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May 19, 1998

Transaction Analysis

May 15-18

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed UT Randy Velarde on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/15 (elbow); recalled SS/2B Justin Baughman from Vancouver. [5/16]

It looks like Velarde's elbow woes are of the career-ending variety, which means the Angels have to get away from the ugly temporary solutions at second (Carlos Garcia, Paco Martin, or Craig Shipley), and bring in somebody who can actually help. Baughman is not a great player, and he may have trouble initially in shifting over from shortstop, but he's been a good and potentially outstanding defender. His offensive game is centered on speed (15/4 SB/CS this year, after 118 steals in the previous two seasons), with less power than Gary DiSarcina, but better plate discipline. He may be raw, having skipped AA, and only a month of AAA experience. Given the alternatives, the Angels can probably count their blessings if Baughman simply shows a willingness to work and learn.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Claimed RHP Amaury Telemaco off waivers from the Cubs; optioned UT Hensley Meulens to Tucson. [5/15]

An outstanding pickup for the D-backs. Telemaco will initially be in the bullpen, and he has the opportunity to claim almost any role on this team. If the intent is to eventually work him into the rotation, leaving him in relief for the time being will be good for his long-term development. Given the D-backs' bullpen problems, he could also end up claiming the closer's role. That would be a waste of his potential as a starting pitcher, but it may be more in line with the team's current needs.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Purchased the contract of RHP Bobby Munoz from Rochester; optioned C Charlie Greene to Rochester. [5/15]

Placed RHP Mike Mussina on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 5/15 (broken nose); activated LHP Doug Johns from the DL. [5/18]

Losing Mussina again clearly isn't going to help, but for the long-term, his absence may shake the organization out of its unrealistic expectations of contending with this team, which leaves Angelos at a crossroads: trade what little talent there is on the farm to contend with this team and the huge investment it already represents, or acknowledge that catching the Yankees isn't very possible, and parting with as many of the graybeards as possible. Given the past decisions to fight bitterly to the end, and avoiding trades for prospects, we probably know which way they're going to go. That means this year is beginning to look more and more like '86, when the last strong Orioles team died, only to discover its farm system was barren.

Bobby Munoz has been pitching well in relief at Rochester, and it isn't inconceivable that he can resurrect his career. Charlie Greene was basically unnecessary after Chris Hoiles started getting his throwing arm working, and Lenny Webster showed he was healthy. Nevertheless, he deserves to be remembered fondly as the guy who got the Ozzeroo off the roster.

BOSTON RED SOX

Placed RHP Brian Rose on the 15-day DL (elbow stiffness); recalled LHP Steve Avery from Pawtucket. [5/15]

Rose hasn't been an asset in the early going (1-4, 6.93 ERA, 9 HRs in 37.2 innings), while Steve Avery pitched a nice little five innings against a Royals lineup missing Dean Palmer. Since that came on the tail of three crummy starts in Pawtucket, he may not be a great long-term option for the rotation. Despite public hand-wringing, they're also settling on leaving Derek Lowe in the rotation. That's the product of the unfortunately quick hooks for Robinson Checo (two starts) and John Wasdin (one), but Dan Duquette seems to be becoming more and more responsive to a perpetually hostile and panicky Beantown media circuit.

CHICAGO CUBS

Recalled 2B Jason Hardtke from Iowa; placed RHP Amaury Telemaco on waivers. [5/15]

There is no good public explanation for what's happened here. The Cubs wanted to get down to 11 pitchers. Don Wengert has options remaining, and Kevin Foster won't be ready until the first or second week of June. Yet the Cubs decided to waive (and not designate for assignment) Telemaco, thus losing him, while keeping the spectacularly useless Wengert on the roster for another two or three weeks. So the Cubs get nothing for a young pitcher with some value, and still have Don Wengert, who they're going to get rid of shortly anyways, after dumping a useful LH pitcher to add him in the first place. This comes in the wake of Terry Mulholland's griping for a trade, in which he blamed Lynch for misleading him about whether or not he'd be a rotation regular when he signed (there isn't much reason for sympathy for him: if the man's agent can't count heads or know about Kerry Wood's existence, he needs to blame somebody other than Lynch). The other slender benefit is to bring in Hardtke as middle infield insurance of a sort, since Jeff Blauser's knee is keeping Jose Hernadez and Manny Alexander busy at short. Once again, the decision to keep three bad catchers is making the Cubs a waystation for free talent for other teams.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Acquired C Mike Piazza and 3B Todd Zeile from the Dodgers for RF Gary Sheffield, OF Jim Eisenreich, C Charles Johnson, 3B Bobby Bonilla, and RHP Manny Barrios. [5/15]

Recalled CF Todd Dunwoody, 1B/LF Ryan Jackson, and RHP Oscar Henriquez from Charlotte. [5/16]

For extended reading about the trade, check out my article on the subject.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Traded C Mike Piazza and 3B Todd Zeile to Florida for RF Gary Sheffield, C Charles Johnson, 3B/OF Bobby Bonilla, OF Jim Eisenreich, and RHP Manny Barrios. [5/15]

Recalled LHP Dennis Reyes from Albuquerque; returned Rule V pick RHP Frank Lankford to the Yankees. [5/15]

Placed OF Trenidad Hubbard on the 15-day DL (knee); optioned UT Wil Guerrero and RHP Manuel Barrios to Albuquerque; designated 2B Brian Richardson for assignment. [5/16]

For extended reading about the trade, read my article on the subject.

