Austin Romine’s Big Chance

Yanks embarrassed at home by Astros, lose 9-1
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(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have a knack for holding fake Spring Training competitions, and Austin Romine was on the outside looking in at this spring’s catching competition. Frankie Cervelli and Chris Stewart were going to open the year as the team’s catching duo while Romine headed to Triple-A, which was for the best given his back trouble these last two seasons. He missed a lot of development time and was in need of regular at-bats.

A little less than four weeks into the season, the 24-year-old Romine is with the big league team thanks to Cervelli’s fractured hand. He started his first game last night after two on the bench, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch at the plate while struggling to get on the same page as Andy Pettitte. There were an awful lot of shake-offs and mound conferences, which is not the norm with Pettitte. He’s very much a “get it and throw it” guy.

“I don’t want to throw too much at him too quickly,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings over the weekend when asked about Romine and the pitching staff. “I want him to get familiar with the guys that are here. He has a sense of who they are. He’s had a chance to catch all of them at some point in Spring Training, whether it was a side or a game in the minor leagues, but you want him to be familiar with the guys.”

Girardi previously indicated he will figure out the catching workload as they go in the wake of Cervelli’s injury, which is what he said about Cervelli and Stewart prior to Opening Day. Frankie came out of the gate hitting well and had unofficially taken over as the starting backstop less than two weeks into the season. Romine has the same opportunity staring him in the face — if he hits, Girardi has shown he will pencil him into the lineup on a near-everyday basis.

“Anytime you get any type of (playing time), you have to show them what you can do,” said Romine to Jennings after being called up. “I’m going to take whatever time I do have here and I’m going to show them that I can do it. I can handle it back there, I can handle pitching staff and I can swing it at the plate.”

Romine managed a .271/.341/.377 (~101 wRC+) batting line in 508 minor league plate appearances from 2011-2012, and Baseball America wrote “scouts used to project him to hit 15-20 homers annually due to his raw power but didn’t see the same snap in his bat in 2012″ in their 2013 Prospect Handbook. Tomine told Mark Feinsand he ditched his leg kick and worked on shortening his stride with Triple-A hitting coach Butch Wynegar this month, which may have contributed to his .333/.391/.405 (129 wRC+) line before the call-up. It was only 46 plate appearances though, so I wouldn’t get too excited.

Much like Cervelli before the injury, Romine has a golden opportunity to take the catching job and run with it. There’s an obvious need behind the plate both this year and over the next several years, assuming the team is putting all of its eggs in the Gary Sanchez basket. Cervelli will be out a minimum of six weeks, and Romine is going to need to massively outplay Stewart during that time if he plans on sticking around the rest of the year and put himself in the running for the long-ish tern catching job. This opportunity probably came a few months too soon, but he’ll have to make the best of it.

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Yanks embarrassed at home by Astros, lose 9-1
Cano confirms new agents have yet to start contract talks with Yankees
  • jsbrendog

    come on caesar salad

  • Eddard

    He’s better than Stewart but he’s no Frankie. Andy needed Frankie last night and we saw the result of not having him. Frankie is also much better with the bat as we’ve seen in the first month of the season. Romine ain’t taking over Frankie’s starting job. And I think they’d rather he play every day in AAA than play 1/5 days like Stewart.

    • jsbrendog

      Mr. Eddard, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      frankie would have regressed and come back down to earth. there is a reason romine is actually a prospect. we don’t know if either will be any good but your jump to conclusions mat needs to be stored for the summer.

      • Eddard

        Why do you think Frankie would have regressed? Do you really think Romine is better than Frankie right now? Because that’s what it comes down to. I don’t think he is so he might as well go back to AAA when Frankie returns so he can play more than 1/5 games. That is, after all, why they kept Frankie in AAA last year so he could play everyday and work on his game. I would think the same logic would apply to Romine.

        • jjyank

          Cervelli would have regressed because he’s not a true talent 142 wRC+ type hitter. I’d bet my life savings that he won’t end the year with those numbers.

