Were Yankees unfair to Cervelli?

Cervelli was the 24th or 25th man on the Yankees’ roster. All roster spots are fair game for speculation and debate. We here at IIATMS have done so with Freddy Garcia, Raul Ibanez and others. That’s all fair in what we do. But for the Yankees to choose Chris Stewart over Cervelli and crying a cruel foul is like saying the Yankees stuck it to Jorge Vazquez by not giving him a chance to DH over Andruw Jones. We may debate the merits of Andruw Jones versus Jorge Vazquez, especially after the start Jones has had to this point. But saying the Yankees screwed Vazquez personally would be all wrong. In the team’s best estimation, Vazquez could not add wins to the Yankees’ win column. And that’s the bottom line here.

The crux of Skinner’s point is contained his this paragraph:

As I said in my original article, I blame New York Yankees management, in particular Brian Cashman, for “breaking” Cervelli.  I still question the wisdom the GM showed in getting an older, slower, poorer hitter to replace Cervelli as Russell Martin’s backup with the Bombers.  Yes, Chris Stewart is a better defensive catcher, but Cervelli was still developing and there is plenty of time for him to work on his catching skills while continuing to provide a decent replacement in the batting order.  Now, I wonder if Francisco Cervelli will ever be the same.

There are two different thoughts in his paragraph. One is debatable. The other is not. The first is that long-term, Cervelli was a better option for the Yankees. The thought is implied more than stated openly. The second thought is that Cashman broke Cervelli and Cervelli will never be the same. That thought is spurious. Cashman didn’t make a personal decision. He made a business one. We can debate if he made the right one after the season is over. Will Stewart’s defense be worth an extra win for his overall game than the perhaps negligible advantage Cervelli might have provided offensively? When a win could separate a division title winner from the next team, your marginal players become important sources for advantages. So that is a fair question. We won’t know until the dust settles.

I wrote a piece myself when the decision was made feeling sorry for Cervelli. It was a tough blow. But to make it very clear here, Brian Cashman was not an evil man doing an evil thing to the catcher. Cashman’s job is to give Joe Girardi the best roster he can to give Girardi the best chance to win the division. In Cashman’s estimation, with input most likely from Girardi, Stewart provided a better value proposition for the Yankees than Cervelli did. It is that cut and dried. There is nothing else to see there.

While I felt and feel for Cervelli, I never extended those feelings to the decision the Yankees made. I never took my own feelings on how it feels to lose a job to make Cashman the symbol for all the mean and unfeeling bosses of the world. Cashman and Girardi had a decision to make and made the best one they could for the team. Nothing personal.

Skinner is right about one thing. What happens next for Cervelli is totally up to Cervelli. He needs to pick up the pieces and build some value for himself in case the Yankees can use him in a pinch or for another team to be interested in his services. Whether it’s because he is “broken” or because he simply is off to a bad start, Cervelli isn’t building himself much value right now. That’s on him, not on his evil former bosses.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

15 thoughts on “Were Yankees unfair to Cervelli?

  1. Etomi

    Chris Stewart has done a pretty decent job so far. More than expected on offense and solid defense from what I've seen. Maybe the "right" thing to do with Cervelli is shop him if he doesn't fit into the plan this year.

  2. BrienJackson

    "Cashman’s job is to give Joe Girardi the best roster he can to give Girardi the best chance to win the division. In Cashman’s estimation, with input most likely from Girardi, Stewart provided a better value proposition for the Yankees than Cervelli did. It is that cut and dried. There is nothing else to see there."

    Actually, I'm not even sure that's quite the proper way to look at it. Cashman needs to keep the entire organization in order and, with Austin Romine's injury, they were down a catcher at the Triple-A level. Cervelli got sent down because he had an option remaining while Stewart did not. That's it. Heck, Girardi even said that Cervelli would be the starting catcher if Russell Martin got hurt. If that's changed between then and now, it's because Cervelli has been so god awful against Triple-A pitching.

  3. The Comedian

    Cervelli had the last two years to show something and he hasn't. He's just not that good.

  4. jay_robertson

    If Cervelli is "broken" – then what he is really doing is pouting – either that, or he's given up. If he can't rake in AAA, and hopefully learn how to throw out a guy stealing, instead of send the ball to Granderson, then HOW on earth can he whine about being in AAA.

    I thought the meme was that if you can't make it in Scranton, then you're not good enough for the Bronx. I must have missed something. This is Cervelli's chance to pull a Nova, learn and sharpen some skills, and come back so good that the Yankees CAN'T send him back down. Up to Franco.

  5. Frank S.

    "This is Cervelli's chance to pull a Nova, learn and sharpen some skills, and come back so good that the Yankees CAN'T send him back down. Up to Franco."

    Spot on, Jay. It's also between the ears. Nova has always believed he is one of the best pitchers in the world and didn't let the demotions change that belief. Cervelli now apparently thinks he's waiver fodder, and so he's playing that way. Imagine if Jeter believed everything he read in the papers? He'd be hanging out on the beach at St. Jetersburg right now instead of batting .400.

  6. Jacques

    Sorry, I don't miss Cervelli at this point. Chris Stewart is doing well with the bat and the glove and the arm

  7. roadrider

    I want Cervelli's life for just a minute. He's 26 yrs old has earned over $1 million in a job he's not particularly good at with the top organization in his profession and has been part of a World Championship team.

    What did he expect – lifetime tenure?

    If being sent down "broke" Cervelli then he ought to consider the good fortune he's had in the past three years and get some perspective.

  8. So calling Cervelli up – soon after a serious injury rehab – in 2009 wasn't fair to him? Keeping him on the roster almost every day for the past 3 seasons, was that unfair to him, even when he couldn't help playing catch with Granderson whenever an opponent stole second?

    Cervelli is not Joba. He was never a prospect, never destined for bigger things. He was and is a backup catcher, and no back up has job security in any major professional sport.

    • mike

      Joba and Hughes are very disappointing but they have the arms to keep trying.May never use them to their ability but still worth a try.

  9. mike

    Nova did nothing wrong to be sent down and didn't whine,now look at him,in his last 18 starts no one and I say no one has done better.I liked Cervellis passion but he wasn't going to start and wasn't that great of a hitter or he would be a DH so nothing wrong with his demotion.If this ruins him then it is on him.

    • yanksfan

      its funny how you guys are so uninformed Russell Martin is slightly better than cervelli as a catcher mind you in 2010 Cervelli actually was the better hitter than Martin was. He did start most of the games in 2010.

  10. not Montero's dad

    Were the Yanks unfair to Cevelli? I rather thnk that the Yanks were unfair to his teammates for keeping him on the roster for so long, even though he brought so little.

  11. Dave1513

    The only thing that is "unfair" about Cervelli's situation is apparently how it was handled. If during spring training someone had said, "We have some concerns about you as back-up and are considering a defensive upgrade", he might have been better prepared for it. I was the person on the bubble in a sport and knew it. It motivated me to try harder. While I ultimately was "AAAed" at least I was prepared for it.

    • forged

      I didn't follow Spring Training around Cervelli that closely. Are you sure they didn't warn him during camp that it was a possibility?

      • They acquired Stewart on the last day of games and had to demote Cervelli because Stewart doesn’t have options. So no, he probably never saw it coming but, given the reality of remaining options, as a professional he ought to be mature enough to understand the situation. It’s not like the Yankees just up and decided to give his job to Gustavo Molina out of the blue or something.

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