Yankees sign Stinnett to be Posada's backup

NEW YORK -- Kelly Stinnett replaced John Flaherty as the New York Yankees' backup catcher, agreeing Wednesday to a $650,000, one-year contract.

Stinnett hit .248 with six homers and 12 RBI last season with Arizona. At 35, he is three years younger than Flaherty, who dropped to a .165 average with two homers and 11 RBI last season
after hitting .252 with six homers and 16 RBI in 2004.

"I've been on a couple of winning ballclubs, but I wanted to experience the winningest ballclub," said Stinnett, who also was
approached by Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Flaherty spent the last three seasons as Jorge Posada's backup and caught Randy Johnson's final 17 regular-season starts this year plus the Big Unit's Game 3 start in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Angels. Johnson pitched poorly in his Yankees postseason debut but threw 4 1/3 shutout innings as a reliever in Game 5, when Posada was the catcher.

"Flaherty did a tremendous job of working with Randy," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Despite Flash working as well
as he did with Randy, going forward I'm hopeful that either Kelly
Stinnett or Jorge Posada can provide that type of same support and
care that Flaherty did."

Stinnett started his major league career with the New York Mets in 1994.

"Starting out in the big city, it was a blur," he said.

Flaherty made 39 starts last season, and Stinnett is likely to spell Posada in a similar amount of games.

"I know my role. I'm not going to rock any boats or anything," Stinnett said.

Cashman said Flaherty and Todd Pratt also had been considered for next year's backup job before the Yankees decided on Stinnett.

"He can swing the bat a little bit better than John," Cashman
said. "And we're hopeful that his defensive game, which we feel is
strong, too, is just as strong as John's. Flaherty's been an ideal
backup for the last few years."

Cashman said there was no news to report on talks with relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Tom Gordon.

The Yankees and Farnsworth have been negotiating a two- or three-year deal averaging $4.5 million to $6 million. New York also would like to retain Gordon, who has been seeking a three-year contract.

Farnsworth's agent, Barry Meister, declined comment.