Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harper: It Makes More Sense to Send Montero Back to the Minors

From John Harper:
Jesus Montero, the can't-miss slugger, hasn't lived up to the hype in spring training, and it's starting to look as if the Yankees may not have a choice but to send him back to Triple-A, as much for him to get his bat healthy as to continue working on his much-debated catching skills.

Really, does it make any sense to keep Montero on the big club as Russell Martin's backup if he's going to get only a handful of at-bats a week - and his defense isn't major league ready?

Brian Cashman wouldn't bite on that question Tuesday, but it may have been telling that the GM admitted Montero's work behind the plate has slipped lately as his bat has slumped.

"He hasn't played well recently," Cashman said after watching Montero catch in Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the Orioles. "He's better than what he's shown recently, catching-wise.

"He's been struggling with the bat, and I don't know if it's cause-and-effect. I just know that last year he didn't start catching well (in Triple-A) until he started hitting. And from June on, both went through the roof."


Only a few weeks ago, Cashman and other Yankee people were raving about Montero's progress defensively. The GM even chuckled then over how scouts from other teams had finally stopped questioning whether the 21-year-old would have to be moved from behind the plate eventually.

Since then, however, scouts say Montero's defense has slipped again - that he's not moving well behind the plate, getting crossed up on pitches, rushing his throws, and generally giving off an indifferent vibe with his work habits.


Cashman said nothing has been decided in that regard. But unlike a few weeks ago, he didn't give the impression Montero would be just as well off as a major league backup as he would be continuing to refine his game in Triple-A.

"We're obviously talking about what's best for all of us right now," Cashman said. "Our overall opinion on Montero has not changed at all. I know what the scouts from other organizations were saying early in camp - 'Wow, he looks great' - but at the same time you can't deny that he's not the same right now.

"It's the pendulum swing and emotional roller-coaster of development: yes he can, no he can't, yes he can. It's part of the evolution of a young player."
Like most of you I want to see Montero get a chance in the big leagues, and the sooner the better, but if he's not ready than he's not ready. But don't worry, unless he's traded we'll see him at some point this season.

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