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April 16, 1998

Transaction Analysis

April 6-14

by Christina Kahrl

ATLANTA BRAVES

Placed Lucky Charm Rafael Belliard on the 60-day DL (torn left quad); purchased the contract of INF Ray Holbert from Richmond. [4/10]

Is there any potential downside with replacing arguably the worst major league player with a living, breathing utility infielder? Only in the sense that Cox may feel less comfortable with his roster, and may not pinch-hit for Walt Weiss in key situations, or pull a double-switch where Weiss leaves the game and Holbert enters it, but with Weiss batting leadoff when he's healthy, that doesn't seem like a really necessary gambit.

BOSTON RED SOX

Sent 2B Donnie Sadler to Pawtucket; purchased the contract of 2B Mark Lemke from Pawtucket. [4/10]

Placed RHP Rich Garces on the 15-day DL (pulled groin), retroactive to April 11; activated LHP Butch Henry from the DL. [4/14]

On one level, the Lemke signing is inexcusable, and another case in point that Dan Duquette shouldn't be considered the great ambassador to the game for analysts or sabermetricians. At this stage of his career, the Polish Lemming doesn't help a team any more than most 2B at AA or above, and the chances that he can be a useful part of this year's Sox team or any future Sox team are slight. On another level, Duquette is giving his manager the player he wants, which is a nice, if unproductive, gesture. Henry's return to the rotation gives the Sox their rotation of choice for the time being: Martinez, Wakefield, Henry, Saberhagen, and Rose. Garces' injury wound up being very conveniently timed, since he's out of options and would have had to gone through waivers, and since he's a long-time Duq' favorite.

CHICAGO CUBS

Placed LHP Bob Patterson on the 15-day DL (strained left calf). [4/10]

Purchased the contract of RHP Kerry Wood. [4/12]

Is it a good idea? I don't think so, but the timing was right: if you were going to introduce Wood to the majors against any team, the offensively meek Expos are the team of choice. Nevertheless, it didn't work. The Cubbies' rotation is going to be jumble over the next month or two: Jeremi Gonzalez is working his way back to Iowa, Kevin Foster is due back eventually, and Patterson's eventual return will give the Cubs the two lefties in the pen Riggleman feels he has to have, meaning Mulholland can go back to starting. Who will they pick? They're already reaping the benefits of having Telemaco work out of the pen, but I don't think that will lead them to move Wood to middle relief. I don't think there's a right answer that involves having Wood in the major league rotation right now.

CINCINNATI REDS

Activated SS Barry Larkin from the 15-day DL; optioned INF Damian Jackson to Indianapolis. [4/7]

Traded RHP Buddy Carlyle to San Diego for RHP Marc Kroon; assigned RHP Todd Williams to Indianapolis. [4/8]

Placed LHP Steve Cooke on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 3 (elbow tendinitis). [4/13]

Sure, it is disappointing to see Jackson lose out to Pokey Reese for a major league job, but with Bret Boone going strong in the early going, and Larkin back, there's more playing time for him in Indianapolis, and letting Pokey rot on the Reds' bench may help Jackson more than hurt him when Larkin goes down again. Sure, getting Marc Kroon is sort of fun, and helps make a strong and deep pen stronger and deeper. The misfortune is that the Jim Bowden gave up one of his best prospects in Carlyle; Kroon is useful, but not a rare talent, while the Reds aren't exactly bristling with good young pitching prospects, and nobody should suspect long-term success for the current major league rotation. Speaking of which, 5th starter Cooke missed a turn, as well as being due to be skipped, and he isn't needed until this coming weekend (when he apparently will be re-activated), so the Reds shuffled roster time by placing him on the DL.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed 2B/SS Enrique Wilson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 4 (sprained left thumb); purchased the contract of INF Jolbert Cabrera from Buffalo. [4/6]

Placed RHP Paul Shuey on the 15-day DL (groin strain); recalled LHP Tom Martin from Buffalo. [4/11]

Signed LHP Huck Flener and RHP Jim Brower to minor-league contracts. [4/13]

Signed OF Brian Giles to a three-year contract extension with a club option for 2002; claimed INF Dave Bell off waivers from the Cardinals; transferred INF Enrique Wilson from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/14]

Bell is joining the major league roster, which will mean that Jolbert Cabrera is probably going to be returned to Buffalo. Recalling Martin is just indicative of how deep the Indians are in LH relief, since they've still got Ron Villone cooling his heels in AAA, and now their major league pen has Martin, Assenmacher, and Alvin Morman. RH relief is more dubious, since they have Mike Jackson, Jose Mesa, and Eric Plunk at the major league level, plus Shuey's bouts with disappointment and injury. It wouldn't be shocking to see John Ericks come up at some point, once/if he gets healthy.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Purchased the contract of 1B Kevin Millar from Charlotte; optioned LHP Gabe Gonzalez to Charlotte. [4/7]

