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May 28, 2010

Transaction Action

Feeling Granderson

by Christina Kahrl

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LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed INF-R Brandon Wood on the 15-day DL (strained hip flexor); activated INF-S Maicer Izturis from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Bobby Cassevah to Salt Lake (Triple-A); recalled RHP Francisco Rodriguez from Salt Lake. [5/25]

Whatever the severity of the injury to Wood—physically or as a matter of his perhaps understandably banged-up morale after seven weeks of big-league failure—to some extent being able to place him on the DL is a godsend. Since the former top prospect is out of options, this sort of event is the only way he'd be able to go get some “rehab” playing time in the reassuring environment of Salt Lake, where you find safeties and Mormons in near-equal numbers. Maybe that will help him recover his power stroke, and maybe his power stroke's a PCL fiction—certainly comparison to Matt Williams are deader'n Elvis, and hoping for just a Russ Davis or Mike Blowers type of career is starting to sound aggressively optimistic. In his absence, the Halos have gotten the benefit of Izturis reaching base and Kevin Frandsen hitting for his professional survival, but just about anything would be improvement on Wood's horrific, MLB-worst .108 TAv and -12.2 RARP, not to mention his plating just 6.3 percent of runners on base.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHPs Koji Uehara (strained elbow, retroactive to 5/20) and Alfredo Simon (strained hamstring, retroactive to 5/24) on the 15-day DL; recalled LHP Alberto Castillo from Norfolk (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Frank Mata from Norfolk; transferred LHP Mike Gonzalez from the 15- to the 60-day DL; noted the loss of 2B-R Justin Turner to the Mets on a waiver claim. [5/25]

We'll see how long Uehara's gone, but given that he was recognized as a fragile import from the moment they brought him over, and this latest breakdown looks like he's another one of the mid-market mediocrities imported because he's exotic and foreign and—like Yasuhiko Yabuta or Keiichi Yabu or Masahide Kobayashi or Masao Kida. In short, imported and successful are no more synonymous for Japanese pros than they are with Cuban emigrés or Chinese dog food. That the Orioles have spent $10 million to get their first Japanese-born ballplayer and gotten all of a dozen starts last season, only to rediscover that he's fragile, then give him a spin in relief this season, and re-rediscover that he's fragile, what's the takeaway from that? For what little good it has done them, it effectively leaves the organization in the position of trying to portray this as a first foray into the Far East: expensive as start-ups tend to be, and mostly symbolic, like a few too many of their free-agent signings. Having paid a premium to show that they're interested in the Far East in a 'me-too' sort of way not unlike Austria-Hungary's a century ago, we'll see if they receive any actual dividends, or if this just represents the same sort of wasted effort a few too many of the imports turn out to be.

In the meantime, with Simon's latest breakdown robbing the nest of its latest preferred closing-type guy dedicated to the protection of their rare save opportunities, no doubt somebody's desperate to know who might get saves. The situational twins comprising Will Ohman and Cla Meredith might be their best choices, but the ghastliness of the situation has been highlighted in recent action by the employment of Mark Hendrickson in what few high-leverage situations the Orioles have arrived at. Given that his chief uses are the consumption of (extra) space and (unimportant) time, and he generally struggles in even those extra unimportant situations with bad ballclubs, you know how well that's going to turn out.

But do they have alternatives? I'd have hoped a gigantic hard thrower like Kam Mickolio might have been the guy to go to in this situation, but he's still struggling with the strike zone for the Tides. I don't see the harm in leaving Ohman and Meredith in the set-up roles they're experienced at—why not leave them in place and try some of the other pieces, just as they recycled Simon? Once upon a time, Mata was a short and string Venezuelan teen with mid-90s heat coming up in the Twins' organization. Now, a few elbow problems and a missed 2005 season later, he's 26 and more than a bit on the bulkier side—nearly 70 pounds heavier than his listed weight before the injuries—and throwing slightly slower, but he's still in the low 90s and mixing in an interesting slider and a show-me changeup. Coming over to the O's this past winter, he'd done good work in Norfolk, eating right-handers up at a .133/.204/.178 clip, but putting lefties aboard at a .406 clip by allowing them to hit .296 with literally no power, all en route to notching eight saves in 10 attempts in the early going.

