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June 4, 2010

Transaction Action

Grab Bag

by Christina Kahrl

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KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Snagged RHP Kanekoa Texeira off waivers from the Mariners; designated RHP Brad Thompson for assignment. [6/3]

Because they're grabby, and if somebody else liked something to make him a Rule 5 pick, then they must like him too. Eventually, monkey-see, monkey-do gets you somewhere, right? Well, that and employing Yuniesky Betancourt. If nothing else, the Royals are a consonant-overstocked Scrabble rack's delight. Or loading up on names with Ks in them because maybe that would solve all their problems. Sadly, Joe Kmak's already out of the game, foiling yet another master plan.

 


MINNESOTA TWINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RF-R Michael Cuddyer on the Bereavement Leave List; recalled 3B-R Danny Valencia from Rochester (Triple-A). [6/3]

Cuddyer is expected to miss the entire weekend series in Oakland following the death of his father-in-law, which is an especially bad break for the Twins given their left-wards lean in the lineup, the organization's shortage of right-handed power, and their limited outfield depth on the big-league roster. Add in their facing a pair of lefties in Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez during that A's series, and they stumbled across their latest bit of desperation, hauling up Valencia to spot at third base because they're also missing Alexi Casilla  because of a wrist injury they expect him to recover from inside of a DL trip's span.

What's strange about this is that it really calls into question who they would prefer to use and why. Keep in mind, even with Orlando Hudson out of action, this means that with with infielders Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, and Brendan Harris to choose, they didn't think they've got two worthwhile starters to cover them at second and third over four games. Thursday night, they sat Punto against King Felix, put Harris is on the bench, and Tolbert started at second while Valencia got to debut at third. You can sort of understand their thinking given Harris' implosion this season, but Valencia's struggles to do much more than plink singles this year may well have killed off his already questionable prospect labeling.

This isn't necessarily an endorsement of Valencia, however. The misfortune is that they're inside 10 days of shipping out Trevor Plouffe, and there's no DL move that let's them bring him back. Of course, that's cause for wondering why they have Tolbert hanging around in the first place, or why Harris is here if they won't play him in this sort of circumstance. And while they're tripping over weak-hitting infielders, they have no additional outfielders on a full-up 40-man. So, you wind up with a situation where Jason Kubel and Delmon Young will be manning the corners all weekend, the sort of present a pitching staff is inclined to regift.

You can't blame them too far, given that this is an emergency, and really, what would be the point of something like purchasing Jason Repko from Rochester? But between not having their infield options really sorted out effectively, and their shortage of outfield alternatives, they're unnecessarily short-handed, and it isn't like they're running away from the Tigers just yet.

 


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Claimed UT-R Adam Heether off waivers from the Brewers, and optioned him to Sacramento (Triple-A); transferred RHP Justin Duchscherer from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/3]

This seems more a matter of keeping a key affiliate happy than an endorsement of Heether's desirability. He's a 28-year-old third baseman with plenty of exposure to short and third, and he's mashed the odd Triple-A southpaw (.351/.449/.561 vs. LHPs this season), but he's been hopeless against right-handers, having only hit .197/.293/.386 against them so far. However, he had healthier splits for Nashville last season (928 OPS vs. RHPs, 838 against LHPs), so he's not just a platoon body, even if he is just a discarded organizational soldier eight years a-Brew'ing since being snagged in the 11th round of the 2003 draft out of Long Beach State. The simple fact of the matter is that with Steven Tolleson apparently hurt, Jack Cust called up, Corey Brown sent back down to Double-A for flailure, and Adrian Cardenas looking like a complete bust, the River Cats are short-handed for hitting help of any stripe. The Duke's gone for another season, so they had the roster spot to spare, but Heether's hardly the kind of hitter they'll miss if, as with Jai Miller in April, they find themselves designating for assignment in a week's time.

 


CINCINNATI REDS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned RHP Carlos Fisher to Louisville (Triple-A); placed RHP Mike Lincoln on the 15-day DL (strained side); recaled RHPs Enerio Del Rosario and Logan Ondrusek from Louisville. [6/1]

Lincoln's latest breakdown comes after another injury-shortened season from a guy who'd had all of one generally healthy season in the last seven, so this officially makes that one for his last eight. Guess which one happily coincided with his becoming a free agent? It's a testament to his determination that he's muscled along this far to get a $4 million deal that runs through this season, but he was a mediocrity all the way along the line, and there comes a point where you have to see him for what he is: a guy who in his healthier moments, like 2002 with the Pirates (3.64 FRA), or 2008 as a Red (3.61), wasn't that valuable. Nobody should second-guess his willingness to pitch, just his ability to stay healthy enough to do so.

