Tag:Francisco Cervelli
Posted on: May 13, 2011 3:24 pm

Montero 'bored,' but Yanks don't have room

By Matt Snyder

Top Yankees prospect Jesus Montero is only 21 and playing his second year in Triple-A. Much of the talk from scouts is that his upside is a middle-of-the-order elite power bat, but that he's lacking in defensive skills. None of that has really changed, but a tweet from Jon Heyman of SI.com caught my eye Friday afternoon -- saying that a scout told him that Montero is "awesomely talented but bored" in Triple-A.

One of the reasons it caught my eye is that Montero isn't exactly lighting Triple-A on fire. Sure, he's hitting .327, but his OPS is only .772 due to having only taken four walks and hit two home runs. In his 113 at-bats, he's struck out 24 times, too. Add everything up and he's doing well, but hardly putting up Ruthian numbers.

Another reason is that the Yankees' catchers at the big-league level -- who are far superior in terms of defense and working with the pitcher on the mound -- are actually faring quite well at the plate. Played mostly by Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli, Yankees catchers are collectively hitting .250 with a 346 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 27 RBI. The .837 OPS is outstanding for a group of catchers that doesn't include someone like Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez or Buster Posey. So promoting Montero would not only harm the defense, there's a decent chance you'd see an offensive regression.

So that leaves the designated hitter spot, which is more natural for Montero at this point anyway, and it's manned by Jorge Posada. And Posada is struggling.

The 39-year-old former catcher is hitting .172 with six home runs, 15 RBI and a .625 OPS. He's come through with a few big hits and has taken 15 walks, but overall he's not been productive enough to keep at the DH spot all season. It's just that I can't see the Yankees giving up on Posada right now to promote a 21-year-old free-swinger and then insert him into the pressure-packed AL East race. Not yet. Plus, Eric Chavez is reportedly going to be coming back within the next few weeks.

It all boils down to this: If Montero wants a call before September, he's going to have to start putting up a sick line in Triple-A while Posada, Chavez and anyone else the Yankees try in the DH spot fail. With everything the way it currently stands, he's just going to have to continue being bored in the minors.

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Posted on: March 12, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 5:24 pm

Montero stumbles, may not win catcher gig

MonteroBy Evan Brunell

Jesus Montero was receiving rave reviews for his defense in spring training as the CBSSports.com No. 4 prospect appears poised to capitalize on an opportunity to become the club's backup catcher. While Montero's future is as a slugging first baseman or DH, for now he's being asked to stick behind the dish especially with incumbent backup catcher Francisco Cervelli sidelined until May.

However, ESPN's Keith Law does not agree with the word out of Yankees camp that Montero's defense has improved, and that defense was on display Friday. Montero coughed up two wild pitches by Romulo Sanchez in the sixth, and skipper Joe Girardi indicated that at least one of the pitches -- a curveball -- was not due to being crossed up as the New York Post reports.

Montero (pictured) also dropped balls, showed limited mobility in blocking balls in the dirt and did not throw to second base well.

That's rather damning of the 21-year-old's defense and may crystallize that the club can't carry Montero as the backup. Girardi wants the backup to be defense-oriented, which Montero certainly isn't.

"[Montero] is a work in progress and there has been a lot thrown at him quickly," Girardi said. "To me, the defense has to come first. That’s the first thing I told him. Not hitting in spring training, yeah, you want to see everyone swinging great when they leave spring training, but I don’t get too caught up with his bat right now." Montero is currently hitting .136 in 22 at-bats with no extra-base hits.

Assuming Montero is ticketed for Triple-A, Austin Romine may leapfrog Montero to the majors by virtue of his defense. Romine's defense behind the plate isn't otherworldly either, but is at least good enough that he is considered to have a real shot at sticking behind the plate. But do the Yankees want to aggressively promote Romine all the way to the majors after hitting .268/.324/.402 in 497 plate appearances in Double-A last season? It seems unnecessary.

