Jesus Montero And Maturity

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What the deuce are you staring at? (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Ten days after the agreement was reported, the trade sending Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners in exchange for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos was made official yesterday. The Yankees dealt away their best position player prospect since Derek Jeter, a guy most of us thought was pretty close to untouchable over the last four years or so. That wasn’t the case though, it never is. Brian Cashman is fond of saying that “no one is untouchable, but some are more touchable than others.” That continues to be true.

For starters, the Yankees have dangled Montero in trade talks several times in the past. They weren’t going to give him away, but he was out there if someone was serious about swinging a deal. The Yankees offered him to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay during the 2009-2010 offseason, and of course there was the Cliff Lee non-trade fiasco. Other teams have asked for him over the years — the White Sox for John Danks, the Athletics for Gio Gonzalez, the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez — and that’s just the stuff we know about. As much as we maybe didn’t want to believe it, Montero was very available.

We all know about the long-term position and defensive questions Montero carried, but chances are the team had some other concerns that contributed to their willingness to trade him. Allow me to excerpt The Star-Ledger’s Jeff Bradley

“A big-time talent,” [VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman] said of Montero. “There’s no one questioning his talent. But he hasn’t had a great year with the bat this year. We expected more, honestly.”

Newman went on to say, “The biggest deal for him is maturity. I’ve been doing this a while and I don’t know how you significantly accelerate the maturation process. You can put him around mature people, but he’s got a ways to go in figuring out how this game works and how this world works. He’s bright. I think he’ll eventually get it. The discipline and turmoil that he’s had to deal with is part of the process. You’ve got to deal with stuff. You’ve got to take the training wheels off. That’s what he’s going through.”

When asked if Montero had allowed his hopes of making the Yankees roster out of spring training last year get too high, Newman nodded. “He thought he had a chance to make the team in spring training. He thought he was the best player here at Triple-A last year. Now, he sees (Eduardo) Nunez is up there doing well. He thinks, ‘I was better than him.’ He sees Hector Noesi, Ivan Nova, and he thinks, ‘I was better than all of them, and they’re up there and I’m down here.’ I had a zillion conversations with him about that. But his case is not unique. These guys are down here reading the blogs about themselves, where even a few years ago, players moved through development stages in anonymity.”

Now, just to be 100% clear, these comments are not recent. They were made back around the trade deadline according to Bradley. It’s not like Newman is throwing Montero under the bus on his way out the door Red Sox-style, he voiced these concerns when the kid was still in the organization and six months before he was traded away.

The idea that Montero was “bored” in Triple-A this past summer is nothing new, but that’s not the only incident (if you can actually call that an incident) that involved a lack of maturity on his part. Remember, the Yankees did bench him for a few games in 2010 because he didn’t run out a ground ball, and they benched him again in 2011 because his play lacked “energy.” During yesterday’s trade announcement conference call, Montero admitted that Alex Rodriguez stepped in and threatened to fine him $100 a day last September because he wasn’t spending enough time in the batting cage. There’s the whole “boys will be boys” mindset, especially when you’re talking about kids this young after they were handed a boatload of money. I have no doubt a sense of entitlement comes into play.

The Yankees know way more about Montero and his maturity level — both as a person and as a player — than we ever will, and we really can’t say that they had legitimate long-term concerns about him with any certainty. I’ve always been of the belief that talents reigns supreme, and I’ll live with the occasional bad apple or grumpy player as long as he’s productive on the field. The Yankees seem to have placed a renewed emphasis on strong work ethic and makeup, and in recent years they’ve sought out players with those traits in free agency, trades, and even the draft. Maybe they felt Montero didn’t fit the mold despite his ability to hit baseballs a long way.

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  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    I’ve decided Jesus Montero is more important than a Spanish midterm

    • First Name Only Male – Retire 21

      Me parece una decisión sabia de tu parte. Suerte en tu examen semestral.

      • Ned Telson

        yo soy fiesta.

  • Mike HC

    I guess that has got to be a red flag if there were work ethic and hustle concerns before a player even starts making the big bucks. ARod fining Montero $100 a day was needed motivation to work on his hitting? That doesn’t seem that great. Either way, I hope he gets it together and succeeds with the Mariners. I will also root for him, and follow him, like Jackson and Kennedy, until he plays the Yanks that is.

  • Craig Maduro

    I don’t believe that Montero’s maturity played a role in his availability here, but I don’t see it as a long-shot either. I mean, don’t most players deal with some sort of maturity issues as they climb their team’s organizational ladder? Especially the HS and IFA prospects.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      don’t most players deal with some sort of maturity issues as they climb their team’s organizational ladder?

      Perhaps most do. Perhaps the Yankees expect more from their elite prospects. While it was a different time and information wasn’t as freely available, is anyone aware of similar concerns about the maturity of Jeter, Mo, Posada &/or Pettitte? Granted, Mo & Posada were older, so not sure they are good comps. Perhaps Cano is the best recent comp, but even he wasn’t as highly regarded as a prospect as Montero was. Perhaps they were holding him to higher standards that may even have been unreasonably high.

      There is no doubt there’s more to this than we will ever really know. Seems like Montero would benefit from some good, solid “verteran presents”.

      • Ted Nelson

        I think in a sense this is right: the opportunity cost of holding Montero is a lot higher than just about any other prospect because of what he can bring back via trade. So any flaw at all could make the team consider whether he’s worth holding vs. taking the trade.

        I think it’s fairly marginal and at the end of the day they went for what they thought was a value upgrade and/or addressed a need. I do think that there’s something to it, though.

        I also don’t think Newman’s comments were meant to rag on Montero so much as just address the issue. It’s sort of a compliment in that with most prospects you’d be talking about skills they need to develop and major weaknesses we’ll have to see if they can overcome… whereas Montero is such a stud it’s more an issue of whether he can keep his head on straight that’s separating him from greatness.

    • bpdelia

      Maturity yes but not work ethic. That find thing just blew my freaking mind. Really? You just came up as a. Kid in a pennant race and you are ltting injured geriatrics like Alex outwork you? That would not have played on this team. Most elite players are the hardest workers. Arod is a notorious maniac. For heard the excuse for Manny. Was, yeah he is an immature jerk, but he works like a madman. The Yankees have guys in Tex, Arod granderson who are known as crazy hard workers. Sorry but that’s an insane red flag. A lack of work ethic turned a young Ruben Sierra from Clements into……an old Ruben Sierra by his 27th birthday. And as wynegar. And Newman and cashman have repeatedly said mongrels body and lack of athleticism means he will need to work harder than others to maintain his skills.

      Wow! That quote, from montero himself!!!!!, took me from liking this deal to loving it. I mean…wow! Really??? 21 year old prospect in pennant race needs to be threatened with a fine by 37 year old broken injured hofer to get his work in…damn I’m flabbergasted by that.

  • JohnC

    In 2 years Gary Sanchez could be Montero with better defensive skills

    • nsalem

      bullseye JohnC

    • Damian

      I follow your meaning, and I’m excited about Gary Sanchez too, but in two years Gary Sanchez could also be like every other prospect who showed promise in his teens but failed. Sanchez has shown the ability to hit the ball in low A; Montero has done the same with the major league club. So while you’re right that Sanchez “could be” Montero, I think there are a lot of other things he could be as well.

