April 18, 2010
Placed OF-L Felix Pie on the 15-day DL (strained back); recalled OF-R Lou Montanez from Norfolk (Triple-A). [4/16]
With Roberts out, Pie was getting his chance to play, but now that he's broken down as well, it looks as if the lineup's going to adapt by alternating Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott between left field and DH; Montanez might cadge the odd start in either slot, if Reimold's Achilles tendon acts up, or perhaps if a lefty is on the mound, but it's small beer as such things go.
The more interesting move has been Dave Trembley's decision to slot in Ty Wigginton at second base, perhaps because he's had his fill of Julio Lugo three starts into the experience, but it's more out of sheer desperation for some sort of offense, as the club ranks 13th in the AL and 28th overall in True Average. A spot start for Wiggy produced a two-homer night, and like any man being dragged into a vortex of suck, Trembley's reaching for anything that might work. Wigginton's started every game since.
Nightmare visions of what having Garrett Atkins flanked by Wiggy aside, their experience with Wigginton afield wasn't all that bad last season (per Clay's work and Sean Smith's), but his track record might be politely described as 'uneven,' and his value at the keystone as merely utile. Lugo's hardly a star around the bag, so Trembley's riding the hot hand as a function of absolute, dire need as long as every regular's hitting worse than expected.
Outrighted RHP Ramon A. Ramirez to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [4/16]
Although they've taken the non-RamRam Ramon Ramon Ramirez off the 40-man, they still have the potential threat of tag-teaming the league with two-fisted Ramon Ramirez action. Unfortunately, such combinations don't have long reigns, and sometimes have to resort to foul rather than fair means to enjoy any success. Not that I'm suggesting Ramon A. resort to such, but it might help him stick around.
Designated RHP Roman Colon for assignment; purchased the contract of RHP Josh Rupe. [4/16]
Activated 3B-L Alex Gordon from the 15-day DL; placed 2B-L Chris Getz on the 15-day DL (strained oblique), retroactive to 4/16. [4/17]
Whether Rupe holds the mop or Colon does matters little in the grand scheme of things—someone's going to have to. Maybe this sends a message, but what's the point? For someone like Juan Cruz, a threat to become ex-Royalty is a lot more attractive for him than it used to be. Kyle Farnsworth? They won't be able to stop his checks. What's next, doing the obvious at tempting—well, who?—to claim Luis Mendoza off waivers to “send a message” that the Royals recently noticed their pen isn't all that? You can rank the Royals' bullpen makeover with the Orioles' expenses in the winter of 2007, when they found no relief despite signing up Danys Baez, Jamie Walker, and Chad Bradford.
At least in the infield Gordon's returning to the fold, with Alberto Callaspo bumping back over to second to replace Getz. Eventually, the Royals will have to pick between Callaspo, Getz, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Mike Aviles, but so far, they're doing a great job of avoiding that day.
Optioned RHP Alex Burnett to Rochester (Triple-A); purchased the contract of LHP Ron Mahay from Ft. Myers (High-A). [4/15]
Placed LHP Jose Mijares on the 15-day DL (strained elbow), retroactive to 4/16; recalled RHP Alex Burnett from Rochester. [4/17]
As with Beimel's delayed arrival, Mahay's return to last year's season-ending employer is another interesting symptom of how the free-agent market wasn't going to provide heaps of riches for all equally—the days when a Jamie Walker might be handed $12 million are gone. On the other hand, halfway into April, Mahay's up and sufficiently in shape to help his team—and he signed all of three weeks ago. Not to diminish the importance of spring training, but stuff like this doesn't do much for the argument that you need to sign free agents early, or even in time for camp. Indeed, as long as the market's going to leave useful players available, there's a disincentive to go get anyone beyond a few select targets. There would be repercussions—you could afford to be more aggressive with the Rule 5 draft, for example. Then you'd use the first few weeks to evaluate what you have, decide what your issues are, and beyond having to work out some niggling deal, there might be talent worth signing that can help you in short order. Now, that said, both Beimel and Mahay came back to the clubs they finished with, so they're already somewhat familiar to the club, the skipper, and the staff, so it isn't like they've signed an unknown quantity they need to run through a full orientation. And not every market acts the same way—we may not see so many useful pitchers available in March should players decide they'd prefer early certainty.
As for Mijares, it's been a bad spring in almost every way. A missed flight delayed his arrival in camp, blurred vision afflicted him once there, he was knocked around (for what little can be inferred from that), and now his elbow's aching. Some folks in the Twinsphere voiced concerns at the end of last season that he'd run out of gas, and that a 71-game workload was too much; you can bet that tocsin's beating now. Meanwhile, with Mahay and Brian Duensing, the pen still has a pair of lefties, and if Burnett puts down a marker for sticking around should any of the mainline right-handers flame out, that's hardly an unhappy development.
Placed RHP Chan Ho Park on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled LHP Boone Logan from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A). [4/16]
Park's hurt is supposed to be relatively minor, so it's a two-week absence in a bullpen still stocked with plenty of right-handed relief with Joba Chamberlain doing well and Alfredo Aceves knocking around. However, with David Robertson struggling and optionable, this does represent a two-week opportunity for Logan to restate his case for being kept around to provide the pen with a second lefty. His career splits hardly help his case—the guys he's supposed to get have hit .266/.333/.398 against him, and he's only struck out 22 percent of them for all his speed-gun heroics—but if he finally beats a rap on his coachability, the talent that's garnered him his initial opportunities is still there.
