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June 11, 2010

Transaction Action

Weekend Omnibus

by Christina Kahrl

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BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Designated LHP Alberto Castillo for assignment; purchased the contract of RHP Jake Arrieta from Norfolk (Triple-A). [6/10]

Ten starts and a .354 SNWP were enough to finally cost Brad Bergesen his place in line for a rotation slot. Where David Hernandez's reassignment to the bullpen was almost equally a matter of finding a good purpose for him in an area of constant concern, Bergesen may struggle to find productive re-employment unless he finds a way to harness a more mediocre assortment to relief chores. Now that the rotation's made up of all four of the long-anticipated farm-grown foursome of the future plus Kevin Millwood, it might be a long time before he gets another shot barring the failure of better prospects or a deal that puts Millwood on a contender.

Arrieta comes in from the Tides having appropriately crested, delivering seven quality starts in 11 turns, notching 64 strikeouts in 73 IP, but walking 34 while allowing just 2.2 R/9 and three homers. Always someone who could spin mid-90s heat, he's gotten more consistent with his breaking stuff, making his readiness that much less of an issue. Arrieta didn't have a bad debut while facing two-thirds of the defending world champs (plus Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames, and Chad Moeller), giving up three runs in six innings while allowing six baserunners—plus two men that Juan Samuel ordered him to put on base, a habit you hope a new skipper can avoid. All the more so because Samuel's ordered six men to first base in six games, so it's obviously one habit he's already developing.


CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned C-R Lou Marson to Columbus (Triple-A); recalled C-S Carlos Santana from Columbus. [6/11]

Perhaps only the most charitable Phillies fans or Indians fans wearing their standard-issue desperation goggles really considered Marson that much of a prospect, because he was expected to be nothing more than a speed bump on the road to the Age of Santana. Nevertheless, more was expected of him when he was part of the Lee dump last deadline. Unfortunately, when “an OBP guy” can't even manage to walk in 10 percent of your plate appearances, and a good defensive catcher winds up looking like a fairly stiff receiver, you've got a commodity that's considerably less than what was advertised on the packaging. To his credit, he was doing a great job against the running game, cutting down 38 percent of stolen-base attempts, but that leaves you with a guy who might make a nice backup someday, not a catching prospect.

But this is a happy occasion, because Santana's up, and while you can tsk over the obviousness of super-two arbitration avoidance, the organization's top prospect and the latest top-10 prospect to get the call is more than ready. He clobbered the International League at a .316/.447/.597 clip, good for a league-leading .325 TAv. Behind the plate, he won't gun runners at Marson's pace, having nabbed just 22.5 percent of stolen-base attempts as a Clipper, but runners weren't going wild against him in terms of attempts, and he committed a lone passed ball for what that's worth as far as his well-regarded receiving skills. He almost instantly becomes at least the second-best hitter in this lineup, depending on how much you love Shin-Soo Choo, and one of an unhappily short list of reasons to buy a ticket beyond the pure enjoyment of a ballgame in Indians country.


DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Ryan Perry on the 15-day DL (biceps tendinitis), retroactive to 6/7; purchased the contract of RHP Enrique Gonzalez from Toledo (Triple-A). [6/10]

With a pen-worst 5.81 FRA, it wasn't like Perry was helping out all that much. Left-handers were waiting him out (.414 OBP) while righties were letting rip (.492 SLG), which doesn't speak well of his ability to upset anybody's timing or avoid dead-red obviousness, whether he reaches triple-digits or not. The question is how much this upsets Jim Leyland, since Perry had been the initial choice for top set-up man. However, both Joel Zumaya (2.19 FRA, 1.1 WXRL) and Phil Coke (3.05 FRA, 0.8 WXRL) have been filling the bill, and the pen also has the benefit of Brad Thomas doing good work in the middle innings (4.16 FRA, 4.7 ARP), so they're not short-handed. Gonzalez could be another long-relief asset, having pitched with his usual control for the Mudhens (53 Ks against 15 unintentional walks in 65 IP), with a good move to first for a right-hander, but with his usual gopheriffic tendencies, having allowed nine homers, seven to righties. Given that he's undertall in any sense of the word you care to use, there's always going to be an issue for him in terms of fly-ball tendencies, so we'll see how carefully Leyland uses him.


