So the Yankees have traded George Kontos for Chris Stewart (SFO) and sent Francisco Cervelli packing to triple-A. The immediate reaction seems to be the following: sure, Cervelli’s defense is bad and his offense is mostly bloopity-bloop, but Stewart’s not really an upgrade (certainly not on offense), and the Yankees might have actually been able to find a use for Kontos.
Truth is, if this is the type of trade that is making headlines across Yankees Universe today, the Yankees are in pretty good shape. After all, barring injury, neither Cervelli nor Stewart will be the team’s regular catcher (and if there is an injury, Cervelli at least, has extensive experience), and Kontos would have been unlikely to crack the team’s rotation or any of the first three spots in the bullpen hierarchy.
Of course, the Yankees do have other concerns, both among their rotation (oh hey by the way Andy Pettitte pitched today!), and with their designated hitter—Raul Ibañez has been more impressive of late, but there remain doubts. Still, the Yankees are in fairly decent shape, and we can afford to discuss the merits of a trade for a back-up catcher.
The trade does raise questions about what the Yankees plan to do with Austin Romine, who should, one thinks, start year with
Scranton the Empire State Yankees. How is he supposed to get the necessary playing time if Cervelli ends up as the starter at that level? Or are Romine’s medicals that concerning to the Yankees? The latter is a serious problem, because the assumption has been for a few years now that one of Romine or Jesus Montero would be the Yankees catcher-of-the-future; Montero is no longer in the system and a Romine that’s not healthy enough to help makes the farm system seem that much less intimidating.
The Yankees farm system had taken such a big step forward in the 2010 season that last year’s regression almost felt like a down year; 2012 was supposed to be the year the system bore its first fruit with Montero’s rookie campaign, but the Yankees’ need for pitching outweighed the perceived benefits of Montero’s bat, so once again, fans are still left waiting.
Cervelli, fans will remember, missed most of the 2008 season after his wrist was broken in spring training by Elliot Johnson on a collision at home plate; his debut in 2009 was an emergency scenario, after both Jorge Posada and Jose Molina got hurt. One can argue Cervelli should have never had the career with the Yankees he has, but he did, and now a trade that shouldn’t have attracted much attention is the topic du jour.