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

Chris Stewart and Brett Gardner help Yankees squeak past M’s, 2-1

york-yankees-v-seattle-mariners-20130609-231933-023Felix Hernandez showed up today in a big way for Mariners. Lucky for the Yankees, David Phelps also brought his A game. The King did precisely what he’s paid to do. He gave the Mariners seven innings of one run baseball, allowing just one run on five hits with two walks while striking out seven. Felix looked a little shaky in the beginning of the game. His pitch count was in the forties after just two innings. But he settled down and dominated the Yankees, as he always does. David Phelps matched Hernandez almost pitch for pitch. He gave the Yankees six innings of one run baseball, allowing three hits and three walks with six strikeouts.

Both starters let runs score in the second inning. Brett Gardner singled in Jayson Nix, getting one of his four hits on the day. That gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead, something particularly rare against the King. The Yankees gave that lead right back in the bottom frame.… Click here to read the rest

Piecing it Together

For most of the offseason, I’ve lamented the losses of two key batters: Nick Swisher and Russell Martin. By no means are those players superstars, but they were perfect fits for the Yankee offense. Both Swisher ad Martin provided power and patience, cornerstones of the team’s offense for the last two decades. In their places, the Yankees will have players not known for their power or patience.

Ichiro Suzuki and a combination of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli (at least to start the year) will man right field and catcher. While Ichiro may have something left at the plate, the catching duo will hardly strike fear into the hearts and minds of opposing pitching staffs. Their inclusion is, overall, representative of a potential loss of offense for the Yankees. This isn’t to say that neither of the three has no redeeming offensive qualities. Ichiro can still make a bit of contact and Cervelli can draw the occasional walk. Both will have places in the Yankee lineup, probably towards the bottom of the lineup.… 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

The Yankee Catching Conundrum

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

I know this is going to come as a complete shock, but the Yankees really haven’t gotten much from the catcher position this season.  After breathing life back into his career last year, Russell Martin has regressed back to his 2009-2010 levels of offensive futility (.187/.333/.333, .309 wOBA, 90 wRC+).  And Chris Stewart, despite my best efforts to hype up his early production, has settled into the exact no-hit/all-field role we all anticipated him filling as CC Sabathia‘s personal catcher Martin’s backup.  This adds up to a combined .196/.314/.313 tripleslash, .290 wOBA, and 77 wRC+ in 192 PA over the team’s first 50 games from the catcher spot.  Production-wise, that wOBA ranks 19th in MLB, probably more of a testament to the overall offensive weakness of the position than anything else.  The Martin-Stewart tandem has been good for 0.8 WAR (T-16th in MLB), mainly on the strength of their positive defensive ratings, but with the up-and-down production of the lineup this season, some offensive improvement at the position would be helpful.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees getting extra strikes

Last summer, a lot of great content about catcher defense was put out, led by this Mike Fast piece at BP. Catcher defense is something we all know to be important to a team, but we haven’t been quite sure how to quantify it; now, it seems like we’re getting closer to doing so. Yesterday at SB Nation, Jeff Sullivan checked in to see which pitchers and staffs were getting the most strikes called for them. No Yankees were in the top ten or bottom ten, but they were tops in the AL in their difference (37) between actual strikes (3917) and expected strikes (3880). The Angels (23), Rays (21), and Red Sox (6) were the only other AL teams in the black for AS/ES differential; the Brewers lead the league with a +117 (the next closest team, the Braves, is at 70) and the Indians trail the league with -165 (the Pirates are second worst with a -135 mark).

So just how much have these extra strikes been worth?… Click here to read the rest

Cervelli’s Value

Yesterday, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starting catcher Francisco Cervelli told the Venezuelan newspaper La Verdad that several teams had inquired as to his availability but that, to his knowledge, the Yankees had no interest in making a move. As MLB Trade Rumors points out, this isn’t the first time Cervelli’s name has come up in trade discussion. And while’s the young catcher claims to be completely focused on improving his output at the plate, one could have their doubts.

Cervelli, 26, has spent all of the 2012 season thus far at AAA and his situation can best be described as “languishing.” In 115 trips to the plate, Cervelli is hitting .217 with just four extra base hits. He’s struck out more than three times as often as he has walked, and hasn’t hit a home run for Scranton in nearly three years. Since making his debut in late 2008, on the heals of a .308 batting average and .411 OBP at multiple levels after recovering from a devastating injury, Cervelli has struggled mightily in the minor leagues.… Click here to read the rest

Sabathia’s Personal Catcher

“I choose my days to give Russell off. A lot of days, I’ll catch Stew against left handers as well, in a sense. Yeah, he’s caught him three or four starts, but I’m not saying it’s going to be that way the whole year. Everyone is going to want to make something of it right now, but it’s not going to be that way the whole year.” – Joe Girardi

Manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want us to make anything of Chris Stewart becoming CC Sabathia‘s personal catcher, but I’ve chosen to ignore his sentiment. Stewart has now caught five of Sabathia’s seven starts this year, something more than coincidence. In the small sample size of seven starts this season, it would appear that the backup catcher has done a better job calling games than his counterpart. In 39.1 innings, Sabathia has averaged 8.0 innings per start, posted a 2.51 ERA, given up only 6.6 H/9, 1.2 BB/9, and earned 8.7 K/9.… Click here to read the rest