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February 8, 2010

Transaction Action

North by Leftwest

by Christina Kahrl

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OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Dealt LHP Dana Eveland to the Blue Jays for future considerations. [2/6]

Whatever could they be, these future considerations? Blood and flesh, in the form of a player? Treasure, in the form of that always handy utility asset, Stacks O'Cash? Given that it's the Blue Jays, the prospect's not likely to be a major pickup, and he won't be a 40-man player anyway, given that the A's are already full-up on the roster. It's a modest surprise that Eveland was one of the players shunted aside in the "we can run from Miles" foofaraw that propelled Adam Rosales and Steve Tolleson into top consideration for the club's utility infield chores, and made the exercise of determining where in the world is Willy Taveras a matter of some doubt for the immediate future. (If you're spectacularly incurious about the outcome, I can't say as I blame you.) After all, back-end rotation starters with decent track records don't grow on trees.

However, between the persistent questions about Eveland's weight and conditioning, and the club's madding crowd of alternatives for rotation work (more crowded still with the addition of Ben Sheets and the retention of Justin Duchscherer), it's not that much of a surprise that Eveland lost out to, say, off-again/off-again erstwhile relief prospect and waivers bon vivant Jon Meloan, who may yet harness his heat and deliver on his former promise as a Dodgers prospect. The other thing to keep in mind is that timing's everything; another few weeks, and the A's would be putting a recuperating Josh Outman on the 60-day DL, or be in a position to decide if Rule 5 pick Bobby Cassevah needs to be offered back to the Angels; from such things is hope for non-roster invites born. In making the decision that they preferred Tolleson to Eveland as a way to use a roster spot (and Rosales over Miles, of course), we know what the A's figured was the best use of their space.


SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Re-signed LHP Erik Bedard to a one-year, $1.5 million base contract, with a mutual option for 2011; designated RHP Yusmeiro Petit for assignment. [2/6]

If Bill Bavasi found the exactly wrong way to bring in Erik Bedard with a February move, credit Jack Zduriencik for demonstrating the ideal way to add Bedard as we gear up for pitchers-and-catchers time of year. After all, it's only money, and not very much of it. Beyond a reasonable base to permit Bedard to live by the standards to which he's accustomed, the real money's dependent on Bedard doing something he occasionally does very well: pitch. He's managed just one healthy season in his last four, but his SNWP marks in Seattle were .544 in 2008 and .590 in 2009, that after he delivered that .610 in his last Orioles season in '07 that proved so irresistible to Bavasi.

If he does anything like that at the right times or for the bulk of a season, then Zduriencik's got his rotation's third starter, and the sort of hurler who could make a huge difference in a post-season series if he's available in October. If Bedard doesn't last and breaks down all over again, that isn't really the end of the world, however disappointing that might be. It simply returns the Mariners to the same spot they were already in, picking from between Too-Tall Doug Fister and Mr. Lucas French and "Va-Va-Voom" Jason Vargas for who's the rotation's fifth leg. Now, with Bedard in the fold, Ryan Rowland-Smith winds up looking like a quality fourth starter but one who will have to build on last year's .547 SNWP. They can afford to challenge Ian Snell in the last slot with losing his job to any one member of that now-bumped trio if he doesn't earn his keep, instead of having to rely on him. If (or when) Bedard breaks down, naturally they can turn to whichever one of the four previous fifth-starter contestants has the hot hand, whether coming out of the bullpen or up from Tacoma.

In short, it's the right pitcher at the right price, where quality pitching should provide a better bid for contention which should more than pay for the upside financial risk to the deal. I don't want to call Erik Bedard the new John Tudor, but if the Mariners get 20 starts or more from him, and have him in action down the stretch, that could make all the difference in the world between them and a Rangers team that has nothing quite so ready-now, or an Angels rotation that just paid Joel Pineiro considerably more while having no greater guarantees that he'll deliver than the Mariners might expect from Bedard.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Acquired LHP Dana Eveland from the Athletics for future considerations. [2/6]

Eveland's past, checkered as it has been with performance hiccups and weight issues, has contributed to his being flipped from Milwaukee to Arizona to Oakland to Toronto in a big, outward-bound spiral of transactions that predicts his arrival in Miami in 2012, Mexico City in 2014, and Anchorage by 2017. What, you didn't know that's where the Rays will threaten to move to next? Blame global warming, but I expect it's only a matter of time before the lush summer paradise and untapped market potential of Alaska becomes irresistible.*

