Sep
13

The implications of Cervelli’s latest concussion

By

(Steve Ruark/Getty Images)

Thanks to various injuries, the Yankees used four different catchers in a span of 24 hours this weekend. On Saturday night, it was Russell Martin starting before Jorge Posada came in as an injury replacement. Sunday afternoon it was Jesus Montero with the starting assignment and Austin Romine doing the defensive replacement thing. Four catchers in two days, and not a single one of them was Frankie Cervelli.

The Yankees regular backup backstop is in New York, where tests confirmed a concussion as the result of a pair of home plate collisions on Thursday. The first collision with Nick Markakis was clearly the more devastating of the two; he led with the shoulder and caught Frankie right in the head. The picture above tells the entire story. Brain injuries and concussions are no joke, especially when we’re talking about multiple occurrences. Cervelli had at least three concussions from 2005-2010, the last one coming when he was hit in the head by pitch in Spring Training last season. This latest incident makes it at least four concussions in seven seasons.

With just 16 games left in the season, there’s a non-zero chance that we won’t see Frankie again until 2012. Head injuries are serious business and the Yankees will take every precaution, just like they have with Cervelli (and Posada) in the past. That leaves the team in a little bit of a bind, because they don’t have an obvious backup catcher to replace the King of the Fist Pumps. Posada caught his first game in almost a year this weekend, and it was only because it was an emergency. Montero was pulled for a defensive replacement, not exactly a ringing endorsement of his catching skills. Romine has fewer than 50 innings of catching experience above Double-A. None are ideal fits.

Thankfully, the schedule kinda helps the Yankees here, because they have such a big lead on a postseason spot and only a handful of games left to play. Montero and Romine can split catching duties for the next week or two and it won’t be that big of a deal, assuming Martin makes it back from his bruised thumb in a somewhat timely fashion. The Yankees shouldn’t rush him back, obviously, but as far as we know, it’s not anything more serious than a bruise and a cracked nail. Going into the postseason, you’d count on Martin catching every inning of every game, no doubt about it. There’s fewer off days this year but still enough to make catching everyday possible. That leaves Cervelli’s now vacant roster spot up in the air.

Barring something unforeseen, Montero figures to make the postseason roster at this point. He’d step right into Frankie’s roster spot, meaning that Cervelli’s latest concussion may have saved Posada’s playoff job. For all intents and purposes, the Yankees have been phasing Jorge out in the second half, but he could still serve as a pinch-hitter against right-handers and an emergency catcher in October. Montero would be the other emergency catcher, even if means losing the DH in a given game. I don’t think it’s out of the question that the Yankees could go into the postseason without a true backup catcher on the roster, which would be kinda neat and unconventional.

The x-factor here is Joe Girardi, who seems to love having a defense-first backup catcher (not that Cervelli was a Gold Glover back there). That could open the door for Romine to win a spot on the postseason bench, meaning the Yankees may end up taking only one of Montero or Posada. That is unless they decide against a pinch-running specialist like Chris Dickerson or Greg Golson. Or perhaps they go with a ten-man pitching staff, which would be a minor miracle. There’s a lot of variables in play here, and there are 16 games left to sort them all out. The key is Martin, if that thumb heals well and he can catch a full workload in October, it opens a lot of roster construction doors for the postseason.

Categories : Injuries, Musings
  • Paul Proteus

    Cervelli’s done for the year, you don’t bring a guy back who’s had 4 concussions without numerous tests done to clear him.

    The key is getting Martin healthy as he will play every playoff game anyway. Montero will DH and backup. But now they could put Posada on the roster. Nunez can serve as the pinch runner of the bench.

    • jsbrendog

      he may even be done as a catcher, which then means his career is prob over cause he cant hit well enough to play anywhere else.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        We basically have the next Cervelli in Romine anyways

      • Ted Nelson

        A .320 wOBA (he’s been at .315 last season and .322 this season) would be respectable from a 2B. There’s a lot of studs at the top, but 2B has pretty terrible depth throughout MLB. Can Cervelli play at least a passable 2B? I don’t know. Teams might shy away from him, but ultimately they might get better results than from 1/3 to 1/2 of starting MLB 2B. http://www.fangraphs.com/leade.....#038;ind=0

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    Oh god, I just thought about aj pitching tonight. It’s going to suck not having martin or cervelli to catch him. good luck with that austin. maybe they can have jorge catch him for old time’s sake, it would probably give aj a legit shot at that wild pitch record (unless they are all passed balls)

    • Monteroisdinero

      We will see what kind of defender Romine is-the ultimate test is AJ’s 55 foot curveball.

  • Woodrow Sweats

    would you call russell a defense first catcher? or has watching posada in the past really lowered the standard for yankee defensive catchers? if you have russell and montero, you got one defensive catcher who can hit, and one offensive catcher who can fake it (maybe?)

  • Rich in NJ

    Although Cervelli’s health is the priority, with their organizational depth at catcher, Cervelli could have been a candidate to be traded. This unfortunate development nay negate that possibility.

  • ADam

    Would Romine qualify for the PS roster as the back up C?

    • Max

      Yes, since he was in the org before Aug 31.

    • CountryClub

      Yes because he can be an injury replacement for Cervelli.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    If Romine makes the roster ahead of Montero I will soot myself in the face. And since they don’t seem to trust Montero for even a full game there is a chance that Romine makes it…

    • CountryClub

      I think there’s a better chance that they both make it.

      • JU

        Having them both make it is the ideal situation, IMO. This stuff about Romine only having 50 inn above AA is overblown. The guy can catch, and he will be totally fine back there if needed. If Montero continues to rake, he takes Posada’s roster spot and Romine takes Cervelli’s…Bada Bing, Bada Boom…

        • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

          Easier said than done.

          If Montero AND Romine both make the postseason roster and Posada doesn’t, there will be resentment in the clubhouse. And probably not just from Jorge.

          • David N

            This. I’d take Montero and Jorge.

    • CP

      If Romine makes the roster ahead of Montero I will soot myself in the face.

      Perhaps you will have a future as a chimney sweep then…

      • Dale Mohorcic

        IETC

      • Rockdog

        Hey, that typo may have saved his life.

    • Addison

      Montero can’t be on the postseason roster.

