Yankees Leaning Toward Jesus Montero As Backup Catcher

New York Yankees Jesus MonteroVia Jack Curry of the YES Network:

As Manager Joe Girardi discussed [Jesus Montero’s] future on Wednesday, he offered indications that Montero will be Russell Martin’s backup. Girardi wants to study Montero’s catching abilities across full Spring Training games to see if Montero maintains defensive consistency, but he sounded enthused, not reluctant, about having Montero in the big leagues.

Curry has been around as a beat reporter forever, covering the Yankees for the NY Times for years, so he has as good an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes as anyone. If he’s reporting that the Yankees are leaning toward Montero as the backup, there is a good chance that they are.

Francisco Cervelli would be the biggest reason that they wouldn’t take Montero to the Bronx with them. Cervelli has problems defensively and he has almost no power, but he does have experience and knows the pitching staff well. He also hits well enough for a backup catcher and by most accounts worked very hard with Robinson Cano during the offseason to get into great shape for the season.

It’s hard to see him being demoted to the minors at this point or just cutting him loose, but he wouldn’t exactly fetch a lot in a trade. Realistically it seems like Cervelli could get the job while the Yankees wait and find an appropriate trade partner so they can get the most value out of him that they can get. He’s a young catcher who can handle the bat a bit, eventually the Yankees would be able to find a trade scenario where he is a valuable piece for another team it just might take a while.

The other big reason holding Montero back is his development. At this point it seems like he would need to play everyday. It seems like the Yankees aren’t so worried about this though. His bat is ready for the majors right now so that isn’t a problem. The worry would be about his defense. To really improve he would have to play everyday.

Girardi believes that he could find him enough work that this wouldn’t be a problem. Even as the backup he would be catching at least twice a week. The other days he could do drills with ex-catchers Tony Pena and Girardi himself. Working with two catchers of that caliber could be as good as playing everyday in the minors. Plus slowly working his way into the lineup may help his bat out well in the long run.

What do you think about Montero breaking camp with the Yankees? Is it best for the team? Or would it be better for him to get more seasoning in the minor leagues? What about Cervelli?

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.

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29 Responses to Yankees Leaning Toward Jesus Montero As Backup Catcher

  1. Mindkind says:

    I want Montero to win the that job. Like that he can prove he is ready to be the starting catcher and wins the job in 2012. Unless martin gets injured this year and he’d be the one to take over.

  2. Mike S. says:

    I’m wondering if Girardi would then dip into his own and Jorge’s past for a guide of how to utilize Montero/Martin. For instance, a page from 1997.

    Girardi, 1997: 112 G. .264-1-50, OPS+ 69.
    Posada, 1997: 60 G. .250-6-25, OPS+ 101.

    Hopefully, the Yanks would get better production from the position than they did in 1997, but could the split in games be the same? Martin 112 and Montero 60?

    In 1998, it was Posada with 111 games, Girardi with 78. Could 2012 then see Montero take over as Posada did in 1998 with the same amount of playing time?

    I’m just trying to find a guideline that Girardi could use, and maybe Joe just repeats the past.

  3. Roy says:

    If Jesus cannont play every day, either as a catcher or a first baseman, he would waste a year of development on the Yankee bench. In every scenario, he is a spare part. As DH. Posada is olid. AS a righty PH, Andruw Jones is solid. As a catcher, Martin should be solid. So Montero is as needed as John Flaherty was when Posada was in his prime. The Yankee backup catcher is not expected to be a significant contributor, unless there is an injury. Remember that in games when Rodriguez or Teixeira is playing DH, Posada will be the first lefty pinchhitter and may finish some games behind the plate.

    • Mike S. says:

      I don't expect Posada to catch more than 10-15 games, if that. I see more the scenario of 60 games for Montero that I saw before. Maybe a few more as DH/PH. Learn @ the big league level. Be broken in like Jorge in 1997.

    • His bat needs no more development. If he catches 2 or 3 times in a week and is doing drills with Tony Pena on the other days, is that really going waste a year of his development?

