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October 6, 1997
September 26-October 5BOSTON RED SOX
Released LF Wil Cordero. [9/28]
Acquired RHP Jim Mecir from the Yankees to complete the Mike Stanley trade. [9/29]
Cordero's release was well-earned, even without the off-field problems. A left fielder who hits 281/320/432 (which isn't far off from his pre-'97 career mark of 279/337/424) is close to worthless. As it stands, Cordero's season makes for an interesting argument about whether or not shifting players down the defensive spectrum to less difficult positions necessarily translates into better offensive seasons. In his case, clearly not. A team cannot afford to carry his bat in the OF, which means he should get shifted back into the infield if he's going to do much to help a team. Although Jim Mecir is a nice little pickup, for the Sox he either gets to be background noise to clutter the draft lists of Tampa or Arizona, or he'll get an opportunity to fill in the back end of the constantly changing Sox bullpen next spring.
Fired coach Mako Oliveras. [9/29]
This may not seem like news, but Oliveras was a coach who was popular with fans and players. However, it was perceived that he was too closely aligned with the Sosa/Latin faction in a quietly, if deeply, divided Cubs clubhouse. With Jim Riggleman getting more and more testy with increasing speculation that he wasn't entirely blameless for this year's debacle, it wasn't surprising that the team canned someone who wasn't "his" guy at the same time as the manager started lighting into the teams' players for being selfish. Maybe its just me, but Jose Hernandez' pursuit of his eighth HR or Scott Servais shot at 40 RBI just don't strike me as that indicative of the team's real problems.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Fired manager Terry Bevington. [9/30]
Agreed to terms with 1B Frank Thomas on a six-year contract extension through 2006. [9/30]
Sox fans get their long sought-after wish. One of the interesting things that came in the wake of Bev's firing was the attempts of the Sox' radio lackeys to compare poor Bev to Tony LaRussa, as well as the strange claims by several fans that Terry Bevington was a factor in their decision to not come to Comiskey. This is something of a first, it would seem, but if anything, seems to represent a much deeper organizational problem with how the Sox get presented in the media than it does with actual, personal distaste for Terry Bevington. As inept as he was, he's been scapegoated for the entire organization's inability or unwillingness to communicate anything to anyone.
Claimed RHP Curt Lyons off waivers from the Chicago Cubs. [10/3]
About five months ago in this space I credited the Cubs with some smarts for having gotten Lyons for Jayson Peterson and Ozzie Timmons. Lyons turned out to be damaged goods, missing most of the season. Despite that, I don't care for the Cubs' preference to keep people like Mike Hubbard on their 40-man roster ahead of Lyons. Kudos to Bowden, as always, for making his "peer," Ed Lynch, look sloppy.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Assigned that OFs Eric Anthony and Wayne Kirby and INF Nelson Liriano had refused minor league assignments and have become free agents. [10/3]
With expansion, its a good time to decide to take your chances on the market.
Announced that 3B Hensley Meulens refused assignement to Ottawa, and has become a free agent. [9/30]
NEW YORK METS
Announced that C Todd Hundley underwent surgery to repair his elbow. [9/27]
Early guesstimates say that Hundley will at best return by June of '98, with darker hints that he may miss the entire season. If anything, that should prod the Mets into "renting" a catcher in the final year of his contract, but instead there's been actual discussion about whether or not protecting Todd Pratt is necessary. Nothing against Todd Pratt, who is a fine example of the kind of "free talent" you can find among backstops, but that's a waste of a protection slot, not to mention an unnecessary commitment.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Exercised the team's option for '98 on 1B Wally Joyner. [10/3]
Whether or not the Pads should be savaged for this (heck, Dave Pease probably is), but Kevin Towers is a huge Joyner fan, so this decision was never really in doubt. Derek Lee will have to enjoy a huge season in Las Vegas next year, since its highly unlikely that the Padres would expose him.
Assigned RHP Terry Clark, LHP Bryan Eversgerd, C Henry Mercedes, and OFs Alex Diaz, Marc Sagmoen, and Mike Simms to Oklahoma City. [9/30]
Announced that OF Warren Newson had refused a minor league assignment and has become a free agent. [10/2]
For those of us card-carrying fans of the Deacon, Warren's freedom is nice to see for off-season speculation that he can come to [insert your favorite franchise here] to chip in as a spot starter, pinch-hitter, and basically deadly bench player. The blush is off his rose as far as ever becoming a great regular, but the man should still have a job.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Fired coaches Nick Leyva, Gene Tenace, Alfredo Griffin, and Willie Upshaw. [9/28]
Not everyone in this group was in Cito's corner, but Gord Ash apparently felt the need to make an almost complete sweep. Pitching coach Mel Queen, who got the dubious honor of managing the team in its last week, survives. Upshaw has been the subject of considerable controversy as a hitting instructor, which may just be a Toronto thing (one of his predecessors, Larry Hisle, was run out of town as well, but basically for not being one of Cito's guys), or could be a matter of holding him accountable for the enormous disappointment of the '97 BJs offense. That may not be entirely fair, when that meant holding Upshaw accountable for Carlos Garcia or Benito Santiago...