The loss of Montero, the evolution of Melky

montero_300.jpgCRUSHED
Jesus Montero is out for the rest of the year, having broken the middle finger of his left hand on Saturday. If he’s out even the minimum expected, four weeks, that takes him right through the end of the Minor League season.

Before we mourn, let’s review: 48 games at Tampa, batting .356/.406/.583 with 15 doubles and eight home runs in 180 at-bats. Moving up to Trenton, Montero played in 44 games, batting .317/.370/.539 with 10 doubles and nine home runs in 167 at-bats, this despite being utterly fluxed by the big, cold, riverfront Thunder ballpark (try the crab fries!), where he hit just .232/.376/.354 vs. .400/.457/.718 on the road.

Total: .337/.389/.562. Age: 19. Moreno will turn 20 just after Thanksgiving.

The good news is this: Montero didn’t suffer a knee injury. He didn’t fracture a wrist, which could have affected his swing. He’s not out for six months, just six weeks, tops. The Yankees would have some options at that point, including a quick cup of coffee once rosters expand, and could still send the lad out to the Arizona Fall League or for other winter action with an eye towards prepping him for an extended look in next year’s Spring Training camp. Naturally, this assumes an uncomplicated recovery from the injury.

Montero may not be ready to be a big-league catcher, but if his bat is judged to play the Yankees would be mistaken to send him on an indefinite tour of the upper Minor Leagues waiting for his glove to mature. First, it may never be ready. Second, with Jorge Posada signed through 2011 and still playing well, there isn’t any urgency for him to catch. However, there may be a need for a solid bat of his ability by next spring. There should be room on the club for a young player to take some time at designated hitter while perhaps catching the odd game against less speedy opponents. This could not only get Montero’s bat in the lineup, but serve to lower the team payroll in the short term. Montero’s injury is disappointing, but it need not be a disaster.

MELKY’S CYCLE
I said it last week and I’ll say it again: the lad’s got good timing. If you could just go back and erase that injury at Texas on May 26, he might have had a perfect year. For more than a month after that he struggled to hit .200, and didn’t get hot again until Brett Gardner got hurt. Through July 22 he was hitting just .220/.278/.320 for the month. He hit a double in his sole at-bat on the 23rd and since then he’s been rolling, going 15-for-35 in 11 games overall, with five doubles, a triple, and two home runs. He’s also thrown in six walks and turndown service, including a mint placed just so on top of your pillow.

This is truly a stunning, heartwarming turn of events. Though only 24 (he’ll turn 25 on the 11th of this month), Cabrera had spent 2006 and 2007 playing every day but failing to show much with the bat. He’d hit a few balls in the gap, knock one out of the park every now and again, but not so often that you could say he had real power. He was only moderately patient, so even hitting .280 he didn’t get on base that much. He was a switch-hitter, but he couldn’t touch a lefty. Then it got worse, as he followed a torrid April, 2008 with a 100-game cold streak that got him sent to the Minors.

Coming into the season, there was no reason to view Cabrera as much more than a versatile outfield reserve, and given his 2008 performance, perhaps not even that. Even after another hot April and a solid May, it seemed likely that a cold snap would ensue. When it did, it was impossible to tell if it was due to the Texas injury or just Cabrera returning to form. It now appears that the injury was at least partially to blame, and whatever Cabrera does for the rest of the season, he’s not heading back to the dark depths of post-April 2008. He’s even hitting left-handers, something he’d never done with any consistency or authority before. That, more than anything else, suggests real change.

If Cabrera maintains his current .292/.355/.463 level of production, the Yankees have a very solid center fielder on their hands. The average Major League center fielder is batting .268/.337/.422. For once, the Yankees were patient with a young player (far more patient than your host, for once) and it seems to have paid off — and they had far less reason to be patient with Cabrera than with a host of predecessors who quickly headed out of town, Drabek, Buhner, et al. Let us hope the lesson sinks in — for everyone. 

10 Comments

I am wary of the idea of bringing Montero up next year as a partial time player. At only 20, no matter how good he is, he needs consistent ABs. Unless they can figure out a way to play him 4-5 days a week at C, DH and 1B (or some other third position), he’s probably better off in the minors until he is going to be playing all the time.

That being said, a look in September might be nice, since he wouldn’t be playing otherwise, and maybe it would help him get that 5 day a week job.

I am wary of the idea of bringing Montero up next year as a partial time player. At only 20, no matter how good he is, he needs consistent ABs. Unless they can figure out a way to play him 4-5 days a week at C, DH and 1B (or some other third position), he’s probably better off in the minors until he is going to be playing all the time.

That being said, a look in September might be nice, since he wouldn’t be playing otherwise, and maybe it would help in get that 5 day a week job.

Good for Melky.
My question for Steve. Cody Ransom?
I think of the old Hogan’s Heroes show when the Gestapo major would exclaim” …what is this man doing here?” when Hogan was always in Colonel Klink’s office.
I know the guy has the best vertical leap on the team but with the aquisition of Jerry Hairston but wouldn’t Shelly Duncan be a little more valuable now. That was great how they brought him up to sit on the bench for a day.

Sir- I am a bit confused over the pitching rotation…..what happened to Joba pitching after C.C.? Is it they want to
save him for R Sux series opener?

Also, help me understand this “Mitre thing”. Why continue to use a pitcher that you know isnt getting better, isnt in your future plans, and seems to always give you same results….. here is the Mitre formula: Take the number of innings he pitches and multiply by 1.0, that will give you the number of runs allowed……example- 5 innings pitched times
1.0= 5 runs allowed. Pretty simple, huh?

Steve, I have to say I am a little dissappointed that you didn’t post anything on #15. I was looking forward to getting your insights into his career.

cody ransom what a player he is swing alway on low ball
but never make contact

I think Ransom is dead weight. The Montero issue is tough with the Posada/Texiera contract, and lets not forget the job Cervelli did while he was up. As far as Melky goes I have complained about the Yanks not sticking with him and let him settle in. Other teams seem to realize that you sometimes have to suck it up a little and give guys a chance to find themselves, but I think the Yanks are just to impatient with the young guys. I want to win as much as anyone, but sometimes you got to deal with the struggles. The pick up of Hairston I feel was a good pick-up, he is very versataile, but I don’t understand, why no starting pitcher?We don’t have a 5th starter, Mitre is awful, I like Aceves, but I don’t see him going through a lineup 3 times, and Baby Joba is closing in on some inning limit??? I guess there are still ways to get some pitcher, but now there are just leftovers that are leftovers for a reason.

Do I detect you actually admitting you were wrong Mr. Goldman? Seriously, good for Melky and I hope Montero’s recovery goes smoothly. The kid’s a beast.

Yes Steve it is nice to see you admit you were wrong with Melky. And you did not mention the thing that seperates Melky from all other ceterfielders in the league–his arm.

I always said give Melky a chance and he will come through for you. I was disappointed when Girardi chose Gardner for the starting position in CF and Melky proved he was up for the job. Good for him! One thing everyone misses about him is his arm. Also what’s with Hairston trade? Shelley Duncan is up for one day and down he goes. Why don’t they give him a chance to prove himself? For some reason, I don’t think Girardi gave him a chance the last time he was up. How can someone come off the bench after not playing much and contribute. I think they should give Duncan a chance and if it doesn’t work out well, then so be it. Who is running this team anyway – Cashman or Girardi. One wonders.

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