On Wednesday, 11/12, the Yankees traded back-up catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Justin Wilson, who is a left-handed reliever.
After acquiring Chris Stewart and Russell Martin, Cervelli is now the third catcher that the Pirates have received who previously played for the Yankees since November of 2012. This trade makes a lot of sense for the Yankees because they receive a lefty who can have the role out of the bullpen that Boone Logan had from 2010-2012, Wilson is a lefty who throws in the mid 90s and struck out 61 batters in 60 innings last season for the Pirates.
Wilson, who is 27 and in the prime of his career, had a 4.20 ERA in 70 appearances. He has actually held right-handed hitters to an average of only .206 in his career. Wilson is 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 136 appearances during his three seasons. He played college baseball at Fresno State University and was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team in his junior season.
It makes sense that the Yankees traded Francisco Cervelli because they had an excess of back-up catchers with him on the roster. Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy both have experience being the back-up catcher with the Yankees for periods of time, and Cervelli was able to get back more in a trade than Romine or Murphy would have been able to. The Yankees were able to deal from a deep position and get back a potentially reliable lefty reliever, which they lacked since Logan signed with the Colorado Rockies.
Briann McCann’s contract with the Yankees lasts for the next four seasons, so there was no point in having a more expensive back-up catcher in Cervelli. He is second-year arbitration eligible and has a career average of .278 after hitting .301 with two homers last season. Cervelli is already 28, so it makes much more sense to have a cheaper and younger back-up catcher.
Murphy has proven to be more talented than Romine, who is more known for his defense. It is not known which way the Yankees will go, and it is still possible one of them could be included in a trade for a shortstop, but Murphy would make sense to start the year behind McCann. Murphy, who is 23 years old, was drafted in 2009, and made his debut with the Yankees as a September call up in 2013. He hit .154 in 26 at-bats in 2013, but played performed a lot better this past season.
In 2014, many of the 32 games that he appeared in were a result of Cervelli’s hamstring injury, and he played well offensively and defensively. In 81 plate appearances, which does not include his four walks, he hit .284, with four doubles, had one homer and drove in nine runs. Defensively, he caught 201 innings behind the plate, had 10 assists and only one error. He needs to work on throwing out base runners since he only retired two out of 12 runners, but that could improve since he threw out half of them in 2013.
Murphy’s claim to fame in his career so far has been being the catcher during Mariano Rivera’s final appearance with the Yankees. He was on the mound when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out to take Rivera out of the game for the last time. This past season on April 26, the catcher formerly known as J.R., hit his first career home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium. He also had his first multi-RBI game as he combined to drive in three runs.
He has a caught stealing percentage of 26 percent in the minors, and the league average in the majors for this past season was 27 percent. This is a good sign for Murphy, and he should be able to improve on his caught stealing percentage from this past season. The Yankees still have to get the David Robertson situation resolved and acquire a shortstop, among other needs, but this trade got rid of a player who wasn’t needed and added one who could have an impact next season.
Since the GM meetings just wrapped up in Orlando, FL, it makes sense that a lot of news has come about concerning who the Yankees are close to signing, will likely sign, or are rumored to sign.
Brandan Ryan, who played in 17 games for the Yankees in September after being acquired from the Mariners on September 10 as a result of injuries, said that he liked his time with the Yankees and is interested in returning. He was not eligible to play in the postseason since he came to the team after August 31. Ryan, who will be entering his eighth season after playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and Marines, is an excellent defensive shortstop but a weak hitter. According to Joel Sherman, Ryan is “close” to re-signing for a low contract with the Yankees and would not prevent them from signing a better player like Stephen Drew or Johnny Peralta.
Bringing back Ryan would make sense if the are able to sign Peralta as well. Since the Yankees need to prepare for Alex Rodriguez being suspended for the whole season, even though the ruling might not come until the end of December, the Yankees can’t have the situation repeat itself where they virtually got zero production from third base before Rodriguez returned from his injury. Ryan would make sense to have as a defensive back-up to Derek Jeter at shortstop, and Peralta, who can play shortstop and third base, is a reliable fielder and is coming off an All-Star campaign.
