New York Yankees: Jesus Montero

The rise and fall of Jesus Montero

February, 6, 2014
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MonteroJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesSaid Brian Cashman about Jesus Montero: "He may well be the best player I've ever traded."
NEW YORK -- When the Yankees traded Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda in January 2012, Yankees GM Brian Cashman made a statement that was both audacious and puzzling.

“He may well be the best player I’ve ever traded," Cashman said.

Coming from a man who had already dealt away Randy Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Ian Kennedy, Kenny Lofton, David Justice and Austin Jackson, it was a bold and striking thing to say.

It also turned out to be dead wrong.

Pineda, who has yet to throw a pitch in the big leagues for the Yankees, having been sidelined with serious shoulder surgery in his first spring training with the club, remains a player with a promising, if uncertain, future and is still considered by many to be on the way up.

But after a tumultuous two seasons as a Seattle Mariner, the 24-year-old Montero might already be on his way down.

“If he [makes the team], great," Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told MLB.com in December. "Great for Jesus Montero, great for this organization. But at this time, if you are bringing him in here and counting on him, I think that's a little too risky at this point. I think you’d be foolish to say you were counting on this guy."

It may be hard to believe now, but just a little more than two years ago, the Yankees were counting on Jesus Montero to develop into the latest in a line of catchers who were also offensive powerhouses, a line that ran from Bill Dickey to Jorge Posada, passing through Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Elston Howard along the way.

"This was a tough deal, a very tough deal," Cashman said on a conference call with reporters on the Monday evening after the trade. “I believe he's a middle-of-the-lineup-type bat and very gifted. He's a good kid and he's going to have a heck of a career, he really is."

While Pineda broke down in March 2012, Montero performed acceptably for a rookie in his first season as a Mariner, hitting 15 home runs and driving in 62 runs while batting .260 in 135 games. But in 2013, Montero fell off the cliff, hitting just .208 with three home runs and nine RBIs before being demoted to Triple-A after just 29 games.

From there, it only got worse. The Mariners, apparently abandoning hope that Montero would ever develop into a full-time major league catcher -- at one point, he went 0-for-35 trying to throw out base stealers -- begin trying to convert him to a first baseman. He continued to struggle at the plate, batting just .247 with a home run and nine RBIs in Triple-A. That experiment was cut short when Montero suffered a torn meniscus, requiring season-ending surgery.

Then, he was put down for 50 games by MLB in connection with the Biogenesis investigation. He capped off his annus horribilis by suffering a hand injury in a car accident that cut short his season in the Venezuelan Winter League.

If nothing else, Montero should serve as a cautionary tale. Practically overnight, he went from “can’t miss" to can’t hit. Or catch.

“He was highly touted by everyone throughout the industry," Cashman said. “I think the entire industry looked at Jesus Montero and said, this guy’s got monster right-handed power and he did, but that doesn’t guarantee anything."

But apparently, not everyone in baseball was as high on the Venezuelan-born Montero as the Yankees, who signed him for $1.6 million in 2006.

“Everyone knew he couldn’t catch,” one scout told ESPNNewYork.com. “He didn’t stop hitting until he got to Seattle.”

Cashman, who right up until the time of the Pineda trade continued to maintain he expected Montero to someday become the Yankees’ everyday catcher, now says Montero’s 6-3, 230-pound frame was an impediment to his development.

“It’s difficult [to be a catcher] when you’re that big," Cashman said. “Physically he’s capable. He’s got a great arm. But he has a long release because of his size."

But a baseball insider told ESPNNewYork.com there were other factors besides size working against Montero. “I’ve heard rumblings that he’s a little bit of a [diva], and he’s lazy over there," the source said. “I hear King Felix [Hernandez] hates throwing to him, and that he’s cocky way beyond his accomplishments. Hey, he’s been written up as this great cover boy and so maybe that went to his head and he doesn’t work as hard. I don’t know."

This spring, Montero comes to Mariners camp no longer as the up-and-coming phenom, but as just another farmhand trying to earn a spot on one of the least-successful teams in baseball.

