Sherman: Yankees “very likely” to call up J.R. Murphy in September


Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are “very likely” to call up J.R. Murphy to be the third catcher once rosters expand in September. He has to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft this coming offseason anyway, so they’ll get it out of the way early and let him spend a month in the big leagues. Austin Romine and Chris Stewart are the only catchers on the 40-man roster at the moment with Frankie Cervelli injured/suspended. I assume Jayson Nix (broken hand) will be transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a roster spot.

Murphy, 22, is hitting .269/.346/.426 (~118 wRC+) with 12 homers in 468 plate appearances split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year while throwing out 50 of 136 attempted base-stealers (37%). The RailRiders currently have three catchers on the roster and their season ends on Tuesday (they aren’t going to the playoffs), so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees called up Murphy tomorrow instead of waiting for Wednesday. I wouldn’t expect him to play much down the stretch — he’ll catch bullpen sessions to learn the staff, that kind of stuff — but just being in the big leagues is valuable experience and a nice reward for a strong year.

Categories : Asides
  • kenthadley

    Well deserved. What about Whitley? Seems like a pitcher similar to Phelps and maybe even a step better than Warren.

  • Curtis

    Really interested to see what they do with the quartet of Stevelli/Romine/Murphy in the offseason. (I’m assuming they don’t go after McCann)

    Personally, I would trade Stevelli but Yanks probably want teh veteran presents and keep one of the two.

    • kenthadley

      One stays in place of Stewart, Cervelli is the second, and one plays every day in AAA. Stewart should be the odd man out in this.

      • RetroRob

        Agreed. I can see a Romine/Cervelli competition in the spring, with Murphy returning to AAA. Wouldn’t be a surprise, though, if the Yankee try to pass Stewart through waivers at some point during the offseason so they can get him back to AAA.

        Overall, though, they’re going to try to hold all of them. Romine hasn’t caught over 100 games and been a regular since 2010. That back problem he has still hasn’t been asked to withstand everyday catching. Cervelli has the broken hand that was not progessing well. They will have to assess him next spring. Murphy is an unknown.

        Add it all up, I say Stewart is still with the team next Spring Training.

        • Mac

          I think it would be a surprise if they try to pass Stewart through waivers. Not a total shock, but a surprise and unlikely to work. He’s one of the best defensive Cs in baseball and still cost controlled. A strong back-up or a passable starter.

          Cervelli’s problem is his elbow. Injured it while recovering from the hand.

          While I love how hot Romine has been the past couple of months, it’s under 60 PAs.

          • Mike HC

            Honestly, if Stewart is really one of the best defensive catchers in baseball (which I doubt, but I don’t watch enough of the other guys to really know), then catcher defense f’ing blows this year. Stewart is a good defender, but he is not exactly striking fear into opponent baserunners.

            I think we should cut Stewart and hire him as a coach, his true calling. A Cervelli, Romine, Murphy trifecta is the way to go if the Yanks refuse to spend on catching.

            • Mac

              With all due respect, the issue here is more with your understanding of the game than Stewart’s defense.

              Throwing out baserunners is only one part of C defense. Furthermore, the C is one part of preventing a steal. The P is arguably a bigger part and then the MI has to apply the tag.

              Both on reputation and stats Stewart is one of the best defensive Cs in baseball.

              • Bo Knows

                Stewart is a decent framer, but he’s one of the worst offenders in baseball with passed balls and wild pitches allowed. So in other words, he’s a catcher who literally can’t catch the damn ball.

                • Mac

                  He grades out as one of the best defensive Cs overall on fangraphs, which is using traditional C stats and not pitch framing.

                  I don’t know what his PB rate is relative to other Cs, but I think it’s more a case of every single time he lets up a PB everyone freaks out. Even the best defenders in MLB make a mistake occasionally.

              • Tom

                Yeah, you’ve been spinning this garbage for awhile and noone is buying it.

                If you believe the metrics, than Russell Martin has ~2.5X more value defensively than Yadier Molina and the Yankees made a monumental mistake in letting him go for his defense alone. You think that is accurate? Or do you think the stats might be flawed? You think the stats for guys with an even smaller sample (like Stewart) have more noise or less noise?

                He has posted 0.6 fWAR (0.5bWAR) – in what universe is that a “passable” starter unless you mean “Chris Stewart a starter? I pass” Humberto Quintero and Goerge Kotarras have a similar WAR with less than half the playing time!

