September 26, 2002
September 16-24, 2002
Purchased the contract of C-R Sal Fasano from Salt Lake. [9/16]
Hopefully, Fasano is up to finish the season behind the plate now that the Angels have clinched that last playoff spot, allowing Los Dos Molinas a chance to get a couple of days off before the playoffs. As somebody with a weak spot in my heart/head for catchers with that Mark Parent/Dave Duncan offensive profile, the guy who can throw a little and pound a home run every couple of weeks, regular readers know I've always coughed up plenty of kind words on behalf of Sal Fasano. Generally speaking, it really isn't any more sensible than my recent change of preference on the Stone Temple Pilots' Core album; I just irrationally started preferring the A-side of the album to the B-side. I know, "Piece of Pie" is a tremendous bit of accompaniment for any driver at speeds over 80 mph, but I just can't set aside my fondness for "Dead and Bloated" or "Wicked Garden." I hope everyone can keep bearing with these kinds of self-indulgent idiosyncrasies, and can tune me out when I noisily trumpet swell old Sal Fasano for some backup catcher job somewhere. It's not like he's a hollow-rep caddy like Alberto Castillo.
Purchased the contract of RHP Joey Dawley from Richmond; designated RHP Kris Keller for assignment; recalled LHP Andy Pratt from Richmond; recalled LHPs Horacio Ramirez and Jung Bong from Greenville (Double-A). [9/22]
To their credit, the Braves are balancing the opportunities. They're taking the time to review one of their top young pitchers, taking a look at two guys who they have to make a decision about as far as their future with the organization, and rewarding one minor league journeyman. It's an interesting and worthwhile mix of call-ups.
The highly touted Jung Bong came up for a lone start earlier this summer before going back down to Greenville, where he flip-flopped between the bullpen and the rotation. In 122 innings, he allowed 136 hits and 44 walks while striking out 107. He outpitched Pratt overall, allowing only 4.35 runs per nine and only six taters.
Andy Pratt was briefly touted as a prospect in the Rangers organization before being even more strangely traded for by the Braves when he was threatened with having to go on waivers in April. He was hardly dominant this summer, giving up more than 4.5 runs per nine innings while allowing 127 hits and 53 walks in 133.2 IP while notching 103 strikeouts. He only gave up seven home runs, but he needs to show something to the Braves' coaches now if he's going to earn his keep on the 40-man roster this winter.
Coming back from an elbow injury that ruined his 2001, Horacio Ramirez had a nice half-season for Greenville. In sixteen starts, he pitched 92 innings, allowing 85 hits and 32 walks while striking out 64. Allowing almost exactly four runs per nine doesn't reflect dominance, but in his first season coming back from the elbow injury, he needed to show command, control, and resilience, and he's done that so far. If he gets the chance to make a nice impression now, he should get to stick around in the organization.
The guy in this group you should really feel good about is Joey Dawley. He's trying to make a name for himself as the second coming of Billy Taylor to come out of the Braves' organization. He just turned 31, but he's coming up after a tremendous season at Richmond, posting a 2.63 ERA while allowing only 113 hits and 36 walks (with 136 strikeouts) in 140.1 IP. The Braves are being classy enough to reward him with a major league appearance, and while he won't stick on their 40-man roster, this is the sort of calling card that can make him an even more attractive pickup as a minor league free agent this winter.
DuBose is coming back from a brief retirement and had a nifty season as a reliever at Bowie this summer, posting a 2.51 ERA while allowing only 46 hits and 21 walks in 64.2 IP, while punching out 66. At this rate, he could be the next Kevin Hickey or something.
This is sort of like the Flash Gordon dump, but writ small, appropriately enough. The warm bodies received from the Cardinals for the privilege of getting Jeff Fassero off of their roster are your usual minor league relievers. Jason Karnuth was giving up a run every other inning in Double-A, he doesn't throw hard, and at 26, he's not a prospect for anything beyond the International League's (not-yet-extant) pension plan. Jared Blasdell is the prospect of the two after a dominant season as a closer in the Midwest League. We've gone over cautionary tales about minor league closers in general and Cardinals minor league closers in particular time and again over the years, but the thing to keep in mind is that as a group, minor league relievers generally grow up to be minor league relievers, and there isn't a whole lot of reason to expect anything any different here.
There's probably no need to fire up a Corky libre! campaign just yet, especially considering he only hit .231/.340/.403 for Louisville in his brief playing time there. However, this was not a good year for Jason LaRue. Once it became clear that the Reds weren't going to win anything this season, they really should have cut bait or shopped Kelly Stinnett so that they could bring up Miller and let him alternate with LaRue behind the plate.
Recalled LHP Cory Vance from Carolina (Double-A). [9/18]
Cory Vance is somebody who the Rockies almost have to look at, to decide what they want to do with him. A fourth-round pick in 2000 out of Georgia Tech, this was his first year above A-ball. He was decent if unexceptional, posting a 3.77 ERA and allowing 142 hits in 150.1. His 114:75 strikeout to walk ratio isn't too impressive, any more than his 4.4 runs allowed per nine. He doesn't have overwhelming velocity, and he's a top college program guy on his third professional season. They'll almost certainly squeeze him onto the 40-man this winter, but he's a fringe guy.
