The New York Yankees recently told catcher Jorge Posada they were moving him towards the DH role for the 2011 season for two reasons: The first; Posada clearly cannot catch every day, leaving the only other option as DH. The second; they want to clear the way for big-time catching prospect, Jesus Montero.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman won't admit that Montero has already been given the starting position for next season, but did say that Montero will be given a chance to win the job during Spring Training.
In 2010, with the Yankees' triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Montero hit .289 with 21 homers and 75 RBIs. He collected 131 hits, 34 doubles, in 453 at-bats.
Montero is considered a very strong right-handed hitter, but a below-average defender. He has a long arm stroke when throwing the ball, increasing transfer time, giving would-be base stealer's a good jump.
Despite the knocks against Montero—and there are many—the Yankees still envision him behind the plate in 2011, and with the Yankees' desire to play Posada more at DH, it's Montero's job to lose.
After watching the San Francisco Giants win the World Series with a rookie catcher of their own, Buster Posey, the Yankees are hoping for similar production from Montero.
Will Jesus Montero be the starting catcher in 2011?
Personally, I feel Posada is in the way of a lot of things. 2011 will most likely be his last with the Yankees and once he's gone, the Yankees will have much more flexibility with their players.
With Posada gone, the DH role opens. The Yankees can alternate between giving Alex Rodriguez rest at the DH position. Another option, which I've reiterated all over B/R, is to move Jeter to third base and slide A-Rod into the DH role full time.
If Montero can prove himself in Spring Training and the 2011 season, the Yankees will have a young, strong catcher for years to come, eliminating one of many problems of an aging roster.
The call-up of Buster Posey on May 30th infused the Giants with youth and excitement. It gave the fans a fresh new face to root for and gave the Giants a mature bat in the middle of their lineup. This is what the Yankees need from Montero. After his call-up, Posey went on to hit .305 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs, win the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Award and catch a World Series-clinching Game 6.
To expect the same from Montero before he even sets foot in Spring Training would be unfair, but the Yankees can hope. They can hope that Montero will provide enough offensively to overshadow any weaknesses he brings defensively. Or maybe Montero will actually grow while in the big leagues and improve his defense and become a better overall player.
Though the Yankees may be downplaying their expectations, they certainly have them.