                Strong backup or passable starter… yikes.

                • Mac

                  Did I say letting Martin go was a good move? Ever? Once?

                  Relative to other Cs in the league, yes he is a strong backup or passable starter. You are so fucking stupid that you are contradicting your own point about noise in a tiny sample.

                  You seem to have your opinion, and the Yankees org, Girardi, Pena, Russell Martin all seem to disagree with you. Glad that you think as an anonymous commenter on the internet you know more about C than three longtime MLB Cs. Good for you. Pat on the back!!!

          • Cool Lester Smooth

            He’s not a passable starter. Full stop.

            Of all catchers with over 200 PA, only Jeff Mathis, Rob Brantly and Tyler Flowers have been worse offensively.

            Even if you say that he’s so incredibly amazing at pitch framing that WAR underrates him by a full win, he’s still essentially Jose Lobaton.

            • Mac

              Good thing that offense is the only thing in baseball… oh, wait… it isn’t? Oh, yeah, so shut the fuck up.

              Jose Lobaton is 22nd in fWAR among Cs with 200 PAs. There are 30 teams. I know you’re a young, dynasty, $20 mill stud at every position fan, but you might want to consider putting things in perspective before making stupid comments.

              • Cool Lester Smooth

                Keep it ad rem, bro. Ad hominem attacks betray ignorance, and you’ve shown quite enough of that already.

                Anyway, I would give a long reply but you already made my point by saying

                Jose Lobaton is 22nd in fWAR among Cs with 200 PAs. There are 30 teams.

                If a player is still in the bottom third of MLB catchers even after you add a full win to his total, he’s not a starting caliber player. It’s really that simple.

    • RetroRob

      And just what are you planning to get for Stewart and Cervelli?

      • kenthadley

        nothing for Stewart….Cervelli is the backup to either Romine or Murphy…maybe the year starts with Cervelli as the starter and one of the kids as a backup. Stewart goes at the end of spring training, on waivers, either to a team that picks him up or down to AAA as insurance. Combining ability and future, he ranks fourth among these catchers.

        • Mac

          The price for an out of options Chris Stewart (i.e. a guy the Giants could not keep so had little leverage on) was a decent RP prospect two years ago. Highly doubt it dropped to “nothing” all of a sudden. Cs are scarce. I don’t think you’re getting a ton for Stewart, but also not nothing.

          The Yankees apparently feel that on present ability Stewart ranks no worse than 2nd among the four.

          I like Romine and Murphy as prospects, but there’s no guarantee either works out to be even as good as Stewart or Cervelli. Those guys have shown to be at least decent MLB back-ups. I’d project both prospects to be at least that good, but let’s not count our eggs before they hatch.

          • Preston

            I think that Romine has proven that he can at least be a solid back up as well, he’s solid defensively and the offense is coming around. Even if you don’t think he’s made real progress his season 64 wRC+ puts him right into BUC production.

            • Mac

              I would be fine with trading one of Stewvelli for a modest return and rolling with Romine and the other, plus Murphy knocking on the door (and Sanchez not far behind). I’m more commenting on the attitude among fans that basically anyone would be better than Stewart. Just not the case. He’s a decent MLB C. Not a good one I wouldn’t say, but decent.

              You can’t know if he’s made real progress from 60 PAs. You just can’t tell a hot streak vs. sustainable progress in such a small sample (even if a player makes legit mechanical adjustments, will they stick long-term?). Even 132 PAs is not that meaningful of a sample. I like Romine, but I don’t think he’s proven anything either way at the MLB level (and would likely be saying that no matter the results in 132 PAs).

              • Preston

                Chris Stewart has identical career and season wRC+s of 59. Considering their age and their minor league production I am prepared to say there is a high probability that Romine is the better hitter even with SSS concerns. And obviously I’m not counting on Romine to have become a .300 hitter like he’s been the past two months, but it sure is encouraging.

                • Mac

                  I also assume Romine is a better hitter. The question is whether the defensive difference offsets whatever the offensive difference is.
                  We don’t really know what the offensive difference is yet. Romine is a 54 wRC+ in his MLB career. I think he has the potential to be tremendously better than Stewart, but doesn’t mean he will be.
                  People like to think of defense dichotomously–good or bad. It’s not, though. Stewart is an elite defender at a premium defensive spot. Maybe the premium defensive spot. I would agree that Romine is solid, but has yet to show me anything that would make me believe he’s elite.

