Silverman: Loss of Martin Leaves Yankees Desperate Behind The Plate
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By Steve Silverman
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The Yankees have made sure they have secured their over-40 set.
However, there may be just a few issues with the rest of the team.
A team as desperate as the Yankees appeared in the postseason needs every bit of help it can get. That’s why signing ancient Mariano Rivera, 43, and Andy Pettitte,40, are moves that Brian Cashman had to make.
But the loss of catcher Russell Martin, who signed a two-year deal with the long-suffering Pittsburgh Pirates is going to hurt badly.
Martin struggled in the first half of the season, but his value as a clutch hitter came to the fore in the second half of the season. His .211 batting average really doesn’t tell you enough about what he is capable of doing. The 21 home runs he hit were a career high and made him a serious contributor.
There’s every reason to think that Martin, 29, was just starting to feel comfortable in New York and that if the Yankees had made him a serious and early offer to him that they could have kept him.
What are the Yankees going to do without Martin? They appear to be headed in the direction Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine.
That’s not going to get it done for this aging team that could not find any offense in the postseason. Cervelli, 26, seems to have been waiting for an opportunity to be a legitimate big-league catcher for a long time, but the Yankees have never really believed in him. Romine, 24, has had a back injury and he’s not every-day catch material.
As spring training and the regular-season approaches, it seems unlikely that Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi will suddenly become big fans of either Cervelli or Romine.
The Yankees need a real catcher. Hal Steinbrenner may be determined to reduce the payroll, but when you have a brutal situation at catcher, it’s impossible to win on a consistent basis.
If the Yankees want to finish third or fourth in the A.L. East about 10 or 12 games behind the Baltimore Orioles, don’t make any moves and let Cervelli and Romine handle the catching.
Otherwise, they are going to have to sign Mike Napoli or A.J. Pierzynski or trade for a catcher.
Napoli, 31, might be the way to go. While large and puffy, Napoli can hold his own on the defensive end.
He can be a dynamic power hitter. Napoli his 30 home runs while playing 113 games in 2011 and he hammered 24 home runs in 108 games last year. He can be a big-time contributor in the Bronx.
He’s not going to play every game, but he deserves consideration.
Pierzynski, 35, has a lot more issues. He is coming off the best season in his career. Not many players peak at age 35, but Pierzynski somehow found his power stroke and belted 27 home runs with a .501 slugging percentage and an .827 OPS for the Chicago White Sox in 2012.
Pierzynski has been a below-average fielder throughout his career, but he had his best year behind the plate. He threw out 27-of-76 base runners, and that’s quite a bit better than he had done in previous years.
But you have to think twice about bringing Pierzynski into your locker room. He will do anything and everything to help your team win, but he’s a rough fit in the locker room. He rubs opponents the wrong way with his abrasive personality, but he is also an irritant in his own locker room.
Whether they opt for Napoli, Pierzynski or they cans swing a trade, the Yankees have to know that Cervelli and Romine are not going to get it done.
They need a big-time, big league catcher.
Should the Yankees try to sign Pierzynski, Napoli, promote from within or seek a trade to acquire a new catcher? Sound off below…