      You also have to realize that keeping Montero in the minors means that Romine will be forced repeat Double-A – which would waste a year of his development.

      • Roy says:

        I don't buy that. Yes, Tony Pena is an excellent catching coach and he really improved Posada's defense, until Posada's body started breaking down, BUT, you can't teach catching through defensive drills.

        By the way, Andy Sisco, the big lefty, looked very sharp today. The thing about Yankee spring training is that usually there are two spots available. But beside that, wouldn't it be great if this 2001 draft pick becomes the Yankees sure shot 5th inning guy. So working backwards: Rivera, 9th; Soriano, 8th; Feliciano 7th/8th LOOGY; Robertson, 7th; Logan 6th/7th LOOGY; Chamberlain, 6th; Sisco, 5th/6th LOOGY. Then, Mitre and Nova could mow down batters is the first four innings and hand over the keys!

  4. john says:

    Great points by all of you so far.

    From what were led to believe from scouts and the Yankees themselves this kid is the real deal as a hitter. A Piazza type I read a sporting news scout 2 years ago say his ceiling has no limit as a hitter. I never have been high on Martin myself and Always thought of Cervelli was a good backup. I wouldnt be unhappy if it was Montero-Cervelli and Martin was gone to be honest.Like its been pointed out he would have Pena a multi gold glove winner and Girardi an All-Star to look up to on the coaching staff as catchers. He can alsoTalk to Posada for pointers. Im sure having a possible Hall of Famer to talk to cant hurt either.

    If Montero is a true 30 Homer guy right now why hold him back. He will probably have to be moved away from behind the plate eventually anyway when Romine or Sanchez are ready. So let him hit everyday now. He will produce way more than Martin.

    If they keep mhim and Martin like a Griradi-Posada deal ok fine but say Martin gets hurt(he will) now Cervelli is gone and the Defense behind the plate is in trouble, then its Romine up from the minors.

    Break camp with the kid and keep Cervelli around for when not if Martin gets hurt.

  5. KDB says:

    Cervelli should be used as part of a package to get a pitcher.

    Posada was brought up behind Giradi, and he has him, Martin, Posada, and Pena as tutors. I may be in the minority here, but to me it seems a no brainer.

    • Roy says:

      a backup catcher has the value of a utility man. Does Cervelli have worth? Some, when a team with a poorer backup catcher has its starting catcher go down, Cervelli will be enticing. What will he be worth? Probably someone like a #10 prospect.

    • JoeYankeeFan says:

      Teams aren’t going to begin trade talks with Francisco Cervelli.

      He doesn’t have much value

      Unless u package him with a real nice prospect or two your not going to get a proven ML starter.

      At best Cervelli is probably a .275 1-HR guy.

      He’s basically a very good backup.(the reason he would have been perfect to pair up with Montero)

    • Cervelli isn't going to be the main part of any package, but he certainly would be a valuable throw-in if a team needs catching help.

  6. JoeYankeeFan says:

    I gotta admit I’m dying to see this kid make the team and be in that dugout on Opening Day but I will also admit that using him in a backup role just doesn’t seem to smart. This is the #1 prospect in the organization and taking away valuable AB’s at such a young developmental stage worries me.

    This is the very same reason I was puzzled when we signed Russell Martin. I mean isn’t Cervelli basically the same type of player for much less money ???

    Of course we can argue that Martin’s bat is a little more productive then Cervelli’s but would it be a big deal if Montero was given the starting job ??

    When will NY brass get rid of this training wheels program they run for all their top prospects ??

    We are the only team that continues to do it every year with a guy that the fans clearly want to see.

    Get these young guys out there

    Put this kids stick in the lineup, everyday.

  7. Jay says:

    I’ve been saying this all along to anyone that would listen. This is definitely a no brainer agreed. With all that wealth of experience he should benefit immensely. Also don’t rule out him winning the job outright. He should be given the opportunity. Martin has been hurt all the time for the past couple of years, and Jorge isn’t as effective since the shoulder surgery. Worst case ease him in like you did with Posada during the Girardi years. But like Jeter, Munson, Mantle, Mattingly, etc, etc did in their Rookie years. If he can handle it, give it to him.

