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July 14, 1998
July 7-13BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Announced that RHP Terry Mathews cleared waivers and was granted his unconditional release. [7/10]
Placed DH Harold Baines on the 15-day DL (hamstring); activated OF Jeffrey Hammonds from the DL. [7/11]
Losing Baines doesn't help an already weak set of choices in the outfield. Although Brady Anderson has struggled back above the Mendoza line and a .300 OBP, in Baines' absence, the Orioles get to choose between Eric Davis (.292/.368/.555), who they're reluctant to play every day because of doubts about his durability, Hammonds (.262/.367/.440, but count on that OBP to drop now that he's back), B.J. Surhoff (.289/.336/.474), and Joe Carter (.252/.292/.425). Between the outfield and the DH slot, that means one sits, and unfortunately for the O's, they haven't figured out that it has to be Carter, while shunting Chris Hoiles to some of the DH time to let Lenny Webster do his thing.
Placed OF Pedro Valdes on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/6 (foot); recalled 2B/3B Jason Hardtke from Iowa. [7/9]
Waived LHP Bob Patterson outright; optioned RHP Marc Pisciotta to Iowa; purchased the contract of LHP Tony Fossas from Iowa; recalled RHP Don Wengert from Iowa. [7/12]
I guess if you like the Cubs and paid attention, you'd be pretty fed up by now. This daring shakeup of the bullpen on the heels of some lousy pen work against the Brewers only calls to mind Ed Lynch's last "big" shakeup, back in '96, when he showed Brian Dorsett and Terry Shumpert who's calling the shots. What borders on tragic is not that Cookies Pisciotta or Country Patterson worked their way off of this team, but that the club's best alternatives to them were Amaury Telemaco and Ben Van Ryn, both long gone as part of Lynch's inane roster shuffling that now has Dave Stevens and the congenitally worthless Wengert wasting time on the roster. I may be one of the very few people who doesn't mind bringing in Tony Fossas. Thats because there's a big difference between Lou Piniella and Jim Riggleman: Riggleman always has his relievers warmed up before he uses them, and is downright pedantic in his observation of platoon roles for relievers. That's a serious asset for Fossas if he has anything left at all. Hardtke ought to get some playing time at third while Jose Hernandez mans center pending the anticipated returns of Lance Johnson and Brant Brown in the next week, but that won't happen because they're determined to show off Manny Alexander and keep Kevin Orie around as a part-timer.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Activated RHP Matt Karchner from the DL; designated RHP Jason Bere for assignment. [7/9]
The White Sox mindset may have grafted a new, smiling, cornpone, Gandhi-wannabe face for itself, but it is still an organization that brings anyone's cranky instincts to the fore. Witness the bizarre assaults on management by Bere and his agent, Tommy Tanzer. Upon Bere's decisively earned demotion to the bullpen, Tanzer lit into management, threatening to slug manager Jerry Manuel while calling him "a clown." Bere, of course, is pretty close to worthless, and hasn't been worth much since long before his injury, let alone after it, while the Sox patiently rehabbed him and stood by him and started him long after it was clear he's got much more work and recovery to do before he can even be a bad major league pitcher. Any pitcher who gives up 71 runs in 83.2 IP has no business complaining that he doesn't deserve to lose his job. Karchner's return doesn't really do much for the Sox either way; his primary value at the moment is in trade to contending teams who thinks he's an asset because he's a "closer."
Activated RHP Stan Belinda from the DL. [7/9]
I expect that Skippy will get most of the save opportunities, at least initially.
Activated LF Brian Giles from the DL; optioned LF/1B Richie Sexson to Buffalo. [7/7] Traded RHP Tim Worrell to Oakland for a PTBNL; activated RHP Chad Ogea from the 15-day DL. [7/12]
Ogea's return meant the Tribe had to cut into their pitching depth yet again, so they effectively turned a waiver claim on Worrell (when the Tigers dumped him) into a PTBNL. Combined with Doc Gooden's surprising effectiveness (pardon, can you spare a napkin? I seem to have some egg on the ol' kisser), and the continuing good work from Jaret Wright, Dave Burba, and Bartolo Colon, that means Chuck Nagy may end up getting a brief stay in the bullpen between now and Labor Day if he continues to struggle with locating his pitches somewhere besides the bleachers. Otherwise, Ogea can count on working every fifth day in relief, not-too-coincidentally whenever Nagy pitches.
