Never in a million years did I expect the Pittsburgh Pirates to outbid the New York Yankees to sign Russell Martin…..never... ever. Reality has set in. This is the first example of how the Yankees will work within their $189 million threshold. Another thing that comes to mind is the fact that if the Yankees really wanted him back…. they would have matched the Pirate’s offer, but they didn’t so now it’s time to do more than just react. It’s time to think about the next starting catcher, and it might be Austin Romine’s time to shine.
Before I make my case, I know what a lot of you are thinking….”Are you CRAZY?! “ I realize that Austin Romine is unproven and only played in 17 games for Scranton Wilkes-Barre last year. I admit, this idea sounds absolutely crazy! As crazy as it is, times are changing. What was once the normal protocol for the Yankees is changing. In the past we have just gone out and looked at the free agent market and just outbid everyone. Easy, right? Not anymore. OK, so surely we can just look at a trade right? Anything is possible, we talked about it in WANNA REPLACE RUSSELL MARTIN? TRADE FOR CARLOS SANTANA. We like that idea, and Cashman has said that he has checked in with other teams... read that HERE, but honestly…. he doesn’t sound too optimistic about it. I don’t buy into everything that Cashman says, I know he is the master of strategy but I am not as quick to dismiss his statements this time. Think about it, can we really expect a team to trade a starting catcher? It isn’t likely, and even if it was it will cost us some of our top prospects. I know anything is possible, but this idea isn't far fetched.
I know Romine isn’t the only option; we also have Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside. We can’t forget about Francisco Cervelli, who may have an opportunity to be a starter also, we talked about it in our piece ALL EYES ON CERVELLI AS RUSSELL MARTIN BOLTS NEW YORK. All of these guys can contribute to the team, but they may not be the best option for a starting role. I would still keep them in a backup role.
So I go back to my original idea…maybe it is time to take a risk and put Romine behind the plate. Is it an ideal scenario? No. However, the Yankees do project him to be a starting catcher, and in the end after the Jesus Montero trade he is still here. The Yankees do believe in his abilities. Defensively, he has the skills behind the plate, and the Yankees have faith in him. He doesn’t have the big potent bat we have been spoiled with in years past, but maybe that is a good thing. Just because he doesn’t hit as many home runs doesn’t mean he can’t put the ball in play. If he can be consistent and help drive in runs then anything he does with a bat is a good bonus. Maybe Romine could be the great defensive catcher we have been waiting for. All of these things could happen, if he can stay healthy. I know his health is a big question mark, but if not now….when?
The Yankees have committed to keeping Romine. They are testing him, and my gut tells me that sending him to the Arizona Fall League this year was more than just to give him some work because he missed the 2012 season. Maybe it was a test before Spring Training. Going forward, the Yankees are going to need to give the kids a shot, especially with the new payroll challenges they face. Not only is Romine cheap….but it is time for him to prove himself. We won’t know if he can or can't do the job if he isn’t given the opportunity, and I want to see that happen. I think he is up for the challenge.
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