As pitchers and catchers are filing into camp, the New York Yankees have several issues to attend to this spring, one of the foremost being the competition between the veteran offseason pickup Russell Martin and the top catching prospect in the game today, Jesus Montero.
Montero has risen through the Yankees farm system very quickly, much in thanks to his power and run production at each level of the minors. Now with the starting catcher spot vacated by Jorge Posada in New York, the young super prospect has a chance to make his mark and live up to all the hype in the Bronx this year.
Martin is the new-comer to the Yankees and is coming off knee surgery, plus his 2010 season was cut short by a broken hip and torn shoulder in August. But he is a two time All Star as well as the owner of a gold glove and silver slugger, and at age 27, he is the veteran and considered probably the favorite to start on opening day.
If Martin is 100 percent healthy by the end of spring training, it would be hard to argue with him as the choice if the Yankees go with him. But Montero has proven that he can hit at every level thus far and by all scouting accounts he would succeed in the Majors as well. So who should it be?
In 2010, Montero got off to a slow start at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but after a strong second half of the season his overall numbers were good, he hit 21 home runs with 75 RBIs and a .289 batting average. The average was down compared to his previous performances and he did strikeout 91 times in 453 at bats. So there are holes in his game, but at just 21 years old he is very advanced.
His defense has been called into question in the past, but last year he seemed to rededicate himself to improving his fielding capability behind the plate and did do a better job. Is he ever going to be a gold glove catcher in the majors, no probably not, but neither was the guy he's trying to replace, Jorge Posada.
Plus, there is really no where for him to go. Sure you could send him back to the minors for another year, but that would only take another year off of his potential career lifespan, which as a catcher is probably shorter than most. That would be a complete waste of time, since it appears he is ready for the big leagues.
Martin has the experience as the veteran, but with all of his recent injury history and self admittedly not 100 percent healthy yet, I have to go with Montero. He is a bigger offensive weapon in the already stacked Yankees lineup, which the Yanks are going to have to rely heavily on this year thanks to their failed pursuit of Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte retiring, leaving the starting rotation considerably weaker.
So Montero is the man for the job in my opinion.