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July 2, 1998
June 27-30ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Placed 2B Andy Stankiewicz on the 15-day DL (knee). [6/27]
Activated C Jorge Fabregas from the DL; optioned OF Mike Robertson to Tucson. [6/30]
Uncanny. The D-backs replace one utterly useless player for another. Both Kelly Stinnett and Damian Miller are better players, but Fabregas has his defensive reputation, and he's blessed to bat lefty, so he'll play more than he should.
Released CF Gary Thurman from Vancouver. [6/27]
Thurman lost out to Damon Mashore in camp for the OF reserve role, and didn't help himself any with a bad couple of months in Vancouver. At 33, he's probably done, without ever having really gotten a clean shot to play. That's a shame, if you remember when he came up with the Royals, because he was a solid prospect. But the Royals couldn't get Willie Wilson out of their system fast enough, so that by the time Thurman might have had a real opportunity (in '91), Brian McRae was the apple of his daddy's eye, and Thurman was labeled a fill-in. Roger Cedeno, be warned.
Placed OF Curtis Pride on the 15-day DL (finger); recalled 1B Randall Simon from Richmond. [6/27]
Signed OF Andy Tomberlin to a minor-league contract. [6/30]
Now that Keith Lockhart is platooning with Tony Graffanino at second, the Braves can hold an open casting call for pinch-hitters. Pride hasn't been as much of an asset as you might have hoped, but his injury shouldn't keep him out long. That means that Simon has a very brief window of opportunity to show off. He was scuffling at Richmond (.254/.281/.415), but he does that one thing that some managers look for in pinch hitters: he puts pitches in play with a line-drive stroke. Tomberlin would be a more polished alternative.
Designated RHP Terry Mathews for assignment; activated RHP Nerio Rodriguez from the DL. [6/30]
Mathews has been treated like a goat since last season, and six homeruns in 20.1 IP this year didn't help take the spotlight off of him. Like Tony Tarasco or Rick Krivda before him, he's a player who Davey Johnson could use, but an easy target for an errant Angelos hatchling to snipe at. Rodriguez will go into the pen, and will probably get used in the fitful closer-to-long relief role that Sid Ponson had before getting dropped into the rotation.
BOSTON RED SOX
Placed 2B Lou Merloni on the 15-day DL (tendinitis - left knee); recalled 2B Donnie Sadler from Pawtucket. [6/30]
Merloni had earned a place on the team with his solid hitting (.292/.357/.393), even while contending with Mike Benjamin's hot start and defensive reputation. Sadler will get to bring his rich man's Pokey Reese impersonation to town for a couple of weeks, although his usually meagre offensive contributions (.221/.348/.321) have been further weakened by nagging injuries for most of the season.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Recalled RHP John Snyder from Calgary; optioned LHP Tom Fordham to Calgary. [6/29]
How badly off is Sox pitching? Snyder is going to start on the 4th of July. He isn't much of a prospect, but its expected that he can't disappoint more than Fordham (or Bere, or Eyre, or ... ). Part of the booty from the trade that sent Jim Abbott to the Angels, Snyder's being called a control pitcher because he's walked 34 men in 97.1 IP at Calgary. He's been hittable his entire career, but the Sox don't really have a great set of alternatives unless they decide to call up Kevin Beirne or wait until Lorenzo Barcelo has finished up his rehabbing. Calgary's other starters are junkballer Nelson Cruz, Rich Pratt (laughably compared to Jimmy Key by one overeager Reinsdorf minion), and inconsistent Russ Herbert. I'm disappointed that they've dumped Fordham after only two starts, but after 32 walks in 33 innings, you can't blame them for seeing the second coming of Scott Ruffcorn.
Recalled 1B/LF Richie Sexson from Buffalo; optioned LHP Ron Villone to Buffalo. [6/27]
After getting Tim Worrell from the Tigers, the Tribe could hardly stand pat and keep 13 pitchers. Villone was pitching infrequently, which helps exaggerated his already exaggerated wildness, so he can use regular work in Buffalo. Sexson has made an adequate transformation into a left-fielder this season, and has also become a significantly more patient hitter this year (.307/.383/.554, 35 BBs in 329 PA against 27 all of last year). He hasn't needed platooning in the past, and once Brian Giles comes back, he'll probably end up being sent back down. A happier alternative that would improve the lineup would be to return Thome to third to get Sexson at first and Giles in left, but that isn't going to happen. In the meantime, Giles' potential return creates a further incentive for the Tribe to get around to settling the Jose Mesa situation. He's been a flop as a middle reliever, and they claim they want Worrell as a long reliever, although Chad Ogea may also fit into that role. The easy way out will be to send Sexson back down, but with Justice's nagging knees and a catching situation you need to PH for, will they be able to continue to afford to carry 12 pitchers?
Placed RHP Bryce Florie on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/23 (back strain).
Florie's injury woes will end up handing Brian Powell more than one start, as it turns out. That gives the Tigers a rotation of Justin Thompson, Brian Moehler, Seth Greisinger, Powell, and Frank Castillo, until something new or in an ex-Padre flavor comes around to tickle Randy Smith's fancy.
