"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Jesus Saves

Here’s Joe Sheehan, writing for SI.com:

There’s an assumption that the Yankees will use prospect Jesus Montero to acquire someone to fill the Lee-sized hole they see at the front of the rotation. They traded Montero once, remember, agreeing to a deal with Seattle for Lee himself back in July before the Mariners decided to trade him to the Rangers instead. The idea that the Yankees will use Montero, who compares to Mike Piazza both offensively and defensively, to get Zack Greinke has been in play for some time, but it’s not a particularly good fit. Greinke is a very good pitcher, but he’s signed through just 2012. If the Yankees are determined to trade Montero, who is one of the top five prospects in baseball, they should target less-obvious candidates who can contribute for more than 70 starts — even if it seems like these pitchers will, or should, be untouchable.

…The Yankees were unable to use their money to add a frontline starter, because the situation wasn’t entirely in their control. What they do with Montero is entirely in their control, however, and their disposition of this fantastic young hitter will tell us a lot about the Yankees’ creativity and imagination in solving problems that writing checks can’t fix.

Your move, Cash.


1 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:09 am

i preface this by saying that I have never seen the guy play catcher, and beyond that, have never played catcher myself, being left-handed, lack any first-hand knowledge of the position.

i think if he could play catcher, the yanks would never trade him. no organization in baseball history has benefitted from big hitting catchers like the yankees - dickey, berra, howard, munson, posada all were key to almost all post ruth titles.

but they have tried to trade him at least twice, for halladay and lee. and maybe even for joakim soria, though i don't remember if the yanks ever confirmed that one. and the fact is, none of those teams accepted the deal.

so that suggests to me that he will not be a catcher.. hope i'm wrong about that one, but if you possessed the best hitting prospect in the high minors and he could also play catch in the mlb, how could you trade him for anybody? and why would he continually be rejected by other teams looking for top prospects?

2 rbj   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:12 am

I'm decidedly against Zack. I lived through the Ed Whitson debacle, and while they are two very different people, I'm just not sold on someone with a history of mental health issues. Hell, I probably wouldn't be able to deal with the pressure either (aside from the fact I have no athletic ability whatsoever.)

If Montero's offense makes up for his defense, I'm o.k. with a few infuriating passed balls and throws into center field.

3 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:31 am

[1] They tried to package him for Halladay and Lee. Short of an equivalent return, I would be extremely surprised if they traded him at this point. Maybe for Felix. But for Zack? No way.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:37 am

Hey Sliced, if you went past it already, here's the link you asked me for...

5 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:44 am

[3] Here's the link on the Soria/Montero rumor. From Jayson Stark, in side-bar...


So if he's being traded for one of the 5 best pitchers in baseball, OK. But this would suggest he was available for a set-up man. An elite closer posing as set-up man, but still, a set-up man for the yanks. Hopefully this was unsubstantiated...

6 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:45 am

"The idea that the Yankees will use Montero, who compares to Mike Piazza both offensively and defensively..."

Christ!!! (no pun intended). Why trade THAT?
Another scout called him a young Frank Thomas.
Even as a DH, he is HUGELY valuable, if indeed, re realizes his potential.
Po is gone after this year, Jete's bat is gone, ARod's bat is fading.
Meanwhile, our farm is stocked with high end arms.

We need Jesus!
Jesus Saves!!!

P.S. PLEASE don't trade this kid.

7 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:50 am

[1] I've seen him play catcher, and I think he looked just fine back there. But I'm no scout.

[5] If you replace "set-up man" with "Mariano's replacement for the next decade", I think it makes more sense.

I wouldn't trade Montero, though. More than anything else, he's cheap. The Yanks can get away with all those huge contracts to A-Rod, Tex, and Jeter if all they have to pay Garnder and Montero is $1M or less, in total - and those guys produce well. That is a tremendous advantage, moreso if the Yanks really do have a budget.