As waiver-generated grabs go, this makes a nifty pickup for the Jays, since Eveland slips right into a rotation picture that includes few sure things but a number of interesting alternatives. Ricky Romero might be the best they've got, but there will be some tough picking and choosing between Mark Rzepczynski, Brandon Morrow, and Brett Cecil, plus the recuperating Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum. Eveland perhaps ranks with Scott Richmond or Brian Tallet: employable fall-back options who will, at the very least, help you get through the season. That might seem like a low set of expectations for Eveland, since he was a useful starter for Oakland in 2008, posting a SNWP of .525 in 29 turns. However, that season also featured a strong downward turn; he had a 3.34 ERA and nine quality starts through his first 16 turns by July 1, and then saw that balloon to 5.70 and four quality starts in his last 13 afterwards, which were punctuated by a punitive assignment to Sacramento. Last year, he was given a brief reprieve but was eventually boxed out, as the crowded starting pitcher picture in Oakland bought him just a month's grace, which he blew making just one quality start in five, leading to a season mostly spent with Sacramento, where he didn't pitch all that well.

Can he still be an asset? In shape, and perhaps with the benefit of a change of scenery, there's reason to hope. However, his unhealthy walk rate and frustrating inability to deliver as many strikeouts as you'd expect with his stuff makes him hard to bank on. It's worth checking out, especially when you're a club in need looking for a cheap young veteran to help buy you time. He still boasts a slider/fastball combo, and he can munch a few innings or turns for a club, but it'll take hands-on sorting out to determine whether he's just the new Tallet and utilized in a swing role, or if he'll get a real chance to stick among the front five. That's effectively Eveland's upside at this point: fourth or fifth starter and rotation filler on a second-division club. It beats being in Triple-A certainly, but if he can work his way into anything involving Tallet-like utility, he might encourage the club to deal the original article now that Tallet's getting arbitration-related pay raises.

*: Except, of course, I'm sure it's already Mariners territory, on the basis of an oral agreement between a young Bud Selig and Secretary of State William Seward; it was a rider to the Tsar's insistence that if the Empire didn't get an expansion franchise in St. Petersburg by the end of the 20th century, the whole deal was off, or the next time the Russian navy came a-calling wouldn't be quite so pleasant an exercise of inside baseball and machtpolitik.

Years later, Selig cooked up an ingenious scheme with baseball's first and last action hero/front-office honcho, Larry MacPhail, and wiggled the industry out of that arrangement by orchestrating a sealed train containing the world's most infamous clubhouse lawyer COD to Mr. Kerensky, the Tsar's legatee, on the understanding with the train's occupant that there would be no expansion team, just something as silly as MLB franchise territorial imperialism: the WBC, which as we know gets full participation from Cuba and the People's Republic of China. I'm pretty sure this was all covered on a History Channel special, between Pawn Stars and The Nostradamus Effect.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed OF-L Brian Giles to a minor-league contract. [2/7]

While Reed Johnson's addition to the 40-man dented Jason Repko's bid for playing time as a fourth outfielder, adding Giles may just kill Repko's shot at sticking around deader'n Elvis, perhaps no differently than Xavier Paul's or Chin-Lung Hu's. While Alfredo Amezaga's veteran-flavored all-around utility blanditude might prove too Clay Bellinger-like to avoid Joe Torre's fancy, Giles adds an interesting wrinkle to the suggested field of bench options for the two open position-playing jobs. Like Doug Mientkiewicz, Giles will have to prove he's healthy to earn much consideration, but between that pair, Amezaga, Nick Green, and Blake DeWitt, it's going to be a particularly bitter battle for seeing who sticks, and for what distinct roles. It's easier to anticipate Giles getting deposited in Albuquerque initially to prove his health. He's become a generally immobile corner outfielder, which doesn't exactly make him an easy fit when they're already playing along with the concept that Reed Johnson's their backup in center. As is, heading into his age-39 season, it's an awful lot to assume he's got any pop left in a bat that started shedding power precipitously after the 2005 season. (Insert your own causation conspiracy here.)


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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