"You know he's a talented player, but he does have [minor league] options, he's switching positions and I think at this moment in time you can't necessarily count on him," Zduriencik said. “I'm not saying he won't come in and be ready to roll and all of the sudden you are looking at the Jesus Montero you thought you acquired, but he’s been through too much the last year and he has too much to prove to all of us.

“It’s all up to Jesus," Zduruencik said. "This is a golden opportunity for him and it's laid right in front of him. How he handles, well, it's in his lap."

Jesus Montero hurt

June, 1, 2013
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This Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda has not gone so well. Montero was recently sent down to the minors. Now, he is hurt.

Montero sent down by M's

May, 23, 2013
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The Michael Pineda trade is improving. Slightly.

Jesus Montero, who is batting .208, has struggled to the point he is being sent down by the Seattle Mariners.

From the Herald Tribune:

Catcher Jesus Montero will be sent to Triple-A Tacoma, while catcher Jesus Sucre will be selected from the Rainiers. Double-A back-up catcher Brandon Bantz, who was serving as the starter in Jackson after John Hicks suffered a groin injury and went on the DL, is already headed to Tacoma to serve as Mike Zunino's backup.

With three catchers in Tacoma, and Zunino garnering the bulk of the playing time, it appears the Mariners may have finally taken a step back from the idea that Montero will be catcher at the big league level.

What position will Montero play in Tacoma? Well, he figures to see plenty of time at designated hitter and some time at first base.

Montero's demotion to Triple-A seemed to be more likely with each passing day and each failed at-bat. While much of the focus has been on his defense -- and his struggles to catch at a serviceable level in the big leagues -- it's Montero's hitting that has been his biggest issue.

As one of the top prospects in baseball a few years ago, it was a given that Montero would never be a great defensive catcher. His lack of athleticism, his size and fundamental flaws seemed too much to overcome to become even an above average defensive catcher. But his hitting, in particular his raw power to all fields, was supposed to help offset those defensive shortcomings.


Meanwhile, Pineda is probably two more outings in Tampa from going on a minor league rehab assignment, making June a real possibility for his return to the majors. Since the trade in January 2012, Pineda, 24, has yet to pitch for the Yankees because of shoulder surgery.

QUESTION: Is your feeling about the Montero trade changing?

Report: Montero on clinic's list

February, 6, 2013
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The performance-enhancing drug scandal has reportedly ensnared another player with Yankees connections, the New York Daily News reports. Jesus Montero, once the Yankees' catcher of the future, is listed in documents from Anthony Bosch's Miami-based anti-aging clinic, the newspaper said.

Montero, 23, is represented by Seth and Sam Levinson, the same agent as Melky Cabrera. Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2012 season.

Last winter, Montero planned to spend a month staying at Alex Rodriguez's house. This is from a Nov. 12, 2011 New York Post article:

Montero still intends to spend about a month in his native country before heading to Miami in January to work out with Alex Rodriguez and hitting coach Kevin Long at Rodriguez’s home.


Montero ended up being traded for Michael Pineda so it is not entirely clear if he went through with his plan to visit with A-Rod.

Still, as more and more names trickle in -- especially ones close to A-Rod -- you have to wonder who will be next.

The Pineda Trade, a year later

January, 11, 2013
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Getty Images/US PresswireIn January 2012, the Yankees sent catcher Jesus Montero to the Mariners for starting pitcher Michael Pineda in an ill-fated trade.
On Sunday, it will be the one-year anniversary of the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade. The deal, which also saw prospect Jose Campos come east and Hector Noesi go west, has been pretty unsatisfying for both teams.

Let's take a look back at what was said and what has transpired over the last 12 months.

1. THE TRADE: On Jan. 13, a Friday, Brian Cashman dealt Montero for Pineda. Cashman sent a verbal bouquet along with Montero to Seattle.

"He may very well be the best player I've traded," Cashman said of Montero, whose bat excited Yankees fans in September, 2011.

SportsNation

Was the trade that sent Jesus Montero to the M's for Michael Pineda a good one for the Yankees?

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    13%
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    35%
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    52%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,832)

Still, Montero was never going to be the defense-first catcher that Joe Girardi favors, so Montero was likely a no-go to ever be behind the plate full-time in the Bronx.

Meanwhile, Pineda, an All-Star as a rookie with the Mariners, was very excited about the deal.

