Pondering the CC-Cervelli pairing
A few weeks ago, I wondered when the Yankees would choose to utilize Francisco Cervelli, the team’s defensively skilled backup catcher. “In 2009,” I wrote, “Jose Molina became A.J. Burnett’s regular catcher, and that seemed to work in terms of providing ample playing time to the backup and resting [Jorge] Posada (even if you disagreed with the reasoning behind the pairing, it had its share of benefits).” Essentially, while I thought the partnership between Molina and Burnett was questionable mainly because it was done for defensive purposes, purposes that were driven by small pools of data, it had its advantages, in that it allowed the 38-year old Posada to receive much needed rest.
I further pondered, in that post from early April, whether or not the Yankees would do something similar this season, for similar reasons, this time with Cervelli and another Yankee starter. “Will we see Cervelli become a pitcher’s regular catcher this season, as well? After the Burnett-Posada drama we witnessed through yesterday,” I wrote, “it is doubtful that Cervelli would end up being Burnett’s catcher, but could he be used with CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, or Phil Hughes? It is definitely a possibility,” I concluded. Now that Cervelli and CC Sabathia have had two particularly strong consecutive outings, is it possible the two will continue to work together in the future?
I think it is very likely that such a pairing will occur and, if it does, I won’t criticize the personal catcher motif as much as I did a year ago, if at all. My reasoning is simple. Jorge Posada is inching closer to 40 and could use the extra rest that a CC-Cervelli combination would provide. In addition, Cervelli is nowhere near as bad as Molina is with a bat (he has very little power, but can at least get a few hits and is a better baserunner), so that is something to consider. Plus, CC is good enough to win with Posada on the bench and lesser offensive production backing his pitching line.
Whereas in 2009, the Burnett-Molina duo was done for defensive reasons, I see the CC-Cervelli duo, if they actually turn out to be regular battery mates, to be more about safeguarding Jorge Posada and making sure he’s fresh. To keep Posada happy, the Yankees could throw him a couple of CC starts, but having Cervelli catch CC most of the time seems like a good idea. Sure, they have worked well together, but that is not the main reason for the pairing. As a manager, I would suspect one would find solace in knowing that the two have been productive in the past, however.
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