For the time being, I'd argue that it would be better for Dave Trembley to forgo naming anybody the closer, and just focus on using what he's got to try and win a few ballgames. If that lands him in a de facto bullpen-by-committee—without announcing it, because what else would folks on the beat in Baltimore have to get worked up over this summer?—what's the harm in that?


BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated CF-R Mike Cameron from the 15-day DL; designated RHP Scott Atchison for assignment. [5/24]
Outrighted OF-L Jonathan Van Every to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [5/26]
Returned OF-L Jacoby Ellsbury to the 15-day DL (ribs), retroactive to 5/24; recalled RHP Scott Atchison from Pawtucket. [5/28]

I don't know what's more silly, the speed with which people race to re-fire the non-controversy over whether or not Mike Cameron's going to play in a corner—three games back, and it hasn't happened yet—or the fact that this is the second time they've gotten all worked up on this subject. As for Ellsbury, I spoke my piece on that particular subject yesterday, and voila, he's now back among the fully broken within 24 hours of trying to give the Red Sox the benefit of the doubt. In his absence, you can expect plenty more of Jeremy Hermida starting against right-handers, and Bill Hall or Darnell McDonald starting in left against lefties and spotting for Cameron, and Cameron in center field on the days they elect to start him. The fact that they're batting Cameron at the bottom of the order when they do start him seems a pretty clear indication of their desire to not overwork him, so why do something like fling him at the feet of the Monster against the Royals this weekend? Grins and giggles?


DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated UT-S Carlos Guillen from the 15-day DL; optioned INF-R Danny Worth to Toledo (Triple-A). [5/28]

So, tonight the experiment begins, and we'll see how much damage it does to the pitching staffs of both teams involved in any Detroit contest—the opposition, as they face what will be a stronger lineup, or the Tigers', as they deal with the inevitable problems created by Guillen's questionable utility at the keystone. As is, this represents an interesting adaptation because one the one hand the Tigers rank among the AL's better offensive ballclubs, knotted at fourth for team-wide True Average with the Blue Jays.

Not unlike the Jays, the Tigers' performance has depended on what we might politely refer to as unusual developments: Brennan Boesch slugging .600, for instance, or Austin Jackson's .466 BABIP, or Ramon Santiago's OBP north of .360. These are facts, and they're in the books. They're also passing fancies, so while they can hope that Magglio Ordonez keeps socking and can count on Miguel Cabrera, this is an offense that's going to lose ground unless it improves upon initial failures—like Scott Sizemore's at second. Adding Guillen back and effectively trading Boesch's bat for Sizemore's is certainly an offensive upgrade, but we'll see how long the Kitties can afford to be nipped by the inevitable defensive hit. If Sizemore pushes his way back into the picture, it's interesting to wonder whether they might revisit playing Guillen at third, another possible offensive upgrade that would properly reduce Brandon Inge to the things he's good at: defensive replacement and lefty masher.


NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed RHP Chad Gaudin to a one-year contract, and activated him; optioned LHP Boone Logan to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); designated RHP Shane Lindsay for assignment. [5/26]
Activated CF-L Curtis Granderson from the 15-day DL; designated OF-S Randy Winn for assignment. [5/28]

Conveniently enough, Granderson's back in good time. The club had gone 13-11 in his absence, but you can't put that on Granderson alone, not with Nick Johnson and Jorge Posada both joining him in the ranks of the disabled as May slowly became history, and with Nick Swisher also fending off his own issues. Yet for all that, it's important to remember this remains the strongest lineup in the AL, with Juan Miranda and Marcus Thames capable of adding runs from the DH slot. For those of you keeping score at home, Granderson played in five rehab games, almost as many by himself as the quartet of the reinjured—Crisp, Renteria, Ellsbury, and Rollins—made combined before their reactivations and reinjuries in the last week or so. If Granderson avoids reinjury, let's score one for conservativism and patience. From the Yankees, while owned by people named Steinbrenner. Truly, the world has changed.

Meanwhile, the decision to release Winn reflects how little harm he was going to be allowed to do. It isn't like the mere $1.1 million spent on seeing if he had anything left as a fourth outfielder was an expense only the preponderant wealth of the Bombers could afford. They spent a modest amount, found he was done, and dispensed with him as soon as they happened upon sufficient reason to do so. You can argue that what their wealth affords them is the opportunity to go shopping, and maybe that's so; me, I'd say that the lesson here is that modest sums spent on declining assets should not be seen as anchors that keep you from casting them off. If they were looking for that Barton Fink feeling, they can just as easily get it from Greg Golson as Randy Winn.

