Now that Russell Martin is on the roster, it’s likely both Jesus Montero and Austin Romine will open the season the minor leagues. In theory, each should each be in Triple-A, but that’s a logjam the Yankees don’t want.Was signing Russell Martin really worth setting back Montero and Romine back this much?
“They need to catch, so that’s something we’ll deal with if we get there,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “I wouldn’t want them to split right now.”
Montero and Romine split catching duties in the lower levels, but at this point, both need to get used to catching every day. They also need repetition behind the plate so that they improve defensively.
Obviously the Yankees won’t set anything in stone right now, but the arrival of Martin could force Romine back to Trenton, where last season he hit .268 with a second half that was worse than his first. I’m sure he’d rather move forward, but repeating the level might not be a waste of time.
Here's what Newman had to say about Brandon Laird:
So far so good with Brandon Laird’s work in the outfield. Newman said the Yankees are convinced he can play the corners. Left field at Yankee Stadium might be a little spacious for him, but they think he could play right field in the Bronx, and he could play left in most parks. “He’s going to do well enough out there that he’s going to be an option,” Newman said. The Yankees still think Laird is better defensively at first and third, but he could be a legitimate four-corners option as soon as 2011.It'll be interesting to see how Laird does in Triple-A to start the season. After his promotion, he hit just .246/.268/.344 with 2 HR and 12 RBI in 127 plate appearances with SWB last year. If he can put up numbers like he did in Double-A last year (.291/.355/.523, 23 HR, 90 RBI) he may be an interesting midseason callup.
And some of those big name prospects who should be in Scranton to start the year (I suspect he's referring to Andrew Brackman, David Phelps, Hector Noesi, and D.J. Mitchell):
If the Yankees feel the need to move one of their prospect starting pitchers into the Major League bullpen next season, they can make that adjustment quickly. There’s no need to make that switch out of spring training. “When they get to Triple-A, they don’t need a full year doing that,” Newman said. “They need a month or two of adjustment. They still need innings. You don’t want to limit innings by putting them prematurely in the bullpen.”The talented pitchers in the Yankees system are the only thing making this offseason hurt less, and the four pitchers expected to start at SWB are just the tip of the iceberg. Besides Brackman, Phelps, Mitchell, and Brackman, the Yankees also have the other two Killer-B's (Banuelos & Betances) and Adam Warren. Wilkins Arias, who is already a reliever, has had a very good winter in the Dominican and could open some eyes this year as well.
With all those arms in the top two levels of the pen (and I left out a few others) I would not be surprised at all to see at least a couple of them make some sort of impact, whether it's as a starter or reliever.