In my last post, I made an offhanded plea for a Jesus Montero promotion, saying, "Jesus Montero has had a weak May, but given his overall talent and track record that isn’t particularly meaningful." Today, ESPN's Keith Law posted a reevaluation of his top prospects list (subscribers only) and addressed the same transient situation:
3. Jesus Montero, C/DH, N.Y. Yankees: A weird April, when he hit for average with no walks -- literally, zero walks -- and little power has been followed by a May when he drew a few walks but hasn't hit either. (He's in the midst of one of those meaningless hitting streaks that gets overreported -- "Montero has hit safely in 10 straight games!" -- since he's a whopping 11-for-41 in that span with 16 punchouts.) I'm holding on this one, because I think he'll hit and no one is reporting anything significantly wrong with him except over-eagerness at the plate; I imagine there's some frustration that the Yankees are employing a guy hitting .174/.292/.348 in a spot Montero could fill
I don't know if the Yankees have hung fire on Montero because they're trying to save a year of arb eligibility, or they're desperately trying to convince themselves he's a catcher, or simply because parting from Posada is such sweet sorrow. If the first, June is just hours away. If the second, they might wait forever while the kid rots and the everyday major-league DH hits .180. If the third, it's coming whether they want to deal with it or not; the question is if they control the moment or the moment controls them.
Parenthetically, in a catching-starved world in which the dessicated remains of Ivan Rodriguez are perceived to have value, you would think that someone might make a half-hearted bid for Posada on the assumption that just because the Yankees aren't willing to let him catch doesn't mean that he can't (we will leave aside the issue of if he's willing to catch or not, which came up during the whole Posada-asks-out mess), and that if his bat snaps back at all, you might pick up a win in the standings. Sadly, the two AL teams who fit best are Tampa Bay and Boston, so... never mind!
In any case, regardless of whether Posada is traded, released, benched, or played until the Yankees lose the division, the Yankees are going to end up paying the bulk of his salary. The money is gone, the incentive is gone, and a reinvigorated lineup awaits. I have always been a great booster of Posada's. He's been and in his post-career life will continue to be, vastly underrated. However, when your designated hitter has been about 40 percent than the league-average hitter at his position, you really can't just sit around and give away the production. It's called designated hitter, not "designated I-just-can't-quit-you."