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How Long Before Montero Unseats Russell Martin?



By Mike Silva ~ December 20th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Back in the offseason of 2004-2005 the Yankees signed 35 year old Tony Womack to play second base for 2 years and $4 million dollars. The prior year was a career year for Womack as he hit .307 for St. Louis. By midseason Womack was moving all over the field to gain playing time since rookie Robinson Cano – nearly traded to both Arizona and Texas the prior two years- had firmly taken over the second base job. Last night on my 1240 AM WGBB show Frank Piliere compared the current Russell Martin/Jesus Montero catching situation to Womack/Cano.

Like Montero, there were questions about Cano’s defense and his overall makeup. Additionally, his half season in Triple A Columbus was nothing to write home about in the back half of 2004. This was also before Brian Cashman was given total control from the Tampa faction of the Yankees hierarchy who were more concerned with designer names than building a baseball team. That is why Montero probably is in a better position than Cano five years ago.

The concerns about Montero’s defense might be overrated. In a recent column at AOL Fanhouse, Piliere said that although “his size will force him to put in additional work to stay flexible and athletic, he’s matured, especially physically, and his defense has improved, not declined as some predicted.” Piliere goes on to say this description could be applied to just about every mediocre defensive catcher in professional baseball. The difference is Montero has 40 homer potential at a position that has seen a drop in offense since stricter testing for Performance Enhancement Drugs.

Maybe eight to ten weeks in Scranton will do wonders for Montero. Let’s not forget he will be just 21 on opening day. That won’t stop the fans from displaying their usual inpatient attitude if he struggles early on. Nothing would be worse for the kid than to be sent down after making the team out of spring training. Perhaps this was has gone into the thinking behind making Martin the #1 catcher.

When I saw Russell Martin as an option I thought of him as a backup with better offensive potential, if healthy, than Francisco Cervelli. Right now he is the starting catcher, but I suspect he is holding the position for Montero who should be the starter sometime around Independence Day.

You can listen to Frank Piliere talk about the fallout from the Yankees by downloading the replay of the show and fast forwarding to the 27 minute mark.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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6 Responses to How Long Before Montero Unseats Russell Martin?

  1. Russ

    Holding back Montero to save a year of service time isn’t a bad plan. If he puts up the numbers that people think he will then you are saving a ton of money in the long run.

    Calling up Montero sometime in June and making Martin a utility guy will strengthen the bench. Between starting 2 days a week at catcher, defensive replacement duty for Montero late in games and the possibility of an occasional game at 3b, Martin should still get 400 ABs.

  2. Mike Silva

    That’s a great point Russ – didn’t think about it.

    The Yanks get to see him develop in Triple A for a few months and push back arbitration/FA

    Of course, if he is tearing it up, I doubt the Yanks keep him down there too long – arbitration or not.

  3. Stu B

    Since when do the Yankees worry about mundane issues like service time, arbitration, and keeping guys in the minors to save money? Those things are for teams like the Pirates, Royals, and Twins to think about…

  4. BVMaestro

    Mantle was sent down to KC in 1951. Tore up the league for a couple of weeks and was then brought back. Someone ought to remind Montero of that.

  5. Russ

    Stu,

    When it comes to guys they view as future stars they certainly think of those things. For example, they did sign Cano to a long term deal to buy out his arbitration years. It’s definitely something they think about these days, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if with one more good year, if they signed Hughes to a long term deal to avoid arbitration with him as well.

  6. Michael

    The fans need to remember two things if Montero struggles when he first gets to the majors: he’s just 21, and most players struggle a bit when they first face major league pitching. Arod did not do very well when he was first called up, but he adjusted and became who he is today. Montero struggled when he first saw AAA pitching, hitting about .220 with 7 HR in the first half, but he adjusted and hit about .360 with 14 HR in the second half of the season. We need to be patient with him, barring injury he can’t really miss at this point, he will produce.

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