The Pittsburgh Pirates had a couple of injury updates on Sunday morning after catcher Francisco Cervelli missed today’s workout. He was removed from the workout due to right foot discomfort. The Pirates announced that he was evaluated by the team medical department and that his status is day-to-day.

Jason Stoffel was one of the first minor league free agents signed this off-season by the Pirates. The 28-year-old right-handed pitcher split last year between Triple-A and Double-A with the Baltimore Orioles and has yet to make his Major League debut, which made him a long-shot to win an Opening Day job. He missed his bullpen a couple days ago and was evaluated by the medical staff. Stoffel is listed as day-to-day with right shoulder discomfort.

While you don’t like to see any injuries, the timing of a minor injury for Cervelli won’t matter much if it ends up being a day-to-day issue. Opening Day is still six weeks away. It could however affect his World Baseball Classic roster spot if it lingers at all. Team Italy opens up their WBC play on March 9th in Mexico. For Stoffel, who already had very little chance to make the Opening Day roster, a setback of any kind isn’t good for his slim chances.

UPDATE 5:16 PM: Clint Hurdle didn’t comment on Cervelli’s injury, instead deferring to the Wednesday update with Head Athletic Trainer Todd Tomczyk. That said, Cervelli was out on the field today.

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  1. Looking at some of the catchers playing on other teams, some even being considered for starting…they are horrendous .
    That contract is a steal for defense alone any offense is bonus.

    • I think his defense is overrated, he’s never made a throw where I said wow. Never thrown anyone out where I thought the guy had a good jump. Pitch framing is the most useless stat I’ve ever seen. Umps have their own strike zones (not as bad as years past) but catchers get credit when none is due & vice-versa. I think his constant belittling the umps cost the pitchers way more then it helps.

      • Pitch framing is measured relative to the typically called zone, not the textbook zone, and there are enough pitches to get signal above the noise. It’s not useless, especially not at the extremes, and Cervelli is on the good extreme end.

        As for the throw, you don’t have to be wowed by it. All the catcher can control is the pop time and accuracy. Cervelli’s pop time is among the best in baseball, and his accuracy is fine. Short of being Yadier Molina or Russel Martin, who are both freaks, I don’t know what more you could ask for from him. And that’s not the only element to defense. Cervelli’s a really good blocker, and he’s quick enough to get outs on balls in play.

        At worst, he’s an above-average defender and a league average bat, which makes him a good catcher. There are not many catchers in baseball better than even that version of Cervelli. When he’s also hitting, he’s top notch.

        • I agree with this assessment.

          I’ve never been one of those who complained this deal was bad because of Cervelli’s injury history…that said, his skills are solid and his ability to stay on the field will determine whether this deal is good

        • An addendum: You’re not going to see many–if any–catchers throwing out runners who get big jumps. The jump is the most important part of stealing a base for a reason. If a guy gets a good jump on the pitcher, and he doesn’t trip over his own feet, he’s already stolen the base.

        • If you want to call his throwing fine I’m ok with that but to many throws way off target. Almost all starting catchers block the ball ok, he does do it better then most. Pitch framing is still the most worthless stat. Umps control 90% of borderline calls by their own interpretation of the zone. I’ve seen Cervelli chirping at certain umps & the calls go against our pitchers for the next few pitches. Major League umps are not going to be fooled to often by a catcher. They may miss it but not fulled. On pitches around the knees the ump can’t even see the glove.

          • When there is significant strike/ball call deviation for specific catchers, especially consistently over multiple years, after the 15,000-20,000 pitch receiving events they participate in over the course of the season, a clear skill is demonstrated. Receiving is absolutely a skill, because when guys consistently get called strikes which usually aren’t while yielding fewer called balls which usually are strikes, in a sample size so large it would have to wash out variance, it’s a skill.

            The umpires aren’t being “fooled.” They’re doing the best they can. But where the catcher’s glove is when the ball is caught is part of the information their brains are processing. When a catcher receives the ball quietly and holds it over the plate, the umpire can’t help but see that, and it impacts their call. Likewise, when a catcher dives a ball down the center of the plate out of the zone, it’s going to look like a ball more often than it should.

            This has been explored extensively, both in data and film, and the effect is real. Since count is a major factor in the outcomes of at bats, turning a few balls into strikes is valuable. Teams have started to incorporate it into their player evaluations, too, and teams aren’t fools.

            • Is that why Cervelli is constantly blowing a gasket over calls. The umps variance of the strike zone has 10x more impact then any & all catchers. I guess Glavin & Maddox had the best catcher of all time with the calls they got. Veteran pitchers get calls that rookies don’t & it’s not because of who there catcher is. Chad Kuhl isn’t going to get the calls Kershaw gets & it doesn’t matter if Molina is catching. Ryan Doumit could’ve caught Maddox & Glavin would’ve still gotten those calls

              • The pitcher is obviously part of the equation, but that doesn’t mean the catcher isn’t. The reason they haven’t added it to WAR yet for catchers is because they’re not sure how much is the catcher and how much is the pitcher. But the catcher’s contribution is absolutely not zero.

                • Never said it was zero or even close, just overrated stat. Who’s umping, who’s pitching, who’s hitting all play into strike calls. No stat will ever be able to account for all of it.

                  • We’ll look back on both framing and shifts in about a decade and giggle at how much credit we gave them.

                    Both absolutely good things, but there was a minute when the argument was made that Russell Martin provided the Pirates with like 8 wins through framing alone one years. That’s ridiculous.

            • Umpires get about one out of eight pitches wrong – that is roughly 15 to 20 “mistakes” a game or 7 to 10 framing “opportunities” (the balance are balls that are called strikes by “mistake”). A great framer gets 2 incremental strikes a game – Cervelli gets about 1. So one at bat a game is affected?

              Me thinks this framing stuff is a bit over rated…

            • And umpires aren’t idiots either – they sit through those game tapes and see each and every mistake they make…

              If a catcher is a “good” framer they know it and take it into account – or end up looking for work…

        • But he has to play to be worth his contract – both Steamer and Zips have him at 100 games again…

          $9M is a lot to pay out of a $100M payroll for a guy that won’t be on the field over a third of your games.

          The same deal for a catcher durable enough to be counted on for ~135 games and I am fine.

  2. I would think this year especially, with the extra week of spring training, they would be particularly careful with anyone who has had any injury along the way. So being careful with Cervelli only makes good sense.

    • If the injury lingers possibly he may have to back out of the WBC. This would not be a bad thing in my opinion.

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