Cervelli’s good luck 2010


Among backup catchers, Francisco Cervelli has been among the best in the league in this young season. He’s gotten on base in more than half of his plate appearances, and it seems like everything he hits finds the outfield grass. It also seems like he gets the hits at just the right time. His eight hits have driven in six runs, even more impressive because he has just one extra base hit on the season.

Photo credit: Chris Carlson/AP

Cervelli will get at least one unexpected start in place of Jorge Posada, who will rest after getting hit in the knee with a fastball last night. Considering how well Cervelli has been hitting — he went 2 for 4 last night — this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While Posada’s superiority is clear, the Yanks will get a chance to squeeze more production out of Cervelli while he’s hot. It’s not going to last all season.

April BABIPs bring May regressions. We’ll see that positively affect slumping hitters like Mark Teixeira and Nick Johnson — both of whom picked up hits last night — but we’ll also see it negatively affect streaking hitters. Cervelli will not keep up his .471 BABIP, and so we’ll see his numbers drop a bit. What’s even more ridiculous is his BA on ground balls. The AL as a whole is hitting .208 on ground balls, but Cervelli is hitting .400. The league mark will come up, and Cervelli’s will come down, but for now Cervelli’s ground balls have eyes.

Cervelli’s walk and strikeout rates are also likely unsustainable. He has struck out just once this season, mostly because he has avoided pitches outside the strike zone. When he has swung at pitches outside the zone he has made contact every time, another unsustainable rate. It helps, then, that he’s seen more pitches in the zone this year than he has in the past. He’s been a bit more discerning, though, swinging at fewer of them overall.

What we don’t know is how Cervelli will adjust. We know he won’t hit this well all season, but where he ends up remains a mystery. We do know that he has hits and walks in the bank. He has walked three times already this season, so he’s already above his 2009 total. To reach his 2009 total in batting average he’d have to go 20 for his next 76, .263, something we know he can do. Even if he does that without drawing even one more walk, he’d still have a higher OBP than last season.

Any positive offensive contribution Cervelli makes is a bonus. It’s gravy. Icing on the cake. House money. However you want to describe his offensive production, it’s not why he got the backup catcher job. He’s outstanding defensively and has already established, at least among Yankees fans, a reputation for working well with pitchers. That is his primary task, and as long as he performs that well all he needs to do is hit better than Wil Nieves. Given what we saw last year and what we’ve seen so far this year, I think that’s a safe assumption.

Categories : Offense


  1. Rose says:

    What happened to the Tyler Clippard post?

    What happens to Cervelli next year? Would Joe keep a 3rd catcher on the bench? Even if Nick Johnson picks up the pace a little bit…I don’t see him returning…

  2. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    I don’t know….I think Frankie “Wine Bar Eyes” Cervelli (ht. M&A) has a legit shot at hitting .400 this year.

  3. He’s outstanding defensively and has already established, at least among Yankees fans, a reputation for working well with pitchers. That is his primary task, and as long as he performs that well all he needs to do is hit better than Wil Nieves. Given what we saw last year and what we’ve seen so far this year, I think that’s a safe assumption.

    Although, really, time will tell.

  4. larryf says:

    I’ll be watching AJ’s curves in the dirt and how Frankie handles them. Nice having a catcher who can run too.

  5. CS Yankee says:

    Montero & Romaine could still be a few years out. No reason to sell the bread when its still in the oven.

    Posada and Cervelli are both having a great (SSS) season.

    Time is on the Yankees side with this position so they can have a wait and see approach.

  6. Meat Loaf says:

    Just remember people, there’s no such thing as too many well producing catchers. Ever.

  7. larryf says:

    Cervelli just turned 24. Posada at 23 caught 1 game and at 24 caught 8 games. I would say we don’t know how good (or bad) Cervelli will be yet. I do like the upside though…

    • I know where you’re coming from on this one, but you have to take a more nuanced approach to that issue. Just because a player is young doesn’t mean we can compare him to veterans who’ve had successful careers and declare that ‘hey, he’s performed pretty well at an early age as compared to the veteran, we have no idea how good he will be.’ It’s the same thing we kept seeing, over and over again, in the discussions about Melky and his potential. Just because Melky may have had similar numbers to Bernie Williams at similar ages, or something like that, does NOT mean that we can expect Melky to progress the way Bernie did. We have volumes of scouting reports and opinions provided by people both within and outside the organization who evaluate these kids, we don’t have to just look at their stats at certain ages and extrapolate what they might turn into if they progress as great vets progressed.

      Has Cervelli performed well as the backup catcher so far in his young career? Most definitely. Does that mean that he’s going to turn into a run-producing starting catcher for the Yankees? No. He might, there’s always a chance… But in all likelihood, based on all indications we have so far of his skills and abilities, he’s not going to. We DO have some idea of how good he will be, we don’t approach these questions blindly.

    • Zack says:

      FWIW: Posada had 900+ ABs in AAA, Cervelli has 100(?) maybe.

  8. Jammy Jammers says:

    Do any of these young guys have pee pee hands?

  9. YankeeScribe says:

    Its easy to like Cervelli because he handles himself similar to the way Jeter handled himself when he first came up. You forget how young he is because he carries himself like a veteran.

    I like what we’ve seen from him so far and I don’t think he’s had enough atbats at any level for us to know how good of a hitter he can be or whether or not he’s capable of being an everyday catcher. Let’s see how the 2010 season plays out before we write him off as a fluky or streaky hitter.

    Cervelli will most likely not be as good a hitter as Montero is projected to be but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Yankees trade him to a team and he becomes his new team’s everyday catcher.

  10. Riddering says:

    I think this post is a good indicator of how, alongside Cervelli’s production, those too high on his role for the Yankees should come down to earth. He’s a great assett where he is–the backup backup. Defensively he excels. (Although in sss he hasn’t gotten runners as he should but that shouldn’t last throughout the year.) Offensively he isn’t a drain in his role. I expect him to produce but not at the level of Posada, Montero, or Romine and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • YankeeScribe says:

      There’s nothing wrong with being high on Cervelli. We don’t know how high his upside is because he didn’t get enough atbats in the minors. Still, at 24 years old, it’s unlikely that he’s peaked offensively. Even if he ends up with a down to earth line of .270/.350/.400, that would still be above average offensively for a catcher.

      The only things working against him are:

      - Posada can still hit and catch

      - The Yankees have a surplus in potential homegrown replacements for Posada(assuming Mauer doesn’t become a free agent)

      I still see him starting at catcher within 3 years but not with the Yankees…

  11. larryf says:

    With Tony Pena/Girardi/Wynegar/Posada our young catchers have a nice brain trust to call on.

  12. First Time Poster says:

    Not saying that there is any correlation between the two players; however, from a dreamer’s optimistic point of view, Jorgie wasn’t scouted as anything special while he was a youngster.

    It would be interesting to see what the FO would do if Cervelli began producing elite production behind the plate (750-800 OPS.). I wonder if they would trade Cervelli, or jettison Jesus while he is still considered a catching prospect…

    Again, big hypothetical, but a thought nonetheless.

    • Mark says:

      Outside of the Yankees few scouts or organisations think Jesus will stay behind the dish; they think he’ll end up as 1b or DH instead,. http://www.baseballamerica.com.....ts/?p=7425

      If so he will not stay with the Yankees with Alex, Jeter’s next contract and an ageing Jorge. I think we’ll have a Romine/Cervelli duo in two or three years depending on Cervelli’s hitting and Romines development.

  13. Kid Kelly says:

    Cervelli is also 5-6 with RISP – maybe he can teach Granderson and his paltry 4-24 a lesson.

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