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

Piecing it Together: Part Three

In my last two pieces talked about building the lineup. To quickly test the potency of these lineups, I ran them through the lineup analysis tool from Baseball Musings. I used the PECOTA and ZiPS projections to get the players’ OBP/SLG. Remember, though, these projected OBP/SLG numbers are NOT split adjusted. Here are the results: PECOTA vs RHP This lineup projects to score 4.874 R/G, which translates to about 790 runs over the course of a 162 game season. PECOTA vs LHP, Rivera Using PECOTA and Juan Rivera as the, DH, the Yankees project to score 4.840 R/G, about 785 Continue reading Piecing it Together: Part Three

Piecing it Together: Part Two

You’ll remember that last week, I mused about the possible lineup construction for the 2013 squad. Let’s revisit the idea of the lineup one more time, with something else in mind. If you’ve read this site, then you’re probably familiar with the Replacement Level Yankee Blog and its CAIRO Projections. The last iteration of them came out on January 28th. What’s nice about the CAIRO splits is that they also include platoon breakdowns; each player has his normal projections and his split projections in the form of wOBA vs. LHP and RHP. Let’s take a look at the lineups I Continue reading Piecing it Together: Part Two

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

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

Nightly Links: Recap, Girardi, Cervelli

Tonight, the Yankees lost 8-6 to the Rays in what could have been a huge come from behind win. The Start It was Hiroki Kuroda‘s first start with the Yankees tonight, and it all started it off with your routine groundball to shortstop, which was routinely dropped by perennial anti-Gold glove winner Eduardo Nunez. Welcome to New York Kuroda, hopefully you have Derek Jeter backing you up next start. It should have been a 1,2,3 inning, but with 2 outs and Desmond Jennings now on third, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist walk thanks to a very narrow strikezone, and then Continue reading Nightly Links: Recap, Girardi, Cervelli

Brief musings on an odd trade

Yesterday, right after their game against the Mets, the Yankees traded minor league reliever George Kontos to the Giants for backup catcher Chris Stewart. Upon doing this, the Yankees demoted their ebullient backup backstop Francisco Cervelli to AAA to start the year. While this is certainly a disappointment for Frankie Blue Eyes, he’ll get a chance to play every day for Empire State, as Austin Romine will start the year on the DL. Stewart is a zero with the bat, essentially, though his career walk rate (a meager 237 PA) is 8.0, so he’ll at least make a pitcher work Continue reading Brief musings on an odd trade

Nightly Links: Pettitte, Cervelli, Kontos

Freddy Garcia started the final spring training game today, going an unimpressive 4.2 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 runs (all 3 off an Ike Davis homerun), 2 walks, and earning 4 strikeouts. The pitching performance we were eager to watch was Andy Pettitte, who pitched as well as a once retired 40 year old could have. He gave up only 1 hit (which was a groundball through the infield) through his 1.0 inning of work. His fastball sat around 86 and topped out at 88 on a pitch he overthrew, but his breaking pitches looked great. Offensively, Francisco Cervelli Continue reading Nightly Links: Pettitte, Cervelli, Kontos