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May 11, 2010

Transaction Action

25th Man Tweaks

by Christina Kahrl

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LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned RHP Matt Palmer to Salt Lake (Triple-A); purchased the contract of OF-L Michael Ryan from Salt Lake; designated RHP Fernando Rodriguez for assignment. [5/7]
Placed INF-S Maicer Izturis on the 15-day DL (shoulder), retroactive to 5/6; recalled INF-R Kevin Frandsen from Salt Lake. [5/8]
Optioned 1B/OF-R Robb Quinlan to Salt Lake; recalled RHP Trevor Bell from Salt Lake. [5/10]

Welcome to the reasons why grabbing Frandsen off waivers made sense, because now with Izturis disabled and Brandon Wood still trying, flailing, and failing to reach the seemingly impossible goal of a .200 OBP, the Angels need infield alternatives, and Quinlan's ability to contribute at third base seems to be lost to the vicissitudes of age. Making room for Ryan makes for a nice change to add a lefty bat with some sock in it-not a lot, of course, but the former Randy Bush wannabe has knocked around through the Braves, Pirates, and Marlins organizations (and the Atlantic League) since splitting from the Twins after 2005. His best feature's a career .176 ISO in the minors, so he's not the next Matt Stairs as much as a contact hitter with line-drive power, and that's tactically useful with Wood and the catchers in particular being non-producers you can certainly pinch-hit for. Add in concerns with Torii Hunter's health, and an additional outfielder was a necessary addition.

Similarly, effectively swapping out Palmer to bring in Bell as the last man on the staff seems like an effective adaptation to their predicament in the bullpen, where they've gotten good work from just half of their set sextet. As long as Brian Fuentes and Scot Shields struggle to live up to their past performances, you can understand Mike Scioscia's quick hooks, while Brian Stokes is looking like a waste of roster space, whatever the benefit was of getting a beard to try and dress up the Little Sarge dump. Since the rotation's two lefties, Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir, have both struggled to get through five innings in their turns, having a long-relief right-hander around makes sense, and while Bell's not a top prospect, he might slot into the back end of a rotation someday, and certainly has value as a swingman in a situation such as this. Keep in mind, Palmer was just a journeyman utility pitcher who, thanks to last season's Aaron Small-like good run in the W column, got some benefit of the doubt-but understandably not a lot of it, given his middling track record.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed LHP Alam Embree to a minor-league contract, and assigned him to Charlotte (Triple-A). [5/11]

With the addition of Embree, Randy Williams has cause for concern about his job security. He's a second-rank southpaw struggling in situational scenarios, but the broader concern for the Sox is the failure of so many of their key relievers, with Bobby Jenks, J.J. Putz, and Scott Linebrink all making decent coin while failing to produce. Eventually, an example will be made, but who, and when? It's enough to make you wonder if the Cubs wouldn't pick up the phone in their quest for right-handed relief help, but cross-town swaps are rare as-is. Still, the idea of seeing the Human Barrel moving to the North Side and pitching against the Sox in June has its obvious dramatic implications, whatever the extensive improbabilities.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Justin Duchscherer on the 15-day DL (hip), retroactive to 4/30; recalled RHP Edwar Ramirez from Sacramento (Triple-A). [5/7]

Having a day off yesterday means that the schedule's collaborating with a rehab schedule aimed at putting Duke back into the rotation on Saturday, meaning that he would have missed just a single turn. If Duchscherer's hip cooperates, it'll be a nice reminder that you need a five-man rotation less than you can simply maintain a five-day rotation, where you can keep everyone active in their regular turns, and buy back the roster spot to use otherwise, as the A's have here.

All very neat and sensible, right? Sure, but does the team really need nine relievers? Unfortunately, even with the DL move allowing them to bring infielder Steve Tolleson back inside of 10 days, they were essentially left with a choice between Tolleson or nobody from among the position players on the 40-man, because the only other healthy option was top prospect Chris Carter, who shouldn't be brought up from Sacramento to sit; Matt Carson's on the seven-day DL in Sacramento, so he wasn't available. Reinforcements are on the way; while Travis Buck's rehab still hasn't involved any game action yet, Kurt Suzuki should be back later this week, and Mark Ellis not too long after that. There is the question of whether they'll just swap out Landon Powell or Josh Donaldson for Suzuki, leaving that nine-man pen in place perhaps until the weekend, but we'll see. As for other options for creating space on the 40-man, Coco Crisp figures to beat the 60-day window and be ready to play by month's end, so they can't create a spot by transferring him, and if Ellis' activation replaces a pitcher even if the catching reshuffle might not, anybody they added to the 40-man now might only be around for a few days.


COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed OF-L Carlos Gonzalez on the Bereavement Leave List. [5/9]
Activated RF-L Brad Hawpe from the 15-day DL. [5/10]

Despite Hawpe's return, CarGo's departure due to a death in the family creates the temporary continuance of Seth Smith's starts in left field, but even those have been crimped by Jim Tracy's increasing fascination with Eric Young Jr. Once CarGo returns, we'll have the real reckoning as far as who loses starts and playing time. Even though he can play second as well as the outfield-and Clint Barmes is doing the most to lose his job in the early going-Young seems the most likely send-down. However, Smith isn't getting on base, while Dexter Fowler could lose a few more starts in center to Gonzalez than his current 80 percent clip if his batting doesn't pick up any. It's still a nice problem to have, but even with the six relievers not named Franklin Morales pitching effectively, an injury-depleted pitching staff is probably the last unit to buy back a roster slot from to add a body to the outfield crowd. To some extent, the decision to carry Melvin Mora as an infield reserve reinforces Barmes' role on the roster, because Barmes is the team's backup shortstop, and with Troy Tulowitzki hurting, it isn't like they'd forgo either Barmes or Mora. Since they're also carrying and playing Jason Giambi, as useful as Young might be, he seems to be out of luck.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Charlie Haeger on the 15-day DL (plantar fasciitis); recalled RHP Jon Ely from Albuquerque (Triple-A). [5/10]

As expected, the Dodgers made this change, and since it required a DL move to get Ely back on the roster inside of 10 days (and directly back into the rotation, since one good turn deserves another, apparently), it's terribly convenient that Haeger's come up with one, which might also go a long way towards explaining the knuckleballer's struggles.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated RHP Ross Ohlendorf from the 15-day DL; designated RHP Brian Bass for assignment. [5/10]

In this latest bit of incremental improvement, at long last Ohlendorf moved back into the rotation, bumping the eminently bump-worth Jeff Karstens into the pen in Bass's place, and leaving journeyman Brian Burres in the fifth slot for the time being as a reward for his pair of scoreless high-wire acts in his last two turns. Given that we're talking about the relative merits of Karstens and Burres, and the Pirates have Charlie Morton in the rotation with one quality start and counting, it isn't like any of this is set in cement, or should be. If Morton keeps his grip on his slot by delivering something better than a disasterpiece every fifth day, they could live up to their past demonstrated willingness to experiment with player usage patterns and lineup cards and play mix-and-match with Karstens and Burres in that last slot. Then again, Karstens' career splits hardly suggest that he's worth spotting against right-leaning lineups in particular, and Burres' shut-down of the heavily right-handed Cubs doesn't automatically take them down this particular road.


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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