Peralta received a 50-game Biogenesis suspension, which started on August 5, but he has served his time and is now a desired free agent. The Mets are interested in him as well, after having a secret meeting with him on November 13, which makes it necessary for the Yankees to act swiftly so they are not beaten to him by their cross city rivals. After only playing in 107 games in 2013, Peralta had a .303 average, 11 homers, 53 RBI and 50 runs scored. His career high in homers is 24 and his career high in RBI is 89. His price tag will likely be driven down since he is coming off of a suspension.
The Yankees are also interested in Kendrys Morales, who has had a number of solid seasons for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Mariners. As of November 13, he is the most recent free agent to join their list of targets which includes Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, among others. Morales hit 23 homers and 80 RBI in the pitcher friendly Safeco Field last season, but he might be most remembered for hitting a game winning grand slam on May 29, 2010 and following that by stomping on home plate during the celebration which caused him to fracture his lower left leg. This foolish injury would end his season and would cause him to miss the 2011 season as well because of complications from the injury.
Morales, if signed, would be a DH and back-up to Mark Teixeira at first base. However, a more important signing is that of Brian McCann. After not brining back Russell Martin after the 2012 season (Martin helped the Pirates reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992) the combination of Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Chris Stewart left a lot to be desired offensively from the catcher position. Stewart, who had been a back-up catcher in previous seasons, played in 109 games and had a .211 average with only four homers. The lackluster season was not really his fault because he was in a position that he was not suited for.
If the Yankees sign McCann they will be solid defensively behind the plate and would drastically improve offensively. He has hit 20 or more homers in every season since 2008 and has very respectable .277 average for his nine-year career. McCann, who is very intense, has not been the most durable recently since he only played 102 games last season and has not played in more than 128 games since 2010.However, besides the last two seasons, he has always played more than 120 games, which is solid for a catcher.
Romine, who played as the season progressed last season, would fill in well as a back-up to McCann. Jorge Posada, who was a great Yankee catcher who helped them win four World Series titles, said that: “Being here in the American League will help, having him DH and keeping him off his legs a little bit. I think that would be a great signing.”
The other player that the Yankees are going to heavily pursue in the coming days in Carlos Beltran. He would be able to be the third piece to an outfield that would also include Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano. That would make sense because if another outfielder was not signed they would be left with Vernon Wells or Ichiro Suzuki for the third spot, and they are both over the hill. According the Daily News, Beltran has at least six teams interested in him. Beltran is the top outfield free agent after finishing with 24 homers and 82 RBI and in 2012 at age 35 he slugged 32 homers.
Some negative news was revealed today as Masahiro Tanaka of Japan, who some scouts have said is better than Yu Darvish, will apparently not wind up in the MLB this season because talks between the MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball have hit a standstill regarding the new posting system. This hurts the Yankees since they need another solid pitcher since they currently have CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and unknowns after that. They need to hope that Hiroki Kuroda decides to come back to the team and not return to Japan and that Michael Pineda is healthy and pitches like he did for the Mariners as a rookie.
CC Sebathia finally had a quality start against the Boston Red Sox, helping the Yankees win 5-2, improving their season record to 3-10 against Boston. He had help from the bullpen as they got into some jams but never surrendered a run.
Another positive about this game was that Mariano Rivera, who has struggled against the Red Sox in the past, allowing a run in his last appearance against them, picked a save while allowing one hit.
Eric Chavez had his best game production wise since the beginning of August as he had two run scoring singles, in the first and fourth innings, respectively, almost single handedly giving the Yankees all the offense they would need.
In addition to Chavez’s RBI in the top of the fourth, Robinson Cano, hit his 36th double, which drove in Robinson Cano. That was Cano’s 96th RBI, which places him third on the Yankees and fourth in the American League.
