Friday, May 29, 2009

A Look at the Future After Jorge

Jorge Posada will be coming off the disabled list tonight the Yankees will get another big piece of the puzzle back into their lineup. But how long he stays there depends on if his aging body can continue to take the riggers of everyday catching.

And I think the answer to that question is a resounding no. Posada is on his way out and everyone can clearly see it. He might have another year behind the plate but in all likelihood he wont be the full time catcher beyond next season.

So that begs the question who will replace him in? Francisco Cervelli is a nice player and could be a decent backup next season and for his career, but he doesn't have the stick for a full-time gig. Kevin Cash is, well, Kevin Cash and there isn't much at Triple-A or even Double-A for that matter.

Where the Yanks are stacked is Single-A Tampa. Down there the future looks bright for the Yankees with two catchers who could feasibly take on the starting job for the Yankees by mid-2011: Jesus Montero and Austin Romine.

Montero is who the Yankees go to sleep dreaming about. The kid is a beast. At 6'4 225 he has the body to mash with the bat and it shows. At Tampa in the Florida State League Montero is tied for fourth in batting average, second in slugging percentage and first in total bases. It is abundantly evident that he can hit and scouts agree that his bat is the indisputable aspect of his game. Its his fielding that comes into question. Most think he will eventually have to move from behind the plate (where he would go now that Teixeira is at first for the foreseeable future who knows) because of his lack of mobility behind the plate.

But that's something I don't think the Yankees will ever seriously consider moving him from behind the dish. The bat plays up big time at catcher and the reality is you can live with substandard defense behind the plate if that catcher is jacking the ball out 35 times a season just look at Mike Piazza, Victor Martinez and, of course, Posada.

Now Austin Romine is a bit of a different story. He is more of a complete package. He is better behind the plate, but he is obviously not the same kind of bat as Montero though, he isn't an empty batter's box. He is capable with the stick though his BB:K (5:27) doesn't give a lot of faith in his eye at the plate. What helps the lack of walks is he is a doubles machine, hitting 13 in 161 at bats. Scouts aren't down on Romine, they just aren't as high on the second round pick from 2007, but he could become a solid regular at the big league level.

Obviously both of these guys are a long ways away from being in a position to help the Yankees and a lot can happen along the way. For now though, the Yanks have some options coming up the line.


Dennis said...

Posada can't even pass as a full time catcher this season, never mind next season.

Montero and Romine both look like solid prospects, but neither can legally drink and both are in A-ball, 2012 is probably a realistic arrival date, possibly 2013 for Romine. Montero will be moving to first base soon as well. When you are already seeing time at DH as a 19-year-old, the writing is on the wall.

Long story short, I don't think the Yankees can hold for a Posada to Romine transition. It's not their style to do that anyway. We are looking at at least 2, probably 3 seasons they need to cover, so it can't be a stopgap solution either.

The Yankees need to go out and get a good fielding, at least solid hitting catcher, either through trade this year or in free agency. I would say Suzuki from Oakland, Hernandez from Cincinnati, and Baker from Florida are all good possibilities.

Peter said...

But again first is not an option for Montero, at least not with Mark Teixeira around. Montero splits time catching with Romine so they split time at DH as well. It isn't necessarily because he can't spend an extended period of time behind the plate, it is so they both get a healthy and consistent amount of at bats. That's something I probably should have explained in the post.

But yeah in a perfect world they would be ready for a transition. the likelihood is that they will spend some money on a stopgap. I would like Suzuki but Billy Beane will demand the world for him, which probably would remove him from any Yankee watch list. If they go any direction it will be the veteran route.

Dennis said...

I have read a few prospect bios, I can't find any scouts who think he can be a competent catcher at the major league level. Several articles even quote Yankees people saying this.

As for Texiera, position decisions based on who plays where for the big club are seldom made at the A level. Eventually Romine is going to catch full time, probably within the next few months. Montero may play 5 or 6 positions (C, 1B, 3B, LF, RF) over the next 3 years. They will try to find somewhere to hide his glove, as most teams don't like to DH young players.