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May 12, 2010

Transaction Action

Classics Abuse

by Christina Kahrl

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MINNESOTA TWINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed SS-R J.J. Hardy on the 15-day DL (wrist), retroactive to 5/5; recalled INF-S Matt Tolbert from Rochester (Triple-A). [5/11]

It's in one Norse saga or another, where you've got the proud scions of an established line of local chieftains, neatly squared away in a beautiful new hall set up for maximum ale-quaffing and entertainments, and in such a sunny scenario, isn't it always the case where some ancient cursed beastie or another has to show up and spoil things somehow? Not that I expect Crispin Glover's been shrieking and stomping his way into the Twins' clubhouse with a need to munch up the odd Crede or Hardy, but just as previous iterations of the Twins had to suffer the loss of starting infielders, so too does this year's version have to deal with the apparently reliable monster-dodging dodginess of Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, and Alexi Casilla (trying his hand at playing shortstop again), and now the immortal Tolbert as well. No doubt Tolbert will once again wield his Buntmaster 3000 whenever he's allowed to step in against the foemen of Hrothgar-or the Pohlads, as you see fit.

In Hardy's absence, I actually like the decision to give Casilla a spin at shortstop, if only because he'll either pan out as a utilityman or not pan out at all, and if he can't handle short, it's going to be the latter fate for him. And since Hardy looks like he'll be back in action in the minimum amount of time, the threat of Tolbert time will be blessedly brief. None of which will provide an antidote to too much Nick Punto at third base, but that's a poison chalice from which the Twinkies can't seem to drink deeply enough.


NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned OF-R Greg Golson to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); recalled RHP Romulo Sanchez from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/7]
Placed 1B-L Nick Johnson on the 15-day DL (wrist); recalled INF-R Kevin Russo from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/8]
Optioned RHP Romulo Sanchez to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; recalled RHP Ivan Nova from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/10]
Placed RHP Alfredo Aceves on the 15-day DL (lower back), retroactive to 5/9; recalled OF-R Greg Golson from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/12]

Ah, the relative virtues of waiting on actual, recorded actions versus risking a prematurely ejaculated tweet-and yes, let's leave for another day any thoughts on what the past participles of tweeting might be. So no, with Nick the Stick broken again, Juan Miranda is not up, and no, he is not the Yankees' DH of the moment, or yesterday, or necessarily tomorrow. Instead, the pride of Northwestern is going the collegial route and designating a DH du jour, having spotted Robinson Cano, Marcus Thames, Jorge Posada, and Alex Rodriguez through the lineup slot already, and using the absence of a regular DH to feed additional playing time to Ramiro Pena and Francisco Cervelli (and Thames too).

Is that really such a good idea? It's a way to keep the benchies fresh, of course, and it gives lineup regulars partial days off. Those are nice things to do if you're talking about a temporary fix and a temporary absence. That's probably not the scenario the Yankees are in, however. Losing Johnson until the end of the month-at least, given his horrendous track record-on top of losing Curtis Granderson makes this a situation where courtesy starts for Ramiro Pena in a lineup already stuck with Randy Winn shouldn't fly. And no, Greg Golson is not an answer, at least not to a question you need to ask.

Instead, sorting out who should be the Yankees' DH really ought to involve someone like Miranda now, and perhaps Jesus Montero eventually. Montero's future still seems to be someplace other than behind the plate, but he's not hitting much in Scranton; it's understandable to not want to advance his timetable any until his bat starts setting the clock. With Miranda, there is no such consideration: the 27ish-year-old Cuban defector's already on the 40-man, and the poor serf's now in his third spin in Scranton-I'm sure it's a nice enough place, but it's probably not the paradise you defect from Castroland to achieve. Given his (questionable) age, Miranda has no future outside if not one in the present, and he's a nice enough patch in that he has lefty power and some patience.

Instead, the virtue of disposability at the back end of the roster has allowed the Yankees to adopt a fire-and-forget attitude towards something as basic as stocking the lineup. His first time around, Golson was around for a lone ballgame. Romulo's lone long-relief gig on Sunday guaranteed his getting shipped out, because he was going to need time off after 3 2/3 IP, and why keep that around when he can do it on Scranton's time? Robinson Cano's knee was enough of an issue to get Russo up, but is having an extra infield body around for garbage time in blowouts necessary when you're already using Ramiro Pena, and when you don't have a good answer for who your DH is that doesn't involve playing Ramiro Pena? What's the point of carrying the speedy Golson if you pinch-run with Russo instead, as they did in the day game in today's doubleheader? Down two lineup regulars, it would be good to see the Yankees treat their predicament a bit more proactively, instead of lurching into a conglomeration of guys they're not even sure what to do with.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed CF-R Carlos Gomez on the 15-day DL (strained rotator cuff), retroactive to 5/6; purchased the contract of OF-L Adam Stern from Nashville (Triple-A). [5/11]

Gomez was doing moderately good work in part-time play, having lost a chunk of the playing time in center to an undead Jim Edmonds. Beyond enjoying the benefits of seeing Zombie Edmonds, it's easy to overstate Gomez's comeback-this early, you get to make observations like "half of his extra-base hits on the season have come in four games against the Pirates," so it would be rash to do much more than note he's hitting for slightly better pop, he's still not running all that well despite going six-for-six on his stolen-base attempts (getting picked off once and doing badly advancing on hits or outs take him down several pegs), and there's little consensus about his defensive value across various metrics. For all that, it has been a promising new beginning for him, so we'll see how quickly he comes back.

In his place, you might consider Stern to be either a reliably unlucky journeyman or a fortunate minor-league veteran. Now 30 and five years removed from when the Red Sox fished him out of the Braves organization via Rule 5, the Canadian has bounced around, moving from the Sox to the Orioles to the Brewers' organization last season, and seen his few opportunities handicapped by a variety of injuries. If he's lost a step in center, he's kept a good chunk of the baserunning speed that made him an oxymoronic "fifth outfield prospect." With a career walk rate barely above seven percent and a career ISO a few ticks above .100, he's biggest brag-worthy benefit is stealing bases at a 75 percent clip in the minors.

Adding Stern helps perpetuate the left-ward lean of the Brewers' bench-now that Edmonds is the starting center fielder and Gomez is out of the picture, all five of the Brew Crew's reserves bat from the left side. That's not a bad thing for a team whose regular lineup otherwise features six right-handed bats, Prince Fielder, and Gregg Zaun, and Ken Macha's been flexible, using Craig Counsell as a regularly used spot starter for Alcides Escobar and Casey McGehee in the infield, Edmonds in center or right, and using George Kottaras readily enough behind the plate. That's left Joe Inglett and Jody Gerut primarily marooned in pinch-hitting roles, but now that Edmonds is playing daily in center, it'll be interesting if Gerut gets bumped up into the role of spotting for Corey Hart in right with anything like the same frequency.


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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