Brief musings on an odd trade

Yesterday, right after their game against the Mets, the Yankees traded minor league reliever George Kontos to the Giants for backup catcher Chris Stewart. Upon doing this, the Yankees demoted their ebullient backup backstop Francisco Cervelli to AAA to start the year. While this is certainly a disappointment for Frankie Blue Eyes, he’ll get a chance to play every day for Empire State, as Austin Romine will start the year on the DL.

Stewart is a zero with the bat, essentially, though his career walk rate (a meager 237 PA) is 8.0, so he’ll at least make a pitcher work every so often. As Mike alluded to last night, he ranked 15th out of 114 catchers in terms of defensive production last year, which will be a welcomed change from Cervelli’s propensity for inaccurate throws on steals and ill-advised snap throws. They’ll lose a bit on offense when Russell Martin gets the day off, but it seems like they’re willing to make that trade, considering Stewart’s defense. I’m just hoping we don’t get much of that “personal catcher” business that manager Joe Girardi tends to go for.

As for the trade itself, it does seem a bit odd and that was my first reaction to it. While Kontos is certainly not the next coming of Mariano Rivera and likely wasn’t part of the Yankees’ long term plans, he seemed poised to break onto the big league team at some point and provide some value. This seems like an overpay considering Stewart’s past performance (or lack thereof). When looking at that, it’s a marvel the Yankees had to give up anything but cash or a player-to-be-named later. Good luck to Kontos in the Bay, though, and good luck to Stewart as the back up. This trade isn’t necessarily all that great, but it’s not indefensible or anything. Can we please just start the damn season already?

11 thoughts on “Brief musings on an odd trade

  1. I’m not in love with the trade either, but I more or less agree with bpdelia’s assessment. I think people are overestimating Kontos’ trade value and underestimating how much better Stewart is defensively than Cervelli.

  2. bpdelia

    I think you have to not pass judgment here. We have almost ZERO idea how to properly value defense. We don’t know how much cc and the rest dislike throwing to cervelli. We can assume the Yankees have a system beyond Fasts.

    Also I don’t by the idea that yankees fans overhype the top prosoects. But the middle of the road guys? Yeah. Kontos is a.26 year old middle reluever with fringy average stuff who has never pitched for a.big league team. He has a concerning injury history and is a member of THE mist volatile and fungible ML assets. Non elite stuff middle inning relievers.

    These guys are as easy to find and as disposable as any buc.

    Basically kontos and Stewart are the same value. Except that even we, to say nothing of the ysnkees, know Stewart posses one elite elite ML skill. Kontos hasnt been elite at any stop in any facet.

    Add in the complete lack of upper level c depth and the ridiculous stockpile of neat and,long term reliever options in the system and the trade makes perfect sense.

    Cervellis bat doesnt make up for his bad and rapidly regressing defensive skills and he is now a MASSIVE risk for season or career ending injuries. One more bell ringing could be it.

    I totally approve of this trade. Ive missed molina. The buc should catch. If martin gets hurt I assume cerbelli will be the starter unless romine is healed.

  3. bpdelia

    And the spelling/punctuation above is my phones fault…..i swear.

  4. I have no opinion on the trade one way or the other. It’s sorta weird but bpdelia’s argument makes sense too. Either way, it’s the 24th or 25th spot on the roster and I just can’t get upset.

    One side point, and an honest question: why do people get upset with the whole “personal catcher” thing? A back-up catcher has to play once in a while so I don’t really see why it matters if he plays in a predictable pattern — every time Pitcher X pitches, for instance — or once every 5.5 games.

    • bpdelia

      Yeah I don’t have an issue with it in some cases. ITs not an issue now because our starter is a good reciever. But if you were an ace I could absolutely see being pissed off losing strikes throwing to posada or Javy Lopez. If the backup has to play once a week anyway and your ace hates throwing to your offensive oriented starting catcher I have zero problem telling Gregg Maddux or David Cone or whoever that he can throw to his own prefered defense first catcher. Again though not so much an issue now as Martin is obviously a great reciever

    • roadrider

      I get upset with it because it potentially hurts the team. Yes, I understand guys didn’t love throwing to Posada but how did they feel about the offense he created as opposed to the black hole in the lineup that guys like Widger and Molina represented?

      I’ll admit my personal bias against pitchers and how pampered they seem to be. And don’t get me started on relief pitchers …

      • “I get upset with it because it potentially hurts the team.”

        But if a catcher can’t play every game then, simply by virtue of the starter needing rest, the team will have to be hurt between 20-40 times per season.

        So if we already know that the starting catcher has to rest from time to time I just don’t see what the big deal is about pre-programming the days in which the preferred backup catcher gets to start.

        • roadrider

          Yes but that’s not really what happens is it? How about when they insist on their “personal catcher” for a big series or a post-season game. That has happened with the Yankees.

          Sorry but I think the personal catcher thing is horseshit. I would grant some leeway to a guy like CC but when guys like AJ Burnett are requesting personal catchers it’s gone way too far.

  5. Rob

    I don’t like my analysis without extreme overreactions. Too reasonable. This was a moronic trade.

  6. Dave1955

    Clearly you don’t put Cervelli with an A,J, type pitcher, but I think he was fine as a replacement. That being said I like that he will get a lot of innings between now and the return of Romine. At that point bring him back up as he does have some pinch hitter value and it seems when he plays every day,or in spring training, every other day his hitting improves. I still don’t see why a trade for a likely dfa catcher makes sense. But in theory Cashman and crew make the $$$ for making those decisions.

  7. roadrider

    I can’t wait for the season to start so everyone can stop getting ulcers over a transaction that will be an afterthought in about 48 hours. Kontos was never going to crack the Yankees staff unless 5 guys got hurt at the same time. Cervelli is forgettable and while his hitting may be better than his catching it still sucks. I’ve never seen Stewart play but basically his job seems to be not to screw up too badly while Martin takes a rest. I’m sure he’s the defensive wizard everyone says he is but I really doubt over the 30-40 games he may start he’s going to add that much value.

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