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June 9, 1998

Transaction Analysis

June 5-8

by Christina Kahrl

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Purchased the contract of LHP Radhames Dykhoff from Bowie (AA); sent RHP Bobby Munoz outright to Rochester. [6/5]

Activated RHP Mike Mussina from the DL; placed RHP Terry Mathews on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/2 (shoulder stiffness); placed OF Jeffrey Hammonds on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/3 (back spasms); purchased the contract of OF Jesus Tavarez from Rochester; transferred RHP Everett Stull from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/6]

The Orioles are pretty punch-drunk at the moment, and that's probably the worst possible thing for them under the circumstances. They might railroad Ray Miller out of town out of frustration and/or claim that they were undermined by injuries, but they'd be missing the point: this team is bad because of the players they went out of their way to get, and because the blush was already off most of the players they already had.

Why is Jesus Tavarez up? Part of it is because Ray Miller thinks he's pretty good, going on what he saw from Jesus in spring training, and out of some misconception that Tavarez is more than a slap hitter, and Miller's conviction that he can make him better. Part of it may be because Danny Clyburn is still recovering from an injury. Most unfortunately, its probably because the Orioles are comfortable with an outfield of Eric Davis, Brady Anderson, B.J. Surhoff, and Joe Carter, so they only want a spare part to back that lot up. With Davis and Anderson scuffling, and Joe Carter being Joe Carter, and Surhoff being a bad defender and a barely adequate hitter, that's a miserable combination on a team already saddled with Cal Ripken's shrinking contributions and Miller's fascination with Lenny Webster.

Mussina rejoins the rotation, giving the O's a current group of Mussina, Scott Erickson, Doug Drabek, Doug Johns, and Sid Ponson. Some folks have been awfully hasty in the rush to name Johns the new Jamie Moyer, which doesn't paper over the unfortunate commitment to Erickson, Jimmy Key's mortally wounded shoulder, Scott Kamieniecki's neverending arm troubles, Doug Drabek's decrepitude, or that Sid Ponson has been rushed. Radhames Dykhoff is another product of the Orioles' Aruban connection, with tight control. He's been well-used as a middle reliever in Bowie, tossing 36.2 innings in 20 games while striking out 47. Miller's already kvetching that he doesn't like the kid's 4-seam fastball, since he's expecting it to get deposited into the bleachers. A strange way for Miller to try inspire the troops...

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned LHP Gary Rath to Albuquerque; placed 2B Adam Riggs on the 60-day DL ('slap' lesion - right shoulder). [6/5]

In the shuffle after the Nomo trade, Rath lost his roster spot. There's very little chance that Dave Mlicki will outpitch Gary Rath, let alone Denny Reyes, over the next five weeks, months, or years.

Man, did we just jinx Riggs or what? Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Activated RHP Bob Tewksbury from the DL; optioned UT Jon Shave to Salt Lake. [6/7]

The Twins don't have an off-day for a bit, so they're going with a 12-man staff for a week or two, with Tewksbury re-entering the rotation. Dan Serafini is out of the rotation for the time being, but there are a couple of possibilities here: if Serafini works out well in the pen, the Twins would be in a position to shop Greg Swindell around seriously, and if LaTroy Hawkins or Eric Milton stumble, Serafini could re-enter the rotation. Or Serafini could struggle, and Tom Kelly would ask for something goofy, like bringing up Kevin Ohme. Sometimes there's no predicting what the Twins think is a good idea.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated SS Lou Collier from the DL; optioned INF Chance Sanford to Nashville. [6/6]

Sanford flubbed his chance, and with Ramirez up for an extended look-see, he can look at the past month as an improvement for his chances of signing into a happy situation as a six-year minor league free agent this winter, since the Bucs will be making a good amount of shuffling on the 40-man roster before the year's out. Collier may only platoon with Polcovich initially, since 'Polky' got hot in the past week or so.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Recalled UT Charles Gipson from Tacoma; optioned RHP Steve Gajkowski to Tacoma. [6/6]

There's no real reason for this move, other than to emphasize Piniella's capriciousness in the wake of last week's foolhardy claims that Gajkowski could close. Lou's currently blustering about his responsibility to shake this team up, but he's ducking his responsibility for a large share of the team's bullpen problems. Sure, the Mariners have options: they could remember that Bob Wells is a hack or that Bobby Ayala has been little more than the apple of Lou's eye since their Cincy days, or that Felipe Lira and Jose Paniagua could help. None of that matters as long as the manager is incapable of determining a useful work pattern for any of his relievers, and would rather bitch to Woody Woodward about how it's somebody else's fault, and why can't they get some new pitchers?

TEXAS RANGERS

Placed SS Kevin Elster on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/2 (partially dislocated shoulder); purchased the contract of INF Scott Sheldon from Oklahoma. [6/5]

Activated OF Roberto Kelly from the DL; optioned RHP Al Levine to Oklahoma. [6/6]

Placed 2B Mark McLemore on the 15-day DL (hamstring pull); recalled RHP Al Levine from Oklahoma. [6/7]

Losing the team's double-play combination will hurt more on defense than it will offensively. Although McLemore has put up a .430 OBP so far, Luis Alicea's no slouch at .374. In Elster's absence, Domingo Cedeno will get most of the time at short, which is where the Rangers take the hit defensively (make no mistake: Elster isn't a great gloveman, but he's reliable, while Cedeno has been brutal in the past). But these are both solid alternatives, and it won't hurt the Rangers badly. If things break his way, Sheldon could play his way into a role on the team; middle infielders who swing lefty with a bit of power (12 HRs in 218 PA at Oklahoma, .254/.317/.508 overall) are assets. McLemore is expected to be fully healthy before he has to come off the DL, so he'll be in the lineup again in two weeks. Roberto Kelly's return cuts into Mike Simms' playing time, which isn't a setback. It simply means that the alignment of Oates' strong bench is slightly different, and Simms will wind up pinch-hitting for a middle infielder or spotting Will Clark against tougher LHPs every once in awhile.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Recalled RHP Robert Person from Syracuse; designated LHP Ben VanRyn for assignment; added C Dave Morgan to the 40-man roster, and optioned him to Dunedin. [6/7]

VanRyn was given a look as one of Tim Johnson's Iowans from last season, and flubbed his opportunity. Because of Johnson, he may choose to stay with the organization. Person has been solid at Syracuse since recovering from April's car accident: 2.20 ERA, 49 IP, 34 hits, 22 walks, and 41 strikeouts in six starts and three relief appearances. He still hasn't kicked his gopher habit, coughing up 7 taters. His callup could be either to showcase him, although he's going to be useful in a bullpen where Johnson restricts Dan Plesac to situational work, Myers in the closer's role, Quantrill in setup duty, and Billy Risley has problems working on consecutive nights. Basically, Person will inherit Chris Carpenter's role in the pen, which means Erik Hanson's place on the team should be in serious doubt.

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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