8 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 9:57 am

[5] It's a self-serving position, of course, but I never once for a moment believed that rumor. Now maybe there was a larger package in the works (greinke + soria for montero + lots of stuff), but otherwise that simply sounds like the typical trade deadline exaggerated yankees rumors.

9 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 10:00 am

[5][8] Also, I think that *at this point* the chances they trade Montero are greatly lessened. It is clear they have conceded that Posada will not catch next year, at not more than a few games. And they got a full season of the suckitude that is Cervelli. They only signed Martin to a one year deal. It seems pretty clear that they are setting everything up for Montero to take over behind the plate this season or next.

Maybe they dangled Montero last season, but they will be less willing to do so now, I reckon.

10 The Hawk   ~  Dec 15, 2010 10:11 am

Cevelli is not that bad.

11 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 15, 2010 10:42 am

i guess the conclusion is that there is enough doubt about his ability to catch, that the yankees tried to trade him and nobody accepted.

it's a paradox in a way. the yanks want to get "elite young catcher" value for him in a trade, but by even including him in a trade, the yanks signla to their partner that they think he is not an "elite young catcher" - because if that is their expectation, they never trade the guy.

thus i agree he is less likely to be traded now. the market has confirmed they won't value him if the yanks don't, so the yanks only option is to proceed AS IF he is a catcher.

then if nobody comes knocking, they eventually have to play the guy and then all will be revealed. kind of fascinating.

12 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 11:00 am

[11] True!

[10] I don't know how bad "that bad" is, but he is plenty bad enough.

13 The Hawk   ~  Dec 15, 2010 11:23 am

For a catcher his numbers aren't terrible, are they? I don't know how to do the comparison to the league average, or how much that's even worth, but I'd be surprised if he was much below it last season.

Add for the record, you more or less made him the embodiment of "suckitude". If I understand the term then that's what I mean by "that bad".

14 Raf   ~  Dec 15, 2010 11:42 am

If Montero can't catch, then he'll be moved off the position. I find it hard to believe that teams have passed on Montero because of his inability to catch. Cliff Johnson, Paul Konerko and Carlos Delgado among others came up as catchers. For whatever reason, they were moved off the position. The same will happen to Montero if he can't handle the job behind the plate.

15 Raf   ~  Dec 15, 2010 11:55 am

[9] Martin seems to be a hedge against Montero, Posada and Cervelli. I think he'll be the primary catcher with Posada being the backup and Montero something of an understudy. Or perhaps, Montero will start the year @ AAA and will get the call sometime in the summer, depending how he does @ SWB. I suspect consistent playing time will be the issue with Montero. It should also be noted that Austin Romine is coming up the ladder as well, and may get the call in 2011 or 2012.

[11] It speaks just as much that the only time the Yanks considered moving Montero was for a pair of elite pitchers in Halliday and Lee. And for all we know, had Cashman budged on Nuñez or Nova (or if Z wasn't playing games, depending on who you talk to), the deal would've gone through.

16 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:00 pm

[13] The MLB average C last season hit .249/.319/.381/.701, so Cervelli's .271/.359/.335/.694 was a little below average. Of course, the league average includes all sorts of backup players, and Cervelli's numbers get a bump from his early season hot streak (consider his OPS by month: .848, .768, .521, .505, .548, 1.038; the bolded numbers represent June, July and August).

If we compare his offense to players who got as many ABs, he does not fair as well. Of the 29 catchers who got 300+ ABs last season, he ranked 20th in OPS.

Add to that his awful defense last year (and it was awful, despite his reputation as a good defensive catcher), and it adds up to a pretty stinky starting catcher. As a backup he's tolerable. But for anything more than a 200 ABs, not so much.

17 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:02 pm

[15] Martin seems to be a hedge against Montero, Posada and Cervelli. I think he’ll be the primary catcher with Posada being the backup and Montero something of an understudy. Or perhaps, Montero will start the year @ AAA...

Agreed. Martin will start, though I fear that they will carry three C (keeping Cervelli in the bigs). If and when Montero gets the call, Cervelli will be optioned to AAA.

