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.