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April 24, 1998
April 20-23ATLANTA BRAVES
Optioned RHP Paul Byrd to Richmond, and recalled OF Damon Hollins from Richmond. [4/23]
When you're the Braves, I guess you feel you can afford to waste a roster spot for five days to get two mopup innings of relief, because that's all they got out of Byrd; considering that their bullpen had to toss a whopping 4 innings (two by Dennis Martinez, the swing starter) since the 13th going into last Sunday's double-header, this was your basic waste of a locker. Hollins is capable of helping the Braves much more than Gerald Williams, but he probably lacks that essence of veterandom to stick around once Danny Bautista is ready to be reactivated.
Placed CF Brady Anderson on the 15-day DL (strained neck muscle); purchased the contract of LHP Doug Johns from Rochester. [4/20]
The Orioles have been peevishly whining about their "need" to get up to 12 pitchers, and Anderson's slow start and usual bruises afforded them the roster space. The misfortunes here are two-fold: it means they don't confront the decision they'll eventually have to make about the execrable Ozzie Guillen for another week or so, and instead of calling up Nerio Rodriguez, as rumored, they've got one of the few ex-A's pitchers neither Dave Stewart or Tony LaRussa has any interest in (not a good sign). This means Ponson won't get more than a start in Mussina's absence, and it gave them a typically short and ugly Johns start this week.
BOSTON RED SOX
Placed LHP Butch Henry on the 15-day DL (strained left knee); assigned RHP Rich Garces to Pawtucket for an injury rehab assignment; recalled LHP Brian Shouse from Pawtucket. [4/21]
Henry's usual woes continue, and although this hurts in that Henry is their second-best starter when he's around, Duquette built the Red Sox for these kinds of contingencies. It just means Derek Lowe can re-enter the rotation, or Steve Avery if they're feeling brave, or even Johnny Wasdin once Garces or Robinson Checo are ready to enter the bullpen. Adding Shouse gives the Sox a second lefty in the pen, although given how bad Avery has been, he could easily wind up being the primary LH setup man with a good outing or two.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Recalled UT Wil Cordero from Birmingham and RHP Bill Simas from Calgary; optioned UT Lou Frazier and LHP Todd Rizzo to Calgary. [4/22]
Cordero's promotion was going to squeeze somebody, and for one of the only times you'll ever hear me saying this, I'm going to argue that Lou Frazier shouldn't have been the one to go. You've got 14 position players, so why keep the one who can't play a position or outhit anyone on the roster? Ruben Sierra needs to be waived goodbye, if only because there ought to be a limit on how many dubious DHs Jerry Manuel should be allowed to personally resurrect; by comparison, Frazier can spot anywhere on the field, pinch-run, and is basically a handy utility scrub who can do things you may need late in a game. Rizzo was clearly struggling mightily, even without his appalling debut. It seems reasonably clear he's not ready for the Fossas role, because his limited success came in long relief outings where he started his own innings, as opposed to entering the game mid-inning, usually with runners aboard. Given those successes, it would seem he'd be a better choice to keep around than Tom Fordham, but with Jason Bere and James Baldwin struggling, Fordham could wind up in the rotation in the next week or so. With Foulke and Carlos Castillo getting heavy work early on, the Sox needed to bring in another RH reliever, and Simas has been strong in the early going at Calgary, last night's game-losing triple at Ruben Sierra notwithstanding.
Announced that SS Jolbert Cabrera cleared waivers and was successfully outrighted to Buffalo. [4/20]
Activated RHP Chad Ogea from the 15-day DL; designated INF Jeff Manto for assignment. [4/21]
Ogea's return gives the Indians the rotation they expected to have: Chuck Nagy, Jaret Wright, Dave Burba, Ogea, and Bartolo Colon, with Rick Krivda available to mix in for a spot start. Of course, Nagy and Wright are both injury risks, and Colon is battling nagging hurts and the after-effects of that 135-pitch shutout, so carrying 12 pitchers makes some sense for the time being. Hell, at this point, people from Randy Lerch to Keith Creel are probably volunteering for cheap wins.
Placed INF Jason Bates on the 15-day DL (ankle cellulitis); recalled INF Nelson Liriano from Colorado Springs; transferred RHP Roger Bailey from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/20]
Liriano can't really play short, so he isn't the ideal utility infielder, unless Don Baylor decides to ask Mike Lansing or Vinny Castilla to put in some time at short if he pinch-hits (or gets frustrated) with Neifi Perez.
Released DH Pete Incaviglia. [4/22]
Purchased the contract of OF Andy Tomberlin from Toledo. [4/23]
Inky didn't help himself any by going 1-14 with a walk. Still, this seems symptomatic of the Tigers' frustrations with themselves, and that in turn has alot more to do with unrealistic expectation that a team that brings in Luis Gonzalez or Bip Roberts or Billy Ripken or a half-dozen Padres pitchers not named Ashby, Hamilton, or Hoffman improved itself.
