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Should Francisco Cervelli be the New York Yankees Starting Catcher?

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IMay 10, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 16:  Francisco Cervelli #29 of the New York Yankees bats against the Texas Rangers on April 16, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

For much of the early 2010 season, long time Yankees catcher Jorge Posada has been banged up with a calf injury, and has had to miss some time for the team.

For the Yankees, though, this hasn't been a major problem, due to the great play of backup catcher Francisco Cervelli.

When the season started Cervelli really wasn't playing much, except for when Posada absolutely needed a day off to rest.

Then Posada went down with the day-to-day calf injury and, since Cervelli is the only other catcher on the 25 man roster, he has had to play everyday.

In his last 20 games, Cervelli is hitting .387 (12-31) with no home runs and seven RBI. His best offensive performance so far may have been Saturday at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, when Cervelli went 3-4 with five RBI.

As of right now, Cervelli has not only been picking up the slack on the offense, but he's been playing great defense as well.

However, on Sunday, Posada returned to the lineup and played designated hitter for the Yankees, his first game since May 3 against the Orioles.

Now, if Posada is ready to come back, you can't keep him out of the lineup. But, it makes it very hard to sit Cervelli, especially with his hot play as of late.

Easy solution here: Follow last night's plan for the lineup.

Because Nick Johnson is out for quite a while, possibly, with ligament damage in his wrist, the Yankees need to fill his void. Posada's bat is still a valuable one in 2010, hitting .274 with five home runs and 12 RBI so far. Let Posada take over for Johnson in the DH spot and let the younger Cervelli stay as the everyday catcher.

Think about it.

Posada is 38 going on 39 years old. While Posada can still catch, it takes a lot of wear and tear on his knees and body when he plays that grueling position at an older age. If you let Posada DH and reserve his knees for the long haul of the season, then—by September and October—Posada's knees may not be in bad shape and he could be an even stronger force on both offense and defense, if he does return behind the plate.

But right now, Cervelli is only 24 years old, and looks like he has the fresher legs. He can play many games in a row, physically he is much quicker than Posada, and—for a catcher—Cervelli runs very well, so having his legs on the bases isn't a bad asset. Plus, Cervelli is hitting the ball hard and getting important hits.

Before this season, when Posada was out with any type of injury, it was Jose Molina who would step in to play at catcher. The Yankees found out first hand that while Molina was a good defensive catcher, he was a major liability at the plate, because he was a bad hitter.

This isn't the case with Cervelli, because he can hit and play defense extremely well, and it gives the Yankees more options for their lineup.

Now, I know that once—well, if—Nick Johnson comes back, the Yankees will want to put him back in the lineup because of his strong ability to walk and get on base, which means either Posada goes back to catcher or the bench, and my gut feeling is that Posada goes back to catcher.

But that's not right now, and considering Johnson's wrist problems, who knows if and when Johnson even returns in pinstripes.

Right now, Cervelli should be the everyday catcher and Posada should be the everyday DH.

With that combination in the lineup, it makes the Yankees even better on both offense and defense.

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