No team needed a player more than the Yanks needed Brian McCann

Brian McCann confronting the Brewers Carlos Gomez

Brian McCann confronting the Brewers Carlos Gomez

The Yankees entered this offseason with more holes than the finest Jarlsberg cheese.

  • The Yankees know that they will be without Alex Rodriguez for at least part of the season, and hope for all of the season in order to clear $25 million to spend. But as of now they don’t have a third baseman.
  • The Yankees are uncertain, but hopeful, as to Derek Jeter‘s status at short and have signed the good fielding Brendan Ryan as his backup.
  • The Yankees are optimistic, but not certain, that they will be able re-sign Robinson Cano to be their franchise second baseman and lineup anchor.
  • The Yankees are relatively certain that Mark Teixeira will be back at first and they hope that his repaired wrist will quickly regain its power.

That was just the infield.

That was just the pitching.

And, may I remind you that right now the Yankee outfield consists of Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki.

That’s just scratching the obvious surface and doesn’t address the lack of depth anywhere on the team.

But the one giant hole that needed to be filled, has been filled.

The Yankees have added the high-character, strong leadership, homer hitting, good fielding catcher Brian McCann.

The Yankees and McCann agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract with a vesting option for a sixth year, and a no-trade clause.

While the deal is the largest average annual value contract ever given to a free agent catcher, a high quality catcher very rarely reaches free agency.

McCann is a HUGE upgrade for the Yankees behind the plate

The Yankee catching corp weren’t just deficient last season, they were the weakest hitting group in the majors, with the fewest homers..

2013 Catchers by Team
AB H HR BB K RBI AVG OBP SLG
1. Atlanta Braves 597 149 27 59 118 94 .250 .325 .436
2. Texas Rangers 618 160 23 32 130 85 .259 .301 .424
3. Houston Astros 596 153 23 55 172 68 .257 .326 .440
4. Baltimore Orioles 589 137 23 47 123 84 .233 .284 .404
5. Toronto Blue Jays 598 116 22 30 169 61 .194 .235 .348
6. New York Mets 593 130 22 51 160 84 .219 .288 .366
7. Minnesota Twins 620 187 22 82 140 76 .302 .382 .477
8. Mil Brewers 603 156 22 52 103 89 .259 .321 .428
9. Cleveland Indians 568 154 22 70 120 74 .271 .357 .467
10. Pittsburgh Pirates 595 137 20 62 141 72 .230 .312 .378
11. Wash Nationals 581 139 19 37 80 83 .239 .286 .375
12. Colorado Rockies 623 164 19 28 133 90 .263 .295 .404
13. Chicago Cubs 583 164 19 52 120 61 .281 .353 .425
14. Boston Red Sox 589 159 19 55 192 89 .270 .334 .453
15. KC Royals 607 164 18 42 107 87 .270 .321 .422
16. Seattle Mariners 563 110 16 49 153 53 .195 .266 .313
17. Phil Phillies 571 140 16 37 101 71 .245 .300 .375
18. LA Dodgers 580 137 16 59 135 73 .236 .306 .367
19. LA Angels 524 124 16 81 150 55 .237 .341 .385
20. Detroit Tigers 580 152 16 54 138 73 .262 .326 .395
21. Chi White Sox 550 108 16 26 162 58 .196 .238 .325
22. SF Giants 611 163 14 63 101 76 .267 .339 .398
23. San Diego Padres 559 128 14 51 141 58 .229 .297 .360
24. Oakland Athletics 552 147 14 69 125 63 .266 .351 .408
25. St. L Cardinals 633 182 12 34 79 89 .288 .328 .423
26. Arizona D-backs 622 154 12 58 142 62 .248 .313 .347
27. Cincinnati Reds 561 124 10 58 91 66 .221 .298 .317
28. Tampa Bay Rays 546 134 9 51 123 49 .245 .310 .355
29. Miami Marlins 572 111 9 40 164 51 .194 .249 .280
30. New York Yankees 497 106 8 47 101 43 .213 .289 .298

Who were those 2013 Yankee catchers?

2013 Yankee Catchers

PA AB H 2B HR BB K RBI AVG OBP
New York Yankees 566 497 106 18 8 47 101 43 .213 .289 .298
Francisco Cervelli) 61 52 14 3 3 8 9 8 .269 .377 .500
Austin Romine 145 132 28 9 1 8 35 10 .212 .261 .303
Chris Stewart 335 289 61 5 4 30 48 24 .211 .295 .270
J.R. Murphy 25 24 3 1 0 1 9 1 .125 .160 .167

The Yankee problems behind the plate are not new

For those members of Yankee Universe who bemoan the loss of Russell Martin behind plate after the 2012 season, you are indulging in revisionist history.