Placed 1B Kevin Millar on the 15-day DL (fractured hamate bone in left wrist); purchased the contract of C/1B John Roskos from Charlotte. [4/20]
Its sort of a shame that Millar got hurt in his first plate appearance, since he can help a team, but since this and Derek Lee's hot streak essentially cements Lee's regular role in the lineup for the time being, it won't hurt the Fish. He'll head off for a rehab assignment in six to eight weeks. Roskos can help as well, and although he's considered brutal behind the plate, it would be pretty interesting to see if Dombrowski would either trade Zaun to a team that needs a backstop, or do the unthinkable and trade Charles Johnson. A Zaun/Roskos platoon would be an outstanding offensive combo, and better than most catching situations around the majors.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Placed C Sal Fasano on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 20; purchased the contract of C Chris Turner from Omaha. [4/21]
This is an inconvenience, but Fasano is only going to caddy for Sweeney, and Turner knows how to do that.
Placed 1B John Jaha on the 15-day DL (injured ligament in his left foot); recalled OF Geoff Jenkins from Louisville. [4/23]
For now, this means that Bob Hamelin will step into the job at first, but having started off 1-26 with 2 walks, how long that lasts is tough to call. Considering the pathetic production the Brewers have gotten out of the leftfielders so far (and Nilsson's slow recovery from his knee injury), this may represent a real opportunity for Jenkins to play. He was fortunate to get off to a fast start at Louisville.
Optioned RHP Frank Rodriguez to Salt Lake City. [4/22]
You could understand both sides of this situation: if you're Tom Kelly, it looks like Frankie has blown his opportunities to be in the rotation or succeed as a setup man. Rodriguez probably feels Tom Kelly has quit on him, since he was little more than a mopup man by Opening Day '98. In a less combative situation, he could come back, but he earned this with 19 baserunners and a 13.50 ERA in 6.2 IP.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Activated RHP Mariano Rivera from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Mike Buddie to Columbus. [4/22]
It wasn't a surprise, but Rivera's absence didn't make a difference, and yet nobody's using that to draw any conclusions about how critical closers are to their team's success... okay, that may not be entirely fair, in that the Yankees have a veteran pen and a great lineup, but again, that should only emphasize that those things are more important to a team's success. Buddie pitched badly, but pocketed two wins, and should return as the first man to fill in for any injuries in the pen.
Recalled CF Ryan Christenson from Edmonton; optioned RHP Ariel Prieto to Edmonton. [4/20]
McDonald didn't go onto the DL after all, as you've probably seen by now. In the meantime, the A's can get frustrated with Prieto at no real loss. Normally, I hate to pass judgment on two starts, but Prieto is older than he says he is, he's damaged goods, and he needs to sit still and demonstrate consistent success against somebody for some length of time before he gets another shot. As for Christenson, although he's been cold in the early going, here's hoping the A's just ride it out and make the commitment to play him regularly for the rest of the season.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Signed LHP Roberto Ramirez to a minor-league contract. [4/23]
Another foreign talent turf war the Padres won, as the Padres' relationship with Ramirez' parent club (Mexico City) was more significant in an arbitrator's eyes than the Rockies' push to sneak in and sign him. I have no idea how these relationships may be eventually affected by the Drew situation and what that means for domestic talent, but if they're sustained while the draft is overthrown, then penny-wise major league organizations will continue to have more favorable relationships in procuring foreign talent than in signing domestic prospects. In the meantime, there's speculation that Ramirez may get rushed to the major league pen as soon as possible, since the Pads have only Sterling Hitchcock in the pen from the port side, and Mark Langston's health woes could move him into the rotation.
Activated OF Rob Ducey from the 15-day DL; optioned OF Ryan Radmanovich to Tacoma. [4/20]
One four-hit game, and already Ducey is hailed as the solution in Buhner's absence. It doesn't really matter much, except that Piniella is obviously more comfortable with Ducey out there than the alternatives. What will be more interesting is if Ducey can push Glenallen Hill into a platoon roll once Buhner returns.
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Activated OF Mike Kelly from the 15-day DL; optioned OF Bubba Trammell to Durham. [4/21]
I like Bubba Trammell. You probably like Bubba Trammell. Who couldn't like a ballplayer named Bubba Trammell? The name, the swing, glovework that brings Kevin Reimer to mind; he's tons o' fun no matter how you slice it. But in all seriousness, he hasn't adapted well to part-time platoon rolls, either with the Tigers or the Devil Rays. On the other hand, Kelly is an organizational favorite, does paste lefties, and can field and run. For a part-timer, Kelly is the better option, even if Rothschild has rarely gone to his bench in-game so far. The other guy getting kept, Jerome Walton, also has a better track record than Bubba as a happy benchie, and maybe its just for the best that Bubba stay sharp tatooing baseballs in Durham.
Sent RHP Xavier Hernandez to Oklahoma on a rehabilitation assignment. [4/21]
The only man who should be following this development closely is Tim Crabtree.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Activated 1B Carlos Delgado from the DL; optioned 3B Tom Evans to Syracuse; placed INF Craig Grebeck on the 15-day DL (muscle strain), retroactive to April 20; recalled LHP Steve Sinclair from Syracuse. [4/23]
The Jays treated this in an interesting fashion: now, instead of having Mike Stanley trying to play the field, they're supposed to try to goof off with Canseco in left, letting Stanley gratefully go back to DH while Delgado moves into first. Losing Grebeck is solved with available talent: Crespo becomes the team's utility infielder. What's not particularly great about this is sending Evans back down; Sprague's defense has gotten bad enough to draw public comment from beat writers, and Juan Samuel is still clogging one of 13 roster spots for position players. Bringing up Sinclair gives the Jays a third lefty, which seems gratuitous, but given the Jays' struggles in the pen, Tim Johnson may be feeling self-conscious.