Cervelli, anyone?

cervelli_250_070909.jpgWhen I say I’m going to miss Francisco Cervelli, it isn’t because I don’t think Jose Molina’s a fine backup catcher. And when I say I already miss Ramiro Pena, it isn’t that I don’t realize Cody Ransom has more pop in his bat than the rookie infielder.

I realize the Yankees have options on Cervelli and Pena that they don’t with the two guys they replaced for a while. I understand that their getting consistent playing time in the Minors is generally better than bench time in the majors.

I also agree with the unwritten rule that says a player shouldn’t lose his job to another guy because of injury — all things being equal, or fairly equal, in terms of their relative production.

Finally, I admire the modest, workmanlike professionalism of Molina, and think the Yankees had a real need for a lefty slugger and versatile utility guy like Eric Hinske, so I won’t raise a stink about Cervelli being sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre with the reactivation of Molina from the disabled list, just like I didn’t when Pena lost his spot on the active Major League roster with the trade acquisition of Hinske.

But because the Baseball Gods are fickle — and human understanding of how they work tenuous at best — I feel some trepidation now that Cervelli and Pena have exited the stage, at least until the big-club rosters expand in September.

Maybe it’s those traces of my 2006 playoff elimination hangover. I have overlapping playoff elimination hangovers, some of which go back quite a few years. There’s the 1995 horror in Seattle, of course. And then Cleveland in 1997; unlike Mariano Rivera, I can’t put the losses completely behind me. It’s one reason I appreciate his greatness – I don’t think I could be a closer for more than a week or so, even if I found myself in another life and could throw a pitch faster than 50 mph.

I’m too easily haunted by the past.

Again, my ’06 PEH being an example.

A brief refresher: The first half of the Yankees’ 2006 season was marked by a slow start and critical injuries. In late April, the power slugging Gary Sheffield crashed into Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Shea Hillenbrand while attempting to run out a groundball. Sheffield injured his leg and wrist, and the bum wrist would eventually require surgery to repair a torn tendon and ligament and sideline him for almost the entire season. Ouch.

That hurt in more ways than one. Especially from my perspective, because Hillenbrand was a former member of the Red Sox.

Just over a week after Sheffield went on the DL, the Yanks’ problems were gravely compounded when Hideki Matsui messed up his wrist trying to make a sliding catch in shallow left field. In his case, there were broken bones. Ouch-ouch. And yet again, incidentally, the whole thing was tied to the Red Sox, who the Yanks happened to be playing when their No. 2 batter, Mark Loretta, hit his miserable blooper out to left to end Godzilla’s monster 518-consecutive-game streak.

There were a number of other injuries that year. I won’t mention the starting pitcher with the bruised backside by name because saying, thinking or typing it still puts me in a surly mood. But even as things looked their bleakest, the team’s personality began taking on a kind of mojo-moxie magic. Robinson Cano had an incredible second season, Melky Cabrera a very good first full year in the Majors, and replacement/utility guys like Andy Phillips, Bubba Crosby, Miguel Cairo and a few others really fired up the team. Meanwhile, Bernie Williams, who was supposed to see very limited playing time from the bench, wound up in the outfield a whole lot more than anticipated, and did far better than the Yankee front office seemed to expect, being that they hadn’t asked for the opinion of Bernie fans beforehand.
 
Then came the midseason trade for Bobby Abreu and the late Cory Lidle, and Boston Massacre II, and the Yanks winning the AL East pennant to charge into the playoffs.

What also happened along the way was Matsui returning around mid-September, and Sheffield later in the month — in Sheffield’s case just in time for former Yankees manager Joe Torre to try and squeeze him into the postseason lineup.

In October, the Yanks hit a wall. Screech, crash. There were many contributing factors to their prompt division series elimination at the hands of the Detroit Tigers and their suddenly maniacal pitching ace Kenny Rogers. But I’ll always feel that some of the team’s do-or-die spark left when Melky moved aside to make room for Matsui, and Sheffield’s return pushed Phillips, who didn’t hit much but had a decent glove, out of the picture.

Now, I’m not comparing that baseball season to the current one or suggesting the Yanks’ recent player moves will have similar ramifications. It’s a whole different set of circumstances right now — apples and oranges, in a way, since we’re presently talking about utility players rather than starters.

pena_200_070909.jpgBut Pena is a vastly superior fielder to Ransom, and he’s quick as quicksilver, and had a penchant for timely hitting in his brief stint with the Yankees. And Cervelli was defensively not all that inferior to Molina, and could run, steal bases and had a determination, intelligence and special way working with pitchers that compensated for his lack of experience behind the plate.

And both those guys had that mojo-moxie-magic-do-or-die-spark thing going.

Now that they’re gone, I wish them well refining their skills, hope to see them in September, and believe the team will do fine in their absence.

Still, what can I tell you?

When you’re a PEH sufferer, you can’t help but worry.

21 Comments

Sir- I couldn’t agree with you more……………
Why the special love Joe G shows to Molina and Ransom?
So what if they are out of options? Both have had years
and years …..(Molina in bigs and Ransom in almost-bigs)

Cervelli and Pena have BOTH proved their worth this year

Cervelli’s handling of pitchers has been excellent……I think
there maybe more to this than is being told.

Plus from a fielding, batting, enthusiam, standpoint…..how
can Molina/Ransom be better than Cervelli/Pena???

