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May 1, 1998

Transaction Analysis

April 27-30

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Sold 1B Troy Neel's contract to the Orix Blue Wave (Japanese Leagues). [4/28] Placed RHP Jack McDowell on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/27 (inflamed right elbow); activated INF Craig Shipley from the DL. [4/30]

In Black Jack's absence, Omar Olivares will step into the rotation, and Shigetoshi Hasegawa may finally get some more regular work. The Angels seem to be adding a new twist to Dick Williams' epic disgust for secondbasemen. During his stretch managing the "Other Great Expos Team That Doesn't Get 'If Only the Strike Hadn't Happened' Stories Written About It," Williams from time to time would try to pinch-hit and double-switch to avoid his scrubby collection of secondbasemen. With Shipley, Carlos Garcia, and Paco Martin, they have three interchangeably crummy second sackers, but there isn't roster room to carry two pinch-hitters, not that Terry Collins is Dick Williams in the first place. Sayonara (again) to Troy Neel, who probably would have been the right guy to have around to pinch-hit for your bad second baseman du jour.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Traded OF Chris Jones to San Francisco for LHP Ricky Pickett. [4/27]

Promoted OF David Dellucci from Tucson; optioned RF Karim Garcia to Tucson; placed LHP Joel Adamson on the 15-day DL; recalled LHP Ricky Pickett from Tucson; transferred INF Hanley Frias from the 15- to the on 60-day disabled list; purchased the contract of DH/UT Hensley Meulens from Tucson. [4/27]

Shake it up! The D-backs decide to name a scapegoat (Garcia), and acquire a lefty reliever to back up Omar Daal. That becomes more significant by Tuesday, when the D-backs will have to decide who will take Adamson's slot in the rotation (early favorites are Daal or Clint Sodowsky). As for the rest, a veteran fifth outfielder like Jones isn't what Arizona really needs, so getting Pickett for waiver-fodder is a good move. Pickett ought to be more successful than Brad Pennington was, but he's reliable in a similarly exciting, I'll-sit-behind-the-screen sort of way. As for adding Hensley Meulens, you'd think losing games would enough of a disincentive for Arizona to rebuild Buck Showalter's '89 Eastern League champion Albany Yankees. Who's next? Kevin Mmahat, Mitch Lyden, or Oscar Azocar? Jim Leyritz? In all seriousness, the next D-back from that team will probably be Bernie Williams as a free agent next winter, so maybe it isn't such a bad idea after all...

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Signed RHP Steve Ontiveros to a minor-league contract, and released LHP Vince Horsman from Rochester. [4/30]

Ick. With three of the Red Wings' starters already on the major league roster (Doug Johns, Sidney Ponson, and Nerio Rodriguez), the Orioles were so kind as to help their AAA team by bringing in Onto. As if summers in Rochester didn't already inspire sticky, will-sapping torpor.

BOSTON RED SOX

Assigned LHP Steve Avery to Pawtucket; recalled RHP Robinson Checo from Pawtucket; claimed RHP Pat Flury off waivers from Kansas City, and assigned him to Pawtucket. [4/29]

Moved 2B Jeff Frye from the 15- to the 60-day DL; added RHP Pat Flury to the 40-man roster. [4/30]

At this point, does anyone want to venture a guess as to whether or not Jimy Williams will volunteer to pick up Avery's paycheck after his popularity-contest stunt of giving Avery his incentive-clause-clinching appearance last fall? I didn't think so. Presumably, some sort of clubhouse goodwill is supposed to be the kind of capital that the Sox reaped in for Williams' gesture last September, but Avery didn't earn a return to Boston in the first place. Checo's promotion to the rotation means the Sox get to leave Derek Lowe in the pen as a long reliever, which they've stated a preference for.

