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May 18, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Sunk in the Hudson

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RP Andrew Carignan to Triple-A Sacramento. [5/16]
Claimed LHP Travis Blackey off waivers from the Giants. [5/15]
Placed RHP Joey Devine on the 60-day disabled list. [5/15]

Oakland’s spate of Australian ballplayers continues to grow with the claiming of Blackley. This would be the perfect spot for a Moneyball or market inefficiency joke if those weren’t completely played out. Besides, this isn’t Blackley’s first time with the A’s. He spent a chunk of the 2010 season toiling in Sacramento. This would be the perfect spot for a boomerang joke, but those are built for speed and Blackley is not. Expect him to rely upon his command as he tries to clean up messes and his reputation as a busted prospect. 

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-L Rich Thompson from the Phillies for OF-Kyle Hudson. [5/16]
Placed OF-R Brandon Guyer on the 15-day disabled list. [5/16]
Transferred RHP Jeff Niemann to the 60-day disabled list. [5/16]
Signed 1B-R Ryan Garko to a minor-league deal. [5/16]
Recalled RHP Josh Lueke from Triple-A Durham. [5/15]
Placed RHP Jeff Niemann on the 15-day disabled list. [5/15]

Forgive those in the Tampa Bay crowd on Wednesday night who asked upon Thompson’s entrance, “Who?” Thompson, 33, is a minor-league lifer with one big-league plate appearance to his name. (He grounded into a double play against a pitching catcher in 2004.)  Perseverance can pay off, but Thompson isn’t without skill: his speed and defensive efforts make him a reserve option. The Rays have four outfielders on the disabled list and Thompson will find himself back in the minors once the wounded heal.

Resurfacing after a failed stint in Korea, Garko is more than a season removed from his last major-league appearance. Being assigned to Double-A would be humiliating to most veterans, but Garko can’t object too much because his most recent wave of effectiveness came in early 2009. Now 31, perhaps Garko can write a second act to his big-league career, or at least inspire a website named Free Garko.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned 1B-L Adam Lind to Triple-A Las Vegas. [5/17]

Purchased the contract of C/1B/3B-R Yan Gomes from Triple-A Las Vegas. [5/17]

Alex Anthopoulos extended Lind’s contract early during his tenure as Jays general manager. Christina Kahrl praised the deal at the time, writing:  

Since PECOTA's confident he can retain value as a hitter through the entire period, producing TAv marks around .300 well into his thirties, it's a tremendous bit of front-office work to have locked him in so thoroughly so soon. If, in the worst case, they wound out just the $16 million plus the $2 million buyout because he completely tanks, that's, what, 1.6 Jose Guillens in terms of expense spread across four times the seasonal service, with none of the attendant unpleasantness? Of course it's a great deal for the club.

The contract still looks good but for different reasons. Lind never did develop into that consistent .300 TAv hitter. In fact, he has not topped .270 since re-signing. That and Lind’s anchorage to the wrong side of the defensive spectrum tell the story; however, there is reason to wonder if he became too passive at the plate this season. He rarely offered at the first pitch and struck out looking more than he had in recent seasons. The newfound selectivity led to an improved walk rate, yet it came with a decrease in power production.

The Jays are tethered to Lind through the end of next season and things could get better. Lind could find his stroke that led to 35 home runs in 2009. More likely is that the Jays will pay Lind the money he has remaining through next season along with a $2 million buyout for the 2014 club option they are unlikely to exercise.  You could talk about the Jays eating money in a trade, but that seems unfeasible.

Gomes is up for his flexibility and intrigue. He can play three positions (catcher, first and third base) and was hitting .359/.391/.565 at the time of his promotion. Take those numbers with 215 pounds of salt because Gomes is likely a bench player in the majors. His tools are unimpressive and his numbers are less impressive than they might seem. To wit, the two Las Vegas players with a higher OPS than Gomes are Travis Snider and Danny Perales. That would be a player yet to hit major-league pitching and a 27-year-old who hasn’t posted a seasonal OPS over .800 since 2007.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated RHP D.J. Carrasco for assignment. [5/16]

Recalled LHP Robert Carson from Double-A Binghamton. [5/16]

The Mets gave Carrasco a two-year deal after he spent the previous three performing admirably as a long-reliever. Carrasco’s failure would be more intriguing if it stemmed from the Peter Principle. But this isn’t a case of Terry Collins misdiagnosing Carrasco’s optimal role. Rather, this is a case of Carrasco falling to pieces. If this is the end of the Carrasco era in New York then the book closes with 38 runs allowed in 53 innings and more than half of his $1.2 million salary remaining.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Released 2B-S Orlando Hudson. [5/17]

Placed SS-R Jason Bartlett on the 15-day disabled list. [5/17]

Recalled INF-L Alexi Amarista and INF-S Everth Cabrera from Triple-A Tucson. [5/17]

Claimed LHP Eric Stults off waivers from the White Sox. [5/17]

Is Hudson done or did he just stop trying with the Padres; and which of those explanations is worse? If Hudson did try then the results are indicative of a player who isn’t long for the majors. Hudson’s strikeout and walk rates are currently at career worst levels. Things are so bad that Hudson’s strikeout-to-walk ratio, 3.38, is the worst of his career by nearly a full point (2.45 being the previous high, set as a rookie in 2002). Hudson’s performances over the past two seasons and a team’s desperation for an upgrade at the keystone could land him another job. Unless, that is, teams decide that employing Hudson isn’t worth the headache.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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