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June 29, 1998

Transaction Analysis

June 22-26

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Signed RHP Erik Hanson to a minor-league contract. [6/25]

An insurance move, since the Angels have gambled and lost on Jack McDowell and William VanLandingham. Keep in mind it isn't a good insurance move, since Hanson may well be done himself. If they're desperate, calling up Rich Robertson would be a better idea.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Placed LHP Omar Daal on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled LHP Efrain Valdez from Tucson. [6/22]

Acquired LHP Alan Embree from Atlanta for RHP Russ Springer. [6/23]

Recalled RHP Jeff Suppan from Tucson. [6/24]

Placed RHP Felix Rodriguez on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/21 (strained hip flexor); claimed RHP Aaron Small off of waivers from Oakland; designated C Tom Wilson for assignment. [6/26]

With Daal out of the rotation, the D-backs are handing the spot to Suppan, while leaving Amaury Telemaco in place as the fifth starter. Picking up Embree is a potentially outstanding move in which they've taken advantage of the Braves' short-term frustrations with their bullpen by converting a basically useful piece of bullpen fodder (Springer) into one of the most talented left-handed relievers currently around. The D-backs are now in the situation where they've gone from having a shortage of lefty relief to having Embree backed up by Valdez, which is a bit of compensation for four righties in the rotation. Snagging Small is a bit pointless, unless they're looking for someone who's possibly worse than Felix Rodiguez (or more appropriately, FRod). As is usually the case, Small has an "in" with Arizona, having worked with Mark Connor at Knoxville in '94. For Connor's sake, he had better hope he's luckier than the last guy who thought he could do a lot with Small, ex-Oakland pitching coach Bob Cluck. Small won't be activated until Monday, so somebody's out of luck at that point, probably Willie Banks.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Traded LHP Alan Embree to Arizona for RHP Russ Springer. [6/23]

A strange overreaction to the bullpen's problems. Sure, John Rocker is looking pretty good, and had supplanted Embree as the top lefty in the pen. But is getting an adequate journeyman like Springer really the best replacement solution to the struggles of Mike Cather or Kerry Ligtenberg? The Braves did not get value in the deal, and with John Schuerholz saying "his" scouts like what they see of Springer, one has to wonder if its the same guys who tipped him on Terry Pendleton in '96...

CHICAGO CUBS

Waived 1B Rod McCall from Iowa. [6/22]

Activated UT Tyler Houston from the DL; optioned 2B/3B Jason Hardtke to Iowa. [6/24]

Placed OF Brant Brown on the 15-day DL (sprained shoulder); recalled 3B Kevin Orie from Iowa. [6/26]

Losing Brown is a big deal, since it puts the Cubs into a tight spot as far as what they want to do with their lineup. In his absence, leading off with Mickey Morandini and Jeff Blauser would probably make the most sense. Jose Hernandez will probably get most of the time in center while Brown's out. In his place at third, Orie should get most of the playing time after bouncing back at Iowa (.345/.430/.704 in 21 games). Even if Orie doesn't struggle, this might be a good opportunity to work Terrell Lowery into some games in center. Houston's return gives Riggleman all three of his crummy catching options. It will be interesting to see if they turn around and trade for a catcher in the midst of one of their famed June swoons, but the last deal of any import Ed Lynch made was to get Scott Servais in the first place, and it didn't help. The Cubs have ended their unhappy relationship with Rod McCall, who felt he was misled in camp as to his opportunities with the club. He's still quite capable of filling in as a top-notch pinch-hitter and spare part.

CINCINNATI REDS

Announced that RHP Marc Kroon cleared waivers; outrighted Kroon to Indianapolis. [6/22]

Randy Smith was apparently too busy to enter a claim.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Traded OF/DH Geronimo Berroa to Detroit for RHP Tim Worrell and OF Dave Roberts. [6/24]

At what price honor? Yes, its nice that the Tribe went out of their way to accomodate Chief's trade request. But the Indians have taken their concerns about their pitching to an absurd extreme, as they're now carrying 13 pitchers. Yes, Hargrove almost never pinch-hits in-game, which means maybe he can afford to carry a four man bench of Shawon Dunston, Jeff Branson, Mark Whiten, and Pat Borders. That won't last, however, as they're going to reactivate Brian Giles at some point, which means one of the pitchers is going to have to go, probably Ron Villone or Worrell. The smartest move would probably be to trade Jose Mesa to either the Astros or Cubs, since both are getting more and more desperate for a right-handed setup man. Of course, getting Mesa wouldn't really help either team, but that isn't the Indians' problem.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Placed RHP John Thomson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/16 (blistered right middle finger); recalled RHP Mike Saipe from Colorado Springs. [6/23]

Claimed RHP Fred Rath off waivers from Minnesota, and assigned him to Colorado Springs; transferred RHP Kevin Ritz from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/25]

Losing Thomson takes a big bite into the Rox' real strength, their starting pitching. Sure, he's "only" 5-6 with a 5.02 ERA, but that breaks into 8.01 on Planet Coors and 3.33 on the road. Thomson's turning out very well, but because he toils for Colorado, you'll never hear much about it. Saipe will take his place in the rotation, and he's made significant progress in setting up his sweet breaking stuff, upping his K-rate to over 8 per inning. In Colorado Springs, he tossed 82 innings while giving up only 91 hits, 25 walks, and 76 Ks. Of course, a note of caution: the last big breaking stuff prospect the Rox had was Bryan Rekar.