"I never thought I would become a New York Yankee so early into my career," Pineda said. "This is the best thing in the world. Pitching alongside CC Sabathia, I'm speechless. And playing alongside players such as Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter is unbelievable."

2. THE MEDIA: Pineda, who was just 23, arrived in camp and seemed to be overwhelmed by the attention over every move he made. The media respected the fact that his first language was not English, but he was still very uneasy in the clubhouse.

"Sometimes I'm a little scared because I don't want to make a mistake," said Pineda, who grew up in the Dominican Republic. "I try to speak English, but my English is not very good."

3. THE WEIGHT: What hurt Pineda early was that he was overweight and could never find his fastball. A heater that was supposed to be 98 had trouble being consistently in the low 90s. By the end of camp, the Yankees decided not to take the struggling Pineda north. He was put on the DL with shoulder tendinitis.

4. THE SURGERY: Then things got worse. Pineda tried to rehab and felt pain in his shoulder. Pineda eventually needed surgery, prompting even Cashman to question the deal.

"This is a massive decision gone wrong, right now," Cashman told Wallace Matthews in late April. "So all scrutiny is fair. ... Right now, our hopes and dreams for this player are in jeopardy. Hopefully, someday, our fans will get to see what we expected to see from him for many years to come."

5. THE ARREST: Pineda made more bad news in August after being arrested for DUI in Tampa at 2:35 a.m. during his shoulder rehab.

The police report said Pineda "had a fixed gaze and his eyes were bloodshot, watery and glassy." It added, “No headlights were illuminated at night.” The officer could smell “a distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath and his speech was slurred.”

6. THE FUTURE: Since then, the Yankees have tamped down expectations for Pineda. He is long-tossing at the moment and the hope is he could come back by June of 2013 to throw his first major league pitch as a Yankee. Meanwhile, Montero did not overwhelm in Seattle.

While still not proving he can catch regularly in the bigs, Montero hit .260 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs. His .OPS was .685. The Mariners have moved in the fences this season so his numbers should rise.

As Pineda attempts to come back, he will try to return from an injury that takes supreme dedication. A year ago, the talk was that Pineda could ride shotgun with Sabathia to lead the Yanks' staff. Now, it is a question of whether he ever will be in the rotation.

QUESTION: Obviously, the trade has not worked out so far, but do you still believe Pineda can be a top-of-the-line starter?

W2W4: Mariners at Yankees (Aug. 3)

August, 3, 2012
8/03/12
12:46
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CC Sabathia Stats To Watch
Sabathia has won his last seven starts against the Mariners, the most recent of which was seven innings of one-hit ball, with 14 strikeouts against them last July 26.

The seven-start streak, while impressive, is only halfway to the record for the longest streak of winning starts against them. That’s held by former Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart, who won 14 straight from 1986 to 1990.

Sabathia’s seven-game winning streak (all with the Yankees) is one shy of the Yankees record for longest winning streak against the Mariners. Ron Guidry (1982 to 1985) and Mike Mussina (2001 to 2008) each won eight straight decisions.

Sabathia’s money pitch, his slider, has been a little more hittable since his return. It has netted 14 outs and yielded six hits, including home runs to Kurt Suzuki and Adrian Gonzalez in his past three starts.

When Sabathia is going well, that outs-to-hits ratio is usually in the 6-to-1 or better range.

Kevin Millwood Stats To Watch
Millwood is coming off a month in which he allowed three runs or fewer and pitched six innings or more in four of his five starts.

But he’s facing a team in which the matchups are not favorable. Six Yankees have regular-season batting average of .350 or better against him, headed by Andruw Jones’ .421 (8-for-19) and Ichiro Suzuki’s .395 (32-for-81).

If Joe Girardi wanted to play it “by the binder” he could start some combination of Suzuki, Jones, Raul Ibanez (.373 vs Millwood) and Nick Swisher (.357), and sit Curtis Granderson (.200).

By the way, Ichiro’s 32 hits against Millwood are his most in the regular season against any pitcher.

Don’t take them lightly
The Mariners have won seven straight games and actually have a positive run differential for the season, despite a 50-57 mark.