MINNESOTA TWINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed SS-R J.J. Hardy on the 15-day DL (bruised wrist), retroactive to 6/7; recalled INF-R Trevor Plouffe from Rochester (Triple-A). [6/11]

Twins infielders and wrists seem to be the flavor of the week, but even short Hardy, Ron Gardenhire stuck with Tolbert, Punto, and Valencia to cover second, short, and third. Now that they've Plouffe back in the mix, however, he'll take over as the starting shortstop, Nick Punto will move to second base, and Matt Tolbert will reassume his best position on the roster—on the bench. Ideally, this will represent a shot for Plouffe at displacing Tolbert, Harris, and Alexi Casilla, because eventually Hudson and Hardy will be back, and the Twins can't keep carrying the empties for old times' sake.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned C-S Landon Powell to Sacramento (Triple-A); placed LHP Brett Anderson on the 15-day DL (elbow); recalled RHP Henry Rodriguez and LHP Cedrick Bowers from Sacramento. [6/4]
Optioned RHP Henry Rodriguez to Sacramento; recalled OF-L Matt Carson from Sacramento. [6/8]

We can now add Anderson to the list of the DL yo-yos, as he made it through all of 7 2/3 IP across two turns, and not even a preventive 70-pitch outing in his first turn back could spare him the indignity of a re-disabling elbow injury. The good news was that it was “just” tendinitis, meaning he won't have to go under the knife, but it's expected that the A's will be exceptionally cautious with how they bring Anderson back to action. In his absence, they'll rely upon Vin Mazzaro, which is just as well, however seriously you take their bid for contention—the Tyson Ross experiment was a bit combustive. This time around, they're proving much more aggressive in their use of Bowers in middle-relief work, and with Mazzaro and Trevor Cahill both on somewhat short leashes at the back end of the rotation, they'll need all the help they can get from multi-inning relievers.


SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Doug Fister on the 15-day DL (shoulder fatigue), retroactive to 6/1; recalled LHP Luke French from Tacoma (Triple-A). [6/6]
Placed DH-R Mike Sweeney on the 15-day DL (back), retroactive to 6/3; recalled 1B/OF-L Mike Carp from Tacoma. [6/7]

The tragedy here is that Fister has been their most effective starter all season, outpitching luminaries like King Felix and Cliff Lee while posting a .647 SNWP and notching seven quality starts in 10 turns. Despite six hundred-pitch outings, it would be hard to say he was abused in a general sense; he never hit 110 in any of those games. However, it's worth asking if he was pushed harder than his limits, which is why I'd suggest it's more important to get a sense of the individual talents than hold to hard-and-fast absolutes about workloads. He's supposed to be back in relatively short order, good news considering that Ryan Rowland-Smith has delivered one winnable game and a 13-baserunner, eight-run disasterpiece in his two cracks at rotation work in Fister's place. That's especially unfortunate since Ian Snell hasn't been doing much better, having failed to deliver one in any of his last seven turns since putting one up in his first game of the season. For all that, they're still among the top 10 rotations in the game—but getting Fister back in short order and getting Erik Bedard back in action in July as soon after the All-Star break as possible is what they'll need to stay there.


TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned RHP Pedro Strop to Oklahoma City (Triple-A); recalled RHP Tommy Hunter from Oklahoma City. [6/5]

This was pretty much according to plan, since the Rangers basically used the loss of Derek Holland as cause enough to hand the slot over to one of their other interesting options in the rotation. As for Hunter, the human definition of “big in the leg” in pitcher form had slowly rehabbed his way back into action, and as much cognitive dissonance might come of the fact that Hunter operates off of a pair of tree trunks but doesn't use them to either pump high-octane gas or deliver Seaver-style drop-and-drive nastyness just goes to show that it truly does take all kinds, in every shape or size, when it comes to throwing strikes and getting people out. He's already delivered a pair of quality starts, good news for a club still dealing with two cylinders not firing in their rotation: Scott Feldman and Rich Harden, who have managed just three quality starts apiece in 12 turns for each. (Plus another two blown after the sixth inning for Feldman.) It's no surprise that leads to lousy work as far as their contributions to the club's wins tally; Harden owns a .407 SNWP, and Feldman's is .376, “good” for top-10 rankings for worst SNWPs in the majors at a 59 IP cutoff.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated RHP Jesse Litsch from the 60-day DL; optioned LHP Rommie Lewis to Las Vegas (Triple-A); placed INF-R John McDonald on the Bereavement Leave List; purchased the contract of OF-L DeWayne Wise from Las Vegas. [6/10]