      • cgreen

        you’re an idiot

  • http://twitter.com/#!/czm93 Craig

    I hope Cervelli gets to play somewhere next year and this isn’t the end of his career. Guy has too much energy to just not play baseball again. Here’s to Martin catching most playoff games, with Montero getting in the lineup somehow and if the Yankees are blowing a team out let Jorge catch the last inning for Old Time’s Sake.

    • jsbrendog

      too much energy to not play baseball? that doesn’t even make any sense. the guy is a serviceable ml backup (due to the absolute horridness of ml catchers) but his energy has nothing to do with it. it’s sad for him as a person if he cant play anymore but realistically not a big deal. i do feel bad.

      • Ted Nelson

        I find it hard to say his energy has nothing to do with his success. Motivation is a huge thing that separates people in any profession, and given Cervelli’s personality his energy and motivation may go together.

        I think it’s time to stop acting like Cervelli is lucky to be a back-up C. He had a .315 wOBA last season and a .322 wOBA this season… he’s pretty legit. When was this golden age when there were so many amazing Cs in every organization that a solid-ish defender with a bat close to league average would not be a back-up C?

        • .zip file

          +1.

        • Mike

          Cervelli is a pleasant fellow but he is one of the worst receivers in the game. He cannot throw any more (except into center) and he cannot block balls in the dirt. The Yankees are better off with Romine, or Montero, or Posada, or Matt Nokes, or Yogi back there.

  • MattG

    You have to feel for Cervelli. He was on the threshold of a long, if unimpressive, Jose Molina-type career. 3 or 4 years as a cheap starter (for someone else, obviously), with another 10 as a cheap backup.

    But was is cheap for baseball teams is of course a mega fortune for the Cervelli family. Even if he does continue to catch, he is probably just one home plate collision from the end of his career.

    Does this qualify as irony? The shoulder Markakis put on Cervelli would be a personal foul, and possible suspension, in the NFL. How can MLB be serious about concussions and allow such a play to occur?

    • TomG

      These types of injuries are sad, but the catcher has to be the one to prevent them from occurring. What’s the alternative; do you want to see baserunners slowing down as they approach home plate to assure the catcher’s safety? I really don’t think that the game can be played in that manner.

      • MattG

        The alternative is pretty simple: how about what already happens at second and third base?

        • TomG

          How about the catchers are just coached to avoid collisions that create bodily harm. Problem solved without rule change; even more simple.

          • Ted Nelson

            Are you kidding??? The defenseless catcher should concede the run instead of creating a very simple rule that the baserunner should not hit the catcher dangerous ways? That’s a joke. Why doesn’t the NFL just tell WRs not to jump for balls thrown in the air, too?

            • TomG

              Yes, I am suggesting that the catcher does not kneel in the basepaths while his attention is focused on the ball coming in from the outfield as opposed to the runner barreling towards him. That is my joke.

              • Ted Nelson

                It is a joke to suggest that Cs should concede runs rather than make simple rule changes (goes against all the incentives in place and would be frowned upon my managers). That rule change could also include prohibiting the C from blocking the plate.

                • TomG

                  The catcher could position themselves to tag the baserunner outside of the basepath with the current rules, they just don’t because they’ve been taught to block the plate since high school. I really don’t see why a rule change is required here, the problem can be addressed within the existing framework. Rule changes bring unintended consequences.

                  • MattG

                    You’re not addressing what happened. Cervelli had the ball, and went to apply the tag. He was not kneeling in the dirt, waiting for the ball to arrive.

                    To make the tag, it is kind of required that he be in proximity of the runner. If the runner decides to drive his shoulder into his ear, there is little Cervelli can do about it, except completely avoid contact, and concede the run.

                    Posey’s situation was even more flagrant. Overhead views showed the runner had an ample path to the plate, and he went out of his way to initiate contact. Posey was trying to do exactly as you suggest, but if the runner has it in his mind to level the catcher, the catcher can do nothing.

                    • CS Yankee

                      I like the tough play at the plate as much as the next guy, but the shots to the head need to stop.

                      A 100K fine and 15 games w/o pay should be the reward for hits to the head, IMHO.

                    • TomG

                      I disagree, if Posey was outside of the line he would have seen the runner coming. He was positioned in the basepath on the inside of the line and blindly reached back over his body to apply the tag without seeing the runner’s position.

                      I didn’t see the Cervelli play.

                    • MattG

                      Check this out, and tell me it doesn’t change your mind: http://hornedtoads.blogspot.co.....stion.html

                      Posey is catching the ball a couple of feet in front of home plate. You can very easily see in this photo how the runner has decided Posey is the target, and not home plate.

                      If you look at YouTube videos, at no time does Posey’s shin guards impede the runner. He caught the ball (more accurate, dropped the ball), and turned to make the tag. Only his mitt and arms were in the runner’s way.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      And as Matt has said… your point is irrelevant to the situation at hand. Cervelli had the ball. He wasn’t waiting for the ball. How is Cervelli going to have the ball, not stand near the base, and tag the guy out??? How does that work?

                  • Ted Nelson

                    The catcher could not position himself outside the basepath and be in a position to tag the runner unless he’s stretch armstrong… All the baserunner has to do in that case is slide towards the opposite side of the plate so that his hand touches the plate… and the catcher will have to catch, turn, and take a few steps to tag the runner… meaning the ball has to be there well in advance of the runner to get the out. Cs don’t all stand in front of the bag for the fun of it, they do it because it’s the best course of action to record the most outs possible. Just like if there’s no force the 2B, SS, or 3B doesn’t stand several feet from the bag unless the throw is off-line.

