Francisco Cervelli isn’t an especially good hitter, he isn’t even an especially good defender, but he does enough of both that he’s a decent backup and after three years of serving in that role the Yankees decided out of the blue to send him down to Triple-A.
The reason was that Austin Romine‘s back injury, which is expected to keep him out for a couple of months, created a need in the minors. So they traded George Kontos to the Giants in exchange for Chris Stewart, a former Yankee who is a strong defender, but a pathetic hitter.
But Stewart doesn’t have any options remaining so the Yankees can’t send him to the minors without risk of losing him. However, Cervelli had one so Stewart stays and Cervelli goes.
Reporters described him as red-eyed and said he was clearly crying. It’s not hard to understand as it certain did come as a shock.
“I don’t know,” Cervelli told Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. “I don’t understand their reason. I think maybe you’ve got to ask Cash, or somebody else. Maybe the other guy is better than I am right now. Just play baseball no matter where it is, and show them that I’m a big league catcher, like they say.”
I don’t exactly understand the Yankees thinking either. The Yankees say it’s a depth move, but it seems like it was designed to help the Triple-A team at the expense of the team in the Bronx. Once Romine returns, would they promote Cervelli and move Stewart? If they do, isn’t that an admission that Cervelli is actually better? And if that’s the case, they shouldn’t have even considered this move.
It’s possible that the Yankees don’t like Cervelli as much as it seems or that they believe Stewart’s defense outweighs the more rounded game of Cervelli’s. If that’s the case, that’s fine, and it would even be understandable that they couldn’t come out and say that to spare Cervelli’s feelings. Either way, it’s easy to understand why he was shocked.