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

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 per 162 games.

PECOTA vs LHP, Diaz

Using Matt Diaz at DH, we get 4.805 R/G, which is about 779 runs over 162 games.

ZiPS vs RHP

ZiPS is a little more friendly to the Yankees, projecting 4.974 R/G. That would push the Yankees over the hump to about 806 runs per game.

ZiPS vs. LHP, Rivera

This gets us 4.887 R/G, about 792 for the season.… Click here to read the rest

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 presented in my previous post and see what each guy is projected to do. We’ll start against lefties for a bit of a switch. The number next to each player is the projected wOBA:

1. Jeter, SS: .354
2. Youkilis, 3B: .367
3. Teixeira, 1B: .362
4. Cano, 2B: .356
5. Diaz, DH: .321; Rivera, DH: .324
6. Granderson, CF: .305
7.… 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

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

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 all around good guy Luke Scott single to Curtis Granderson to bring 2 unearned runs home. It wasn’t all bad luck for Kuroda though, who ended up going 5.2 inning, 8 hits, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts, and a monster solo homerun to Matt Joyce.

The Pen
After yesterday’s intentional walk in the first innings, Joe Girardi reminded us that he was in the dugout when he left Clay Rapada to face righties.… Click here to read the rest

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 every so often. As Mike alluded to last night, he ranked 15th out of 114 catchers in terms of defensive production last year, which will be a welcomed change from Cervelli’s propensity for inaccurate throws on steals and ill-advised snap throws. They’ll lose a bit on offense when Russell Martin gets the day off, but it seems like they’re willing to make that trade, considering Stewart’s defense.… Click here to read the rest

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 hit a 2 run homerun. (Box Score)
  • Unfortunately for the backup catch, while he was hitting his homerun, the Yankees were sending relief pitcher George Kontos to the Giants for backup catcher Chris Stewart. Cervelli will now start the year at AAA, where Austin Romine leaves the spot vacant thanks to ongoing back problems. Though Stewart doesn’t have much time to learn new pitchers, and for all his offensive woes, he is actually a very good defensive catcher.
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