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. However, Brian Cashman recently stated that does give Cervelli an edge over Romine and Murphy.

Cervelli was having a great April for the Yankees last season before breaking his hand on a foul tip. He hit for much more power than he ever has before, as he hit three home runs and had a .231 ISO. His ISO from 2009-2011 was .089 and had five home runs combined in those three seasons. We later found out why, as Cervelli was suspended 50 games by MLB for using PEDs.

Last April was definitely the outlier in Cervelli’s career, as his career batting line is .271/.343/.367/.710. The batting average is good, but it is mostly an empty batting average with a career .319 wOBA and a 93 wRC+. Cervelli’s defense has never been great either, and he has only thrown out 27% of base runners for his career.

After Cervelli got injured Romine became Stewart’s backup and struggled for the majority of the season. He finished with brutal hitting numbers, but over the second half of the season Romine hit .271/.343/.407/.750 (106 wRC+). You hope that improvement can carry over into the 2014 season because Romine’s defense was pretty solid.

Murphy came up with the Yankees for September call ups and is one of the top prospects in the Yankees system. Baseball America ranked Murphy 4th among Yankees prospect and FanGraphs ranked him 2nd.

Murphy posted a .773 OPS between Double- A and Triple-A last season while improving his defense. He will not ever be a big home run hitter, but he has a solid line-drive swing and has gap power, which is fine for a catcher.

Murphy has more potential than Romine, so I would like to see him get more playing time at Triple A. Having Romine and Murphy both at Triple- A would both stunt their growth. Also, what would you do if and when you want to promote Gary Sanchez?

So, Romine should be the backup and Cervelli traded. I cannot see Cervelli putting up numbers again like he did April of last season. Murphy will get plenty of playing time at Triple- A and would be a good catcher to call up if an injury strikes. Continue reading Lots of Backup Catcher Options

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.  Those guys are easy to root for and I always find myself paying more attention to their at-bats and plays in the field to see how they look as Major Leaguers.  For a number of reasons, I hadn’t watched a live Yankee game in a couple weeks up until last night’s ESPN broadcast.  I got my first ever look at Adams and Austin Romine last night, two guys who I ID’d last year as rookies I expected to contribute this season, and as a fan and a pseudo-prospect hugger here’s my take on them.

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Yankees’ Commitment To Catching Defense Nothing New

(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 Continue reading Yankees’ Commitment To Catching Defense Nothing New

Yankees Believe In Austin Romine’s Defense

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 Continue reading Yankees Believe In Austin Romine’s Defense

The Young Guys Most Likely To Contribute In 2013

(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, Continue reading The Young Guys Most Likely To Contribute In 2013

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 Continue reading What about Austin Romine?

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 Continue reading 2012 Pre-Draft Top-20 Prospect Rankings

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 Continue reading Questions for the Yankees’ top prospects: Part 2

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 Continue reading Poll: Prospect Most Likely To Breakout This Spring