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June 5, 1998

Transaction Analysis

June 1-4

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed RHP Jack McDowell on the 15-day DL (elbow); recalled LHP Jarrod Washburn from Vancouver. [6/1]

Recalled CF Orlando Palmeiro from Vancouver; optioned INF Frank Bolick to Vancouver. [6/4]

Losing Black Jack (again) isn't the problem, and adding Washburn to the rotation isn't a bad turn for the Angels either. The bad break is that they're going to have to risk putting Dickson back into the rotation, and it may be too soon for that. Washburn has generally been a one-trick pony in his career so far, dialing up a very good fastball while sort of skipping over that offspeed or breaking stuff. He'll be 24 in August, so he isn't exceptionally young, but with Collins, there's a danger for overuse. Now that they've acknowledged that Erstad is comfortable in the OF, and that Salmon is going to have to DH for several more weeks, and that Jim Edmonds is always going to bang himself up, having a spare OF like Palmeiro as the last man on the bench makes considerably more sense than Bolick. There's still the open question of what will happen when Glaus comes up and takes over at third. The Angels are convinced that its somehow worthwhile to move Hollins to first, which is a pretty pathetic commentary on how useful Cecil Fielder is these days, since both are close to worthless. Now that Todd Greene's catching career appears over after his recent rehab setbacks, the easy solution will be to have Glaus and Greene at the corners.

Oh, and McDowell? He's threatening to sue his surgeon.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Claimed RHP Bobby Chouinard off waivers from Milwaukee. [6/1]

Purchased the contract of C Tom Wilson from Tucson; designated RHP Scott Brow for assignment. [6/2]

Acquired RHP Willie Banks from the Yankees for RHPs Scott Brow and Joe Lisio. [6/4]

Optioned C Tom Wilson to Tucson; purchased the contract of 1B/OF Mike Robertson from Tucson. [6/4]

Banks may well step into the D-backs rotation, taking over the spot just vacated by Jeff Suppan (and held for the being by Bob Wolcott). It was nice to see Tom Wilson finally log a day or two in a major league uniform, even if just as an emergency measure because of Damian Miller's impending fatherhood. He's been a good minor league veteran catcher in the upper levels for over four years now. Yes, White Sox fans, this is that Mike Robertson, not to be confused with Scott Cepicky, not to be confused with Mike Squires, and none of whom should be remembered as much as Mario Valdez.

BOSTON RED SOX

Activated CF Damon Buford from the DL; optioned RHP John Wasdin to Pawtucket. [6/3]

Placed RHP Dennis Eckersley on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/1 (shoulder soreness); recalled RHP John Wasdin from Pawtucket. [6/4]

Buford's return gets the Sox outfield situation back up to full "strength," which means they still ought to help themselves out and get a good offensive player for the outfield corners. Losing Eck isn't a problem; the Sox need to get used to trusting Rich Garces in tight spots or rehabilitating their usage patterns for Wasdin if they're going to be serious about contending. CINCINNATI REDS

Optioned LHP Eddie Priest to Indianapolis. [6/2]

Purchased the contract of RHP Scott Klingenbeck from Indianapolis. [6/4]

Priest got mauled twice, but the Reds are spinning their wheels if they're determined to make changes this quickly. Klingenbeck can brag about a 3.30 career minor league ERA entering this season, but over 17% of the runs he's allowed in that time have been unearned, he's always been hittable, his fastball has no movement, and he left the Twins' organization under a cloud of recriminations. In the past, Jack McKeon has gotten something out of pitchers other people got tired of (Pete Harnisch recently, Dennis Rasmussen with the Pads), so if anyone is ever going to get anything out of him, Jack McKeon is probably the guy. I wouldn't bet on it working out.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed LF Brian Giles on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/31 (sprained ankle); activated DH/OF Geronimo Berroa from the DL. [6/3]

Losing Giles clearly isn't a good thing. Berroa may not be healthy, so he isn't going to inherit the job. The Tribe is making the politically convenient choice of letting Mark Whiten and Shawon Dunston play left in Giles' absence. This adds a bit too much instability to what's been a potent lineup; you can't expect much from Sandy Alomar, and every day you have to wonder whether Manny Ramirez or Dave Justice will play. Maybe if they hadn't traded away Chad Curtis for David Weathers a year ago, they'd have the Yankees' happy situation of having Curtis around as an outstanding fourth OF, instead of a Weathers-sized booby prize.

