Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Yankee Catching Conundrum

For a team that's catcher-heavy from the top of the organization to the bottom, the Yankees sure are having problems with the position this year.  From free agents to backups to top prospects, everybody seems to be struh-gull-ing in one way or another.

Single-A: Gary Sanchez- He's started to come around with the bat lately, but Sanchez has lost a little bit of his preseason luster after being demoted to ExST because of reported "character issues," and he also has 18 passed balls on the season after last night's game.  It's only fair that some of the questions surrounding Jesus Montero and his defensive ability would also be asked about Sanchez.  And yes, I know the guy isn't old enough to legally drink, but this season still hasn't been as positive as last year was for him.

Triple-A: Jesus Montero- Speaking of The Chosen One, Montero is also experiencing some growing pains at Triple-A this year after not making the MaL team out of camp.  His mighty bat is not quite as powerful as it has been, as his tripleslash sits at .289/.333/.408 right now.  That's not bad by any means but not what we're used to seeing from Montero.  His defense is still not winning him any praise and he's dealt with injury issues and questions about whether or not he's pressing at the plate to prove he belongs on the big league roster.

Majors: Russell Martin- He hit .292/.378/.597 in April, .200/.333/.347 in May, and so far just .111/.200/.111 in June while missing 7 out of the last 10 games.  Obviously it would have been insane to expect Martin to keep up his torrid April pace all season, but I also didn't expect him to bottom out this badly over the last 6 weeks.  His back has been a lingering issue and can almost certainly be a contributing factor to his problems at the plate and kept him out of last night's game.  He needs to get that taken care and get back to 100% ASAP.

Majors: Francisco Cervelli- The biggest problem that Martin has, besides the bad back, is that Cervelli is his backup.  Allow me a quick rant here.  Francisco Cervelli is fucking terrible.  TERRIBLE!  His calling card his whole career has been a no-hit, solid-defense catcher who pitchers like to work with and who brings energy to the team.  He's certainly living up to the no-hit part with a .191/.250/.298 line in 47 at-bats, including a 29.79% K rate, but now he isn't even bringing anything to the table defensively.  He's allowed a couple of passed balls and thrown out just 2 of 20 base stealers.  The guy has been a black hole of baseball skill anyway you look at it.  These numbers wouldn't cut it in Triple-A let alone the Majors, but for some reason the Yankees continue to roll this guy out there, watch him contribute negatively to the team, and probably force Martin to get back into the lineup before he's physically ready because he sees how pathetic Cervelli is.

I like Cervelli as a clubhouse guy.  The energy and spunk and all that is a good thing to bring to a clubhouse.  But when that's ALL you're bringing as a professional athlete, and you don't have any positional skills to offer, then that just doesn't cut the mustard.  Francisco Cervelli straight up sucks as a baseball player and he shouldn't be on the active roster any more than Billy Crystal should.  Period.

Luckily it's not all bad attitudes, lack of production, and injuries for the Yankee catching team.  Austin Romine looks much improved at Trenton, hitting .298/.362/.421 with a career-high .357 wOBA and solid defense, and in limited time behind the plate J.R. Murphy has hit .297/.343/.463 with a .360 wOBA in A-ball.  But the biggest issue is the lack of depth and production coming from the Major League level right now.  And age, defensive skills, and years of team control aside, it's time to kick Cervelli to the curb and bring up The Savior.

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