18 Raf   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:10 pm

[17] Agreed that Cervelli will be the odd man out, but I think much will depend on how much playing time Montero will get with the big club. I doubt that they'll PH for Posada (assuming he catches), and unless Martin's a zero with the bat, I don't see them PH'ing for him either. Under either circumstance, I don't see Montero coming in as a defensive replacement.

19 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:15 pm

[18] My hunch is that the Yankees do not view Posada as anything more than an emergency catcher, so they will feel compelled to carry two other catchers. If I ran the world, Posada would be the backup (or heck, even start 100 games) and they would carry only one other catcher.

Then again, I also wouldn't carry 13 pitchers or Ramiro Peña, and Joba Chamberlain would be a starter, but that's just me.

20 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:16 pm

In the meantime, I am starting to think about about jumping on the Carlos Zambrano bandwagon.

21 The Hawk   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:19 pm

[16] Huh? Going by BA and OBP, he's well above average. The only thing he's below average in is power. I don't know where the numbers come from - I guess BR - but comparing him to players with a similar # of ABs is fair, I just would be curious to see the other numbers instead of just having OPS, which is a lame stat.

Granted his defense was bad, but before last season it seemed better, and he's really still young, at least to the league.

22 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:35 pm

[21] I was going by OPS which is somewhat crude but certainly not "lame." I couldn't find a quick and easy way to compare and sort OPS+. That his BA (speaking of very lame stats) was higher is not surprising, given his hot streak at the beginning of the season (batter .370 in March/April, .307 in May). His OBP (a very much not lame stat) followed the same pattern. By month: .448, .368, .375, .267, .281, .553. So, when he gets lucky and bleeds and bllops a few extra hits, his BA and OBP spike. Otherwise, he was flat awful.

He is young, but what are the signs that he will improve at all? In 200+ games in MiL he hit .273/.367/.380/.747compared to 138 games in ML during which he hit .274/.343/.340. He seems to be exactly what he is. And that looks to me like a backup catcher.

23 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 12:38 pm

[21] To be fair, his OBP was third in league for a C with 300+ ABs (even higher than Posada!), and his walk rate is not too bad so it's not all tied up with his BA. So he has that to work with.

24 RIYank   ~  Dec 15, 2010 1:00 pm

[20] There's still plenty of room on Z Bandwagon. But I advise you to wear a helmet.

25 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 15, 2010 1:07 pm


I'm trying to determine how many times he had to (try and) catch Burnett ...

26 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 1:15 pm

[25] According to BB-Reference, using AJ's splits, Burnett started 33 games and pitched to Cervelli in 25 games, Posada 8 games, and Moeller in 3. So there were at least a few games where he pitched to two catchers.

Still, it adds up that Cervelli started at least 22 of AJ's starts, unless my math is off.

27 hiscross   ~  Dec 15, 2010 1:39 pm

A good catcher can must have quick feet and a strong arm. I very good catcher can hit. A great catcher can do all and call a great game. All great catchers started catching when they were young, like Little League. Posada was a converted in fielder. He can neither call a good game nor really catch. He is a hitter who catches. Yogi, Munsan, and even Joe was a very good catcher, but not much of a hitter. Any team that trades away a great catcher loses. Great catchers are very special.

28 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 15, 2010 1:43 pm


"Yogi, Munsan, and even Joe was a very good catcher, but not much of a hitter."


please tell me you aren't lumping in Yogi and MunsOn in the "good catch/bad hit" category ...

29 monkeypants   ~  Dec 15, 2010 1:59 pm

[27] In fact, Yogi Berra did not start learning to catch until he played Legion ball, and even then he also played other positions. Thurman Munson played SS in HS and only switched to catcher his senior year.

30 The Hawk   ~  Dec 15, 2010 4:30 pm

I think combining OBP and slugging percentage into a stat is lame. I don't like the use of it as a summary of a player's offensive output.

31 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 15, 2010 5:22 pm

Good luck with that ...

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