Jesus Montero will likely make his major league debut as the New York Yankees' designated hitter Thursday night against Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Montero, the highly-touted and long-awaited top prospect in the Yankees' minor-league system will have the next month to try and hit his way onto the team's postseason roster.
Yes, that means I am assuming the Yankees will reach the postseason -- whether or not they catch Boston in the American League East. New York has a 7.5-game lead over Tampa Bay in the wild-card race, so that is effectively not a race at all.
Back to Montero. He appears likely to be the designated hitter against left-handed pitchers, maybe more often than that as the Yankees find out what he is ready to offer. He might catch some, as well.
If Montero makes a loud enough statement with his bat over the course of the next month he could force his way into the team's postseason plans. In reality, I see three players whose postseason rosters spots are jeopardized by Montero's presence.
Jorge Posada -- The long-time catcher turned designated hitter has been benched -- again -- in favor of Eric Chavez against right-handed pitching. He is hitting just .239 and it appears he won't get regular playing time the rest of the season. With our without Montero, his Yankee tenure could come to a close when the postseason begins. A good month by Montero just makes it even more likely that Posada won't be part of the team that goes to the playoffs.
Andruw Jones -- Montero likely will get most of the designated hitter at-bats against lefties, meaning Jones' role will be significantly reduced. If the Yankees keep Montero on the postseason roster the domino effect could bounce Jones off of it. There won't be a need for him as a DH, and in the playoffs Brett Gardner's speed and stellar defense are more important than any occasional offense Jones might provide. If there are no starts for him, the Yankees might be better served to keep a reserve outfielder like Chris Dickerson -- who has speed to pinch run and can be used a defensive replacement for Nick Swisher.
Francisco Cervelli -- This is theoretically possible, but I find it unlikely. Montero is a catcher, but how good a catcher remains to be seen. Would the Yankees really trust Montero enough that they would go to the postseason with him as the backup catcher to Russell Martin? I doubt it.