      • jsbrendog

        kevin maas haha

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

          Shane Spencer tips hips hat.

        • infernoscurse

          No Maas!

        • Damian

          I guess that’s a comment about how a player’s brief but productive stint in the majors does not guarantee that kind of production in the future. Montero’s 69 mlb PA make a small sample; I know. My point was not that Montero will be a .328/.406/.590 mlb hitter, but that he’s shown ability in the majors where Sanchez finished the year in low A.

          • jsbrendog

            no i was saying gary sanchez could end up being him

            • Damian

              Ahhh, heh, gotcha.

  • MattG

    This explains more about why they would be reluctant to trade him, than to trade him. I can read nothing into Newman’s comments that indicates he felt this was a long-term concern. They think he is bright, they think he will mature. Therefore, they think that when he does, look out.

    I don’t know if he would mature or not, but I do believe that being a major-leaguer will accelerate that process many times over. Having your head handed to you is going to sober up most anyone, no matter what their ink.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      I disagree. Not because I feel the opposite is definitely true, but because we simply don’t know. Meaning: his comments can just as easily be read to be an honest open question, as if they don’t know if or when the maturity will come.

      • MattG

        You’re right. No way it is a reason to not trade him–that was a stupid comment. Immaturity is only a negative.

        When viewed in the context of unrealized performance, though, it is a preferable excuse. The idea that a player might not be reaching his potential because he is brooding is far preferable to his being overmatched. Particularly when that player is 22, bright enough, and expected to mature at some time in the near future.

  • Yazman

    Hoping the Yanks thought the world of Montero (“may very well be the best player I’ve traded”) and still believed Pineda was worth more.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    If this was a main factor in trade negotiations then they handled this poorly. They got lucky the Mariner’s were willing to give up someone lke Pineda becasuie apaprently we were going to give him up for dead.

    He’s 22. If you didn’t have a couple of maturity issues when you were 22 all I can say is how did you manage. If we didn’t get Pineda would we have begged for someone to get Montero off the team? Sure seems like it was the case since Lee.

    • Ted Nelson

      How did you get from A to B? That they questioned his maturity and eventually trade him for Pineda does not imply that they would have traded him for any return they could get… If they hadn’t gotten a return they liked they could have also just kept Montero.

    • jsbrendog

      For starters, the Yankees have dangled Montero in trade talks several times in the past. They weren’t going to give him away, but he was out there if someone was serious about swinging a deal. The Yankees offered him to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay during the 2009-2010 offseason, and of course there was the Cliff Lee non-trade fiasco.

      he was offered for two of the best pitchers in baseball and when he was asked for for not some of the best pitchers in baseball cashman said hellz no. this is in direct disagreement with your comment’s point. he was then traded for a kid with the talent to possibly become one of the best pitchers in baseball who is under team control for 5 more yrs…..what?

    • Slugger27

      “we were going to give him up for dead”
      “begged for someone to get Montero off the team”

      dude… seriously?

  • jay destro

    It’s really easy to play up certain flaws of a prospect once they have been dealt. While I do believe since Newman went out there and made the comments he did, it still seems like bad form to find the negatives in Jesus Montero literally the day after the deal is made official.

    I do understand, conversation breeds controversy and I am fine with the discussion on “what was missing” with his progression as a ball player. But if his attitude is such a big deal, why would another team want to deal with it? If it’s hindering his talent, why take the risk?


  • Ted Nelson

    Manny Ramirez, Andruw Jones, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera… it seems like just about every Latino super-star has his work ethic and/or maturity questioned.

    • jsbrendog

      i don’t remember jones having any issues with the braves hen he came up as a 19 yr old or 20 yr old or whatever. his issues were when he got fat and had no initiative or motivation when he was already in his 30s with the dodgers, no?

      • Ted Nelson

        I believe Bobby Cox told him pretty early in his career that if he didn’t want to play he’d sit Jones and play someone who did want to play.

    • CP
    • Slugger27

      jose bautista, adrian beltre, carlos beltran, ubaldo jiminez… and then a million others with no work ethic issues.

      • Mike Axisa

        Well, Beltran got called soft when he didn’t play hurt for the Mets.

        • Slugger27

          if im not mistaken, it was by the media, not by front office members of the mets (though i coud be misremembering)

          also, i love how not playing when hurt has become a maturity issue.

          • Ted Nelson

            You’re repeatedly changing the terms of the conversation.

            No one said it was just by a front office member. I said that their work ethics and/or maturity get questioned… I didn’t say it’s by the FO.

            No one said only maturity… I said work ethic and/or maturity. There is a point at which not playing through some amount of pain that most other players would suck up is a worth ethic and/or maturity issue. Was that the case for Beltran? I don’t know. Have people brought it up as one? Yes. That was my point. Not that Latino players have crappy worth ethics, but that this is a common perception. Do you honestly disagree with that, or are you just looking to start an argument over nit-picking little details of comments?

      • Ted Nelson

        Ehhh… Beltre’s work ethic is questioned all the time: He’s accused of turning it on in contract years and turning it off on long-term contracts. Beltran is accused of not staying healthy until suddenly recovering in a contract year. Bautista is a late bloomer.

        I said just about every super-star, though. Not every single one. Maybe I should have said “a lot of.” Who really cares? My point was that having your work ethic questioned as a high profile Latino player and being a total MLB stud are far from mutually exclusive… to the point where it’s downright common.

        I don’t think you’ll see starting pitcher super-stars’ mental make-up questioned as much as hitters because of the nature of their job. Takes extreme concentration and a lot of work to repeat your delivers and control the zone for 100 pitches in a game. A couple of mistakes and you might have just had a terrible day. A hitter can take 10 bad swings, not run out grounders, and then hit a bomb or two and have a great day. Plus it’s a more natural hand-eye skill.

        • Slugger27

          beltre got Safeco’d, i dont think he was tanking. he just signed a fat contract and in the first year put up a 5.7 WAR season.

          beltran not staying healthy has nothing to do with his maturity. not to mention, a quick look at his page shows me he had at least 600 PAs in his first 4 seasons as a met. doesnt seem like “not staying healthy until suddenly recovering in a contract year” to me.

          what does being a late bloomer have anything to do with anything? whether he was a stud or a 4th OF, bautista hasn’t ever been accused of having work ethic issues. his talent level has nothing to do with it.

          • Ted Nelson

            I didn’t say “Slugger27” questions a lot of Latino super-stars’ work ethics. I said that questions are raised. That you dispute

            Do you not understand the phrases “just about” and “and/or”???

            Beltre isn’t a super-star hitter. He’s a super-star fielder and a very good player overall. Not in the class of a Miggy, Manny, or Andruw Jones.

            Being a late bloomer can be as much due to immaturity and a lack of work early as anything… hence why a player suddenly puts it together when he hits the weight room and re-works his swing.

