Yesterday, we heard that the Yankees are going to move left handed pitching prospect Manny Banuelos to AAA Scranton. I know that many of us, including friend of the blog Tyler Wilkinson are dubbing today “Montero Monday” in honor of Jesus Montero, whom many of us assume will be called up today (or soon). However, depending on the severity of Derek Jeter’s finger injury, we may not see Montero immediately. Regardless, that leaves us to wonder what their roles on the team will be.
Unless the Yankees are very far in front of or very far behind in a playoff race, I assume that Banuelos will not get a start with the big club if/when he is called to the Bronx. Did you feel that? The nervous feeling in your stomach when you hear “Yankees top pitching prospect” and “bullpen” in the same sentence? Yeah, I feel it, too. We’ve been there and done that, and the results haven’t been great (at least from a prospect development stand point). When that happens, there will be a little bit of panic. But, it’s probably what’s going to happen. As long as two conditions are followed, I’ll be okay with it. The first is, obviously, that the move isn’t permanent. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but based on the Joba Experience, I’m wary. Secondly, I hope that the temptation to use Banuelos as a LOOGY is avoided at all costs. Hopefully, he’ll be used for full innings and, at times, multiple innings. There’s definitely value to be had from breaking in pitching prospects via the bullpen, so long as it’s handled correctly.
As for Montero, his role is going to be pretty clear: DH and catcher. What we don’t know is how he’ll be deployed along with Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli. It is possible that Montero’s presence could drastically alter Francisco Cervelli’s role with the team. Perhaps he stops the back up catcher duties and they make him something of a back up infielder, ready to man third if Eduardo Nunez needs to fill in for Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano. As for Martin, there’s no denying his defensive presence and comfort with the pitching staff. However, it’s hard to overlook his lack of offensive production since April (his wOBAs by month: .423; .321; .242; .272). It’s probable that Jesus Montero could outproduce Martin in the coming days, weeks, and months. How, then, can Joe Girardi balance the playing time?
The easy answer is to reduce the amount of games Martin catches, which is probably smart. Not only does it put Montero’s bat in the order, it will also keep Martin fresh for the stretch run. Of course, we all know that defense isn’t Jesus Montero’s strong point, and that could hurt the team. I’m sure that we’ll see Montero get his fair share of starts at DH as well. We could see him DH against lefties, but Andruw Jones has been doing what he was supposed to against lefties, and I doubt Girardi wants to upset that. Perhaps to keep a balance going–get Montero at bats and give him reps at catcher–we could see Martin catch against righties with Jorge Posada DHing (unless he continues to “hit” himself out of that role) with Montero as the back up, then see Montero do the catching against left handed pitching while Jones DHs. How do you think they should use Montero? Banuelos?
Regardless of how they–or any other prospects–are used, it will be exciting to see them in the Bronx. Hopefully, they can have some successful (tasty?) cups of coffee before joining the team in earnest in the future.
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