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?