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July 27, 1998

Transaction Analysis

July 24-26

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Released 2B/SS Carlos Garcia from his contract at Vancouver. [7/26]

Just in case there was any doubt about whether or not he's done...

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Recalled OF Lyle Mouton from Rochester. [7/24]

Released RHP Steve Ontiveros from his contract at Rochester. [7/25]

Placed 2B Roberto Alomar on the 15-day DL (sprained pinky); activated RHP Scott Kamieniecki from the DL. [7/25]

Some interesting things here. The return of Kamieniecki, the Polish Prince (and the expected return of Jimmy Key by the weekend), at long last has motivated the Orioles to take Doug Drabek out of the rotation. You have to wonder whether Drabek can extend his career any further on the basis of his being generally considered the nicest, most charming godawful pitcher in the major leagues. Mouton's return to the majors after an unfortunate couple of months in Japan just reiterates how easy it can be to find useful bats for the outfield corners, which in turn should have ended Joe Carter's career years ago. Mouton had a hot couple of weeks in Rochester (.353/.421/.647), and he's easily more useful than Carter. However, he's probably just going to go back to Rochester in a few days to make room for Harold Baines, unless the O's decide that Jeffrey Hammonds isn't healed up.

BOSTON RED SOX

Activated RHP Dennis Eckersley from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Ron Mahay to Pawtucket; optioned RHP Jin Ho Cho to Trenton (AA); purchased the contract of LHP David West from Pawtucket; transferred RHP Brian Rose from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/24]

The Duke's neverending game of "spin the bottle" to decide who's on the roster this week leads to a old-and-unimproved bullpen. The repercussions? Cho's going back down for the remainder of the minor league season, and at best may be back for a start or two in September, while John Wasdin will get as much as one more start to "clinch" the fifth starter's job, until the inane shuffling creates some new answer of the moment. What's particularly silly about all of this is sending down Ron Mahay, who hadn't really done much to work his way off the team in the first place. As the primary lefty in the pen, he'd allowed a pretty meagre .696 OPS to lefties while compiling a 3.70 ERA. Sure, West has pitched well in Pawtucket after pitching well in New Orleans (he came over from the Astros in exchange for career nonentity Mike Blais last month), but this is more change for change's sake. At best, West pitches about as well as Mahay (not a sure thing), and the Duke gets bragging rights over Gerry Hunsicker. Duquette of course may well live for that sort of things. Meanwhile, they've got the Eck back, which to put it politely is a mixed blessing.

CHICAGO CUBS

Placed RHP Jeremi Gonzalez on the 15-day DL (sprained elbow); activated OF Brant Brown from the DL. [7/25]

Gonzalez hurt himself in Friday's double-header, but the Cubs don't expect him to be out for an extended period of time. Certainly regaining Brown's services at the top of the order can't hurt, assuming that the Cubs don't follow through on Riggleman's threats to play all of his outfielders regularly. More significantly, the Cubs get to reap the "benefits" of having traded for Don Wengert in May, since he's the fifth starter for another outing or two. He managed to surprise a struggling Mets lineup on Friday, almost logging a quality start. That's probably the high point of his season. Gosh, I wouldn't suppose having Amaury Telemaco around at a time like this would be handy or something...

CINCINNATI REDS

Optioned RHP Scott Winchester to Indianapolis. [7/25]

Recalled CF Pat Watkins from Indianapolis. [7/26]

Winchester's last (bad) outing has opened the door for Dennis Reyes to come up for the fifth starter's job sometime in the next couple of days. In the meantime, the Reds fill the roster spot with Watkins, who will cover for various hurts to Mike Frank, Dmitri Young, and Willie Greene, and probable hurts to the always-fragile Reggie Sanders.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Activated RHP John Thomson from the 15-day DL; optioned OF Derrick White to Colorado Springs. [7/26]

Thomson's return from the DL is clearly good news for the haggard rotation, since he was enjoying an outstanding season (by Mile High standards) before a blistered finger cost him six starts; more interestingly, it also means that "the wrong" Bobby Jones is being bumped out of the rotation while the Rox take a longer look at Mark Brownson. That in turn may mean that they're going to end up cutting Mike Munoz loose, as has been rumored for weeks, since the Rox already have Chuck McElroy as their primary lefty in the pen, and probably won't carry three southpaws for an extended period of time.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed RHP Al Reyes on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/24 (elbow strain); recalled RHP Bronswell Patrick from Louisville. [7/25]