          • Ed

            I’d be careful making a bet like that. The way this season is going, Cervelli might end up with a chain of injuries and not play another game this season, making his current numbers his final numbers for the year.

            • jjyank

              Not the point.

              • The Real Me

                And we’re also not aware what your life savings are at this point. Could be all of $10. I’d be willing to bet that, even if he is out all year. :-)

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I think we have absolutely no clue who is going to be better, since there is zero history to go by with either guy at this point.

          I’m glad you’re pulling for Frankie, and I won’t go as far as the Brendog did, but it’s silly to assume we know how one guy will perform versus the other.

          I’m completely clueless as to what Romine will do. He could be a worldbeater and he could go 0 for his time in tne majors and neither would surprise me right now.

      • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

        I forget where that quote is from. George from Seinfeld?

        • Jim Is Bored

          Billy Madison

  • Vern Sneaker

    I’d love to see Romine come up big, and he seems pretty capable, but he’s very green, just a bit over one full season of AA/AAA ball including last year’s washout, and not at Cervelli’s level of play this year. Unless he gives a grande surprise, I agree that 2 days/wk is not a good idea for him or the team.

  • Wayne

    Don’t forget we have J.R. Murphy along with Gary Sanchez that will be coming up.

  • RetroRob

    The mound visits, shake offs could just be because nothing was working. Yet I suspect a contributing factor was the two never had worked together in a game, or Romine might have never caught a pitcher with a cutter quite like Pettitte’s, which is almost more a slider.

    • jsbrendog

      romine caught andy before in spring training and bullpens. it is in the article in the 3rd paragraph for christ sake

      • Frick N. Frack

        Andy stunk last night…plain and simple. Nothing to do with Romine. A 19 year veteran should be able to call his own game. Let’s man up for chrissake.

        • jjyank

          While there is a possibility that Romine not being on the same page as Andy had something to do with it, I mostly agree with you. Pettitte is good enough and savvy enough to call his own game and not let having a rookie catcher affect him much. Pettitte just didn’t have his stuff last night.

          • MannyGeee

            THIS. I am almost positive Lettuce didn’t tell Andy to hang everything over the plate. Call it a hunch. He just didnt have it, Lettuce cannot be the scapegoat here.

          • Now Batting

            How exactly does a pitcher call his own game? He has to respond to the signals the catcher sends until he gets his pitch. When Romine isn’t calling what Pettitte wants after repeated shake offs that’s when conferences begin.

            • The Real Me

              There’s plenty of time while the Yankees are batting fo rthe 2 to conference and discuss how they want to approach the next inning. While Romine may have played a part in the poor performance from Pettitte, it still largely falls on Andy’s shoulders.

            • jjyank

              Because he’s the veteran, Romine is the rookie, and Pettitte is the one throwing the damn ball. I’m willing to bet that he could have easily pulled Romine aside in the dugout and told him what he wanted to do if he didn’t like Romine’s calls.

              This is on Andy.

              • Now Batting

                Duh duh duh.

                Mechanically it doesn’t work like that. The catcher gives the signs. You want Andy to point one finger up for a fastball? Sheesh.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Plenty of pitchers do so.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I agree. He wasn’t somehow telepathically moving those pitches off their spots.

        • qwerty

          Tell that to Girardi. Romine is sitting tonight.

      • RetroRob

        I saw that. Is catching bullpens or ST games the same as catching a pitcher in game action, or handling him when he just doesn’t have crap.

        I’m not saying I know the answer, but it’s a legit question and I was inviting intelligent responses. I’ll leave it at that.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    I’m rooting for the kid, I’ve always liked him for some reason. Give the kid a real number though…make him feel like he belongs….53? Ughh, what an ugly number.

    • Fitty Three

      You calling me ugly, butterface?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        He just dissed the fuck out of Abreu, though.

  • Algernon Blackwood

    I’m going to let you in on a secret. Not only in Romine not very good, but he’s also always hurt.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Thank you for that extreme insider information that no one knew.

      • Algernon Blackwood

        No problem Jim, glad I could help.

