Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NoMaas Interviews Mark Newman

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Newman, he's the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Yankees. While I'm sure that his position is incredibly complex, the best description of his responsibilities that I can manage is "Head Honcho of Prospect Development." Newman is consulted with respect to every major decision in the Yankees farm system, and he assists the team in monitoring progression and determining who may be able to help the club.

NoMaas editor John Kreese interviewed Newman last night - the entire transcript can be found here, and I strongly suggest you read through it. Here are a few interesting excerpts.

On Montero:
Kreese: We've heard quite a bit in the past couple weeks about the Jesus Montero saga. You were quoted in saying that he feels like he should be in the big leagues already. Some people are saying he's bored. His numbers this year aren't as good as they were last year. What's the deal with Montero and what's going on with him in your view?

Newman: Defensively, he's improved. Offensively, he's not playing as well as he did last year. If he's bored, he shouldn't be. I'm close to him and I don't think he is. He's got big-time ability, but still has developmental work to do. Sometimes with pitchers, we see them work hard on their breaking ball, and their changeup goes south. They need to find that equilibrium. In Montero's case, catching is so demanding and he's focused so much on being a big-league caliber catcher, that he's been less focused on hitting. He needs to find that equilibrium.

If you're an outfielder, that transition to offense from defense is much less demanding than when you catch. One of my all-time favorite players is Paul O'Neill and if you paid attention, you could sometimes see him practicing his swing in right field. You don't see a catcher do that. Montero is 21 years old, he's basically a college junior. He's playing in Triple-A, and he's playing at a very high level. He's trying to figure out how this game works mentally. Baseball is in large part about mental preparation. A catcher needs to get ready to call and receive every pitch, plus get ready to attack every at-bat. He's learning how to do that. There's a reason the Nationals put Bryce Harper in the outfield.

On Brackman:
Kreese: Speaking of starting and relieving, Brackman is in the bullpen now. What's happened with him this year?

Newman: He's struggling. He's frustrated with what he's doing. We have to fight through it. One of the highlights of last season was how he pitched towards the end of the year, and he was probably the best pitcher in Trenton at the conclusion of the season. He's gone off the tracks now though. Brack's a real competitive guy and we know he'll fight through this. Beyond that, there's not a lot to say.

Kreese: Is there anything you can pinpoint that's changed with him?

Newman: It's command. It's confidence.

On Sanchez:
Kreese: Speaking of catchers, are Gary Sanchez's issues behind him?

Newman: He's 18 years old. He's learning to be a professional. He's a great kid. I love him. We have to discipline him on occasion, just like in any family.

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