DETROIT TIGERS

Recalled 3B Gabe Alvarez and RF Trey Beamon from Toledo; designated OF Andy Tomberlin and UT Bip Roberts for assignment. [6/22]

Traded UT Bip Roberts to Oakland for a PTBNL. [6/23]

Acquired LF/DH Geronimo Berroa from Cleveland for RHP Tim Worrell and OF Dave Roberts. [6/24]

Purchased the contract of RHP Matt Anderson from Jacksonville (AA). [6/25]

Placed SS/2B Billy Ripken on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/21 (back strain). [6/25]

Recalled RHP Brian Powell from Toledo. [6/26]

Randy Smith keeps himself busy. He must almost relish the team's early disappointments, since it has consequently given him the freedom of action to start bringing in players who long-term will actually end up making the Tigers a better team that last year's surprising turnaround. Two of the newest Tigers will step right into the lineup as regulars: Geronimo Berroa at DH, and Gabe Alvarez at third. Replacing Bip Roberts can't help but improve the offense, but it remains to be seen if the Tigers have figured out why it was a bad idea in the first place. Alvarez is being handed the job at third after a great start at Toledo (.273/.350/.582, 20 HRs), although his glovework is still highly questionable (you can take a look at his complete minor league stat line in our latest Prospect Focus). Alvarez' callup and Ripken's latest injury shove Joe Randa into the utility infielder role. Beamon is a really bad fielder and little more than a singles hitter, but Tomberlin didn't show enough in his limited trial for a roster spot. Matt Anderson hasn't gotten the chance to settle down at any level, having blown through A and AA with his 99-mph heater. He's being rushed, but maybe even Smith and Bell tired of running the A.J. Sagers and Tim Worrells out there. Powell is up for an emergency start in Bryce Florie's place, but will go back down immediately. The Tigers haven't yet chosen someone to take the fall for his spot start. Prior to this, he'd earned a jump from Jacksonville to Toledo, having gone 10-2 in the Southern League with a 3.08 ERA, then tossing seven shutout innings in his Mudhen debut. Still, he lives off of location and breaking stuff, which leaves him at the mercies of major league umps as to whether or not they'll decide he's throwing "major league" strikes.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Activated OF Rod Myers from the DL, and optioned him to Wichita (AA). [6/22]

Placed RHP Brian Bevil on the 15-day DL (tendinitis); activated LHP Chris Haney from the DL. [6/24]

Haney will step into the pen to help Matt Whisenant handle lefty duties, since the Royals are determined to keep up their diabolical experiment of using Hipolito Pichardo as the fifth starter.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Placed SS Jose Vizcaino on the 15-day DL (sprained ankle); recalled 2B/SS Wilton Guerrero from Albuquerque. [6/22]

Transferred RHP Ramon Martinez from the 15- to the 60-day DL; optioned INF Alex Cora to Albuquerque; purchased the contract of 3B Adrian Beltre from San Antonio (AA). [6/23]

With an outfield of Konerko, Mondesi stretching at center, and Sheffield, and now Guerrero at short, the Dodgers are really beginning to resemble those awful defensive combos of the Pastaman's glory days, so maybe Lasorda's return heralds a return to the bad old days. Vlad's little brother is defensively taxed at any position, and since he's not an asset on offense, the Dodgers are in the grisly situation of having to miss Jose Vizcaino. For all of the hoopla and fireworks, Dodgers fans can take heart in the arrival of the one thing they can look forward to, Adrian Beltre. Despite various nagging injuries, Beltre hit .317/.409/.575 in a tough park for hitters in the Texas League at the tender age of 20. Arguably the best prospect in baseball, there isn't anything he can't do: hit, hit for power, take a ball, field, or run. He could be the best player in Dodger blue for the next fifteen years, but this is a really ugly situation to break in a top prospect. If the Dodgers have learned how not to handle a prospect from what Bill Russell put Paul Konerko through earlier this season, Beltre will be fine. If they don't realize there was a problem of more import than that they didn't win games when Bill Russell was the manager, there may be reason for even more despair.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed RHP Travis Smith on the 15-day DL (sprained elbow); recalled LF Geoff Jenkins from Louisville. [6/23]

Claimed RHP David Weathers off waivers from Cincinnati. [6/24]

Smith pitched two shutout innings, ripped up his elbow, and is now being evaluated for Tommy John surgery. Call me confused, but why would any team pass up claiming Marc Kroon on waivers, but get David Weathers? What does Weathers do better? Bag groceries? "Fortunately" for the Brewers, persistent injury problems dogging both John Jaha and Dave Nilsson have made them reluctant to add Weathers to the active roster just yet (at Jenkins' expense), but they may instead put him on the roster to place Paul Wagner on the DL.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed OF Robert Perez on the 15-day DL (sprained wrist). [6/22]

Placed RHP Marc Valdes on the 15-day DL (sprained elbow ligament); recalled Nepotista Derrick May and LHP Rick DeHart from Ottawa. [6/23]

Placed INF Mike Mordecai on the 15-day DL (thumb); recalled 2B/SS Orlando Cabrera from Ottawa. [6/24]

Cabrera will not step into a starting role at short and will have to earn the job at second, which--since he's got a meagre knockoff of Tony Womack's offensive game--isn't a setback for les Expos. May's return is bad news if it costs either Ryan McGuire or Darond Stovall a single plate appearance, since he has basically no business being a major league player at this point.

