By Neil Keefe
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Question: If you were as bad at your job as Francisco Cervelli is at his, would you still have a job? Actually better yet, if you brought absolutely nothing to the table for your employer like Francisco Cervelli does for the Yankees, would you still have a job?
The backup catcher situation for the Yankees has become a disgrace this season since the return of Cervelli, and while the Yankees tried to hide Gustavo Molina on the roster (and did so successfully because of rain outs and off-days), he might be a better option that Cervelli at this point. Yes, I would rather see the career .128/.160/.170 guy than Francisco Cervelli. That’s how bad things have been when Russell Martin isn’t in the lineup.
Two weeks ago I named my top five MVPs for the Yankees for the first third of the season, and I had Russell Martin listed at No. 3 behind Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia. I’m thinking maybe he should have been higher. Even though Martin has cooled off dramatically since May 1 (.183, 3 HR, 8 RBIs), his beginning of the season was solid, and his presence behind the plate is even more important. Now that he’s day-to-day due to injury, having played just two games since June 4, the Yankees are forced to start Cervelli and roll with Posada as the backup. Well, they aren’t forced to run Cervelli out there every game, they just choose to.
Cervelli has already racked up five errors in 16 games at catcher after having an astounding 13 in 90 games last season. In comparison, Martin has three this season in 50 games. Cervelli can’t hit for power or average (.191/.250/.298), or bunt, or field his position or throw out runners. There is nothing that suggests he should be on the Yankees or in the major leagues unless he knows some crazy secrets about Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman, and his roster spot is safe as long as he can keep this bribe going. That’s really the only logical explanation left as to why he is still on the 25-man roster.
I’m still not sure why Jorge Posada can’t be the backup catcher all the time, freeing up a roster spot wasted by Cervelli. Is it because the Yankees are afraid of him getting hurt or injured because his bat is so valuable to the team? Yes, I know he has been better in June (.469/.486/.531), and maybe if his production as a DH was consistent it would be one thing, but that’s hardly been the case and not a good enough reason to not make him the backup. Is it because they are worried he won’t be able to throw out runners — something Cervelli can’t do anyway? There really isn’t a good answer.
Meanwhile, Jesus Montero (.293, 5 HR, 25 RBIs) and Austin Romine (.298, 4 HR, 31 RBIs) are performing well at Triple-A and Double-A respectively. And while I understand the need to have them develop correctly and see regular playing time as starting catchers, it would make more sense to see either one of them getting the playing time in the majors that Cervelli is currently getting and wasting right now.
It’s ridiculous that Francisco Cervelli is still on the $200 million Yankees. It’s even more ridiculous that he’s starting games for them. Give me someone other than Cervelli. Anyone other than Cervelli.