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As the Yankee Universe revolves around spring training, there’s another article by yet another Yankees beat writer on Jesus Montero.

This time it’s Ben Shpigel of the Times with his piece on how much Montero has matured and while his bat is ready for the majors, his body isn’t.

Cashman recalled an instance from last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, when Montero, after falling behind to Jesse Crain, 0-2, sensed that an outside breaking ball was coming. It did, and Montero poked it down the right-field line for a double.

“It’s amazing that at 20 years old he’s a .320 lifetime hitter,” Long said. (Montero’s career average is actually .325.) “But he’s got to get his body in shape and turn from being a soft kid to a hard-nosed man.

Montero himself even admits that he wants to move up in the organization as a catcher (even though he started as a middle infielder). The Yankees are committed to making that happen and with two former catchers on the bench (Joe Girardi and Tony Pena), and Jorge Posada as a mentor, Montero has everything in place for him to do that.

The catching instructor Tony Pena and Manager Joe Girardi have worked with Montero on refining his throwing mechanics, specifically on shortening his release.

According to the Yankees, Montero usually needs 1.9 to 2.0 seconds to catch and throw the ball to second base, whereas an elite catcher, like Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, can do it in about 1.7. Long after his teammates had finished their morning workout Saturday, Montero remained in the Yankees’ bullpen to work on his throwing technique with Girardi.

Pena said: “He has a strong arm — a very strong arm — but he can’t rely on that. If he has the proper mechanics, everything else will take over, and then we’ll have what we like.”

Posada’s contract expires after the 2011 season, and it’s a good bet we’ll see Montero behind the plate in 2012. If not before as the primary backup next year. One thing’s for sure, the Yankees have their Matt Wieters in development-mode.

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While it may look like a boost of confidence to a fan, it can be a nightmare for a manager to get a “vote of confidence” through the media. That only means the front office is watching you.

Sweeny Murti has Cashman’s words about Girardi:

“I think Joe’s done an exceptional job,” Cashman said. “We’re scuffling right now for three weeks, but he’s not humped over, slumped over, he’s not down and out and woe is me or depressed or on edge or tight. He’s keeping his guys up, he’s keeping them positive.”

“He’s doing everything he needs to do,” Cashman concluded.

Translation: win or else.

For his part, Girardi understands. “I know the drill here,” he said. “You win or you go home.” Indeed.

If Girardi gets the pink slip at the end of the season, for a 44-year old, twice-fired manager, that doesn’t look good. His chances for a third managerial job may not be as good. If, and that is a big if, the Yanks fire him — I’d go with Tony Pena for the rest of the season or in 2010.

Although the rumors about the staff had been milling around for a couple of weeks now, Joe Girardi’s announcement today makes it official.  The Yankees are returning five members of last year’s staff and a new addition in Mick Kelleher.  Kelleher will be joining the team as a First Base coach, a position he held with the Detroit Tigers from 2003-2005. Kelleher has been in the Yankees organization for the last few seasons, serving as an infield instructor in the minors and spring training.

Tony Pena, who was the First Base Coach for the last three seasons, will be moving to Bench Coach.  Pena was formerly the manager of the Kansas City Royals from 2002-2005.  Former Bench Coach Rob Thompson is moving to Third Base, replacing Bobby Meacham, who did not have his contract renewed by the Yanks after the season.   Finally, Dave Eiland and Kevin Long will remain with the team as Pitching Coach and Hitting Coach, respectively.

The coaches are the part of the team I know the least about.  Overall, it seems like a solid staff to assist Girardi, however, I cannot help but be surprised at the team retaining Long as the hitting coach.  The Yankees had what was supposed to be a massive lineup last season, and several players, including A-Rod and Jeter, saw their batting averages go down.  If I was to replace anyone, it would have been Long.

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