JN: With [Jesus Montero], obviously the questions are with his defense. I know the Yankees believe he can catch right now. How far does the organization believe he has to go before its certain he can catch long-term.
BC: We believe he can catch, and we believe he can catch long-term.
JN: What are you and the organization seeing, then, that perhaps other organizations are missing when it comes to Montero’s defensive abilities?
BC: He’s come a long way. The defensive side is something he’s had to work on a long time. I’d liken it separately to a guy like Wade Boggs, who came through the farm system of the Red Sox, always hit, but people said he can’t play defense. He ultimately turned himself into a perennial Gold Glove-winning third baseman.
Hard work can close the gap on deficiencies. Derek Jeter made 56 errors in the South Atlantic League. … The minor leagues is (where you) work out your problems, and he’s certainly closing the gap. He’s not there yet, but he’s pretty damn close. We believe he’s better than some starting catchers, defensively, in the big leagues right now.
This seems to be the Yankee party line. It is natural that they would say this. Even if they didn’t believe it they would stick to it because admitting otherwise would hurt his trade value.
Of course it is certainly possible that Cashman is speaking the truth. The thing is that so many people have questioned his defensive without ever seeing him and if they did see him it was just once or twice not enough to develop a real educated opinion on his skills. When it comes to minor leaguers what happens a lot of the time is that a story evolves about them and people just stick with it.
Take Francisco Cervelli for instance. Before he reached the majors a lot of people insisted that he was a great defensive catcher. Then in 2010 he plays a full season in the majors and we finally get a good chance to see him and he was one of the worst catchers in baseball.
I’m not suggesting that the complete opposite is true. Montero may never win a Gold Glove in his career, but he may end up being half way decent defensively. We’re really going to have to wait for him to reach the majors and see for ourselves. Until then it’s good to know that the Yankees, at least publicly, believe in his ability.
Also important to know, Cashman said that Russell Martin is definitely the starting catcher and that there will be a three way competition between Montero, Cervelli, and Austin Romine to be the backup catcher.