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

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

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

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 Continue reading Piecing it Together

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

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, Continue reading The Yankee Catching Conundrum

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 Continue reading Yankees getting extra strikes

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 Continue reading Cervelli’s Value

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 Continue reading Sabathia’s Personal Catcher