Apparently, the decision to go with Cervelli was predicated on the need to make AJ Burnett feel more comfortable, which on the surface seems to have some merit. After all, AJ Burnett had a 4.66 ERA in 129 1/3 innings thrown to the Yankees’ backup, compared to a 7.28 ERA in 38 1/3 innings thrown to Posada. In reality, however, the samples are much too small to draw any meaningful conclusion. Instead, going with Cervelli is essentially enabling Burnett’s fragile mental state and providing excuses for his inability to perform.
Make no mistake about it…unlike last postseason with Jose Molina, the Yankees are not getting much of a defensive upgrade with Cervelli. In fact, Cervelli has thrown out even fewer attempted base stealers than Posada (14% to 15%), and managed to top Posada’s error total by a whopping five. With 13 errors, Cervelli actually led the Yankees in errors (Posada was second with eight), so no one should expect him to serve as a deterrent to the Rangers’ running game.
Where the Yankees lose the most in the exchange is with the bat, even though Posada has struggled mightily over the first two rounds of the playoffs. Still, Posada is always one at bat away from making a huge impact, so Girardi has effectively downgraded the lineup by one weapon at a time when it needs as much firepower as possible.
Even factoring in the drop off on offense, you could probably still make the case for giving Cervelli a game, but that ignores the impact the move may have on the clubhouse. As a result, the decision to go with the Burnett/Cervelli combination has the potential to become Girardi’s waterloo. You can guarantee that Posada will not be happy with Girardi’s decision, and many others in the clubhouse probably feel the same way. If the Yankees lose because Burnett doesn’t pitch well and/or Cervelli has a bad offensive game, the grumblings could get very loud.
Francisco Cervelli vs. Jorge Posada