Placed RHP Eric Ludwick on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 9 (lower back - stress fracture); recalled RHP Andy Larkin from Charlotte. [4/10]

Activated 3B Bobby Bonilla from the DL; optioned 3B Josh Booty to Charlotte. [4/12]

Of the kiddie corps rotation, Ludwick was probably their second-best starter, so losing him is no laughing matter, especially when the alternative is Larkin, who's been injury-prone before getting pasted last season in Charlotte's bandbox. Saying anything about Booty at this point would be gratuitous. Recalling Millar gives the Marlins a potential "Ken Phelps All-Star" platoon at first of Ryan Jackson and Millar, and as nice as that sounds, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you've also got Derrek Lee on the major league roster. You turn to good, unheralded minor league veteran hitters when your alternative is somebody like Orlando Merced or Sid Bream, not when you have an outstanding prospect who should play every day. If you keep the platoon, Lee needs playing time at Charlotte. Keeping all of them, and committing to none of them, is just pussyfooting around.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Signed LHP David West to a minor-league contract and assigned him to New Orleans. [4/6]

Activated OF Ray Montgomery from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to New Orleans. [4/7]

Placed RHP Jose Cabrera on the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Bob Scanlan from New Orleans. [4/8]

It will be interesting to see if Montgomery's return to health cuts into the time devoted to seeing how much Daryle Ward can do in the outfield in New Orleans, since some Bagwell somebody-or-another is at first in Houston. West was a forced move, in the sense that the Zephyrs' only other LH pitcher is Roberto Rivera, who, like West, is essentially rehabbing. As for Bob Scanlan, he's exactly the kind of guy who might turn in a dandy season as a middle reliever for Larry Dierker: he's in the cozy Astrodome, and he'll probably start off in Cabrera's role of pitching when the team's trailing.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Traded C Mike Macfarlane and cash to Oakland for OF Shane Mack and a PTBNL. [4/8]

Placed DH Joe Vitiello on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 6 (groin strain); recalled C Sal Fasano from Omaha. [4/9]

Macfarlane was a commodity the team no longer needed: Sweeney needs to play regularly, and Fasano is a fine backup catch-and-throw type. What may be lost in all this is that Mack won't really be more useful than Ryan Long or Chris Hatcher, but Herk wants to build a competitive Royals lineup for 1988...

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Placed RHP Darren Hall on the 15-day DL. [4/8]

Signed RHP Brad Clontz. [4/9]

Hall's semi-useful, but so is Clontz. In Chavez Ravine, almost everybody is. For details, ask the Buffalo, Tom Niedenfuer.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Outrighted RHP Todd Ritchie to Salt Lake City. [4/10]

The ripple effect of signing Carrasco. I'm sure the Twins were pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised that nobody claimed Ritchie, since he only made the roster in '97 because he was out of options, and now it appears there's less outside interest in him than, say, Dave Stevens.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed RHP Mike Maddux on the 15-day DL (groin strain); recalled LHP Steve Kline from Ottawa. [4/11]

Not every team can lose a Maddux and not miss him, but Jim Beattie may draw small comfort from the knowledge that he runs that kind of team.

NEW YORK METS

Signed 2B/SS Robert Eenhoorn to a minor league contract and assigned him to Norfolk. [4/13]

At this stage, Eenhorn has earned a shot to unseat the Lemkes or Benjamins of the world for a major league job, but unlike (to make a random choice) Manny Alexander, he isn't griping about major league biases against the Dutch. He may surface on the major league roster should the Mets finally tire of Carlos Baerga's long, grisly descent into post-peak squalor, but they'd be just as well-served to just put him in at short and make Rey Ordonez into Raffy Belliard II.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Placed RHP Mariano Rivera on the 15-day DL (groin strain); recalled RHP Mike Buddie from Columbus. [4/6]

Placed DH Chili Davis on the 15-day DL; recalled OF Shane Spencer from Columbus. [4/7]

Losing a good pitcher never helps, but the ripple effect is where it may cause some problems: by reserving Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton for late game use, that means Darren Holmes and Mike Buddie wind up having to come into runners-on-base situations in the middle innings, and that may not be very helpful. The team should still score enough to make the point moot over a multi-week period. Losing Davis doesn't even hurt that badly, since it gives more playing time to the the members of the three-headed LF monster (Raines, Strawberry, and Curtis), which again isn't a bad thing. Spencer may get spot starts for O'Neill against tough lefties, but it won't be enough to let him stick around once Davis returns.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Purchased the contract of RHP Jim Dougherty from Edmonton; optioned INF Jason Wood to Edmonton, and transferred RHP Willie Adams from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list. [4/6]

Acquired C Mike Macfarlane and cash from Kansas City for OF Shane Mack and a PTBNL; recalled INF Jason Wood from Edmonton; selected the contract of UT Jack Voigt from Edmonton; designated C Izzy Molina for assignment; placed RHP Mike Fetters on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 6th, with a strained left calf. [4/8]

