A Catching Conundrum: The New York Yankees and Their Receiver Riches
To say the Yankees have had it good behind the plate for the majority of their history would be an understatement.
Dating all the way back to the 1930s, and the Hall of Famer Bill Dickey, the Bronx Bombers have had their share of good fortune from the men who don the tools of ignorance, and the tradition carries on today with the oft-overlooked slugger, Jorge Posada.
What hasn't been overlooked however, is Jorge's age. The Yankees have spent the past few years stocking up on young, promising backstops to one day take the reigns from the man known affectionately as Georgie, and the future is promising for the Yankees.
But who are they?
They're Fransisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, and Austin Romine.
To start off, there's the kid who has seen the only big-league action of the three, Fransisco Cervelli. Cervelli impressed many in 2009, endearing himself to many a fan with his high-energy style of play, strong defense, and surprising ability to hit for average. He also played a bit role in turning the Yankees' season around, hitting his sole homer to tie a game in Atlanta.
It's not all rosy, though. He doesn't hit for much power, and doesn't like to take his walks, but that's somewhat negated by his ability to put the bat on the ball. His 2009 role will in all likelihood be a backup to Posada, displacing the frighteningly slow Jose Molina. He has also received rave-reviews towards his ability to call a game.
Most likely outcome: A very, very good backup. Could possibly start somewhere, if not for the Yankees.
Best case scenario: .285/.320/.390 season, ~95 OPS+. Not bad for a catcher at all.
Worst case scenario: Team cheerleader.
Austin Romine has played second fiddle in the catching prospect depth chart for the past few years. After he was drafted, many were skeptical of his ability to hit, but he's quieted his detractors with a couple of above-average hitting seasons in the low minors. He has shown good gap power, and can hit the ball out of the park 15+ times over a full 162 game season. He also carries a plus glove, with an above average throwing arm. If Jesus Montero turns out to be something worse than horrendous behind the plate, this is where Austin Romine gets his job.
Most likely outcome: Will start for the Yankees if Montero is lackluster defensively, otherwise may be used as trade bait.
Best case scenario: .280/.330/.450 — an above-average offensive contribution from a good defensive catcher is a manager's dream.
Last, but oh so far from least, is Jesus "God" Montero. Behind some schmuck named Matt Weiters, Montero was the best hitting catcher in the minor leagues last year.
Baseball Prospectus describes him as having "Roy-Hobbes-Breaking-The-Clock-Tower Power". He can cure cancer with his tears. After hitting .356 with 8 dingers in 50 games in High-A Tampa, Jesus moved up to AA Trenton, where he was promptly elected to the All-Star team, with a .317/.370/.539 triple slash line.
There's one big issue: He can't play defense. But if he hits like Mike Piazza, surely he's allowed to play defense like Mike Piazza, right? Montero was more than likely on his way to AAA in the late summer before he broke his wrist after being hit by a pitch.
Most likely outcome: Will split time with Austin Romine at catcher, and DH when he doesn't catch.
Best case scenario: .320/.380/.550, 20+ homers, cures cancer and world hunger.
With all of these options at their disposal, the Yankees seem set for yet another fantastic run from the catcher position, and for the sake of the fans, let's hope so.
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