CHICAGO CUBS

Activated LHP Bob Patterson from the 15-day DL; optioned OF Matt Mieske to Iowa. [4/27]

This is mound-o-centric malarkey if ever there was some. Patterson gives the Cubs three lefty relievers in a seven-man pen, and no platoon mate for Henry Rodriguez. Adding Henry has been clearly popular, but he doesn't hit lefties. To repeat: he's never hit lefties. The team is griping about how it needs to score more, while carrying three punchless catchers, a fragile Lance Johnson, and Manny Alexander. Moving Mieske after starting him once and letting Rodriguez start against five of the six LH starters the Cubs faced in the first four weeks of the season is just bad baseball.

CINCINNATI REDS

Optioned RHP Danny Graves to Indianapolis. [4/27]

No amount of prying revealed who's coming up to take his place. Mel Nieves? Or will they cut short Casey's rehab assignment?

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed 3B Phil Hiatt to a minor-league contract. [4/28]

In a heavily left-handed lineup, Buffalo needed some right-handed sock.

DETROIT TIGERS

Activated SS Deivi Cruz from the DL; placed UT Bip Roberts on the 15-day DL (inflamed left foot). [4/27]

Activated RHP Frank Castillo from the DL; optioned CF Kim Bartee to Toledo. [4/28]

Placed C Raul Casanova on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/25 (strained abdominal muscle); recalled C Paul Bako from Toledo. [4/29]

Placed 2B/SS Billy Ripken on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/26 (torn muscle - left knee). [4/30]

More running in place for the Tigers; Cruz' glove will certainly help, but it means that one of our favorite guys, Frank Catalanotto, hits the bench, leaving the Tigers worse off offensively with Joe Randa and that grisly catching combo (Bako's no improvement on Casanova), even with the benefit of not having Roberts around for the time being. Castillo takes his rotation slot, but that's always a mixed blessing. The best thing you can say is that at least Andy Tomberlin is getting some playing time, about five or six years too late.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Optioned 1B/OF Ryan Jackson to Charlotte; purchased the contract of RHP Donn Pall from Charlotte, effective Thursday. [4/29]

Designated LHP Gabe Gonzalez for assignment to make room for Pall on the 40-man roster. [4/30]

With the Marlins' starting rotation seemingly in constant danger of having back-to-back games without getting into the third inning, Leyland wanted to bring in a 12th pitcher during the current stretch of a couple of weeks without an off day. The surprise here is that its Pall who's up, and not Oscar Henriquez or Manny Barrios.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned OF Mike Devereaux to Albuquerque. [4/27]

In other words, nobody claimed him on waivers, and he's sensible enough to not declare himself a free agent.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Placed LF Marty Cordova (neck strain) and CF Otis Nixon (surgery to repair broken jaw) on the 15-day DL; recalled CF Chris Latham from Salt Lake and CF Torii Hunter from New Britain (AA). [4/28]

The outfield massacre had been coming for awhile: Cordova's various hurts need to heal, and Nixon wasn't helping the team at all by trying to play through his broken jaw (of course, its dubious how much he'd help when healthy). Latham is a useful player who could eventually fit into a platoon role with Matt Lawton in center, which means more time for Alex Ochoa and Orlando Merced in the outfield. Hunter's failure to develop has so far been one of the organization's big player development disappointments of the '90s, but for now he'll be a good defensive replacement.

NEW YORK METS

Placed LF Bernard Gilkey on the 15-day DL (stress fracture - left elbow); purchased the contract of UT Craig Paquette from Norfolk; transferred C Todd Hundley from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/27]

The Mets' offense is already running on little more than stale Peeps and Valentine's marinara-flecked spluttering, so losing Gilkey for any length of time is a disaster. The ripple effect? Becker and McRae won't get to be spotted to their best platoon advantages as easily, and people like Luis Lopez and Matt Franco are being asked to play some outfield.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Optioned OF Shane Spencer to Columbus; activated INF Luis Sojo from the DL. [4/27]

