27-year old Russell Martin will be the starting catcher for the Yankees in 2011. He played in 97 games for the Dodgers last season and he was 82 of 331 (.248 avg, .679 OPS) with 45 runs scored, 5 homers, 26 RBIs and 6 stolen bases. Martin’s body seemed to break down a bit last season as the Dodgers rode him hard in his first four years in the majors. He has a career average of .272 with a .761 OPS, so the Yankees expect him to bounce back. He has played in 2 All-Star Games, has 1 Gold Glove Award and 1 Silver Slugger Award in his first five years in the majors. I look for the Yankees to watch his workload in an effort to keep him healthy and productive all season long. Martin made 10 erros and he had 5 passed balls in only 93 games last season and his bad hip likely had something to do with that. He threw out 19 of 70 (27.1%) baserunners trying to steal against him and pitchers had a 4.03 ERA with him behind the plate. Martin’s throwing arm will give the Yankees’ improved defense last season as they couldn’t throw anyone out last year.
24-year old righty swinging Francisco Cervelli will be Martin’s backup in 2011. He played in 93 games for the Yankees last season and he was 72 of 266 (.271 avg, .694 OPS) with 27 runs scored, 0 homers, 38 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Cervelli plays hard all of the time but he has some weaknesses on defense. Cervelli made 13 errors in 90 games behind the plate last season, and that is pathetic. He only had 2 passed balls so he does move around pretty well behind the plate. He only threw out 8 of 64 (12.5%) baserunners trying to steal on him last season but Yankees’ pitchers had a 4.04 ERA with him behind the plate. Cervelli is a solid backup catcher but his weaknesses are exposed as his playing time increases.
39-year old switch hitting Jorge Posada will be the #3 catcher for the Yankees in 2011. He has a new (and better) job for 2011 as he will be the starting DH. That’s a good thing for the Yankees, because his defense is shot behind the plate. Posada made 8 errors and he had 8 passed balls in only 83 games behind the plate for the Yankees last season and that’s pretty bad. Posada only threw out 10 of 85 (11.8%) baserunners trying to steal on him last season and Yankees’ pitchers had a 4.13 ERA with him behind the plate. Posada will likely only be used in case of an emergency behind the plate in 2011.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE YANKEES CATCHERS IN 2011: C