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Yankees 2013 Roster Report Card: Chris Stewart

The catching position was a disaster for the Yankees in 2013 and Chris Stewart was a big reason why.

At least you'll always have this play.
At least you'll always have this play.
Jared Wickerham

Grade: D

2013 statistics: 109 games, .211/.293/.272, 4 HR, 58 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR

2014 contract status: First-year arbitration eligible

It seemed like a risky move during the 2013 offseason when the Yankees opted to not re-sign Russell Martin and go for a tandem of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate, and it turned out even worse than would be expected. After Cervelli's injury, Stewart became the de facto starter and put together one of poorest offensive seasons from a starting catcher in MLB history. When just compared to the paltry standards Stewart has set in his career, it was a rough showing for the veteran backup. Everybody knew that Chris Stewart was not good enough to be a starting catcher, especially on a team with playoff aspirations, and he certainly lived up to those expectations.

Things started out well enough for Stewart as he mimicked several of the other Yankees "castoffs" by having a respectable beginning to the season. Through June 11, Stewart was hitting .284 with a .711 OPS. Nothing spectacular, but those numbers would actually be acceptable for a Major League Baseball starting catcher. However, whether or not it was fatigue from being trotted out there every day or just from being Chris Stewart, he completely fell off for the rest of the season. In 71 more games, Stewart managed just one home run and had an OPS that would make a pitcher blush of .488. Even as Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy finally got a large portion of the playing time, Stewart was still hopeless at the plate, so rest may not have been an issue. Throw in being second in the AL in passed balls with twelve and some cringe-inducing gaffes while behind the plate, and it was just a downright ugly 2013 season for the man lovingly referred to as "Stewie." The only thing preventing him from getting a failing grade is how little was to be expected of him.

While Joe Girardi seems to have a soft spot for Stewart, thanks to nebulous things like handling the pitching staff well, there's really not a whole lot of reasons to bring him back. The Yankees have two young catchers in Murphy and Romine, the option of bringing back a recovered Cervelli and many solutions at catcher in free agency if they choose to open their wallets. Keeping Stewart around just for the purposes of depth in case of injury wouldn't be the worst idea, but considering Girardi's affinity for Stewart, I would be concerned that he would be given the opportunity to compete for a roster spot in Spring Training. It might just be better to part ways with Stewart at this point and let somebody else employ one of the worst hitters in all of baseball.

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