New York Yankees: Is the Jesus Montero Era Set to Begin in September?

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New York Yankees: Is the Jesus Montero Era Set to Begin in September?
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Jesus Montero #83 of the New York Yankees works out during the second day of full teams workouts at Spring Training on February 21, 2011 at the George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Yogi Berra may not have been the greatest Yankees catcher of all time, but he was certainly better than any other Yankees catcher.

Until now?

Just as the careers of Berra, Wally Schang, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Joe Girardi all eventually had to come to a regrettable end, so too has Jorge Posada apparently arrived at the sunset of his career.

And just as all those other great catchers were succeeded, almost immediately, by the next great Yankees catcher, so too does Posada appear to have a tremendous successor in hand.

It is fair to say, on the eve of his arrival in Major League Baseball, that Jesus Montero is going to be a star.

I do not know whether Montero has taken a magic marker and written the word "stud" all over himself, but it is certainly true that Montero figuratively has the word stud written all over him.

All of 21 years old and in his second full season at Triple-A, Montero stands 6'3" and 230 pounds to make for an imposing presence behind the plate. In five minor league seasons he has hit 73 home runs with a .308 batting average and a .499 slugging percentage that implies the next great power-average star.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 19: First base coach Mick Kelleher #50 and Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees celebrate a win against the Minnesota Twins on August 19, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Yankees defeated the Twins 8-1. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Perhaps a bit problematically, Montero is no stud on the defensive side of the ball. In 105 games behind the plate in 2010, he allowed 15 passed balls and 99 stolen bases while throwing out only 30, for a caught stealing percentage of only 23 percent.

Montero has so far held his total stolen bases allowed (64) and passed balls (6) down in 2011, but these are still not great numbers.

Nevertheless, the time is now for this young kid.

His bat is major-league ready, and if he is going to improve on the defensive side of the ball, he can do that on the major league level. Besides, the Yankees have not exactly made defense a priority during the last two decades, and there is no reason they should necessarily start now.

Perhaps the most relevant motivation in bringing Montero to the majors for the Yankees' stretch run is the performance of incumbent catcher Russ Martin.

Martin is hitting .259 with just a .286 OBP in August, after hitting .213 in July, .185 in June and .200 in May. It has been an up-and-down year for Martin, and there is reason for the Yankees to think that the future does not begin now.

The New York Yankees should bring Jesus Montero up to the big club when the rosters expand in September, and let the catcher of tomorrow get his feet under him today.

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