                    A rule change is required to change the incentive structure. Right now the C’s incentive is to stand in front of the bag. Not only does this maximize his team’s chance of recording an out, it also minimizes the chance his manager reams him or his organization demotes him. The runner, on the other hand, has every incentive to absolutely clock the runner however he feels like it, no matter how brutal. He is perfectly entitled to make hits that would be illegal in football.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      *”The runner, on the other hand, has every incentive to absolutely clock the runner”

                      clock the C…

                    • TomG

                      I completely agree with your incentive point, but I think that the incentive is going to come from the better understanding and appreciation of just how devastating concussions are. People don’t joke around about getting their ‘bell rung’ anymore. The sport recognizes the gravity of these injuries more than ever. The catchers realize they can have their careers and health permanently damaged by these collisions, and I think the macho attitude about defending the plate will recede quickly. I just don’t want to see rule changes implemented in a knee-jerk manner that could change the game significantly before they are fully vetted.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      A. If the C stands outside the basepath he is not in position to make a play. Why doesn’t the SS stand off the bag while he is waiting for a throw from the RF and RF throw the ball off the bag, then the SS run over to the bag to try to tag the guy? Because it would be assinine. You are going against all incentives by suggesting the C stand around off the bag waiting for a throw that’s going to be coming over the bag if it’s accurate or have the fielder purposely make an inaccurate throw to hit the C off the bag, move over, catch the ball, make a tag… it’s not a smart move. No one is going to do it.

                      You are ignoring both the incentives of baseball and the physical realities of the game in suggesting that Cs should stay clear of the bag.

                      B. What are you going on and on about regarding unintended consequences? What possible consequences are you referring to? Every change has the possibility for unintended consequences… If people never made changes out of fear baseball would have never been invented and we would all still be living in trees, the Garden of Eden, or wherever you believe humans ascend from.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I do agree that under the current rules there is some onus on the C not to subject himself to harm. He knows what’s coming, and he knows it’s allowed under the rules. I agree that the C can’t be blocking the plate in the same way if the runner is not allowed the same level of contact and definitely shouldn’t block the plate at all if the runner is not allowed to do anything but slide. However, I do not understand your opposition to a rule change that would protect both the C and the runner. I disagree wholeheartedly that knowing the risk of concussions Cs will stand aside and let runs score by being out of position. People know the risk of concussion (along with other serious injuries) and still participate in sports like football, rugby, and all sorts of fighting sports (boxing, MMA, etc.). I see absolutely no evidence that people will be incentivized suddenly to stand out of position to protect themselves when all incentives are aligned for them to stand in position to make the play. Changing the rule would, in my opinion, be the easiest and most effective way to change the incentive structure.

                      Your proposal will not change the dangerous part of the equation, which is the runner barrelling full-speed towards home with hardly any rules restricting the violence he can inflict. Plays will still be bang-bang at the plate, the C will still be near the plate, and the runner will still be barreling down the path. Collisions will still happen.

          • MattG

            Cervelli had the ball, just like A-Rod or Jeter might have the ball. Why should he need to concede anything? The runner should be required to try and obtain the base, just like they would at second or third.

            I understand that the catcher’s skin guards give him an advantage in blocking the base, unlike the infielder. It is not as simple as I make it seem, because the baserunner needs to be able to get to the base and still protect themselves, too. Derek Jeter lost six weeks of his career when a catcher used his shin guards to block third base.

            So I would say the solution is mostly related to outlawing many types of collisions, and a little bit about how and when the catcher can use his shin guards to block the plate.

      • http://www.thewebsitemarketingagency.com Staten Island

        You’re setting up a false dichotomy here. Surely there are rules that could be implemented which would reduce the risk of concussion to a catcher (don’t lead with your shoulder, etc.)

        • TomG

          It’s not a false dichotomy, it’s a genuine dichotomy, it’s a collision involving two parties. For some reason, most here seem to advocate a rule change that would put the onus on the baserunner to prevent the collisions. I’d prefer a cultural change that puts the responsibility on the catcher because rule changes bring unintended consequences.

          • MattG

            “because rule changes bring unintended consequences.”

            I agree with this statement, but the primary purpose of a change, whether it be a rule change or change in catcher tactics, is to solve a specific challenge. This is a secondary concern, and as your solution would not prevent collisions, we need to move on.

            For evidence, I’ll point to Posey, again. He was not blocking the plate. He was actually positioned exactly as you indicated he should be. That can’t be allowed.

            With a rule change, rule 7.06, which prevents catchers from blocking the plate without the ball, would need to be strictly enforced. Both these things should happen, before more helpless little Cervellis have to go hungry.

            • TomG

              I disagree with your analysis of the Posey play, I see a young catcher blindly reaching over his body into the basepath in an attempt to make a play he had no chance of making. It’s sad, but so was Matsui’s broken wrist a few years back, both just pushing a little too hard to make something happen. He would not have been injured if we was outside of the basepath as opposed to inside, he would have seen the runner coming. He was injured because he was blind-sided more than anything.

          • Ted Nelson

            No… you would prefer to ignore the reality of the situation. You advocate moving out of the baseline to make a play that is not physically feasible to make from outside of the baseline. Standing outside of the baseline is NOT A VIABLE SOLUTION. It is a physical impossibility to stand outside of the baseline on one side and tag a runner several feet away from you. Your solution is a non-starter.

            Let’s move on from your impossible solution and discuss some realistic ones. Please. No one is saying the rule has to put all the onus on the runner. Just stop the runner from making an unnecessary and dangerous play. Everyone has said the rule change would also have to address the C’s position blocking the plate.

            And what unintended consequences are you referring to? How do you know they will be negative and not positive? I can say that about any change… that doesn’t mean we should never change anything and always keep the status quo in perpetuity.

            • Ted Nelson

              The unintended consequence of Cs standing outside the basepath would be more runs scoring against their team… so your solution has an obvious negative unintended consequence that’s so blatant I don’t know if you can call it “unintended”… it’s pretty much intended if you don’t stand over the bag with a runner trying to take the bag.

              You have to compare any unintended consequences of the proposed rule change solutions being thrown out there to that consequence of your proposed change… I still haven’t seen any potential consequences from you of course.

              • TomG

                It’s a tradeoff, sure. There may be more runs scored if they play the position more conservatively, but I think that’s preferable to more officiating.

                • Ted Nelson

                  My point is that I disagree they will start playing the position more conservatively: that spits in the face of human nature. The incentive structure is set up for the C to be in position, not out of position. WRs in the NFL didn’t stop jumping for balls because they knew they could get a concussion on the ensuing hit… the NFL changed the rule. Jorge Posada didn’t tell the Yankees he doesn’t want to C anymore because his head is scrabbled and he’s too slow for the position… they told him. Boxers routinely fight into their 40s knowing the risks. Human beings are not going to stop competing in the most effective manner due to intangible consequences years and years down the road. There would be no NFL if human nature worked that way. It doesn’t.

