Daily Archives: September 3, 2013

Romine and Murphy Working Themselves Into 2014 Plans

The New York Yankees catching situation has been a travesty for the majority of the season.

It started out wrong last winter when Brian Cashman wanted to match the measly two-year, $17 million offer Martin got from Pittsburgh, but ownership did not want to give out multi-year deals last offseason. Martin has had a solid season with the Pirates with a slash line of .240/.342/.398/.740 with 13 home runs and has been one of the catalysts for their great season.

The Yankees neglected to sign a real MLB caliber catcher and went into the season with Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Cervelli had a great month of April (probably HGH induced) before he got injured and has not seen the field since. Stewart took over as the everyday catcher with Austin Romine as the backup.

It has been clear all season that Stewart is not a starting caliber catcher. However, Romine got off to such a terrible start (.158/.179/.211/.390 in the first half) that Stewart was playing every day.

Now the tables have completely turned, as Romine has taken off, and Stewart has hit the wall. Stewart has been egregious in the second half of the season with a slash line of .169/.237.236/.473. Meanwhile, Romine has been absolutely stellar in the second half hitting .340/.418/.511/.929.

Joe Girardi has done an awesome job managing the Yankees this year, but one thing that he has dropped the ball on is not making Romine the everyday catcher earlier and he still hasn’t really done it. He probably does not entirely trust the young catcher, but at 24 years old and playing really well he should be getting the majority of the playing time. Stewart has 99 second half at-bats compared to Romine’s 56, which is really unacceptable.

It will be very interesting to see if Romine will be able to continue his hot hitting in September. If he does the Yankees will have a very interesting decision to make at catcher in the offseason.

If Alex Rodriguez’s suspension holds up, the Yankees would have more money to spend this offseason and a free agency run at Brian McCann makes sense. McCann has had a great season for the Braves with 133 wRC+, a .364 wOBA, a .843 OPS and 19 home runs in a pitchers home park and is still in his prime. However, if Romine and J.R. Murphy continue to develop then the Yankees may feel a lot better about their catching situation than they did before.

Murphy got his name in the Yankees record book yesterday by becoming the 52nd player used this year, which is the most ever for the Yankees. He did a nice job of working the count to 3-1 before hitting a rocket down the third base line for a single. It will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets down the stretch.

Murphy has had a great season in the minors that has gotten him to the Bronx for September. Between Double-A and Triple-A this season Murphy has a .269/.347/.426/.773 slash line with 12 home runs and 29 doubles. These are very good numbers for a 22 year old catcher. Murphy has also performed behind the dish with a 37% CS rate.

Murphy is not one of the more hyped prospects in the Yankees system, but a 22-year old catcher posting these kind of hitting numbers should be getting more attention. If the Yankees do sign McCann, or Romine continues to take off, Murphy could be trade bait, because the Yankees’ best prospect is also a catcher in Gary Sanchez. Either way, Murphy is working his way into the plans for next year as a cheap and talented catching option.

Obviously, the number one goal for the Yankees this September would be to finish off what would be one of their most miraculous comebacks ever to make the postseason. However, how Romine and Murphy perform down the stretch will have a big impact on the plans for next year, which is very important as well.

Pondering Andy Pettitte’s Future

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees2013 will rightfully be remembered as Mariano Rivera’s final season. He announced his intent to “hang ’em up” at a press conference during spring training, and has not backed down from those statements. This truly is it for the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history.

So, as the calendar flips to September, all eyes will be on Mo as he and the Yankees try to will their way into the playoffs. It will take a big, and possibly historic run for the team to do so, but no matter how far the Yanks go, we are all experiencing the final weeks of Rivera’s legendary career.

Two players who have been through it all with him are of course Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte. Aside from Andy’s three-year stint with the Houston Astros, the trio have been together for their entire adult lives. Starting out as fresh-faced minor leaguers who became fan-favorite youngsters of the late-90’s dynasty, the “Core Three” are now grizzled, battle-tested veterans in the twilight of their careers.

While Rivera has made it clear that his future in baseball extends no further than this fall, and Jeter seems intent on at least playing one more season, Andy Pettitte appears very uncertain if his days in pinstripes are numbered.

Or, if he wants them to be, that is.