Recalling Reyes makes sense on two counts: first, as we all know, Darren Dreifort is having big problems getting into the sixth inning in his starts. Second, various nagging injuries to rotation starters had led to more use for Frank Lankford than I'm sure the Dodgers originally expected. Since they need either a better long relief option in the first place, calling up Reyes gives them the option to use Reyes or Dreifort interchangeably as the fifth starter or in long relief. Dreifort almost certainly helped his cause with a good outing in his last start.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed RHP Dustin Hermanson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/15 (strained back muscle); recalled RHP Mike Johnson from Harrisburg (AA). [5/16]

Optioned RHP Mike Johnson to Harrisburg (AA). [5/18]

Its hard to call anything a mortal blow to a placeholder franchise, but losing Hermanson is pretty close. Johnson was pitching horribly at Harrisburg (6.95 ERA, 9 HRs in 33.2 innings), but he was rested and ready, so he got an emergency shellacking while Carl Pavano pitched his third rehab start at Ottawa. Its expected that Pavano will get activated by the coming weekend, taking his place in a rotation of Carlos Perez, Trey Moore, Javier Vazquez, and Miguel Batista.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Assigned RHP Frank Lankford to Columbus. [5/15]

Lankford got smacked around early and often for the Dodgers, who decided they couldn't hide a Rule Ver on their roster for a season. He'll join Columbus' struggling rotation.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed 3B/1B Dave Magadan on the 15-day DL (sprained hand); recalled 3B/2B Mark Bellhorn from Edmonton. [5/16]

This may be one of Bellhorn's last shots at winning any future role on the major league roster. Initially, the A's have said that Mike Blowers will be the regular 3B in Magadan's absence, and Eric Chavez is looking certain to claim the job by '99. So Bellhorn has to impress now to get a shot at Scott Spiezio's job at second, or hope Blowers slumps. Of course, Blowers pounded the bejeezuz out of White Sox pitching the last three days, so Bellhorn is probably out of luck. Losing Magadan moves Jason McDonald back to the top of the order, while putting Blowers in the middle of the order (fifth or sixth).

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Activated RHP Mark Portugal from the DL; optioned RHP Ryan Nye to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/14]

Portugal pitched extremely well in his return appearance. If the Phillies are lucky, he'll give them another eight or nine good starts so that he can be a commodity by the trade deadlines in July and August.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Optioned RHP Sean Lowe to Memphis; recalled RHP Brady Raggio from Memphis. [5/15]

Recalled RHP Manny Aybar from Memphis Redbirds; optioned RHP Brady Raggio to Memphis. [5/16]

Placed LHP Donovan Osborne on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/8 (shoulder sprain); recalled RHP Rich Croushore from Memphis. [5/18]

This was the long way around admitting that Donovan Osborne is still broken and can't be fixed, and comes at the same time as the acknowledgment that Alan Benes won't be back until after the All-Star break. Aybar will return to the rotation after going 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his brief banishment to AAA, joining a rotation of Todd Stottlemyre, Kent Mercker, Mark Petkovsek, and ... well, what's Joaquin Andujar up to these days? Seriously, either Mike Busby or Juan Acevedo could end up starting, pending another brief return by Matt Morris. Croushore is an organizational soldier who's struggled as a starter (good heat with little movement), but may end up being almost as valuable as John Frascatore in helping opposing batters fatten up.

Thanks to the alert readers who caught last Friday's typing error: Rigo Beltran, of course, was traded to the Mets for Juan Acevedo in the offseason, so it wouldn't be very easy for the Cardinals to call him up any time soon, and my bad habit of confusing Beltran and Raggio in the past doesn't help matters any.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Placed CF James Mouton on the 15-day DL (strained quad); recalled OF Ruben Rivera from Las Vegas. [5/16]

Mouton had an outstanding camp to earn a roster spot, but he's struggled since the games started to count (.184/.255/.265), so Rivera may get a crack to stick as the fourth OF and defensive replacement for Greg Vaughn. Of course, he's been awful in Vegas (.144/.222/.260), but unlike Aaron Guiel, he's right-handed and was part of the Irabu booty, so there's an organizational imperative to show him off.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Recalled LHP Scott Aldred from Durham; optioned LHP Ramon Tatis to Hudson Valley (A); transferred RHP Bryan Rekar from the 15- to the 60-day DL, retroactive to 5/31. [5/15]

Placed 3B Bobby Smith on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/13 (hamstring pull); recalled RHP Eddie Gaillard from Durham. [5/17]

Tatis earned his demotion in combustible fashion: an astounding 33 baserunners in 8.2 innings. Doing that without working for Lou Piniella is a rare treat most fans don't get to relish. However, the selection of a token lefty in the pen to take his place seems a bit surprising: Aldred has an assortment that doesn't break in on lefties, and he's never been particularly good at getting them out. The alternatives at Durham were Ryan Karp, who is effective against lefties despite currently sporting a 4.91 ERA, and the ever-amazing Brad Pennington. Pennington is teasing folks with another dandy season: 22.1 innnings, 15 hits, 13 walks, 27 Ks, a 2.42 ERA through Sunday. Although neither man will make folks forget Paul Assenmacher or Craig Lefferts, let alone Tony Fossas or Rick Honeycutt, they're both better suited for the job than Aldred, and both could wind up being assets, given the time.

Bobby Smith's trip to the DL creates playing time for Scott McClain, which is a nice thing to see, since he brings a similar group of skills (some sock in a righty bat, good glovework at third) to complement Wade Boggs.

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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