Francisco Cervelli wins the backup catcher role

New York Yankees' Francisco Cervelli

The hit T.V. show “Survivor” and the Yankees backup catching competition have one huge thing in common: The contestants are eliminated one by one until there is one competitor remaining.  In a way, the Yankees catching competition was it’s own game of “Survivor”. John Ryan Murphy was eliminated yesterday when he was optioned to minor league camp and Austin Romine was eliminated today when he was optioned to Triple-A. With the eliminations, it leaves only one person standing, Francisco Cervelli.

“Well, I haven’t told him,” Joe Girardi said. “But he’s about the only one left in camp.”

Cervelli was the favorite to win the catching competition going into Spring Training but he’s certainly earned it as Spring Training comes to a close. He had the most home runs, the highest slugging percentage, the most runs scored and the best batting average out of everyone in camp.

However, as Cervelli goes into the season as the backup catcher, his playing time will be determined by when starting catcher Brian McCann needs a day off.

“We expect Brian to catch a lot, a lot, a lot,” Girardi said. “But if we feel he needs a day off, and it’s maybe it’s two out of nine days or two out of eight days. We want Brian in as much as we can, but we know that Cervy can do a really good job. … He’s been around here. He’s pretty familiar with most of the guys. I’ll just put him in when I feel the day is right.”

Some Notes

Jacoby Ellsbury is slated to play another minor league game today, this time in center field. If all goes well, he could be in the Yankees lineup as early as tomorrow.  “Each day we just kind of talk about it, where he’s at, because we want to see where he’s at before we make a decision for the next day,” Girardi said on the Ellsbury situation.

Alfonso Soriano has some tightness in his shoulder but it’s nothing to keep him out of the lineup today. He has a scheduled day off tomorrow and Girardi will see how he’s feeling on Friday.

— It’s almost certain Brendan Ryan will start the season on the DL and Girardi has a few candidates to choose from. Eduardo Nunez, Dean Anna, Scott Sizemore and Yangervis Solarte are strong candidates while Zealous Wheeler has played well, but seems to be an outside chance since he’s never played a full year in Triple-A.

Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda are scheduled to throw bullpens today and Mark Teixeira, Ellsbury and McCann will stay in Tampa to take batting practice.

— One other note that’s more of an observation: Mark Teixeira’s the only Yankee starter to actually play an entire Spring Training game. He did it on Sunday when he went 0-for-4. Maybe he felt he needed more at-bats, but I thought it was rather interesting. With three games left, we might see one game where everyone on the team plays all nine innings.,

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13 Responses to Francisco Cervelli wins the backup catcher role

  1. Spring training stats mean nothing. Cervelli got the job because he's out of options and the Yankees can still send Romine and Murphy to the minors. Unless he was traded, which is a shame that he wasn't because the infield is the worst in baseball and needs major upgrades, he was always going to be the backup.

  2. cooolbreeez says:

    Is Anna over zealous?

  3. olie says:

    Rob, let it go! Cervelli got the job because he proved he was the only one ready to back-up if needed. If you want to trade him wait a year till someone else is ready! To me keeping Cervelli is a no-brainer!

    • Look at it this way — a typical backup catcher gets 150-200 at bats in a season. Cervelli should hit right around .270/.340/.360 in those, let's say, 200 at bats. A typical starting third baseman will get 500-600 at bats. Kelly Johnson should hit .220/.300/.400 in those at bats.

      Meanwhile — The average third baseman hit .270/.325/.400 last season which is a decent clip better than Kelly Johnson. Austin Romine hit .260/.329/.384 over the final 3 months last season and continually improved as the season went on. That's only slightly worse than Cervelli with potential to be as good or better.

      Then take into account the defense — Cervelli is bad in the field. He constantly makes bad throws, has mental lapses, or generally fumbles the ball. He's not known as a good receiver either. Romine is known as a plus defender who did a great job in the field last season even as he struggled at the plate early on. Kelly Johnson was a bad 2nd baseman who has only played 16 games at third so we should realistically expect him to be below average there as well.

      I don't hate Cervelli (although I find his skills and reputation don't match up at all). I feel like swapping out Cervelli for Romine is pretty even and I feel that it wouldn't be terribly hard to find an upgrade for Johnson.

      Of course none of this would matter if the Yankees would sign Stephen Drew, but apparently the organization, which is valued at $2.4 billion, can't find $10 or $20 million to improve the team at this point.

  4. Also returning as a NY Yankee Opening Day………Yes boys and girls, Eduardo Nunez guaranteed a spot as Yanks DL Brendon Ryan.

    • mlblogsnewyorkyankees13 says:

      Nunez isn't guaranteed a spot. There's a competition between him, Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte. Besides, Nunez has one more option.

      • Nope, according to CBS Sports. Nunez inherits Bendon Ryan's role as Ryan was DL'd. Nunez may be sent down if and when Ryan returns, but our boy Nunez will be a back-up infielder and on the opening day roster. Anna and Solarte compete for the 2nd infield back-up role. The hands down favorite is Anna as he is on the 40 man roster. What will kill this team is the Kelly (ball between the wickets) Johnson as the EVERYDAY 3rd baseman.

        • Look at it this way, they know what they have in Nunez which is not much. They want Solarte to play everyday as he is new to the organization and they want him to play everyday to guage his long term value. Anna was brought here to be a utility guy though if it was up to me he'd be playing 3rd everyday because Kelly Johnson's horrible defense will continue to be exposed, but now it will count. Nunez has an option left which they may or may not use in the future.

          This is a short-term win for Nunez. In fact calling it a "win" for Nunez is a stretch. He or Sizemore were looked upon as possibilities as the right hand platoon at 3rd. Sizemore is not ready physically and may never be, and Nunez will be riding the pines.

      • Yankees fan says:

        Nunez would win the job.

  5. Michael R says:

    In my mind a back up catcher's role is to be sound defensively. Any production with the bat is icing on the cake. Unfortunately Cervelli doesn't cut it defensively.

    • olie says:

      If the starting catcher gets hurt how long can u live with a backup catcher that can't hit at all! Cervelli is not that bad behind the dish anyways, he was the Yankees opening day catcher last year!

      • Remember last year when Chris Stewart "struck out" on 2 strikes? Talk about not having your head in the game…….anyway as has been pointed out sending Cervelli down now exposes him to waivers and someone would take him. Best to keep him around for awhile while his RELATIVE value will never be higher and they can get something for him. Having 5 catchers on the 40 man roster is not efficient.

  6. hotdog says:

    Cervelli could be a very good pinch hitter as well…