This matters in that the Reds are generally short of anyone resembling a reliable right-handed reliever, and they can't afford to fondly remember adequacy two seasons removed if they want to be serious about this whole “let's win the Central” concept. They're getting tremendous work out of Arthur Rhodes, but he's essentially the only effective reliever they've got per Fair Run Average and Adjusted Runs Prevented. That's because Francisco Cordero is merely accumulating saves without pitching all that effectively, while Daniel Ray Herrera's plating far too many inherited baserunners while struggling to fulfill even situational responsibilities. And for right-handed help in front of Cordero, they're down to hoping that Nick Masset bounces back to something like his effectiveness in 2009, but he's just one man. They're using Micah Owings as an extra body to employ in extra innings and desperate situations, generally catching dribbles of inning-ending chores or long-relief assignments, but absent anyone better, he may have to be pressed in more outcome-relevant action.

Beyond cueing up Walt Jocketty to get to the business of shopping for relief help, the alternative involves placing some faith in Ondrusek and Del Rosario. That isn't going to be an easy proposition: Ondrusek throws hard, but not that hard, relying on his big, lanky 6-foot-7 frame, some deception, and an improved cutter, but he struggled upon making the opening-day roster, and he wasn't doing much better in Triple-A; he has yet to prove he'll be more than an organizational arm. Del Rosario is something of a finesse righty, so patience for what he's got to offer is going to be equally necessary.

All of which is another way of saying they ought to regret letting Todd Coffey slip away, because right now, it's looking like Sir Walter's going to have to snap up a few shopping miracles to provide Dusty Baker with the sort of relief help that can really shore the Reds up on the right side of the pen.

 


MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed LHP Renyel Pinto on the 15-day DL (strained hip); optioned RHP Burke Badenhop and OF-L Bryan Petersen to New Orleans (Triple-A); recalled LHP Taylor Tankersley and RHP Jay Buente from New Orleans; repurchased the contract of 1B-L Mike Lamb from New Orleans. [5/27]
Designated LHP Dan Meyer for assignment; purchased the contract of RHP Jorge Sosa from New Orleans. [5/28]
Outrighted LHP Dan Meyer to Jamestown (Short-Season A-ball). [6/1]

Admire the bottom-feeding Fish they're omnivorousness, because while they may have to endure setbacks when yesterday's fungible heroes falter and they're down three relievers and both lefties, they can just go to the usual sources for relief help: dumpsters, drunk tanks, New Orleans. This time around, the servings come in three different flavors. Taking over as the team's new LOOGY, Tankersley is the former first rounder catching another break after losing his 2009 season to a fractured elbow. He was understandably raw in April, but seems to have rounded into form for situational chores in May. Sosa's your standard-issue Lazarus looking for resurrection in teal where the club's redeemed so many journeymen; he might pan out as a situational right-hander, but if not, he comes from a well that never runs dry.

Unlike that pair, Buente's the fresh face, a product of the system and a former Boilermaker drafted in the 14th round of the 2006 draft. He's been slowly making his way up with a decent sinking low-90s fastball, but without a ton of command. For the Zephyrs this season, he'd struck out 35 against 17 walks in 26 2/3 innings, while generating nearly twice as many ground-ball outs as flies. The absence of a reliable off-speed pitch that works against lefties has contributed to his walking more than a fifth of those he's faced, so I wouldn't necessarily bet on his being any better suited than Sosa to be more than a platoon-oriented relief gambit, and likely to keep Fredi Gonzalez as busy making changes as the rest.

I'm less impressed with flip-flopping from Petersen to Lamb, but that's small beer because they're not really short-handed in the outfield since they're sticking with their current front three pretty regularly. It's going to be up to Cameron Maybin and Chris Coghlan to sort out which of them is at risk for losing his job to Mike Stanton, so the expectation that only one can win means that letting the pair absorb every at-bat they can get to settle the matter makes sense. Brett Carroll is marking time as the team's fourth outfielder in the meantime. To some extent, Lamb's getting another opportunity on the bench because Doug Mientkiewicz retired after his first few games in New Orleans, taking himself out of the picture as the club's notional alternative at the infield corners. This doesn't make Lamb any more viable anywhere but first base, but here again, Gonzalez isn't really relying on his bench for starting assignments to rest his starters lately: in their last 10 games, the Marlins' reserves have gotten three starts, one apiece for catcher Brett Hayes, veteran Wes Helms (at third), and Carroll in left. Lamb gets to join Brian Barden in relative inactivity.

