Batting second in our Pinch Hitters series is David Curtiss, a corporate attorney living in Manhattan but born and raised in Hoboken. David said he’s “reasonably sure” he’s been to a Yankees game every season since 1981 (except 2010, when he had an excuse; he was living in Singapore). “During college I would go to weeknight playoff games, drive back to Gettysburg College for class, and then back to the Bronx for the next night’s game,” David wrote. He went to the last game at old Yankee Stadium and the first game at new Yankee Stadium.
For his post, David was thinking a little about old and new. He wondered, how might this winter be different if last winter had been different?
Say what you want about the Montero/Pineda trade (and I still think it was the right move at the time), the Yankees ended up subtracting from the roster without adding a contributing piece, and that hole remains. While a productive Michael Pineda might further bolster an already strong pitching staff, Jesus Montero could catch, DH or anchor a trade to fill the outfield.
So, how would this offseason look different with Montero in pinstripes and Pineda out west?
I still believe Cashman traded Montero because the Yankees viewed him as a bat without a position. That being said, Montero would be an impact bat who could probably catch 40-50 games and let Cervelli/Stewart fight over the rest. Including Montero in the catching mix would probably make Yankees fans a lot more comfortable than the current roster, but I believe his future is probably at DH. Montero on this roster still leaves 100-120 games for Cervelli/Stewart (and probably leaves both of them on the major league roster).
2) DH/corner infield
If Montero catches 40-50 games, he’d probably see another 90-100 at DH. I think on this roster Montero mostly the same role as Kevin Youkilis. Clearly, Montero’s not playing third, so why do I even bring up Youkilis? First, while A-Rod’s injury opened up third for half the season, the whole calculus of the Youkilis signing changes if Montero is the primary DH after the All-Star break. On the current roster, Youkilis plays third until A-Rod comes back and then is the frontrunner to DH the rest of the year (and give Tex and A-Rod an occasional rest). I think Cashman’s looking at the first-half production of Nunez/Youkilis/Diaz/Canzler/whoever as a three-month competition to see if he needs to acquire a DH at the trade deadline. Youkilis’ $12 million contract makes little sense if he only has an obvious role for half the year. Since I don’t view Montero as a catcher, it’s unlikely Youkilis and Montero both fit on the roster. However, if Montero headlines a trade package for an outfielder, Youkilis makes sense again.
3) …or Justin Upton?
Now let’s open Pandora’s box. Could Montero headline a package to bring back an impact outfield bat (can you say Justin Upton)? According to MLBTradeRumors, Arizona was set to receive Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor and Taijuan Walker from Seattle before Upton vetoed the deal. According to the 2012 Baseball America top 100 prospects list, Montero was No. 6. While a down year at the Grand Canyon (er, I mean Safeco Field) may have lowered his stock a bit, he is still probably better piece than Walker, being the highest rated prospect in the deal (#20 on the 2012 BA list). MLBTR notes that Walker had a down year at Double-A, likely hurting his stock a little, though he’s still well-regarded. Franklin is a shortstop who rated #53 on the 2011 BA list, but fell off the list entirely in 2012, even before hitting for a paltry .725 OPS for AAA Tacoma in the otherwise offense-happy Pacific Coast League last year. Furbush and Pryor each had nice years out of the M’s bullpen last year, but are pretty similar to Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley, neither of whom has huge trade value. If you value Montero a bit higher than Walker, the Yankees could probably deal a package including Montero, one of Rapada or Eppley, and a reclamation project out of the middle of the farm system for Upton. That sounds like a deal I would make in a heartbeat.
Associated Press photo