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Archive for June 14th, 2011

During an interview on WFAN, Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman implied rather directly that the extent to which Jorge Posada is no longer an option behind the plate is entirely the result of his own actions.

Posada and Cashman haven’t exactly seen eye to eye this season.

According to Cashman, when Francisco Cervelli was injured during spring training, the Yankees turned to Posada as a potential backup for Russell Martin, but the veteran backstop decided that he would be better off focusing on his new role as DH. Cashman also stated that lingering headaches resulting from last season’s concussion also contributed to Posada’s reticence to get back behind the plate. If Cashman’s version of events is accurate, it would mean that the Yankees could have enjoyed more roster flexibility had Posada decided, or been physically able, to embrace the role as a backup to Martin.

Considering how poorly Cervelli has played since returning to the active roster, and how much Posada has struggled as a DH, it seems as if both problems could have been mitigated if the Yankees and Posada had better prepared for the current predicament. Cashman’s recent revelation is particularly ironic because it has been assumed that one reason Posada has bristled in his new role was because of the lack of an opportunity to catch. What’s more, it also contradicts the prevailing thought the Yankees, not Posada, pulled the plug on a backup role because of lingering health concerns.

Posada has not yet been asked about Cashman’s comments, but one wonders how the feisty veteran will react to the implication that his failure to stay in shape is the main reason preventing him from stepping back behind the plate. Without knowing the extent to which last year’s concussion has hampered his ability to catch, it’s hard to say how receptive Posada would be to the Yankees’ willingness to have him work his way back into being an option at the position. In the meantime, for the sake of harmony in the clubhouse, it’s perhaps even more important that Posada doesn’t contradict Cashman’s account or express resentment at the idea that the end of his catching career has been self inflicted.

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Over the past week, a spate of injuries has left the New York Yankees roster in a state of disarray. As a result, the burden has fallen upon Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi to fill the growing voids. With so many decisions needing to be made, provided below is some unsolicited advice to help the organization navigate through the recent upheaval.

Recharging the Battery

Russell Martin’s back injury has once again thrust Francisco Cervelli into a quasi-starting role as Yankees’ catcher. Over the past three years, the Venezuelan backstop has compiled approximately one season’s worth of at bats, which should be enough of a sample to conclude that he is well below average as both a hitter and catcher. In other words, it’s time to cast aside any inclination that Cervelli can handle regular playing time.

Is the coming of Jesus Montero imminent?

For several years now, Yankees’ fans have been titillated by reports about the prodigious hitting ability of prospect Jesus Montero. Although those projections have been tempered by less than sanguine assessments of his catching ability, there’s only one way to find out if he can actually play the position. What’s more, Cervelli’s defense has been so poor over such a sustained period of time that even a worst case scenario wouldn’t represent much a drop-off, even without taking into account the reasonable expectations for a much greater offensive contribution.

Granted, at only 21 years of age, it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that Montero is not completely ready for the big leagues. Having said that, he’s also not exactly a raw amateur. Since signing with the Yankees in 2007, Montero has amassed 1,800 plate appearances, including 775 at triple-A. Even though his .293/.339/.424 line at Scranton this year doesn’t exactly scream promotion, his past success at the level and evident nature ability seem to suggest he’s worthy of a shot at a big league role.

Another added benefit to promoting Montero would be allowing him to learn the craft from a respected veteran like Martin. Just as important, if Montero could take on a semi-regular role as Martin’s backup, it would afford the latter more rest for what has been an achy body over the last several years. It’s gone largely unmentioned amid the Yankees other concerns, but Martin’s production has plummeted since the end of April. With more rest, the Yankees could wind up with a productive catching tandem in the present as well as a centerpiece behind the plate in the future.

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