Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Jesus Resting On The 7th Day?

Saw this on LoHud this morning and was a little confused:

"The Yankees have decided not to have Jesus Montero play winter ball this offseason. Between Triple-A and the big leagues, Montero played in 127 games this season, and he caught most of them.

General manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees will have Montero maintain his strength and conditioning, but they don’t want him to continue playing in games.

Just to answer some of the emails I’ve gotten recently: Cashman immediately dismissed the notion of moving Montero to right field. That’s just not going to happen."

Maybe I'm just missing something here, but I'm not following the logic of this decision.  So the kid caught 127 games this year, so what?  Last time I checked, Montero was only 21 years old and completely healthy.  He's the most prized prospect in the organization and his legitimacy as a full-time catching option is still up for debate.  He's going to be expected to fill a much bigger role on the team in 2012 and the Yankees need to decide if he can really handle being a catcher at the Major League level.  The only way to do that is to continue to have him catch and work on his skills in game situations, which he can't do if he's just off somewhere maintaining his strength and conditioning.

No one doubts Montero's skills at the dish, that's a given.  But his catching has always been the major question mark surrounding him and now the Yankees are making the decision to have him not work on it during the offseason.  That just doesn't add up to me.  They say he's not moving to the outfield, he can't move to first base, and he's going to have to give up DH ABs to all the older players that are going to need days there next season.  On those days, ideally Montero should be behind the plate to keep his bat in the lineup and give Russell Martin some rest, and the Yankees should be doing everything to get Montero reps behind the plate to see if he can handle that responsibility.  He should be catching in the fall league, winter league, and as soon as he reports to Tampa for Spring Training in 2012.

The Yankees have already stumbled over defining roles for top prospects like Joba and Phil Hughes.  I'd hate to see them go down the same path with Montero.

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