New York Yankees Catching Conundrum: Who Will Be Behind the Plate Next Season?
It feels odd proposing this sort of question. Jorge Posada had been one of the few constants in the Yankees lineup over the past decade or so and now, but with his recent demotion from the DH spot in the lineup, his immediate future with the club remains uncertain.
Despite his place in Yankee lore, Posada did deserve the bump. He currently has a slash line of .230/.309/.372 with just nine home runs and 31 RBI.
These atrocious stats, coupled with the hot hitting of Eduardo Nunez, Eric Chavez and even Andruw Jones, has led Joe Girardi to his very difficult decision.
The beginning of Posada's great spiral downward came last offseason when the club signed the non-tendered Russell Martin.
Martin, although not providing much more in the offensive category (.228/.322/.383 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI), has been absolutely fantastic behind the plate.
Posada's defense had been waning severely over the past three seasons or so, and Martin's Gold Glove-caliber defense has been a nice addition to the club. He handles the pitching staff well, and the Yankees hurlers love throwing to him.
However, Martin was only signed to a one-year deal this offseason, most certainly a precautionary deal following his non-tender from the Dodgers. With Jesus Montero waiting in the wings and Francisco Cervelli waiting patiently to learn his role for next season, will the Yankees sign Martin to a new deal?
It's safe to say that Posada won't be back after the season. Whether he retires or attempts to move on to a new team remains to be seen, but it's almost a guarantee that he won't be back in 2012. A best-case scenario for the Yankees would be that Posada retires like his good friend, Andy Pettitte, did last season.
The catching situation next season will most likely be either one of these two:
Starter: Russell Martin/Jesus Montero
Backup: Jesus Montero/Russell Martin
Starter: Jesus Montero
Backup: Francisco Cervelli
Personally, I don't see the Yankees just thrusting Montero into the starting lineup with no grooming by an already established veteran. For this only, I favor the first option. A platoon of Montero and Martin would give Montero his time to grow in the majors while not completely killing the Yankees lineup.
To be fair, Montero could come into the league next season on an absolute tear, and there would be no need for Russell Martin.
Martin could then become decent trade bait, and scenario two would become a reality.
I hope and pray that Montero is as good as he's been talked up to be. Yankees fans have been waiting patiently for a homegrown slugger to make it to the bigs, and Montero seems like he can be that guy.
No matter which scenario prevails, I expect more production out of the catcher position next season. If Martin comes back, expect similar run production with a higher batting average and on-base percentage.
Should Montero step up into the starting spot, I predict a line of .260/.330/.380 with about 15 to 18 home runs and 70 RBI.
The ceiling seems to be very high for Montero, and Yankees fans are just waiting for his debut so he can start to progress into the next catcher of the future.
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