            • TomG

              Nice use of caps there. Maybe you don’t understand what I’m saying, I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible for you. To continue with the Posey example, if he was positioned on the opposite side of the line between home and third, he would have seen the runner coming out of his left eye, and would not have been blind-sided. He would have known there was no play. This is both physically possible and preferable, because he’d be playing right now if he did this.

              The catcher should know where the baserunner is at all times, the way the fielder knows where the outfield wall is located, and should only interfere with the runner when he knows he can safely make the play. Yeah, it sucks that the catcher is the one that typically gets hurt during collisions, but that doesn’t mean that they’re victims of the boogyman baserunners. People are finally starting to understand the danger with concussions, and catchers will adapt the way they play the position to better safeguard themselves, I don’t think a rule change is necessary.

              As far as unintended consequences are concerned, I’m sure everyone applauded FIFA’s safety rules at first. I don’t know, maybe fewer sacrifice flies. Fewer plays at the plate. Fewer runs. Judge Joe West. Who knows, but I kinda like the game the way it is now, minus the concussions.

              • Ted Nelson

                I have literally said that I think some onus is on the catcher. However, I have also said that there are times when the correct position is to be in front of the bag.

                I don’t believe I have talked about the Posey example at all. Not said one single thing about what he should or should not have done as far as I recall. It’s one example.

                I have talked about a general rule. Your proposal spits in the face of the C’s short-term incentives. His incentives are to get the out and to impress his manager/org. On what planet do people put the long-term brain health resulting from concussions ahead of such immediate and tangible concerns as your next paycheck/contract? Not this one. Otherwise there would be no sport of American football, boxing, MMA, etc.

                And again… by standing back from the bag and receiving the ball… the C is not in position to make a bang-bang play. You keep ignoring that. The C might not know if there’s a play until the last second. Might not know exactly how a ball will bounce off the grass, how fast a runner is, etc. If he is in position he will have a better chance of making the play should everything work out than if he is not.

                “Yeah, it sucks that the catcher is the one that typically gets hurt during collisions, but that doesn’t mean that they’re victims of the boogyman baserunners.”

                Markakis literally put his shoulder into Cervelli’s head on purpose. There is no intangible boogeyman here. It happened. It was a tangible person. His name was Nick Markakis. He went out of his way to strike a defenseless player in the head… that is not even legal in football. I am not even suggesting he be made to slide there… so perhaps it is you who misunderstands or doesn’t bother to read my point. I am not advocating less contact (though I think a no collisions rule would be better than your BS solution of no change at all)… I am saying DON’T TACKLE THE GUY TO THE HEAD. If NFL safeties and LBs going full speed can be expected to figure this out, so can baserunners. It’s not a big rule change. Don’t hit the head. That’s all. Hit the chest, shoulder, whatever. Don’t hit the bloody head. Not a big deal.

                “catchers will adapt the way they play the position to better safeguard themselves, I don’t think a rule change is necessary.”

                Again… this doesn’t mesh with all the available evidence. Did QBs start taking a knee when DEs barrel down on them because they know the risk of concussions?????????????? Have you even once seen that??????????? Did WRs stop jumping for balls in the air??????????? No. The NFL changed the rules.

                “Who knows, but I kinda like the game the way it is now, minus the concussions.”

                Rule changes could basically ensure the concussions stop, or that the offender at least be punished. Yet you are against them. Your unintended consequences are a bit much… Guys are going to stop hitting fly balls because the runner on 3rd might have to slide or even just not hit the C in the head with his shoulder???????????? Really??????????? I am not even saying outlaw collisions (though some are). I am just saying that if a runner lowers his shoulder into a C’s head making a hit that would be illegal in football… this should be an out and result in a suspension. There’s a difference between playing hard, and playing dirty to the point of purposefully harming a competitor. Just as a pitcher is not allowed by rule to throw a ball at someone’s head, neither should a runner be allowed to throw his shoulder at someone’s head.

                You seem to be just resisting change for the sake of it.

                • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

                  Just a heads up and you’re going to ignore me anyway, but adding millions of question marks onto your sarcastic questions of disbelief does nothing to make someone more amenable to a sane discussion with you.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Probably true, but it conveys my level of disbelief…

                • TomG

                  I’m using Posey as an example because he’s a young, franchise player who was injured in this type of play, it’s the most visible example for why people advocate a rule change. It also had a huge impact on the Giants season this year.

                  Baseball implemented a set of protocols for concussions just this year. Brain injuries are being taken more seriously than ever before across all sports; that article about Gehrig and concussions just came out last year.

                  I’m suggesting that catchers making these types of plays are no longer going to be considered “hard-nosed”, but irresponsible and reckless. That’s where the short-term incentives come into play; San Fran made a huge investment with Posey that was jeopardized due to that one play. The culture of the game has changed, management is going to see a guy that blindly kneels in the basepaths as a liability as opposed to a player with grit. You disagree, that’s cool.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    I know, I’m saying that Posey’s play is only one example… and that I didn’t comment on where he should or shouldn’t be on that particular play. I think he left himself vulnerable, especially knowing the rules… but I also think it does illustrate that it’s harder than you indicate to try to field a throw, watch the runner, and tag the runner before he touches the base. If the ball is thrown right over home, there’s only so much a C can do to catch the ball and then tag the runner if he’s not over the bag.

                    MLB implemented what, though? Rules, right? They changed the rules to reflect a changing understanding of concussions. Tons of articles have come out about old boxers and football players’ injuries while playing… and those sports still exist.

                    “I’m suggesting that catchers making these types of plays are no longer going to be considered “hard-nosed”, but irresponsible and reckless.”

                    The C standing over the plate waiting to tag the runner is reckless and not the runner barreling down on him and lowering his shoulder? It’s unscientific and Yankees fans responding to a Yankee getting hurt… but the informal poll on here suggests you are the only person who feels that way and several people disagree. Again… not scientific, but it might give you a little insight into popular opinion on the matter.

                    “management is going to see a guy that blindly kneels in the basepaths as a liability as opposed to a player with grit.”

