On Jesus Montero's defense:
"He’s not there yet, but he’s pretty damn close. We believe he’s better than some starting catchers, defensively, in the big leagues right now." (via Minor Matters Trenton). Check out the entire interview conducted by Josh Norris. There's a lotta good stuff in there.
And the Brian Cashman Bold Statement Train keeps on rollin'! Whether or not Cash and the Yankees believe Montero is at THAT level of defensive skill is irrelevant. Crap, whether or not they even truly believe he is a decent defensive catcher is irrelevant. The point is that Cash and the Yankees believe Montero can do the job, should be doing the job, and will be doing the job behind the plate for them at the Major League level, whenever he gets there.
The Yankees have always believed, and continue to believe that Montero is a special offensive talent. His numbers at every level of the Minors has given them every reason to believe that and Keith Law's recent ranking of Montero as the 4th overall prospect in all of baseball validates that evaluation. The fact of the matter is, when a guy is this highly-regarded offensively, you find a spot for him to play. In the interview from which that Cash quote came, Cash very smartly references the fact that Wade Boggs was considered a subpar defender upon joining the Majors, and he worked his way to a Gold Glove-caliber 3B in addition to becoming a member of the 3,000 hit club. Likwise, Derek Jeter had 56 errors in a level of the Minors and he still moved up and made a HOF career for himself at SS.
The Jesus is on a higher level offensively than either of these 2 were and he is putting in the time, just like they did, to make himself a better defensive catcher. For every mention of Montero's defensive struggles, there haven't been many actual reports or physical evidence lately of what these struggles are. All indications are he has an above-average arm and needs to work on speeding up his release, and he has spent time tons of time working on stopping balls and calling games. With all of this improvement and the fact that he could become some kind of hybrid Joe Mauer-Mike Piazza combination at the plate, the Yankees have to keep him at catcher, at least until he gets to the Majors and shows what he can and can't do defensively.
I seem to remember a guy who caught for the Yankees for the last 10-12 years who was a monster offensively and complete disaster behind the plate. That guy, Jorge Posada, has won 5 World Series championships and put together a borderline HOF career behind the plate. I haven't heard anybody compare Montero's defense to Posada's, but I've heard everybody talk about how his offense could be way better than Posada's. When Montero is clearly a better prospect and clearly putting in the work, you give him a chance to catch, and that's why I like this statement by Cash. It all but guarantees that that's what the Yankees intend to do, which is exactly what they should do.
P.S.- Montero's bat has been compared to guys like Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera. Guess how many combined Gold Gloves those 2 have? I'd take 80% of their offensive production from Jesus if he ends up being a crummy catcher. You just don't get that kind of production from behind the plate and that's why he has to stay there.
Game 80: Yankees vs. Rays
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