The Yankees’ backup catcher, Francisco Cervelli has been diagnosed with a Grade-2 strain in his right hamstring. He’ll be sent to the disabled list on Tuesday and will miss somewhere around 4 to 6 weeks. Luckily for the Yankees, (sort of) the catcher spot is very deep throughout the organization and they have a lot of options for a backup catcher to serve behind Brian McCann. With the catchers of the future, Peter O’Brien and Gary Sanchez still a few years away, the Yankees will turn to either Austin Romine or John Ryan Murphy to take over in Cervelli’s absence. So when Franky is shipped off to the DL who should take over?
Austin Romine has played in 71 Major League games with 60 of them coming in 2013. The 25-year-old batted only .207 with one home run and 10 RBI last season and he was never able to find his swing after Cervelli went down last year. In spring training this year he batted .179 with no homers, no RBI, and just a .179 slugging percentage in 31 plate appearances. Romine was previously recalled this season after Mark Teixeira went down with a hamstring problem of his own, but was only able to squeeze his way into one game while he was up. The Yankees may choose Romine over Murphy because he has more big league experience but there should, and more than likely will be, more thought put into this decision.
You may remember John Ryan Murphy better as JR Murphy, who famously caught the last pitches that Mariano Rivera ever threw. Well don’t ask me why but he’s going by John Ryan now, and it can get confusing. So let’s get down to the point. Murphy played his first 16 games games of his Major League career last year and hit .154 with one RBI in 27 plate appearances. Ryan didn’t fair so well in spring training either as he batted .077 with a home run and 5 RBI. Murphy, who is 22-years-old, would also give the Yankees some flexibility as he has played some games at third and first base in the minor leagues and the team is in desperate need of some sort of depth at those positions. That could be a huge factor when the decision is being made.
Look at it this way, it’s the backup catcher. Brian McCann is finally starting to get into a groove (He crushed a double just short of a home run last night) and he’s expected to catch at least 130 games this year. Romine is a little more experienced but has really struggled when he gets big league opportunities. Murphy’s flexibility at the corner infield positions could put him over the top. The team would ideally like to use their backup backstop at other spots than catcher and Romine really can’t do that. Whoever makes it, let’s be thankful it’s not McCann they’re trying to replace right now.