                    A. You are referring to one particular play or subset of plays. It is also possible for a C to be perfectly in position, and the runner to still hit him in the head. This is what happened to Cervelli. He had the ball. He wasn’t blindly waiting. You keep ignoring that.

                    B. A simple rule change could accomplish the same goal more effectively.

                    C. I disagree with your logic and the zero evidence you have provided to prove it.

                    • TomG

                      Yeah, I’m obviously arguing against popular sentiment here, considering it’s a RAB post about an injured Yankee catcher that was creamed the other day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m wrong. And your agreeing with my primary example in the first paragraph while stating I provided “zero evidence” is maddening.

                      I disagree with the idea that a catcher can be ‘perfectly in position’ and still get a shoulder to the head. The catcher would be able to absorb the blow if he was in the perfect position, and he shouldn’t place himself in harm’s way otherwise.

                      Not long ago, Cervelli would have probably sat out a few games after this injury and been back on the field in plenty of time for the postseason. That’s not the case now, due to the increased awareness about concussions, his injury has the repercussions for the team that were highlighted in the article above. Situations like these are going to create a completely new set of incentives for all parties involved moving forward. This issue is still in its infancy and I think a rule change should be the last step, not the first.

                      And a rule change isn’t nearly as simple as you suggest, it creates a whole different dynamic at the plate. I haven’t heard any evidence that this would safeguard players as a whole. What’s the effect on baserunners? Nobody knows, it’s all just speculation.

                    • TomG

                      What exactly is “a little ole matador tag”? Do you mean the swipe tags that are used everywhere else on the field? Yes he could use one of those. He doesn’t have to physically stop the runner, he just needs to tag him. The catcher should only be blocking the plate if he has the ball and has the time to position himself to absorb or deflect the hit. Anything else is recklessness.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      “I’m obviously arguing against popular sentiment here”

                      Your whole argument is basically that the larger popular sentiment will be on your side from MLB and teams… I have seen a lot more people criticize the runners and see the Cs as victims. So I think the foundation on which your argument is built is faulty.

                      “your agreeing with my primary example in the first paragraph while stating I provided “zero evidence” is maddening.”

                      It’s one example… which NEVER proves a rule. Cervelli (the topic of this thread) is a counter-example. If you have the ball and have to tag the runner… what the hell are you supposed to do? Wave at him? Stick your arm out? You basically have to stand over/in front of the plate and brace yourself.

                      “I disagree with the idea that a catcher can be ‘perfectly in position’ and still get a shoulder to the head.”

                      You seem to disagree with the game of baseball and simple logic. If I’m a 5’10″ C with my knees bent to absorb a blow and a 6’4″ or 6’6″ OF/1B comes barreling into me… it is possible for him to deliver a shoulder or forearm to my head.

                      “That’s not the case now, due to the increased awareness about concussions”

                      And yet… Cs still stand in front of the plate…. and you advocate more concussions so that they “learn their lesson” instead of a simple rule change on the basis on unforeseen impacts of that rule you can’t even begin to list in a coherent manner.

                      “Do you mean the swipe tags that are used everywhere else on the field?”

                      Those are not used for runners barreling at you…

                      “The catcher should only be blocking the plate if he has the ball and has the time to position himself to absorb or deflect the hit. Anything else is recklessness.”

                      AGAIN… You can be hit in the head with the runners shoulder, forearm, or helmet in a perfectly good, athletic, braced position ready to “deflect” the hit. It is ludicrous to suggest you can’t.

                    • TomG

                      “I have seen a lot more people criticize the runners and see the Cs as victims”

                      Again, people are discussing this because of the Posey injury. Catchers are typically the parties injured in the collisions, but that doesn’t mean a rule changing the baserunner’s behavior is in the best interest of the sport, nor does it guarantee fewer injuries for players as a whole.

                      “what the hell are you supposed to do? Wave at him? Stick your arm out? You basically have to stand over/in front of the plate and brace yourself”

                      No, you don’t, that’s the point. The position can be played in a more conservative manner that doesn’t include blindly standing in the basepath or taking unnecessary hits.

                      “You seem to disagree with the game of baseball and simple logic. If I’m a 5’10? C with my knees bent to absorb a blow and a 6’4? or 6’6? OF/1B comes barreling into me… it is possible for him to deliver a shoulder or forearm to my head.”

                      OK, so now the catcher is 5’10” and the baserunner is 6’6?? Why stop there, just make the catcher a toddler in your fantasy, it’s simple logic.

                      “And yet… Cs still stand in front of the plate…. and you advocate more concussions so that they “learn their lesson” instead of a simple rule change on the basis on unforeseen impacts of that rule you can’t even begin to list in a coherent manner”

                      Yes, I’ve clearly been advocating more concussions from the get-go here. This is one of your favorite fallacies; it’s a total misrepresentation of my position. As for the unintended consequences of a rule change, yeah, I cannot list the unforeseen consequences because they are unforeseen. You, on the other hand, know there will be no negative unforeseen consequences of a rule change because you’re…….smart?

                      “Those are not used for runners barreling at you…”

                      They can be used and you know it; you’re the one that came up with the clever matador metaphor.

          • http://www.thewebsitemarketingagency.com Staten Island

            “What’s the alternative; do you want to see baserunners slowing down as they approach home plate to assure the catcher’s safety?”

            You imply that there are 2 choices – 1) forcing baserunners to slow down, or 2) what we have now.

            That is a false dichotomy, whether you like it or not. By the way, it’s also a strawman argument – who in their right mind is advocating having runners slow down as they approach the plate.

            But I’m sure you’ll tell me I’m incorrect there too.

            • Ted Nelson

              Agreed. I thought it was a good point.

            • TomG

              There’s a rule change and the game we have now. I’m advocating we keep the rules the way they are and let the game evolve to prevent injury as opposed to adding a rule that seems rather subjective. I think Posey’s injury and recent concussion research are going to have a profound effect in the way young catchers are coached moving forward, which will make changing the rules unnecessary. I don’t want to see a rule implemented that forces the umpires to judge the baserunner’s intention. Rhetorical choices aside, I think my reasoning is pretty sound here.