To think on it, Gaudin's been on playoff teams in three of the last four years, and he joined playoff-bound ballclubs in both 2008 and 2009. So naturally, when he gets released—having earned it—what happens? He lands on the Yankees, of course, like some latter-day, poor man's version of Ralph Terry, ping-ponging from the Yankees to the A's to the Yankees in some sort of echo from the hateful days of Arnold Johnson. Johnson's days of owning the A's in Kansas City—and being the sotto voce business partner of the Yankees through a number of syndicalist swindles that made such a mockery of competitive balance in the '50s—made him a remarkable bit of performance art, showing how you could take franchise ownership and reduce it to sock-puppetry. Later, when Czar Bud decided to execute his own perversion of competitive balance by making the Expos/Nats the wards of his 28 co-conspirators, there was the benefit of at least doing so for the benefit of all, instead of one; he also politely dispensed with the actual sock puppet, characteristically leaving naked the nature of the thing, just as he had in taking on the role of owner and Commissioner. Don't knock such things—it beats the fictions of the great game of the '50s, or the so-called independence of the likes of Bowie Kuhn.

Ah, but I digress from a little thing to the greater themes that it reminds me of. The reunion of the le grand Gaudin and the Pinstriped Menace seems like a nice enough reacquaintance as such things go, albeit a bit of redundancy given they're already employing Sergio Mitre to play human innings sponge. Of course, reaching for a handy dose of familiarity might be necessary. This new guy, Park, has given up runs in every single outing since his reactivation, and who does he think he is, George Frazier?


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Returned CF-S Coco Crisp to the 15-day DL (strained intercostal muscle), retroactive to 5/23; recalled C-S Landon Powell from Sacramento (Triple-A). [5/26]

I sort of dealt with Crisp yesterday in my comments on the Giants' speedy re-DL move with Edgar Renteria, because it was one of a group. Absent their temp in center, the A's will go back to using Rajai Davis in the position his bat can be better carried at, so there's that. As far as who will get the resultant at-bats in left field, it's the usual suspects and the usual choices: Gabe Gross, or Adam Rosales, or Eric Patterson, and maybe even a bit of Jake Fox now that they've used this latest injury as cause again to re-add their actual backup backstop to the active roster.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

Related Content:  A's,  The Who,  Triple-A,  Scott Atchison

12 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

J Scott

"Truly, the world has changed." No, really, it hasn't changed. The Yankees have been relentlessly conservative and relentlessly patient with their players returning from injury. If you have examples of the Yankees "rushing" players back from injury which, arguably, led to their being re-injured...feel free to list those. That you could put this out there, without support, as though it's the "conventional wisdom" throughout baseball...puzzling.

Where is this coming from?

May 29, 2010 11:50 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Apparently my off-the-cuff irony wasn't sufficiently ferrous. I find the contrast between "smart" teams like the Red Sox and how they handled Ellsbury compared to the once infamously impatient Yankees (as in, back in the '70s or '80s) and their handling of Granderson what we might call an interesting contrast. The Yankees simply don't seem to get enough credit for their day-to-day operations these days.

May 31, 2010 11:31 AM
 
Tony Mollica

Sweet Elvis line Christina!

May 31, 2010 15:36 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Superpowers have a way of dabbling in "me-too" operations. Austria-Hungary was a superpower. Baltimore, currently, is not.

May 31, 2010 17:56 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

I suppose that depends on what definition of 'superpower' you use. By current definitions, Austria-Hungary did not have global power projection; it couldn't necessarily project power through the Adriatic or, as events proved, even the Balkans. By more then-contemporary definitions, I don't think they satisfy Mahan's concepts, let alone Mackinder's.

Instead, they were sort of like the Rolling Stones for the last 35 years or so: formerly very relevant, not yet dead, so you have to duly note what they're up to and make sure to invite them, per Ms. Manners' definition of who is or is not a superpower. After all, they'd been to all the right parties, so of course they were invited to the next one. Until they weren't eligible any more, of course.

May 31, 2010 19:28 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Are current definitions of superpowers applicable to countries from 100 years ago? Austria-Hungary was the second largest country in Europe, industrialized with a large agricultural output. Their problem was the area they encompassed was quite diverse ethnically and caused a lot of internal tension... that and they also had a nasty habit of dragging Imperial Germany (their bigger, badder brother) into the messes they started. As a comparison, Russia has been considered a superpower since the 1950s Stalinesque purges and Iron Curtain-hopping notwithstanding, so social unrest is not always indicative of power.