            • Slugger27

              youre right, whether a player gets value from fielding or hitting to be a great player is totally relevant to the conversation. that andruw jones has 10 points higher career wOBA means he should be treated completely different work ethic/maturity wise than adrian beltre should.

              youve made it clear that you think just about every superstar who is not a pitcher, got most of his value from hitting rather than fielding, wasn’t a late bloomer, and is of latin descent, has work ethic/maturity issues. fair enough, lets agree to just put this matter behind us.

              • Ted Nelson

                Fine… I should include Beltre. I undervalued him. Guess what? His work ethic HAS been questioned.

                Late bloomer is often equivalent to previously immature. I never said to excuse late bloomers. I said why are you so sure that a guy who suddenly put on a bunch of muscle and changed his swing wasn’t suffering from work ethic and/or maturity problems that caused him to underachieve previously?

                I said just about every Latino super-star gets his work ethic questioned. (And meant position players by that, though I didn’t specify at first.) Do you really care to disagree with that? Since 2005 (arbitrary cut-off) the top non-US Latinos by fWAR are Miggy, Hanley, Reyes, Beltre, and Ortiz. (Can count Beltran, though he’s a drafted Puerto Rican.) Whether you include Beltran or Ortiz… 4 of 5 have had their work ethic and/or maturity questioned. Is that not “just about every?”

                • Mister Delaware

                  What if you expand the sample to top 10 and go back to 1997?

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Have fun trolling.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      Saying “just about every” then using a sample size of five to prove your point isn’t sufficient. I was giving you an opportunity to clean up your work a bit by expanding the sample to a more statistically meaningful number. If you want to go to 20, I would have no objections.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      (Next two: Placido Polanco and Victor Martinez)

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Is Placido Polanco or Victor Martinez a super-star in your opinion? My original comment regarded super-stars, which is necessarily a limited (and somewhat subjective) sample. To get the top 18 Latino IFAs in fWAR since 2000 (all those above 30 fWAR) I had to go throw the top 55 or so players and include guys I would in no way call super-stars. A guy with the right career timing could have played 12 seasons inclusive of the 2000 season, gotten exactly 2.5 fWAR per season, and be included on my list.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      The added subjectivity of determining who is or isn’t a super-star (sic) certainly makes it easier to manipulate the results, eh?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      You really don’t think more Latino stars than not get their work ethic/maturity/attitude questioned in some way at some point? To a much larger extent than their US-culture counter-parts?

                    • Mister Delaware

                      Where did I say I didn’t think Latinos are more prone to being questioned about work ethic than Americans?

                      You’re doing that thing where you try to devise the other poster’s opinions rather than read what’s written, Ted. Again.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I didn’t revise anything. I asked you a question.

                      The purpose of that questions was to imply this one: why are you spending so much time disagreeing with me if you agree with my point? Because I said “just about all” instead of “the majority”???? Those are subjective terms.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      Asking a question would be “do you believe …”, not stating “you really don’t think …” about something I never indicated which way I think.

                      Yes, I think Latinos are more prone to accusations of being lazy than Americans. That said …

                      1. I disagreed with your phrasing that it is “just about all”. Which, contrary to what you now claim, is not the same as “the majority”. The majority in a yes/no instance like this is simply > 50%. I don’t believe that “just about all” Latino super-stars (sic) have been accused of being lazy.

                      1a. I don’t believe that pointing out demonstrably poor plate discipline equals an accusation of laziness.

                      2. I disagreed with the metric you used to bolster your argument, which was “the top 5 undrafted Latino players in terms of fWAR since 2006”. Especially when you go on to state that this sample falls apart by not meeting the super-star (sic) criteria if you expand it to “the top 6”.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      It was a question.

                      It is just about all. Again… that’s a subjective term. 2/3 is just about all as far as I’m concerned. About 7 out of 10.

                      I didn’t say Vlad was accused of laziness. You made that up… Odd when you accuse me of doing that to you. I said it brings up maturity and work ethic questions.

                      I used the top 5 to measure super-stars rather than very good players and stars.
                      I also used the top 18 since 2000.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      It is just about all. Again… that’s a subjective term. 2/3 is just about all as far as I’m concerned. About 7 out of 10.

                      No, Ted, “majority” is not a subjective term. A majority is a sub-group that encompasses more than half of the whole group.

                      I didn’t say Vlad was accused of laziness. You made that up… Odd when you accuse me of doing that to you. I said it brings up maturity and work ethic questions.

                      I don’t get it. Are you saying “lazy” isn’t synonymous with having a “poor work ethic” or are you saying the list you made below isn’t correct?

                      I used the top 5 to measure super-stars rather than very good players and stars. I also used the top 18 since 2000.

                      Why did you more than triple the player sample size when you’d only doubled the number of seasons?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I said that just about all is a subjective terms.

                      One can work extremely hard overall and not be lazy while failing to address one area in need of improvement. In this case his maturity and work ethic on improving his approach were questioned… he wasn’t called lazy. His overall work ethic is actually praised… yet holes were still poked, especially early in his career. That’s basically my point. Not that Latinos are lazy… that they get labelled as lazy/immature/having some mental or concentration issue by some portion of fan/media base just about every time it’s not clear they’re 100% professional.
                      And as I’ve said 10 times now… I didn’t say it. I read it and heard it. I am repeating it. His plate discipline was questioned. That’s not a physical thing… it’s a mental thing.

                      These are arbitrary samples. I said that from the beginning. I kept going down he list… then I was getting to names that aren’t stars and just took 30 fWAR as an arbitrary cutoff. If you have a different sample you’d like to look at… please bring it up.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      I said that just about all is a subjective terms.

                      I think we agree “majority” and “just about all” aren’t interchangeable. Lets move on …

                      … he wasn’t called lazy. His overall work ethic is actually praised… yet holes were still poked, especially early in his career. That’s basically my point. Not that Latinos are lazy… that they get labelled as lazy …

                      I’m no closer than before to understanding if you think Vlad was labeled lazy or not.

                      If you have a different sample you’d like to look at… please bring it up.

                      Top 50 Latino hitters, with a simple “yes/no” on whether they were labeled as lazy and/or having a poor work ethic, since the beginning of baseball’s golden era.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      We don’t agree. In some cases they are interchangeable, in others they aren’t. When you get into that 2/3 range… it’s obviously a majority, but not everyone would necessarily say just about all depending on the circumstance. In terms of batting average… 60-70% outs probably should not be described as just about all outs since you have a good to amazing BA. In this case I think it’s a fair way to characterize things.

                      That’s your issue because you’re closing your mind to insist I am wrong and you are right. It’s pretty clear. No, he was not labeled lazy. I said that excitedly. Having questions about your work ethic and maturity on one issue does not mean you are perceived as lazy overall.

                      Go ahead and let me know your results.

    • DM

      “it seems like just about every Latino super-star has his work ethic and/or maturity questioned.”

      That’s a gross generaliztion — A-Rod, Pujols, A-Gon, Mariano.