              • Ted Nelson

                You have done nothing to prove that a change will happen naturally besides use the “because I say so” argument. I have literally cited examples of how this flies in the face of human nature, and you have not responded. The average life-expectancy of a former NFL player is somewhere in the 50s. Now there may be factors predisposing them to a lower life expectancy than average, between socio-economic backgrounds and the mentality that leads to success in the NFL. However, there is a lot of evidence that playing in the NFL is going to make you die sooner and/or live in agony when you’re older. People still willingly sign up to play NFL football.

                At the same time, there is only so much you can do to catch a ball thrown directly at the plate and still get a runner out in a second or two.

                “Rhetorical choices aside, I think my reasoning is pretty sound here.”

                I really don’t think it is. I don’t even see any reasoning behind your stance. It ignores human nature and the best way to play baseball under the current rules. It ignores simple rule changes because of some intangible belief there may be unintended results while ignoring the results of keeping the current system.

                “I don’t want to see a rule implemented that forces the umpires to judge the baserunner’s intention.”

                You don’t have to judge their intention… just their action. If there’s a no collisions/no blocking the plate rule… it’s really, really simple. If the C is standing in front of the plate blocking it, the runner scores regardless of the outcome. If the runner doesn’t slide… he’s out. That simple.

                If you go with a no shots to the head rule it’s a bit tougher, but not about intentions still. You hit the C’s head… you’re out.

                You are creating a strawman out of people’s proposed rule changes to make them seem less reasonable than they are. You have gone so far as to say people will hit less fly balls as a result…

                • TomG

                  So you reiterate the rule changes that I was debating and then call straw man? Whatever man, I’m not argue with you about the subtle differences between MMA and baseball. My reasoning is perfectly clear here, you just don’t agree with it, and you’ve provided nothing to the debate that I haven’t heard before.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    “My reasoning is perfectly clear here, you just don’t agree with it”

                    Not one other commenter has agreed with it, and several have disagreed. At least one commenter has agreed that you are creating a strawman argument.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      And I am not debating the differences between MMA and baseball, but the similarities… that humans participate in both.

                      Your entire argument is that human nature is such that teams and players will realize with no rule change that it is better to stand next to the bag rather than over it when attempting to tag a runner before he scores, because… it is human nature to look at the long-term health of a player rather than the short-term gain of getting the out. As I’ve said… if this was human nature there would be no NFL or MMA. It disproves your theory of human nature. You haven’t even offered a counter-example to prove it.

                      You further ignore probably half the collisions at the plate, where the C already has the ball and is waiting for the runner so that he can apply the tag… what do you propose there? A little ole matador tag? Reaching one’s arm out so that your shoulder can be torn rather than your brain concussed?

      • Ted Nelson

        That’s BS. You don’t have to slow down to avoid firmly planting your shoulder into the catchers head. You can literally tackle the guy and have it be a safer play than that. Lower your shoulder and hit him… don’t head hunt.

      • Cris Pengiuci

        The alternative is to make running into the catcher a major violation (automatic out with a fine and suspension). No, the runner doesn’t need to slow down, just slide under or around the catcher. As stated before, if MLB is serious about concusions, they’ll change the rules.

        • TomG

          What’s to stop the catchers from moving a few feet up the line towards third, making it impossible to slide under them to the plate?

          • DF

            The same thing that prevents infielders from doing so? If you don’t have the ball, you can’t impede the baserunner. If you do have the ball, moving up the line to make the tag is fine.

            You can just leave it up to the umpire. If the catcher wanders up the baseline without the ball, thus preventing the runner from reaching home plate, then the umpire does not award the out. He calls baserunner interference. Which is what he would do at every other base but home.

            You can’t change the incentive structure without changing the rules. These are athletes in the heat of competition. Further, for players like Cervelli, his job is almost always on the line to some extent. He’s the backup catcher. He’s not going to take a chance that not blocking the plate is going to cost him his major league salary.

          • Cris Pengiuci

            That should be evaluated as part of the rule change. It also needs to be considered that the C doesn’t control where the throw goes. The throw could bring him into the path of the runner, so the rule could be somewhat subjective. However, a rule change should be considered. Much can be done. Asking catchers to change their tactics as the only solution, in my opnion, doesn’t go far enough.

    • Rainbow Connection

      Maybe Cervelli is dumb for blocking the plate that way in a game that really doesn’t matter (according to most people here). They lost that game anyway, right? He could have just stood near the plate and swiped him out, right? Take the shoulder out of the equation.

      • Ted Nelson

        Maybe Jeter is dumb for standing over 2B waiting to turn a 2B too, right??? Next time the guy running towards 2B should ounce on Jeter, colliding his shoulder with Jeter’s head to show him just how dumb he is.

  • Mrs. Peterson-Kekich

    It’s time the rules were changed to eliminate these types of plays. I realize it’s been “part of the game,” but concussions (and other serious injuries — see Posey) are too serious.

    I hope Cervelli comes back, but with more off days in the playoffs, I presume Martin could catch every game. (He also doesn’t need a pinch-runner.) Montero can be the back-up if needed.

    • Ted Nelson

      I agree about rules changes. You can have collisions at the plate while outlawing direct hits to the head.

  • Guest

    If Romine makes the playoff roster and Montero doesn’t, I will…[enter hyperbolic phrase of your own choosing].

    I will end this comment here, because if I continue any further, this rant will become very, very long.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t see why you would go any further about a hypothetical situation…

      • Guest

        It is a hypothetical situation noted in Mike’s post:

        “That could open the door for Romine to win a spot on the postseason bench, meaning the Yankees may end up taking only one of Montero or Posada.”

        And given that playoff roster construction is a pretty interesting topic, further comment doesn’t seem like it would be out of bounds here.

        Plus, what would internet commentary be without hypotheticals? I mean if we couldn’t raise them, we might have to be productive in our actual day to day lives rather than arguing back and forth about things that may never be. *Shudders*

        • Ted Nelson

          I think saying that you would be unhappy with the decision *if* it were to come to pass is sufficient. What else are you going to say on the subject?

          You can debate whether or not it is a good decision, and there’s certainly room to say that it would be. To go beyond that based on a decision that hasn’t been made, though?

