Cervelli’s good luck 2010

Swisher, Cano & Sabathia help get Yanks back in the win column
Is Tyler Clippard the one who got away?

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.

Swisher, Cano & Sabathia help get Yanks back in the win column
Is Tyler Clippard the one who got away?
  • Rose

    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…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      You’re a smart dude. Obviously we crossed wires and double posted.

      • pat

        Better to cross wires than cross swords.

        • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “Better to cross wires than cross swords streams.”

          It would be bad.


          • Rose

            Dr. Egon Spengler: [hesitates] We’ll cross the streams.
            Dr. Peter Venkman: ‘Scuse me Egon? You said crossing the streams was bad!
            Dr Ray Stantz: Cross the streams…
            Dr. Peter Venkman: You’re gonna endanger us, you’re gonna endanger our client – the nice lady, who paid us in advance, before she became a dog…

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          The Voice of Experience, pat?


          • pat

            There are certain things you learn at an all boys highschool.

            That is one of them.

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

              I am SO GLAD that Stuyvesant High School, where I went, had long since begun admitting girls by the time I got there! It used to be boys only.

              • Spaceman.Spiff

                Booooo, Stuy Sucks! ;) Kidding.

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  Stuy Sucks!

                  The voice of someone who couldn’t pass the test?

                  Anyway, the “new” Stuy is just not the same as the old one I went to in that crumbling building on East 15th street. It’s a pale shadow of what it was!

    • Rick in Boston

      Joe would probably carry the extra C, provided Montero does enough in AAA to warrant playing in the majors as a 21-year old.

      In 2011: Posada 80, Cervelli 50, Montero 30
      Posada/Montero share the DH spot

      • mike c

        and Romine stays too? seems like either romine/cervelli would have max trade value at that moment, it might be a good time to cash in

        • bakes

          I doubt the Yankees wil trade Romine when nobody knows if Montero will be a catcher in two years.

          • JobaWockeeZ

            You never know. Cashman loves trading prospects so we have to wait and see.

            • whozat

              yeah, like when they traded Hughes for…or when they traded Joba…or how Montero was sent to…

              Cashman sent out some good-but-not-great prospects with no big-league success and got back an already-good CFer in his prime.

        • Tampa Yankee

          I don’t think it’d be wise to trade any of them right now. Let’s see if Jesus stays behind the plate because if he doesn’t, a Romine/Cervelli combo would be a good once Jorge retires. The same for JR Murphy as, IIRC, he’s athletic enough to move to an OF spot.

        • scoopemup

          Hmmmm, I wonder who they could get for one of them?

    • A.D.

      They keep Cervelli, figure if Montero is ready then they could go with Montero/Posada DH/C rotation with Cervelli as the back-up catcher.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

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

  • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    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.

    • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

      I don’t Steve can do Steve better than you.

      • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

        Bah: I don’t *think

  • larryf

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

    • Jammy Jammers

      “I’ll be watching AJ’s curves…and how Frankie handles them”


    • whozat

      it’s nicer having a catcher who can hit, walk, and get extra base hits to drive in runs and put himself in scoring position.

  • CS Yankee

    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.

  • Meat Loaf

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

  • larryf

    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…

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      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

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

  • Jammy Jammers

    Do any of these young guys have pee pee hands?

    • Riddering

      Well, Cervelli doesn’t use batting gloves so he might follow Jorge’s example in that area.

  • YankeeScribe

    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.

  • Riddering

    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

      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…

  • larryf

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

    • Jammy Jammers

      And lil’ Yogi!

      • First Time Poster

        I believe you are referring to Boo Boo… as in “H’ey Boo boo”


  • First Time Poster

    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

      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/blog/prospects/?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.

  • Michael Smith
  • Kid Kelly

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