Activated RHP Eric Ludwick from the DL. [7/9]
Placed RHP Joe Fontenot on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/3 (sore right shoulder); recalled RHP Robby Stanifer from Charlotte. [7/11]
Fontenot's shoulder resolved the issue of whether or not Ludwick would return to the rotation now that he's back. Although he's been injured twice already this season, both were basically freaky non-pitching injuries. With Ludwick going into the rotation behind Livan Hernandez, Jesus Sanchez, Brian Meadows, and Ryan Dempster, the Fish are almost to the point that they're using the rotation of the future, assuming it outlives Jim Leyland. They're still in the situation where they need to tie the decision to promote Ed Yarnall to firing Leyland.
Designated RHP Bob Scanlan for assignment; Scanlan cleared waivers, and was outrighted to New Orleans. [7/6-9]
Its becoming very, very easy to root for the Astros, and that's partially because of smart little decisions like choosing to keep Scott Elarton around as a reliever and ship off both Reggie Harris and Bob Scanlan in his place.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Announced RHP Roland De La Maza cleared waivers and was outrighted to Omaha. [7/9]
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Activated RHP Darren Hall from the DL. [7/10]
Acquired LHP Brian Bohanon from the Mets for RHP Greg McMichael and cash. [7/10]
Optioned OF Trenidad Hubbard to Albuquerque. [7/11]
Hardly a day can go by without another reminder of why I missed Tommy Lasorda. I've always suffered from a lifelong loathing of the Dodgers; the Pastaman always added an extra dimension to it. His impact on the franchise had always wandered between the awesomely destructive to the noisily irrelevant, but in his absence, perhaps we forgot how entertaining his foolishness could be. Who else expects to rebuild his rotation with anyone the Mets select as their fifth starter? Who else refuses to take a "chance" on better pitchers like Gary Rath or Mike Judd? Who else has the "vision" to want to find the new Chad Fonville (in this case, Wil Guerrero)? Only Lasorda would trade all four wheels off of his car, and then blame it for not going anywhere. Bless you, Pastaman; just when I might have thought he couldn't do any more to entertain me, the old showman surprises me yet again.
Activated 1B David Ortiz from the DL. [7/8]
Placed RHP Dan Naulty on the 15-day DL (groin). [7/12]
Ortiz' return and continued good health will probably be a key feature in the Twins' keeping hold of second place in the AL Central for the rest of the season. However, with his return and the expected re-activation of Paul Molitor in the next week, the Twins will be overloaded at first and DH as long as Ron Coomer can't regularly play third. Okay, given that Coomer or Molitor or Orlando Merced don't really lend merit to saying the Twins are "loaded" as much as they have large multicellular things in uniform who claim to play first base. With Naulty down, it's expected that the Twins will reactivated Mike Morgan to start next weekend.
Optioned LHP Rick DeHart to Ottawa. [7/7]
Activated RHP Mike Maddux from the DL. [7/9]
Maddux will get a big chunk of whatever setup duties exist.
NEW YORK METS
Acquired RHP Greg McMichael and cash from the Dodgers for LHP Brian Bohanon; designated C Alberto Castillo for assignment. [7/10]
Activated C-LF Todd Hundley from the DL. [7/11]
Well, I may as well pat myself on the back, because back when Piazza was acquired, I argued that it meant Hundley would go to the outfield instead of either Olerud or Piazza. Bobby Valentine may have put up with Kevin Reimer in left or Pete Incaviglia in center back when he managed the Rangers, but he probably wasn't going to play two people out of position if he could avoid it. The Bohanon trade comes on the heels of two bits of good news: Al Leiter may be back in time to pitch this weekend, when the Mets will finally need a fifth starter, and Armando Reynoso is almost ready to be activated as well. With McMichael back in the fold, that's probably bad news for Jeff Tam or Bill Pulsipher. If they really want to help themselves, they'll move Mel Rojas or Turk Wendell.
Optioned RHP Steve Connelly to Edmonton; recalled LF Brian Lesher from Edmonton. [7/11]
Acquired RHP Tim Worrell from Cleveland for a PTBNL; optioned RHP Jim Dougherty to Edmonton. [7/12]
Lesher's callup has less to do with his performance at Edmonton than it does with nagging injuries to Ryan Christenson and Matt Stairs (not to mention the continuing uselessness of Jack Voigt and Kevin Mitchell). I don't really have a problem with picking up Worrell, as long as the PTBNL is Bip Roberts or Jason Wood. He's slotted for long relief, always a concern as long as Tom Candiotti struggles or Mike Oquist holds down a rotation spot. As a reliever, he can turn out to be a serious asset, but the danger is that they'll think that means he ought to start, at which point he'll remind everyone why he's usually available.
