Baseball Insider

Did Yankees suffer Curse of Cervelli in Games 1 and 2?


There is one obvious, logical explanation for why the Yankees started 0-2, and that is that they played an excellent team in the Tampa Bay Rays, and they were outplayed by the Rays. The other explanation is a bit more fanciful: Could it be the Curse of Cervelli?

The Yankees were only doing what they felt was prudent when they acquired backup catcher Chris Stewart in a trade from the Giants on the cusp of the season. The move definitely gave them peace of mind. With prospect Austin Romine out indefinitely with a back injury, the Yankees restored their depth by obtaining Stewart to replace him.

But Stewart didn't exactly replace Romine. Stewart was placed on the major-league roster, forcing Francisco Cervelli, the primary backup the last three seasons, to the minors. The reason the Yankees demoted Cervelli and not Stewart was no fault of Cervelli. Everyone understands Cervelli is the better player, and should starter Russell Martin suffer an injury, presumably Cervelli would become the starter. Stewart would remain the backup.

The reason stated for Cervelli and not Stewart going down is that Cervelli still had a minor-league option left while Stewart did not. The move came as a shock to Cervelli, who had done nothing to deserve a demotion. He was sent down because Romine got hurt, and the Yankees wanted to cover their bases. Cervelli was obviously shocked by the sudden demotion, and so was everyone else.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman explained, "We feel Cervelli is a major-league backup, but now we're back to where we were before the Romine injury, even though it's not a good situation for Cervy to go to Triple-A. Organizationally, we're in a good place.''

This move will actually hurt the Yankees in the short term because Stewart, a career .200 hitter and defensive specialist, is not the all-around player Cervelli is. So to quell their concern about minor-league depth, they have taken a step backward on the major-league roster and needlessly punished Cervelli.


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