 130 ABs this year, so he continues to develop. But I guess that is always a long shot for prospects with this team.

3 rbj   ~  Mar 15, 2010 11:29 am

Posada turns 39 this year
A-Rod turns 35 this year
Teix turns 30 this year.

I suspect the catching position will open up sooner than 1st or 3rd. If Montero is going to be as good as advertised, and could become a full time player, then it's logical that he replaces Jorge, rather than either of the others. Unless he moves to left field?
I don't see him as a utility player.

4 thelarmis   ~  Mar 15, 2010 11:34 am

wayne granger - weird. josh wilker just wrote about him at cardboard gods, 2 weeks ago. josh is still killin' it over there! new post today - mario soto (c.1978)

5 Yankster   ~  Mar 15, 2010 11:35 am

I once volunteered to serve dinner at a benefit for Tibetan Buddhist monks. Alan Ginsburg hosted the dinner in his home, which was a nice loft on the Lower East Side. It was a small group of about 50, the contributions were large, there was a Tibetan Rinpoche there sitting on a throne like chair, which made it a holy event (if not all of life is a holy event), and Alan said some nice, funny, and very shy words.

You can imagine that I was expecting this kind of low-key blissed out group of near fake Buddhist tranquility, but what I got serving Natalie Merchant was instead a plateful of whiplash invective. I have the words written down somewhere, but she said, "What the F is wrong with you? Where's my bread? Christ! and on and on"

"On your plate, ma'am." As a non-employee, I'm shocked I didn't tear her a new one, but the comment in that context really threw me. No one has talked that way to me in the sixteen years since.

Anyway, she has a nice singing voice.

6 a.O   ~  Mar 15, 2010 11:58 am

[3] Yeah, when he replaces someone it seems clear that the Yanks hope it will be at catcher and that would be the first spot to open up. But if he has some flexibility in where he can play, he might be able to develop more quickly, either through getting ABs here and there or through filling in for an injury. I guess the most likely option for that this year would be at DH, which would require no extra work in the field, but still...

7 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 15, 2010 12:11 pm

Anyone interested in joining a Banter NCAA pool (no $, just for fun)?

Trying to gauge interest.

8 thelarmis   ~  Mar 15, 2010 12:17 pm

[9] for about 45 minutes, i've been trying to send you links to Rush tourbooks. for the first one, i just copied/pasted. when i saw it was 'awaiting moderation' for a half-hour, i re-posted, using tinyurl links. same crap though.

go look up Rush tourbooks! they've been "remastered" and are for sale at rushbackstage dot com. it goes all the way back to the 2112 tour from 1977. they look great! i'm tempted to buy all 16, which would run me $260 w/ shipping. i doubt i'll do it though...

watched most of the snakes & arrows live dvd set last night. i'll try to finish it up tonight...

9 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 15, 2010 12:23 pm


aw shucks .. thanks!

10 rbj   ~  Mar 15, 2010 12:29 pm

[7] Not me. I'm not a basketball fan.

[6] Would Montero benefit more from starting at AAA for a couple of years, or coming off the bench in the majors. I dunno the answer to that question for any player.

11 a.O   ~  Mar 15, 2010 12:54 pm

[10] Yep, I guess that's the crux of it. Long says "his bat is ready," so I assume what benefits him most now is to face MLB pitching as much as possible. I feel like working younger guys into the lineup or even onto the roster occasionally for the sake of development is something the Yankees do pretty poorly, but of course it's just a side effect of having so many stars and signing so many great free agents.

12 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Mar 15, 2010 3:48 pm

“But he’s got to get his body in shape and turn from being a soft kid to a hard-nosed man. He’s got to do it in a hurry because he owes it to the organization. He owes it to everybody around him.”

That sounds a bit passive-aggressive. Is he being called out for something? I'm not sure how that kind of talk can possibly be helpful to a twenty-year old kid in his position.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver