Montero to start in 2011?

"Yankees fan may get used to seeing this man behind the plate." Photo Credit: Stevens of the New York Daily News

This morning we learned via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that Jesús Montero will get a serious chance to leave spring training as the Yankees everyday catcher. According to Feinsand, the Yankees brass discussed Montero over the past two days during meeting at Yankee Stadium. Feinsand cites a source who claimed the plan is for Montero to catch approximately 100 games during the upcoming season, with Jorge Posada serving as a designated hitter and a backup catcher, along with Francisco Cervelli. Here’s the most interesting line from the Daily News’ article:

The front office believes that Montero is already a better defensive catcher than the 39-year-old Posada, who has struggled behind the plate – and to stay healthy.

The question is, do the Yankees really feel this way, or is this some kind of ploy to raise Montero’s value for possible trades? I think it’s both. I really do believe that the Yankees believe Montero, whose defense has been a huge question mark, is a more capable defensive catcher than Jorge Posada. Now mind you, that really isn’t a compliment. Still, even if the Yankees feel this way, there is no reason they wouldn’t want to make Montero appear more valuable to potential bidders, especially since the Yankees are in the market for pitching. I’m not saying that the Yankees will definitely trade Montero, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

Overall, I would expect to see Jesús Montero take over the everyday catching duties at some point during the 2011 season, if not right out of spring training. I am truly excited to see him play in the Bronx.

2010 was not their year, but the future is bright

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers who outplayed the Yankees for almost the entire series. But more importantly, thank you to the New York Yankees for provided yet another wonderful season. Obviously the Yankees can’t win the World Series every year, that would take the excitement out of watching them. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t be happy with the team if they don’t win the championship. I loved watching the 2010 Yankees from the first pitch in April to the final pitch last night, and I’m certainly going to miss them throughout the offseason. However, looking ahead 2011 could be a very bright year. The Yankees’ farm system is progressing excellently and Jesus Montero is expected to make his major league debut next season. In addition, we can be sure that Brian Cashman and the Yankee owners will do everything possible to improve the team this offseason, which could mean we could see a new pitcher in pinstripes. Overall, I’m happy with the 2010 Yankees, the season was a ton of fun, and I’m excited about the 2011 Yankees. Number 28 in 2011!

Around the Horn: Montero, Aceves, Posada…

As the Yankees prepare to begin a road trip in Texas allow me to sum up some recent stories.

  • Alfredo Aceves, who has been recovering from a back injury, had a setback and will not be returning to the big league team this year. Surgery is not out of the question, and it would surprise me if he did not undergo surgery. Backs are a terribly tricky thing.
  • Yesterday, Joe Girardi said Damaso Marte probably won’t be back this year as well. As we learned earlier, he may need surgery.
  • While we are talking about surgery, Jesus Montero had an unexpected operation performed on his ankle yesterday. He was not in Scranton’s lineup yesterday which led people to believe he may be called up, but the truth was that he had an infection in his ankle. Montero underwent surgery yesterday to have the infection cleaned up. Don’t worry, the surgery seems to have been very minor, and while he will miss the rest of the minor league playoff season, he should be a candidate for a major league job next Spring.
  • Yesterday, we learned that Jorge Posada has been suffering from concussion like symptoms. Fortunately, he underwent some tests and the results were negative. Posada has been cleared to play, but I would expect him to take a few days off in Texas.
  • Coming off some recent struggles, Phil Hughes’ next start will be skipped, Dustin Moseley instead will be pitching this Sunday. Hughes will return to the rotation next Wednesday, and the Yankees say they only skipped him to deal with his innings limit. Still, it should be beneficial to give Phil Hughes a breather since he is not used to throwing this many innings.

2010 September Call-ups

It’s that time again. In a few hours the calendar will turn to the month of September and for baseball that means roster expansions. All teams will be able to carry their entire 40-man roster at the major league level, not that any team will. But, there will be call-ups. There has been much speculation as to who the Yankees will call up. Perhaps the biggest question has been whether Jesus Montero will get a taste of the majors in 2010? All along I’ve thought the answer would be no because Montero is not on the 40-man roster and he’s probably better off getting playing time with Scranton rather than riding the bench in the majors. Chad Jennings all but confirms that Montero will not be called up tomorrow with reports that Greg Golson, Jonathan Albaladejo, and Chad Moeller are on their way to New York. Jennings says nothing is official, but I tend to feel that these three players will be heading to the Bronx. And with Moeller, a catcher, being called up, I think anybody who wanted to see Montero in the majors this year will have to wait. In addition, Lance Berkman is expected to rejoin the team after playing two rehab games in Trenton. More to come later on September call-ups.

The Trade That Never Was

"Cliff wonders what he will look like in pinstripes." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

Just Yesterday, I was convinced that Cliff Lee would be wearing pinstripes this season. And so was everyone else, including the Yankees. Jack Zduriencik (the Mariners GM) and Brian Cashman had a deal in place that would send Cliff Lee to New York and in return Jesus Montero, David Adams, and Zach McAllister would head to Seattle. The Yankees completely agreed to the deal and it was reportedly just pending physicals. However, Zduriencik decided to do some last-minute shopping and he checked in with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers, feeling the heat, agreed to include Justin Smoak in a deal for Cliff Lee, and that was apparently the selling point for the Mariners. Jack Zduriencik then backed out of the Yankees trade and sent Cliff Lee along with Mark Lowe and a stack of cash (2.5 million) in exchange for the aforementioned Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matthew Lawson. The Mariners claimed concerns about David Adam’s ankle as the reason for backing out of the Yankees trade, but I don’t buy that for a second, and I don’t feel the need to explain why.

So, where does leave the Yankees? Well, personally I am glad the trade did not go through. The general consensus is that Cliff Lee will be a Yankee next season anyway, and I tend to agree. And I am extremely pleased that Jesus Montero is still in the organization. However, the Yankees front office are not happy with the way this went down. The Yankees believed they had the deal in place and it was essentially a finished thing and they are livid that the Mariners backed out after allegedly shopping the Yankees offer around. In my opinion, a GM has the right to check in with other teams when on verge of trading a coveted player, however, many people think the Mariners took it too far. Joel Sherman has some quotes from a Yankee official and an official from another club.

Yankee official: “I don’t think 30 general managers would agree that what the Mariners did was real ethical.”

Other club official: “It’s disappointing to hear that Jack shopped that around, that’s not right. You don’t do that with any team and you don’t do it with the Yankees, because Cashman will drop you in a heartbeat. You don’t use the Yankees because they never forget.”

It’s nice to hear an outsider speak so highly of the Yankees and Brian Cashman in particular, but the fact of the matter is, the Mariners most likely used to the Yankees to get what they wanted. And from what people are saying, they took it way too far. I wouldn’t expect any trades between the Yankees and Mariners going down anytime soon. The relationship between Brian Cashman and Jack Zduriencik is presumably strained after what happened yesterday. And let’s not forget, the Yankees were not all too pleased when the Mariner’s asked for Austin Jackson last year in a potential trade for Jarrod Washburn.

So, what do we make out of this. Well, while the Yankees front office might have been hurt by the Mariners, Brian Cashman is respected in baseball and has strong relationships with several GMs, so I wouldn’t worry about that. Also, while the Yankees will not be sending Cliff Lee to the mound this season, there is a very good chance they will be doing so next season and for years to come. It’s only a matter of money this offseason when it comes to signing Lee and the Yankees can outpay anyone for Lee, who they obviously really want. In addition, Jesus Montero is still a Yankee!  Just think, Jesus might even be catching Lee one day.

Lee to the Yankees almost done…never mind

Joel Sherman reported  last night that talks about a potential Cliff Lee trade between the Yankees and the Mariners heated up to a boil. It looks like the Yankees would be giving up Jesus Montero, David Adams, and another prospect to acquire Lee. Ken Davidoff reported recently that the Yankees and Mariners may have hit a snag in their discussions, but shortly after he reported that the Mariners have stopped talking to all other teams but the Yankees, so at this point it really is looking like a done deal.

I surely hope this trade does not go through. The Yankees would be giving up one of the top 5 prospects in baseball, the best hitting prospect they have had since Derek Jeter, for 4 months of Cliff Lee. I love Cliff Lee as much as the next guy, but you don’t give up someone who has a good chance to be an elite hitter under cheap team control for the next decade for 4 months of someone who you can acquire in just 4 months for the price of zero prospects. I sincerely hope Cashman just wanted to get others teams to up their bids, and the discussions have just gone too further than Cashman intended. Probably, just my wishful thinking.

Obviously, if the Yankees do acquire Lee, they have would have 6 above average starting pitchers. And with A.J. Burnett’s contract, Javier Vazquez would appear to be the odd man out. Unless, the Yankees can acquire an elite prospect for Vazquez, I don’t like this Cliff Lee trade.

Update 3:45 pm

Joel Sherman just tweeted this

#Mariners backing off #Yankees offer, Post has learned. Does not look like #Yankees are in it.

Remember, Sherman originally reported that talks had heated up, so he may know something.

Pondering the future of Posada

Tonight, Jorge Posada will be returning to the lineup after coming off a hairline fracture in his foot. For now he will start as the DH, and it appears that he may be the DH for the foreseeable future. According to Chad Jennings, Posada has been cleared to play, but has not been cleared to partake in catching drills. If he has not  even been cleared to begin catching drills, he certainly won’t be catching in a game soon. Before I say more, here are some quotes from Posada from today…

“I know that I can catch and I know that I can be out there,but a lot of circumstances have come. I’m going to have to be smart about it. If I’m in the lineup, I’m happy. I would like to catch here and there sometimes, but I understand what the future holds.”