The club also has journeyman Gustavo Molina in camp, who would function just fine as a temporary backup, but it appears he is not being given significant consideration for the temporary job although that may change after Montero's showing.

One other option could be Chad Moeller, who left Rockies camp after it became clear to him he would not win the Rockies' backup job. Moeller is familiar to Yankees personnel after playing in nine games for New York last season. He also had a 41-game stint with the club back in 2008 before heading to Baltimore for 2009. Given Moeller's two stints with the Yankees, the club clearly feels comfortable with him and may opt to bring him in with the idea of giving him the job until Cervelli returns.

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:24 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:31 pm

Pepper: Raise a glass

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Orioles are a trendy pick to be better in 2011, and they should be. But no matter how the Orioles do on the field, things will be better this season in Baltimore because Natty Boh is back.

Before the take-over of the beer industry by the big brewing companies, regional beers were king -- be it National Bohemian (known as Natty Boh in Baltimore) in the mid-Atlantic, Hudepohl in Cincinnati or Hamm's in Minnesota.

These were different than the great microbrews of today, they were the macrobrews of yesterday. It's what you remember your grandpa dinking, whether it was an Olympia in Washington or an Old Style in Chicago. These were American, working-class beers. And they belonged with baseball, at the ballpark and at home, listening along to the local nine on the radio.

Well, one of these greats, National Bohemian, is back where it belongs, at the ballpark at Camden Yards. And for that, America and baseball are better than they were before. (Baltimore Sun)

For more fun, check out this video of old Natty Boh commercials (with an added bonus of Maryland history):

GARDNER MAY PUSH JETER FROM LEADOFF: The Yankees front office wants Brett Gardner, not Derek Jeter, leading off, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes.

Jeter has batted first or second for most of his career, but it seems natural to put the speedy Gardner atop the lineup. Gardner had a .383 on-base percentage last season, along with 47 stolen bases. He also saw an MLB-best 4.6 pitchers per plate appearance, giving him a good case to bat first for the Yankees.

HOLD 'EM OR FOLD 'EM: Boston's Mike Cameron had his name thrown around a bit this weekend after Philadelphia lost Domonic Brown to a hand injury, but with J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury roaming the outfield, is it wise for the Red Sox to get rid of any outfielder?

Although Cameron is making $7.5 million this season, that would hamper many other teams, but not the Red Sox. Cameron is also a rarity in the Red Sox clubhouse, a right-handed hitter. (Boston Globe)

HART SIDELINED: Brewers right fielder Corey Hart missed the last week after straining a muscle in his side. He was expected to miss two weeks, but after a setback during a throwing exercise on Saturday, Hart said he doesn't expect to be back in the original timeframe.

However, manager Ron Roenicke said he expects Hart to be ready for opening day. (MLB.com)

MOM KNOWS BEST: Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli said he was feeling sorry for himself after suffering a broken bone in his left foot, until his mother set him straight.

"I woke up positive and [said] 'Let's do it,'" Cervelli told the New York Daily News. "That's it. Start the work, the therapy and get better. A lot of people in the world don't have legs or arms; I'm healthy. I just have something in my foot, but it's going to be OK."

MONTERO MAY BACKUP: Cervelli's injury may have opened the door for Yankees top prospect, Jesus Montero.

Many thought the Yankees would want him to play every day and not have him break camp just to back up Russell Martin. One who doesn't buy that theory, apparently, is Brian Cashman.

"There is a lot of knowledge that a catcher has to absorb that you just won't get at Triple-A," Cashman told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. "If it's the second week of April and he has only pinch-hit or started one game, I won't consider it a lost week. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that he has never experienced before.

"He can watch, see how [Martin] goes through it -- pre-game, advance scouting meetings, all those things. When he gets in there in the future, he'll be fully prepared, rather than just sink or swim."

The Yankees know Montero's bat can play right away, but many question his ability to stick behind the plate.

TRADE STUNG SAUNDERS: Former first-rounder Joe Saunders said he was upset last season when the Angels traded him to Arizona.

"I was pissed off. I'm not going to lie to you," Saunders told the Orange County Register.