Recalled RHP Mike Welch from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/8]
A forty-man roster snafu: they removed both Matt Whiteside and Toby Borland from the 40-man roster, and nobody the Phillies really want on the roster is ready yet. So Welch gets a cup of coffee.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Placed 2B Delino DeShields on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/6 (knee); activated SS Royce Clayton from the DL. [7/9]
Activated RHP Matt Morris from the DL; optioned RHP Manny Aybar to Memphis. [7/10]
Activated LF Ron Gant from the DL; optioned RHP Curtis King to Memphis. [7/11]
Gant has been terrible this year, but the alternatives (John Mabry and Willie McGee) have been just as bad if not worse. Suffice to say that Walt Jocketty knew what he was doing when he selected J.D. Drew, even if Brian Jordan wasn't a free agent after this season. Swapping Clayton for DeShields leaves the offense shorthanded as well as leading LaRussa to do silly things like putting Gary Gaetti at second at one point. But the expectation is that Morris and Alan Benes and Donovan Osborne are all going to come back and pitch as well as they've ever pitched before. This isn't the first time a LaRussa-managed team had delusions of grandeur, and it won't be the last.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Purchased the contract of RHP Scott Sanders from Las Vegas. [7/9]
It may take as much as ten good innings before Randy Smith wants him back in Detroit. Sanders pitched well as a reliever in Vegas (3.53 ERA, 43 Ks in 35.2 IP), and if Bruce Bochy has any confidence in him at all, he could still be an asset as a long reliever. Of course, he coughed up four runs in his return engagement with the Pads, which means he'll be buried for at least a week before they take another look at him.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Activated 2B Jeff Kent from the DL; placed SS Rich Aurilia on the 15-day DL (groin). [7/10] Designated LHP Jim Poole for assignment; recalled LHP Dean Hartgraves from Fresno. [7/12]
Kent isn't even really healthy, but at least his return may limit Bill Mueller's ugly attempts to master secondbase. But swapping Kent for Aurilia leaves the Giants in the unfortunate situation where they're still playing Rey Sanchez regularly.
Recalled UT Charles Gipson and OF Shane Monahan from Tacoma; optioned C Raul Chavez to Tacoma. [7/9]
I tend to hammer the Mariners alot in this space, and although neither Monahan or Gipson are prospects any more than Rob Ducey or Glenallen Hill are assets, playing Monahan in left may at least disabuse them of the bad idea of playing Russ Davis there. Since Monahan is sort of a worst possible combination of Jumpy Fox and Dan Gladden as far as what he does to "help" a team, he'll easily lose the job whenever the Mariners decide to get a real leftfielder (hopefully instead of dragging in the next Vince Coleman or Hill). On a team that has to do some serious re-evaluation about its near- and long-term future, having leftfield open when its one of the easiest positions to stock with a good, cheap bat has to be considered a good move; its just up to Woody Woodward to understand that people like Matt Stairs can be found on the waiver wire, and that they aren't good hitters accidentally.
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Optioned OF Rich Butler to Durham; recalled LF/DH Bubba Trammell from Durham. [7/9]
This is the ripple effect of the decision to hand Randy Winn the centerfield job. That isn't a bad thing. The problem is that that decision in turn moves Quinton McCracken to left, where he is not an offensive asset in a lineup already carrying a do-nothing middle infield combo, two of the worst-hitting catchers not named Mike Matheny, and what's left of Wade Boggs and Fred McGriff. What's amusing is that this constitutes a "tough choice" for the Rays, in that it means benching one of the GM's pet projects, Mike Kelly. But as mediocre as the Orioles' outfield options may be, at least they're not this bad. The easy solution would be to play Bubba Trammell everyday in left, which would lead to all sorts of fireworks for both the D-Rays and their opponents. Bubba once again reiterated that he doesn't have anything left to learn hitting off of AAA pitching (.290/.395/.567), and you may as well give up trying to teach him to be an adequate outfielder. The Rays need runs badly, and simply by moving from center to a corner, McCracken has gone from dubious asset to major liability when it comes to scoring those runs.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Announced that RHP Luis Andujar declined assignment to Syracuse and has become a free agent. [7/10]
Going back for another dose of Terry Bevington may be too much to ask of any man.