Lots of Backup Catcher Options

Last season, the Yankees catchers position was among the worst in all of MLB. Collectively Yankee catchers hit .213/.287/.298/.585 with a 61 wRC+ and a .266 wOBA.

The Yankees solved that problem for this season by signing Brian McCann. McCann is one of the best all around catchers in MLB and should be able to take advantage of the short porch in right field. Also, he should be a good leader going forward in a time when the Yankees will be looking for new leaders.

McCann will be a huge upgrade over Chris Stewart and as long as he stays healthy he will be a key cog in the middle of the order. Austin Romine, J.R. Murphy and Francisco Cervelli are three intriguing options to backup McCann. This will be one of the key battles to watch in spring training.

Cervelli is the only one of the three without minor league options, so if he loses the job he becomes trade bait.… Click here to read the rest

First Impressions Of Adams And Romine

Adams vs BAL

While the unexpected success of veterans like Wells and Hafner dominated the early headlines, lately it’s the kids getting the bulk of the spotlight as the Yankees continue to get helpful contributions from rookies.  5 in all have made their Major League debut already this season, something that the Yanks haven’t done since guys like Mo and Jeter debuted back in ’95.  For a team that’s had its MiL system defined by a lack of upper-level impact talent, it’s notable not only for the number of players but also for the fact that the team continues to win ballgames and have those rookies be major contributors to those victories.  Vidal Nuno throwing shutout starts, Preston Claiborne getting late-inning outs in big spots, David Adams raking from the middle of the order, it’s all great.

Whether you’re a prospect hugger or not, something like watching a bunch of  homegrown rookies come up and play well is always exciting from a fan’s perspective.  … Click here to read the rest

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.  … Click here to read the rest

Yankees Believe In Austin Romine’s Defense

Not the next Jorge Posada, but maybe the next Russell Martin

Up until last week, the best offensive free agent catcher was begging for a contract from someone. If considering A.J. Pierzysnki, teams saw his 2012 offensive production, but also had to consider his defensive metrics, his  age, and his character issues. Personally, I was completely against the idea of  the Yankees signing him, but now that he’ll be a Ranger on a modest one-year deal, Yankee fans are free to second guess the club’s non-interest.

The organization has already signed four major league players to one year deals, and A.J. Pierzysnki would have been a similar low risk signing. At the age of 35, the catcher put together his best offensive season of his career, and was good for a 3.4 fWAR. In comparison, Martin received a three year deal after posting a 2.2 fWAR the same season. But age makes all the difference here, as Pierzysnki’s 2012 season was, and will likely remain, an outlier in his career.… Click here to read the rest

The Young Guys Most Likely To Contribute In 2013

Opening Day catcher? Don't rule it out. Courtesy of the AP

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

There’s still the possibility of a blockbuster trade, something I think almost all of us are secretly hoping for after the excitement-less Winter Meetings.  But with the Yankees holding firm on their free agent signing plans for this offseason, and with that plan assuredly continuing into the next offseason when the payroll goal will loom largest, the likelihood of the Yankees having to use their top-level Minor Leaguers as more than just emergency filler or roster expansion fodder is very high.

We all know the Yankees don’t have much high-impact, high-level talent in their system, but that’s not to say they don’t have players capable of contributing as useful bench or bullpen pieces or even winning a starting job if it comes to that.  The only “top” prospect with a shot at making the show in 2013 is Tyler Austin, and even that is a longshot, but here are some other guys who could see some significant PT at the Major League level next season.… Click here to read the rest

What about Austin Romine?

Perhaps the most shocking development so far this offseason was the failure to retain the services of Russell Martin. Martin hasn’t exactly put our warm memories of Jorge Posada‘s bat to sleep, but he gave the Yankees two respectable seasons behind the dish. That’s why it was surprising when the Pirates out bid the Yankees for his services. Seldom do the Bombers let their man walk. Martin wasn’t going to be a Yankee for a decade, but it was worth it to keep him around for another year.

There’s no use crying over spilled milk. Martin is gone. Fortunately the Yankees are deepest in their farm system at Catcher. That’s part of why the team was comfortable letting Jesus Montero go in trade. Gary Sanchez is just 20 years old, and his bat arguably has as much promise as Montero’s. But Sanchez is a few seasons away. Is 2013 the season of Austin Romine?

Romine has never had the same hype as Sanchez or Montero because he’s never shown the same promise with the stick.… Click here to read the rest

2012 Pre-Draft Top-20 Prospect Rankings

Its that time again. Three days from now, the Yankees will add 30-40 young baseball players into their organization. Before that happens, it is appropriate that we take stock of the Yankee farm system, so that we may better understand the Yankee draft and signing strategy.

Below are my Top-20 prospect rankings. I usually rank 30 players, but given that we’re a year away from the last draft, I figure there are serious diminishing returns to going all the way to 30 at this time of the year. And it also makes the graphics a little too large. And I irrationally love graphics.

I used my prospect rating system for the ranking. A full explanation of the system is available here. I also copied some helpful graphics explaining the system below the fold to prevent everyone from having to click on the link. I like the system as a way of clearly explaining why I believe that certain players should be ranked where they are.… Click here to read the rest

Questions for the Yankees’ top prospects: Part 2

Dante Bichette: Defense

Around the time of the draft, Bichette was considered a bat-only prospect with plus raw power but a funky swing.  Bichette largely silenced the doubters about his swing by raking in the Gulf Coast League to the tune of a .438 wOBA, but also got better reports on his defense than he did previously.  Around the time of the draft most prognosticators thought he was a future corner outfielder or 1st baseman, but the consensus has shifted to thinking that he has a chance to stick at 3rd base.  2012 will be an opportunity for Bichette to prove that he can continue to make strides with his fielding, which will lessen the pressure on his bat to be elite in order for him to be a legitimate prospect.

Austin Romine: Power

Romine has steadily progressed through the Yankee system, though his ascension has been held back somewhat by the presence of Jesus Montero.  With Montero gone, Romine will get the first crack at being the homegrown catcher of the future.  … Click here to read the rest

Poll: Prospect Most Likely To Breakout This Spring

At the moment, any vacancy on the 25 man roster appears to be open for a reliever. Regardless, a strong enough spring could force management to consider one of the organizational prospects. Zoilo Almonte has impressed the most so far, going 5 for 6 with a double and a triple. Top prospects, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos were scoreless in their debuts. Last year’s Scranton starters David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell were also scoreless, with teammate Adam Warren giving up one run through his first two innings. There’s also David Adams going one for four so far, a strong bat as a middle infielder who was only held back due to injury.

My pick is Zoilo Almonte, who has shown some very impressive numbers at his age, but has struggled when advancing to different levels. An impressive spring from the outfielder could put him in line to replace Nick Swisher after next offseason. The pitchers, Phelps, Mitchell, and Adams, could break camp with the team as a reliever or even as a starter assuming injuries.… Click here to read the rest