“Knowing that the American League has a DH, yeah, it was on my mind. When you’re talking about guys that catch every day, you don’t see too many 38-year-olds catching every day. I understand what’s going on.”

“I’m not a DH yet.”

“Two or three weeks from now, I’m probably going to be 100 percent.”

"Pensive Jorge." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports.

It is hard to predict the future, but it is hard to see Posada catching too many games down the line. Sure, he’ll probably catch his share of games in what remains of the 2010 season. However, we should probably expect to see less and less of Jorge Posada behind the plate.

While the Yankees may be able to patch up the situation in 2010 with a mix or Cervelli and Posada catching, what will be in 2011? Will the Yankees go into next season with Posada slated as the everyday catcher? Will Francisco Cervelli shift into the role? Will Jesus Montero get a shot at it? Who knows?

In my opinion, we’ve probably seen the last of Posada’s days as an everyday catcher. I’m not saying he’ll never catch again. I think he might share the dish 50-50 with Francisco Cervelli in the rest of 2010. But, for now, the DH spot is pretty much vacant because of Nick Johnson’s absence so Jorge can fit right into it. However, down the line, I can’t say I know what will happen.

Link Fiesta: Montero, Gardner, Thames…

On this Saturday after a snow filled week here in New York, here are some links to keep your mind entertained:

Jesus Montero and his unique throwing technique

We’ve all heard about Montero and how his bat is other-worldly but his defense needs work. While his defense may need work he has always been blessed with a powerful arm, and supposedly in order to make up for his big body he makes his throws in a way most catchers do not. “Instead of popping up onto the front of both feet and firing to second, Montero kept his right foot anchored in place after catching the pitch; he took a short stride with his left foot and threw to second base.” (If any of you have ESPN Insider access you can click on the link and read the rest of the article, but I don’t have the access.)

Montero impressing many during spring training

With his bat of course…

Sticking with the Montero theme…

Just a nice article about Montero for those of you wishing to learn more about him.

Brett Gardner a 5 win player in 2010?

Fangraphs has a nice article saying how Gardner could be the 2010 version of Nyjer Morgan and have a 5 WAR. I wouldn’t expect it, but there is a chance.

Andrew Brackman working to get back on track.

Brackman is working hard and has been impressing during spring training this year.

Thames has an opt-out clause.

If he doesn’t make the team out of spring training he can become a free agent if he wishes, so basically it is a competition between Thames and Jamie Hoffmann and whoever doesn’t make the team is gone. I’m going to say Hoffmann makes the team.

Granderson gets contacts.

Hey, it can’t hurt.

Former Yankees…

Two things you need to know about them: They stick together, and they usually end up in Pittsburgh. (H/T to RAB)

Former Yankees, Melky and Coke breaking the Yankees facial hair code…

Will Damon bring back the Jesus look? (Click on Melky and Coke’s name to see a picture)

Game 84: Yankees at Twins

Last night the Yankees took game 1 of this three game series against the Twins by the score of 10-2, if you think about it the score could have been 13-2 if it wasn’t for an amazing play by center fielder Carlos Gomez to rob A-Rod of a grand slam. It was just a fascinating play that is worth a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th look, so here it is. Anyway, tonight the Yankees look to clinch a series win by of course winning, and to do that they send out the following lineup via PeteAbe to face Anthony Swarzak (rookie who the Yankees have never faced):

SS Derek Jeter

LF Johnny Damon

1B Mark Teixeira

3B Alex Rodriguez

DH Hideki Matsui

C Jorge Posada

2B Robinson Cano

RF Nick Swisher

CF Brett Gardner - who gets yet another start while Melky sits on the bench, seems a bit weird to me

And on the hill, Allan James Burnett

The guy in the front is pitching for the Yankees tonight, the guy in the back (Halladay) is not and will not be pitching for the Yankees. Hey, but that gives me an idea...Burnett for Halladay, straight up. I'd do it, get JP on the phone *sarcasm*

The guy in the front is pitching for the Yankees tonight, the guy in the back (Halladay) is not and will not be pitching for the Yankees. Hey, but that gives me an idea...Burnett for Halladay, straight up. I'd do it, get JP on the phone *sarcasm*

Forget about Halladay

In case you needed more re-enforcements of the idea that Roy Halladay will not be wearing Yankee pinstripes, Joel Sherman “tweets” that Yankee officials told him there is zero chance. The price is just to high on him, there’s no way the Yankees would give so much up for a 32 year old pitcher no matter how good he is. In case you’re wondering, my guess is that he goes to the Phillies, and if he isn’t traded JP Ricciardi should be fired for putting Halladay out there like this and then not doing anything.

