Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why I'm okay with Francisco Cervelli catching for A.J. Burnett

If there were any doubt that A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada aren't exactly BFFs, it's that tonight's Yankee lineup contains Francisco Cervelli instead of Posada.

I was actually going to suggest this idea today. Given the importance of this game to both Burnett and the Yankees, they might as well pair him with the catcher he has the greater comfort level with. Not to mention the catcher better able to handle wild pitches and throwing runners out. Cervelli isn't great at it, but I trust him more than I do Jorge at this point. If Posada were to catch tonight, we'd see double steals and home steals and all sorts of mayhem off A.J.

Besides, Burnett's ERA is better with Frankie. According to the New York Post, here's how the numbers break down:
During the season, Burnett pitched 186 2/3 innings, and his best results overall were with Cervelli, who caught 129 1/3 of the innings as Burnett posted a 4.66 ERA. Posada caught 38 1/3 innings with Burnett, during which the righty posted a 7.28 ERA. Burnett's other 19 innings were with Chad Moeller, who worked with him to a 5.21 ERA. Moeller is not on the ALCS roster.
Yes, I know Posada is a better hitter than Cervelli. But Posada, along with the rest of his teammates with the exception of Robinson Cano, hasn't exactly been hitting up a storm as of late -- he has just two hits in the first three games. Could Cervelli be any worse?

I know some readers don't like the idea of personal catchers, especially considering Burnett isn't exactly the second coming of Greg Maddux. Well, tonight's game is a must-win. Increasing A.J.'s comfort level is necessary at this point for the good of the team.

I did see that Burnett showed up late to the interview room yesterday because he was buying stuff at the Halloween Store. As one of my friends put it, let's hope he'll be wearing the costume of a great pitcher tonight.

What do you think? Tell us about it.


Matt Warden said...

Except Cervelli isn't better defensively...in any capacity. Given his age and his role, that really speaks volumes about how useless of a player he is.

Lisa Swan said...

Has anybody stolen home off Cervelli this year? Or stolen four runs in one inning off him? Or done two double steals in one game off him? All those things have happened to Posada in the past month, IIRC.

Lisa Swan said...

Make that four bases, not runs. I also didn't include the double steal (including the steal of home) in the playoffs. The scouting reports are telling teams to run wild on Posada, that he can't do anything to stop them.

In that case, and given A.J.'s propensity for wildness, and lack of a decent relationship with Posada, Cervelli is the only real choice Girardi could make.

Uncle Mike said...

Actually, Lisa, there is another choice Girardi could make: Put a trustworthy pitcher on the mound, and then decide on a catcher. I'm worried that we might see the Calvin Schiraldi look in A.J.'s eyes tonight, and then it's good night, Yankees.

Maybe he'll fool me, and be the '09 A.J. And we'll also get the '09 A-Rod, igniting the offense. And we'll also get the '09 Teix, on base for A-Rod to drive in ahead of him. Maybe... As baseball legend Charlie Brown might say, maybe I'll flap my arms and fly to the Moon.

Matt Warden said...

Lol as always Lisa, you really ought to consider the actual data.

Cervelli is almost always the wrong move.

Plenty of people have stolen bases off Cervelli. His throw out rate is an anemic 14%. Unbelievably, this is actualy lower than Posada's (15%). For a backup catcher who is supposed to be here for defense, that's pathetic - especially since league average is 30%.

Also, as to your example with Boston, you need to address a wide variety of variables. Yes, Posada failed to throw out any of the base runners, but how much of that was resultant of a) who was running b) the pitcher's command c) the pitch selection?

Yes, Posada is a butcher behind the plate. However, you're absolutely off your rocker if you think Cervelli isn't. The notion that Cervelli is the "only real option" is completely ludicrous.

He hasn't allowed as many passed balls as Posada in total (because he hasn't had an equal amount of starts). However, proportionately speaking, he is just as bad!

I hate to tell you, but the Ranger MO isn't going to change because Cervelli is in. They will be aggressive regardless. Neither catcher is capable of handling AJ's pitches. They're wild and no one has any idea where there going.

So once again, it comes down to who has the better bat. Except it's even simpler for you because Posada's defense essentially nets out.