    • JoeYankeeFan says:

      @ Jay

      I think that is exactly how it's gonna go down.

      I'll say he wins the job outright by June 1st.

      I think he's gonna rake

      his numbers for the 2nd half of last season were very silly(OPS over 1.000)

  8. Joe says:

    Great news. With Posoda there to mentor him, good idea to give him 60-70 games at catcher and some DH time. This kid can mash.

  9. Mark O says:

    I think Cervelli did a great job last year and let's not forget that he did a great job hitting and had some very big hits during the season. I say stay with Cervelli as the backup. I think they should hold onto Cervelli and get rid of Martin after his

  10. Mark O says:

    I think Cervelli did a great job last year and let’s not forget that he did a great job hitting and had some very big hits during the season. I say stay with Cervelli as the backup. I think they should hold onto Cervelli and get rid of Martin after his one year deal with the team and let the other 2 guys take them into the future.

    • Franco Kotos says:

      absolutely hold onto Cervelli…he's got major league experience and hits in the clutch…i could see Montero someday becoming the regular catcher if he improves defensively and Cervelli as the back up BUT i think Cervelli is good enough to start with some teams…he needs some defensive refinements but he's no slouch…

  11. David K. says:

    When Martin hits .230 for the first two months, they'll come to their senses and give Montero more playing time. I have no problem with Montero being called the "backup" catcher. If he is decent defensively, he'll win the job outright by June with his bat. If they have to send Cervelli back to triple A, so be it. Cervelli didn't show enough last year to win the back up job by default.

  12. michael occhipinti says:

    cervelli has the attitude to be a winning ball player,he can hit and his defence can improve.he has a nack for the big hit at times,he belongs in the major league.i would like him to stay a yankee

    • Actually there were whispers that the Yankees thought Cervelli was a lazy ball player and felt that part of his struggles last season were because he felt too comfortable with his position on the team. Hard to call that a winning ball player. He supposedly worked hard this offseason, but he's going to have to backup those claims before he should just be rewarded for it.

    • Hardcore Yankee Fan says:

      I’m not sure how anyone can come to the conclusion that Cervelli can hit or play defense unless one judges that based on a few games where he coincidentally happened to play well.

  13. Delia says:

    After seeing Cervelli play yesterday, I think I'm a little more comfortable in letting him be the catcher, but then again that was just one game. We would have to see how he does throughout Spring Training.

  14. Roy says:

    when all is said and done, the Yankees may still wind up packaging Montero for someone like Carpenter or whoever is available in July. That scenario would have Montero burning up AAA and then being moved.

    • David K. says:

      And that would be a seriously stupid move, if it happens. Here we have a guy who is considered to be the next Manny or Edgar Martinez and he doesn’t even get a chance, a half season in the majors? It is worth taking a chance on Montero to see if he is the real deal offensively. If his defense is lousy, I don’t care if he is a rookie, DH him. Then they just have to figure out a way to trade Posada or just sit him on the bench while Montero plays. Eiither way, I’d rather keep the younster with enormous upside than Posada, who has maybe a year or two left.

    • Carmine Petrangelo says:

      I think you are an anti Montero fan and a fool. Trade Montero. I know more about Montero than most fans and certainly more than you know. He should be untoucable.

  15. The Pirate says:

    "Yankees Montero struggles behind the plate" ( NY POST) but he it's also struggling at the plate. He is over rated at this time he is a year away from major league. Cervelli will be needed fast as soon as Martin start having physical problems soon. Romine it's way ahead defensive and at bat than Montero, trade Montero for an starter before it's to late. Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, both don't make a pitcher. We can't win more than 85 games with this kind of starter, plus Girardi and Cashman.

    • Franco Kotos says:

      good call. If the Yankees can trade him this year for a top starter (if available), do it! Montero is no sure thing. Keep the arms, Killer Bees, and if the deal can be had with Montero, make it!

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