Seattle entered Thursday with the fourth-most runs scored on the road this season, and the second-fewest runs scored at home.

The Mariners have scored seven or more runs on the road 17 times this season, matching the Cardinals for the most such outputs in the majors.

Don’t be surprised if the Mariners start a couple of left-handed hitters against Sabathia.

Center fielder Michael Saunders is hitting .282 with four home runs against lefties this season, including .310 with a .521 slugging percentage against them on the road.

Welcome back (again), Jesus Montero
Montero’s numbers against left-handed pitching on the road are particularly amazing.

Montero is 26-for-50 with three home runs in road games against southpaws this season. He’s hitting .372 with a 1.012 OPS against lefties overall.

Montero’s sweet spot is against pitches on the outer-third of the plate. He’s 13-for-26 against lefties when an at-bat ends with a pitch to that location.

Sharp's Streaks
As noted in Katie Sharp's "Yankeemetrics," the Yankees enter this series with a home run in each of their last 20 home games. If the Yankees homer in each of the three games this weekend, they'll match the longest streak in club history, 23 games in 1963.

Katie also reports that Ichiro has exactly one hit in every game he's played in pinstripes. If he gets one hit again Friday, he'll match the longest streak of one-hit games by a Yankee in the Live Ball Era. That record is shared by Joe Gordon (1943), Yogi Berra (1953), Bobby Richardson (1962), Danny Cater (1971) and Steve Sax (1990).

The Cash Register: Mediocre Montero

June, 12, 2012
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The Cash Register is a regular feature in which we chart how former Yankees who were traded away are faring this season.

• Seattle catcher Jesus Montero: A quiet week for Montero at the plate with no hits. He's batting .258 on the year and his OBP is just .298. It's fair to say he's been mediocre with his bat, although he did catch a no-hitter against the Dodgers.

• Seattle starter Hector Noesi: It didn't get any better for Noesi last week as the Angels hit him for six earned runs in four innings. For the year, he's 2-6 with a 5.99 ERA.

• Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy: Kennedy has won two starts to even his record at 5-5. He has a 3.93 ERA, but as previously indicated, his WHIP and opponents' batting average are both up from last year.

• Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson: Jackson returned from the disabled list and went 2-for-9 in two games against Cincinnati. Although, he did hit a three-run homer. He's batting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage.

• Detroit reliever Phil Coke: It's fair to say Coke has struggled this year. He has a 4.44 ERA and has given up 29 hits and walked six in just 24 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .312 against him.

• Miami reliever Mike Dunn: Dunn is still in Triple-A after being sent down in late May. He has a 4.40 ERA in 10 games in the minors. It's been a rough year for the lefty.

• Boston reliever Mark Melancon: Melancon was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket after posting great numbers there. He pitched a scoreless inning against Miami on Monday and lowered his ERA to 33.00. Baby steps.

• Pittsburgh pitcher A.J. Burnett: You just knew this would happen. Burnett is 6-2 in the NL with a 3.61 ERA. Last week, he beat Cincinnati and Kansas City and has won his past five starts.

• San Francisco reliever George Kontos: Kontos made his debut with the Giants on Sunday, pitching a scoreless inning in a 5-0 loss. He gave up one hit and did not record a strikeout.

• Washington reliever Tyler Clippard: Clippard has done well as Washington's closer, including three straight saves against Boston that helped clinch the sweep. He has eight saves and a 2.30 ERA on the year and his WHIP is 0.99.

The trades

• Montero/Noesi for Michael Pineda/Jose Campos

• Kennedy/Coke/Jackson for Curtis Granderson

Melky Cabrera/Dunn/Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez/Boone Logan

• Melancon/Jimmy Paredes for Lance Berkman

• Kontos for Chris Stewart

• Burnett for Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones

• Clippard for Jonathan Albaladejo

First Pitch: Montero returns

May, 11, 2012
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Jesus Montero is hitting .268 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 112 at-bats. If you were to project that to 142 games, Montero would finish with 20 homers and 79 RBIs.

Those are not bad numbers, but they aren't out of this world; especially if Montero can't really catch in the majors. The Mariners are giving it a shot, though, as Montero has been behind the plate for 12 of his 30 games.