The Red Sox would score their only runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth innings as the speedy Carl Crawford, hit his 10th homer of the season, and Marco Scutaro hit a double to left scoring a run.
In the bottom of the fourth CC Sebathia had a clutch strikeout to end the inning and the Yankees would go on to score another run, off a rare homer by Francisco Cervelli, in the bottom of the inning. Cervelli’s actions upon returning to home plate were regrettably as he should have waited until he got back to the dugout to celebrate.
However, this was only Cervelli’s third home run of his career, so possibly the reason he displayed his usual enthusiasm was because he got caught up in the moment.
Crawford made an impressive catch up against the Green Monster, on a ball hit by Robinson Cano, for the first out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth Sebathia gave up a double to Jed Lowrie and the Yankees were lucky a run didn’t score because David Ortiz is extremely slow. He would strike out Saltalamacchia, who likely has the longest last name in baseball, to avoid any damage.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Sebathia still pitching, with 110 plus pitches, Chevez was able to show his gold glove form from earlier in his career by fielding a short hop and making a strong throw to Mark Teixiera at first. Sebathia was in true workhorse form tonight as he threw 128 pitches through six innings only allowing two runs. This proves how much confidence Joe Girardi rightfully has in him.
Francisco Cervelli got intentionally thrown at to lead off the top of the seventh. In some ways he had this coming as he clapped emphatically when stepping on home plate after his home run. A pitcher should never intentionally throw at a hitter, but what Cervelli did is against the “code” of baseball.
The Red Sox almost regretted hitting Cervelli because he wound up on third with nobody out after Gardner bunted for a single. This almost ignited a brawl, however, the benches emptied but nothing materialized. Unfortunately, Jeter would go on to hit a double play right to Dustin Pedroia at shortstop to end any kind of momentum. That scored a run but they should have had much more.
The Yankees got lucky a second time with David Oritiz running as he stopped at third on Crawford’s single to left field. Logan would then strike out Saltalamacchia, which would be Jared’s second strikeout with men on base. Logan would go on to pick up back-to-back strikeouts as Darnell Macdonald would swing at a pitch high and outside, to end the seventh inning.
Nick Swisher continued his recent hot hitting, which mirrors how he raked during his All-star campaign last season, as he hit a single in the eighth just inside the foul line to send Cano to third. This culminated a 3-3 game for him. After Posada walked to force the bases loaded, Cervelli could not continue to give the Yankees any more magic as he grounded out to Pedroia to keep the score 5-2.
In order to catch the towering fly ball hit by Marco Scutaro, in the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner had to use all of his blazing speed to catch up with the ball. It was almost a SportsCenter top 10 worthy catch.
The Red Sox would threaten to score in the ninth, as Ortiz smacked a double to shallow right and Saltalamacchia got hit by a pitch, but as stated above, Rivera was able to limit their scoring opportunity.
John Lackey gave up four earned runs, but five overall, during the game. The Yankees should have scored more but that was the minimum amount that would have been acceptable against Lackey what has been struggling the whole season.
However, tonight the Yankees will not have the privilege of facing a pitcher who is not living up to his contract. Josh Beckett has an 11-5 record, a 2.43 ERA and is a CY Young candidate just like Sebathia (and the likely winner Justin Verlander). If Sebathia had not struggled so much in his first four starts against the Red Sox he would probably be even with Verlander right now.
Phil Hughes has pitched very well in five out of his seven starts since coming off of the disabled list, so, if he can deliver a quality start the Yankees will have a great chance since Beckett has a 5.37 career record against the Bronx Bombers.
Derek Jeter is 0-9 in his last two games, while missing the last game of the Orioles series because of a minor injury, but hopefully he can get back on track tonight against Beckett, who he is hitting .282 against for his career.
One of the Yankees top prospects, catcher Jesus Montero, will join the Yankees from AAA Scranton for the series finale. He is more known for his offense than his defense behind the plate.