Saturday, February 4, 2012


Most of the discussion surrounding the Yankees this off season has been about pitching, and rightfully so. Almost as soon as the Yankees made their last out against the Tigers in the ALDS, the Yankee blogworld blew up with an outcry for pitching.
We all knew changes needed to be made, and thankfully they were. Our starting rotation now has the potential of being one of the best rotations in all of Major League Baseball. Brian Cashman and the Yankee brass heard our cries and saw the needs and fixed them. When you think about it, our biggest "problem" is who is our #5 starter? And it's not like we don't have a choice. Our "problem" is which veteran... AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia, fills the #5 spot. Or, perhaps, could Manny Banuelos pitch lights out this Spring and "steal" the final spot in our rotation? These are good questions and good "problems" to have. We went from worrying 4 months ago, to being extremely optimistic about who we send out to the mound each day.

And then, once the dust settled after the Jesus Montero trade and we welcomed Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees longtime great catcher retires in Jorge Posada. He called it quits after 17 seasons with the New York Yankees. We have talked and written about Jorge a lot on BYB, especially over the last 2-3 weeks so, check these out if you haven't:
The one Yankee who may have gotten lost in all of this is Russell Martin. Martin is the guy who will be receiving all these pitches from all our pitchers this year. Martin is now the veteran catcher on this Yankee roster. Martin turns 29-years-old in about two weeks and with the departure of Montero, Martin can stop looking over his shoulder and know that he's the leader of the pack without a doubt, and concentrate on molding this rotation.

Martin had a really nice year for the Yankees in 2011, a happy surprise to some. He started off really hot and cooled somewhat at the plate as the season progressed. But one thing that remained a constant for Martin is his outstanding skill behind the plate. Martin calls a great game and plays superb defense on top of that. Members of the Yankees pitching staff will tell you how much they trust Martin calling games and trust his judgment.

Let's take a look at Martin's 2011 statistics...

At the plate:
  • In 417 plate appearances Martin only hit .237 but he did smack 18 HR's and drove in 65 runs.
  • He also walked 50 times, scored 57 runs, and made his 1st AL All Star team
Behind the plate:
  • Martin caught in 125 games which was 5th in the AL.
  • He had 866 put outs which was 3rd in the AL and was 1st in the AL with 96 Assists.
  • Martin threw out an AL-best 40 base runners attempting to steal.
I think we can expect another All-Star caliber season out of Martin in 2012. I mean, why wouldn't we? Make no mistake, Russell Martin is the catcher for the New York Yankees. There is no other. Sure Austin Romine will get his share of starts behind the plate and his own future looks bright but, for the here and now, Martin is our man. It's always hard to project what you think a guy will do offensively but hey, that's what we do here at BYB and as fans, right? So that being said here is how I see the 2012 shaping up for #55:
  • .275 AVG. - 23 HR's - 81 RBI -- and behind the plate, you would think he could lead the AL, once again, in throwing out runners trying to steal.
All in all, I think Yankee fans have a lot to look forward to when it comes to Russell Martin both at the plate as well as behind the plate in 2012. And our new guys, Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, can trust Martin which allows them to just relax and focus on pitching. Plus our veteran's like CC and Mo like throwing to Martin and that's good enough for me!

--Mikey Blue, BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @MikeyBlu23

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