Almost two years ago to the day, November 30, 2012 to be exact, I wrote a blog post entitled "Welcome, Russell Martin", and now, we have a strangely similar circumstance, as the Pirates bring a new catcher to the team from the New York Yankees. In this case, Francisco Cervelli arrives via a trade as Russell Martin prepares to hit the Free Agent Jackpot, probably with the Chicago Cubs.
All Pirate fans feel bad that Martin will be departing the team, and I am not going to go down that well travelled road again. It should be noted that back in November of 2012, most fans greeted the signing of Martin with an attitude of, at best, "let's wait and see what happens". Well, we know now that the Martin signing could hardly have worked out better for the Pirates and, it will turn out, for Martin. So, let's be grateful to Martin for what he did here, wish him well with whomever he signs, and look to the future.
In Cervelli, the Pirates get a young, age 28, player who has shown flashes of great promise, but has been injury plagued throughout his career, playing in only 250 games over seven seasons. Projected to a 162 game season, Cervelli's career shows a .278 BA, 6 HR, 60 RBI, and .729 OPS. Over a very small sample size of 2013-14 (56 games, 198 AB), his OPS is over .800, so that is something to grasp on to, is it not?
The Pirates gave up left handed reliever Justin Wilson to get Cervelli, and it would be a rare occasion where I would NOT be happy to get an everyday player in exchange for bridge-the-gap-to-the-closer relief pitcher. Wilson has a fast ball in the high 90's, and he had a great season in 2013, but he regressed a bit in 2014, so viewing this trade in a vacuum, I say this is a good deal for the Pirates. Not to sound too much like Neal Huntington, I think that Cervelli brings a lot of upside to the team, but he will need to stay healthy. That is the Big Question that Cervelli brings with him to PNC Park. It also tells us that the Pirates have no faith in former Number One pick Tony Sanchez as an everyday catcher, and they also feel that Elias Diaz is not yet ready for Prime Time.
Notice that I didn't mention money. Such transactions are always about the money where the Pirates are concerned, but you know what? I don't care. Yeah, I wish that they would spend more money, I wish that they could have kept Martin, and I think that the Pirates may, MAY, be overly concerned with the almighty bottom line, but there is nothing that I can do about that, so I try very hard not to expend too much personal angst over such matters.
That said, MY bottom line is that I think GM Neal made a fairly good deal here. It may not work out, but, as my friend Dan Bonk, channelling his inner Johnny Rivers, said on Facebook this morning, that's life on the poor side of town.
One final comment. Included on Cervell's resume is a fifty game suspension in 2012 for PED use. It brings up a conundrum for us Bucco fans. You know, us fans who vociferously boo each Ryan Braun at bat at PNC Park, and who curse Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and others of their ilk, as we cheer on Francisco Cervelli as he wears the black and gold tools of ignorance. What do we make of that?
Sometimes being a fan can be complicated.