Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Back-Up Catcher Situation and Austin Romine

Jesus Montero put the Yankees in something of a bind when it came to roster flexibility. The bat was obviously very real and could play anywhere, but Montero's defense was a serious question mark and he couldn't be trusted as a legitimate back up to Russell Martin. Combining this with the fact that they needed to get his bat in the lineup every day, the Yanks would have had to carry three catchers in 2012. Now that he has been shipped to Seattle the picture is a little bit clearer.

Since the big trade, I feel like Gary Sanchez has been getting a lot more attention. This isn't to say that it's unwarranted, after all, Sanchez may have the most upside of any position player in the system and he has power that rivals Monteros. But in the process Austin Romine, the catching prospect that is closest to the Majors, has been getting overlooked. However, this may not be a bad thing.

(Bus Leagues Baseball)
Heading into the 2011 season, a lot of people were expecting Montero to be the long term designated hitter/first baseman and Romine to be the legitimate catcher of the future. I kind of feel like this put a lot of pressure on the latter, especially since he was repeating Double A. In other words, big things were expected from the young backstop. Even with a concussion that kept him out for a chunk of the season, he still hit .286/.351/.378 with six homers before getting short stints with Scranton and the big league team.

I thought these numbers were pretty good, but with all the buzz surrounding Montero's imminent call-up, Sanchez's attitude problems, and JR Murphy's improvements with the glove and the bat, he got overshadowed. But now with Jesus gone, the path is clear and Romine will have the first crack at the bigs among the remaining catchers in the system. The question is when.

Many will want him to be the back up behind Russell Martin, but I'm not sure that's the best idea. Romine only had 15 plate appearances in Scranton and didn't hit too well in his small sample sizes in Triple A and the MLB. I think the bat can use some time back with Scranton before he gets a permanent call up. That's where Frankie Cervelli comes in. Cervelli can serve as a very viable back up until either an injury occurs or the Yankees brass feels he's ready.

Obviously this isn't that pressing of an issue, but it does play into Romine's development so it shouldn't be taken too lightly. I, unlike many others, think that he can still be a solid MLB regular and I expect a solid year out of him.

1 comments:

Nice write up ... I wouldn't doubt Cervelli's ability. He has proven that he can handle catching responsibilities. It will be interesting to see if his role expands at all now that Jorge retired.

To me, the Yankees would be wise to play Cervelli around 50 games at catcher. Russell Martin is not our long term solution, but he needs to sustainable for at least the next 2 to 3 years as we work in Romine.

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