DETROIT TIGERS

Acquired OF Rod Lindsey from San Diego to complete the 5/6 trade of RHP Scott Sanders. [6/1]

Purchased the contract of RHP Seth Greisinger from Toledo; designated UT Jeff Manto for assignment. [6/3]

A.J. Sager clearly wasn't meant to be in the rotation for long, and former top draft pick Greisinger pitched well in Toledo: 3-4, 2.92 ERA, allowing less than a hit per 9 innings. What's unfortunate is the Tigers' hesitance to release any of Randy Smith's guys. Is it really necessary to keep Doug Brocail and Sager and Tim Worrell? None of them hold an important role (or are worth much), but all of them are associated with Smith in one of his past jobs with other organizations. Meanwhile, their offense continues to scuffle, despite several players having good seasons by their own lights. Are they going to get around to fixing the offense?

FLORIDA MARLINS

Announced that LHP Chris Hammond has refused assignment to Charlotte and is now a free agent. [6/2]

Claimed RHP Brian Edmondson off waivers from Atlanta. [6/4]

There are some advantages to being a bottom-feeder. Edmondson has shown some promise, which is why he's flipped from the Mets to the D-backs to the Braves to the Fish in six months. Taking a flyer on him is certainly better for them than wasting time with the likes of Robby Stanifer.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Recalled SS Mendy Lopez from Omaha; optioned SS Felix Martinez to Omaha. [6/3]

Purchased the contract of SS Luis Rivera (in New Orleans) from the Astros. [6/3]

It isn't every franchise that speaks with pride when remembering Freddy Patek, but I guess the Royals have their equivalent to the Cubs' quest for "the next Santo." Martinez probably shouldn't see the light of day again; if he was any good, an organization might put up with the cheap shots, but he isn't, even if he might be better than his current .129/.187/.165. Since being traded to the Red Sox for Spike Owen, Luis Rivera has seen Spike's career enjoy three separate resurrections and collapses, not to mention retirement, while he's still been Luis Rivera. If there was a minor league answer to "The Portrait of Dorian Gray," he's it.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Designated RHP Hideo Nomo for assignment; purchased the contract of LHP Gary Rath from Albuquerque. [6/1]

Traded RHPs Hideo Nomo and Brad Clontz to the Mets for RHPs Dave Mlicki and Greg McMichael; placed OF Todd Hollandsworth on the 60-day DL (shoulder); purchased the contract of SS Alex Cora from Albuquerque, effective 6/5. [6/4]

The Dodgers' rotation has been scuffling for awhile, so I can understand their impulse to fix it. But did they? Dave Mlicki's only major assets are mediocrity and relative anonymity, and adding an extreme groundball pitcher like McMichael may be nice for the pen, but the Dodgers don't have a bad bullpen in the first place. Trading Nomo may have been necessary on some level, but turning him into a fifth starter and a reliever? The Dodger have Dennis Reyes, who is by all indications ready to pitch in the majors. They have guys like Gary Rath (2.63 ERA in Albuquerque) who can pitch. They have some prospects in Mike Judd and Jeff Kubenka and Eric Weaver who are ready or almost ready. Even if Hollandsworth wasn't out for the season, what the Dodgers really need is a good offensive player for left (since they refuse to play Cedeno) or a firstbaseman who's an offensive asset. But overreacting to one or two late inning losses, as the Dodgers apparently have, reflects an increasing desperation to somehow magically turn this team into a winner. I'm all in favor of bold and decisive moves, but being boldly and decisively stupid doesn't gloss over the 'stupid' part. The Dodgers already have the answers to the talent questions they're posing to themselves: Konerko and Cedeno in the lineup, the aforementioned pitchers instead of Dave Mlicki. Instead, the actions they're taking are only limiting their choices and handicapping their team on the field, instead of giving them freedom of action to make some real improvements.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Activated RHP Paul Wagner from the DL. [6/1]

Wagner in the rotation is literally a case of cheezy affirmative action: being a local boy, they must figure Wagner's good for ticket sales. Given their storied commitments to scouting small-town Cheeseheads throughout Wisconsin to give the organization a local flavor, keeping him around is sort of like the Canadian teams goofing off with any Canuck.

