Best case, worst case: Catcher • 01.28.13
This should be fun…
Best case scenario
The path is finally clear
The situation really needs no introduction. Jesus Montero is gone (you already knew that), Russell Martin is also gone (you knew that too), and the most proven catchers in the Yankees organization are a trio of long-time backups looking for an opportunity to finally get regular playing time (that too has been discussed a few times). There’s very little about the Yankees immediate catching situation that inspires confidence, but it certainly creates opportunity, and the best-case scenario is that Austin Romine takes that opportunity and runs with it.
Sure, there’s something to be said for one of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart or Bobby Wilson proving the doubters wrong — it’s certainly a good scenario to have one of those three have an impact with the glove and hit a little better than expected — but the absolute best-case scenario is Romine establishing himself. Because he was overshadowed for so long, it’s easy to forget that Romine was a second-round pick who, before last year’s back injury, was considered one of the better catching prospects in the game. Two years ago, MLB.com ranked him ahead of Travis d’Arnaud. A healthy Romine — with a steady bat and a glove that lives up to recent Yankees hype — could be a young, cheap solution for this year and the immediate future.
And if we’re talking best-case scenario’s, Romine will have to take advantage of this window, because the Yankees highest hopes don’t leave much time before Gary Sanchez is ready. Still very much a work in progress, Sanchez’s bat has plenty of believers, but if he can show some maturity in the clubhouse and improvement behind the plate, he just might push himself among the very best prospects in the game. A good year at Double-A will suggest that Sanchez is transitioning from potential to performance, and it could put him on track to have a big league impact as early as the second half of 2014. Add in some Double-A improvement from J.R. Murphy, and the Yankees days of a glove-only catcher could be limited to this offseason only.
Where have you gone Chad Moeller?
Stewart is a career .217/.281/.302 hitter in the big leagues. Cervelli hit .246/.341/.316 in Triple-A last season. Wilson has never started more than 58 games in a major league season. The worst-case scenario behind the plate is just as obvious as the opportunity that it provides: If no one steps up, the Yankees could have an offensive black hole at the position. Defensively, the in-house options provide at least some sense of stability — even in a worst-case scenario, the Yankees should be able to catch and throw behind the plate — but the low side of offensive possibilities is awfully low.
As for a prospect to fill the gap and provide a bat, the immediate option is Romine, with some outside chance of Murphy putting himself into the picture in the second half. But Romine’s back problems kept him sidelined almost all of last year, and back problems have a tendency to linger. If that injury lingers, and if Murphy fails to live up to his offensive potential — which is his prospect calling card — then the Yankees will have no catching prospects within two years of being big league ready.
Sanchez could push to be in New York within two years, but that’s a best-case scenario involving improvements behind the plate and continued development at the plate. In a worst-case scenario, Sanchez creates more doubt and less optimism about his ability to stick at catcher, which would be a significant blow to his prospect status and leave the organization in needing to commit resources — either on the free agent market or via trade — to find a catcher who can handle the job for the next several years.
Associated Press photos
Pregame notes: Waiting for Granderson • 07.21.10
Last season, when he was on his way to a career-high in homers, Curtis Granderson was asked to be a part of the Home Run Derby. Granderson told the league he couldn’t do it.
“I can’t go up there and say I’m going to hit a home run and do it,” he said. “I’m like the worst guy to do that. When I let it happen, things just tend to happen and take care of themselves.”
That’s Granderson’s approach right now with the Yankees. He knows he’s struggling, but he trusts that his .233 average will rebound. Granderson said he’s never been one to watch a ton of video — “Everything both good and bad always seems to look the same to me,” he said — and he usually goes with whatever the coaching staff suggests as far as more or less pregame work in the cage.
“It looked like he was getting hot right before the break, and he was starting to swing the bat, but he’s struggled a little bit lately,” Joe Girardi said. “This is a guy that has hit .260, .270, .280 but right now he seems to be in a little funk. I don’t know if it was the four-day layoff. Maybe it was bad timing for him.”
Maybe, but even Granderson said he didn’t feel especially hot during that weekend series in Seattle. He feels physically fine, no linger impact from the groin injury, but he said this is longest slow stretch of his career.
