Friday, November 30, 2012
Russell Martin’s two-year tenure with the Yankees ended Thursday when he agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, leaving the Yankees without a No. 1 catcher.
“I had a great time in New York,” Martin said by phone from Montreal, his hometown. “It was probably the best baseball experience of my life. But this is the business, and it was time to move on.”
It seems to me the Yankees could have matched this deal and I’m not sure why they didn’t. If it would have taken three years to keep Martin I’d have felt better about letting him walk, but at 2 years and $17M he only has to be worth about 3 wins over two years to be worth it.
We got spoiled by the elite offense that Jorge Posada provided for years as a catcher that makes it a bit harder to appreciate Martin I think. No, he’s not a great hitter, but neither are the majority of catchers in baseball and there’s pretty some evidence that Martin’s defense makes him even more valuable than his basic stats indicate.
I think this confirms that getting to the target of a $189M payroll in 2014 may be the Yankees #1 focus right now, and that’s going to make it a bit harder to build a super team for 2013. Of course, you don’t need a super team to win a World Series, but it helps.
I’m not sure where the Yankees will go from here. I’d be surprised if the starting catcher on Opening Day is on the roster right now. Here’s the list of free agent catchers and how CAIRO would project them as Yankees.
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BR/650: BR pro-rated to 650 PA
BRAR: BR above replacement level, adjusted for position
oWAR: Offensive wins above replacement (BRAR divided by 10, although maybe it should be more like 9.5 now)
Not a particularly inspired bunch.
Napoli’s almost certainly not an option, and I’m guessing Pierzynski will want(and get) two years. So he’s not an option either. I don’t even know if Henry Blanco is still playing and I’m not sure why CAIRO thinks so highly of a 42 year old catcher, although I guess it probably has to do with him being utilized in a way that plays to his strengths which makes his rate stats better. He’s not a starter anyway. Actually, almost none of these guys are except for Pierzynski and Olivo.
So maybe someone like Olivo, Shoppach, Barajas or Snyder will be on their radar, with an eye on anyone who may get non-tendered.
I don’t know that it’s a huge deal. I ran some projections last night that have the Yankees as around an 89 win team right now. Considering they were an 80 win team if they had done nothing and have since re-signed Hiroki Kuroda (4.8 wins), Andy Pettitte (2.8 wins) and Mariano Rivera (1.0 win without leverage, maybe 1.5 with) that seems about right. They can probably add a win or two in RF if they can’t upgrade catcher. I’m also assuming Michael Pineda won’t pitch this year, so if by some miracle he’s able to contribute in the second half that could add a win or two.
For whatever it’s worth at this early stage(ie, not a whole hell of a lot), I’ve got Toronto at around 88 wins assuming relatively good health from Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson but between Bautista’s wrist, Reyes’s hamstrings on turf and Josh Johnson’s injury history that may be somewhat optimistic. The Rays are at around 86 wins but they can add a bat and get to 90 wins pretty easily by upgrading 1B or the OF (or both). The Orioles are in the 77 win range, and Boston’s bringing up the rear as they should be at about 74 wins. Of course those teams aren’t done with their offseasons yet so all of this is subject to change.
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