NEW YORK METS

Recalled LHP Bill Pulsipher from Norfolk; optioned OF Benny Agbayani to Norfolk. [6/22]

Designated UT Jim Tatum for assignment; recalled C Todd Pratt from Norfolk. [6/23]

With Al Leiter's health a concern, Pusipher is up as insurance for the rotation. Because he's a "Young Gun," some folks are excited. They'll point out his winning record (7-5) and his ERA (3.92). That ignores his ghastly peripherals: in a pitcher's park, he's coughed up over five runs per nine because of the large number of unearned runs that scored when he pitched. He's given up 12 taters in 86.1 innings, 91 hits, and 41 walks. He's still damaged goods, and not showing much flash of promise. But he's in New York, and an ex-famous person at the ripe age of 24, so he's being lionized for a "comeback" that has barely begun.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Placed RHP Jeff Nelson on the 15-day DL (lower back inflammation); recalled RHP Mike Buddie from Columbus. [6/26]

Losing Nelson puts pressure on Darren Holmes to do more than participate in the team handshake at the end of the game. Buddie was continuing to be effective as a long reliever in Columbus (2.97 ERA), and could pitch his way into the team's plans.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Acquired UT Bip Roberts from Detroit for a PTBNL; transferred RHP Dave Telgheder from the 15- to the 60-day DL; designated RHP Aaron Small for assignment; optioned INF Mark Bellhorn to Edmonton; recalled RHP Jim Dougherty from Edmonton. [6/23]

Great, the A's not only add a positionless, punchless miscreant in the Bipster (the subject of a new Gary Huckabay rant at baseballprospectus.com), but dump Bob Cluck's project pitcher (Small) for Art Howe's project pitcher (Dougherty). To cap it, they send down their best internal option to replace Spiezio, Mark Bellhorn. Bellhorn's screwed, and his future is in another organization. Why Dougherty? Why not Witasick or someone who could end up helping this team?

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Waived UT Rex Hudler; purchased the contract of 1B Jon Zuber from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/24]

Recalled C Bobby Estalella from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; optioned LHP Darrin Winston to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/26]

The Phillies aren't afraid of their success, and its nice to see that they've decided to add Zuber, who could wind up being a primo pinch-hitter (.333/.424/.502, but as always, no HR power) and spot starter at first or left, and Estalella. Estalella may wind up taking over for Mike Lieberthal; he was having an outstanding season in AAA, hitting .299/.442/.589 with 15 homers and 49 walks in 249 plate appearances. If they choose to use this kind of moves as a springboard for their slender wild-card chances, color me impressed for their willingness to bring in the kids to make the push instead of somebody else like Gregg Jefferies.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Signed 3B Pete Rose Jr. to a minor-league contract; released 1B George Canale. [6/26]

Blech. George Canale is a minor league lifer of little value, but I hate to see him or anyone like him get dumped to make room for a nepotista.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Acquired RHP Bobby Witt from Texas for a PTBNL. [6/22]

Placed LHP Kent Mercker on the 15-day DL (left knee contusion); transferred RHP Alan Benes from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/23]

The Cardinals rotation is in ruins behind Todd Stottlemyre. Currently, they're going with Juan Acevedo, Mark Petkovsek, Manny Aybar, and Kent Bottenfield, which means that they've taken three of their better relievers and slapped them into the rotation, only to have to trust Rick Croushore and Curtis King with more prominent roles in the pen. Even in this ugly situation, bringing in Bobby Witt to eventually enter the rotation is worse news. Chalk this up as another situation where LaRussa and Duncan bring in the devil they know; apparently Bob Welch left his answering machine off at the wrong time.

TEXAS RANGERS

Traded pitcher Bobby Witt to St. Louis for a PTBNL; activated 2B Mark McLemore from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Matt Perisho to Oklahoma; transferred RHP Mark Brandenberg from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/22]

Activated LHP Darren Oliver from the DL; optioned RHP Alan Levine to Oklahoma. [6/26]

I don't care who the PTBNL is, the Rangers just saved themselves a good amount of meal money. Party at Bob Melvin's house! With Oliver's return from the DL, the Rangers were in a situation where Todd Van Poppel (7.84 ERA) beat out Perisho (27.00 ERA) for the fifth slot on the basis of two starts for each. Nevertheless, I expect TVP to be a significant improvement over Bobby Witt, not that that will take much.

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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