Results tagged ‘ chris stewart ’

February 19 – Happy Birthday Chris Stewart

stewartAs near as I could figure, Chris Stewart’s most important asset is his ability to effectively frame pitches. That’s a term that describes how catchers  position and quickly move their gloves on pitches that are just out of the strike zone in an effort to deceive umpires into thinking they are strikes. Now you probably find it as hard to believe as I do that the mighty Yankees would reward any catcher with the starting job behind the plate based on an ability to steal strikes. The truth is of course that the richest team in baseball had decided after the 2012 regular season that they were going to lower their annual player payroll to $189 million by 2014, which would save them $50 million in subsequent luxury tax payments. To get the dollars down to that level, they’ decided to gamble, or actually penny-pinch with the catcher’s position. Instead of paying Russell Martin the $7.5 million in annual salary it would have taken to keep him in a Yankee uniform for the next two years, they let Martin go to the Pirates and  put Chris Stewart in the starting catchers’ slot. That’s the same slot once filled by the likes of Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Ellie Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada and last winter, the Yankee front office thought it was a good idea to put Stewart in it.

Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi believed that Stewart was as good a defensive catcher as Martin was for them and I guess that might have been true. It appeared that most of the Yankee rotation didn’t mind and might have actually preferred having Stewart behind the plate instead of Martin when they were on the mound. But Stewart lacked Martin’s offensive skills, especially in the power and base-running departments and he’s not as “fiery” as the former Yankee catcher either. My biggest concern with Stewart behind the plate was his near automatic-out track record with the bat. Opposing pitchers had little to fear when they faced him and that wasn’t a good situation for the Yankees, especially during the team’s injury-plagued 2013 season during which every one of their top offensive weapons, with the exception of Robbie Cano spent mucho time on the DL.

As it turned out, the Yankee front office put Stewart in a no-win situation last year. He proved he couldn’t handle the starting catching responsibilities and in the process lost his claim to the role of serving as the team’s back-up receiver. This winter, New York went out and signed Brian McCann. He is everything Stewart was not and if he stays healthy, will help my favorite team return to postseason play. Meanwhile, the Yanks traded Stewart to the Pirates where ironically, he will once again serve as the backup to Russell Martin, a role that suits him perfectly. I wish him well.

In addition to the Yankees, Stewart has saw time with the White Sox, Rangers, Padres and Giants. He shares his birthday with this former Yankee shortstop.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2008 NYY 1 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
2012 NYY 55 157 141 15 34 8 0 1 13 2 10 21 .241 .292 .319 .611
2013 NYY 109 340 294 28 62 6 0 4 25 4 30 49 .211 .293 .272 .566
7 Yrs 257 734 645 67 138 24 0 8 51 6 59 97 .214 .287 .288 .575
NYY (3 yrs) 165 500 438 43 96 14 0 5 38 6 40 71 .219 .291 .285 .577
TEX (1 yr) 17 43 37 4 9 2 0 0 3 0 3 6 .243 .300 .297 .597
SDP (1 yr) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
SFG (1 yr) 67 183 162 20 33 8 0 3 10 0 16 18 .204 .283 .309 .592
CHW (1 yr) 6 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/27/2014.