“It still hasn’t locked itself in,” Granderson said. “But it’s there, I know it’s there, it just has to pull itself out.”
• Starting in left field for the Angels: Hideki Matsui.
• Girardi said he wants to be careful with some guys during this 17-game stretch. It’s hot out and he wants to give guys — Jorge Posada for example — a little bit of a breather when he can. He said he might DH both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez before the end of the home stand.
• The Yankees have faced Angels starter Joel Pineiro twice this season, but they haven’t seen him since April. He shut them down in New York on April 14, but the Yankees scored six runs off him on April 14.
• Asked yet again about the bullpen, Girardi said he’s been happy with the improvements Boone Logan has made — much better command than earlier in the season — but he acknowledged that the team needs more out of Chan Ho Park. “He’s still a guy that we need to pitch at a higher level,” Girardi said.
• With the trade deadline approaching, Girardi said he doesn’t look at his team any differently. “I don’t think I evaluate our team differently,” he said. “You say this is what we’ve got. This is where we maybe need to improve, but that doesn’t mean you’re able to do it. Sometimes the best trades are the ones that aren’t made. We have some guys that are going to be given an opportunity.”
• Check it out, Bobby Wilson is alive and well. He’s the guy who was crushed by Mark Teixeira in a home plate collision in Anaheim back in April. It was Wilson’s first major league start, but he missed the next 21 games because of a sprained ankle and a concussion.
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui LF
Mike Napoli 1B
Juan Rivera RF
Kevin Frandsen 3B
Bobby Wilson C
Associated Press photos of Granderson, and of Matsui with Jeter
Anyone out there ever had a running game story written for a West Coast baseball game only to have your computer lose the entire file in the ninth inning? Trust me when I tell you it’s not a fun experience.
Then again, I have to assume it’s also no fun being run over by Mark Teixeira. Here’s his take on the third-inning collision that sent Bobby Wilson to the hospital.
“As soon as I came around third I picked up (Jorge Posada) who was telling me to slide,” Teixeira said. “It was going to be a close play. I saw he was on the plate, but I saw he didn’t have the ball yet, so I started to get down and make my slide. As soon as he turned toward me, I figured he had the ball and in that instance, the only choice that I have is to lower my shoulder and try to knock the ball loose.”
Turns out, Wilson didn’t have the ball. He’d started to turn before the ball got there and the result was viscous. Wilson has a concussion and was sent to for x-rays and a CT scan. His ankle took a beating through all of the chaos.
Both managers, though, called it a clean play, and it turns out Wilson and Teixeira were teammates with the Angels back in 2008 when Wilson was a September call-up. Teixeira had talked to him before the game and wished him luck. It was Wilson’s first major league start.
“You never wan tot hurt anybody,” Teixeira said. “You just want to knock the ball loose. I’ve run into a dozen catchers in my career. Unfortunatly, this is the first one that’s gotten hurt.”
Here’s Teixeira talking after the game.
• Kendry Morales was already 4-for-6 in his career against Joba Chamberlain, but Joe Girardi said he dismissed those numbers because five of the at-bats came when Chamberlain was working as a starter.
• As for the home run pitch, Chamberlain said it was supposed to be a slider in, but it didn’t have its usual late break. “You can’t throw any breaking balls for a strike to him,” Chamberlain said. “It started where we wanted, it just didn’t get there.”
• Bad bunt attempt by Brett Gardner in the sixth inning. Gardner said it was a pitch up, which explains why he couldn’t get it down. He should have let it go for a ball. “He was bunting for a hit,” Girardi said. “Problem was, the pitch was up.”
• Girardi on whether Teixeira should have taken a different approach on the play at the plate: “You don’t want the runner going in gingerly because that’s how they get hurt.”
• A.J. Burnett said too many fastballs ran back over the middle of the plate tonight. “I was overthrowing,” he said. He was also disappointed in his curveball, which he graded as a D- so far this season.
• Burnett did throw a handful of changeups, including the pitch that Hideki Matsui grounded for a double play.
• Four players were hit by a pitch this game, two Yankees and two Angels.
Associated Press photos