Molina is in the house

Jose Molina has rejoined the Yankees. While, I have not heard anything on who was sent down, the Yankees said they won’t carry three catchers, so I guess Cervelli was/or will be sent down. We’re going to miss you Francisco Cervelli, but we’ll probably see you again in September, and you can further develop down in the minors in the meanwhile.

Montero added to the Eastern League All Star team

Jesus Montero who has been hitting very well since being promoted to the Trenton Thunder, has been added to the EL All Star team. While he has only been with Trenton for 26 games, he is hitting .299 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI’s. And he is doing all this is a ballpark known to be a pitcher’s ballpark, and in a league known as a pitcher’s league. He can flat out hit.

Game 83: Yankees at Twins

Yesterday the Yankees were unable to pull of a sweep of the Blue Jays, dropping the final game of the series by the score of 7-6. The game was very interesting, and the Yankees probably could have won if some blatant mistakes weren’t made by the umps. I’ll have more on that below. Anyway, tonight the Bombers take on the Twins in Minnesota – unless the Yankees play the Twins in the playoffs this will be the last time the Yankees play in the Metrodome because the Twins are moving into their new ballpark next year. The last time the Yanks met the Twins was in the Bronx, if you recall that was the series in which the Yankees had all those walk off wins. I’m sure Ron Gardehire is happy to be playing the Yankees at his team’s home this time. The Yankees will send the following lineup out via PeteAbe to face Scott Baker:

SS Derek Jeter

LF Johnny Damon

1B Mark Teixeira

3B Alex Rodriguez

DH Hideki Matsui

RF Nick Swisher

2B Robinson Cano

CF Brett Gardner – I prefer Melky, especially when Cervelli is catching because the lineup is already weakened

C Francisco Cervelli

And on the mound, Carsten Charles Sabathia

Aceves to start on Thursday

According to PeteAbe, Alfredo Aceves was told he will be starting in Wang’s place on Thursday. Once he starts on Thursday, he won’t be needed again until well after the All Star Break, because the Yankees can strategically skip him on certain off days. While many of us would have liked to see Hughes start, Aceves is more stretched out after throwing 4 innings on Sunday. If he can keep his pitch count down on Thursday, maybe Aceves could go 6 innings.

Halladay rumors

All throughout the day there have been rumors that Jays are looking to trade Roy Halladay. While Bule Jay’s GM said that he is not actively shopping Halladay, he told Buster Olney, “We’re going to see what’s out there.” According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Phillies are the early favorites, followed by the Angels. I personally just don’t see the Yankees trading for Halladay, even though he is arguably the best pitcher in the majors. The starting point for this trade if the Yankees were to make it would be Phil Hughes and Jesus Montero, and more (Austin Jackson…). I don’t think Brian Cashman would give away so much potential for one pitcher, no matter how good he is. I wouldn’t make that trade either. Well, we just have to wait and see.

“Marty Foster’s got some explaining to do”

Yesterday’s third base umpire, Marty Foster, seriously screwed up yesterday when he called Jeter out at third, telling Jeter that he did not have to be tagged. Here’s what Jeter said after the game:

“I was told I was out because the ball beat me, and he didn’t have to tag me. I was unaware they had changed the rules.”

While attempting to steal third with no outs didn’t seem like the smartest baseball move, what Foster said was even dumber. After the game Foster asked the crew chief, John Hirschbeck, if he could address the media for him (pretty cowardly of Foster). Hirschbeck had this to say about Jeter’s claim about what Foster said:

“It would make his actions seem appropriate if that’s what he was told. The best way I can answer it is to talk to Marty about it. Not here at the ballpark, but if I see him tonight, or if not, we’ll have lunch tomorrow and we’ll discuss it. Getting a play right is one thing, but how you handle it is also important. Nowadays, with the cameras, ESPN and the reporters, I say the media, I actually mean television — it used to be if the ball beat you, you were out, but it isn’t that way anymore. It’s not a reason to call someone out. You have to make a good tag.”

I don’t expect much more to come from this, Major League baseball will probably just have a private talk with Marty Foster that no one will ever hear of, and that’s that. But, there’s no denying that Foster really screwed up.

“Bye, Bye, Berroa”

According to PeteAbe, Angel Berroa was released today. I don’t this too many Yankee fans will miss him. Hey, but the Mets could use him.

“Remember that guy?”

Do you remember when the Yankees signed this guy named Kei Igawa out of Japan, in a move that looked like a counter attack to Boston signing Dice-K? Well, Mr. Igawa recently tied Evan Thomas for the most wins in Scranton franchise history at 26. Now this signing is becoming a real joke, I wonder if we will ever see him in the Majors again (he’s on contract for 2 more years). Here’s what Kei had to say via PeteAbe who got the story from Chad Jennings:

As long as there is a record that I have chance of setting, it’s something the process to get through. It’s a stepping stone, not a final goal of mine.”