A better third catcher solution

Yanks, Pettitte in "serious talks"
I dream of Mauer

One of the biggest question marks coming into the season for the Yankees is the health of stalwart catcher Jorge Posada. While all reports seem to indicate that Posada’s rehab from major shoulder surgery is going swimmingly, you can never be too sure when it comes to 37 year old catchers. Jose Molina and Chad Moeller played their hearts out in Posada’s place last year, but it’s clear neither player represents an every day catching option. The Yanks have already brought Kevin Cash aboard on a minor league to fill that emergency third catcher role, but they can do better than that. Specifically, we’re looking at Javier Valentin.

Not to be confused with John or Jose, Javy Valentin has spent the last five years of his career a Reds uniform, serving primarily as a backup catcher/pinch hitter. Unlike most backup backstops, however, Valentin has demonstrated that he’s not completely useless with the stick. Over the past four season he’s hit .272-.334-.442, averaging a .333 wOBP and a 97 OPS+ while providing 4.9 wins over a replacement player. For comparisons sake, that batting line is on par with what Bengie Molina did for the Giants this past year (.292-.322-.445).

As an added bonus Valentin’s a switch hitter, though he’s proven to be more dangerous from the left side of the plate. That actually works out perfectly, because in a nightmare scenario where Jorge Posada again misses significant time, Valentin can play primarily against righties (.258-.313-.424-.737) while Molina takes on the lefties (.263-.304-.400-.704). Obviously we aren’t talking about great production from that platoon, but it would represent a significant upgrade from the .230-.290-.335-.625 line Yankees’ catchers produced in 2008.

An offense first catcher, Valentin is no great shakes defensively. His best defensive attribute is his throwing arm, which has allowed him to gun down 41.9% of attempted base stealers in his career (21 of 25 in 2004!), but even that has slipped lately (25.5% over the last three seasons). There’s also some durability concerns, as Valentin has never caught more than 553.2 innings in a single season, and has averaged just 340 innings caught over the last three years. He could easily hit that “overexposed in extended playing time” wall that Jose Molina ran into last year.

Valentin’s earned $3.725M over the last three years ($1.325M last year), but in this market he’s not getting anything more than a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. He could compete with Cash in Spring Training for that third catcher role, with the winner heading to Triple-A while the loser hits the unemployment line (minor league deals aren’t guaranteed). I’d prefer to see the Yanks go this route before having to swing another midseason deal for a Pudge-type. What about you?

Yanks, Pettitte in "serious talks"
I dream of Mauer
  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    Sounds awesome. With the question marks surrounding Jorge Posada, I think veteran backstops that are likely to sign minor-league deals will be more apt to sign with the Yankees than ever because of the likelier chance they have of getting some big-league PA’s.

  • http://Nationals Mac

    Sounds good to me. If it’s a minor league deal then he’s purely insurance.

  • JohnC

    Why not? Couldn’t hurt to give him a look.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    but in this market he’s not getting anything more than a minor league deal

    We’ve already established the fact that a minor league deal represent no downside to the club, so why hasn’t any club signed him yet?

    Is he holding out hope for a ML deal? If so, it still might not take much to sign him, based on the deals Ausmus ans Zaun recently signed.

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

    I think its a nice idea- if Jorge goes down, you just platoon Valentin and Molina based on the starters, the opponent, etc..

  • ko

    Looks like a good fit. I’m the only one who would bring I-Rod back, but it looks like you’re on to something here if you’re not an I-Rod fan. Regardless, it would be a real mistake to sit and wait and end up with Chad Moeller clones doing the catching. If this guy is as good as you think, maybe a middle reliever like Robertson and Cervelli would get it done.

    • A.D.

      He’s a FA… no players would be given up for Valentin

    • Spaceben.Sheets

      And I wouldn’t give up either Robertson or Cervelli to fill the third catcher spot.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Much less Robertson AND Cervelli.

  • A.D.

    If he’s better than Kevin Cash, then why not. Or as you say, open 3rd catcher tryout. Another veteran backstop is a must going into this season & if Posada did go down the platoon might just be enough to keep both guys breaking down from regular use.

