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Tuesday Rockpile: Role of Wilin Rosario May Be Decided Soon

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It is Sneak Week.  Just as the college "Dead Week" is more active than it deserves to be prior to Finals Week, the week setting up next week's Winter Meetings can have a bit of unexpected activity as well.  A few rumors surfaced about the Rockies yesterday, most dealing with the catching position.  Dan O'Dowd was apparently busy on Cyber Monday, but it remains to be seen if the groundwork laid will end up in Wilin Rosario receiving a AAA membership or big league ticket.

The big rumor is situated below this story on the front page, with Colorado showing interest in Ramon Hernandez.  The 35-year old Venezuelan is the very definition of reliable and steady.  He has been a league average bat his entire career, peaking with a 4+ WAR season in 2006 after a 2003 All-Star season.  The former Red/Oriole/Padre/Athletic has posted a wRC+ between 83 and 118 in each of his last nine seasons, including 111 and 114 in the last two seasons.  If he matches the worst of his last two seasons in 2012, he would post the best offensive season by a Rockies catcher since Chris Iannetta in 2008.

Hernandez succeeds by limiting strikeouts.  He doesn't walk a lot, has decent pop, and is ok defensively, but nothing sticks out about him.  He's just a reliable starting catcher, and therein lies the bigger story of the Rockies' interest.  Hernandez is still starting catcher quality.  If O'Dowd does get Hernandez in purple, incumbent Chris Iannetta would be shipped out, with Wilin Rosario still having a non-guaranteed chance of earning a backup role.  The trade-off from Iannetta to Hernandez likely wouldn't be significant.  A higher ceiling of production would be traded for a higher floor, though it could be noted Hernandez would probably be in Jim Tracy's favor more.  Add an assumed fair return for Iannetta, and the merry-go-round would be an almost clear win.

Rumors are that the Angels are interested in Iannetta, though no names were mentioned in the other half of an exchange.  The match makes sense, as the Angels know Jeff Mathis isn't a starting catcher (chuckle), and new GM Jerry DiPoto was working for Colorado in 2005, Iannetta's first full season in the organization and a year prior to his MLB debut.  It would be a tough fit for Iannetta himself though, as his high K/high BB/poor defense/low average profile is comparable to Mike Napoli, who got the boot from Mike Scioscia.  

O'Dowd was also setting up a backup plan, with former Dodger/Ray Dioner Navarro on the radar.  While Navarro was an All-Star just three years ago, he hasn't posted an OPS over .600 since.  Navarro would slide into the backup role at best, leaving Iannetta's status safe.  If Navarro came to Colorado, it would likely indicate the organization's desire to at least start Rosario at AAA in April.


Other rumors:

The Cubs are interested in Ian Stewart in some capacity.  If a trade works there, all they need to do is sign Garrett Atkins, and the Rockies' jam-packed third base position of 2006 will be reunited.  Stewart will be tendered, but some writers may be proven sloppy in their interpretation of an O'Dowd quote.  Tendering a contract is no guarantee of wanting to keep a player.  Cough cough.

Jonathan Broxton has signed a one-year $4mil deal with the Royals.  The Rockies courted him quite a bit of late.

Former Rockie LaTroy Hawkins is on the radar too.  The Rockies' interest in Hernandez, Broxton and Hawkins indicate a willingness to trade Chris Iannetta and Huston Street.

Rockies' Eric Young Jr. explains dismissal from winter ball in Venezuela | News  Young Jr. released a statement, explaining that the reports that he was fired from his Winter League team for being late twice were false.  Rather, he was late once as a result of several unfortunate events, he explains.  His manager Don Baylor apparently backed Young's decisions that led to his dismissal.  Whether the events are related is impossible to know, but Baylor was fired yesterday as well.

Rockies: Veteran pitcher tops wish list –  This link probably doesn't belong here.  If you weren't familiar with the state of the Rockies, you wouldn't be reading a Purple Row story under the fold.  But hey, if you want to check in on the Readers Digest USA Today version of the Rockies, take a gander.  It is dead on accurate.

A's ponder spring site switch from Phoenix to Mesa - MLB - Yahoo! Sports  This is good news for Spring Training goers.  Oakland has been playing at the ancient Phoenix Municipal Stadium and may upgrade to the newly vacated (by the Cubs) Hohokam Park in coming years.  One reason this is good news - Phoenix Municipal has worse obstructed views than Fenway Park.  Here was the view of "home plate" from my paid seat in March.

Sports Extra - Blogs - Drillers 2012 tickets go on sale Thursday  | Tulsa World  You can also book your Texas League All Star tickets if you are interested.  If you didn't know, single game Rockies tickets went on sale yesterday.  I already noticed most of the club section for Father's Day has been sold out.

Baseball Career Conference at the Baseball Winter Meetings | Sports Management Worldwide  Speaking of Texas, the Winter Meetings will take place starting Monday in Dallas.  Near the beginning of the festivities, a huge career conference will take place.  More than 20 recognizable names in the baseball industry will speak from various roles and backgrounds - general managers John Mozeliak (Cardinals) and Ned Colletti (Dodgers), writers Rob Neyer and Tracy Ringolsby, blogger Craig Calcaterra, broadcasters, scouts, players, attorneys, analysts, and Cory Schwartz, VP of MLB Stats Inc.  If you dream of a job in baseball, this is a fantastic opportunity.  Some will even be selected to interview next Monday.  The day concludes with five speakers who earned a baseball career through this exact channel.  Register by tomorrow - cost is $150 for college students, $225 general admission.