                  Just like you could find LFs in past seasons that were better hitters than Gardner and still worse players, same goes for Stewart.

                  • Preston

                    First, we’re a long way off from knowing what the impact of C defense is, and frankly there are too many variables to know how much is influenced by the pitcher, INF alignment, and coaches. Second, I’d be willing to lose the half to full win that we might be getting from Stewart’s defense to see if we have something better in Romine, knowing that we have Murphy and Sanhcez at the next two levels if he flames out. This also isn’t saying I’m ready to dump Stewart for nothing, or that keeping Stewart as the BUC isn’t better than Cervelli who has a lot of questions with PEDs, the concussions and the elbow issue.

                    • Mac

                      You are a long way from knowing, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees are. They have 14 people in their stats department and however many scouts (plus extremely well respected former Cs in Girardi and Pena). I wouldn’t be so smug in assuming they are just shooting in the dark with this.

            • Cool Lester Smooth

              And he’s better than Stewart.

      • Curtis

        Doesn’t really matter. Couple middle relievers? A DH for next year? Just pointing out they’ll have to make some decisions

        • JohnnyC

          Maybe a copy of an old Esquire for Cashman’s bathroom library.

      • JohnnyC

        Stewart must save a zillion runs with his pitch-framing skills. He’s the ultimate sabermetric catcher. You can’t judge him by just watching him play. Most observers don’t notice that he even cleverly frames passed balls as well. Genius!

        • Mac

          The sad thing is that it’s not just pitch framing. He is an excellent defensive C. It’s not just sabermetrics that notices… Girardi, Pena, and Martin have all noticed as well. Martin made a comment earlier this season about how much he learned about C defense from Chris Stewart last season.

          • OldYanksFan

            Don’t be silly. We fans sitting in the basement, waiting for Mom to tell us our Mac and Cheese is ready, know more about MLB Catching than Girardi, Pena and Martin.

            Know why?
            (and some Yankee blogs too.)

            • Cool Lester Smooth

              Nah, dude.

              Fangraphs is where it’s at!

      • Mac

        While they don’t have a ton of value both do have value.

        Yankees fans love to hate Chris Stewart, but 0.6 fWAR in 290 PAs is good for 23rd among Cs with at least 250 PAs. 29th among Cs with 200 PAs. Yankees had to give up a decent, MLB ready RP prospect for him. He’s got two fewer cost controlled years, but I don’t think his value is all that much lower.

        Cervelli is a bit of a wildcard between the concussions and the PEDs. That volatility might scare teams away, but he might have at least as much value as Stewart if not more.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          So you’re saying that he’s the second worst catcher in the league?

          • Mac

            29th out of 40 is not second worse, smart guy.

        • Tom

          Again with the twisting of stats. He’s 35th when you don’t set the cutoff anywhere.

          You know why that is? Because there are catchers with far fewer games who have managed to post more WAR than the incomparable Chris Stewart.

          If you look at WAR/playing time, I don’t even think he’s in the Top 50. But sure keep misusing the stats to pretend Chris Stewart doesn’t actually stink. He has no business starting and should be a last resort backup.

          I said it above, Goerge Kotarras and Humberto Quintero have posted the same WAR in less than half the playing time. Think about that for a second when you start quoting stupid things like 23rd with (insert random cutoff here) PA’s. They of course don’t make your top 23 because teams weren’t stupid enough to keep playing them.

          • Mac

            You are the same guy who talked about noise in small samples earlier, right? And yet you’re going to take stats from Cs who have barely played any games as proof of their true production levels? Apparently you are talking about things you don’t really understand with the noise stuff.

            You are the one nitpicking stats that suit your argument.

            • Cool Lester Smooth

              I’ll make it very simple for you, Ted.

              Chris. Stewart. Is. Not. Good. At. Baseball.

              This is evidenced by the fact that there are 28 catchers in the league who have been better than him, even using your own arbitrary cutoff.

              • Tom

                Ted’s emotionally invested. He was convinced letting Martin walk was the right move and that Cervelli and Stewart wold be a fine replacement.

                Anyone with half a brain knew this was lunacy at the time, and he eventually got booted for it when he went off on Mike A.

