Why The New York Yankees Need Francisco Cervelli

All season long the New York Yankees have been plagued by an inability to get runners across the plate in key situations.  One spot that has been particularly weak in the dreaded “runners in scoring position” category has been catcher.  Combined, catchers Russell Martin and Chris Stewart have a .200 batting average, and when it comes to RISP they are hitting .226.

While it was made clear to all of us that Stewart was brought on board for his defensive prowess, at what point do we say that getting on base and driving runners home must be given a higher priority?

This season the New York Yankees have lost eight games by 2 runs or less.  In those eight games the catchers are hitting .240 with three RBI.

How many of those games would the Yankees have won if they had a catcher who could hit his weight?  How many more RBI opportunities would Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson have had if someone at the end of the lineup could get on base? With just three of those eight defeats turned into victories, the New York Yankees would be on top of the American League East Division.

Maybe it’s time we brought Francisco Cervelli back up to the big league club.

In the three seasons Cervelli saw significant time in the Bronx, his batting average was .278.  With RISP, his average for each of those three seasons was .360, .316, and .302.  It would be nice to actually have a threat in the eighth or ninth spot again, wouldn’t it?

As was widely reported, Cervelli struggled initially upon his demotion to Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.  Everyone saw how emotional it was for the 26 year-old to find out on the last day of Spring Training that the club had acquired someone else to take his role in the Bronx.  Obviously it took some adjusting on his part, and he started the minor league season hitting .159 through the first couple of weeks.  On May 3rd his average was sitting at .227, and as of today it is up to .254.  It looks as though the old New York Yankees Francisco Cervelli is hitting like he used to.  At Scranton he has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 contests, holding a .364 average over that period.

Yes, Chris Stewart represents a significant upgrade defensively at catcher, but I contend that Francisco Cervelli would represent just as significant of an upgrade offensively in the order.  It is all a matter of emphasis for New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.  To date he has clearly weighted defense behind the plate over having a longer, more challenging lineup.  The result is being met with mixed reviews, and with the team constantly depending upon the long ball for its production, consistency has become a thing of the past.

Perhaps it is time to pursue a different angle at generating runs.  Shore up the bottom of the order so that our better hitters that sit at the top of the lineup have the chance to generate some New York Yankees runs.

Bring Francisco Cervelli back to where he belongs and stop thinking that we can do better.  The evidence is showing that we can’t.



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  • Ryan C

    I agree with your opinion, but would add something else. Cervelli gives the Yanks something they seem to be missing more than hitting with RISP, energy. The guy loves to play and spreads smiles and passion to the team. This team seems to be too focused on “business.” Even Swisher hasn’t been fun and loose. I would wager the team goes on a long, extended streak of series victories if they brought Cervelli back up, and it wouldn’t just be because of his BA with RISP.

    • Steve Skinner

      I totally agree with you. Cervelli brings heart, passion and a genuine desire that the current Yankee “administration” seems to have ignored. Thank you for your comment – it hits the nail on the head.

  • coolnewyorker

    As much as I like Cervelli, I have doubt that the team “needs” him “to be better”.

    But I have no doubt his demotion is a paradigm of an unnecessary insentive non-productive act of “messing around” with people’s life and career simply because it can be done.

    Stewart’s acquisition that automatically meant Cervelli’s demotion was an unintelligent move. Now that such trade has turned out to be what it was- senseless- the smarter sensible thing to do is undo it. Bring Cervelli back where he belongs, whether or not the team needs him.

    I have no doubt the team does not need Stewart. I am sure Cervelli needs the team.

    C’mon, Cashman and company, be decent people. Do the decent thing. Correct your mistake. Bring Cervelli back.

    • Steve Skinner

      While I agree with your ultimate conclusion, I disagree with how you got there. As noted in previous comments, Cervelli brings certain intangibles that can rally a team. Also, as I said in my article, his offense may very well have turned a few of those eight close losses around. The combination of his offense and his infectious emotion could have had the Yankees in first place (as I said, all you need is 3 or 4 of those losses turned into wins). In any case, I sincerely thank you for your comments.

  • coolnewyorker

    I totally disagree with your rationalization in bringing back Cervelli.

    You have given these 8-game RISP clutch situations a pivotal significance. Too small sample. Cervelli has failed many more times in such scenarios. He could have struck out each time as he had done, and anybody else, before.

    His winning smiles may capture your heart, but I doubt very much if they have as much impact in the team’s winning games, given Yankees are mostly veteran players.

    The correct reason in reinstating him is his demotion was simply wrong. WRONG. Powerful people should not have a sense of impunity when doing wrongs to others. It’s time this wrong is righted.

    As corporate a team that the Yankees is, senseless moves like Cervelli’s demotion can boomerang counter-productively on players’ psyche. Who is the next victim among us?