Still Austria-Hungary was quite powerful, and much more of a world force than some members of the "Coalition of the Willing" that participated in the second Gulf War. Their power was influential enough for a World War to start over a silly Serbian prince getting shot.

Besides, part of Austria-Hungary's involvement in the Eight Nation Alliance was due to attacks on the Austria-Hungary compounds in the Beijing Legation Quarter during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. So it's not like they didn't have some vested interest in seeing their citizens were safe (even if they did take advantage of the situation with some good ol' fashioned lootin' and pillaging). Meanwhile, other nations who were attacked in the Boxer Rebellion such as Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands weren't invited to the party though still got to sign the Boxer Protocol treaty as a consolation prize.

Jun 01, 2010 00:49 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

I guess you missed my references to Mahan and Mackinder for then-contemporary references.

Jun 01, 2010 18:37 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Yep I did, it was 2am :(

Jun 01, 2010 18:55 PM
rating: 0
 
DetroitDale

If the Tigers are going to try to boost their offense by wishcasting Carlos Guillen able to play infield positions again, they might as well go all the way and put him back at short, leave Worth at 2B and kick what's left of Adam Everett to the curb. Guillen's injury problems have always been with legs, never with arm. If he has enough left to handle the range at 2nd, he's got the range to handle short, and arm's never the been his problem. (I'll resist the urge to be petty and ask if that's the case why move him off short in the first place) Of course all of this would be moot if they hadn't let Placido Polanco go for nothing last year because they tried to wishcast future insurance salesman Scott Sizemore into a major league second basemen. Here's hoping the pixie dust does better granting Guillen his lost youth than it did granting Major League talent to Sizemore.

May 31, 2010 18:21 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

To some extent, I'm still left with a "so what" response to Polanco's departure to Philly. He's hit a few homers in Philly; that's what I would call a non-shocking development. He's facing the weaker league, and his walk rate's still bad, and his power--even with Philly going for him--is still negligible. Given that he wanted (and got) a multi-year deal, he obviously had some expectations for what he'd make this past winter. Arbitration would have almost certainly yielded more than last year's compensation of $4.6 million, which, given that the market only got Polanco $18 million for three years (counting the $1.5 million for his bonus and his buyout) or $22.5 million over four, seems to indicate he'd get above-market compensation if he'd accepted.

Frankly, I think the deal the Twins got with Orlando Hudson (one year, $5 million, no arbitration-related compensation) would have much more filled the bill, whatever level of confidence you have or don't have in Sizemore's future.

The more basic problem is the interrelationship of actions, and the unknowability of the club's possible decision tree through a thicket of 'if/then' branches of causality. Spend on Polanco in December, and maybe you don't sign Damon in February, because you decide that you can't afford him. That puts Ordonez or Guillen at DH and the other in an outfield corner; no prob, but you've still got an outfield corner to stock, and back in December, there's no guarantee that Brennan Boesch is that guy. Add in the questions of durability with both Ordonez and Guillen at any point of the equation, naturally.

The upside for the Tigers is that Polanco takes arbitration and bounces back while playing in the better league, while also costing more than you'd like, and--as the market suggested--more than he's worth. That costs you runs if it costs you Damon, and it costs you flexibility in December, when you still haven't already made the Edwin Jackson trade yet, let alone signed Valverde. Given the penalties for picking early against seeing what you wind up with by waiting and not locking in on your own arb-eligible types, and the upside of having Damon around for a year instead of Polanco, I guess I'll settle for saying that it's an interesting choice, and certainly not yet obviously the worse one.

May 31, 2010 19:17 PM
 
drawbb

I suppose it's apt that one of the few times I didn't understand a CK tangent (what "that Barton Fink feeling" has to do with Golson and Winn) it was a Coen Brothers reference because I also don't understand the Internet-wide worship of them in general. Oh, well... :-)

Jun 01, 2010 15:07 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

I was riffing on the subject of replaceability; clearly Jack Lipnick felt he could get that Barton Fink feeling pretty easily, and finding someone who can do as well as Randy Winn shouldn't be tough.

Jun 01, 2010 18:31 PM
 
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