Saunders said it was weird heading into the visitor's clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the Angels' spring training home.

MULLET MANIA: Travis Schlichting has the greatest mullet in baseball history, and Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan has the story.

AUTHOR-PITCHER: Rays reliever Dirk Hayhurst -- better known as the author of The Bullpen Gospels than anything he's done on the field -- said he's walked a fine line between being truthful and writing a tell-all.

Hayhurst's often hilarious characters in the book (really, it's worth checking out, a fun, quick read), are real, but he doesn't name names. He's also working on a second book and has a contract for a third, but those will also be done in his particular style, where the only specific player you get dirt on is Hayhurst himself.

The Rays seem like a perfect fit, if only for the fact that when asked about Hayhurst, manager Joe Maddon used the word "ameliorated" in his response. (St. Petersburg Times)

OLIVO CONFIDENT: Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo had a scare on Saturday when he pulled up lame with a hamstring injury and had to be helped off the field. Olivo will have an MRI today, but he told reporters on Sunday that he's confident he'll be ready for opening day. (Seattle Times)

BOOF REMAINS A MYSTERY: Even Boof Bonser doesn't know how his name came about, even though he's legally changed it. (Star-Ledger)

FORTUITOUS CUT: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is pretty happy he cut reliever Cristhian Martinez last year when both were with the Marlins. Martinez was optioned to Triple-A at the end of spring training last season and then designated him for assignment on April 3. The Braves signed him and now he's competing for the final bullpen spot.

Martinez struck out five in two innings against the Nationals on Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

MAYBIN MAY RETURN: San Diego's Cameron Maybin may return to action today after suffering concussion symptoms when he hit his head on a post during Wednesday's practice.

Maybin, the team's newly acquired center fielder, took batting practice on Sunday and said he felt good afterwards. (MLB.com)

D-LEE STILL OUT: Derrek Lee won't make his debut with the Orioles in the Grapefruit League until Wednesday at the earliest. (Baltimore Sun)

PEAVY TO MAKE SECOND START: White Sox starter Jake Peavy said he's sore from Saturday's start, but he's good enough to start on Wednesday. (Chicago Tribune)

FIRST BASE BATTLE: Here's something you don't hear very often -- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said defensive will be a key component to the team's search for a regular first baseman.

Russell Branyan, Brandon Allen and Juan Miranda are the other leading candidates for that job. (Arizona Republic)

ZAUN TO RETIRE: Veteran catcher Gregg Zaun is set to retire after 16 seasons in the big leagues.

Zaun, 39, was in the Padres camp. He's a career .252/.344/.388 hitter, but better known for his defense, spending most of his time as a backup catcher.

His retirement gives Rob Johnson the inside track at the Padres' backup job. (Sportsnet.ca)

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Posted on: March 5, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: March 5, 2011 10:57 am

Pepper: Yanks have healthy squatter

By Matt Snyder

When Francisco Cervelli went down with a broken foot Friday , a lot of eyeballs started to peer in the direction of uber-prospect Jesus Montero. Of course, if Montero was ready to join the big-league club out of camp defensively, he'd already be slotted on the roster. By all scouting accounts, his bat is ready. It's just that he threw out only 23 percent of would-be base-stealers last season in Triple-A, which fits in line with his 15 passed balls and six errors.

There's a reason the Yankees brought in Russell Martin. And Friday, there was encouraging news in his health.

Martin, who is recovering from knee surgery, caught five full innings behind the dish and felt "good."

