The Montero Dilemma

Assuming the Yankees don’t trade him, Jesus Montero has shown his bat belongs in the everyday lineup next year. The problem is, how do the Yankees accomplish that?

It’s hard to believe that the Yankees feel comfortable catching him. They say they do, but their actions showed a very different story when they flew Austin Romine across the country and threw him behind the plate in the middle of a game. I suspect they will continue to say he can catch all winter, but this spring they need to make a commitment.

Russell Martin is arbitration eligible in 2012 and will be a free agent at the end of the season. He had a weird year with the bat, tearing the cover off the ball in April and August, but barely making contact the rest of the season. He was very good defensively and the Yankees should and I expect will, bring him back for 2012. That would setup a great way for Montero to learn on the job. He could DH most of the time and catch 1-2 times a week. When Martin becomes a free agent after the end of the season, Montero could slide into the starting catchers spot in the lineup. But, that assumes that the Yankees think he can be a catcher.

And making him the DH is a foolish decision for the team and for his career. He is 21, he should be able to field a position on the diamond and the Yankees have plenty of older players who they will need to DH from time-to-time. The obvious solution for the organization is to teach him to play right field. They have an option on Nick Swisher for 2012, but he is going to be a free agent after that and has hired Scott Boras as his agent. In 2012 the Yankees could have Montero DH, catch and play some outfield before moving out to right in 2013. Yogi Berra spent the later part of his career catching and playing the outfield, so it isn’t as crazy a plan as it may sound.

Now, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Yankees traded him. If the right pitcher became available, say Clayton Kershaw for example, I think the Yankees would definitely pull the trigger and put Montero in the package. But, if they don’t trade him, I think we will hear that Montero is learning the outfield when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Until that point, there is no reason for the Yankees to stop saying he is a catcher. Let’s just hope they have a plan in place in case they don’t really believe it.