Jesus Montero to get a chance at the Yankees’ starting catching job. Maybe.

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Mark Feinsand of the Daily News reports that the Yankees are going to give 21-year-old catching prospect Jesus Montero a chance to win the starting gig.  He notes that there are still reservations about his defense but, man, Jorge Posada, y’all.  How bad could Montero be by comparison?

Steve S. at TYU has the more interesting angle to this, I think:  it’s possibly a bluff by the Yankees in an effort to inflate Montero’s trade value.  His argument basically boils down to “Brian Cashman and the Yankees are always lying about their offseason plans in early November, so don’t be shocked if they shop Montero.”  Pretty compelling argument, actually!

The problem is that we probably really are at a point where Jorge Posada isn’t all that viable behind the plate, so if they do deal Montero, who catches? Austin Romine is the same age as Montero, but he’s only got one sort of “meh” year at Double-A under his belt.  The Yankees could try to sign a solid defensive catcher to bridge the gap, but you hear that kind of thing all the time. Fact is, people who think solid defensive major league catchers are freely available out there are rather deluded. You got, what, John Buck? Yorvit Torrealba? Pierzynski? Are there any spare Molinas lying around? It’s harder to just pick up a catcher like that than you think.

My guess — based on nothin’ really — is that they give Montero a real shot at the job. If for no other reason than that the Yankees are going to need to have some younger offensive producers eventually, and there aren’t many hitting prospects out there better than him.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.