With news that Jesus Montero was officially demoted yesterday, Yankees officials insisted it was because they’d rather have him get regular at bats in AAA. Joel Sherman says BS:
“The Yankees can dress it up any way they want now, but they wanted him to be the backup catcher to Russell Martin. Period. There was never a plan – NEVER – to have Gustavo Molina beat him out, especially once Francisco Cervelli went down with a foot injury…. Again, utter balderdash. Early in spring, Girardi was one of many Yankee officials insisting there would be value in Montero being a part-time player this spring… Several Yankee officials talked, for example, of how much of a benefit that Montero would get just being part of the daily scouting meetings and how that would benefit him over the length of his career.
To act now like that was not the plan is just disingenuous. It was Montero’s job to lose and he lost it.”
I would love to pick apart this whole thing line by line, pull a Fire Joe Morgan, get worked into a hot mess over it, but honestly I think he’s right. It was pretty clear the Yankees wanted Montero to win the job after Cervelli’s injury. He didn’t do it.
Montero had an up and down spring, particularly while playing defense. As Sherman notes, he came into camp and many of the writers seemed to be caught up in the Yankee organizational hype that kept repeating Montero could be a starting catcher. Repeatedly though, scouts from outside the organization as well as Keith Law, Kevin Goldstein and John Manuel insisted he could not. I think despite the prognostications of the Yankees front office, it’s pretty clear he has some more work to do.
To me though, this is not a big deal. I know I was in the minority on this, but I still think it’s not such a bad thing for Montero, the 21 year old, to have some more consistent at bats in AAA. He has one full AAA season under his belt and really only hit well for half of it. Offensively though I couldn’t be less concerned- I don’t think anyone is worried about his ability to hit.
Does this change anything at all though? For us who have followed Montero for awhile now, absolutely not. He’s still just 21. He’s still a tremendous offensive talent. There is still a less than average chance he can catch every day at the major league level. Again, if you’ve been following for awhile, none of that is new information. It was just reaffirmed this spring.
The Yankees trying to spin Montero’s demotion is understandable. They’re not going to come out and take a dump on their best offensive prospect in years. Controlling the tone of the news is not exactly a preposterously new and devious scheme in any industry. Have you caught any of those Wilpon press conferences? This stuff happens all the time, everywhere.
I’m sure than in a month or two we’ll see Jesus in the Bronx. It was probably unrealistic of us to expect him to arrive without any hiccups at all. That rarely, if ever happens. We also know that catching prospects are among the latest to debut in terms of age. It’s not an easy position to play. Jesus turning up in the Bronx this year puts him roughly 3 years ahead of the average pace. Let’s not get too despondent just yet. He’ll be here soon enough.
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