Andy has had quite a frustrating 2013 season. Pettitte picked up right where he left off in 2012 by having a strong start in April until back issues forced him to go on the disabled list and miss two weeks. When he returned, he was not the same pitcher, allowing 38 runs in 68.1 innings in June and July. Many people believed he was done, some suggesting he should be removed from the rotation. He has since rebounded with four straight quality starts, but certainly cost the Yankees and himself a fair share of wins during the dog days of summer.

When he came out of retirement last year, it wasn’t just because he got the “itch” to go back out and play. Pettitte has always been a competitor and his sole focus is winning. Had he not been effective in 2012, it’s likely he wouldn’t have come back. But, thanks to his injury-shortened season and glimpses of ace-like performances, Andy decided to give it another go this year.

Even though he has rebounded, he still isn’t the same. He runs out of gas very quickly once he hits 85 pitches, and has gotten extremely lucky with players popping up or completely whiffing on easily hittable breaking pitches left up in the zone. Yet, (and though it has almost become a cliche) it is true that 85 quality pitches from Pettitte is better than what they’ve gotten out of Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and even Hiroki Kuroda as of late.

Still, Andy will turn 42 years old next June, and he is one awkward delivery away from another injury. He is that fragile. Does he really want to return next year, knowing he will be extremely limited as far as the leash he is given in each start? And, to ask the even bigger question – is it worth it? The Yankees are no where near World Series contention, even if they do make it to October or come into next season with a somewhat formidable team. And surely all that is on Pettitte’s agenda at this point is winning it all. He has come back, he has pitched well for the most part, and certainly has assessed any regrets he had about retiring back in 2011.

That’s why I just can’t see any reason for Andy to want to pitch in 2014, and right now I don’t think he will. He has a had a long, successful Major League career, and his comeback has been better than I think any of us expected. But at some point, every player eventually comes to the realization that it is time to walk away. Andy thought he had after the 2010 season, but I think this winter he truly will “hang ’em up” for good.

So, while we all relish each time Mariano Rivera jogs in from the bullpen to “Enter Sandman”, we should also take pleasure in watching the final starts that ol’ number 46 makes this season. Because like Mo, he is almost certainly in his final weeks with the New York Yankees.

Wild Card Watch: September 3, 2013

Good morning Yankees fans! I am back with another Wild Card Watch! Yesterday the Yankees were 3.5 games back and needed to gain some ground. Did they? Here’s the results from last night along with the final scores of our Wild Card contending teams:

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Wild Card Final Scores (WC Teams are in BOLD):

White Sox 1, Yankees 9: David Huff pitched 5.1 IP of one run ball, Derek Jeter drove in two runs and the Yankees scored a season high 8 runs in the 4th inning as they demolished the White Sox 9-1 to take game one of the three game set. Tonight’s pitching match-up: Chris Sale (10-12, 2.99 ERA) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.89 ERA)

Rays 2, Angels 11: Erick Aybar had a big night for the Angels, hitting a two-run homer and a two-run triple, Grant Green had his first MLB home run and Garret Richards navigated after a shaky start as the Angels hand the Rays their fifth straight loss with a 11-2 victory. Tonight’s pitching match-up: Matt Moore (14-3, 3.41 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (8-5, 3.54 ERA).

Orioles 7, Indians 2: Nate McLouth and Matt Weiters both hit two-run HR’s and Bud Norris pitched seven innings of one run ball as the Orioles beat the Indians 7-2. Tonight’s pitching match-up: Chris Tillman (15-4, 3.61 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (9-9, 3.95 ERA).

Rangers 2, Athletics 4: Coco Crisp hit the game deciding home run and Yoenis Cespedes HR’d as the A’s win 4-2. The Rangers and Angels are now tied for first in the AL West (which is why the Rangers are in the Wild Card standings. Tonight’s match-up: Martin Perez (8-3, 3.58 ERA) vs. Bartolo Colon (14-5, 2.94 ERA).

Royals 3, Mariners 1: Royals reliever Will Smith tossed 4.1 IP after starter Danny Duffy left the game in the fourth inning and the Royals got to King Felix, scoring three runs including a Mike Moustakas single as the Royals beat the Mariners 3-1. Tonight’s pitching match-up: Erasmo Ramirez (5-1, 5.18 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (6-2, 2.79 ERA).

Come back tomorrow for another Wild Card Update!