by Ray Kuhn
Do not fret fantasy owners, especially those of you in deep or two-catcher formats, as you are not the only ones that have trouble filling your catching spots. The New York Yankees and their $189 million payroll know exactly how you feel. With Austin Romine potentially starting the season in Triple-A the Yankees’ Opening Day catchers will be Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart.
Now this is not to say that it is a guarantee that Romine will start the year in the minors, but it is pretty likely since the Yankees want him to get a little more seasoning to make up for last season. Romine only had 61 at bats in AAA due to a back injury that interrupted the bulk of his year. The problem is that even when he did play, he hit only .213 with 3 HR and 9 RBI at Triple-A. Obviously those are not great numbers as Romine’s forte is meaningless to fantasy owners; aka his defense. So the question is then, when Romine is eventually recalled, will he hold fantasy value?
Romine is not going to be much of a power threat but he is a solid enough player to provide some fantasy value without hurting you. The clearest predictors of his future performance are his 2010 and 2011 seasons at Double-A.
- 2010: 115 games, .268, 10 HR, 69 RBI, 61 R
- 2011: 85 games, .286, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 43 R
Unlike some other catchers, Romine will not hurt your average which is a positive and makes up for some of his lack of home run power. He has shown the ability to drive runners in if they are on base and also has enough speed to score runs. With the Yankees he will be batting towards the bottom of the lineup, so there should be RBI opportunities and probably chances to score some runs as the lineup turns over to the top.
Until Romine arrives in the Bronx, Francisco Cervelli could be a decent stop gap option. He is in the same mold as Romine, but also has shown the ability to rip off some hot streaks in the Majors. Cervelli has even less power and RBI upside than Romine, but the batting averages should be similar and he does have major league experience. Chris Stewart is nothing more than a defensive player and should not be on anyone’s fantasy radar, nor will he receive enough playing time to warrant consideration.
Romine is not an exciting young catching option, especially when compared to his New York counterpart, Travis D’Arnaud, but in deeper leagues there could be some value. He will not cost much to acquire and should not do much damage to your batting average either while providing some production. While he may not be a difference maker, Romine should be someone you keep an eye on if you are not planning to budget much for catcher or if you are looking for a cost effective second option.
What are your thoughts on Romine? Do you think he could provide fantasy value in 2012? Why or why not?
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