The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:
 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Yahoo! Austin Romine Apparently Not the Catcher of Present for New York Yankees

Cashman told the New York Daily News on Wednesday, Jan. 2, that he thinks Romine is more likely to begin next season in the minors while Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart battle for the No. 1 job with the big club.

“I expect Romine to go to Triple-A,” Cashman said. “He missed all of last year, almost. … I don’t expect him to be our everyday catcher out of the gate. He always has the possibility of taking it, but realistically, if I were in prediction mode, I’d say Triple-A. But he has a chance to alter that.”

Considering the fact that Romine has hit .197/.267/.342 in 86 AAA PA and missed most of last year with a back injury this makes sense.  Hopefully he can stay healthy and hit enough to force himself into the picture at some point in 2013, but I’d bet against it happening before midseason at the earliest and I’d probably be more willing to bet it won’t happen at all.

If Francisco Cervelli could improve his defense he’s not a horrible option at starting catcher.  Baseball Reference has him at -8 over 1300 MLB innings although Fangraphs has him at average.  CAIRO projects him at around 11 runs better than a replacement level catcher offensively over 450 PA or so so his defense is really the key to whether or not he’s an asset or a problem.

--Posted at 9:01 am by SG / 41 Comments | - (0)

Comments

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Everything I hear about Cervelli’s defense is that he is horrible.  I don’t know what that is based on, (maybe just his SB%) but whatever.  There really aren’t any better options at this point so it is what it is. 

You either go with Stuarts defense and horrible bat or Cervelli’s bat and defense.  I guess it depends on how much stock you put into the ability to evaluate a catchers defense accurately.

[1] Fist pumps.

[1] Right, so if Cervelli advantage in offense were projected to be equal to Stewart’s advantage in defense, you’d go with Cervelli because of the greater certainty regarding the significance of the numbers?
Or with Stewart because of the likelihood that there are aspects of catcher defense being missed by the analysis?
OR with Cervelli because the aspects of catcher defense potentially missed by the analysis could, conceivably, favor either of the two, while the offensive advantage is more certain?
Probably the last, I’d imagine.

[1] Coming up through the minors Cervelli was always viewed as a defensive catcher, with quick reflexes and a strong, accurate arm.  His first year in the bigs, the numbers backed that up, e.g. +4 fielding on BBRef, also 1 error, 0 PB, and threw out 43% of base stealers in 241 innings.  Next two years, not so good.  -4 in a little more than 1000 innings, with 19 errors (!), 5PB, and throwing out only 14% of runners.  Of course, IIRC, he also was Burnett’s personal catcher for a while there, and AJ wasn’t good at things like holding baserunners, finding home plate, etc.

So, which is the real Cervelli?  The one with the good reputation coming up through the minors and the solid (SSS) numbers in his first year?  Or the fairly poor defender (still SSS) in the years since?  I think there’s a chance we’ll find out this year…

Couple of other factors…both Cervelli and Stewart are out of options.  Romine has at least 2, possibly 3 options left.  So it certainly makes some sense from a depth standpoint to keep Stewart and Cervelli on the big league squad, and let Romine play regularly in the minors.  Early in the year at least probably not much difference with which option you pick, but that’s the option that has most flexibility for the future.

Catcher A vs. Catcher B.

PB/Inn   WP/Inn   SB/Inn   CS/Inn
.004       .042       .072       .018
.005       .044       .074       .024

Or with Stewart because of the likelihood that there are aspects of catcher defense being missed by the analysis?

If the consensus is to be believed, Joe Girardi values defense over offense which makes him more likely to use Stewart if he thinks his defense makes up for Cervelli’s offensive edge.

But it’s certainly possible the total package with Stewart is equivalent to or better than Cervelli’s.  We just don’t know.

Without doing any research, Montero/Cervello?

[3] I think all else equal Cervelli is the starter.  At his age, and with his physical skills, there is more of a chance that there is some untapped potential there than there is with Stewart.  I think Stewart is fine for a backup catcher, in that he’s a major-league quality catcher.  But I think his ceiling is like 1 WAR.  Cervelli’s ceiling is probably like 2 wins. 

I think there’s not much variance around Stewart’s numbers - with a full season he’d be probably in the .5-1 win range.  Cervelli probably has a lot more variance, anywhere from -.5 to 2 wins.  Given uncertaintity in other areas, I think they should roll the dice on the higher-upside, more variance player.  Especially since if they roll 7’s, they either have a better backup to pair with Romine/Murphy in 2014, or a starter if Romine/Murphy don’t pan out.  Or best case, they have a young catcher to trade (Cervelli proven, Romine/Murphy successful in minors) and another to start.

[5] Girardi/Cervelli ? Or is Po in there somewhere ?