Acquired pitcher Jorge Cordova from the Reds to complete the Brian Moehler trade; claimed pitcher Jason Jimenez off waivers from the Devil Rays; transferred DH-B Dmitri Young from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/24]
It says a lot about the Tigers that they're adding people only just now who might do them some good. I've gnawed on the idea that Craig Monroe could be an asset as a platoon partner and backup outfielder like an old bone; he returns to the majors after hitting .321/.379/.511 as a Mudhen. Andres Torres deserves to be taken more seriously than Hiram Bocachica as the team's center fielder of the future. He's far from perfect, having only hit .266/.345/.364 at Toledo, and that only translates to a .239 Equivalent Average in the majors. He's still a bit raw in the field, having committed ten errors, and he's an offensive 'little man' considering his 42 steals (only twelve times caught) and fourteen sac bunts. Nevertheless, he can cover the gaps in the spacious center field in Comerica, and if the alternative is continued delusions of a Wendell Magee nature, then the Tigers need to get real and give Torres an opportunity next spring. George Lombard's glove should keep him out of consideration.
Jason Jimenez was a nice waiver-wire snag. At Durham, he was an effective lefty reliever, posting a 2.63 ERA while allowing only 47 hits and 15 walks in 51.1 IP, while striking out 55. He may not get to grow up to be the next Buddy Groom, but the Tigers are certainly better off taking their chances on a guy like this than handing multiple millions to the next Rheal Cormier.
Purchased the contract of C-R Dusty Wathan from Omaha. [9/22]
The Royals are hard up in all sorts of ways, but at least they're being thoughtful as they wallow. Wes Obermueller has done a great job as far as rebounding from shoulder surgery. Although he may yet move out of the starting role to a job in a big league bullpen, this summer he pitched 151.1 innings, allowing 136 hits and 51 walks. Although he struck out only 109, not many for someone who used to regularly dial it up into the mid-90s, Obermueller gave up only seven HRs between Wichita and Wilmington.
Dusty Wathan is merely a legacy, but he's not appreciably any worse than a guy like Hec Ortiz, so you can't exactly begrudge him being invited up to erase the memory of the undue haste with which the Royals canned Duke Wathan and lamentably gave Hal McRae his first opportunity.
Acquired RHP Jason Frasor from the Tigers to complete the trade for Hiram Bocachica. [9/18]
I have to confess, Jason Frasor is one of those guys I know practically nothing about. He's a short righthander who missed 2001 with an elbow injury after starting his career as a late-round choice out of Southern Illinois in 1999. In his first year back he was hardly dominant in the Florida State League, allowing more than four runs per nine while giving up 112 hits and 45 walks in 117 IP. Some feel he might be an asset in relief, but he's going to have to make it past the jump from A-ball to Double-A, and as a 25-year-old, he's not somebody that the odds favor.
Tip of the cap to Dean Taylor as he heads out the door, because getting Pedro Liriano as the final component of the Ochoa deal was a nice add. There are reasons you might quibble with that assessment, since Liriano's record is only 10-14, and despite a 3.60 ERA that is pretty good for the California League, allowing 86 runs in 167.1 IP leaves you with a less impressive 4.6 runs allowed per nine. But allowing only 129 hits in 167.1 IP is impressive in the Cal League, and striking out 176 (with 73 walks) is equally outstanding. Liriano is supposedly only 21, and although with any Dominican you have to wonder about that, he's not a bad arm to have gotten in the Ochoa package.
Activated RHP Mariano Rivera from the DL. [9/21]
So here it is, the big trial run, featuring some rehab outings against the Tigers and D-Rays and Orioles. If Rivera is something resembling his former self, then the Yankees have a great three-man setup to end games, with Jeff Weaver and Ramiro Mendoza to handle the middle innings. That's a solid group to go into the postseason with, even if they end up hauling Sterling Hitchcock along for the ride. However, if Rivera is not himself, then Steve Karsay and Mike Stanton get pushed back for later use in games, and there's a potential chink in the collective suit of pinstriped armor. No, nobody weeps for the Boss-men, but it makes for the most drama the AL East has seen in almost two months, unless of course you've been on the edge of your seat during the Orioles' spectacular burrowing down to fourth place.
Recalled C/UT-R Paul Hoover from Durham. [9/19]
You might ask why, but this isn't another situation where the wacky D-Rays call up Paul Hoover to exploit his wacky ambi-positional irrelevance. Instead, he's up for a legitimate reason, which depending on who you believe is either because of injury or mutiny. John Flaherty has a broken finger, but isn't going to play and isn't going to go on the DL either, apparently because he doesn't want to. Flaherty accompanied his decision that he would not allow himself to be placed on the DL with the decision that he had also finished his career as a Devil Ray. If there's someone who can take hope from this contretemps, it's Hal McRae, because if Chuck LaMar shows as much of a franchise-appropriate absence of spine with him, then he can hold his breath until he turns blue or gets his contract extension in the full confidence that LaMar hates to see a grown man pass out because of an infantile gesture.
The Rangers managed to swipe Ben Kozlowski from the Braves earlier this season in a 40-man roster limit-inspired move. They had to move Andy Pratt rather than expose him to waivers, and the Braves obliged by handing them Kozlowski in exchange. A big lefty with good velocity, Kozlowski was that rare young Braves pitcher who did just fine after leaving the organization, advancing to Double-A while allowing only 91 hits in 131 IP between A-ball and Double-A in the Rangers' organization, and posting a 117:47 strikeout to walk ratio. He allowed just under three runs per nine on the season, but was down around two per nine in Double-A after his promotion. He was going to have to be added to the 40-man by November anyway, so the Rangers made a nice gesture in doing it now and giving him a taste of big league life. He was wild in his debut against the Mariners, and shouldn't be considered a factor for Opening Day next year, but if he stays healthy, he could pitch his way onto the big league staff before next September's roster expansions.