2009 – 2013 Yankee Catchers

PA AB H 2B HR BB K RBI AVG OBP
Jesus Montero (NYY) 13 10 3 1 0 3 4 2 .300 .462 .400
Francisco Cervelli (NYY) 608 528 146 22 8 52 87 79 .277 .348 .375
Jorge Posada (NYY) 709 614 168 42 33 83 150 115 .274 .364 .507
Kevin Cash (NYY) 28 26 6 2 0 0 5 3 .231 .250 .308
Russell Martin (NYY) 933 814 184 34 39 100 166 116 .226 .319 .412
Chris Stewart (NYY) 490 428 94 13 5 40 68 37 .220 .293 .285
Chad Moeller (NYY) 15 14 3 3 0 1 4 0 .214 .267 .429
Jose Molina (NYY) 147 131 27 4 1 13 25 11 .206 .281 .260
Austin Romine (NYY) 162 149 30 9 1 8 39 10 .201 .245 .282
Gustavo Molina (NYY) 6 6 1 1 0 0 0 0 .167 .167 .333
JR Murphy (NYY) 25 24 3 1 0 1 9 1 .125 .160 .167
Total 3,136 2,744 665 132 87 301 557 374 .242 .323 .388

Enter Brian McCann

Here’s a look at all the Yankee catchers from 2009-13 combined versus Brian McCann during that same period

2009 – 2013 McCann & Yankee Catchers

PA AB H 2B HR BB K RBI AVG OBP
NY Yankees 3,136 2,744 665 132 87 301 557 374 .242 .323 .388
Brian McCann 2,533 2,228 584 106 106 263 412 366 .262 .343 .453

Yes, I’m aware, and the Yankees are well aware, that McCann’s numbers have declined, but not enough to not make this an outstanding deal in part because he’s had six straight 20+ homer seasons and that’s before he started aiming for the right-field porch of Yankee Stadium.

2009 – 2013 Brian McCann

PA AB H HR BB K RBI AVG OBP
2009-13 2,533 2,228 584 106 263 412 366 .262 .343 .453
2009 551 488 137 21 49 83 94 .281 .349 .486
2010 566 479 129 21 74 98 77 .269 .375 .453
2011 527 466 126 24 57 89 71 .270 .351 .466
2012 487 439 101 20 44 76 67 .230 .300 .399
2013 402 356 91 20 39 66 57 .256 .336 .461

And I’m not even going to address his defensive skills in this article which is another positive for this 11-time All-Star.

The McCann Intangible

After confronting Carlos Gomez last September, Richard Justice wrote for MLB.com, “Brian McCann is the heart and soul of the Atlanta Braves. So on Wednesday night, he did what great leaders almost always do. McCann stood up for his pitcher, and he stood up for his team.”

Back in 2011, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times quoted the Braves coach Eddie Perez who preceded McCann as a catcher for the Braves, “When something happens on the team he’s the first one to try to help,” Perez said at spring training last week. “I saw him talk to some of the minor leaguers when we had the rookie camp before we came here, and that was the best speech I’ve ever heard from any player talking to young kids — and he’s still young. He was right on it, telling true stories about what happened to him to make him be a better player, and all the hard work. The kids were amazed listening to him.

“To me he’s our leader, he’s our No. 1 guy, because he cares. He’s there every day playing hard, trying to win.”

In 2012, after Chipper Jones retired, Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph asked Chipper who would Jones like to see take over as the Braves’ leader?

“I’d like to say it’s Brian McCann,” Jones said. “He’s going to solely be the face of this franchise starting next year. He’s a great kid. He’s a great player. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to build a ballclub around.”

Since 1980, the first full season following the death of Thurman Munson, the Yankees have had 38 guys behind the plate led by these five:

Player G From To AB H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
Jorge Posada 1829 1995 2011 6092 1664 275 1065 936 1453 .273 .374 .474
Rick Cerone 587 1980 1990 1842 459 31 203 122 210 .249 .297 .351
Butch Wynegar 449 1982 1986 1437 372 27 168 251 149 .259 .368 .363
Mike Stanley 426 1992 1997 1372 391 72 263 201 314 .285 .377 .504
Joe Girardi 379 1996 1999 1283 349 8 153 80 172 .272 .317 .361
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/26/2013.

As the Core Four of Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter is down to one, the Yankee clubhouse, like the Braves clubhouse when Jones retired, will end up turning their eyes toward Brian McCann.

He’s the right man at the right time for a team that really needs him.