It is rather unfortunate because Murphy did nothing to warrant being sent down. He has hit .286/.308/.365 with a 85 wRC+ during his time in New York this season. Those numbers are down because of a recent two-for-18 slump, which makes a big difference with only 65 at-bats on the season.
Murphy has much more potential than Cervelli and could be a big trade chip for the Yankees if they want to acquire a big piece at the deadline. So, Murphy getting regular at-bats at Triple-A isn’t a bad thing. You would be lucky to get back a decent reliever for Cervelli, despite the notion that Cervelli could be a trade chip.
The only reason Cervelli is getting Murphy’s spot is that Cervelli has no options remaining and the Yankees do not want to lose him for nothing. Although, as previously stated I doubt he would fetch much on the trade market.
It seems as though the casual fan has a higher opinion of Cervelli than they should. He seems to have a lot of supporters on social media, which is hard to understand because he will never be anything more than a backup catcher.
The casual fan looks at Cervelli’s .269 career bating average and thinks that’s great for a backup catcher or even a starting catcher. However, Cervelli is another example as to why batting average is not taken very seriously by the sabermetric community.
Cervelli has little power, as his .095 career ISO and .364 career slugging percentage suggest. This coincides with Cervelli hitting far too many balls on the ground (45.3 percent career ground ball rate). Also, Cervelli’s career 92 wRC+ and .316 wOBA are below average as well. So, Cervelli’s decent batting average probably has a good deal of luck involved.
The only time Cervelli showed any power was last year when he hit three home runs in 61 at-bats with a .231 ISO, and his power surge this spring does not count. Of course we now know that it was probably steroid induced after his Biogenesis suspension.
Defense is still the most important thing for backup catchers, and Cervelli has never seemed like a great defender either. His pitch framing hasn’t looked great to the naked eye, and he has only thrown out 21% of base runners for his career. Also –errors aren’t the best way to evaluate defense– but his 13 errors in 90 games in 2010 and 6 errors in 35 games in 2011 are a ton.
Cervelli replacing Murphy will hardly make a huge difference for the Yankees overall. They have much bigger things to worry about with their age, bats and starting rotation. However, it’s unfortunate that one of the few bright spots on the team so far will no longer be on the big league club in place of a guy who should not really have a future with the team.