        • Fitty Three

          Are you named after the British ghost story writer or one of the singing Blackwood Brothers gospel group?

          • Algernon Blackwood

            The writer.

  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

    I always thought it would be kickass if some of these younger players kept the high numbers from the minor leagues. Like, say Sanchez comes up starting with number 92 or something and he’s just like, “Fuck it, I’m rocking 92, and by virtue of it being MY number it’s already awesome, so go fuck yourselves.”

    I’d be down with that.

    • Fitty Three

      Jesus Montero wore 63. That worked out real well.

      • Darren

        Joba – 62
        Hughesie – 65

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Even went back to 65 after rocking the 3-4.

  • LarryM Fl

    Romine does have the golden opportunity to win over some playing time. The few times that I have watched him. He has been adequate behind the plate and just too few at bats to make a call on the offense. The FO knows his potential so I’ll go with their assessment. But he will need playing time and needs 50% of the play to be given any chance at succeeding. Stewart is a backup catcher wether it is to Cervelli or the next future Yankee catcher. So give Romine the chance a real chance. He’ll learn the pitchers. And as far as catching Andy’s cutter if he can’t adjust after a few batters than he has no chance.

  • mt

    The problem I see is that, even though Yanks offense has not been overly robust since Cleveland series and Cervelli was contributing offensively before his injury (which may leads you to think offense is the priority) – the biggest need for next six weeks is defensive until Cervelli returns. Veteran pitchers like Sabathia, Kuroda and Pettite who all throw several different pitches must continue to feel comfortable with their catcher and continue to deliver quality starts if Yanks are not to falter from a record stanpoint – since Romine did not get that much play with these pitchers in spring training before he was sent down I am sure there will be catcher/pitcher growing pains with him – unfortunately, Yanks cannot afford too much of those growing pains as we play real games no matter how bad Stewart may be at plate or how good Romine may be at the plate.

    Therefore I am not sure Romine will be more than an occasional fill-in – if Stewart can catch 4 or 5 times a week from a stamina perspective, Girardi may ride that safer defensive hand from a catching standpoint to maximize pitching effectiveness.

  • Darren

    The simple fact is we haven’t see enough of Romine yet to make any real assessment. A few scattered games here and there. My first impressions is sort of “meh”, I mean, his defense doesn’t look particularly inspiring & he doesn’t seemt to have any extra base power, but he could easily grow in to a role with some decent playing time. I don’t really have any high expectations, but it would be great if he was capabale enough to at least split the time with Stewart 50/50 until Cervelli returns.

    • The Real Me

      +1. We need to see more of him. I’m hoping he does well enought to take at least 50% of the innings while with the big league team, just to ensure the team fully understands what he has. (Of course, taking 50% of the time implies he does actual have something to contribute, so I guess I’m hoping for best case, or close to it.)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yeah. I agree. Nothing would really surprise me here. Just sit back and watch, I guess.

      Has Murphy been moved to AAA yet?

  • gageagainstthemachine

    Let me preface this with, “I’m glad it’s Romine who got called up and I hope he has a lot of success because I want to see some kids from the farm make it in the bigs.” But with that said, don’t they have a veteran backup in Bobby Wilsom sitting in AAA? Seems like he would have been a good option to bring up considreing he has a good amount of MLB experience and Romine is behind from last year’s injury time. Is it because Wilson’s not on the 40 man and Romine is? Or have I been living under a rock and Wilson was released after ST?

  • MannyGeee

    Lettuce pray.

    That’s all. No analysis, nothing of value to add… just a witty pun, and I’m out!

    • monterowasdinero

      Toss out the comment above…

      Romine will be serviceable. If he develops into a .250 hitter with 10-15 HR’s a year I’d say that’s about the most to expect.

      He is an average catcher defensively in my opinion having seen him in ST and the minors a few times.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        This must be tough for you. I understand.

        • Monterowasdinero

          Not really. I still watch Montero on MLB. He will hopefully come back to NY at some point in pinstripes.

          He would have really torched the right field porch at YS. Romine will not reach the right field seats- ever.

          Let alone twice in one game….