Litsch won't make his actual debut and—hopefully—happy return from more than a season's worth of action lost to Tommy John surgery until a year and a day since he went under the knife. Having him back certainly provides a nice enough excuse (beyond performance) for swapping in and take Brian Tallet out of the rotation, which might seem harsh, but keep in mind their relative track records. Tallet's SNWP last year, when he was sucked into the rotation by a wave of injuries—including Litsch's—only wound up at .463, or not too shabby for a 31-year-old utility pitcher tasked with rounding out a rotation. In 2008, Litsch was almost a 100 points better, delivering a .558 SNWP that's more in line with what you want to be able to expect from a third or fourth guy. So, if you're Tallet, life's a Litsch, and then you try—relieving again!

This might also seem unfair to Tallet because it isn't like last year's performance is that much worse than what the Jays are getting out of Brandon Morrow—currently he's at a .455 SNWP—but Morrow's younger, and still has the upside that made him such a virtual steal from Seattle in the first place. His reconversion to rotation work has been a mixed bag given how flaky he's been, but with 10.4 K/9 and six quality starts in 12, there's no cause to pull him.

As for the bullpen and sorting out who had to lose his job to Tallet, shipping out Lewis instead of Purcey might seem strange if you're bewitched by his 15 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. Keep in mind that Lewis has given up all three of his homers to lefties—and he's left-handed—making him at the very least unconventional, as well as being the new guy pitching for a ballclub being run by a franchise legend, ie, for all practical purposes the oldest of the old guys. While it might seem to suggest that Lewis wouldn't be the worst guy to employ in a long-relief role, that's almost exactly what Tallet's for now that he's no longer in the rotation.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Designated RHP Saul Rivera for assignment; purchased the contract of RHP Blaine Boyer from Reno (Triple-A). [6/8]
Outrighted RHP Saul Rivera to Reno. [6/11]

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted INF-R Nick Green to Albuquerque (Triple-A). [6/5]
Returned RHP Charlie Haeger to the 15-day DL (sprained big toe), retroactive to 6/5; recalled RHP Jon Link from Albuquerque. [6/7]
Activated LHP George Sherrill from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Jon Link to Albuquerque. [6/8]

Haeger's reinjury proved convenient, since they'd rather have Sherrill back anyway, and since the knuckleballer's out of options. So, barring some sudden need to re-flutter themselves, expect this to take the full spread of time inactive with injury followed by another full-length “rehab” stint at Inland Empire. Sherrill has yet to pitch since reactivation, but he'd been effective during his rehab stint, so we'll see if there are any lingering concerns over his back issue.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Purchased the contract of LF-R Pat Burrell from Fresno (Triple-A); outrighted RHP Brandon Medders to Fresno; optioned 1B/OF-L John Bowker to Fresno. [6/4]

What's this, another new face who is supposed to help them score runs? And they might be Giants, even? Go figger. The good news isn't just that the Giants have brought Burrell up and will give him every shot at winning everyday play, it's that they're demonstrably willing to do so at Aaron Rowand's expense, preferring to alternate Rowand and Andres Torres in center field than just bench either. It's an interesting call on a couple of levels—one, they've decided to hang the expense, having long since made their multi-millions mistake with Rowand, and second, they're also punting outfield defense if they're willing to run with Aubrey Huff and Burrell in the corners on the same day. Both are refreshing choices because it means that the focus is on getting runs from the positions that are supposed to provide them. Things like this plus Carlos Guillen at the keystone, it makes you wonder if we're witnessing a fad die before our eyes.


WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted C-R Jamie Burke to Syracuse (Triple-A). [6/11]


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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