  • ko

    My bad about costing players. The question is, if this guy is as good as the writeup sounds, why did the Reds release him? I just assumed that he was still under contract.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      His contract expired and the Reds traded for Ramon Hernandez.

  • MTG

    Makes alot of sense to me.

  • A.D.

    Essentially the 3rd catcher moves buys the Yankees time & leverage. If Posada goes down with the shoulder again (a random hand or leg injury wouldn’t really apply for this). Then the Yanks probably ante up the prospects and go an look to trade for one of Texas’s catchers.

    With a vet platoon backstop they are at least a little less desperate, and have more time to properly work out a trade

  • THU

    I wanted Valentine before we got Molina. IMO, he like Molina is the perfect backup and if Posada went down these two spliting time would be the next best thing of whats left.

  • Bill R

    Get cash on the phone and let’s get this done!

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    I’d prefer to see the Yanks go this route before having to swing another midseason deal for a Pudge-type. What about you?

    Heh, at this point, we can probably just sign Pudge for a one year, $50 dollar contract.

    • radnom

      We should all pitch in and sign him.

      We’d have to share him, everyone gets him for one month of the year.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      at this point, we can probably just sign Pudge for a one year, $50 dollar contract.

      The Players Association would like a word with you.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Fair enough… let’s make it $75.

    • Patch

      Here is something interesting that you may not know.

      If you put the “$” symbol in front of the number, you don’t need to say “dollar” after the number.

      Pretty cool, right?

      tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside says:

      “Heh, at this point, we can probably just sign Pudge for a one year, $50 dollar contract.

      • jsbrendog


        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          In my defense, I intentionally put “dollar” in there because i didn’t want some lunatic to see “one year, $50” and assume I meant 50 million and not just 50 bucks.

  • Peter Lacock

    Yah, it’s not a bad idea. Competition is always good but you know no matter which veteran C sticks, I’d still like to see Pillitierre get his shot. Guy has a lot of grit. There’s little doubt he could catch 100 games if needed. The doubt is how he would perform and there’s only one way to find out. Maybe he would respond and surprise everyone. He did a nice job caddying Trenton’s last two league leading staffs and I think he was team MVP last year. He’s getting to the age where it’s time. He’s in his prime. In the end there’s no good reason to think Jorge won’t be fine. Reports say the docs say he’s on schedule and you know Jorge wants it.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      It’s hard not to love Pilittere’s skills behind the plate, but the concern is that his bat will have no place on a major league roster. The guy hit .277 .317 .349 in AA last year, and that will only get worse in the majors. The appeal of Valentin is that his bat is at least decent, and proven at the ML level.

      In other words, this is all for insurance in case Jorge can’t go. If he can, and Molina happens to get hurt and the Yanks don’t think Cervelli is ready then yeah, P.J. might be a guy you can carry as a backup.

      • Peter Lacock

        Yah, it’s not a bad idea. Competition is always a good thing. We should always have an experienced C in AAA (regardless of Jorge’s shoulder) and we should get the best vet C we can. It’s just that I’ve seen Pillitierre play a lot and I’m not too worried about it. I could be wrong but I think we’re set. PJ is a tough guy and a timely hitter. In case you can’t tell, I like him and I think he should be the 3rd C with a vet caddying for him. I don’t worry (with any young guy) about the stick as much. Being able to go out and play your position is first. You’re useless without it. Hitting can come around. It’s not always worse in the majors. Sometimes guys hit MLB pitching better because, for one thing, the pitchers are around the plate more. It’s not like we’re talking about stars here. None of these guys are great hitters. PJ has paid his dues and done OK. He might figure in more next year if Molina and Cash, et al, are gone. Every year a few guys surprise (good and bad). One thing in common with all of them is, they’re given a chance.

    • A.D.

      Guy has a lot of grit

      Hmmm maybe we can trade him to the Dodgers for talented young prospects.

      • Peter Lacock

        If he played and showed something, he would gain trade value.

  • Paragon388

    Jesus Montero will be the Yankees allstar catcher for years to come. Anyone have any idea when he will be ready for primetime?

