Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Yankee wish list: A LH defensive catcher with occasional pop

Next time Austin Romine steps up to bat in Yankee Stadium, he should receive a thunderous ovation - and maybe a few catcalls. They won't be at him, though, but at the other Yankee catcher, the starter, who's name I cannot summon, whose batting average could be 50 percentage points lower. 

Throughout his career, Romine has been the backup to this and other catchers, even though he often outperformed them - for a while, anyway. In my opinion, he's been the best backup catcher in baseball, and the Yankees will suffer disturbing new pains without him. 

To replace Romine, we will likely turn to Kyle Higashioka, age 29. But you never know: The franchise has a rich history of torturing its catchers. Remember Francisco Cervelli, jettisoned on the last day of spring? Or Russell Martin, for whom the gods refused a three-year deal? Plus, Higgy's career .164 batting average - (he hit .214 last year, and it seemed Ruthian) - is not a flash in the pan. He has a smidgen of power - 3 HR in 56 at bats - and decent, but not spectacular defense. He can spell - um - whatzizname, here and there. But what happens when a gonad pops, and Higgy must go a month? 

You can't predict baseball. I'm sorry, but you just can't. People do it all the time, but I tell you, readers: You. Simply. Cannot. Predict. Baseball. That said, I predict that Cooperstown Cashman will soon sign a LH defensive catcher to staunch the void left by Romine. 

On the free agent market, there are three such LH creatures:

Alex Avila, Arizona, age 32: hit .207 last year with 9 HR.

Steven Voght, San Francisco, age 35: hit .263 with 10 HR.

Matt Wieters, St. Louis, age 33: hit .214, 11 HR, bats both.

Wieters is probably out; he's not a backup. Of the handful of RH free agent catchers, nobody stands out. Is there a scrapheap catcher in the minors, currently bagging groceries? Probably. The Yanks will bring a dozen to Tampa. Considering the lopsided RH lineup, Cashman would love a lefty catcher to spell - um - you know who. 

In case you're wondering, there is no rapidly ascending gem in the Yankee system. Their top catching prospect - 20-year-old Anthony Siegler, a first-round pick in 2018 - hit .175 last year at Charleston. His teammate was Josh Breaux, that year's second-rounder, who hit .271 with 13 HRs. Breaux is 22.

The Yankees have two lefty lug nuts in the upper levels of their system. Franciso Arcia, age 30, caught 14 games for Scranton last year. And Kellin Deglan caught 65 games for Trenton, hitting .265. I have no clue about their defensive skills. But you never know. 

If the Yankees sign -  say - Alex Avila, it won't generate big headlines. Nobody will start suggesting John Sterling homer hollers. (Actually, that's not true; we will do just that.) But it could be a smart move. 


JM said...

“I like him. I thought [the Yankees] were a better team when he caught,’’ the scout said of Romine. “His hits aren’t as loud as [Sanchez], but he has better at-bats.’’

So sayeth the scout who drinks not of the Kool Aid.

Anonymous said...

"Avila-derchi Baseball!"

Just thought I would save us some time.

Doug K.

TheWinWarblist said...

Well done, Doug K., well done!

Mediasavvy said...

As is the case with shortstop (Didi) and relief pitchers (Dellin), so it is with backup catchers: the best free agents on the market in their job category are the Yankee free agents.

If the desire is to spell Sanchez against tough lefties, the answer is Romine. His slash line last year was quite good against lefties: .309/.347/.471. He knows the pitching stable, good D, etc. etc. etc. 'safe pair of hands' and all that.....

I can see why Romine might jump at a starting job. But barring playing time opportunities the Yankees can't match, the Yankees should resign him.

Trade Higgy (he's out of options) and sign another Katz for emergencies.

HoraceClarke66 said...

It's senseless to let him walk, particularly considering whozit's injury history.

But then, Coops has never really understood the idea of role players, and no way HAL is going to outbid teams looking for a starter.

And yes, good job, Doug K.!

Alphonso said...

Is Rominee gone or are you simply assuming the inevitable?

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