Cashman On Development, KT, Montero, Misc.

Open Thread: Today in weird contract clauses
Fan Confidence Poll: January 31st, 2011
"No Peter, I wouldn't agree that Darnell McDonald will be the AL MVP." (AP Photo/Bob Child)

Josh Norris sat down for a chat with Brian Cashman on Friday (part one, part two), getting the GM to spill the beans about a number of topics, including Jesus Montero, the draft, and a bunch of other stuff. Unfortunately he didn’t say anything controversial, so those of you who enjoy that sort of stuff are out of luck. Rather than give you just a link and telling you to check it out, I wanted to talk briefly about some of the stuff Cashman discussed. I block-quoted some of it and added my two cents below, but still, you should go check out the interview in its entirety. Josh did a great job as usual. On to the quotes…

We have been very aggressive in the draft and re-dedicated ourselves to tools, not necessarily to performance coming out of the amateur ranks.

I’m going to focus on the tools over performance part, because the Yankees have drafted quite a few guys with questionable college performances and turned them into quality prospects because they focused on the talent. David Phelps jumps to mind, he had a 4.65 ERA and a decidedly unsexy 7.26 K/9 in his final year at Notre Dame, but his minor league career features a 2.50 ERA (382.1 IP) and last year he struck out eight men per nine. David Adams hit just .286/.384/.411 in his draft year at Virginia, but as a pro he owns a .281/.370/.439 batting line with wood bats against much better competition. Andrew Brackman belongs in this conversation as well.

I guess the point here is that the development process is just as, if not more important than the talent acquisition process. You can spend all the money in the world and select Baseball America’s top ten draft prospects every year, but having the coaching staffs and personnel in the minors to help these kids realize their potential through instruction and training is absolutely crucial. At the professional level, pure talent will only take a player so far, they’ve got to put the work in and the team has the have the people in place to help made adjustments.

Kevin [Towers] and I are dear friends, but I only (got) Kevin involved because I knew he was going to be a GM someday somewhere else, but I wanted to get an outside perspective of our system. He’s a tremendous evaluator of talent, so Damon Oppenheimer used him for the draft. He went out there and saw the amateurs that were out there. He went through our farm system, and he was a guy I could lean on and ask for advice on a lot of different things. It was nice to have him for the short time we had him.

Until now, we had basically no idea what Towers did for the Yankees last summer aside from speculation about the Chad Huffman and Steve Garrison waiver claims. Cashman also said he had KT evaluate the team’s present minor league talent for an objective take on what they had, admitting that internal biases often come into play. I’m curious to know which (if any) drafted players came on Towers’ recommendation; he’s always been a polish and probability guy, but the Yankees went after upside and took a lot of risk this summer.

[The Russell Martin signing is] an indicator of who’s going to be the starting catcher. It’s going to be Russell Martin, period. Then after that, the back-up situation’s going to be open for discussion between Cervelli, Montero, Romine, we’ll see. Or all of them. … They all could split time and get a little education in the process.

Last week Cashman appeared to say that the starting catcher’s job would be an open competition, but that was a misquote. The competition is for the backup job, though I’m not sure how much of a competition it will really be. That’s not a knock on the process, it’s great to let the kids think they have a shot to earn a job in camp, but I believe Cervelli has a head start on the job simply because Montero and Romine need to play every day to continue their development.

Cashman also commented on Montero’s much maligned defense, saying “We believe he can catch, and we believe he can catch long-term.” That’s all well and good, but as Kevin Goldstein mentioned at Saturday’s BP/SABR event, the Yankees are the only ones that believe he’s a catcher. No one outside the organization believes that. Yes, some bias comes into play, but it’s basically the Yankees against the world. I think that as long as he can fake catcher as well as Posada did over the last few years, the Yankees will take it and wait to change Montero’s position until some yet to be determined point in the future. Or they could trade him for someone really, really good.

Open Thread: Today in weird contract clauses
Fan Confidence Poll: January 31st, 2011
  • squishy jello person

    KLaw might have brought up the best point re: Montero’s position; there’s no shame in being a DH, and you don’t risk the injury and wear and tear you do as a catcher.

