PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – There was a startling revelation to come out of Piratesville on Wednesday — catcher Francisco Cervelli has been dealing with what trainer Todd Tomczyk called an “acute-on-chronic” situation pretty much all season.
It was all really vague. And frightening.
All we know is Cervelli has something that is limiting him, the Pirates are carrying three catchers and I wouldn’t bet on seeing the $31 million man in the lineup anytime in the very near future. He hasn’t been placed on the disabled list … yet.
But all that aside, as the topic of the catching situation was being bounced around in the Pirates’ clubhouse in Milwaukee prior to Wednesday night’s game, manager Clint Hurdle made mention that Elias Diaz is someone “you want catching four times per week. … it would be difficult to continue to have him up here if he’s not catching more than multiple times per week.”
Translation: Diaz ain’t a backup. He either needs to start in Pittsburgh or Indianapolis, but he ain’t a backup.
All that said, time has come — Francisco Cervelli injury or not — to get an extended look at Diaz as the Pirates’ every day man behind the plate.
Again, you read that right – even if Cervelli were healthy it is time to go to Diaz for a time because, in my estimation, he is simply a better baseball player than both Cervelli and Chris Stewart and, of the three, Diaz gives you the best chance to win.
And right now, the Pirates need wins more than ever.
Diaz is hitting over .300 with the big club this season and has shown absolutely no limitations on defense; in actuality proving a better arm than both Cervelli and Stewart. He is still learning how to call a major league game and Cervelli loyalists will yak and yak all about how Diaz isn’t as good as pitch-framer as the man who is getting paid $9M this year and scheduled to make $10M next season and $11.5M the season thereafter.
It has a place in the game but, in my mind, is a vastly overblown quality.
I ask you this, however: What is it that Cervelli and/or Stewart can do on a Major League field that Diaz cannot? The list is slim. And, again as a matter of opinion, Diaz is far and above the better defensive guy and as of late has proven he can more than handle duties as a big-league hitter.
Who knows what will shake out with this whole Cervelli stuff as it pertains to the cryptic illness or injury that he has. It is, undoubtedly, all scary stuff.
I do know this: At 26-years-old he isn’t a kid anymore and it is time the Pirates give Diaz a shot. A real shot. And that shot should come even if Cervelli gets back to good health. Why? From what I see, Diaz is flat-out the best catcher they have.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.