      Some guys “get it”, some guys eventually “get it” while others never will. The question is whether the production is enough to outshine the crap attitude. And contrary to popular belief, both Manny and Miguel are/were students of hitting.

      Also, Montero is a catcher — which requires much more work and leadership ability. You can’t drop the context of the position they play or the team they came up with. Seattle can afford to give Montero a long leash. With Martin and no full-time DH, that wasn’t the situation here. If Montero was a suspect corner outfielder, he’d still be here.

      • Slugger27

        not sure agonz is latino, is he? thought he was just a life-long american of hispanic descent?

        nevertheless the point stands, ted made a gross generalization

        • Ted Nelson

          You’re nitpicking at semantics.

          It is very common for Latino super-stars to have their work ethics questioned. Are you really trying to dispute that? I didn’t say every single one. That would be a gross generalization. I said just about every one.

          Who is an isn’t a super-star? I wouldn’t can Beltran or Beltre super-stars.

          I was also referring to hitters and not pitchers. I have tried to point that out.

          • Slugger27

            i love the irony of calling me a nitpicker and then in the same post calling me out for beltran as an example because he isnt a superstar (him of the career 61 WAR and a HOF candidate).

            your original post said nothing of pitchers, and other than a brief mention of ubaldo jiminez (which was in response to your orignial post that had no clarification of only hitters), i havent mentioned anything about pitchers, so im not sure why youre bringing that up

            • Ted Nelson

              You are nitpicking at details. Do you really believe it’s not common for Latino super-stars to have their work ethics and/or maturities questioned, or are you just trying to tell me I should have chosen different wording than “just about every?”

              I brought it up because you brought up Ubaldo and the only player DM listed who didn’t go to HS in the US is a pitcher.

              • Slugger27

                you saying beltran doesnt apply because hes not a superstar is more of a nitpick than anything ive said in this thread.

                • Ted Nelson

                  I said 15 minutes before you posted this that I was wrong for undervaluing Beltre. You are right that Jones’, like Beltre, gets his value largely from defense.

                  Your entire point is a nit-pick as far as I can tell, though. I have asked a bunch of times now with no response: do you actually disagree that it’s common for Latino super-stars to have their work ethics questioned?

                  • Slugger27

                    no, i disagree that just about all of them have their work ethics questioned.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I think either you need to do a little research or you need to make a list of Latino super-stars. I am not saying that they have questionable work ethics, I am saying that their work ethics have been publicly questioned.

                      Here’s one I made up of the top WARing Latino IFA players this century:

                      -Andruw Jones (Cox told him if he didn’t want to play he’d be benched for someone who did)
                      -Adrian Beltre (accused of taking full years off… not just in Safeco, but going back to his Dodger days)
                      -Abreu (no questions that I know of)
                      -Vlad (approach seriously questioned)
                      -Miggy (is pretty much verified as an alcoholic and gets plenty of flak for his physique)
                      -Tejada (approach and I believe steroids… but nothing serious)
                      -Furcal (no questions I know of)
                      -Ortiz (fat, though I suppose that could happen to anyone)
                      -Alfonso Soriano (has had his commitment and attitude seriously questioned)
                      -Pudge (accused of calling FBs so that he could throw out runners even at the expense of his team’s success)
                      -Aramis Ramirez (I wouldn’t call him a star, but guys attitude has long been questioned)
                      -Delgado (no questions I know of)
                      -Jose Reyes (maturity and toughness questioned regularly)
                      -Magglio (some minor attitude questions)
                      -Edgar Renteria
                      -Hanley (serious questions constantly)
                      -Carlos Lee (weight questioned)
                      -Luis Castillo (serious questions raised)

                      That’s everyone with 30 fWAR or above listed on fangraphs since 2000.

                      I count 4 of the top 5 and 12 out of all 18 (2/3) who have been questioned pretty seriously (again… whether rightly or wrongly). If you look at the top 5 and top 18 drafted US players… I doubt nearly as many questions were raised.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      You’ve really expanded on “work ethic” here, no? Vlad’s free swinging approach now counts as work ethic? Like it would have been too much effort for him to swing less?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I was referring to that as much as immaturity as work ethic. But, yes, developing an advanced approach at the plate requires work ethic.

                      And I would say that Vlad is an outlier in terms of how much crap he took for years about his free swinging (maybe actual due to his being able to make contact with pitches others would have just missed)… even after his patience improved to a respectable level (or pitchers just gave him less to hit).

                      I’m talking about perception and not reality. If you look at the perception of Vlad, it was for a long time that he was a physical freak with no maturity at the plate.
                      I’m not saying I agree… I’m saying that the questions were raised.
                      People even question guys who smile too much… and again that tends to come down harder on Latino players who don’t run out grounders than on US players. Swisher is a “leader” with his care free attitude, while Jones is a pariah with a lot of people for smiling after a strike out (which probably isn’t the worst attitude for a power hitter since you’re going to fail quite a bit). There might be truth to it, but I think from a fan/media perspective there’s more race/culture.

                      Vlad is also 1 of 12.

                    • Mister Delaware

                      I said that excitedly.


                    • Ted Nelson

                      Sort of ironic that you bug me about an auto-correct typo… and post it in the wrong place.

      • Ted Nelson

        Are you serious? If you’re going to make a point use a somewhat accurate list. A-Rod and Pujols grew up in the US. Went to HS in the US. Adrian Gonzalez is from San Diego. Mo is a relief pitcher.

        Are you really going to say that Manny and Miggy’s work ethics haven’t been questioned? Your outside view on why one guys work ethic was questioned vs. why another guys was isn’t worth anything to me.

        Montero is a hitter who can play C. He can also play DH.

        • DM

          Oh — so Latinos that spend more time in the states have a better work ethic? And why would it be different for a pitcher?
          What is it about these Latino hitters that makes them this way? What are you really saying, Ted?

          “Are you really going to say that Manny and Miggy’s work ethics haven’t been questioned?”

          Where did I say that? I just said that they take their hitting seriously. Manny kept his own private books on pitchers. Are you going to start your strawman routine again? Flipping the argument from what you think about “just about every Latino” to what I think of Manny and Miguel?

          “He can also play DH”

          Not full time on the Yankees — as A-Rod just pointed out a few days ago. Yes, A-Rod, that Latino hitter, who brought all the equipment to the field in the DR as child, first one there, last to leave, practicing every day despite being younger and much more talented than his peers. Widely known as one of the hardest working pros in baseball. I guess he didn’t catch those lazy Latino cooties you keep alluding to despite his time in the DR. And despite being born in the DR, Manny grew up in Washington Heights. And despite being born in NYC, Alex grew up in the DR.

          • Ted Nelson

            I’ve explained my views on all of this above.

            Yes. Adrian, A-Rod, and Pujols grew up in a totally different culture. Both on and off the field. Playing in a baseball academy in DR or VE is completely different from a US HS. These guys were raised in the US.

            Pitching is very different from hitting.

            I am saying that Latinos are accused of having poor work ethics. Think I made that pretty clear. I didn’t say they were accused of it by me. You have a reading comprehension problem. Are you really accusing me of twisting the argument when you are accusing me of racism based on what I said of the general perception? I can say that society is racist without being racist.

