March 19, 2010
Received RHP Miguel Celestino from the Mariners as the PTBNL to complete the Casey Kotchman trade. [3/18]
Celestino's an arm, and probably best described as one included as the cost of doing business. He's a tall and stringy Dominican, standing 6-foot-5, and all of 20 years old after pitching in the Arizona Rookie League last summer. He's very raw, throwing a sinker in the range of 88-92 mph, unarmed with any particularly crisp breaking stuff, and generating nearly twice as many ground-ball outs as flies. He could be anything, or nothing, a promise perhaps never kept, or even ever made.
Optioned RHPs Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Rondon, C-S Carlos Santana, and 1B/OF-L Jordan Brown to Columbus (Triple-A); optioned 1B/LF-L Nick Weglarz to Akron (Double-A); outrighted UT-R Brian Bixler to Columbus. [3/19]
Shipping Santana out was one of those disappointments you knew was already in the works, sort of like ABC's primetime lineup, but with upside. In the meantime, they've got to go through their seemingly assumed obligation to give Lou Marson his shot, and with Mike Redmond around to do the veteran caddy gig that's his lot, Santana's going to get to go back to Columbus to murdilate Triple-A pitching and work on the finer points of his craft. Similarly, as one of the club's most advanced starting pitcher prospects, Rondon's expected to be back sometime later this summer, since at least three of the rotation slots may be in doubt for much of the year, between Fausto Carmona and whoever wins the camp battles for the last two slots.
If there's a tough-luck tale, it's Brown's. He was briefly seen as a sleeper prospect who might push his way into the picture in left field, but he tore up his knee and won't return to action before April, perhaps May, which pushes any potential renewed bid for a big-league role into the summer, at which point Matt LaPorta may own left field, or Michael Brantley may have done enough to win some playing time for himself. Brown's already in his age-26 season and has had knee trouble before, so this represents a pretty significant dent in his future.
Optioned RHPs Armando Galarraga and Jay Sborz to Toledo (Triple-A); optioned RHP Jacob Turner to West Michigan (Low-A). [3/18]
Galarraga's demotion was something of a fait accompli as long as Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis are all dealing well enough with the issues from their recent past. The more interesting question for now is which of the three will lose in his bid for one of two rotation slots, and why. Will Willis' case of Blassitis return? With Robertson or Bonderman break down again? Given that none of them has had a genuinely good season since 2006, you can understand why Galarraga shouldn't give up hope; he may be a Mudhen today, but the odds of two of those three blowing up for one reason or another seem more than a little favorable. For that reason alone, there's no reason to explore converting Galarraga to relief work, to see if his relatively short fuse and shallow assortment for a regular rotation starter plays better in the pen. That might change in the weeks to come, especially with both Zach Miner and Bobby Seay looking like they'll be on the shelf come Opening Day, but that depends less on Galarraga and more on what Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth, and Phil Coke do in the meantime to inspire confidence. Having made their intra-winter adjustments to add Jose Valverde and Johnny Damon, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Tigers make a deal to add a veteran relief arm.
Optioned RHP Aaron Crow to Northwest Arkansas (Double-A). [3/17]
Crow looked good in camp, striking out six (against one walk) in 5
Optioned RHPs Rich Thompson and Robert Mosebach and 1B-R Mark Trumbo to Salt Lake (Triple-A). [3/18]
Optioned RHPs Alex Burnett and Rob Delaney to Rochester (Triple-A). [3/18]
Optioned RHP Justin Souza to Midland (Double-A). [3/18]
Optioned OF-L Michael Saunders to Tacoma (Triple-A); sent RHP Miguel Celestino to the Red Sox as the PTBNL to complete the Casey Kotchman trade. [3/17]
And with that, the Mariners end early one of the more interesting camp battles for a starting job of the spring, perhaps predictably shipping out Saunders to see how long some combination of Milton Bradley, Eric Byrnes, Ken Griffey Jr., and perhaps Ryan Langerhans or Mike Sweeney does in handling the playing time in left field and/or at DH. It's hardly the end of the world, although it is still interesting to speculate on how they might fit everybody on the roster, and who winds up in the reserve roles in the outfield, especially with another crowd of infield reserve options to make space for as well. So, as tough as this particular cut may have been, the ones to come should be tougher still, still making the M's camp one well worth watching in the final two weeks. Sweeney's non-roster invite may have merely been a courtesy extended to a popular vet, but he's 13-for-19 with a team-leading six extra-base hits, so it isn't like he's making it easy on Don Wakamatsu and Jack Zduriencik. For all of the pre-season talk of Ryan Garko catching or playing the outfield, he's done neither in any Cactus action; he'll get DH at-bats, which makes Sweeney's bid problematic at best, but Langerhans isn't doing much to make a case for sticking around, and hardly boasts the sort of career that deserves a firm commitment.
Optioned C-S Jose Lobaton, C-L John Jaso, and CF-S Fernando Perez to Durham (Triple-A). [3/17]
Optioned RHPs Omar Poveda and Omar Beltre and LHP Zachary Phillips to Frisco (Double-A). [3/17]
Outrighted LHP Sean Henn to Las Vegas (Triple-A); returned Rule 5 pick RHP Zech Zinicola to the Nationals. [3/17]
Optioned 1B-R Brian Dopirak and 2B-R Jarrett Hoffpauir to Las Vegas; released RHP Casey Fien. [3/18]
Not that the outcome was really that much in doubt, but with Dopirak's dispatch to the desert it looks as if veteran minor leaguers Randy Ruiz and Mike McCoy should both stick around in reserve roles, because the active roster's down to 13 position players, and they're both among them. Ruiz is on his ninth organization, McCoy his fifth, and this represents the best break either has ever caught. It's reflective of the state of the Jays that Dopirak and Hoffpauir are also reclamation projections. Just four of the club's likely position players are homegrown. Barring any waiver-wire pickups, there's also an outside chance existing for someone like Jeremy Reed or Joey Gathright to hand around as an outfield reserve is the Jays go with 11 pitchers, or if Edwin Encarnacion's wrist woes force him to the DL before Opening Day. The former scenario seems somewhat unlikely, since they have a trio of second-rank relief candidates already out of options (Merkin Valdez, Dana Eveland, and Shawn Camp), plus Jesse Carlson and Casey Janssen have both had their moments. That fistful of hurlers are lined up behind the trio of closing candidates (Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, and Kevin Gregg), which is why talk of trading Frasor to any relief-desperate contender is getting some traction. Speaking of well-traveled, Fien's release means he stands to join his fourth organization inside of a month, having been bounced from the Tigers to the Red Sox to the Jays via waivers.