The Yankees brass were pretty hanked off after they thought they had a deal for the Mariners’ Cliff Lee, centered around 20-year-old catcher Jesus Montero. But the M’s went ahead and sent Lee to Texas for a package centered around first baseman Justin Smoak. 

The Mariners may have done the Yankees an enormous favor.

In his last 10 games, Montero is hitting .484 (15 for 31) at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre with four doubles and four home runs.  Montero now has the 12th highest OPS (.821) in the International League. 

There aren’t many 20-year-old catchers you can say that about.

River Avenue Blues says the Yankees should consider calling up Montero right now to fill the hole the Yankees have at DH since the injury (who could have seen it coming?) to Nick Johnson. 

They have a point: Montero is arguably ready for prime time.

One thing is certain, however.  There is absolutely no reason at this moment to think that Montero would not be a worthy successor to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.

Posada has one year after this one on his current contract, which is approximately the amount of time (the 2011 season) for Montero to serve as the Yankees’ back-up catcher and learn at the master’s hand.

The Yankees absolutely need to develop at least a few of their stars in-house.  Even with all the money the Yankees have, it’s not unlimited, and they have an enormous amount of future salary commitments to players in their decline phase.

As’s Dave Cameron notes, the Yankees have $174 million committed to Alex Rodriguez over the next seven years, and A-Rod’s having the worst season of his major league career (currently an .827 OPS). A-Rod has better years ahead of this one, but I don’t think he’ll have more than three such seasons in the next seven.

ARod turns 35 next Tuesday, and with Vitamin S out the game, we aren’t going to see any more Barry Bonds like players defying the immutable hand of time.

The Yankees have $115 million committed to CC Sabathia over the next five seasons, and $135 million committed to Mark Teixeira over the next six.  Both of them are now over age 30.

Derek Jeter, 36, is also likely to get a juicy extension, although his poor (for him) 2010 season is likely to save the Yankees a load of money.

The Yankees have to continue developing at least a few of their own stars, like Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain, if they want to continue winning into the 2010s. 

Jesus Montero really looks like a player just too good to use as a trade chip solely to win in 2010.

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