Released RHP Lee Smith from New Orleans. [6/30]
Are Lee Smith's final years even more pathetic than Steve Carlton's? How about Jeff Reardon's? Will Dennis Eckersley take note?
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Acquired CF Jermaine Allensworth from Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Manuel Bernal. [6/27]
Optioned RF Jermaine Dye to Omaha. [6/28]
As is usually the case with Herk Robinson, you have to ask "why?" What does Allensworth do for the Royals? If Johnny Damon isn't playing center, he isn't doing enough to justify playing every day. Allensworth isn't an improvement offensively, and is his glovework enough to justify carrying Damon in an OF corner? No. Sure, there's a bit of guilty pleasure in knowing that Herk must realize how badly the Tucker-Dye swap has worked out, but why bring Allensworth into an outfield/DH situation where you're already having trouble sorting out playing time for Larry Sutton, Jeff Conine, Hal Morris, and Shane Mack, and when Jeremy Giambi is doing everything in the world to make you call him up?
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Optioned RHP Will Brunson to Albuquerque; recalled RHP Manuel Barrios from Albuquerque. [6/28]
Are the Dodgers just trying to show off as much of what they got for Piazza as possible? Although you'd like to think that Antonio Osuna should be handed the closer's job, anyone may get to be closer for a week while the soap opera churns on...
Signed RHP Bob Wickman to a three-year contract extension. [6/30]
Now that Wickman has effectively won the closer's job, I could be completely unfair and point out that the Brewers could have saved themselves a bunch of money if they thought of this over the winter. However, no one should weep for Bud Selig's bottom line.
Placed RHP Mike Morgan on the 15-day DL (ribcage muscle strain); recalled UT Jon Shave from Salt Lake. [6/27]
Losing Morgan only really hurts if you think about whether it could affect his potential value to other teams by the end of July, since the Twins' season isn't really serving any other useful purpose. Dan Serafini will probably step into the rotation in his absence, and if Eric Milton continues to scuffle, a tough decision may have to be made, where the best possible result would be waiving goodbye to Brent Gates (.214/.291/.283). Since Ron Coomer's injury keeps him from playing third, Shave (a PCL-inflated .350/.426/.469) will get the lion's share of the playing time until either Coomer heals or Corey Koskie breaks through against AAA pitching. That isn't the worst option, whereas Gates is.
NEW YORK METS
Placed LHP Al Leiter on the 15-day DL (partially torn tendon - knee); recalled RHP Jeff Tam from Norfolk. [6/27]
Sold the contract of LHP Mark Mimbs to the Orix Blue Wave (Japanese Pacific League). [6/30]
Leiter is expected to miss four to six weeks, which badly damages the Mets' pretensions for the NL wildcard race with the Giants, Brewers, and Cubs. In his absence, Brian Bohanon will fill in as the fifth starter, but with Bobby Jones scuffling and Hideo Nomo still puzzling people, the Mets are in bad shape given their feeble offense (14th in the NL in runs). Tam is a solid reliever; after being injured for two years and wasting part of last season trying to start, he's settled into being a solid long reliever with outstanding control. At Norfolk, he's allowed only 31 hits and 4 walks in 49.1 IP, posting a 1.82 ERA. Given the Mets' RH relief woes, he could quickly end up assuming the role Corey Lidle held last season.
Recalled RHP Steve Connelly from Edmonton; designated C Izzy Molina for assignment. [6/27]
Those of you who know me know I'm your basically rabid A's fan. However, I know nothing about Steve Connelly that anybody couldn't dig up from his past stats. That said, he could easily be the second-best pitcher in their bullpen. That's pretty damn pathetic, but I'm still twitchy about picking up B... Bi... Bipppbltpt... sorry, I can't say it.
Traded CF Jermaine Allensworth to Kansas City for RHP Manuel Bernal. [6/27]
Purchased the contract of UT Steve Bieser from Nashville. [6/30]
Bully for the Bucs. I'm guessing that this means they know that there are three position players on the entire team worth keeping around: Jason Kendall, Aramis Ramirez, and Jose Guillen. Everyone else is expendable, no matter how much they're identified with last season's Cinderella story. If things go well, they'll handle Tony Womack in a similar fashion. The organization's Mexican connection is one of its strengths, so if they see something from Bernal now that he's pitching regularly in Mexico City, then taking a chance on that is more important than the rest of Allensworth's major league career. In the meantime, before they get around to bringing up Emil Brown to handle center, they'll spend a couple of weeks or months with Turner Ward and Manny Martinez, and it won't make a bit of difference from what Allensworth was to them.
Activated OF/1B Raul Ibanez from the DL, and optioned him to Tacoma; designated OF/1B Dave McCarty for assignment. [6/30]
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Activated C Kevin Brown off the DL; designated RHP Luis Andujar for assignment. [6/30]
With Brown back (.343/.385/.457 vs. LHPs) to platoon with Fletcher (.322/.384/.513), the Jays have a situation that makes that old Ernie Whitt-Buck Martinez platoon pale by comparison. Andujar may get claimed, considering how well he was pitching in relief for Syracuse before his promotion.