Optioned RHP Esmerling Vasquez to Reno (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Kris Benson from Reno. [4/17]
Benson's anticipated spin as the fifth starter boasted the benefit of being played in Petco, and he managed to eke out a six-inning quality start despite 11 baserunners. That adds up to three QS in eight spins for the non Dan Haren starters, with one apiece from Benson, Edwin Jackson, and Rodrigo Lopez. Add the ace back into the picture, and you get to 5 of 11, still not a happy stat as such things go. While you can hope for better results from Jackson and Ian Kennedy, you can't from Lopez and Benson, which makes the Brandon Webb watch that much more desperate as such exercises go. As for Vasquez, as much as less than two weeks says anything, he hadn't done too badly (two shutout innings in blowouts, one bad inning putting an exclamation point on a loss), but in a pen chock-a-block with veterans of one stripe or another, generally not doing well, the fact that he was optionable outweighed all other considerations. Since, as the good book—the annual, not the good book—notes, he's struggled with finding a good breaking pitch, but guys who throw in the mid-90s tend to get opportunities. Vasquez may be an up-and-down guy for a while, but things will improve.
Placed LHP Jo-Jo Reyes on the 15-day DL (hyperextended knee), retroactive to 4/13; recalled LHP Michael Dunn from Gwinnett (Triple-A). [4/15]
Optioned LHP Michael Dunn to Gwinnett; recalled LHP Jonny Venters from Gwinnett. [4/17]
With Reyes out, Venters was the preferred choice over Dunn all along, but the fact that he'd started on Monday the 12th for Gwinnett meant that he wasn't going to be ready to pitch at the moment they lost Reyes. Dunn got a two-day spin with the big-league team before yo-yo'ing back to Triple-A, and the Braves are back to having a long-relief lefty in the pen. But since Reyes is expected back by the end of the month, even this bit of additional relief will prove transient.
Optioned RHP Esmil Rogers to Colorado Springs (Triple-A); purchased the contract of LHP Joe Beimel from Colorado Springs; transferred RHP Taylor Buchholz from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/16]
Beimel's arrival was going to squeeze somebody, and Rogers should be headed back to a starting role with the Sky Sox, where he'll join Jhoulys Chacin and Sam Deduno among the better prospects. Chaz Roe's there as well, but really needs to show some consistency with his sinker to be taken seriously as a starting prospect. That's a good-sounding group, but in terms of opportunities, they may all be lined up behind journeyman Tim Redding in case any of the current big-league quintet breaks down. So, even with Jeff Francis on the shelf for an unknown duration, they have a nice set of options in terms of depth—say, if Jason Hammel makes a habit of getting hammered, or if Greg Smith struggles with a few right-leaning lineups.
In the meantime, the mildly interesting factoid about the Rox pen is that with Beimel back, it's now employing a pair of lefties in front of a left-handed closer. That's not that remarkable, but it underscores the extent to which Franklin Morales' role is closing, period. With Matt Belisle being the designated middle-innings muncher and Randy Flores their situational southpaw, that gives the Rockies a relatively uncomplicated four-pack of relief options to hand leads off to Morales. I've voiced my doubts about Matt Daley already, but if he continues to fill the bill in the seventh inning and later, points to him and to Jim Tracy. Manny Corpas has been used earlier in-game than Daley, while Rafael Betancourt and Joe Beimel (eventually will presumably be slotted for later, but the quality of the corps in general suggests that Tracy could mix and match as needed.
Outrighted RHP Jose Veras to New Orleans (Triple-A). [4/16]
Outrighted RHP Hayden Penn to Indianapolis (Triple-A). [4/16]
Placed RHP Ross Ohlendorf on the 15-day DL (back spasms), retroactive to 4/12; recalled RHP Dan McCutchen from Indianapolis. [4/17]
The issue with Ohlendorf's back finally forced the club's hand, as they elected to place him on the DL, bring McCutchen back early (as allowed when a DL move's involved), and thanks to Monday's day off, kick to next weekend a decision of who the notional fifth starter might be. They might let Brian Burres get a second turn at that time, but it's more likely that they'll select between Kevin Hart or Chris Jakubauskas—they're already on the 40-man, the game will be in Houston, and as badly off as the Astros may be, tossing a sub-mediocre southpaw like Burres wouldn't be the best possible matchup. The expectation is that Ohlendorf will only miss this next turn, but in the meantime you can credit the organization for making the best of the situation by skipping the slot and keeping their better options on turn every fifth day.
Placed CF-R Aaron Rowand on the 15-day DL (broken cheekbone); recalled INF-R Matt Downs from Fresno (Triple-A). [4/17]
Rowand was hit in the face by an errant Vicente Padilla pitch—with Padilla reportedly contrite, it didn't seem like a purpose pitch—but the setback places the Giants in an awkward situation. Sure, it's a bit unfortunate that they lost Rowand so soon after they'd dealt Fred Lewis to Toronto, but Lewis isn't really a legit center fielder, so the difficult choice of who to use in Rowand's place wouldn't really be that different. Perhaps predictably, they seem to be favoring a platoon of Eugenio Velez and Andres Torres, which gets interesting later, once they face a lefty—which of the lefty-swinging right fielders will get those at-bats, Nate Schierholtz or John Bowker? As for Rowand, the Giants have already commented to the effect that they will not have him wear an additional face guard (a la Terry Steinbach back in the day), but you can be sure that Will Carroll will have the full story on his treatment options. Freddy Sanchez's return doesn't look like it will happen before mid-May, so Downs may stick around for a while, but as long as Juan Uribe keeps hitting reasonably well, he may not get more than a weekly spot start in the meantime, despite the loose platoon possibilities.