    • Yank Crank 20

      If any of us were that good, we wouldn’t be working dead-end jobs and commenting on a blog all day.

      • jsbrendog

        best post of the day so far

      • Bruno


    • A.D.

      Figure 1 year per level, if everything goes right. He could do 2 levels & a year and he could struggle and spend 2 years at one level. So ideally 2012-2013 is when he’d be ready for the bigs.

      2008: A
      2009: A+
      2010: AA
      2011: AAA
      2012: Buffer year/MLB
      2013: MLB

  • roon

    this would be a great move and he should make the team as another bench guy because he could also play some 1st base and in a pinch some 3rd, i’ve seen him in puerto rico and with the reds play all three spots but more importantly he is quality guy in the club house, very good guy and he is versatile

    • jsbrendog

      he never forgets to buy his mum flowers on mums day

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


        Wait, what are you, British?

        • jsbrendog

          no, i have nice teeth

  • D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a Don Corleone

    I like the idea of a spring training invite.

  • http://www.YouTube.com/kevyyankees Kevin G.

    Hate to nitpick, but isn’t it a .333wOBA.

  • steve (different one)

    the problem with this idea, and it’s not a bad idea, is that what you really want is a guy who will take a minor league deal and accept and assignment to AAA.

    that’s what the Yankees need. they need a veteran in AAA just in case.

    what they don’t need is 3 catchers on the 25 man roster.

    would Valentin be the Scranton catcher and wait for a shot? i kindof doubt it.

    because i think if Posada is healthy, i think you still want Molina backing him up, right? i don’t think you want Posada and Valentin as your only 2 catchers on the roster.

    • steve (different one)

      yes, i realize you said that Valentin or Cash would be the AAA catcher, depending on ST.

      i am just asking if it’s realistic.

      maybe it is at this point.

    • A.D.

      The assumption for this to work is Valentin will go to AAA if he beats out Cash in ST. By not being signed, and presumably not having high demands (unlike Pudge & Tek)the he’s looking at a minor league deal.

      Yanks could give him an opt-out clause that if hes not on the 40 man by June or July he can leave and look for employment elsewhere.

  • Bruno


    Maybe now all the “TRADE FOR GRIENKE” crap will be done for good.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Probably not.

    • A.D.

      Someone threw out can we get Hanley the other day. People will still throw Grienke’s name out there. And I’m sure the Royals will trade him if the other team gave up enough.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Why should it? This guy idiot thinks that the Yanks signing Pettitte allows them to shift Joba to the pen.


      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        You know, if we trade Cano and Damon to the Royals for Greinke, we could move CC to the seventh inning. With a CC-Joba-Mo bullpen, we’d be UNSTOPPABLE!!! Damn, being a GM is so easy!

        John Harper

        (and yes, I totally knew it was Harper writing the article before I linked to it…)

  • Jake
  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    John Harper: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2009/01/26/2009-01-26_andy_pettitte_to_sign_oneyear_deal_with_.html

    Final details are still being worked out, according to two baseball sources, but Pettitte will apparently accept a base salary between $5-6 million, with innings-pitched and days-on-the-roster incentives that could raise the value of the contract to $12 million.

    Pettitte’s signing fills out a potentially dominating rotation that also includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. It also gives the Yankees the option of moving Chamberlain back to the bullpen and using one of their young starters, such as Phil Hughes, in the rotation.

    Will it ever stop?

    • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

      Sorry, the “Will it ever stop?” line is my bit.

      • Bruno

        Not until he wins at least 33 CY Young awards.

        • jsbrendog

          and when he misses out on #34 by 1 bvote the b-jobbers come back out of the woodworks and start railing joba to the pen again.

    • steve (different one)

      Final details are still being worked out, according to two baseball sources, but Pettitte will apparently accept a base salary between $5-6 million, with innings-pitched and days-on-the-roster incentives that could raise the value of the contract to $12 million.

      this is basically the perfect contract.

      enough incentives to keep Andy happy, but not enough guaranteed money to force the Yankees to deal Nady or Swisher.

      i think this is it for their spending.

      any other moves will probably be by trade.