"Honestly, I wouldn't have been out there if I did feel anything," he said after the game. (MLB.com )

Martin has greatly regressed in the past two seasons, but he's still only 28. In each 2007 and 2008 he caught at least 145 games while hitting well enough (.811 OPS) to be an All-Star both seasons. Assuming no setbacks, here is your everyday catcher for the Yankees when the 2011 season opens.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes is entering the final year of his contract and it seems like he's one of the offensive centerpieces for the team, but SI.com's Jon Heyman reports he'll need to improve his OBP to get a multi-year deal. That's fair. Reyes is a speedster, so if he's only getting on base at a .321 clip (last year's OBP), that's an issue for the money he'll likely command. Of course, from 2006-2009 he was over .350 each season. The guess here is he gets it back to that range and signs an extension with little drama. That is, of course, assuming the Mets' financial woes don't interfere. (Heyman Twitter )

SHEEN-CO DE MAYO: Charlie Sheen jokes and references are beginning to get a bit overplayed by this point, but here's something interesting -- at least I think so. The Lake Elsinore Storm, a minor-league baseball team, are having a promotion this season called "Charlie Sheen-co de Mayo (click here to see the logo ). Among the festivities will be a taco-eating contest, Sheen bobblehead, a "Wild Thing" glasses giveaway and retirement of the number 99 -- the latter two homages to Sheen's Rick Vaughn character in Major League . It's also "Thirsty Thursday," which means $1 beer and coke products. I think I'm feeling a road trip ... (MLBlogs )

DOGGIE ETIQUETTE: While we're on the topic of fun things relating to the ol' ballpark, why not talk hot dogs? After all, the American Meat Council reports there were 21,378,064 dogs sold at major league stadiums last season. Here are some things the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council provide as etiquette in eating your dog:

- Toppings don't go between the bun and the dog; they go on top of the dog.
- Condiment order: 1. wet (ketchup, mustard); 2. chunky (onions, relish); 3. Cheese; 4. Spices
- Do not use utensils
- No china, paper plates are preferred
- No ketchup after you turn 18.

Really? What's wrong with ketchup? And I'm 32 ... (Orlando Sentinel )

MUSCLING UP: Talk about having a career day. Austin Glorius is a senior in high school, and Thursday he hit five home runs in a game. Oh, he also had 17 RBI. He would have had 18 RBI, but one of his teammates missed a base and was called out. So allow me to digress: How does that ever happen? I played baseball until I was 22 and have watched it since I was about four. I cannot understand how a player ever misses a base. Ever. I didn't get it at age six and still don't get it now. You should never, ever miss a base as a baseball player at any level. (Obviously we're talking about missing a base while rounding it, not sliding in to avoid a tag). (Orlando Sentinel )

The Angels are going to wear some throwback uniforms this season for every Friday night home game. You can see the five different uniforms by clicking here , but I'll warn you it's a bit disappointing. All of the uniforms look pretty similar to the current ones, aside from a few of the hats. What was wrong with the '97 alternate ? Or even the home ones -- those were horrifically awesome. (OC Register )

HONORING DUKE: The Dodgers will wear a patch to honor recently-deceased Duke Snider this season. It marks the sixth time in franchise history the team has done so. The previous ones: Jim Gilliam, Don McMahon, Tim Crews, Pee Wee Reese and a combination patch for Don Drysdale and Roy Campanella. (LA Times )

FUN WITH VIDEOS: BABIP explained through a video. Pretty funny stuff. (Fangraphs )

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 3:51 pm

Cervelli injured; Could Montero step in?

MonteroBy Evan Brunell

The catching situation in New York just took an interesting turn as Francisco Cervelli suffered a broken foot that will knock him out for six to eight weeks, as the New York Times reports.

Cervelli, who served as backup catcher last season but played enough to garner 317 plate appearances, was slated to back up Russell Martin but now the door may have opened for Jesus Montero (pictured).

Montero, a hot-hitting prospect who ranked No. 4 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects, is now the immediate favorite to open the year backing up Martin. While the gig would likely only last a month, the 21-year-old may be better off playing full-time down on the farm. That said, New York might want to use this chance to evaluate his oft-maligned defense at the major league level, the better to determine Montero's future moving forward.

One thing's certain: the team won't be considering Jorge Posada as a backup. The longtime Yankees catcher is moving to the DH spot permanently. That leaves Montero fighting with journeyman backup catcher Gustavo Molina. The 29-year-old has seen 45 total PA in the majors split between the White Sox, Orioles, Mets and Red Sox but has yet to lock down a permanent backup gig. Molina appears to be that catcher that is good enough to play in Triple-A as insurance for most teams, but never good enough to lock down a full-time job. Hey, there are worse things for a person to be.