This has been developing into a breakthrough season of sorts for Reyes as a useful middle reliever, but his injury shouldn't force him to miss much more than the fifteen days, since he was in uniform on Sunday (even catching the honorary first pitches). Patrick's return makes him an immediate candidate for the rotation: Cal Eldred is going to go on the DL on Monday, and Jeff Juden has been demoted from being a rotation regular after his latest loss, creating a three-legged race between Juden, Patrick, and Dave Weathers for two rotation spots behind Scott Karl, Steve Woodard, and Brad Woodall.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled RHP Mike Thurman and INF Mike Mordecai from Ottawa; optioned CF Darond Stovall to Ottawa and RHP Jeremy Powell to Harrisburg (AA). [7/24]

These moves were somewhat forced by Friday's doubleheader. The good starts coming from Powell against the Cubs and Thurman against the Brewers may make it easier for the Expos to accept the idea of trading Carlos Perez by the deadline, leaving them with a rotation of Dustin Hermanson, Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez, and Powell and Thurman. That isn't a bad place to start, and one hopes that the Expos use Perez to get badly needed offensive help. Thurman will probably struggle: although he's put up a 3.41 ERA at Ottawa (but 10 unearned runs in 105.2 IP), he's a tall finesse pitcher, and his walk rate has gone up substantially this year, his first full season in AAA.

NEW YORK METS

Activated RHP Armando Reynoso from the DL; optioned RHP Jeff Tam to Norfolk. [7/24]

Reynoso came back from his injuries and ineffective minor league rehab outings to blank the Cubs for eight innings on Friday, but even so, the Mets aren't taking his availability for granted. Until he alleviates their concerns about his health, he'll be in long relief, with his entry into the rotation dependent on somebody else faltering. In case you didn't know, Bill Pulsipher did not get sent down for Rigo Beltran on Friday, once it was determined that Pulsipher was out of options.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Recalled RHP Steve Connelly from Edmonton; optioned LF/1B Brian Lesher to Edmonton. [7/24]

Few things seem to draw a response from Art Howe; a particularly wicked dogleg on the links, perhaps. But with the bullpen basically wiping out the A's since the All-Star break, even Howe has to be frustrated, which means Connelly is basically up because as much as Kevin Mitchell or Jack Voigt haven't done anything to deserve a major league uniform more than Lesher, T.J. Mathews or Mike Fetters have probably done even less, and none of them have options to burn.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Optioned 1B/OF Jon Zuber to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; recalled C Bobby Estalella from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/24]

Placed C Mike Lieberthal on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/24 (stress reaction - pelvic area); recalled 1B/LF Jon Zuber from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/26]

Lieberthal has struggled with this injury (more typically seen in hockey) for a couple of weeks, and as the Phillies have said, it got to the point that he couldn't help the club in any way because the injury had become debilitating. Although that's bad news for Lieberthal, that can mean devoting the next several weeks (or possibly the rest of the season) to taking a long look at Bobby Estalella. Estalella has shown there's nothing left for him at AAA, hitting .281/.436/.558 with 66 walks and 17 homeruns in 76 games. His chances of fulfilling a major offensive role are much greater than Lieberthal's, which only puts the Phillies in the eventually difficult situation of demostrating that Lieberthal is healthy before shipping him off.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated C Greg Myers from the DL; outrighted UT Archi Cianfrocco to Las Vegas. [7/24]

Because Bruce Bochy hasn't been afraid to use Jim Leyritz at first or as a pinch-hitter as well as having him share the catching chores with Carlos Hernandez, the Pads can probably actually use a third catcher more than some teams (the Cubs, for instance). Cianfrocco has struggled terribly this year in a more limited role (.127/.195/.211), and has basically been boxed out of infield work by Andy Sheets and Ed Giovanola. This gives Bochy a six-man bench that has a left-handed batter and right-handed batter for the infield (Sheets and Giovanola), outfield (Ruben Rivera and Mark Sweeney), and catcher (Carlos Hernandez and Myers), which is a tactical advantage of sorts.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned INF Ramon Martinez to Fresno; designated LHP Dean Hartgraves and OF Chris Jones for assignment; transferred RHP Osvaldo Fernandez from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/24]

The ripple effect of last Thursday's trades, and no serious losses among the group (although Martinez had played well in his limited action).

SEATTLE MARINERS

Optioned C Raul Chavez to Tacoma; added C Joe Oliver to the active roster. [7/24]

There's nothing remarkable in Lou Piniella bringing in somebody he knew on the Reds, but as bad as Oliver's season with the Tigers was (.233/.259/.358), I can't help but feel its better to have him around than handing all of the playing time in Dan Wilson's absence to John Marzano or Chavez. A nice fill-in desperation sort of move for the suddenly contending Mariners.

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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