    • Craig


      Too many people keep freaking out over the fact that he might be a below average catcher – if that. I don’t care if he’s limited to catching 35-40 games per season. His bat has been compared to Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas and Miguel Cabrera.

      Manny Ramirez. Frank Thomas. Miguel Cabrera.

  • Jess

    Montero will be the one to decide if he can play catcher or not. Not Kevin Goldstein, Baseball America, unnamed scouts, or anyone else.

  • stunna4885

    if pettitte isnt coming back then i have no idea what cashman is doing
    millwood and garcia are all that is left out there and they will be signed shortly. if we come out of this offseason with nothing for the rotation thats a really poor job by cash.

    • batman

      theres no need to mortgage the future for a pitcher before the season even starts. im perfectly fine starting like this for a little while, waiting to see how we play as well as waiting for other pitchers to become available.

      • camilo Gerardo

        and see what Noesi, Phelps, Warren, Brackmonster have!

    • MikeD

      He may have made a decision that there is nothing worth paying for on the market, and that some of their young pitchers can do at least as well (or poor) as what’s on the market, plus they’ll cost a lot less, and they offer the opportunity for upside breakout.

      What he’s probably waiting on is trade opportunities as we head through spring training.

      It’s not as if he, or the Yankee organization, is not aware the players are dropping off the board. They obviously don’t care based on the quality/injury history.

      Plus, Andy’s coming back.

    • Jerome S.

      Mitre = Millwood = Garcia, no deal.

      • jsbrendog (returns)

        seriously. the only difference is we KNOW millwood will suck. mitre at least has some possibility of improvement after being anothe ryr from tommy john

  • Gordon

    Don’t trade Montero!

  • batman

    who cares what other teams say about monteros defense, the yankees know him better than any other team. I know its only beneficial for them to hype up his defensive skills but like mike said we only need him to catch for a couple years until we make room for him at a position that recquires less defensively, or platoon him with austin or gary when they are ready.

  • stunna4885

    i know derek lowe has been offered numerous times this winter but cash is not interested. plan a=cliff lee plan b= pray for pettitte to come back. cash is smarter than that and the reality is that even with pettitte back we still have little to no depth. sergio would be our #6 starter. so whether pettitte resigns or not it shouldn’t stop cash from adding to the rotation.

    • Jerome S.

      Ok, ok, ok, you’re worried that the #6 starter is below average?


  • stunna4885

    the al east lineups are riduculous and without quality pitching and depth its gonna be a long season. people say lets just wait a bit into the season but we may find ourselves 8 games back by mid may if we sit on our hands

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      8 games back in mid may means nothing. there would still be ~100 games left to play

  • Jerkface

    Piliere believes in Montero.

    • Rod

      Unlike KG, Piliere has actually seen Montero at multiple levels so I’ll weigh that a bit more heavily.

    • David

      I am going with Piliere. He knows what he is talking about. However, this is a tough one. The best case is that Martin rebounds into a marginal All Star player, which is possible, while at the same time Montero shows the world in AAA that he can be a starting C with a bat like Manny Ramirez. Not to mention that they also have Romine and Cervelli. And Posada. And Sanchez! I hate to go along with the patience thing, but if you fast forward to the above situation, the leverage would be huge.

  • MikeD

    Baseball seems to go through waves of “group think,” where the common wisdom shifts back and forth. There was a time when teams wanted a fulltime, big bat at DH. Now we’re in a mode of being fleixble at DH, with players shifting between the field and the DH slot. My guess is it will shift back again at some point, because that’s what happens with baseball group think.

    This really should not be an either/or situation. If you have Harold Baines, or Edgar Martinez, or Frank Thomas, then it makes a lot of sense to have a full-time, excellent hitter at DH. The Yankees might have that with Jesus Montero, so I hope they don’t go overboard and decide to trade him away if they also decide he’s not a catcher.

