Mailbag: 2011 CatchersBy
This time we’ll take two mailbag questions and answer them together.
What will the Yankees do about the DH situation next year? Montero/Posada/Veterans only? Or a FA signing?
Are there any catchers available this off-season that can help bridge the gap to montero and allow Posada to be a full time dh? surely cervelli isn’t the best option?
There is, I think, an ideal scenario that involves Montero, Posada, and Cervelli behind the plate in 2011. It might not come to fruition, so the Yankees should have a backup plan, but with those three on the roster I think they can manage both the catcher and DH spots.
Posada and Montero could simply alternate between DH and catcher. That would allow Montero time to develop behind the plate at the major league level without becoming overexposed. Using him as DH in half of his games will also help keep him fresh throughout the season. The same goes for Posada. He’ll turn 40 next August, and while he’s been generally durable we have seen him wear down a bit, especially early in the season, during the last two years. Alternating them, but keeping their bats in the lineup, seems like the best situation for the club, at least on offense, in 2011.
Since one of the catchers will be DHing most days, Cervelli also plays into this equation. His role would be reduced, in that he’d be a true backup catcher who plays about once a week. If the team feels that he’s better off catching A.J., then he can catch every fifth day. That would give either Montero or Posada a full day of rest once every 10 or so days, which will also keep them fresh. Jorge probably has a bit more to gain from this setup. The Yankees could also maximize Cervelli’s value by having him play third base an the corner OF positions in winter ball. He wouldn’t be there a lot, but he seems capable of playing at least third. That would mean more roster flexibility, which is important if the team is going to carry three catchers.*
*Though it’s not really three catchers. It’s more like two catchers and a DH, except two of the catchers happen to rotate between DH and catcher, rather than having one set at each position.
At many points this season we’ve ragged on Cervelli, though it wasn’t totally fair. At this point in his career he’s a backup catcher, and given his lack of pop at the plate it’s difficult to see him developing into a true starter for a first-division team. We should instead direct the criticism towards the Yankees. With Posada unable to catch every day they needed a better backup catcher than Cervelli. With this plan they will have just that, and they’ll continue to challenge their best prospect at the same time.
If the Yanks would develop Montero’s defense by having him play full-time in the minors, a veteran backup might be the best path. I doubt they’d take it, though. Chances are they’d just go with Posada and Cervelli with designs on calling up Montero mid-season. Still, you could make a case that someone like Ramon Hernandez, John Buck, or even Miguel Olivo would be better in the expanded role the Yankees will require. It’s not likely, but if they don’t think Cervelli will get any better they might decide to go with one of these free agents instead.