    • TwainsYankee

      Nothing against Romine, but I could not agree more. I would not be surprised to see Romine though…if only to drive down Montero’s trade value

      • Ted Nelson

        You are suggesting that the Yankees will purposefully hurt their chances to win a World Series in order to drive down the trade value of their top prospect??? Not only will they throw the playoffs, they will do it with the goal of hurting their organization moving into the future?

      • CS Yankee

        This is the dumbest thing that I have ever read on the internet.

        • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

          I envy your sheltered existence.

    • Monteroisdinero

      With Joe G you never know. He was a defensive-minded catcher himself with minimal offensive contributions.

      He has a few weeks to figure it out. For tonight, I would, as the only Greg Golson fan on this site, like to see Joe go with him in RF.

      • MattG

        I couldn’t imagine Mike Scioscia in this situation. This might turn him into a shut-in.

  • Bronx Byte

    Concussions are to be taken serious. If Cervelli stays as a Yankee he’ll need to learn other positions.

    • Ted Nelson

      I totally agree that concussions need to be taken seriously, but at the same time I don’t know if this is necessarily Cervelli’s threshold. NFL QBs or boxers have tons of concussions in their careers and by and large keep going. Not weighing in on whether he should or shouldn’t continue playing C, just saying I expect he will continue to play C.

  • Hot Dong

    The organization really needs to protect Girardi from himself here. Call it Scioscia Syndrome. Even as Scioscia was far better than Girardi with stick, the no-hit catchers turned managers like to see themselves back behind the plate. That’s nonsense. Montero looked fine back there. No, he didn’t look as good as Romine, but then Romine looked like Jeff Mathis with the bat. Mike Napoli is having an excellent season. The Angels gave him away for nothing.

    • Ted Nelson

      Going from Girardi might put Romine ahead of Montero for one of the last spots on the playoff roster to he will do so and needs to be protected from what… trading Montero? for “nothing” like Napoli (who they traded for Vernon Wells, by the way… he stinks, but I don’t think it’s fair to say they gave Napoli away so much as were dead wrong about Wells)… is a huge stretch.

  • theyankeewarrior

    I think Cervelli’s injury will only effect Romine’s chances of making the playoff roster. Posada will serve as a bat off the bench and emergency catcher/1B either way. If Frankie is ok, he’s on. If he’s not, Romine or Dickerson will – depending on if Joe thinks Montero/Posada can be serviceable backups.

    Nunez should not see the field at all, so he can serve as the primary pinch runner.

    Here’s my ALDS best guess:

    CC Sabathia
    Bartolo Colon
    Ivan Nova
    Freddy Garcia

    Mariano Rivera
    David Robertson
    Rafel Soriano
    Corey Wade
    Phil Hughes
    Boone Logan
    AJ Burnett

    Derek Jeter
    Curtis Granderson
    Mark Teixeria
    Alex Rodriguez
    Robinson Cano
    Nick Swisher
    Jesus Montero
    Russell Martin
    Brett Gardner

    Andruw Jones
    Eric Chavez
    Eduardo Nunez
    Cervelli/Romine
    Jorge Posada

    • theyankeewarrior

      So I guess I mean Cervi’s injury will only effect Romine AND Dickerson’s chances.

      • Jorge

        That’s what I would think. I don’t think the lack of someone in the Freddy Guzman role is going to be a gamechanger. I would think that, if Cervelli cannot be counted on (and he shouldn’t be), you carry Posada as a bench bat, Montero as your primary DH, and Romine as backup catcher, however unlikely that scenario would have previously been.

        I also think Frankie Cervelli really needs to take a hard look at his career at this point. I agree this is nothing to mess with.

    • CS Yankee

      You only have 11 pitchers, they typically carry 12 and sometimes go with 13.

      Ayala will likely be the 12th…Posada/Romine/Montero/Cervelli, pick any two. Guessing Montero & Posada (for old tyme sake).

      • MattG

        Not in the postseason. 7 relievers (with 4 starters) is already one too many. But, the choice being between a long-man in case of extra innings, and Chris Dickerson in case of…what, exactly…might as well carry the pitcher.

      • theyankeewarrior

        Postseason rosters usually have 11 pitchers at most.

    • UncleArgyle

      I’d drop AJ for Dickerson. I hate taking 11 pitchers into the post season anyway, because the 11th guy is usually just a human white flag. If AJ Burnett is coming out of the bullpen, its pretty much certain that the game is fucked, and there’s no chance of victory. Phil Hughes and Corey Wade could soak up those innings just as easily.

      • theyankeewarrior

        Unless it’s a really high-scoring 15-inning game.

        • Ted Nelson

          Especially one where the starter gets knocked out by performance or injury after an innings or two or three. And just as the last pitcher is rarely needed and contributes only marginally… same with the last bench player in all likelihood. If you had a really intricate platoon system where that extra bench guy provides more value than the extra pitcher… sure. I see it as being pretty inconsequential most of the time, though.

    • Dan

      I don’t see any chance that AJ has a spot on the postseason, Hughes would be the long man out of the pen and Wade also could go a couple of innings. I would say that Noesi probably has a better shot to make the roster than AJ. I think in his place will be either Ayala, Noesi, or Dickerson. Probably Dickerson just in case they need a better defensive backup outfielder (than Jones)for Swisher since he has been battling an injury. Another possibility could be Golson to be an option as a pinch runner, and then drop Nunez for Pena so that you can have a better defensive player on the bench. I am not sure if there are enough roster spots with the 60-DL replacements to make that happen, but that would be my first choice.

  • JB

    If you guys had a son who was a catcher and got nailed like that, you’d want the rules changed also (luckily he moved to 3B from C at college).

    There should be an attempt to get to the base directly and not through the catcher’s face. Usually there’s some room to get to the plate with a good slide. If the catcher is sitting on the plate with the ball, maybe the rule should be changed that he can’t do that, as that’s not fair to the runner.

    These things are just too serious to excuse by saying “that’s the way the game is played”. As said above, you can’t do it in football. You shouldn’t be doing it here either. Its just stupid.

    • Cris Pengiuci

      +1!

