Yankees’ Commitment To Catching Defense Nothing New

Hey look! Good defense! Courtesy of Getty Images

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Some time has passed since the shocker of Russell Martin signing with the Pirates, almost 1 month to be exact.  And in that time, the surprise factor of the move has barely worn off and the calls for the Yankees to make a trade or sign another catcher have continued to pour in from fans and writers alike.  The general consensus is that the underwhelming offensive trio of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and Austin Romine isn’t going to cut the mustard, and there’s been little that the Yankee brass has said to change that perception.  Recently, Mike Eder wrote a piece on Romine’s defensive skills and the high evaluation he’s gotten from Mark Newman on those defensive skills that could signal good things for Romine’s future in the organization.

While Newman’s comments on Romine might not be surprising coming from someone on the Yankee payroll, they are consistent in terms of the emphasis the organization has put on defense behind the plate in recent years.  And as Mike pointed out, that commitment to defense could have been the deciding factor in letting guys like Martin and A.J. Pierzynski go and sticking with what the Yankees have.  It’s frustrating given the team’s apparent willingness to take an offensive hit at the position, but if this is the path the Yanks are going to take in 2013, they at least have to be commended for staying consistent in their decision making.

Let’s not forget that we’re just a few years removed from everybody practically lining up around the block to bitch and moan about how horrible a defensive catcher Jorge Posada was.  He probably stayed behind the plate full time longer than he rightfully should have because of his reputation and status as a member of the team’s most recent dynastic glory days.  It was thought that Cervelli would bring some defensive stability to the position, but that turned out to be a bit too aggressive of an assumption.  So the Yankees went out and made a big move to address their defensive catching weaknesses when they signed Martin, who, if we’re being fair, hadn’t exactly done much with the bat in his final 2 years in LA.  Injuries and rapid offensive decline led to him being non-tendered by the Dodgers, so it’s not like the Yankees were banking on getting big production from Martin either.

The logic in bringing in Martin was to upgrade behind the plate defensively, with any offensive bounce back being icing on the cake.  That was the same logic in trading for Stewart before last season, the same logic in trading away Jesus Montero, and the same logic being used now to work Romine into the mix.  I said after the story of Martin signing with Pittsburgh broke that the Yankees must have seen something in Martin’s play that influenced their decision to let him walk, despite the fact that he still grades out as a plus run saver and pitch framer, and I still believe that.  It’s not like this commitment to good catching defense is something out of the blue, and it’s not like it’s something that should or will make or break the team.  Truthfully, if the Yankees weren’t watching the rest of their high-priced position player deteriorate before their eyes or willfully letting better offensive players than Martin leave via free agency, the loss felt from Martin’s departure would probably be minimal.

Would I still prefer the Yankees go out and add a better everyday catching option than they currently have in-house?  Absolutely.  But with the way they’ve gone about addressing that position since putting Jorge out to pasture, I wouldn’t count on that happening.  The Yankees’ sole focus is building a strong defensive presence at catcher and that’s something they feel like they have right now.  It’s understandable for people to still be frustrated by the move, but you have to admit that the Yankees have stayed consistent in their decision making and move making relating to the catcher position recently and there’s something to be said for that.  They know more about the strengths and weaknesses of their players than I do, and based on how the Martin move worked out for them I’m willing to let things play out with the catchers they still have.

About Brad Vietrogoski

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

One thought on “Yankees’ Commitment To Catching Defense Nothing New

  1. ‘Say Romine hits 8 HR, Stewart 2, Cervelli 1 for 11 HR from the C, that many less hit than the 2012 Yankees C. If Teixiera hits 30 HR (6 more HR than 2012), Cano 35 (2 more HR) in 2013, that’s only 3 less HR from 2013 C/Teixiera/Cano than 2012 Martin/Stewart/Teixiera/Cano.

    If Ichiro smacks 12 HR, Diaz 5 as his backup, and Dickerson 3 as a RF, that’s 20 HR from the RF, a measly 4 HR loss in RF. Big deal when those three will save at least 4 more runs than Swisher would with their defense.

    The loss of Martin and Swisher is overblown and they’re overrated because if they’re not how come they signed with bad teams? Pittsburgh is a bad team unless they repeat or top their 2012.