Also, I don't know what IIRC stands for.

Subway Squawkers said...


I'd like to see the fielding stats broken down this year by month. Because Posada significantly declined this year. That's what happens when you get old.

Obviously, Cervelli isn't a long-term option. But given that A.J. Burnett pitches signifcantly better with him, he was the only option tonight. And given the box score so far, I think I've been vindicated.

Matt Warden said...

Lisa, you absolutely can see his fielding stats broken down by month. Just go baseball-reference.

As for AJ, the idea that he pitches better with Cervelli is almost entirely anecdotal. The data doesn't really support it. Catchers who are as limited as Cervelli ultimately face the harsh reality of regression. It's just a matter of time and a small sample size of starts with AJ is not nearly enough to contradict that.

The box score doesn't vindicate you at all. You're just drawing false conclusions.

Incase your counting, btw, Cervelli just missed his second throw out opportunity. What conclusions are you drawing?

Lisa Swan said...

Let me get this straight, Matt. When I show stats showing that A.J. pitches about three runs better with Cervelli, those stats don't count, but Cervelli's fielding stats do? Just wanted to double-check! ;)

And yes, I think we're in agreement that Cervelli isn't going to the HOF. But A.J. and Posada clearly don't get along, and he's more comfortable pitching to Cervelli. And yes, the box score vindicates me on that tonight.

Matt Warden said...

Hah, Lisa! Not quite. Here's the way I see it.

You're stats do count to an extent. However, you have to be leary of sample size. Small samples are not always as telling because of fluctuation. So yeah, maybe his ERA is better with Cervelli over 10 games or whatever it is. However, that's such a small pool of results, it masks reality - which is to say, given a proportionate amount of starts with Posada, it would ultimately level out. On a side note, can you give me the link to the splits you refer too? I'd be curious to see it for myself.

As for Cervelli's fielding stats, my point was they are worse than Posada's. Considering a backup catcher is brought in for defense, this is very discouraging.

It was because of a small sample size last year that the Yankees foolishly thought Cervelli could replace the defensive production of Molina. As Cervelli rapidly regressed to his mean, we've all seen his true ability (or lack there of).

As for AJ Burnett and Posada not being good together, I'm not buying it. I think that is more indicative of the media blowing up a situation into something it's not. Both players have been very vocal about working with each other.

In 2010, AJ has sucked with whoever he was pitching to because he sucked as a pitcher...not because of comfort with his catcher. The problem with him lies in his pitch effectiveness and command.

Does the boxscore still vindicate you? Not buying it, Swan!

Subway Squawkers said...

You know who's vindicated? Squawker Jon! For four long years, I've been trash-talking him about Yadier Molina, and now Yadier's brother Bengie Molina sticks it to the Yanks! Good grief.

Matt Warden said...

Why trask talk Yadier? He's one of the best defensive catchers in the game and clearly the best of the three bothers.

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

The WE% was at 8% at the top of the 9th inning and ended at 0.1% at the middle.
I'm all for stats in the regular seasons were everything evens out in the long run but in the postseason there is no tomorrow. "You don't save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow, it may rain." - Leo Durocher.
Must we be reminded of game 5 of the 2003 series when Jeff Weaver came in to give up a home run to Alex Gonzalez and Mariano Rivera was saved for what? To lose 2-0 in the 6th game (Rivera pitched the last two innings).
In 2006 Mariano Rivera came into a non save situation on October 3rd (Yankees were up 4 to 8) and was never seen again in the series. In what was the elimination game Corey Lidle came in relief of Jaret Wright ... there was no tomorrow and you don't use your best pitcher, sure Hall of Famer almost God like? It doesn't make sense. There is no such thing as overusing your best pitcher in the postseasons. Is do or die!

Lisa Swan said...


I agree with everything you say here!

Matt, I wasn't trash-talking Yadier. I was trash-talking Squawker Jon!

As for what A.J. and Jorge say to the media, actions speak louder than words. A.J. wouldn't even explain his black eye -- you think he's going to say that he and Jorge don't work well together?

Uncle Mike said...

Good thing Jose Molina hit the last home run in the original Yankee Stadium.

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