Thursday, February 7, 2013

The make or break Yankee of 2013: Austin Romine

From the moment we laid our cards face-down and let Russell Martin walk off to Pittsburgh - confirming our heir owners as taxpayer-robbing cheapskates - 2013 became the Year of Austin Romine. For better or for worse.

Of course, we still heard the front office infield chatter, squeaking like a vast field of meerkats which claimed Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart would handle the "catching chores." But nobody bought it. You don't pay $200 million for a sports car and race it on balding retreads.

Stewart had a monster year last year. He batted .241. He's a fine backup. Play him 130 games, and everybody will say the same thing: He's a fine backup.

Cervelli will always be an IT IS HIGH fave. He's twice gone to the hospital in his uniform for the Yankees. Cashman royally screwed him last spring, on the day before the team came north, trading George Kontos, a solid pitching prospect, for Stewart and sentencing poor Franciso to the Traveling Wilkes-Barres, where he spent the summer riding the New York State Thruway. But play him 130 games, and everybody will say the same thing: He's a fine backup. Also, Cervelli this week added to the baggage when his name popped up in the Miami drug clinic investigation. It's a stark reminder that superstars aren't the only guys who would be tempted to juice.

That leaves Romine, whom Brian Cashman predicts will start the season at Scranton. When Cashman says that, he must hate himself. He must have to take Vicadin to speak the words without bursting into tears. If Romine cannot beat out Cervelli or Stewart, the Yankee ship will be leaking oil before it even leaves port.

Romine has endured a miserable 18 months. More than anyone, he was the reason we traded Jesus Montero for the sack of potatoes. Then he blew out his back. (He could star in a PBS show, Austin's Sitting Limits. Ha. Get it?)

Listen: There is a vast difference between players with good backs and bad backs. A 25-year-old catcher with a bad back is equal to a 30-year-old with a normal one. But Romine still has the highest ceiling of the three. If he's a major league catcher, our farm system will actually have delivered something - first time in a miserable 18 months. He doesn't need to hit. (Martin spent most of 2012 hovering at .200.) He just needs to start. Everything begins and ends with Austin Romine. That's a hell of a pressure to put on a rookie. But that's what happens when owners go cheap.


bennyboy said...

How old is that Sanchez guy? Can't they give him a shot? Why didn't they sign A.J. Pierzynski? He ended up signing a one year contract. Did the Yankees avoid him out of frugality, or were they trying to avoid surrendering a draft pick?

Barry Foote said...

CLIFF JOHNSON. That is a back-up catcher. Big bat. Tough enough to pop Goose Gossage. Whimsical enough to push teammates into the revolving luggage carousel on road trips. Come back, Cliff.