    • Dan

      I think its hard to make a rule like the catcher can’t stand over the plate because if the catcher is looking at the ball, he isn’t going to be able to focus on where he is standing and look for the ball. Also, what would the penalty be if he is standing on the plate? The run automatically scores, it seems like a fairly subjective ruling where the runner might pull up and be tagged out thinking it will be interference, but the umpire disagrees. The way the game is played is fine, making any big rule changes like this will take away a big part of the game. I acknowledge the injury risk is significant, but many catchers sit a foot in front of the plate or on the opposite side of the plate and catch the ball and then come over to do a swipe tag. These catchers rarely get into these collisions, and if I remember correctly after the Buster Posey play, I believe Billy Beane told the Oakland catchers to not block the plate. If teams are concerned for their catchers health they can issue mandates like that to their catchers.

      Also, concussions are not just a catcher problem, what about batters that get hit in the head with a ball (which I believe is how Cervelli got at least one of his concussions) or batters sliding into 2nd and catching the knee of a shortstop trying to jump over him while turning a double play like what happened to Ryan Church in 2008. Jason Bay got a concussion from colliding into the wall. My point is that if you change one rule regarding collisions you open up the potential for a lot of rule changes that can hurt the integrity of the game.

      • Ted Nelson

        “I think its hard to make a rule like the catcher can’t stand over the plate”

        Certainly you can think of bad rules that wouldn’t work, but there are also plenty of other versions that would. On the drastic side you can make a no contact rule where the C cannot block the plate and the runner must slide. This is very easy to enforce, and is the rule in a lot of HS-age leagues. Home plate becomes just like 2B or 3B. Or you can simply make a no-head-hunting rule similar to those enforced by the NFL.

        No one is suggesting a rule that puts the runner at a disadvantage. You came up with that. Clearly it is not something a random fan would pull out of their ass, but something MLB would analyze at length and the owners and union would both weigh in.

        If you really think collisions at home as a “big part of the game” then I don’t know what to say.

        ” if you change one rule regarding collisions you open up the potential for a lot of rule changes that can hurt the integrity of the game.”

        I think that’s a huge stretch. We’re talking about a simple rule change. No one is going to outlaw double-plays or OFs trying to catch balls. Collisions at the plate are totally unnecessary in baseball, and it’s somewhat arbitrary that they’re allowed at home and not other bases (obviously somewhat because it’s the most important base to reach and once you touch it you can fall in any direction… but not like having to slide into home would take anything away from the game).

  • nsalem

    Jorge did a great job in avoiding collisions except when the game was on the line. I believe that contributed to his longevity as a viable MLB catcher.

  • feasor

    Where is Jose Gill?

  • TopChuckie

    There are plenty of loopholes, but won’t they need two injury replacements to roster both Montero and Romine in the playoffs?

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I love Cervelli and hope he gets well soon. The confidence that has been shown on Montero shocks me. After he has to battle all of those tough splitters inthe dirt you take him out when some control pitchers come in. You are sending a message that a 21 year old cannot improve his trade. I do not think Johnny Bench could have thrown out those two baserunners what with the ball in the dirt. It happens in major leaague baseball that when your own team tags you with a handicap it will stay with you for the rest of your existence. This young man needs some praise not criticism.

    • Midland TX

      Starting your top prospect against Jon Lester and Jered Weaver does not indicate a lack of confidence to me in any way. I think if you have fewer than 20 games in which to evaluate two untested rookies for suitability for the playoff roster, then you have to subject them to playoff-like high-pressure situations.

      As far as the Romine thing, it’s clear Girardi was plotting over the weekend (after Martin’s injury) to let the kid debut in his hometown, with his parents and friends in the stands and his brother in the opposing dugout. I think you’re reading too much into the “lack of confidence” thing for now.

      • Ted Nelson

        Agreed.

  • Ramondo

    Just have Cervelli wear that 3 sizes too big helmet that he wore last year and he’ll be fine.

  • cranky

    I think Cervelli has proven himself to be an adequate ML back-up catcher. He could have a long career in that role.
    Fortunately, the Yankees don’t really need him–not now and not in the future.
    The organization is deeper at the catching position than any other organization in the game (Montero, Romine, Murphy, Sanchez are ALL legit prospects, and they just signed another 16 year-old Latin American prospect, as well).
    Good to see, in any case, that the Yanks are taking a careful approach with his concussions. Speculation that multiple, untreated concussions caused Lou Gehrig’s horrible disease is pretty compelling.
    Here’s hoping for Cervelli to make a complete recovery and then find success with his new team after the Yankees trade him in November.

    • Dan

      As someone who has done a significant amount of research on ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) you are 100% wrong on concussions having any relation to the disease. The cause of the disease has not been found, but typically when people get it at the age when Gehrig had it, it is usually because there is some familial link. Also, there has been no findings or research done to my knowledge that show that concussions have anything to do with it.

      • Ted Nelson

        “The cause of the disease has not been found”

        “you are 100% wrong on concussions having any relation to the disease”

        Do you not see the contradiction there? You are 100% wrong that they are 100% wrong. You can say something about how no research has linked it or that the consensus belief is that it’s caused by X… but it’s laughable to say that someone is “100%” wrong about something you admit you don’t know with 100% certainty…

    • Dan

      Multiple untreated concussion could lead to brain damage and cognitive impairments, but brain damage and would not cause ALS.

  • SD Charlie

    Couple things:

    1) With his concussion history, Girardi should’ve pulled Cervelli immediately. There’s something called Second Impact Syndrome, and can compound injury significantly. I like Cervelli, but his days as a catcher might (and should) be over. That or, they’ll have to develop a helmet that can better protect his brain. Too many concussions and a foul-tip can knock him out of a game. I would hate to see something like that.

    2) I hate to be the grammar police, but double negatives like the one in this sentence makes things extremely hard to follow: “With just 16 games left in the season, there’s a non-zero chance that we won’t see Frankie again until 2012.” It would be much, much easier to say “There’s zero chance that we’ll see Frankie again.” Not trying to be an a-hole, just trying to provide constructive feedback.

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      Yeah, actually I was just going to write a post about point number 2. I read it three times and couldn’t make sense of that sentence, either.

  • Jimmy

    Cervelli is fine, it was just a mild concussion. He should have kept his mouth shut instead of being a complainer and he’d have a playoff roster spot. He sounds like he is playing up the injury and milking it. Terrible work ethic!

  • Jimmy

    This is no career ender! No one has ever had to retire because of concussions. Don’t be silly.