    Have him serve as a back-up catcher for 30 games, rest Tex at firstbase and play there about 20 games, and then he can DH another 100 games. He’s at 150 games, but he still gets to play the field, while giving the Yankees a back-up at two positions. The DH slot is also still open another 60 games to rotation A-Rod and Jeter and Tex in for rest, without losing their bats. And in a few years, if Montero is a good as his press clippings, he’ll only be in his mid-20s when Teixeira’s contract expires.

    • Craig

      This is one of the main things that people refuse to grasp. There is plenty of opportunity to work Montero into the lineup. It will just be up to Joe Girardi to juggle the lineup on a day-to-day basis.

  • stunna4885

    i think millwood and garcia despite the fact that there not great would represent a bigger upgrade over sergio mitre than people will admit or understand.

  • Mister D

    Is the BP/SABR summit event available (video, transcript, etc)?

  • cano is the bro

    hahaha i enjoyed the photo caption

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    LOL @ Darnell McDonald caption. Nice, Axisa.

  • MattG

    FWIW, I haven’t seen Keith Law criticize Montero’s defense recently (unlike Romine, who Law apparently feels could use some stick-um), but he has been harping on the “historically-large” deal.

    Is Montero larger than, say, Matt Weiters?

    I understand moving him off catcher, even if his defense is acceptable, if his size makes him a huge injury risk. And I also understand that when Law takes about size, he’s probably talking about size and body type/flexibility/mobility. But I would like a better understanding of what Law sees, and why it can’t work for Montero.

    As for being a DH at 21/22 years-old, that really, really hurts a team’s flexibility. Look, if you needed a DH this year, you could’ve had Thome for a song. Guerrero is still out there. DH is not supposed to be a revolving door in-season, to ‘rest your regulars’ (I have a bunch of reasons why that is stupid), but it should be the last spot in the line-up a team tries to fill year in, year out. Having a stalwart for a decade is not a help, its a slight hindrance.

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      The reason why his size is brought up is because of Montero’s lack of ahtleticism. Mauer and Wieters can get away from it but Montero likely can’t long term.

      Of course that doesn’t mean he’s a DH for life as he could easily split time with whoever is catching when Sanchez or possily Romine is ready.

      • MattG

        Athleticism is not what’s needed to catch. You need athleticism to be a wide receiver or a power forward.

        To catch, Montero probably needs to improve his mobility, and he can do that. He’s only 21 years old. There are plenty of programs designed to improve core strength, balance and mobility. These are not things with which people are born (or rather, they are, but they develop at different rates) like ‘athleticism,’ they are disciplines that are practiced and developed.

        Get a mobility coach, do Yoga and Pilates. He’s 21, the results would probably be nearly immediate. If this is all that is holding him back, then I totally understand the Yankees’ optimism. In a couple of years, the MSM will be praising Montero for all his hard work.

    • Rod

      Between what Piliere says and comparing Montero’s CS% and PB numbers to Posada, Montero could definitely be passable at C for a few years. The crazy thing is that Montero will be 27(!) when Teix’s contract is up.

    • CS Yankee

      DH is Posada’s this year.

      Montero should be kept down (until at least June) and should get as much time in as C as possible in the minors to develop.

      Cash does a good job in reminding people that Boggs was a minor hitter with no glove & Jeter was an error machine & they both were (yes, were) major league good-to-stellar.

      Montero is extremely young…hopefully he sticks as a Catcher better than Piazza/Posada in the pros; as that is where the most value lies (plus Arod needs that role in about 3 years).

    • Owen Two

      I’d be really interested in hearing why a full-time DH is better than the ‘half day off’.

  • CS Yankee

    Is that the ugliest furniture of all time?

    Seems somwhere lost in time between the Merv Griffin set and the Arsenial Hall show.

    (unsure on spelling)

    • MattG

      What they lack in furniture, it makes up for in lighting. Can’t you just hear the florescent buzz?

  • Faiaz

    I just don’t understand why so many people are worried about the Yankees. Even with the team as it is right now, we get the Wildcard spot at the least. In the playoffs… the weak back-end of the rotation is really not life and death. Go check the rotations of the teams that won rings within the last few years. Also, in the playoffs, the value of the bullpen becomes magnified and we have the best bullpen.

