Lindbergh: Studying the art of pitch framing by catchers

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at on May 15, 2013:

It’s the day before a foul tip off the bat of Rajai Davis will fracture Francisco Cervelli’s hand, and the Yankees’ still-intact starting catcher is in excellent spirits. After spending almost all of 2012 in the minors, he’s happy to be back in the Yankees clubhouse. He’s also happy to be off to a good start with the bat, a start that’s about to get better; in a few hours, he’ll take Mark Buehrle deep for his third home run of the season. But how Cervelli hits is secondary, even to Cervelli.

“I’ve been focused on my defense, and that’s it,” Cervelli says. “And I’m going to keep doing that no matter what happens with my bat.”

A lot of eyebrows, and maybe a few middle fingers, were raised over the winter, when the Yankees — the team with the catching legacy of Dickey, Berra, Howard, Munson, and Posada, not to mention the $200 million–plus payroll — entrusted their catching duties to Cervelli and backup catcher Chris Stewart, a duo that entered the season with a combined .249/.315/.332 line in the big leagues. In the past, the Yankees would have dipped into the free-agent market and signed someone with a bigger bat and a bigger name — A.J. Pierzynski, perhaps, who was coming off a 27-homer season, or another offense-first option like Mike Napoli, who signed with the rival Red Sox. Both players agreed to one-year contracts, so they wouldn’t have hampered the Yankees’ goal of getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014.

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Originally published: May 15, 2013. Last Updated: May 15, 2013.