Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Yankees Have Options for Posada's Heir

The Yankees have a lot of possibilities to consider in the race to replace Jorge Posada. Jesus Montero was supposed to be the next coming in a long line of great Yankee catchers (see a future Late Innings blog). Lauded long and loudly, Montero was a bust in Spring Training, hitting.250 with no home runs.

Austin Romine, his Double-A counterpart, has a good reputation behind the plate but is considered a weak hitter. In his first camp Romine went .182 with one RBI. Neither looked ready for the bigs behind the dish and the Yankees have decided that both need more time in the minors.

Then there was Gustavo Molino, who has now caught 23 games for four different teams. He saw action only after the regulars had ducked out of the hot Florida sun for the afternoon. Molina, by the way is not related to the premier defensive catchers Bengie, Jose, and Yadier.

Francisco Cervelli was hitting over .400 when he fouled a pitch off his foot and then limped around on a cast for the rest of Spring Training. He starts the year on the 15-day Disabled List. 'Cervy' hit a respectable .273 in 93 games for New York in 2010 but had no home runs.

In December the Yankees beat out Boston and Toronto to sign Russell Martin from the Dodgers. Not so long ago Martin was considered one of the best all-around catchers in baseball. He hit .285 with a .373 on-base percentage and .433 slugging percentage in 427 games through age 25, but just .249 with a .350 OBP and .330 SLG in the last two seasons. Martin missed half of 2010 with the fractured hip that remains a question mark. He’s still just 28 years old though and possesses strong defensive and on-base skills.

Martin is off to a great start, going .455 with 3 RBIs against the Tigers on the opening weekend. And Jorge Posada, who will likely be a while getting used to the full-time DH role, sandwiched two home runs around a double on Sunday. Not too bad for an old guy.

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