Activated RHP Brad Rigby from the 15-day DL; optioned INF Jason Wood to Edmonton. [4/10]

Signed 1B Jason Giambi to a three-year contract. [4/11]

Recalled RHP Ariel Prieto from Edmonton, and optioned RHP Brad Rigby to Edmonton. [4/14]

What was Herk Robinson up to when the A's needed to get rid of Ruben Sierra a few years ago? Will he want Kevin Mitchell in a couple of weeks? Man, what a pal. Macfarlane will be a handy svengali for A.J. Hinch, but won't be in line for much playing time. Rigby's demotion without a start gives the A's a rotation of Candiotti, Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Haynes, Mike Oquist, and your standard Cuban impersonation of a major league pitcher.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed RHP Elmer Dessens on the 15-day DL (groin strain); purchased the contract of RHP Mike Williams from Nashville. [4/10]

Activated LHP Ricardo Rincon from the 15-day DL; designated RHP Mike Williams for assignment. [4/14]

Williams is 40-man roster fodder: filling space for short-term emergencies, infinitely replaceable, and not tempting enough to claim on waivers. If there's a team that would claim him, its the Marlins, where he'd be in the rotation.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Activated RHP Jeff Brantley from the DL, and designated INF David Bell for assignment. [4/9]

Activated RHP Matt Morris from the DL; optioned RHP Braden Looper to Memphis (AAA). [4/11]

Placed C Tom Pagnozzi on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 4 (sore right shoulder); activated C Eli Marrero from the 15-day DL. [4/13]

Sure enough, the Cardinals lose Bell on waivers to the Tribe, plus they're back to the 12-man pitching staff (which isn't preventing LaRussa from working Lance Painter almost nightly), and a bench that has Dave Howard and Brian Hunter. The more things change, the more things stay the same. On the happier side of things, here's wishing Eli Marrero the best of luck.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Acquired RHP Buddy Carlyle from Cincinnati for RHP Marc Kroon; assigned Carlyle to Mobile (AA). [4/8]

Purchased the contract RHP Carlos Reyes from Las Vegas. [4/10]

Wengert and Carlos Reyes? Well, at least on the Pads they're mop-up men, as opposed to in the rotation, like they were with Oakland. Trading Kroon for a good minor league prospect made sense: Kroon may turn out to be a fine reliever, but he wasn't going to be an important contributor to the Padres this year, whereas Carlyle is a fine prospect who could eventually be in the major league rotation by '00, after guys like Mark Langston are long gone.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Activated LHP Jeff Fassero from the 15-day DL; outrighted RHP Jim Bullinger to Tacoma (AAA). [4/12]

Fired pitching coach Nardi Contreras, and named Stan Williams as his replacement; placed RF Jay Buhner on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 7 (inflamed left knee); recalled OF Ryan Radmanovich from Tacoma. [4/13]

Activated UT Rich Amaral from the 15-day DL, and optioned UT Charles Gipson to Tacoma. [4/14]

Its never a surprise when Jim Bullinger winds up being a waste of time, but it speaks volumes about their farm system or taste in minor league free agents that the Mariners felt the compunction to go get him. Buhner's knee had kept him out for almost a week before the team admitted to a lost cause; it would be a good thing if Radmanovich got an opportunity in this situation, because he could work his way into a platoon with Glenallen Hill by the time Buhner returns, but Lou has taken a quick shine to Robert Perez.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed OF Mike Kelly on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 1, with a groin strain; purchased the contract of OF Jerome Walton from Durham; transferred 1B Herb Perry from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/9]

Kelly hadn't played since Opening Day, so finally acknowledging that GM Pet Uno (Bobby Smith has to settle for GMP Due) wasn't ready to go was something of a forgone conclusion. Walton should get some limited time against LH pitchers, but as soon as Kelly shows he's healthy, Walton will go back down.

When is the last time Herb Perry was healthy? Grade school?

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Recalled RHP Carlos Almanzar from Syracuse, and optioned RHP Robert Person to Syracuse. [4/10]

Activated RHP Erik Hanson from the DL; optioned UT Mark Dalesandro to Syracuse. [4/12]

The Jays have said they want Person to get in his work as a starter, and even with Clemens' injury, Hanson's return squeezed him out of the picture for the time being. Since Guzman and Hentgen are both injury risks, there's a good chance that the only Blue Jays starter who won't miss a turn this year could be Woody Williams, which probably wasn't how Gord Ash envisioned things in February. Almanzar is your prototypical successful major league reliever: a mediocre starter in the minors with a useful assortment and no heavy workloads. With Risley and Escobar struggling, and "Bloody" Paul Quantrill capable of the ocassional atrocity, he should wind up being an asset in middle relief.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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