John Manuel of Baseball America recently did an interview
with NoMaas, and made a number of interesting statements over the course of his remarks. The one I found most compelling was his opinion on Jesus Montero’s defense:
The consensus is (and frankly has been for the last two years) that Montero has improved, but will never be an average defender.
He’s got plus raw arm strength, but a slow, inconsistent release. He’s become more flexible and agile behind the plate, but is who he is — a behemoth for a catcher. He’s just big, in a better way now, but still big. I believe he can catch in the majors, but it would always be “adequate,” and he would be an asset for his offense, not his defense.
Comparing him to Mike Piazza, he has a better arm but is a lesser receiver. He’s never been held up as a guy who is great at handling pitchers, either.
Check out the remainder of the interview, as Manuel is very candid in his assessments and NoMaas asks some strong questions. As for Jesus, I recently suggested that the Yankees might be better off just sticking Montero at DH and forgetting about him for the next 10 seasons, but that contention was based upon the premise that Montero will be an awful defender. If he can be adequate or even moderately below average behind the plate, it is almost certain that he would provide more value to the club in both the short-term and long-term as a catcher. It seems like the Yankees believe that he can meet that standard, and I expect them to give him a chance to be the starting catcher on Opening Day 2012, and possibly sooner if Russell Martin does not work out.
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