New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman addressed reporters before the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game, held last Wednesday at Waterfront Park in Trenton, NJ.
The following is a transcript of what was said…
“We’re hoping that we have all the answers from within, to be honest. That’s what we always try to do. Earlier in the year, the bullpen was a problem for us, so we reshuffled the deck and Edwar Ramirez got optioned down to Triple-A and Jose Veras got designated for assignment. We switched Aceves over, we switched Hughes over, brought Robertson up, and now there’s no bullpen problem. We had two catchers go down — Posada and Molina — at the same time, essentially and we brought Cervelli up from right here in Trenton. No more catching problem. We try to look from within first if we don’t have the answer right in front of us before we aggressively go outside. We always have eyes and ears open, and we’re engaged with the other clubs, but I can’t tell you that we have an obvious need right now. That doesn’t mean we’re the best team. I think we have a great team. For instance, I’d like to have two left-handers in the bullpen, and Damaso Marte is doing a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League, so he’s getting close. If he finishes off well, then I’ll have a second left-hander that I’m waiting on in the bullpen to go with Coke, who’s done a great job. Wang’s down, and Sergio Mitre’s been pitching extremely well for us in Triple-A. Billy Eppler decided to go out and aggressively sign and rehab a Tommy John player — he’ll be 12 months on July 15th — but he’s done real well, so we’re looking at him to be a guy to maybe take that next step for us. Joe Girardi had him in Florida. But as far as an in-house candidate goes, it would be him. But hopefully we have some legitimate in-house choices, that’ll help us. We want to be getting guys healthy and off the DL like Damaso Marte and Chien-Ming Wang and getting anyone that we have healthy producing up to the levels we expect.”
“There are guys that are more tradeable than others, that’s easier to say. I’ve been doing this maybe too long, but in that period of time, I’ve traded anybody and everybody, it seems like. From a high end prospect to a guy that’s performed at the high end on the Major League side, like a Soriano or a David Wells. So we’ve done all aspects of it. So if something makes sense to us, we’ll look at it. But at the same time, I think we’ve done a lot of work this winter, but there’s more work to be done. The Eric Hinske acquisition was an example of that. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open. Was there an obvious need? No. But it was one where he became available and it got paid down to the level he was, we felt that wasn’t something we could turn away from in terms of the price and the prospects, and just the money we’d be taking on, which was very small. He’s already had a positive impact. We’ll constantly look to see if we can improve ourselves, but again the biggest key is doing the best we possibly can and to be healthy.”
“(Montero) is one of the best hitting prospects in all of minor league baseball, so his name is going to come up frequently. People have taken notice without a doubt. As a 19-year-old, he might have been the youngest player in the Florida State League, which means he’s got to be youngest player in the Eastern League. And all he’s doing is outperforming the norm at that age. It’s extremely impressive and we’re proud of it, but he’s got work to do, too. His work ethic is strong. He’s hungry and he cares and he’s got ability, and he’s got to continue to maintain that like any prospect as he moves up the ladder. So far, it’s nice to see that he refuses to be denied and he wants to move his personal development schedule up ahead of most normal people’s schedules. That’s why you’re seeing him at this age in the Eastern League. He’s at the All-Star Game, just came back from the Futures Game. Not every player you sign domestically as an amateur or internationally you hit on, but it looks like that was an extremely important decision for us when we had an opportunity to sign him. I’m glad we did.”
(When asked if the organization views Montero as a catcher in the future…) “More and more every day. And that’s a credit to him. When we signed him, there was no question about the bat and the projection on the bat. The question was whether he’d stay at the catching position because of his size. And he’s maintained a work ethic…we thought it was possible, but there was fair scrutiny about it. I think the more scrutiny now would probably be unfair. I think he is proving without a doubt that he has a chance to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues, and our organization is excited about that. We’re certainly excited about the bat. But the fact that he has a chance now to remain behind the plate, that’s a whole different animal there. A guy who can do that in the big leagues behind the plate with that bat, it’s real exciting stuff.”
That’s the first eight minutes or so…stay tuned for the final six coming up tomorrow
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com