                Mid year he comes back to bastardize statistics again when Stewart was given a crappy midseason grade by Mike A. He took fWAR (conveniently omitted bWAR as it was significantly lower and didn’t suit his narrative) and did what any highly educated person in statistics would do: Take a niosy sample and simply multiply it by X to extrapolate performance. So he turned a 0.8fWAR and extrapolated it to almost 2 WAR (which didn’t even really make sense either unless he was going to catch 150-160 games). Of course that isn’t how statistics work and there is this thing called regression.

                Now when it is clear as day that the Stewart plan was dumbass in hindsight/foresight and any sight, he still defaults to “defensive reputation” “TEH FRAMINGZ” and continues to insist that a 05.-0.6WAR catcher is a passable starter.

                You also notice CHris Stewart at ASB: 0.8 WAR, Chris Stewart post all star break 0.6 WAR. (yes post all star break Chris Stewart has been below replacement level).

      • emac2

        Why do people always ask this question? How many people say they want to trade a player and have a “plan” to get someone back? How often do they have a plan when they don’t mention the player they want to get back in their original post?

        Don’t you trade players you don’t need for something of comparable value? Even if the value is someone elses marginal piece that might fit a little better with your needs than with theirs?

        Saying you want to get rid of some players via trade doesn’t mean you think they are awesome players. It means you don’t think they are very good and want to get rid of them. Talking about trading them means that you understand that even poor major league players have a market.

        For a team like the Yankees, that prefers to cycle waiver wire players through the major league team, players that are only worth “a few pennies” might be interesting enough for a team to trade their 23rd player instead of waiving their 26th. A trade in this case could also serve to simply get the Yankees a player that might have been claimed by someone before he gets that far down the waiver priority list.

        • RetroRob

          If this was in response to my question (and I can’t tell since there are now so many posts and repsonses to posts above), then to clarify, what I’m really questioning is his desire to trade away two catchers, who probably provide more value to the team then anything they will get back.

          To illustrate that point, not having a catcher, even one of the back-up variety like Stewart, is what caused Cashman to to trade away a potentially valuable bullpen arm in Kontos. It was a trade circumstances, brought on by Romine hiding his back injury. In most situations, Stewart could be acquired for much less, in many cases just a simple claim.

          So, sure, trade them away. But what will be acquired will most likely have less value to the Yankees than simply having the flexibility to NOT have to do a forced trade.

          With Romine not having caught much in several years, Murphy a question mark yet to play a single game in the Majors, and Cervelli coming off a hand and elbow issue and a PED suspension, keeping both Stewart and Cervelli is more valuable to the Yankees than what they can aquire for them…unless some other team is caught in a panic move themselves. Those type of panic moves don’t happen in the offseason.

          • Cool Lester Smooth

            Exactly, Kontos isn’t representative of Stewart’s actual trade value, as the Giants had Cashman by the shorthairs at the time.

            • Mac

              This is a false narrative. The Yankees had Martin and Cervelli at the time. They were looking for quality depth, but they didn’t need it immediately.

              The Giants were the ones with no leverage. Stewart was out of options. If they didn’t trade him, they lost him. That simple.

  • ropeadope

    Noted that Nelson Cruz is working out with Texas (although cannot be present during games while under suspension) and hopes to be activated for the post-season (if the Rangers qualify, obviously).

    If When the Yankees reach the post-season, can Cervelli be likewise activated? What is his current injury status?

    • Preston

      Yes, but they probably wouldn’t do that. He’s too far removed from hitting MLB pitching to expect that he could contribute in a meaningful way, especially since he wouldn’t even be able to do MiLB rehab games because their seasons will be over.

  • emac2

    Sounds risky to me.

    What has he proven at the major league level?

    How will the pitchers respond?

    Will he get enough time behind the plate to get better or will he get worse?

    Can’t we just get an expensive free agent vis trade ans at the same time clear some of the roster excess?

    On another note. I dreamed we traded Arod!

    The downside was that he was traded to a hitters park and I was totally bummed that he was more likely to get the home run bonus.

    • ropeadope

      I dreamed we traded Arod!

      More importantly, what was arb’s suspension decision? How many games were handed down in your dream?

      • emac2

        I was just thrilled he was gone until he hit a home run and I realized he was sure to get his bonus.

        Since I watched the homer I have to assume the decision hadn’t come down yet. :)

    • Preston

      “What has he proven at the major league level?
      How will the pitchers respond?
      Will he get enough time behind the plate to get better or will he get worse?”