NEW YORK METS

Acquired RHPs Hideo Nomo and Brad Clontz from Los Angeles for RHPs Dave Mlicki and Greg McMichael. [6/4]

Potentially another masterstroke by Steve Phillips. If all that is wrong is that Nomo misses his old pitching coach (Dave Wallace), or was another pitcher sick of working for Bill Russell, or even just needs to handled gingerly while he recovers fully from offseason surgery, then he could be a major asset for the Mets by the stretch drive. Losing Dave Mlicki is no loss at all, since if Nomo still flounders, he's basically pitching at a Mlicki-like level. This move does leave the Mets short-handed as far as reliable RH relief: Mel Rojas is looking fine since getting into shape in the offseason, but Turk Wendell seems to have devoted his life to reproducing an accurate, working model of Jim Acker's hanging slider, and John Hudek and Clontz aren't exactly reliable.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Purchased the contract of RHP Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez from Columbus; optioned RHP Todd Erdos to Columbus. [6/2]

Acquired RHPs Scott Brow and Joe Lisio from Arizona for RHP Willie Banks; placed SS Derek Jeter on the 15-day DL (abdominal strain); assigned Lisio to the minors. [6/4]

David Cone's dog conveniently bit his pitching hand, making the Yankees' contingency callup of El Duque on Tuesday (in case Wells couldn't start) timely, as he turned around and embarassed the D-Rays in his debut. El Duque was mastering the International League (6-0, 3.83 ERA, 59 Ks in 42.1 IP, while plunking 5 unfortunates), so he won't be returned until he starts to struggle. Once Cone returns, Ramiro Mendoza will return to the pen as a long man, insurance policy, and spot starter. Jeter's injury isn't considered serious, although it meant somebody had to remember that they had Luis Sojo, and go find him. Who knows, maybe the Yankees might lose four, maybe five games in Jeter's absence...

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed RHP Dave Telgheder on the 15-day DL (knee ligaments); activated DH Kevin Mitchell from the DL. [6/3]

Recalled RHP Jay Witasick from Edmonton; outrighted UT Jack Voigt to Edmonton. [6/4]

The A's bullpen has been the team's weakest point, with Aaron Small and T.J. Mathews struggling and Mike Fetters reminding everyone that he's never going to be around for more than 50 innings. Witasick hasn't been dominating in the PCL as a starter (although he has a 4.25 ERA, with unearned runs, he's giving up around 5.4 runs per 9), but he's avoided the elbow woes that usually shut him down, and he has gassed 65 in 61.2 IP. If he's put into the pen to stay, he could help staunch the bleeding.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated CF James Mouton from the DL. [6/1]

Placed C Greg Myers on the 15-day DL (sprained hand); recalled C Mandy Romero from Las Vegas. [6/4]

Kevin Brown's crabbing about the Pads catchers this spring may take a turn for the worse, since he knows Mandy Romero almost as well as he knows Myers or Carlos Hernandez. Romero's still getting the occasional "Crash Davis" compliments as a minor league vet with some sock, and as a switch-hitter, should get spot starts for Hernandez.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Recalled OF Alex Diaz from Fresno; optioned RHP Russ Ortiz to Fresno. [6/4]

The Giants claim this move was in response to coming interleague games, because they'll have to use the DH, donchaknow. Alex Diaz and DH, in the same passage? Well, they do already have Marvin Benard and Chris Jones, after all... This deserves another "I am not an idiot" press conference...

SEATTLE MARINERS

Designated LHP Tony Fossas for assignment; recalled LHP Greg McCarthy from Tacoma. [6/3]

Fossas will probably wind up going back to the Cardinals, where he'll do just what Rick Honeycutt did after his one season away from LaRussa with the Rangers; get used in the way he's effective. McCarthy, one of last year's sacrificial lambs, still hasn't developed control (39 baserunners in 19.1 IP at Tacoma), which was the reason given for his demotion last year, despite being one of the Mariners' better relievers early on. Like anyone who has to pitch for Lou, he'll struggle, and get blamed for it while his manager gets off scot-free.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Placed C Darrin Fletcher on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/30 (hamstring); recalled C Mark Dalesandro from Syracuse. [6/1]

Fletcher was finally getting back on track, but now he'll join Benito Santiago on the DL. Dalessandro pasted 10 homeruns in 133 PA at Syracuse, hitting .285/.338/.602. Obviously, he won't do that at the major league level, but he is left-handed, and should be a handy caddy for Kevin Brown in Fletcher's absence.

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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