What Happened To The Catchers?
The catching position was considered to be the strongest position in the Yankees organization at the start of the season. That is really hard to believe at this point in the season. Russell Martin has completely fallen off the cliff this season after a solid season last year in which he provided clutch hits and good fielding. In the minors Jesus Montero was traded, Austin Romine has a serious back injury that has kept him out the whole season, Francisco Cervelli will never be anything more than a backup, and Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy are years away. The worst part is there is really not much the Yankees can do to fix this problem.
The Yankees are very fortunate that Martin turned down a 3 year extension worth $20 million. Martin missed his chance as he will not make that much in the open market this winter. Martin is hitting .187, with 4 HR, 12 RBI, and a .667 OPS. The only good thing you can say is his .333 OBP is good for only hitting .187. However, that also makes this all the more worrying. Martin has not been pressing or swinging out wildly out of the strike zone, so him not getting the job done may just mean he is not talented enough. Martin LD % is down to 15% and is BABIP is a brutal .209. Martin did come up with a few big hits in Anaheim so maybe that will help his confidence. The Yankees would be able to handle Martin’s hitting ineptitude if the rest of the lineup was hitting to its capabilities.
Obviously Martin’s play should call for a benching of some sort, but the problem is they have nobody to replace him with. Chris Stewart is a career backup for a reason and I have no problem with him as a backup. He has provided some clutch hits this year and has thrown out 38% of base stealers this season. He has a few to many passed balls but between his pitch framing and his arm he is a great defensive catcher. However, given regular AB’s his bat would be exposed just as much as Martin’s has. The Yankees could call up somebody from the minors, but as I previously mentioned there is nobody that would make a big difference. Cervelli has hit worse in Triple A (.254/.322/.333) than he did in the majors last year. While he has shown he can get big hits as a backup, I think if he got everyday AB’s his bat would also get exposed as nothing more than a .220 hitter. While that would even be an upgrade over Martin his defense does not compare to Martin’s or Stewart’s. Cervelli threw out an egregious 14% of base runners last year and with the current state of the Yankees rotation they don’t need players to be having a parade on the base paths against them.
With no internal help at catcher, the Yankees would be wise to look outside the organization for help. Unfortunately there is not much help to be found there either. There are very few good hitting catchers in MLB and teams would be reluctant to trade them at the deadline. Also, this winter’s free agent crop is weak. Miguel Montero and Yadier Molina have already signed extensions with the D’Backs and the cardinals. Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz are sure bets to have their options picked up by the Braves and the Phillies. Mike Napoli cannot field and will likely command a high salary. A.J. Pierzynski is having a nice year, but is very old, so it s is slim pickings out there. Unfortunately, with no internal options and probably no external options the Yankees probably do not have a choice but to ride Martin out this year . What do you guys think the Yankees should do about the catching position?