Another classic yankee move, take the youth that can play let it taste success and trade it/ship it to the minors.
Just so we can get old worn out more expensive vets. Great buisness plan.
Posada could not even catch Burnett last night. They were not wild pitches, but a catcher with bad hands.

Well, as usual we agree once again JP. As you are aware I have been ranting about the moves of Pena and now Cervelli. I already miss them. Thanks for answering my question about the options the Yanks held on the guys. I am already awaiting the arrivals in September and like you hope they refine their skill in the minors. They both did a heck of a job and I look forward to seeing them more. Not that I don’t like Molina as he is a great defensive catcher and was actually hitting the ball better than I recalled before his injury, but I loved what Cervelli gave to the team as the backup to Jorge. Ransom on the other hand is slightly annoying me for some odd reason. I won’t get into that right now though.

Good game today with another series win and sweep of the twins. Could you imagine where we would be if we at the least split the games with the Red Sox? Hope the A’s win tonight!

Curious, what’s your take on the Halladay talk?

Kevin in Tampa.

JP–I hope you continue to work on overcoming your PEH condition. Obviously, only the most passionate of Yankee fans could ever carry that stuff around for such a long time. I’m as excited about Pena and Cervelli as anyone. Cervelli brings some of those intangibles that eveyone loves and Pena really has the ability to help in so many spots in the field, he can run, bunt, and handles the bat well. Only a matter of time for both of them. The key is not letting them rot down on the farm or let them get away in a trade package.

I’m not as upset over Cervelli as i am with Pena. Molina is a solid backup but Ransom is terrible in the field and does nothing at the plate and should be released ASAP! They need Pena to backup the infield positions. If nothing else can’t they play Hinske instead of Ransom? Please Joe stop writing Ransom’s name in the lineup!!

Kev . . . as far as Halladay, I probably don’t have anything to say that isn’t obvious, namely that the Yanks have to check it out. The possibility exists that Ricciardi would deal him within the AL East if the package is attractive enough. That means both the Yanks and Sox are going to be sniffing around. If one or the other gets hold of Halladay, the balance of power changes dramatically in the AL East for years to come. So it’s going to be imperative to both teams that the other doesn’t get hold of him . . . and that could mean a real brouhaha if the Jays actually do have interest in a trade with either. Going one further: If you were to ask me today whether I’d rather have Joba or Halladay in the rotation, I would say Halladay with out blinking an eye. I’ve got very substantive concerns about Joba ever becoming what the Yanks projected, but this is another can of worms . . .

Oldschoolyank, I got tired of being the only person around who doesn’t have one of the acronym syndromes out there. Might as well conform and make one up for myself. Seriously, you encapsulate my own thoughts . . . Hop2171, I also agree with you to an extent. Molina is solid and has a significant contract. Here, as you suggest, is the problem with Hinske/Ransom — Hinske can handle the corners, but not shortstop or second, while Ransom is a body they can throw out there in the middle infield. Thus, Pena getting sent down leaves Ransom alone as a utility man at those two positions. That said, I much prefer Hinske at 3rd when A-Rod’s getting a blow. You have to hold your breath any time a ball goes near Ransom, and at least Hinske can hit. Finally . . . I’ve read reports that the Yanks envision Pena as a kind of super utility man who’d be with the team for years to come. If that’s accurate, it’s worth sending him down to get him accustomed to playing various positions. As long as he doesn’t languish or become trade bait, as Oldschoolyank points out is very much the key (and the concern).

You have a great point about the Joba/Halladay comparison. I am not at all confident about joba anymore and stiull to this moment think he should have gone to the pen and hughes should be starting.

Pena is doing pretty good in AAA, which is what we want out of him while he is back down there. Cervelli had a hit in his first game back down. We will see them real soon…

Enjoy the weekend and hope the Sox lose a few more games againts KC and we pull out a series win over the Angles.

I think sending Cervelli down is an incredibly unwise move. He is better than Molina at all 5 tools, and the 6th thing: enthusiasm. The Yankees are currently tied for first with the Red Sox. We are in the middle of a pennant race, and we should be sending out nothing but our best guys. Cervelli is the best guy, not Molina. I cringe every time I think of the stupid things the Yankees have done over the years, and this is one of them. Why send down a better player? Cervelli can help this team win now, in more ways than Molina. Case closed.

I think at this stage in his career, Cervelli will definitely benefit from more starts at catcher. Remember, he was at AA when he was brought up, and only recently started catching, career-wise. Even a prodigy gets better with experience. He’ll be back soon enough.

Dream on about Halladay…

I think Cervelli should of been giving a chance to play against our worst record team (LAA…5-14). Now that we botched the 1st game (5-15) Cervelli may have been a better straw then Molina to stir that drink. At least wait until after the break. It looks like Cashin has alot of influence over Girardi in these matters?

Rabidcoyote . . . make no mistake, I’m not saying I think the Yanks will acquire Halladay. In fact, I’d bet against it. My point is simply that they have to do their due diligence, and that Joe McDonald of the the Providence Journal, a pretty reliable–and thus unsensational–sportswriter/New England newspaper, reports that the Red Sox have officially phoned Ricciardi about Halladay, with the Yanks and Rays also making calls. Thus, it’s not about dreaming for me . . . but a concern that the Sox have the resources pull one off here, and that the Yanks must do whatever they can to ensure they don’t.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

Molina and Ransom should be traded for a starting pitcher.
Most of all, the Yankees should fire their third base coach and hire Leo Mazzone to take his place. He would be huge addition to the club, as he could help the rotation & bullpen
immensely.

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