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August 3, 2010

Transaction Action

Tuesday Morning Triptych

by Christina Kahrl

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LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Joel Pineiro on the 15-day DL (strained oblique), retroactive to 7/26; optioned INF-R Kevin Frandsen to Salt Lake (Triple-A); recalled RHPs Trevor Bell and Bobby Cassevah from Salt Lake. [7/31]

Now, maybe karma is a bitch, and maybe not, but whether you think it/she/he acts as active explanation, like Tyche, or as an inescapable repercussion of action motivated by ambition, destiny, thy name is apparently Scott Kazmir.

That's because no sooner have the Angels added Dan Haren just a week ago than they didn't even get the benefit of a full swing through the rotation before they'd lost Pineiro for six to eight weeks. That's effectively well past the point where it becomes a difficult question to sort out when or if Pineiro can contribute again this year, but also at the point where the Angels may be already done for the season. With playoff odds that have already dropped by half, down to the three percent range in just the week since the Haren deal, you can see how the timing of Pineiro's comeback may be too late, no matter how quickly or effectively he heals up.

The Angels were already signed up for carrying Trevor Bell in the rotation. They expected a nice, solid front four, with Haren, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, and Pineiro giving them SNWP marks of .530 or better down the stretch. Bell was the skippable fifth man they'd only have to call on twice while keeping everyone else on normal rest. Instead, Bell has had to come up into Pineiro's slot, starting with tonight's game against the Orioles. Whether Mike Scioscia decides to keep the front three on four days' rest and alternate bumping Bell and Kazmir and perhaps also Matt Palmer, we'll have to see, but you can bet that wasn't part of the proposition when they decided to add Haren and make a run at the Rangers. Kazmir may be back for Saturday's turn after yesterday's simulated game, but it's worth noting he's being shadowed by Palmer, who threw four innings of shutout ball in a live-action reintroduction to starting down at Salt Lake.

None of which provides much hope. Maybe Kazmir can be righted in-season. Maybe Bell finally settles. And maybe this is it, the end of the run after three straight division titles, and five in the last six years. The Angels' odds of taking flight are no better than one formerly of their number, the one-winged Abezethibou, the fallen angel who hardened pharoah's heart and wound up on the bottom of the Red Sea for his troubles-leaving Beelzebub effectively muttering, "wait 'til next year." No doubt they both had big plans, but so did Tony Reagins and Mike Scioscia, and as we noted at the start, karma is a bitch.


BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed CF-R Mike Cameron on the 15-day DL (strained abdomen), retroactive to 7/31; recalled LF-S Daniel Nava from Pawtucket (Triple-A). [8/2]

There's already published talk about how Cameron's injury was already producing what Will refers to as cascade injuries; I won't pretend to understand the kinetic chain here, but if he was running up against groin problems and more besides, it basically boils down to "he's broken." Now the hope is that he won't melt down completely, but season-ending surgery has already been mentioned as a soft-pedaled possibility.

The repercussions are less enormous than they are interesting. Absent Cameron from the lineup for two months, and suddenly the possibility of Jacoby Ellsbury's redemption and reputation rehabilitation opens up like a summer dahlia. Ellsbury has played center in both of his games in the field for Pawtucket (DHing in the first), then rested last night; today's PawSox game may be his last before reactivation. In the meantime, the Sox have alternated Eric Patterson and Darnell McDonald as the unofficial platoon to keep the seat warm for whoever else the Sox would really rather have-Cameron or Ellsbury, or Ryan Kalish. If Cameron is done for the season, Ellsbury would obviously have a straight shot at everyday play in the Sox lineup in his place.