            What strawman routine? You specifically said Manny and Miggy shouldn’t have had their work ethics questioned, or the questions weren’t legit. I didn’t single them out. You did. I am asking what inside knowledge you have to decide the exact degree of a player’s work ethic.

            It’s your opinion Jesus couldn’t DH for the Yankees. Not fact. You don’t seem able to grasp that.

            You are right about Manny. You are wrong about A-Rod. He lived in DR… but he went to HS in Miami. In fact, Miami recruited him as a QB.

            • DM

              “You specifically said Manny and Miggy shouldn’t have had their work ethics questioned, or the questions weren’t legit.”

              Where did I say questions weren’t legit? I just said that they took their HITTING seriously– and you talk about reading comprehension? Or is this just more of your Montero-born concept that completely ignores the concept of playing in the field?

              And picking the poster boys for suspect attitude isn’t an indicator to extrapolate to “just about every Latino”; we could easily add names of every nationality that fit the same bill. To think that Newman made those comments based on Montero’s heritage rather than assessing him as an individual is beyond absurd. The “Oh, they say that about all Latinos” is laughable as a defense of Montero. We have specific instances –ie, evidence of his attitude. What else do you need?

              • Ted Nelson

                How do you know how seriously they took their hitting compared to Montero? Hearsay and rumors?

                How seriously did Miggy take his hitting when he was getting totally blasted and telling the cops to kill him?

                Are/were Manny and Miggy good fielders?

                I picked the top performers by fWAR. I have gone so far as to list the top 18 since 2000… and guess what? 2/3 of them have been seriously questioned.

                Do you know Marc Newman? People can be subconsciously influenced by someone else’s cultural heritage without knowing it. I never said Marc Newman is a racist or purposefully ripped Montero for his race. I said that there’s a tendency for Latino players to have their attitudes ripped, very often unfairly or irrelevantly to their actual baseball contribution. I can’t believe I’ve gone to such lengths to defend this obvious point.

                Did you actually read what Newman said, by the way? He does not concur with you. He says that Montero needs to mature… but also says that he thinks he will do so. He doesn’t blow it out of proportion. You have been doing so for months now.

                Cano is a poster boy for suspect attitude? Or was his general attitude mistaken for laziness because of his cultural heritage and hitting approach?

                I’m sure that there are specific instances where most MLB players had to be motivated or questioned a decision made by their organization. Especially when they were 21. My point is that blowing this out of proportion happens more with Latino players… to the point where more Latino stars get flak for their attitudes than not… whether rightly or wrongly (and in many cases I think it’s wrongly… or at least blown way out of proportion). Mussina is generally revered despite blowing off the media. Is it really a stretch to think if he were a Latino it would be blown out of proportion? How about David Wells and his drinking/general conditioning? One of the few white stars I can think of who takes a lot of crap for work ethic is Adam Dunn. I’m sure there are others, but I really can’t think of too many.

                • DM

                  “Do you know Marc Newman? People can be subconsciously influenced by someone else’s cultural heritage without knowing it. ”

                  Classic Ted. No, I don’t know Marc Newman, but apparently you do enough to speculate about his subconscious influences?? Thanks for the insight Dr. Freud — or should I say Dr. Fraud in your case.

                  We can clear this up simply. Do you think Montero has a questionable attitude? Do you think that matters? That’s all I’ve been saying. I agree with Newman. I didn’t say he bashed him. There’s something looming with Montero. Will he turn the corner, who knows? Will it matter, who knows? But to dismiss the notion as irrelevant b/c many say that about Latinos is ridiculous.

                  You don’t seem see much difference between a player with a good rep or bad rep — or a hitter with a glove or no glove. You obviously think Montero’s bat will tower over every negative. It better — b/c there’s not much else to him. Like I’ve said all along, there’s a 270-280, 23hr, 82rbi, 53bb, dh/ bad catcher/bad 1st baseman type — and there’s 325, 35hr, 115rbi, 85bb dh/bad catcher/bad 1st baseman type. His AAA numbers along with his attitude lean my view towards the former. But you and others have held to the latter — which looked far more promising when he was in AA. His defense was suspect from day 1 — but other things have crept into his profile in the past two years. I don’t ignore those facts b/c of “prospect love”. If we were discussing Montero 3 yrs ago, we’d probably be on the same page. But we’re not. The facts have changed, like it so often does with prospects as they advance. The most impressive thing about Montero in the lower minor leagues was his lack of strikeouts for a big, long swing guy. AAA pitching changed that in his first yr there; and he didn’t adjust to change it back in his 2nd yr.

                • Ted Nelson

                  I dismiss the notion that any unsubstantiated work ethic questions are relevant to fans.

                  No. I don’t care one bit what a player’s “rep” is. I have tried to make that very clear. Andruw, Manny, Miggy, Hanley… all bad “reps.” All great players. I care what kind of a player a guy is, not what his rep is. Does Montero’s regression/plateau at AAA give me pause? Yes. However, it’s one sub-par but not bad data point in a career of excellence from a guy with tremendous tools. You literally question me for saying he has the potential to be the best hitter in baseball. I have to question whether you know anything about baseball for questioning that he has that sort of potential.

                  Again… Manny and Miggy are hurt by their defense, not helped. You don’t seem to grasp that bad defense at a robust position like RF or 1B is worse than no defense as a DH.

                  That you project Montero differently from the majority of other people doesn’t somehow make you right. It doesn’t make the majority of other people “huggers.” Is that honestly a hard truth for you to grasp??????????????????????????????????????????????? It’s ridiculous to come on here and say that because I disagree with the mainstream opinion including most scouts and projection systems, I am right and you are all wrong.

                  • Mister Delaware

                    You literally question me for saying he has the potential to be the best hitter in baseball. I have to question whether you know anything about baseball for questioning that he has that sort of potential.

                    I actually have a serious question here. How many players would you say have the potential to be the best hitter in baseball? 10? 25? 100?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Well I guess every player in baseball technically has some chance, so it comes down to what is a meaningful chance. I would guess maybe 10-15 every year with one or two wildcard spot(s) for guys who fairly unexpectedly come out of nowhere like, say, Bautista or a young guy.

                      For Montero I guess I would really talk about it in terms of young players and prospects who have some chance to be the best overall over a sustained period for the next, say, decade and especially in the 5-10 year period when they should be peaking. Something like Pujols has been the last 5 years. Harper, Trout, Stanton, Hosmer, maybe Heyward and Santana… maybe Ackley and Lawrie… guys who have a few years under their belts like Longoria. Maybe Starlin Castro and Dom Brown. Getting into the mid-late 20s beyong Longoria might not really overlap much with Montero’s theoretical prime years (Votto, Tulo, Hanley, Cano…). By the time his group is peaking, those guys are probably declining.

  • jsbrendog

    try reading the article next time. you know, the ENTIRE article

    Now, just to be 100% clear, these comments are not recent. They were made back around the trade deadline according to Bradley. It’s not like Newman is throwing Montero under the bus on his way out the door Red Sox-style, he voiced these concerns when the kid was still in the organization and six months before he was traded away.

