Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who Wins the Backup Catcher Job?

Possibly the most interesting competition this spring is the competition for the backup catcher position, and not for the reasons you may think. Heading into camp it was almost a foregone conclusion that John Ryan Murphy would win the job over Austin Romine this spring and would backup Brian McCann when the team heads north for Opening Day. Many believed on various blogs and Twitter that Romine would simply be kept on the spring roster until the last possible second to better his chances of clearing through waivers since he is out of options so the Yankees could stash him back in Triple-A without the 40 man roster obligation. A monkey wrench was thrown into those plans when the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres showed interest in acquiring Romine and now the team may be rethinking their original stance on their backup catcher this season.

Murphy has a minor league option remaining while Romine does not so the team could conceivably start the season with Romine on the bench and Murphy down in Scranton. This would give the team, and other teams, more time to evaluate Romine before making a decision on his future. Romine could come out and hit the ball well, because his defense has never been questioned, and increase his trade stock or stick with the team making the Yankees look like geniuses. Romine could also come out and stink up the place offensively and would be easier to pass through waivers and keep in the organization a month or two into the season when most teams have their rosters fairly set.

If the Yankees go that route then you have to wonder what it does to Murphy and his confidence. We have seen it too many times before that this Yankees regime keeps prospects down in the minor leagues too long, Jesus Montero needs an ice cream sandwich, and they seemingly get bored, discouraged, uninterested or all of the above. Murphy showed a great talent and knack for the game last year and at least an adequate bat with room to grow, something I have never seen from Romine at the major league level, and would have to be somewhat discouraged if sent down. I’m not saying simply trade Romine just for the heck of it, especially after already trading Francisco Cervelli this offseason, but a trade may be better for all parties involved. Romine would get a fresh start and an actual opportunity while Murphy continues to develop into a MLB catcher behind McCann in the Bronx. It’s a win, win for all in my book, the problem is nobody’s ever read my book.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)