That's a scenario that nevertheless doesn't make Kalish a likely loser. As long as he keeps rapping out hits, the kid stays in the picture. Instead, it's Eric Patterson who might be doomed to a trip through waivers, because with Dustin Pedroia's return getting closer, Patterson's mostly notional multi-positionality might not protect him. And the team that did just designate Jeremy Hermida for assignment might stop at nothing when it comes to fielding its best possible collection of hitters, whatever the expected, unrealized possibilities might be. Of course, they could always just option Nava back to Rhode Island, but if he keeps reaching base, a setup that includes Nava and McDonald as the team's reserve outfielders, with Kalish and Ellsbury manning left and center (or center and left) doesn't sound like a major setback as much as a worthwhile adaptation, where they accept setbacks as an opportunity to give Kalish a shot.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Robinson Tejeda on the 15-day DL (strained biceps), retroactive to 7/30; recalled 1B-L Kila Ka'aihue from Omaha (Triple-A). [8/1]

It took a weekend to dispense with an eight-man pen, so the transient phenomenon hardly merited derision, let alone panic. Waiting for Ka'aihue to break through from the farm-y deeps is probably the most anticipated Hawaiian eruption this side of Lo'ihi, because the Royals really have moved at a geological pace to get him here. However, after hitting .319/.463/.598 (with a 20 percent unintentional walk rate), a TTO rate of 43.5 percent, and a PCL-leading .310 TAv, you have a guy who deserves something more than a dismissive Quad-A label as he finishes up his age-26 season.

Sadly, the Kila Monster will not get everyday play at DH yet, not even on a team playing Mitch Maier in left field. Dayton Moore has to go through the desultory rigmarole of playing waiver-wire peekaboo with Jose Guillen before a disinterested market, the last item left among the aging wares left for a latter-day Sally Rand to expose. You might think that Guillen's compensation makes him an easy call for Moore to deposit onto waivers and then let the first claimant win, but there's a real chance that nobody would claim him. Between Guillen's notorious run-ins with various skippers over the years, we're talking about a 34-year-old DH who hasn't slugged .450 in four of the last five seasons. At some point, somebody has to say, "enough," but one of the hallmarks of the Royal treatment is the divine right to say it last.

The pity with losing Tejeda is that while he was showing signs of wear, even then he was still generally better than most Royals, giving up three solo homers in his last five innings-and nothing else. OK, it's not really cause for celebration, but Royal standards have long since taken a tumble, so why get hung up on the latest snafu? Here again, the Royals being the Royals, you hope he isn't rushed back so that they can really break him-but this doesn't leave them entirely unmanned in the wake of the Kyle Farnsworth trade when it comes to setting up Joakim Soria. It's worth remembering that Dusty Hughes has had some useful moments as a situational lefty, ranking fourth on the team in ARP and boasting a 3.40 FRA. Blake Wood has done well against right-handers, but obviously at 24 years old, you might want him to decisively prove he can't get lefties out before pigeon-holing him as a situational righty.

I suppose, now that they have Jesse Chavez, they can express the courage of their convictions and see whether or not he can be the first pitcher capable of creating a steam void in the waterfall, possibly collapsing the entire outfield wall. OK, probably not, but you have to wonder, don'cha? Well, if he can't do it, maybe Bryan Bullington can. The other pair of pitchers in the pen are both kids-former Rule 5 pick Kanekoa Texeira, who they got snaggedy over after the Mariners dumped him, and short righty Greg Holland, a 2007 10th-rounder who's struck out or walked a third of the people he's faced in the minors, with 243 careers Ks in 229 IP, while walking 101 unintentionally. Relying heavily on a sinker and very standard-issue velocity, he's stuck working on one plane without a good breaking pitch, which sort of limits his upside.

This shocking state of affairs as far as who's staffing the pen is a reflection of why getting Chavez had to be plausibly tantalizing to the Royals. There isn't a lot to choose from in the upper levels, and you do have to actually field a team, after all. There are some talented right-handers worth hauling up, but each comes with strings attached. Former first-rounder Aaron Crow is already on the 40-man, and if the organization decided to break him in with some bullpen work despite a bad campaign at Double-A, you could see the merit in it as a trial by fire, where the hope is that a debut now would take the edge off 2011. In contrast, former LSU star Louis Coleman is already up at Omaha and pitching well out of the pen (with 76 strikeouts against just 16 walks in 71 IP between Double- and Triple-A), but as a 2009 pick who isn't already rostered, hauling him up would start his clock early. Don't be surprised if either guy doesn't show up until September, if then, but at least the cupboard isn't entirely bare.



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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Prospectus Q&A: Matt W... (08/03)

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