The Yankees like players who have been let go by Colorado. Remember who caught the last out in 1996? Why none other than Charlie Hayes (Rockie 1993 and 1994). Who came off the scrap heap to go 7-3 with a 2.85ERA in 2005? Shawn Chacon (Rockie 2001 to 2005) Why this season alone we have Jason Nix (Rockie 2008) and Chris Nelson (DFA’ed by the Rockies this year.) So the acquisition of Reid Brignac from Colorado shouldn’t be a surprise. Brignac was acquired for $75,000 and comes onto the roster in place of Alberto (I was never a Rockie) Gonzalez.
It’s not a bad move. Gonzalez was a fine fielder (and a decent mopup reliever) but he was a no-hitting shortstop. In his place comes Brignac, who can’t hit either, but can play anywhere on the infield besides first and even in the outfield in a pinch. So more positional flexibility for $75,000 is a trade you have to make.
The person who should worry in my mind is Eduardo Nunez. He hasn’t hit a lick this year and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Lyle Overbay has been a very nice pickup, but the Yankees can’t really carry him, Hafner and Teixeira on the same roster unless they have some other guys on the bench who can cover a lot of positions. In Nix and Brignac, you suddenly have that. So maybe Nunez gets sent back to Scranton when he is healthy enough to play with the mandate to show some offensive chops if he want back in the majors?
Then of course the Rockies might DFA another guy tomorrow, so we should probably just wait and see.
The Yankees just announced during the postgame show that they have acquired Chris Nelson from the Rockies for cash considerations or the infamous Player To Be Named Later. Nelson is a 27-year old, right-handed infielder who has played second, third and even a bit of short in the majors. In order to make room for him on the 40-man, they moved Cervelli to the 60-day DL, which means we won’t see him until the end of June at the earliest.
There is little downside to this move from a Yankees’ standpoint. Nelson was once considered the best prospects in baseball. In fact he was taken 9th overall in the 2004 draft. While he hasn’t panned out, he did hit .301/.352/.458 in 377 AB’s for Colorado last year. He also has similar OPS’s against LHP (.732) as against RHP (.740).
So how did the Yankees get him you ask? The answer is that there are two serious questions about his game. First, he is not a strong defender and that may be putting it too mildly. In just under 1,000 innings at third in the majors he has a .931 fielding percentage and 19 errors. Like advanced defensive metrics? Nelson had a -26.5 UZR/150 games last year. That’s 8 runs worse than the next to worst player at third. Secondly, his bat may very well only work in Coors Field. For his career he has put up an .824 OPS at Coors versus a .640 one on the road.
But again, what’s the downside? Youkilis is on the shelf with a bad back. Jason Nix was hitting .219/..261/.266 coming into tonight’s game and simply can’t hit right-handed pitching. Nelson is young enough that he could surprise and the Yankees do have three games coming up in Colorado. If he works good for the Yankees. If not, Matt Adams can be added to the roster as of May 15th. Welcome another player from the scrap heap to the roster.