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May 22, 1998

Transaction Analysis

May 19-21

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated RHP Jack McDowell from the 15-day DL; optioned 3B/1B Frank Bolick to Vancouver. [5/21]

Black Jack's return has bumped Jason Dickson from the rotation, which will hopefully let Dickson work on his assortment while giving him a lighter workload so that he can get back to where he was last season. With the decision to call up Justin Baughman and play him regularly at second, the Angels didn't really need to carry a third backup infielder (Bolick) behind Paco Martin and Craig Shipley.

CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned RHP Don Wengert to Iowa; purchased the contract of RHP Kennie Steenstra from Iowa. [5/20]

Well, here's the far-sighted use of Wengert's option that Ed Lynch used to justify last week's decision to waive Amaury Telemaco. I don't mean to knock Steenstra, a crafty junkballer and organizational soldier who's deserved a cup of coffee after putting in three full seasons in Iowa before '98, but he won't stick any more than Dave Swartzbaugh did. This makes even less sense when you consider that Kevin Foster is due back by the first week of June. Rotating bodies through the last roster spot may be a nice gesture for somebody like Steenstra to make his debut, but its a gesture that cost the team Telemaco, so I don't care for it.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated LHP Alvin Morman from the DL; optioned RHP Jason Rakers to Buffalo. [5/19]

Activated LHP Tom Martin from the DL and optioned him to Buffalo. [5/21]

Morman was beginning to pitch strongly in middle relief before his injury, but it also gives the Tribe four lefties in the pen (although Krivda figures to continue to get spot starts, with the next coming up in Chad Ogea's spot). As long as Mike Hargrove continues to give everyone full innings, or only use Paul Assenmacher as a specialist, this shouldn't be a problem. Rakers came up to toss one inning.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Purchased the contract of RHP Matt Mantei from Charlotte, and the contract of RHP Ryan Dempster from Portland (AA); optioned LHP Chris Hammond and RHP Rob Stanifer to Charlotte. [5/20]

Moves for moves' sake? Mantei hasn't been pitching particularly well in Charlotte as he recovers his arm strength (16.1 IP, 11 H, 18 BB, 25 K), and Dempster could be highly combustible in his major league debut (8 HRs in 7 starts, 3.22 ERA, 44.2 IP, 34 H, 15 BB, 33 K), and he's still very young (21), and hasn't really added the velocity people are expecting from him. He'll step into the rotation behind Livan Hernandez, Jesus Sanchez, Brian Meadows, and notionally Andy Larkin, although Larkin should get bumped to make room for Joe Fontenot on Saturday. Of course, neither Hammond or Boom-boom Bobby Stanifer are commodities either, so as long as everyone keeps their nametags on, everyone will get to play...

HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed 1B/3B Jack Howell on the 60-day DL (dislocated wrist); purchased the contract of 1B/OF J.R. Phillips from New Orleans. [5/20]

Losing Howell bites into the Astros' depth in LH pinch-hitters, not to mention costing them their first-choice replacement for Jeff Bagwell (who's still expected back by the end of the month). Daryle Ward will not step into the role for the next week's worth of playing time, however, as Phillips will get the work. He's coming off of a hot five weeks' work: .312/.372/.682, with 14 homeruns. When Bagwell comes back, Ward will be the one sent back, partially because of Phillips' contract (he has the option to become a free agent if he's sent back down).

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Activated 1B Joe Vitiello from the DL, and outrighted him to Omaha. [5/19]

Because of the injuries, Vitiello has to be considered one of the bigger prospect washouts of the '90s.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed RHP Paul Wagner on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/18 (stomach disorder); purchased the contract of RHP Bobby Chouinard from Louisville; transferred C Jesse Levis from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/21]

In Wagner's absence, Brad Woodall is getting the first start, although journeymen Chouinard and Bronswell Patrick could each get a spot start until Wagner recovers. None of them may have more than two months to carve out roles on this team for themselves, since Jeff D'Amico is expected back by the All-Star break, Steve Woodard should have cemented a spot in the rotation, and they'll know what's going on with Jose Mercedes by that point. All three (Woodall, Chouinard, and Patrick) live off of breaking stuff, and only Patrick's had any sort of success in recent seasons, so don't be surprised when the Brewers rush Wagner back.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled LHP Rick DeHart from Ottawa. [5/19]

Pending Carl Pavano's activation, DeHart's callup should be brief, unless the Expos decide to get upset with Marc Valdes.

NEW YORK METS

Activated 3B Edgardo Alfonzo from the DL; optioned OF Preston Wilson to Norfolk; announced UT Shawn Gilbert cleared waivers and accepted assignment to Norfolk. [5/19]

Wilson's fun debut was followed by the general recognition he'll still swing at anything, which probably made the Mets feel better about his pre-punched return ticket to Norfolk. Alfonzo's return moves Matt Franco back to his spot as Valentine's top pinch-hitter.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Signed RF Paul O'Neill to a one-year contract extension, with a club option for 2000. [5/21]

"Ricky Ledee, we love you... in Columbus. Its still a very nice place, isn't it? Still got the same apartment? Smart thinking, kid."

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Activated SS Miguel Tejada from the DL, and optioned him to Huntsville (AA). [5/20]

With Kurt Abbott doing everything in his power to remind folks of Alfredo Griffin's bad weeks in the field, Tejada will hopefully get every chance to show he's healthy and reclaim the job he'd won in camp.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated OF/1B Mark Smith from the DL; optioned INF Chance Sanford to Nashville. [5/19]

Smith had a very strong rehab at Nashville (10 games, .390/.479/.756), and there's speculation that the Pirates are going to let him start at first, moving Kevin Young to third. Since Cam Bonifay has also come out and said we can expect to see Aramis Ramirez in a Pirates uniform before the end of the season, there's no strong commitment to playing Young at third for long. Mark Smith is a handy spare part, fourth OF, and pinch-hitter, but he also isn't good enough to keep Aramis Ramirez out of Pittsburgh.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Activated RHP Bob Wells from the DL; optioned OF Ryan Radmanovich to Tacoma. [5/19]

Radmanovich gets cast aside as Robert Perez was cast aside, after a fistful of crummy at bats. Bob Wells is no savior, but he'd probably be a better option in the rotation that sticking with what's left of Billy Swift. So would Felipe Lira. In either case, it would take a bit of patience to simply stick either in the rotation for more than a start or two, and I doubt Lou Piniella can sit still that long.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Activated C Brian Johnson from the DL; optioned C Doug Mirabelli to Fresno. [5/20]

Not exactly an earth-shattering move. Mirabelli wasn't going to get to play, and Brent Mayne should continue to get the lion's share of playing time behind the plate.

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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