    About the “scary” Sox. WTF is the big F-ing deal? WOW they signed Gonzalez and Crawford. Why does no one mention that the 48 HRs and the 181 RBIs that Beltre and Martinez produced last year will have to be made up? I’m sure that Gonzalez and Crawford will produce a bit more than that, but the difference in production is gonna win them a ring? Yea OK. Why is it automatically assumed that Beckett and Matsuzaka are gonna bounce back and that Buchholz will repeat his numbers from last year? With the two signings this year, the pressure is on the Sox to go to the World Series. But they will fail.

    There is so much more that I can write about that will prove my point even more but there is no need for that. At best, the Sox and Yanks are evenly matched.

    • CS Yankee

      You must of not have read that the Red Sox lose to the Phillies in the WS in 2011.


  • Sweet Dick Willie

    pure talent will only take a player so far, they’ve got to put the work in

    You’re not the only one who feels that way.

  • Chris

    I believe Cervelli has a head start on the job simply because Montero and Romine need to play every day to continue their development.

    I don’t think Montero would need to catch every day to continue his development. Posada was a part time catcher his first full season in the majors, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yankees do that again.

    • VinnyB

      I feel the same way Chris. We’re still waiting on Montero but how come he can’t get the on-the-job training like Cervelli? Montero getting tutored by Jorgie & coaches can’t be a bad thing. I don’t really hate the Martin signing but its time for Montero to play. Imo, there’s nothing wrong w/ Cervelli-Montero platoon w/ Jorgie getting 1-2 games a week.

      I initially agreed w/ Cash’s off-season patience preaching but that’s starting to tick me off. Where was the patience w/ Mike Lowell? (Not that I need open old wounds)

      I was in Scranton for a game in July (vs Twinkies) last yr and I was satisfied w/ Montero’s play. He crushed one that day that looked like it was on its way to the moon! I also got to see Nova pitch. I was impressed. His fastball is sick! He didn’t have great command that day but I think he can be a solid pitcher this year (granted he can get 20-22 starts).

  • Monteroisdinero

    Montero can catch adequately and as good as Posada these last few years (which ain’t saying much). He had some baby fat and poor habits but he is leaner and will put on muscle in the years ahead. Look at some pics of how skinny Jeter (and other non-steroid types ) was compared to later years. The guy is gonna surprise alot of folks.

    • CS Yankee

      If he is really that good, they’ll need to keep him in SWB until June and save 15M$ (last year of arb for a 40/120 guy) or sign him to a Longoria type deal.

      At the ripe age of 21; the bread isn’t done baking, they might as well have him grow in the minors and save serious coin down the road plus it gives him a better chance to correct his liabilities without cost (games or time).

      • Monteroisdinero

        I am fine with this. Posey came up after a few months and that turned out well. It will also give me a chance to see Montero at scranton and other places and report back. $14 for dugout seats and easy autographs and conversation.


  • J. Scott

    Last summer, during their vacation rotation period, John Heyman substitute hosted on WFAN a number of times. When the question of Montero’s future behind the plate was raised, Heyman said the scouts he’d known and trusted for many years were unanimous that Montero’s … awfulness behind the plate had been severely over-hyped. According to Heyman all of his trusted scouts felt that Montero would be a functionally comepetent catcher at some point. Of course “at some point” is sufficiently nebulous to leave the question of “and when might that be” sort of up in the air.

  • David

    That is what people are forgetting- ” at some point”. Better off looking at him as “inexperienced defensively”. He is very young. He will go to AAA and if he proves that he is a MLB catcher, we win either way, as he is then Mike Piazza II or he is traded for a top starting pitcher. Let’s say the Giants want him for 1B. They now have Posey and Montero in the lineup. We get Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner. Exciting? Yes as far as I am concerned. Or, he is Piazza II and Manny and Betances develop into stars. Exciting – Yes! We win either way. All contingent upon how he develops.

    • Craig

      I’m not the biggest Matt Cain fan, but I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t mind seeing Jesus Montero traded for him. Can we set our sights a little higher than Madison Bumgarner though? I realize he was a top prospect himself, but the Yanks should only be going after the creamiest of the crop if they decide to move Montero.