  • Opus

    I read the Twitter story from Sweeny. Chad Moeller responded to one of the replies, backing up the way it was handled by Alex and the team.

  • CP

    Montero admitted that Alex Rodriguez stepped in and threatened to fine him $100 a day last September because he wasn’t spending enough time in the batting cage.

    I love the way A-Rod steps in to lead the young kids as they come up. He always gets a bad rap in the media, but when you hear the details he always seems to be doing the right things with the new kids.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Gotta give him credit. Besides being really good at baseball, he seems like a vocal leader in the club house. Good for him and the team!

      • jsbrendog

        not only that but he seems to be the hardest worker on the team still to this day even though he is set for life, makes $30+ mil a yr and will most likely never sign another contract.

    • Steve (different one)

      He is also really, really knowledgable about the game. Read his reaction to the trade, his comments could have been written on this site. If he can handle the media (big if) he will probably be a fantastic manager one day.

      • MattG

        Where? I want to read that.

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for…


      • Slugger27


        • Steve (different one)

          This is from, in the article about Arod preparing to play 3B (I am doing this with my phone, sorry). He’s not citing pitch/fx or anything, but his comments are more thoughtful than typical athlete quotes:

          The slugger told ESPN Deportes that he believed the trade “makes sense on both ends.”

          “It’s a good trade for both teams,” Rodriguez said. “I think the Mariners are going to receive two very good young players. Jesus is a guy who has a lot of power and a lot of potential and is going to help out their team a lot. And Hector is a pitcher that is going to throw strikes and can either help them on the front end or the back end of the bullpen.

          “For us, we get exactly what we need — one of the best young pitchers in the game with an electric arm and great size. I think [Pineda will] be a great complement to what Brian Cashman has in New York, which is a lot of young talent and someone who can be sandwiched somewhere between CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova.”

          The Yankees faced Pineda on May 27 last season in Seattle, and Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with an RBI single, strikeout and walk against the hurler. Rodriguez recalled that the matchup “wasn’t a lot of fun.”

          “He has three plus pitches and throws up in the mid 90s,” Rodriguez said. “Again, he’s quite a figure out there; he’s 6-7 and has a long reach, and I’m glad I don’t have to face him anymore”

          • jsbrendog

            conclusion, Arod believes in AJ

            • Mike HC

              ha, that is all I got out of that too, haha

  • DM

    Gee, I can’t believe no one mentioned all these stories, theories and quotes earlier.

    Nice work, Mike. ;)

    • Ted Nelson

      Everyone knows Montero underachieved in 2011… can you please stop patting yourself on the back for taking three seconds to look at fangraphs?

      • Slugger27

        what the hell are you talking about?

      • jsbrendog

        does not compute

        • Ted Nelson

          DM keeps insisting no one recognized Montero had a bad year in AAA or that he might be traded. DM went at my every comment for an entire day… and when I asked why gave this as the reason (that I was one of the people who dismissed the original points made months ago). I would say that other people understood that Montero didn’t have a very good year in AAA (a few seconds on fangraphs is all you need there) and that he could be traded in the right deal (reading Cashman’s comments on trading prospects and seeing that Montero had literally been offered in other packages is all you need there)… and that it was DM’s general insistence that the Yankees weren’t high on Montero and were looking hard to trade him that people disagreed with. At least that’s what I disagreed with.

          DM was right that the Yankees would ultimately trade Montero. I just am not ready to say it’s as much that they don’t think he’ll perform as it is that they think Pineda + Campos will perform better than Montero + Noesi.

          • jsbrendog

            oh so you’re bringing in past issues with someone and making it personal? gotcha

            • Ted Nelson


              • Ted Nelson

                Well, actually… No. DM brought it up “Gee, I can’t believe no one mentioned all these stories, theories and quotes earlier.”

                You missed the reference to DM being the one who brought it up. I didn’t.

      • DM

        Huh? Why are you replying to me? Montero’s attitude and poor work ethic is tracked on fangraphs??? I just checked that site now — since I had never been to it before in my life. LOL. I only use two sites — baseball reference and Cot’s for contracts. That’s it. So, you’re Montero-hugger issue is clouding your judgement again.

        My first comment only referred to Newman’s quotes and other stories about Montero’s attitude. Every word that Mike posted today from that Bradley piece, A-Rod’s $100 fine, I had already quoted in the past few days — along with a story from Sweeney Murti. I wasn’t talking about his AAA stats at all. Although we both know you rationalized away every negative aspect of Montero’s past season, as did many others here.

        • Ted Nelson

          You’re still creating a strawman out of me hugging Montero. I think he’s a stud… and that’s the consensus. You are in the minority by constantly exaggerating his flaws. I never said he doesn’t have flaws (he has plenty of really, really obvious ones). I said that we have to look at them relative to the big picture.

          • DM

            You love to spout metrics and formulas — except in this case. Care to define what “stud” means? It’s a bit vague and nebulous.

            “You are in the minority by constantly exaggerating his flaws.”

            Well, if we’re polling here, you’re in the minority for disliking the trade. And you surely pounced on anyone who said good things about Pineda by exaggerating his flaws. A 22 yr old pitcher his size and radar gun readings — but also has control — and despite his flaw of having only 2 pitches, he managed to K a man per inning with an excellent hits to innings ratio over 170 innings in his first season, is a little more special than your instant critique on him would indicate. You became an instant Pineda-skeptic, a Campos-ignorer, a Noesi-lover, all b/c you were pissed that they traded Montero.

            • Ted Nelson

              That’s not what happened at all. That’s the way you chose to interpret my comments because you already didn’t like me.

              • Mister Delaware

                I like you, Ted.

  • tbord

    Oh and Babe Ruth was Mr. Mature, especially at the ripe old age of 20? C’mon don’t you writers have anything else to write about? These are ballplayers not Wall Street Stockbrokers.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Yeah especially since stockbrokers are all so mature and serious!

    • Corporate Scum

      This is a baseball blog, and it’s January. I think they’ve done a great job coming up with content AT ALL, and I’m grateful.

  • Steve (different one)

    IMO, Newman’s comments address why he wasn’t called up earlier. They do not address why he was available. He was available for one reason and one reason only: the Yankees don’t believe he is a viable catcher long term and first base is blocked. That’s all there is to it. I don’t think the Yankees would trade a young, awesome hitting catcher because he doesn’t run out grounders. No team would. He’s going to hit in Seattle, maybe catch a little and DH, and if Smoak continues to flounder, maybe he is moved to 1B. This is a non-story IMO.

    • Ted Nelson

      Or he was traded because the Yankees believe they got more in return than they gave up…

      • Slugger27

        no shit, ted. its pretty clear the reason they believe they got more in return than they gave up was because they didnt see him as a catcher.

        • jsbrendog


          • Mister Delaware

            Me too. Looks like we’re going to have a Ted day. Fun.

        • Ted Nelson

          No. The could see him as a C whose overall value combined with Noesi is still not equal to Pineda + Campos. They could place a different weight on pitching and/or defense than common metrics like fWAR and bWAR.

