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September 21, 2010

Transaction Action

Braves, Marlins, Mets

by Christina Kahrl

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ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned LHP Michael Dunn and INF-R Brandon Hicks to Gwinnett; activated LHP Eric O'Flaherty from the 15-day DL. [8/20]
Optioned LHP Mike Minor to GCL Braves (Rookie); recalled RHP Craig Kimbrel from Gwinnett. [8/27]
Optioned RHP Craig Kimbrel to Gwinnett recalled LHP Mike Minor from Gwinnett. [8/29]
Optioned RHP Cristhian Martinez to Gwinnett; recalled RHP Kenshin Kawakami from Gwinnett. [8/30]
Optioned RHP Kenshin Kawakami to Danville (High-A); recalled OF-L Nate McLouth from Gwinnett. [8/31]
Recalled RHP Kenshin Kawakami from Danville; recalled LHP Michael Dunn from Gwinnett; purchased the contracts of RHP Scott Proctor, C-R J.C. Boscan, and 1B-L Freddie Freeman from Gwinnett; outrighted OF-R Wilkin Ramirez to Gwinnett; transferred RHP Kris Medlen from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/1]
Activated 1B/3B-R Troy Glaus from the 15-day DL. [9/2]
Recalled RHPs Craig Kimbrel and Cristhian Martinez from Gwinnett. [9/7]
Recalled INF-R Brandon Hicks from Gwinnett, and placed him on the 60-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Brian Beachy from Gwinnett. [9/20]

Obvious Good News: Getting O'Flaherty back from the DL provides Bobby Cox with a second lefty he's come to trust, now and into October-if the Braves get there-although it's worth noting that Dunn has been effective in a low-leverage role, if as wild and frightening as Kimbrel was in his previous stints. Speaking of Kimbrel, he's been exceptional since his return, striking out 12 of 16 batters faced, allowing a lone hit-and going walk-free.

Making the System Work for You? Taking Minor out of the majors came a series too late, as the Braves headed to Denver on August 23-25 with a dead spot on the roster as long as they were carrying him while knowing he wouldn't pitch again until the 31st. It might not have really mattered, in that Cox might not have used anybody called up in his place, because the skipper seemed determined to work Jonny Venters and the recently returned Spuds O'Flaherty almost daily. The Braves lost three to the Rockies, blowing a nine-run lead-capped by Venters' ninth-inning implosion pitching in his fourth game in five days-in the last match to complete the sweep.

Meh: Glaus may be back from the DL, but despite early talk that he'd be geared up for some action at third base upon his return, he's made one late-game appearance at the hot corner since his reactivation. He's really only caddying for Derrek Lee and helping populate a deep September bench, making just two starts now that he's healthy.

The Outfield Shuffle: Inconveniently enough, Melky Cabrera has gone into another one of his funks at the plate, and Rick Ankiel is become little more than the answer to a trivia question TBNL, not the center-field fix the Braves thought they might have added. Happily, the Braves are nevertheless reaping the benefit of having a multiplicity of alternatives, but that's because McLouth's back and bopping. Even that wasn't the product of any success in Gwinnett, as he hit six homers in 151 PAs, with a weak .149 ISO.

If McLouth is back to what they thought they'd acquired when they traded for him, that's the best possible outcome for their outfield situation, but as things now stand, there are really just two certainties: Jason Heyward owns right field, and Matt Diaz will start in left against lefties. Beyond that, Cox can shuffle between Ankiel, McLouth, and Cabrera in center, and pick from that trio plus Eric Hinske for starts against right-handers in left. Effectively, Cox has as many outfielders as Lincoln had generals-that there are a lot of choices doesn't necessarily mean there are really that many good ones.

Takeaways: With McLouth hitting and Lee finally warming up, the Braves' post-season plans may only be muddled by their options when it comes to picking between various alternatives to replace Kris Medlen on the pitching staff and Chipper Jones among the position players, assuming they sensibly named that unavailable duo up front in order to keep their options open when the time comes for picking their final LDS roster. Jair Jurrjens' knee injury might create a difficult choice when it comes to picking a Game Three starter in any October series-he may have managed just one quality start in his last five, but Derek Lowe has been far from reliable himself, however much happiness his recent streak of beating up on weak lineups might provide.


MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled LHP Sean West from New Orleans (Triple-A); designated RHP Jorge Sosa for assignment. [8/3]
Outrighted RHP Jorge Sosa to New Orleans. [8/4]
Activated C-R Brett Hayes from the 15-day DL; signed 1B/3B-L Chad Tracy; optioned C-R Brad Davis and OF-L Bryan Petersen to New Orleans. [8/5]
Placed LHP Sean West on the 15-day DL (knee), retroactive to 8/15; optioned LHP Taylor Tankersley to New Orleans; recalled RHP Alex Sanabia from New Orleans; recalled LHP Andrew Miller from Jacksonville (Double-A). [8/19]
Placed C-R Ronny Paulino on the Restricted List; recalled C-R Brad Davis from New Orleans. [8/20]
Noted the loss of OF-R Cody Ross via a waiver claim by the Giants. [8/23]
Recalled CF-R Cameron Maybin from New Orleans. [8/24]
Purchased the contract of C-S Chris Hatcher from Jacksonville; purchased the contract of RHP Jorge Sosa from New Orleans. [9/1]
Recalled RHP Chris Leroux and CF-L Scott Cousins from New Orleans. [9/3]
Placed INF-R Donnie Murphy on the 60-day DL (wrist), retroactive to 9/2; placed RHP Ricky Nolasco on the 60-day DL, retroactive to 8/29; purchased the contracts of RHP Adalberto Mendez and C-R Mike Rivera from New Orleans. [9/4]
Recalled RHPs Jay Buente and Jose Ceda from Jacksonville. [9/6]
Optioned C-S Chris Hatcher to Jacksonville. [9/8]
Noted the loss of RHP Chris Leroux to the Pirates on a waiver claim. [9/13]
Recalled RHP Brett Sinkbeil from New Orleans. [9/14]
Recalled C-S Chris Hatcher from Jacksonville; purchased the contracts of RHP Sandy Rosario and SS-R Osvaldo Martinez from Jacksonville; transferred LF-L Chris Coghlan from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/19]
Purchased the contract of RHP Steve Cishek from Jacksonville; transferred RHP Jhan Marinez from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/20]

Obvious Ignominious Move: Losing the arb-eligible Ross on a waiver claim, simultaneously re-inflating concerns about the franchise's ticky-tack tendencies when it comes to affording middling talents while disappointing long-held expectations that they'd be able to get something of value for Ross.

Non-Obvious Good Move: Not getting carried away with the ignominy attached to losing Ross-c'mon people, it was just Cody Ross, an understandable discard from the Reds snagged cheaply and employed to adequate effect at minimal expense. Now that he's in his age-29 season and was producing just a .261 TAv at the time of his departure, and already handicapped with spotty range for a center fielder, you've got an aging tweener who was getting expensive. That's exactly the sort of guy you let go.

Meh: Unfortunately, releasing Ross puts the Fish back in the barrel for some to take potshots at, because with the freed-up playing time, they're alternating between Emilio Bonifacio and Maybin in center. There really shouldn't be a call to make there-as frustrating as Maybin may be, he's still just 23 years old, and he's hitting for power after hitting well at New Orleans. As long as they don't get carried away with Bonifacio-again-an outfield combo of Maybin between Mike Stanton in right and Logan Morrison in left field sounds fairly promising. If they put Chris Coghlan at third base next spring, that's actually a fairly fun lineup.

Who? Is in the rotation at this point? Well that you may ask, since Josh Johnson and the Nolasco Kid are done for the year, they can't go West as long as he's being held out of all baseball activities with a knee injury, really just leaving them with Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad as the closest things they have left that resemble established starters. Then you've got Andrew Miller's latest opportunity, which like Maybin's has the virtue of repetition, without the silver lining of any minor-league success-when it came to giving up runs and walks in Double-A, Miller was at sixes and sevens per nine. Adalberto Mendez and Alex Sanabia round out the front five. Mendez is a 28-year-old Dominican string bean, a journeyman and utility pitcher who washed out of the Cubs' organization after seven seasons and has spent the last three beating the bushes with various Fishy affiliates, while Sanabia's being handed back the opportunity he originally received in July, responding with three quality starts in his subsequent six turns.

Him? Chad Tracy is getting the chance that Mike Lamb did not, splitting time with Wes Helms at third base. As comebacks go, it isn't amounting to much, but it was worth a shot as long as Coghlan's hurt, and as long as they're sold on leaving Morrison in left and Gaby Sanchez at first base.

Not Him: That wasn't the same Chris Hatcher who pelted 46 homers for Omaha back in 1998, making some sort of J.R. House-style latter-day move back behind the plate-this Chris Hatcher switch-hits, catches, and is an organization soldier marking time in the Marlins' system. Only the Marlins' overlapping waves of injuries to their backstops opened a door for him.

Takeaways: The question over whether this year's .500-ish effort is more exciting than previous iterations will be one of this winter's more interesting bits of speculation. Catcher might be the last remaining safe haven for any veteran placeholders, and if the rotation is fully healthy, they'll do more than flap a fickle fin at the whole proposition of whether they can contend.


NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned OF-L Jesus Feliciano to Buffalo (Triple-A); released INF-L Alex Cora; recalled OF-L Fernando Martinez and MI-R Ruben Tejada from Buffalo. [8/7]
Placed RHP Francisco Rodriguez on the Restricted List; activated RHP Sean Green from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to Buffalo; recalled RHP Ryota Igarashi from Buffalo. [8/12]
Activated RHP Francisco Rodriguez from the Restricted List; optioned RHP Ryota Igarashi and LHP Raul Valdes to Buffalo; purchased the contract of LHP Pat Misch from Buffalo. [8/14]
Signed RHP Yhency Brazoban, and assigned him to Buffalo. [8/16]
Returned RHP Francisco Rodriguez to the Restricted List; recalled RHP Ryota Igarashi. [8/17]
Optioned OF-L Fernando Martinez to Buffalo. [8/19]
Noted the loss of C-R Rod Barajas to the Dodgers on a waiver claim; recalled OF-L Jesus Feliciano from Buffalo. [8/22]
Optioned OF-L Jesus Feliciano to Buffalo; purchased the contract of MI-R Luis Hernandez from Buffalo. [8/27]
Traded RF-R Jeff Francoeur to the Rangers for INF-R Joaquin Arias. [8/31]
Recalled RHP Jenrry Mejia from Buffalo; purchased the contract of LF-L Lucas Duda from Buffalo. [9/1]
Purchased the contract of C-R Mike Nickeas from Buffalo; transferred RHP John Maine from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/2]
Recalled 1B-R Nick Evans from Buffalo. [9/5]
Purchased the contract of RHP Dillon Gee from Buffalo; recalled OF-L Jesus Feliciano, RHP Sean Green, and LHP Raul Valdes from Buffalo; transferred LF-R Jason Bay from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/6]

Obvious Good Move: They made Frenchy go away. Now let the healing begin.

Non-Obvious Good Move: Josh Thole's playing time has moved from grudgingly parceled out to regular. He's sort of the latter-day Jerry Grote in the making-I admit, it's a stretch comparison, in that Thole has a little more patience and bats lefty and will hopefully be more consistent at the plate, but like Grote he might be an underrated, useful starter for years to come. A review of Todd Hundley, but it isn't long before you run into Grote and John Stearns and the like.

Meh: Beyond Thole and Ike Davis, it's worth wondering if the entire youth movement is more of a necessary fall-back position than a reflection of all that much genuine commitment so far. Duda is getting most of the left-field at-bats after hitting a combined .304/.398/.569 between an initial Double-A repeat assignment and a May promotion to Triple-A, doing most of his damage against right-handers. That's nice, but what's his future-dogsbody to Jason Bay? It's one thing to bench Luis Castillo to spend some more time seeing if Ruben Tejada is any closer to being ready-he isn't, but the Mets are dead, so why not? But to play Luis Hernandez, what does that prove?

Out on the bump, the situation isn't dire as mop-up operations go, but there's already a pall over both the future and the present. After adding Johan Santana to the long list of absent friends in the rotation, there's the danger that he may not be ready in time for Opening Day 2011. Jenrry Mejia got a taste of the rotation, exactly as planned, but he's already been shut down for the season after an unhappy MRI result with just 81 1/3 IP on the season. There's some cause for satisfaction: Jon Niese developed into a useful back-end rotation starter, Mike Pelfrey's mastery of better off-speed stuff roots him more solidly toward the front end, and R.A. Dickey finally lived up to almost a decade's worth of curiosity. Dillon Gee provides a fourth, home-grown product to the mix, but as a finesse righty, he's still really more of a filler option for the last slot or two, conveniently employed at a time when there are spaces to fill.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty: K-Rod. Not to condone what he's accused of, but let's face it, the Mets are just using an unfortunate situation to bail themselves out of their own stupidity when it came to offering him $37 million over three years or $51 million over four. If it was about deploring his actions, they could have waited for a conviction so that they could be sure of what it was they were deploring-an actual action, or bad PR, or their former largesse. In the meantime, it'll be for an arbitrator to decide, since the union took up the necessary, unpopular position of defending the rights of a player, and appealed Rodriguez's placement on the Disqualified List.

Takeaways: Since the resumption of league play at the end of June, the Mets have won exactly one series against a potential playoff team. Like Carlos Beltran, they're just limping to this latest unhappy ending, because where before the season the Mets were seen as a team with an interesting spread of possibilities for anything between 70 and 90 wins, it looks like they're mired in a dull plod toward splitting the difference. The best you can say for their predicament is the extent to which they've learned they can lean on Niese or Thole.


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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