Here’s hoping Cervello wins the job. First he hits a season turning HR in Atlanta in 2009, followed by Witness Protection for 3 years, then reappears as the Opening Day catcher in 2013? Would be a nice story (or a significant mismanagement of resources depending on your outlook)

With Smoak, Morales, Jaso and Ibanez in the fold in Seattle, I wonder what it would take to trade for Montero.

[5] Girardi/Cervelli ? Or is Po in there somewhere ?

One is Cervelli.  One is not.  He is an active player.

[11] More than the Yankees are willing to offer I would think.  Even if Seattle doesn’t have any particular use for Montero, I think he’s probably still a valuable trade chip.  So I don’t think the Yankees would be able to get him for something like CoJo/Warren.  I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to try.  But the cost would likely be something more like Austin, give or take.

Catcher A is Cervell, Catcher B is Russell Martin 2011-2012.

No way the Mariners trade Montero for anything less than the level of prospect he was a year ago.  We know his stock has fallen, all of mlb knows his stock has fallen, but the Mariners have to pretend it hasn’t. 

And I, I still suspect he’s going to be a great hitter.  Maybe not elite (which I used to think), but good enough so that his bat will play at 1b or DH.

The fact that Chris Stewart has a legitimate chance to be the Yankees starting catcher this year is pretty hilariously sad. I mean, whatever, if they didn’t have the money to pick up Pierzynski, then I guess they just didn’t have the money to pick him up. And Romine obviously has disappointed the team with his trajectory so far so I can’t blame them too much for expecting Romine to be ready and then he wasn’t. Still, it’s not a happy situation to be in when Chris Stewart might be your starting catcher.

[16] They won the 2000 World Series with Clay Bellinger getting 20 starts in CF and Jose Vizcaino starting 33 games at 2nd (OPS+ of 66 and 67 respectively).  Stewart’s OPS+ last year was…67.

[16] They won the 2000 World Series with Clay Bellinger getting 20 starts in CF and Jose Vizcaino starting 33 games at 2nd (OPS+ of 66 and 67 respectively).

53 starts are a fair amount less than Chris Stewart would get if he was the starting catcher, but they also had better players at a whole bunch of other positions than they project to have now.  You could carry a 67 OPS+ starter if you had a 139 OPS+ catcher and a 140 OPS+ CF and a 128 OPS+ SS.  All home grown too.

Yeah, exactly. If this was the Yankees of old, I’d have no problem with Stewart as the catcher.

Instead, this seems closer to the 2008 Yankees, where a big drop-off at catcher was a lot more problematic.

That said, I do have at least some hope that Cervello can come close to his 2010/2011 figures, in which case I could at least sort of not mind him as a batter. Stewart, though, is almost like punting the position in the lineup.

[18 & 19] of course, those were also the only 3 postions with above-average offense, as their 1B was horrible (89 OPS+ in 155 games), 3B was awful (70/135), and RF and DH weren’t all that good (92/142 and 99/73).  The team as a whole only had an OPS+ of 103.  We remember them as being a great offense, because they were part of the dynasty and won the series.  But that team was actually a mediocre offense, and the pitching was worse.  Even with Stewart as catcher, the context-neutral numbers at least will likely be better for the 2013 Yankees, than the 2000 Yankees.

But my main point still stands.  The Yankees have done just fine with rather awful players getting lots of starts in the past.  We’ve just become spoiled that most of the past 10 years - which only has 2 pennant winners and one series winner - have had average or better starters at every position.  And when we’re stuck with a more normal having a hole or two, we freak out.

Why would they be aiming to match 2000? That team won 87 games and got hot just in time. 87 might not be a playoff team in this year’s AL East.

[20]  I think you nail it here, Mike K.  And when you consider the options available, and what the Yankees plan is for 2014, I think going with Cervelli and Stewart at catcher, while not ideal, while a departure from the M.O. since 2000, makes sense in the context of their current plan.

Planning a season on the 2000 fluke to happen again is bad planning. But I think the Yankees have consciously decided to punt catcher this year (and I believe their chances at postseason/WS as well). I believe this is their version of rebuilding, and if everything goes right, they will have a pretty good team two years down the road when the luxury tax penalty will be reset as well.

I am okay with that choice. The Yankees will not start the season with tremendous expectations, and I think that they have the ability to surprise us. If not, then we have almost two decades of sustained success to remind us of how fortunate we are to root for the Yankees. And with their resources, it is possible to turn it around very quickly.

I want Cervelli to be good, but I really think he looks terrible defensively.  I’m always wrong about everything and I guess the numbers prove that but he negenders no confidence in me.  He’d need a bigger bat for me to want him as the starter.  That said, I’d take him anyway becuase A. Homegrown and B.  Fuck Chris Stewart.

Interesting situation developing in Boston where Mike Napoli apparently has a hip issue he didn’t disclose to the Red Sox. It doesn’t seem like a major problem, but it seems big enough that the Red Sox don’t want to guarantee the third year of his $39 million contract. Napoli, of course, doesn’t want to budge at all.