          • Steve (different one)

            That’s true, they could. I just find that really unlikely. If they felt he could catch, his bat makes him as close to untouchable as a prospect can possibly be. I don’t want to split hairs, but this seems fairly obvious to me.

            • jsbrendog

              exactly, if he can catch long term then montero > mauer >> santana >>>> weiters (roughly)

              • Ted Nelson

                Montero > Mauer? The Mauer who had the 5th higher fWAR from 2006-10 with the .389 wOBA? Mauer was better defensively than Montero. He is a good baserunner. His career .377 wOBA is weighed down by his rookie season and 2011.
                As a projection that’s very aggressive.

                • jsbrendog

                  well yeah, obviously, i wasnt clear, im talking currently.

            • Ted Nelson

              I don’t think that anyone is untouchable, so I’m not sure that there’s much value in using that term. Especially with a prospect.

              My point is that the Yankees are probably using different criteria than you are (and I am). If you’re using your “eyes”… they have different “eyes.” If you’re using stats, it’s pretty likely that they have their own metrics which don’t match up exactly with yours.

              Who knows how those “eyes” and metrics are different from yours? (Or mine…) Not me. I’m speculating on possibilities. I am saying that perhaps their metrics place more value on C defense than yours and mine. C defense is an area that seems pretty well under-represented in WAR stats. The statistical community among fans/media is making big strides there… and it’s possible a multi-billion dollar enterprise like the Yankees is already way ahead of basement statisticians looking into it as a hobby or bloggers with limited resources. Perhaps they think Montero can C like Posada could C or Piazza could C… they just think his value there is less than you or I do because of their defensive metrics. (And if that happens to be the case, it doesn’t make them right.)
              Same goes for the difference between P value and position player value. Whereas f and bWAR tend to favor a super-star hitter over a super-star pitcher… maybe the Yankees’ metrics disagree.
              Campos is another interesting issue… perhaps the Yankees are really, really high on Campos. Maybe they think Montero is actually more valuable than Pineda, but Campos is enough more valuable than Noesi that he really makes the deal swing in the Yankees’ favor. I sort of doubt it and sort of disagree if it’s true (I have never actually seen Campos pitch, so I can’t really say… just going on his uncertainty vs. the others’ certainty). Just think it’s possible. As outsiders it’s pretty tough to speculate on why a team makes a trade.

              Maybe it’s an offensive issue as much as a defensive issue. A commenter here pointed out that Montero’s (relatively) low BA and BB% in AAA could be trouble… maybe the Yankees agree and are projecting his offense more conservatively than some of us are.

              I think that those are about as much possible motivations for the trade as off-hand remarks Newman made about Montero’s maturity level which weren’t necessary negative. Yet people are grabbing onto those remarks.
              All I’m really saying is that the actual motivation is hard to know, but what we do know is that they valued what they got more than what they did if they were acting rationally.

              • DM

                “Maybe it’s an offensive issue as much as a defensive issue. A commenter here pointed out that Montero’s (relatively) low BA and BB% in AAA could be trouble… maybe the Yankees agree and are projecting his offense more conservatively than some of us are.”

                Ya think??? Anyone is more conservative than you when it comes to Montero.

                1/13 — Ted responds to news of the trade with…

                “I have a feeling that we will remember today as the end of the Yankee dynasty.”

                “The Yankees just traded a potential once in a generation bat for a potential front end starter… And threw in a potential front end starter in Noesi to boot.”

                “with no holes in his swing” (except the ones that AAA pitching routinely found over 2 seasons, apparently)

                But you’re making progress Ted. You actually learned to acknowledge that a highly regarded pitching prospect named Jose Campos was also part of the deal. You seemed to ignore that fact at the time — referring to the trade as a 2-for-1 — as if he doesn’t factor in.

                • Ted Nelson

                  You are making things up again.

                  Those comments do not imply I feel differently about Montero than the mainstream.
                  -You don’t think that we could look back on a major move where major talent was given up as the move that ended the dynasty? That a bat like Montero might not be the difference between playoffs and no playoffs some years? I have since said the wording was too strong… but I’m not even sure it was.
                  -You don’t think Montero is a *potential* once in a generation bat?
                  -No batter hits 1.000 over a decent sample in AAA. He wasn’t as good as he could have been, but he was still very good for a 21 year old in AAA.
                  And I thought it was his immaturity that caused the AAA performance? Which is it? He’s immature and he can’t hit? And you’re not overly pessimistic on Montero?

                  I never once ignored Campos. I simply viewed him as what he is… a A-ball prospect. I still do.
                  I HAVE NOT CHANGED MY VIEW ON ANY OF THIS. I have changed your understanding of what I was saying by explaining it to you.

  • Tom Swift

    Can’t believe this was a major factor in the trade. We fans should not be looking for after the fact rationalizations to make us feel better about the trade. It was a fair trade; the Yankees gave up a lot to get a lot. And there’s a chance that the Yanks will be on the short end of the stick in 5 years. No one knows.

    •!/profile.php?id=9370232 Mike HC

      I don’t think it was a major factor either. While Austin Jackson was not on Montero’s level, prospect wise, he was still very highly thought of, and his character and work ethic were completely off the charts exceptional from all reports; he was traded as well.

      Now, having said that, I do think it is a negative mark. Few, if any, prospects ever grade out completely perfectly on the “perfect prospect checklist.” There will always be some things for everyone that are question marks or slightly negative.

    • Time Traveler

      I know! But I’m not telling.

      • Mike HC

        You selfish prick

      • jsbrendog

        you sunovzee beach

  • Monterowasdinero

    Maturity will come now from being traded across the country. Sometimes people for whom things come easily-and let’s face it everyone-Montero is a better hitter now than ARod is-a good slap of adversity is the only way to get the needed goods of work ethic and maturity.

    I’m not sure maturity should be blamed-the blame may be the system itself of putting talented 16 year old kids into a baseball system like the Yankees and constantly tout them. Montero seemed to have a nice family-met his parents a few times-he was generally nice with fans of all ages when I saw him interact. It would be interesting to get the opinion of his AAA managers-especially Wynegar who tutored him quite a bit.

    I wish him well-even if he’s not gritty.

    • MattG

      I’m not ready to concede the better hitter label to Montero. Rodriguez has not been healthy, and he had the miracle treatment this off-season. Remember his April, before the knee acted up? .422 wOBA, virtually identical to Montero’s .421.

      I don’t think either player will wOBA .420, but I would give Rodriguez at least 50/50 at out-hitting Montero in 2012.

    • Holy Ghost

      Montero struggled in AAA last season. I’ve seen no evidence that he is better than even an aging A-Rod…

  • Rich in NJ

    Who doesn’t have maturity issues at 21? Not anyone you’d want to know.

    We now know that A-Rod got this kid to work harder last September. That rebuts this maturity canard. A-Rod could have likely been able to turn Montero into a great offensive player.

    Again, if they felt they had to trade Montero, it should have been in a package for a young, impact offensive player. That’s was and is their biggest need.

