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May 24, 2010

Transaction Action

Easterlings

by Christina Kahrl

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BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned LHP Alberto Castillo to Norfolk (Triple-A); purchased the contract of INF-L Scott Moore from Norfolk; designated 2B-R Justin Turner for assignment. [5/21]

I keep wondering if Moore's finally going to catch a break and become sort of the poor man's Keith Lockhart, because the former top Tigers prospect has had to deal with two injury-marred years waiting for his chance to live up to his former billing. Not being in a position to rely on him for much, after receiving him in the Steve Trachsel trade of 2007 that still has Cubs fans asking "why," the Orioles slowly converted Moore into a utility player of sorts, challenging him with chores at shortstop, second, and some outfield. Despite those sorts of distractions, Moore's rebounded this season, hitting .276/.324/.463 overall but .291/.336/.505 against right-handed pitching. While he is only in his age-26 season despite the setbacks, I wouldn't want to suggest that he's the new John Lowenstein waiting to happen, just that he could be a nice seven-position utility player with some lefty pop, not exactly a common asset.


BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated OF-S Jacoby Ellsbury from the 15-day DL; designated OF-L Jonathan Van Every for assignment. [5/22]
Optioned SS-R Angel Sanchez to Pawtucket; recalled RHP Scott Atchison from Pawtucket. [5/24]

No surprises here, as the Sox get back to 12 pitchers once they got the nuisance of a dose of interleague play on the road out of their system. With Tuesday's anticipated activation of Mike Cameron, there's already talk about how Cameron may not play center regularly, but with Ellsbury spotting in the slot over the weekend, it's fairly obvious how they'd handle the situation. What it also suggests is that Darnell McDonald isn't going to survive the move, because the club's already employing Bill Hall and Mike Lowell to be right-handed ex-famous people, and there are only so many of those allowed before you run up against EEOC standards.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Designated LHP Dana Eveland for assignment; recalled LHP David Purcey from Las Vegas (Triple-A). [5/24]

When you're a frequent-flyer on the wire, the last thing you want to do early on in a season with your new employer is allow 19 runs and 33 baserunners in three starts and less than 10 total innings pitched. You especially do not want to do this when your new employer has lots of people who can, if not perform well, can at least probably top that, even if they are named Purcey. And when you're new employer has a pair of starting pitchers nearing their returns from the DL-as the Jays have with Jesse Litsch and Brian Tallet on the mend and likely to return to action in June-well, friend, you're just screwed. Add in the fact that the Jays have the next two Thursdays off plus June 7, the way the schedule flops they could actually get away with using their fifth starter just three times in the entire month: on June 1, June 12, and June 26.

So sure, given all of that, Alex Anthopolous and Cito Gaston decided to go for the extra reliever now, and see if Eveland's still on the menu should he make it through waivers later. (Not an unlikely fate, that last bit, although I suppose there's always interest in Eveland.) Given the very swing-y nature of the way the Jays' fifth slot could be employed, with the front four getting their turns on regular rest, it'll be interesting to see if they pick that or just slot in the fifth man for every fifth game. On the other hand, looking at the four starters left standing, it isn't like Brandon Morrow's doing that well with four quality starts in nine and a .374 SNWP, so he could very well wind up being bounced into that skippable fifth slot if the Jays decide to load up and keep Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, and Brett Cecil on regular rest. Given that the Jays are doing some damage to other teams' ambitions in the East these days, it'll be interesting to see how they handle this.

As for Purcey, it's possible that he'll be able to stick as a situational lefty this time around; his splits with Vegas were all sorts of happy (.188/.216/.188, but in just 19 PAs), while he's still more than wild enough to put more than 20 percent of opposing right-handers on first base with a free pass. Still, lefties who throw in the mid-90s don't grow on trees, so even though the Jays have gotten good results from Scott Downs in the key set-up role and from Rommie Lewis in low-leverage mid-game work, it can't hurt to take a look at Purcey at present.


ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned RHP Craig Kimbrel to Gwinnett (Triple-A); recalled RHP Cristhian Martinez from Gwinnett. [5/22]

During his brief, four-game stint Kimbrel faced 18 major-league batters; he walked six of them. Now, what with this being the Bobby Cox send-off tour and all that, why would you want to put the old man's ticker through the sort of thing that would have Jim Leyland going through a cig per pitch, have Tony La Russa doing laps around the dugout, or drive Bobby Valentine to snorting nutmeg? So, it's a mercy move to ship the hard-throwing kid out of sight, and stick the Braves with the fungible ex-Fish as the designated 25th person of the moment.


NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP John Maine on the 15-day DL (shoulder weakness); purchased the contract of RHP Elmer Dessens from Buffalo (Triple-A); transferred RHP Kelvim Escobar from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/21]
Activated RHP Ryota Igarashi from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Manny Acosta to Buffalo. [5/23]
Activated 1B/OF-L Daniel Murphy from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to Buffalo. [5/24]

Maine's latest sinking is cause for the usual overly dramatic consternation and despair, but let's face it, his day in the sun was something like that of Jim Beattie or Bruce Berenyi-sure, he can be a decent rotation regular for a few years, but let's not get totally carried away with what he was or what has been lost. His SNWPs in his first three years went from a partial-season .531 in 2006 to .544 in 2007 to .501 in 2008 to last year's .494. To put things in perspective, he never scaled the heights achieved by the immortal Jae Seo.

Maine remains the gift horse received for dumping Benson-Kris and Anna, not Du Bois and Gretchen Kraus-before the 2006 season, so let's face it, the thing had teeth, but those are bound to fall out eventually. At $3.3 million plus incentives, his compensation's relatively cheap for a fifth-year veteran, so it isn't even like his absence if financially crippling-if things don't get turned around this season, non-tendering should come onto the table. If they can fix him, that's great, but if not, let's remember that his importance was magnified because of the breakdowns of so many more famous people over the years.

The fact that Omar Minaya's replacing him and Oliver Perez with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi and suffering little in the way of immediate ill effects reflects how ghastly Maine had been-even more that Ollie. This says a lot about the Mets' elective decision-making when it comes to stocking a staff, as big money has gone to luxury items like K-Rod and Perez, but they're once again stuck hoping that filler guys like Takahashi or Dickey, or waiver bait like Fernando Nieve or Acosta can fill their needs. That they've been able to get by as much as they have just makes the big-ticket moves that much more lamentable.

On a happier note, Murphy's activation and demotion seems to be designed to give him a chance to rebuild his career in a utility role. This sounds like a great decision to me-he's been given tastes of action at second and third base in years past, he's got experience at left and first base, and if his bat's a little light for the latter slots, it's an asset if you make him your ninth regular in the National League. There's considerable value in forseeing his being a left-handed version of Fernando Tatis, someone who keeps you well-stocked with pinch-hitting as well as in-game options, with spot starters during series or sub-DL-level injuries in terms of weekly operations, and as outright replacements in case of significant injuries at any corner. It's not his fault he was miscast as a first-choice option as a left fielder or first baseman, and his failures in both instances do not undermine his continuing value to the organization as a position player.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted INF-R Wilson Valdez to Lehigh Valley (Triple-A). [5/21]
Returned SS-S Jimmy Rollins to the 15-day DL (strained calf); repurchased the contract of INF-R Wilson Valdez from Lehigh Valley. [5/22]
Activated C-L Brian Schneider from the 15-day DL; designated C-R Paul Hoover for assignment. [5/24]

We've been here before, but the good news in Rollins' case this time around is that he's supposed to just be out the two weeks this time around. It's great if you want to see the four-team pack behind the Phillies all harbor some hope and faith as the calendar flips to June, but with a relatively strong top-to-bottom order outside of the non-short slots, the Phillies shouldn't struggle too terribly on offense in his renewed absence.


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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