Wednesday, July 8, 2009
At long last, Jose Molina will be activated from the DL either today or tomorrow, and Francisco Cervelli will be sent down. It's the right move to make, but I, like many other Yankee fans will be sad to see the Cisco Kid depart.
Cervelli came up on May 5th, after Jorge Posada was DL'd with a hamstring problem. Three days later, Molina went down, leaving the Yanks with a catching tandem of the young Cervelli and Kevin Cash. Cervelli quickly established himself as a fan favorite, not only for his infectious enthusiasm, but also for an impressive burst out of the gate, hitting .375 through his first 28 PAs and playing outstanding defense, both calling a good game and flashing a strong arm. I always found his post-game interviews fairly humorous too.
While his offense came back to earth a bit, he still provided the ocassional shot in the arm. None were bigger than his first Big League home run, coming in Atlanta on June 24th. His homer that night snapped a fourteen inning scoreless streak for the Yankees and sparked an offensive hot streak that's still going. Last night, he likely capped his two month stay, hitting the ball well each time up in going 2 for 4 with a double, sac fly, a run scored, and two RBI.
Of course, "a rivederci" is Italian for "until we see each other again", and we certainly will see Frankie again. Cervelli will be recalled when rosters expand in September, if not sooner. With Jose Molina's contract expiring at season's end, it's a safe bet that Frankie will be Posada's caddie in 2010. In the meantime, Cervelli, like Ramiro Pena, will get some needed seasoning at Scranton. Despite outperforming his offensive expectations at the Big League level, Cervelli has had just 152 minor league PA above A-ball. Getting regular at bats against AAA pitching will only help his development and leave him in a better position for 2010 and beyond.
Needing more minor league at bats may not be the only thing Cervelli has in common with Pena. Pena was sent down to learn to play CF as well, to increase his versatility as a supersub. With the way the Yankees current roster is constructed, carrying three catchers isn't feasible. But if Cervelli could play other positions, it would make more sense. He was signed as a shortstop, and is still young and mobile enough to be able to play other positions. Bronx Banter's Bruce Markusen suggested this over the weekend, and I think it's a good idea. With the current depth at catcher in the Yankee system, increasing his versatility will only increase Cervelli's value down the line.