A few weeks ago I wrote a piece for Bleeding Yankee Blue where I described watching Francisco Cervelli, the New York Yankees catcher who had been demoted to Triple A baseball on the day before the team broke camp. It had been widely reported that he was visibly upset at the news of having to report to the Scranton-Wilkes Barre team rather than travel to Tampa with the club, and I wanted to see the effects upon the 26 year-old. What I witnessed was not good. The spirited dynamo that was Francisco Cervelli seemed to have disappeared.
I decided yesterday to check out the SWB Yankees site and see if Cervelli’s stats proved he should be with the big league club. To my disappointment, they do not. To date, in 44 at-bats he has just seven hits – a .159 average. He has no stolen bases (one of Cervelli’s big advantages over other catchers was his speed), and has struck out 10 times (that’s nearly 25% of his AB). In his three full years with the New York Yankees, Francisco Cervelli carried a .272 batting average and struck out 17 percent of the time. Clearly his demotion has “left a mark”.
As I said in my original article, I blame New York Yankees management, in particular Brian Cashman, for “breaking” Cervelli. I still question the wisdom the GM showed in getting an older, slower, poorer hitter to replace Cervelli as Russell Martin’s backup with the Bombers. Yes, Chris Stewart is a better defensive catcher, but Cervelli was still developing and there is plenty of time for him to work on his catching skills while continuing to provide a decent replacement in the batting order. Now, I wonder if Francisco Cervelli will ever be the same.
For the catcher, the time is now to prove that he belongs. While this season’s return to the New York Yankees hangs in the balance, he has to pull himself out of his funk and rekindle the drive that endeared him to Yankee fans far and wide. Right now there is no doubt that New York Yankees management is looking at the statistics as justification for Cervelli’s demotion and not realizing that they may be the result of a broken spirit. Only Francisco Cervelli can correct that.