Sherman: Rockies and White Sox keeping an eye on Cervelli

Via Joel Sherman: The Rockies and White Sox are among the teams keeping an eye on Francisco Cervelli prior to the trade deadline. All of his recent playing time is not a showcase, however. “You showcase in Spring Training, not now when you are trying to win games. We are just putting our best team on the field while [Mark Teixeira] is out,” said Brian Cashman.

Cervelli, 28, is hitting .311/.354/.443 (121 wRC+) in 65 plate appearances around a Grade II hamstring strain this year. The White Sox were said to be watching him back in Spring Training and the Yankees have reportedly asked about lefty John Danks, but it’s unclear if there’s any kind of match there. Sherman says the Yankees also like Rockies lefty Jorge De La Rosa, but Colorado is asking for way too much in return.

The Yankees have some upper level catching depth to spare but that doesn’t mean they should give it away. Remember, Cervelli is injury prone and Austin Romine has faded. The depth isn’t as great as it appears. Cashman did a really excellent job of getting Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley for pennies on the dollar, so maybe Cervelli winds up being part of a similar trade within the next few days. We’ll see.


Saunders: Tommy Kahnle makes Rockies’ roster

Via Patrick Saunders: Right-hander Tommy Kahnle has made the Rockies’ Opening Day roster. They selected him from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft back in December. He is filling former Yankee Boone Logan‘s spot since the lefty is not all the way back from offseason elbow surgery.

Kahnle, 24, must remain on Colorado’s 25-man active roster all season, or be offered back to the Yankees. He had a 2.85 ERA (3.85 FIP) in 60 innings for Double-A Trenton last season, and this spring he allowed just one run in 9.2 innings. Kahnle throws very hard but his command is spotty at best. As with most Rule 5 Draft players, the odds are greatly in favor of him being offered back to the Yankees at some point.

Rosenthal: Rockies interested in Phil Hughes as a reliever

Via Ken Rosenthal (video link): The Rockies have interest in acquiring Phil Hughes, but they want him as a reliever and only if the price is right. The Yankees have been “aggressively pushing” the right-hander in recent weeks in hopes of landing a bat.

Hughes, 27, has a 4.57 ERA and 4.48 FIP in 18 starts this year, and he hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen regularly since 2009. Obviously his homerun issues would only be exacerbated in Coors Field, but that wouldn’t be the Yankees’ problem. The Rockies don’t have many realistically available bats to help New York outside of someone like Tyler Colvin (7 wRC+) and maybe infielder Jordan Pacheco (46 wRC+). Meh. The Yankees would be better off just sticking Hughes in the bullpen themselves in that case.

5/7-5/9 Series Preview: Colorado Rockies

(Christian Petersen/Getty)
(Christian Petersen/Getty)

For the first time this year, the Yankees are heading to a National League park for interleague play. They’re in Colorado for a three-game set with the Rockies, only their third trip to Coors Field since the place opened. The Yankees are just 2-4 at Coors all-time, and that includes getting swept in three games back in 2007. On the other hand, they scored 41 runs in three games back in 2002, the all-time for a three-game series in that building.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Rockies were picked by many (including me) to finish in last place in the NL West, but they’re currently right behind the Giants for the division lead at 18-13 with a +27 run differential. They did just lose two of three to the Rays this weekend though, and after starting the year with 13 wins in 17 games, they’ve since lost nine of their last 14 games.

Home/road splits might be one of the most over-analyzed things in baseball, but Coors Field is a different animal. It’s an extreme hitter’s park not only because there are more homers due to the way the ball carries in the thin mile-high air, but also because breaking balls don’t break as much as they do at sea level. Outfielders tend to play deeper as well, which results in more bloop hits. Since the place opened in 1995, games at Coors Field have a .3333 BABIP compared to a .3001 BABIP everywhere else. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of plate appearances here.

Anyway, rather than the usual block text preview, I’m going to present the Rockies’ active position players in a table to make life easier. All of the stats are for this year only.

Overall wRC+ Home wRC+ Road wRC+
CF Dexter Fowler 158 125 186
2B Josh Rutledge 72 77 70
LF Carlos Gonzalez 157 127 186
SS Troy Tulowitzki 182 197 172
RF Michael Cuddyer 162 226 115
1B Todd Helton 88 0 179
C Wilin Rosario 128 28 231
3B Nolan Arenado 171 270 102
OF Eric Young Jr. 104 99 106
UTIL Jordan Pacheco 90 67 112
C Yorvit Torrealba 110 143 84
IF Jonathan Herrera 50 123 -73
IF Reid Brignac 57 57 58

Surprisingly, the Rockies are actually hitting better on the road (120 wRC+) than they are at home (105 wRC+) so far this year. I’m guessing that has a lot to do with some brutally cold April weather in Denver, which included a few snow-postponed games. I don’t expect that reverse split to last long, the Rox are going to mash at home once it heats up. Hopefully that process doesn’t start this week.

Starting Pitching Matchups
Just in case you’re wondering, no, Colorado no longer employs that four-man rotation/tandem starter thing they tried for most of last season. It’s a regular starter/bullpen setup.

Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa
It’s safe to say the Rockies haven’t gotten their money’s worth out of the 32-year-old De La Rosa, who signed a two-year, $21.5M deal with Colorado prior to 2011 before exercising his $11M player option for 2013. He made just 13 starts from 2011-12 due to Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks, and so far this year he owns a 4.18 ERA (4.64 FIP) in six starts. His strikeout rate (5.29 K/9 and 14.3 K%) is way down from his pre-surgery levels, and neither his walk (3.62 BB/9 and 9.8 BB%) nor ground ball (43.9%) rates have improved to compensate. De La Rosa’s two- and four-seamer now sit in the low-90s, down a few ticks from before surgery. A low-to-mid-80s splitter is his top secondary offering, but he’ll also throw low-80s sliders and low-70s curveballs. The Yankees haven’t faced De La Rosa since 2007, and he’s had a massive platoon split in recent years. It’s a good game to sit some lefties and load the lineup with righty hitters … if the Yankees had anyone worthwhile righty bats.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)
(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Juan Nicasio vs. RHP David Phelps
Nicasio, 26, is best remembered for having his neck broken by a line drive back in August 2011. He had surgery and missed the rest of the season, but recovered well enough to make the team’s Opening Day rotation last year. That’s pretty remarkable. Nicasio owns a 4.91 ERA (5.83 FIP) in six starts this year, and outside of his ground ball rate (47.9%), his peripherals stink. He doesn’t get a ton of strike threes (6.14 K/9 and 15.0 K%) and issues a lot of ball fours (4.60 BB/9 and 11.3 BB%). Nicasio is very fastball heavy, throwing his 91-95 mph four-seamer more than 70% of the time. A low-80s slider is his offspeed pitch of choice, and he’ll seldom use his mid-80s changeup. The Yankees saw Nicasio when the Rockies came to the Bronx in 2011, and they hung four runs on him in five innings. It was his sixth career start and a little more than one month before the neck injury.

Thursday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jeff Francis
The 32-year-old Francis falls into the Mark Buehrle category of soft-tossers, meaning the laws of FIP/DiPS Theory don’t really apply. Unlike Buehrle though, Francis’ career 4.91 ERA is more than half-a-run higher than his career 4.40 FIP. Buehrle has outperformed his FIP, Francis has underperformed it. The left-hander owns a 7.27 ERA (5.27 FIP) in six starts this year even though his strikeout (7.27 K/9 and 16.7 K%) and ground ball (52.8%) numbers are his best as a full-time big leaguer. His walk rate (3.81 BB/9 and 8.7 BB%) is a career-high and more than double what he’s done in recent years. Francis sits in the mid-80s with his four-seamer and sinker, two pitches he uses to setup his upper-70s changeup and upper-60s curveball. Francis has faced the Yankees once in his ten-year career, holding them to one run in seven innings back in 2007.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)
(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Both teams were off on Monday, so both bullpens are as fresh as can be. The Yankees might get David Robertson back from his hamstring problem tonight, though that depends on how his pre-game workout goes. Check out our Bullpen Workload page to see the team’s reliever usage info.

Rookie Rockies manager Walt Weiss has a pretty awesome bullpen at his disposal, starting with veteran closer RHP Rafael Betancourt (3.16 FIP). RHP Matt Belisle (2.94 ERA) and LHP Rex Brothers (2.09 FIP) do most of the setup work, but former Yankee farmhand RHP Wilton Lopez (2.32 FIP) will draw some high leverage work as well. Brooklyn-raised RHP Adam Ottavino (3.51 FIP) shares middle relief worth with LHP Josh Outman (2.30 FIP). RHP Edgmer Escalona (3.87 FIP) does most of the long relieving. For the latest and greatest on the Rockies, check out Purple Row.

Rosenthal: Rockies could dangle catcher for rotation help

Via Ken Rosenthal: The Rockies are looking to trade for rotation help and may be willing to dangle one of their catchers as bait. Colorado has Ramon Hernandez, Wilin Rosario, and Jordan Pacheco on the 40-man roster and Yorvit Torrealba in camp on a minor league deal.

I doubt the Rockies would be willing to trade the 23-year-old Rosario following his 28-homer, fourth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting last season. I’ve written posts about Hernandez and Pacheco in the last eight months or so, but both guys have their warts. Hernandez is old and declining while Pacheco isn’t much of a catcher. With Phil Hughes on the shelf due to a back injury, the Yankees don’t really have an extra starter to deal anyway. The team went all winter saying they’ll go in-house behind the plate and I have no reason to think that will change now.

Yankees almost acquired Franklin Morales last May

Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees had a deal in place to acquire Franklin Morales from the Rockies for cash last May. Colorado apparently shopped the offer to the Red Sox though, who offered more money. Sherman says the Yankees refused to up their bid due to what they felt was unethical behavior.

Morales, 26, will start one game of tomorrow’s doubleheader. The left-hander as finally started to cash in on the ability that once earned him a top-ten spot in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects List, pitching to a 2.51 ERA (2.59 FIP) in 43 innings across three starts and 23 relief appearances. Sucks they were unable to get him, but that was a dick move on the part of the Rockies.

Rockies have been scouting Yankees’ farm system

Via George King, the Rockies have been scouting the Yankees Triple-A and Double-A affiliates recently, and are said to be high on (who else?) Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos. Colorado has interest in Montero as a first baseman, not a catcher. The Yankees, meanwhile, are telling teams those three are untouchable, but that’s not surprising. New York was one of 17 teams on hand to scout Ubaldo Jimenez last night, when he held the Brewers to two runs in six innings. And so it begins…