Last year around this time the Yankees demoted Francisco Cervelli to Triple-A. He remained there for basically the entire season and hit just .246 with a .657 OPS in 99 games.
And now he’s in position to be the Yankees’ starting catcher.
Yesterday manager Joe Girardi told Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger that it’s “fair to say” Cervelli will be the Opening Day catcher after the Yankees reassigned catching prospect Austin Romine to the minors.
Cervelli’s only remaining in-house competition is Chris Stewart, so it’s not much of a fight. But while Cervelli is no one’s idea of a great starting catcher option and his performance at Triple-A last season raises questions about whether his skills have declined at age 27, his numbers from 2009-2011 (.275 AVG, .341 OBP, .699 OPS) are decent enough to be a regular at a position where the average player hit just .246 with a .718 OPS.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.