    •!/profile.php?id=9370232 Mike HC

      Before this trade, I really don’t see how you could have looked at the offense, and then the starting pitching, and felt a young bat was needed more than starting pitching. I just can’t see it.

      • Rich in NJ

        Really? Jeter will be 38, A-Rod 37, and Tex’s stats have significantly declined v. RHP over the last two years. That screams young impact bat as insurance/eventual replacement.

        • gc

          There’s no denying that the two guys on the left side of the infield are old. But every other every day starter on the team is in what is considered their prime production years. You’re speaking about insurance and eventual replacement for something two years or more down the road, and you fail to recognize that 1) quality starting pitching (preferably young and cost-controlled) is a priority for EVERY team, EVERY year, and 2) finding a young high upside bat is easier than finding a young upside arm. Also, a lot can (and will) happen in two years. This frenzied panic desperation for offense just doesn’t suit what the team is right now. People lament Cashman’s ability to add or develop good pitching and then complain when he does. Few people ever question his ability to find good young bats to fill his lineup every year, so cut the guy some slack. He’ll make it work. He knows what the team needs.

    • Steve (different one)

      First, high end starting pitching is a need for every team always. An elite starter can influence a short series in a large way, disproportionate to the regular season.

      That said, I am assuming your thinking is such: the Yankee lineup is old-ish, and they have more pitching than hitting in the minors. Agree with that.

      But perhaps they now turn some of that pitching into a young hitter? There is more than one way to skin a cat.

      The trade hinges on Pineda reaching his potential. If he does, both sides will be happy. I don’t see why Montero had to be traded for a hitter.

      • Rich in NJ

        They have two at AAA.


        Can they get one like Montero? If so, my bad. I think it’s highly unlikely.

        Because of what I posted in response to Mike HC.

        • Steve (different one)

          Again, don’t disagree with your logic. Just saying there are different ways to get there. No, they won’t get a bat as good as Montero. But that doesn’t mean they have to. If Pineda is 2 wins better than the next starter in line, and the replacement hitter is 1 win worse, they’ve improved themselves. No idea if they can do this or not, and I don’t think I would have had the balls to pull the trigger on this trade, but acquiring high end pitching is almost always a defensible strategy.

  • viridiana

    Pitching is the more immediate need. hitting may become the need next year or 2014 since Yanks now have pitching woes solved and farm is bereft of high-timpact hitters near bigs. So on one level Yanks simply addressed the more pressing near-term need. Now they have chips to bring in some young position players. Personally, though, I would not trade Hughes or Betances at this time. I think/hope Cash will move prudently and slowly to build up position player inventory.

  • RetroRob

    I think it was clear, based on comments made over the past two seasons and the fact that he came to Spring Training out of shape two straight seasons, that there were some maturity issues, or perhaps a sense of entitlement. At the same time, they weren’t deal breakers. They weren’t character flaws. We were already hearing about how both A-Rod and Posada were having conversations with him that were having positive impacts on both his game and approach. He would have been fine. It’s not why he was traded. If anything, as great as his bat will probably be, what made him more expendable is the fact he probably won’t stick longterm as a catcher, and there was no opening at first. The Yankees used him to fill what they viewed as a more important need.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    “The Yankees seem to have placed a renewed emphasis on strong work ethic and makeup, and in recent years they’ve sought out players with those traits in free agency, trades, and even the draft.”

    Well put Mike, whether Montero fit that bill or didn’t, I think this is huge for Yankee brass. The recent Yankees dynasty and the Core Four* (*plus Bernie) demonstrated all of this to a tee. I think that’s definitely become the standard and part of the reasons why some folks are brought in and just as quickly moved out or let go to latch on somewhere else. Personally, this is what I want the Yankees to represent as much as winning. Doing it the right way. Good point made!!

    • WayneD

      With all due respect, it’s not a good point; it’s a logical fallacy, as I alluded to in a post, below.

      A-Rod had a similar conversation with Cano two years ago, and that conversation led to Cano focusing better on his game and having his best year to-date.

      So, following the logic you’ve expressed, the Yankees should have traded Cano, which I’m sure you wouldn’t want now, right?

      Young men are just that: young and immature. Immaturity is only a problem if you’re 30 or so and you’re still acting immaturely, although Miguel Cabrera seems to defy that logic some, but, then again, he’d probably be even better if he grew up . . . which is a pretty scary thought.

  • Dave

    “The Yankees dealt away their best position player prospect since Derek Jeter”

    Really, the guy has 60 at bats and he’s the greatest thing since Jeter? I think Cano would have something to say about that.

    • Ted Nelson

      *Prospect* not player. The vast majority of prospects have zero MLB PAs.

  • kevin w.

    Shhhh, Montero is a saint. He will never do anything wrong.


  • Kevin

    See the 2011 Red Sox for why issues like the one Montero seems to have can hurt a team.

  • Dave M

    My question is why does Ted Nelson hijack every single thread? Does he really think he is superior? I mean he ruined this thread

  • WayneD

    I enjoy 99% of your articles Mike. They’re well written and thorough, but this one made me chuckle just a bit.

    Montero, a 22-year-old kid living far from home, needs to mature some more? Christ, that’s unheard of in America. Every 20-something kid I know is as mature as an 80-year-old.

    Sorry, but this piece was a bit silly, in my mind, if it was meant to give us background on why Montero might have been traded.

    Let’s see: Miguel Cabrera is 28, I believe, and he’s still extremely immature. Yet, he somehow managed to hit .344 with 48 doubles and 30 HRs. On top of that, he killed the Yankees in the playoffs with a .400 average, 4 doubles, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs, a 1.050 SLG, and a 1.606 OPS.

    Christ, what would he have done to us if he was more mature?!

    And, then, of course, Mickey Mantle, my childhood idol, was an alcoholic and a womanizer, but he still had a fairly acceptable career.

    And, of course, The Babe was a regular bastion of maturity, frequenting hookers and guzzling beer, as well as regularly devouring an entire Nathan’s stand. Yet he still managed to be a pretty good hitter. No?

    If Montero’s alleged maturity at the age of 22 played any part in this trade, somebody should smack Cashman. Almost all 22-year-olds are immature, for god’s sake!

  • WayneD

    Several folks have commented on A-Rod having to speak with Montero about his work ethic.

    Some of you, including Mike, apparently, seem to have forgotten that A-Rod had a similar conversation with Cano a couple of years ago, and that conversation precede a remarkable increase in Cano’s on-field playing.

    A-Rod, you may recall, told Cano that, given his abilities, he should have won one or two MVP awards by that point in his career and the only thing basically holding him back was his focus and commitment, which is a MATURITY issue.

    Well, we all know what happened. Cano applied himself like never before and has become one of the better hitters in the league.

    So, A-Rod talking to Montero is no big deal. It’s simply what a smart veteran players, like A-Rod, does to help his team.

    The only thing I take out of A-Rod speaking with Montero and threatening to fine him is this:

    Great job, A-Rod! That’s one of the things we expect from our veterans. Now, for the love of god, please stay healthy this year!