      The AAA season is over, the options are tell him good season and send him home or bring him up and let him be around the big club for a couple weeks.

      The second option is preferable, he’ll get to catch bull-pens and learn from Girardi, Pena and even Stewart who are/were excellent defenders. He’ll also get to know some of the pitchers hopefully giving him a leg up in ST next year.

      • emac2

        I was kidding.

        People seem to forget that baseball is a business and not a Catholic school. If you have assets that you don’t even attempt maximize you aren’t doing your job.

        I keep hearing posts about every player needing a full year at each level and figured I would make a joke about the risks of playing a prospect instead of sending them home.

  • OldYanksFan

    “Twenty-five years ago, Orel Hershiser started one of MLB’s most memorable streaks. We look back at 59 consecutive scoreless innings.”

    Amazing! That’s like 6 1/2 consecutive SO CGs. Will that ever will done again?

    • JohnnyC

      I thought Matt Harvey already did that this year. Oh my, listening to too much WFAN is clouding my brain.

  • 56Mantle

    Hopefully he gets a shot at replacing Stewart since he represents the future moving forward. Will it happen?………….

    • emac2

      In the old days they would gather everyone just before the season starts and make a decision based on production during a series of practice games. The easy decision would seem to be having Stew, Cervelli, Romine, JR and Sanchez come to camp and see who wins.

      Nowadays we put everyone on a spreadsheet and let people who know how to sort by various columns decide the starters.

      • Mike HC

        Actually, it seems like the Yanks heavily weigh traditional scouting when it comes to catcher, and not spread sheet numbers. Because the spreadsheet can’t possibly say Stewart is an acceptable starter catcher.

        • emac2

          Why would you assume traditional scouting would consider him a starter? The fact that Stewart is starting is because of decisions made by the Yankees ownership, not because scouts consider him a starter.

          • Mac

            One decision made by ownership and injury/suspension really.

            Traditional scouting still has Stewart as a very good defensive C, though.

        • Mac

          Actually, fWAR does. It doesn’t say that he’s a good or even solid starter. It does say he’s acceptable. And that’s not including pitch framing, which is considered to be one of his strengths: an area where he really adds value relative to the average C.

          • Cool Lester Smooth

            0.6 WAR is not acceptable production from a starter in this or any world.

            • Preston

              Considering the error bars on WAR and especially the error bars on defensive metrics for C, he’s basically replacement level…

              • Mac

                This is such a cop out.

                By this logic probably 50% of MLB players are replacement level. That replacement level falls within a confidence interval around a player’s production doesn’t mean you can just decide you want to round down and call them replacement level.

                You make C defense seem like the cure to cancer and HIV all rolled into one. It’s reasonable not to be confident that we can calculate an exact value, but you seem to want to pretend that we don’t even know what goes into that value. You’ve got every stat available and every expert available telling you Stewart is a strong defensive C. Why are you so dead set on not believing them? Why are you accepting defensive stats (rolled into WAR) at any other position?

            • Mac

              That’s your opinion because you are a spoiled dynasty fan. Relative to the rest of the league, he’s an acceptable starting C. He was Cashman’s 3rd choice to be starter. I’m not saying he’s good or ideal, but he’s acceptable.

              • Cool Lester Smooth

                Do you actually understand what the stats you’ve linked to say? The Yankees are 20th in catcher WAR, and most of it is from Cervelli’s 20 games at the beginning of the season. Being in the bottom third of the league=/=having an acceptable starting C.

                Also, try to keep it ad rem. Personal attacks are the last refuge of the unintelligent.

  • scooter10

    Figure Gary Sanchez gets a chance to start either in 2015 or 2016. So the Yankees need to determine if they can make it with a combination of Stewart/Cervelli/Romine/Murphy the next 1-2 years, OR, spend the bucks on McCan. I would rather spend the money on SP.

  • trr


  • nycsportzfan

    Hes a former 2nd rd pick and worked his way through he system. I honestly think Romine is are catcher of the future though. One i seen his stance and approach for a bit, i thught he’d turn it around and show he can be a 280 15 75 type catcher for us who plays solid D. Still, Murphy brings good competiton, and one could be trade bait

  • Cool Lester Smooth


    Murphy needs to have been the starter yesterday!

    (I kid, but…)