 


HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Chris Sampson on the 15-day DL (rotator cuff tendinitis); purchased the contract of RHP Casey Daigle from Round Rock (Triple-A); designated RHP Evan Englebrook for assignment. [6/1]

With that, the Astros are now employing Mr. Jennie Finch, which isn't quite as cool as taking a chance on employing the Jennie Finch, but seeing as they're living a life of quiet desperation as opposed to being grabbed by the sudden urge to go Veeck on us and really mix things up, I suppose it's just as well. Daigle's still just a finesse right-hander doing his damnedest to survive with a junkballer's assortment, he'll be hard-pressed to provide real aid. It's just the latest variation on a theme with the roster of baseball's answer to demolition derby, where you know that there are guaranteed to be 162 crashes involving 25 competitors each time out, many of them repeaters, but a few just drifting through until that old Chevy is a goner.

 


LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated RHP Charlie Haeger from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Travis Schlichting to Albuquerque (Triple-A). [6/3]

Having thrown four innings in relief on Wednesday, Schlichting was already burned as far as bullpen availability for days, while Haeger had been marking time on his rehab stint in the Cal League. It's conceivable that he'll resume rotation work, with Carlos Monasterios moving back into the bullpen, but whichever way the Dodgers let it lay, Haeger's out of options, so his return pretty much coincided exactly with his full use of his alloted possible "rehab" time at nearby Inland Empire. We'll see if he pitches well enough to escape honorary Ortiz status.

 


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Noted the loss of UT-R Adam Heether on a waiver claim by the Athletics; outrighted OF-L Adam Stern to Nashville (Triple-A). [6/3]
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated RHP Brad Lidge from the 15-day DL; designated RHP Nelson Figueroa for assignment. [5/31]
Signed CF-R Willy Taveras to a minor-league contract; outrighted RHP Nelson Figueroa to Lehigh Valley. [6/3]

Weren't both of these things designated as signs of the apocalypse? Or is it just that we have to wait for the Rapture for there to be a time when those of us left knocking around on the emptied globe, running around and feeding everyone's abandoned pets can see baseball-flavored entertainments where we don't have to be afraid of seeing Willy Taveras leading off or Brad Lidge closing? Well, I suppose that could be some people's definition of Hell. Or Houston, circa 2006.

 


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned 1B/LF-R Allen Craig to Memphis (Triple-A); purchased the contract of INF-S Aaron Miles from Memphis. [6/1]

Remember that thing I was just saying, about the Cards and their middle-infield issues? Well, in the wide-old world of non-answers to that problem, you can put Miles close to the top, at least among people who play baseball for a living. Naturally, he's a much better option than the Pope, yours truly, or Lady Gaga. But until Felipe Lopez is totally over his bum thumb, this is a matter of having a warm body present, and recent performances aside, I'm reasonably sure Miles isn't a zombie or something. Yet.

 


WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned OF-R Justin Maxwell to Syracuse (Triple-A); recalled RHP J.D. Martin from Syracuse. [5/29]

Martin's hold on a slot in the Nats' rotation is temporary at best, since somebody was born to lose his job to Stephen Strasburg, but just because he's the designated loser doesn't make him the ultimately unsuccessful alternate for the rotation. The finesse right-hander has his uses, and while spinning a quality start against the Padres in Petco Park and almost notching another against the Astros Thursday might not qualify as Herculean feats, it was enough for him to leave his card for future consideration.

And even with Strasburg inbound and Scott Olsen throwing long-toss and looking likely to return at some point, there are at least two other jobs in the rotation up for grabs. Craig Stammen is already seen as the likely loser once Olsen comes back, while Luis Atilano is clinging to his job on the basis of a gaudy 5-1 record. That's nice, but you're not going to last walking more people than you strike out, and Atilano has yet to log a clean quality start in his last seven turns (although he did see what would have been his third blown just this past Monday).



For updates on any and all kinds of transaction action, follow Christina on Twitter.

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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