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

Yankees Still Generating Plenty Of Catching Depth

J.R. Murphy

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

There was a time not too long ago when the Yankees looked like they were going to be set at catcher for a long time to come.  They had Russell Martin as the immediate replacement for Jorge Posada, top prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine waiting in the wings at the upper levels of their farm system, and an 18-year-old kid named Gary Sanchez raking down in A-ball.

Fast forward to the present day and the catcher position is basically a wasteland.  Lifelong backup Francisco Cervelli is on the DL with a broken hand, which cruelly befell him just as he finally seemed to be nailing down the starting job.  His backup Chris Stewart is who we thought he was and who he’s always been as an all field/no hit player whose defensive reputation always seems to outweigh what he actually does on the field.  And Romine, now forced into the backup role for Stewart, has looked awful in his real Major League debut, posting a .151 wOBA and -17 wRC+ and striking out 17 times in 61 PA.

Oh, and the once great savior Jesus has been traded to Seattle and demoted back to Triple-A after registering as a negative WAR player in almost a full season’s worth of games.  Yep, things have taken quite the bad turn in the world of Yankee catchers.  And yet somehow the future still looks just as bright for them at the position as it did 2 years ago.

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TYA Roundtable: Moving propsects

In our daily email chain, the writers of TYA and I had a hard time deciding what to call this. After all, we did a similar thread the other day about sleeper prospects. But this is a bit different. For that thread, we were talking about prospects we thought might fly under the radar and make some noise without a lot of pre-existing fanfare. This one is a little more focused. After the jump, we’ll be discussing prospects we had on our top 20 lists we think can move up those rankings by way of a strong season in 2012.

A Talented Charleston Roster Struggles To Find Playing Time For Prospects

One of the pleasant surprises early in the 2011 season is the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs’ roster. They have the most talented group of hitters that we’ve seen in Charleston in a long time (at least dating back to the summer when Montero, Romine, Brandon Laird, and Bradley Suttle were all playing together in 2008, but I’d argue this group is better) – both in quality of prospects and quantity. Here’s where they’ve been playing so in Charleston’s first 7 games: 1 OF/C/DH has to sit every game, although two have sat in games while Segedin plays the outfield and Roller Continue reading A Talented Charleston Roster Struggles To Find Playing Time For Prospects

KLaw Chats Montero, Yankee Prospects

Keith Law held his weekly chat this Thursday, and had some nice things to say about Jesus Montero: Q: Which current hitter would you compare Jesus Montero to? If he goes to a different team any chance he stays behind the plate? Klaw: Physically and in his swing, he reminds me of Frank Thomas. And I know that’s an insane comp to put on a guy, but I don’t think that’s out of the question as an optimistic long-term projection. Now, KLaw was talking about his swing, so I doubt he was suggesting that Montero would replicate Frank’s otherworldly OBP Continue reading KLaw Chats Montero, Yankee Prospects

PP – Top 20 Yankee Prospects Averaged List

Sean over at Pending Pinstripes did what I was thinking about doing but too lazy to pull the trigger on: he averaged the top-20 prospect lists of every major prospect pundit out there, including my list, and merged it in to one list. Austin Jackson and Arodys Vizcaino were eliminated the the lists were adjusted. Here is my list, and here is the averaged list, with ratings on a 1-240 scale: 1. Jesus Montero – 240 2. Austin Romine – 216 3. Zach McAllister – 207 4. Manny Banuelos – 205 5. Slade Heathcott – 187 6. JR Murphy – Continue reading PP – Top 20 Yankee Prospects Averaged List

Callis On The Yankee Catching Depth

Jim Callis answered a number of questions regarding Yankee catching prospects in his ESPN chat today, and made some interesting points. Let’s break them down by player: Jesus Montero: I like the Piazza comp. That’s a lot to put on Montero, but he has that potential impact bat and that lackluster defense behind the plate. But the bat may be enough to not worry about his defensive inadequacies. Callis gets more specific on this point later in the chat: First base (Teixeira) and DH (a slew of older players) are locked up for a while, so catcher is still going Continue reading Callis On The Yankee Catching Depth

King: Heathcott and Murphy Have Agreed To Terms

From George King: The only hurdle left for outfielder Slade Heathcott and catcher John Murphy, the Yankees’ first- and second-round picks in the June MLB Draft is to pass their physicals. The high-schoolers have agreed to terms and if they pass the physicals, they will choose the Yankees over LSU and the University of Miami, respectively. Both have to be signed by midnight tomorrow. Both players likely agreed to terms weeks ago, but teams that go over the slot recommendations provided by MLB tend to announce those deals as close to the deadline as possible. It is good to see Continue reading King: Heathcott and Murphy Have Agreed To Terms

Yankees Confident at Draft

Draft week is always my favorite week of the year. I picked this week to go camping before realizing what I was interfering with. After a week of monitoring the draft on my tiny little cell phone, I’ve got a lot to get out. Slade Healthcott was a pick from confidence. They could very easily have picked up Brett Jackson, another athletic centerfielder who had big-program college experience. But Jackson was a lower-ceiling safeish bet compared to Heathcott. A lot of teams passed on his all-star potential because of his family and ACL issues. The Yankees decided to tackle these Continue reading Yankees Confident at Draft