  • Bruno
    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Interesting. I’m usually anti-trading IPK, but it’s not a non-starter.

      Partial profile (from last June):

      “Bryan Anderson was selected in the fourth round of the June 2005 First-Year Player Draft. He was drafted as a senior out of Simi Valley HS. As the 140th overall pick, Anderson received a $250,000 signing bonus. Bryan was selected to the 2005 Louisville Slugger High School All-American team. His high school accolades include holding the single game SB record with 4, his high school’s career record for doubles with 30, and the single season games played record with 34.

      The scouting report on Bryan Anderson varies on what write-up you read. Anderson has received some unfair criticism as an offensive catcher who would be a defensive liability. This is often the plight of catchers who are offensively gifted. But Anderson, who has rejected any suggestion of a position move, is fiercely dedicated to improving his skills behind the plate. He has two great predecessors as mentors in Mike Matheny and Yadier Molina. Bryan worked diligently with Matheny during 2008 Spring Training to improve his footwork and with continued instruction should become a solid receiver.

      Anderson possesses a .989 fielding percentage through his first 4 professional seasons. In two stops in 2008, Anderson has allowed only 7 passed balls and possesses a solid-average arm. It is difficult to find defensive statistics on minor league players, but if baseballreference.com is to be believed, Anderson threw out 14 out of 34 potential base stealers in 16 games at AA Springfield in 2008 before his promotion to Memphis. I trust my eyes more than that statistic, and having seen Anderson play multiple times, I feel confident saying he has plenty of arm strength and accuracy at age 21 to profile as a solid defensive catcher in the Major Leagues in the future. With Molina locked up for multiple years, there is no reason to rush the young catcher to the show, since extended time at AAA Memphis will only improve his defensive skills.

      While questions still linger in some scouts’ minds about Anderson’s defensive prowess, there is little debate as to whether he will hit at the Major League level. The left-handed swinging catcher is far and away the Cardinals top prospect at his position. He possesses a fluid left-handed line drive swing that currently generates gap to gap power. Anderson still has room develop more power potential. He is currently cranking out doubles at a solid rate, and as he fills out, some of these extra base hits may start leaving the park, evidenced by his current slugging percentage of .485 in 2008. Midway through his 4th professional season, Anderson has posted career slash stats of .314/.374/.433 with an OPS of .804. Bryan has progressed at every level since signing with the Cardinals. If you view his numbers at every minor league stop in light of his young age, they are even more impressive.

      In his professional debut at rookie level Johnson City at the tender age of 18, Anderson hit .331/.383/.513 with an OPS of .896 in 154 AB’s. In his first full year of pro ball at single A Quad Cities in 2006, Anderson posted a line of .302/.377/.417 with an OPS of .794. Still young for his league, Anderson began to gain more notoriety. His star was beginning to rise, but more was to come.

      2007 was a breakout year for the young catcher. While the slash stats don’t overwhelm at first glance, with Anderson posting a .298/.350/.388 line with an OPS of .738, what makes this season so impressive is that Anderson was able to make the jump over high A, and do more than hold his own as a 20 year old catcher in AA, which is considered by many to be the minor league level most reflective of future success. With a solid 2007 season, Bryan was named to his first All-Star Futures game.

      To begin 2008, Anderson was assigned to AA Springfield where he left off in 2007. But any thoughts of him repeating 2008 at AA were soon erased when Bryan slugged his way to a promotion after 19 games in Springfield where he hit .388/.412/.525/.937 with 5 2B, and 2 HR. The lefty hitting catcher has continued his torrid pace at Triple-A Memphis where he has hit .331/.407/.460 with an OPS of .867 as a 21 year old. Bryan’s impressive 2008 season has earned him his second invitation to the All-Star Futures Game. He was ranked the #3 prospect in the Cardinals Farm System behind only Colby Rasmus and Chris Perez, who has since graduated to the big leagues. It is not hard to imagine Bryan taking over the #2 spot at the end of 2008. His future with the Cardinals remains somewhat uncertain as he is currently blocked by Yadier Molina, but I feel safe saying that the Cardinals consider Bryan Anderson more as a part of their future than they do as part of a future trade.”