Even with Chili Davis out, the Yankees are in the strange situation where Strawberry and Raines are actually both healthy at the same time, which with Chad Curtis around means that Spencer wasn't getting playing time, even against LH pitchers. Of course, Homer Bush and Dale Sveum are still both around and not playing, which means Sojo won't do much more than join them in the dugout Pinstriped Glee Club.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Recalled RHP Dave Telgheder from Edmonton; designated RHP Jim Dougherty for assignment. [4/28]

The A's fall back on their third option for the fifth starter slot, as they've had to in each of the previous seasons: Dave Telgheder. Maybe its my easily inspired sense of imagination. Maybe only I shudder each time it happens. But the surrender that Telgheder represents, the agony of having to hand him a job every couple of months, is the surface ripple of the organization's deep problems with their minor league pitching prospects. Whether its Willie Adams or Kirk Dressendorfer or Andrew Lorraine or Bret Wagner or Ariel Prieto, no matter what glimmering possibility seems to hold promise, we keep coming back to Dave Telgheder. You can't kill him, you can't hide from him. He's the uninvited guest who chains himself to your couch. His agent certainly earned his cut by getting his client into the right organization as a minor league free agent.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Purchased the contract of RHP Tony Runion from the Sioux Falls Canaries of the Northern League. [4/28]

Optioned 3B Fredi Garcia to Nashville; purchased the contract of INF Chance Sanford from Nashville. [4/30]

Garcia's screwed, pure and simple. At Nashville, he won't get to play third ahead of Aramis Ramirez or left ahead of Chad Hermansen or first ahead of Ron Wright. He's going to DH, and pray that somebody claims him when the Pirates add somebody (Hermansen) to the 40-man roster. Sanford is an interesting player: a 25 year-old organizational soldier (he's in his seventh year with the Pirates) with some patience, a touch of extra-base power, and he's a lefty batter who can play second, short or third. On the downside, he's a wild swinger, and he isn't really that much of an offensive threat to keep a job at third. However, with the execrable Womack at second, and with Collier and Polcovich struggling mightily at short, he has the opportunity to play his way into semi-regular work all around the infield, pending Aramis Ramirez' promotion by the end of the season.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Activated C Tom Pagnozzi from the DL; optioned RHP Manny Aybar to Memphis. [4/28]

Aybar has been terrible, so moving him out of the rotation isn't the worst thing, even if it means that they're going to try to use Petkovsek as the fifth starter until Alan Benes or Matt Morris return. But what is LaRussa going to do with three catchers? Probably pinch-hit more agressively, and with Ray Lankford healing up, he'll have McGee and Mabry to use in that capacity more freely.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Traded LHP Ricky Pickett to Arizona for OF Chris Jones; option 1B Jeff Ball to Fresno. [4/27]

Signed 2B Jeff Kent to a three-year contract extension with a club option for '02. [4/30]

Pickett wasn't getting an opportunity with the Giants, and apparently they felt they needed a veteran RH bat on the bench instead of Ball; with Charlie Hayes and Alex Diaz around, this is an experienced bad bench, which means I guess we can all take comfort that in the end, it'll all get blamed on Barry Bonds. Some people may feel good about the Kent signing, but let's pretend that he'll still be a useful offensive player two or three years from now. Will he still even be able to play second?

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Claimed RHP Julio Santana off waivers from Texas; transferred LHP Terrell Wade from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/27]

Optioned RHP Eddie Gaillard to Durham. [4/28]

It came down to Gaillard vs. Carlson to make room for Santana, and Carlson's ability to pitch long relief mattered more than his lousy April. If the Rays are smart, they'll restrict Santana's use in the same way Davey Johnson hid Mike Johnson for four months last season. It means you're effectively going with a 24-man roster while educating a prospect, but I don't see why they can't make it work. Rothschild avoids using his bench like he has to pay out of pocket for each player he uses in-game, and Santana may learn how to harness his great stuff from Rothschild. That's probably a better use of your last roster spot than that sixth right-handed reliever.

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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