It's in this role that Molina may actually stand the best chance of beating Montero out. Molina is a capable stopgap for a month while Cervelli heals and is unlikely to be claimed on waivers once it is time for him to exit stage left. That would allow Montero to return to Triple-A and avoid a potential liability behind the plate if his defense is as bad as believed.

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Posted on: November 10, 2010 8:58 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 9:10 am

Surgery for Posada

Jorge Posada Yankees catcher (or is it designated hitter?) Jorge Posada will have knee surgery today, the New York Times reports .

The surgery isn't serious, it's to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, but it does reinforce Brian Cashman's decision to let rookie Jesus Montero compete for the starting catcher's job.

There have been reports that Posada has said he prefers to stay behind the plate, but the Times report said Posada understands the situation.

"Posada said great and he was willing to do it," the Times quoted a sources as saying. "He was happy to know what the situation is."

The Yankees could also keep Francisco Cervelli around as a third catcher to go with Posada and Montero.

UPDATE: Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes that Posada's wife wrote on Facebook and Twitter that her husband would DH next season.

"As my friends you should be the first to know, yes Jorge will be the DH next year," Laura Posada wrote on her Facebook page. And on Twitter, she followed her Facebook status update with this: "yes, Jorge will DH next year."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 5, 2010 11:55 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 1:16 am

Montero taking over behind the plate for Yanks?

Jesus Montero The Yankees may carry three catchers next season, but use one of them -- veteran Jorge Posada -- as mostly a designated hitter, the New York Daily News ' Mark Feinsand writes .

Feinsand cites "a source with knowledge of the team's thinking" as saying über-prospect Jesus Montero is ready to take over the starting catcher spot, with Francisco Cervelli as his main backup.

Montero was thrust into the national spotlight this summer, when he was the primary bartering chip in the Yankees' pursuit of Cliff Lee. It appeared he would be headed to Seattle, only to stay in New York.

Montero will turn 21 later this month. At Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Montero hit .289/.353/.517 with 21 home runs last season. Although many have knocked Montero's defense, Feinsand says the team's front office believes Montero has improved and already surpassed what Posada was able to give them this season.

Posada hit .248/.357/.454 with 18 home runs, but was limited to 120 games, starting 78 behind the plate. Posada, 39, was unable to catch more than three games in a row.

The team will also be keeping an eye on Austin Romine. Romine, who turns 22 this month, hit .268/.324/.402 with 10 home runs at Double-A Trenton this season. He could be the team's backup, replacing Cervelli, as early as midseason.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 10:34 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 10:31 am

Yankees call on Dent, Boone

Bucky Dent
Boston-area electronics retailers, prepare for a bump in TV sales! There could be a lot of things thrown at sets in your market at about 4 p.m. today.

Down 3-1 in the ALCS, the Yankees need a miracle, so they'll turn to a couple of postseason miracle workers -- and men who will be forever cursed by Red Sox fans -- to kick off Game 5. Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone will throw out the ceremonial first pitches.

Dent only had 40 homers in 12 major-league seasons, but he has one that will live forever. In a 1978 one-game playoff for the American League East title, the light-hitting shortstop (he was batting ninth with a .243 average) connected for a three-run shot off Mike Torrez to erase Boston's 2-0 lead in a game the Yankees would go on to win 5-4. Here is the box score from that famous game.

Boone's legendary homer might have been bigger, with even higher stakes. And Boone was an even less likely hero. He was a midseason pickup who played half a season with the Yankees, batting .188 when he was inserted as a pinch-runner in a tied Game 7 of the ALCS. Leading off the bottom of the 11th inning, he blasted Tim Wakefield's first pitch over the wall to send the Yankees to the World Series and Sox fans to window ledges. Here's that box score.

So Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, take note: With one well-timed swing, you can be an instant legend.

-- David Andriesen

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com