      Probably take more than IPK, wouldn’t you think?

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        This is only my opinion, but I believe there is tremendous pressure on the Yanks to win THIS YEAR, so I don’t see Cash trading somebody who could help the Yanks THIS YEAR (IPK) for someone who definitely won’t help the Yanks win THIS YEAR (Bryan Anderson), unless it’s just one of those deals that you absolutely, positively cannot pass up (but I could be wrong – it’s happened before).

        • Bruno

          IF Jorge can’t catch Anderson would be a big help this year. Meanwhile, we have enough depth to get by without IPK.

      • Bruno

        Unless they have Yadier locked-up long term at age 27 and need good, young, cost-controlled pitching that would probably thrive in the minors NL.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Yeah, the Yadier contract extension does make it more likely they move Anderson. I just doubt they move him unless they get blown away. More likely is they call Anderson up and run with the two of them together to give Anderson some ML experience and either boost his trade value more, or move Yadier (who’s signed to a nice cheap contract that every team could afford) if Anderson outproduces him.

          Either way, I don’t see STL moving either of their catchers for at least another year or two (unless they get blown away with a redic offer…)

      • steve (different one)

        Probably take more than IPK, wouldn’t you think?


  • Mattchu!

    I vote that we sign Pudge Rodriguez. He’s out with a lot to prove, we all know that he has the talent to bounce back from a rough season last year, and he’s going to come back to win, not just to make money. At least that’s my impression of the guy.

    There seems to be a lot of doubt in Posada being healthy enough to go right now, so we can use Pudge and Molina 60/40 until he is healthy to play. Whoever is playing better at that point sticks around as the backup, and then we trade the other. Maybe we keep them both on, maybe use Pudge as the backup first baseman from time to time (especially if we trade Swisher or Nady). A bench of Molina, Pudge, a backup infielder (Nomar Garciaparra?), and Cabrera/Gardner sounds like a pretty good bench to me.

    • jsbrendog

      carry 3 guys who can do nothing but play 1 porisiotn 2 of whom do not hit very well and one of whom only knows how to cal a fastball so he can pad his thrown runners out stats is nto how to win a championship. you need a balanced team.

      Nomar is a good idea tho i feel as he can play all 4 infield positions.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Nomar is a good idea tho i feel as he can play all 4 infield positions.

        … poorly.

        (I keed, I keed.)

        • jsbrendog

          i’ll sue!

  • Kilgore Trout

    CC, AJ, Joba’s sliders/curveballs are often in the dirt, even on strike outs. With the addition of Teixiera to the line up and Swisher’s bat to the bench a solid defensive catcher paired with Molina would prove more valuable if Jorge can’t throw.

    • radnom

      In that case just bring up Moeller or Cervelli.
      Hell, if you just want defense just make Molina the full time starter then, no need for a pairing.

      • Kilgore Trout

        Molina eats way too much to play every day.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    I’ve never heard of this guy, and chances are, if he was really this good, Redsox would have pounced on him by now.

    • radnom

      They need a starting catcher, not an insurance option.

  • bottom line

    Excellent post.

    Yanks also vulnerable in infield where they have little to back up at second, third or short. And no help on way from minors. Amazing hole on a $200 mill roster

    • Macphisto

      I think Ransom and/or Berroa are decent back ups.

  • Andy

    I love theidea, but I seriously doubt Valentin would sign with the Yanks. If he is as good as you say he is, he has to be able to get a deal as a backup somewhere, where he at least has a shot at the MLB roster, even if he has to take a minor league deal. With the Yanks, he has absolutely no shot at making the roster unless there is an injury.

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  • David

    I think you’re missing a key component in the advantage of the mid-season Pudge deal — Farnsworth was dealt !!!!

  • kane

    Is Brain McCann an option? I’m sorry for throwing in a random name but I picked him up in fantasy last year and he’s one of the better catchers. I have no idea how he is defensively but I heard he’s alright. His offensive numbers are much better than Posada’s and Molina’s. I know I’m throwing out a random guy with little backround knowledge but is it wise for a trade with him?

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