If the Red Sox move on and sign Adam LaRoche, as they are threatening, perhaps Napoli would be “forced” to take a make good one year deal from the Yankees and then re-enter free agency next year. That’d be a pretty amazing pick-up, right? Right handed power bat who can DH and catch.

Then again, they might actually not have the money to sign him to even a one-year deal.

Cervelli has a .271 lifetime batting average in the major leagues, yet he batted only .246 last year, playing virtually the entire season in AAA. If he can get back to his pre-2012 hitting and provide adequate defense, then he’s an acceptible major league catcher.  I don’t know why his hitting fell apart last year or whether his problem is temporary or permanent.

We’ve just become spoiled that most of the past 10 years - which only has 2 pennant winners and one series winner - have had average or better starters at every position.  And when we’re stuck with a more normal having a hole or two, we freak out.

Mike, we all remember players who weren’t great on teams that won. But we’re at the planning stage right now, and I hardly think you’re proposing that the weak link was a necessary ingredient of the winning equation. Sure, you CAN win when things go wrong, but you don’t try to plan to have lousy players and it’s reasonable that, when we see that we’re likely to end up with one at a given position, it isn’t inspiring.

If not, then we have almost two decades of sustained success to remind us of how fortunate we are to root for the Yankees.

Yes, this is true, but what will they have done for us lately?

Rather than use Cervelli at the ML level this year, why not go out and spend a few thousand more to find the worst possible option, just like they did in 2012?

“Yes, this is true, but what will they have done for us lately?”

Specifically, within the last, say, 1156 days.

[27 and others] I’m certainly not suggesting that they should *plan* on having poor players at certain positions.  I’m just pointing out that it isn’t the end of the world, and in fact if you check I think that you’ll find a LOT of championship teams have 1 or 2 (or more) glaring weaknesses.  MOST teams make tradeoffs, and get particularly strong in a few areas, and by necessity end up weak in others.  We’re just not used to the Yankees doing that recently, though for the most part it hasn’t translated to more trophies.

I do think there is something to be said for going into the season with a few positions that aren’t manned by All Star caliber players.  Simply, it’s easier to upgrade those positions middle of the season.  If Jeter goes on the DL but looks like he’s going to return by Aug 1st, they won’t make a major upgrade at SS, even if one is available.  If Cervelli goes down, they’ll get a C - e.g. McCann if he’s available.  Cervelli can become a backup or “rehab” in AAA until September.

[25] It’s ridiculous that they are not willling to spend the extra 10-15 million this season. I don’t agree with the 189 million plan, but at least that’s rational, but staying away from one year deals for 2013 because of money is just sad.

Is Cervelli at the point where he now has to be in the majors or released/exposed to Rule 5?

[31] yeah, I think it’s pretty crazy that they aren’t willing to spend extra since this is their last chance until at least 2016.

It’s the same situation as not making extra effort to get Cespedes, since he was basically the last big chance to get an international free agent for the foreseeable future.

Is Cervelli at the point where he now has to be in the majors or released/exposed to Rule 5?

I’m pretty sure he’s out of options, so yes he has to be on the 25 man roster.

[25] We’re salivating over another ex-star on the hip-replacement list ?

Bad hips are the new market inefficiency.

They are a good balance for our stockpile of torn shoulders.

I think what Mike K. is getting at is the more traditional Stars and Scrubs approach to roster construction. The Yanks seem to have gotten away from that and in recent years have tended to instead go for an All Star/above average player at every position. Which is great when it works (2009) but also has its limitations and trade offs.

I’d actually have no problem with returning to Stars and Scrubs. Happily, the 2013 Yankees are halfway there already.

I think what Mike K. is getting at is the more traditional Stars and Scrubs approach to roster construction.

The problem is right now it looks like they have Star, not Stars.

[39] - Yup. In 2000 the Stars were young and in their prime.  Right now the only guy that fits that description is Cano.  Now we are expecting guys like Jeter (who was written off by most here in 2008) to continue to fight off father time, A-Rod to come back from his 2nd hip surgery quickly and be productive, and a bunch of other players 32 or older not to slip significantly in aggregate.  As SG alludes to now it is just Cano and even he is on the wrong side of 30.

[36]&[37] - Posts of the year.

[39 & 40] Well, they still have CC as well.  And yes on the wrong side of 30.  Also, even with a lot of the young stars in 2000, they were still relying on a number of players over 30 (O’Neill, Tino, Brosious, Bernie was 31, most of the pitching staff) to be above average.

But stop focusing on 2000, that was just an example.  I really don’t feel like going through every WS winner since 1997, but I’m pretty sure if I do I’ll find several examples of below average - sometimes well below average - regulars.

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