Montero will be in Yankee Stadium tonight. The last time he was here, he appeared to be the best Yankees hitting prospect in a long time. He nailed four homers with 12 RBIs in just 61 at-bats and hit .328 in September and looked as if he may be the right-handed hitting Jorge Posada -- maybe even better.

Not only will the Yankees see Montero, but Hector Noesi will be on the mound Saturday. With Montero, Noesi went west for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. As you know, Pineda is done for the season after shoulder surgery. At Single-A, Jose Campos rocketed to a great start, but now he, too, is on the DL with elbow inflammation.

UP NOW: My column on CC Sabathia and his need for help. Kieran Darcy on how Brett Gardner could be out 2-to-3 weeks, maybe more.

ON DECK: Every game vs. Seattle offers an interesting pitching matchup: Tonight, Felix Hernandez (3-1, 1.89 ERA) is on the mound vs. Hiroki Kuroda (2-4, 3.75). On Saturday, Noesi (2-3, 6.30 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (2-4, 6.67) with Hughes fighting for his spot. And then the Mother's Day Main Event, Andy Pettitte vs. Blake Beavan (1-3, 4.32)

IN THE HOLE: Katie Sharp's always fun Yankeemetrics at 10:10 a.m.The one and only Wally Matthews will be driving the ship all day and night. His co-pilot will be the hard-working Mike Mazzeo.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How many homers will Montero hit this weekend?



Yanks O/U: Michael Pineda's wins

February, 27, 2012
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In a recurring feature of the blog, we play the always fun "Over-Under Game," in which we will set the line for a player and a stat and ask you to weigh in.

The Player: Michael Pineda
The number:
15 wins

The scouting report: Pineda became a Yankee on the tumultuous Friday, Jan. 13, when he came over from the Mariners in exchange for Jesus Montero on the same night the Yankees came to terms with Hiroki Kuroda, ostensibly plugging all the holes in their rotation in one fell swoop.

Coming to New York as a 23-year-old pitcher with just one season under his belt carries a significant amount of pressure on its own. Throw in the expectation that Pineda will eventually be the No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia , and the fact that he cost the Yankees Montero, the most highly-touted bat in their organization, and you're looking at a potential nuclear meltdown in the Bronx.

Pineda is huge (6-7, 280) and hugely talented, but he pitched in the comparatively pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field and now moves to homer-happy Yankee Stadium 3.0. Plus, as GM Brian Cashman pointed out the other day, the Yankees believe Pineda still needs to add a changeup to his fastball-slider repertoire to become a successful big-league starter. That might account for Pineda's second half drop-off in 2011, when he went 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA after starting out 8-6, 3.03. So may have the workload, 171 IP in his rookie season.

In any event, Pineda was hurt by the weak Mariners' offense, which scored the fewest runs in the league, and will no doubt benefit from the Yankees lineup, which scored the second most. Then again, as a fly ball pitcher -- only five pitchers in baseball surrendered a higher percentage of fly balls than Pineda in 2011 --he is bound to be victimized by the short fences and helpful air currents in Yankee Stadium.

So how many wins are we looking at for Pineda in 2012?

I set the over/under at 15. And I'm picking the under. Between adjusting to the media and fan demands of New York City and contending with working in a hitter's park, I'm thinking 14 wins for Pineda in his first season as a Yankee.

But what I think isn't important. What do you think Michael Pineda will do in his first season in pinstripes? Let us know below.

Missing Links: Martin deal, Jones in Hall

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
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Let's deliver some Thursday Missing Links.

* With the Yankees maintaining pre- and post-trade that Jesus Montero could be an everyday catcher, Russell Martin's negotiating position was a bit tenuous. If Montero could have really caught, then it is hard to imagine the Yankees breaking out the big cash for Martin. But now with Montero gone and Austin Romine probably not even going to be the team's backup, it seems like a better possibility. Martin went into that with Harper from the News.
“Everybody knows I like playing here,” Martin said in the article. “The feeling of winning is something money can’t buy. But I’ve trained very hard (to overcome injuries) and I plan on doing this the rest of my career. I don’t want to make a rash decision.”

Ultimately, the Yankees are trying to get beneath $189 million by 2014 so a contract will have to be specially structured to help make that happen.

* Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer? Well, in this piece by Sherman from The Post, Jones says no.
“I don’t think my numbers are there yet to be in the Hall of Fame,” Jones said. “Maybe if I get to 500 homers that would give me a better chance. With the steroid era, though, this is more confusing who gets in and who doesn’t.”

I agree with Andruw, he is not there. He hasn't made an All-Star team since 2006. But the first 10 years of his career where he averaged .267, 31 homers and 93 RBIs combined with the best center field play maybe ever, he was Cooperstown material. So Jones could be closer than you think. If he hits 80 more homers and makes it to 500 then maybe he enters the Hall one day.

Questions: Do you want Russell Martin signed to a long-term deal with prospects Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez around? Do you think Andruw Jones is a Hall of Famer?

Column: Yanks didn't want to trade Montero

January, 14, 2012
1/14/12
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Here is my new column on what the Yankees were thinking and what is next. I go into their reluctance to trade Jesus Montero -- and the Brian Cashman Manifesto.

Rapid Reaction: Montero for Pineda

January, 13, 2012
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THE DEAL: Jesus Montero and right-handed pitcher Hector Noesi have been shipped to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for 22-year-old phenom starting pitcher Michael Pineda and righty prospect Jose Campos, a source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.

FIRST IMPULSE: You win with pitching, not hitting. The Yankees are betting Pineda is the real thing. There was a time during this past season when he was outpitching Felix Hernandez. Through July 4, Pineda was 9-8 with a 2.58 ERA. He was striking out nearly a batter per inning (106 in 108 innings). Then, apparently, he tired out.

So, just like Montero, Pineda has shown flashes of true greatness. The Yankees think there is more where those first three months came from.

MONTE, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: Yankees fans had to be excited about Montero's bat. He looked like a young Miguel Cabrera. But he was never going to be Joe Girardi's type of catcher if he ever caught in the majors. And the Yankees know they can get a bat to replace his production, if need be. Montero might be an All-Star hitter for years to come.

NO-NO: The Yankees have been talking up Noesi. A danger of the deal is that Noesi could end up better than Pineda. Of course, the Yankees don't think so. Meanwhile, Campos was in Class A baseball last year. He is just 19. He posted a 2.32 ERA last season.

THE VERDICT: If Pineda had been hyped through the Yankees' system, I think you would be jazzed about him. That said, it is tough to not watch Montero hit. It was fun while it lasted. It is all a guess given the players' inexperience, but you want to get the best pitcher in a deal. The Yankees think they did.

QUESTION OF THE NIGHT: Do you like the deal?
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has brought up having Jesus Montero work at first base during spring training.

"Is it something we might play with, maybe," Girardi said. "It is something we may not play with, maybe. It is something that I have brought up. We still consider him a catcher."

Girardi said the Yankees are looking for Montero to earn more at-bats as the DH and still catch.

"We expect to give him at-bats at catcher," Girardi said.

But what could be the start of a shift to a new position -- which possibly could enhance his trade value -- has been broached. Stay tuned.

Posada a Met? No, but ...

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
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Jorge Posada still wants to play and, according to SI.com, his agent called the Mets to see if they would be interested in having him.

The Mets apparently said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

If only Omar were still around.

Anyway, let's get the conversation started today.

Question of the Day: Who do you want to be your long-term catcher? (A) Russell Martin (B) Jesus Montero (C) Austin Romine (D) Gary Sanchez (E) Joe Mauer (F) Bring back Jorge

Jesus who? Why not Maxwell?

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
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While a lot of Yankee fans have been clamoring for the promotion of Jesus Montero from AAA Scranton to the big club to supplant the struggling Jorge Posada as DH, nobody seems to be noticing that Justin Maxwell is leading the International League on homers (11) and RBI (24). Meanwhile Montero, despite his .354 batting average, has left the park just once and has only seven RBI. Also, Maxwell's .614 slugging percentage dwarfs Montero's .438. Maybe Maxwell's batting average has something to do with it; he is hitting just .238.

But in spring training, Montero bombed out both at the plate and behind it, while Maxwell,acquired from the Nationals in a trade of minor-leaguers, nearly made the final cut as a reserve outfielder.

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