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August 3, 1998

Transaction Analysis

July 27-31

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Acquired C Charlie O'Brien from the White Sox for LHP Jason Stockstill and RHP Brian Tokarse. [7/30]

Purchased the contract of 3B Troy Glaus from Vancouver; optioned LHP Jarrod Washburn to Vancouver; transferred RHP Mike James from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/30]

The big news here is the callup of Troy Glaus. It probably reflects expectations that one friend groused "he only hit .309 in the PCL... " That says nothing about his outstanding power, and with Tim Salmon's debilitating injuries, right-handed power is something the Angels need badly. In conjunction with picking up O'Brien, the Angels have a few choices as far as playing time. Phil Nevin could stop catching, and enter the mix at first or DH. Dave Hollins is no longer enough of an offensive asset to really belong at first or DH, so if they do lose Salmon (and if Todd Greene isn't ready to come up and DH), the Angels may do themselves a favor and start cutting back Cecil Fielder's playing time as well as Hollins'. As far as picking up O'Brien, trades involving players on the DL are extraordinary, if not downright prohibited by the rules, so I'm a bit surprised by this move. Not that the Angels couldn't use an alternative to Matt Walbeck and Nevin.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Placed 1B Travis Lee on the DL, retroactive to 7/25 (groin strain); recalled RHP Bob Wolcott from Tucson. [7/28]

Activated RHP Felix Rodriguez from the DL; optioned RHP Bob Wolcott to Tucson. [7/30]

Acquired LF Bernard Gilkey, RHP Nelson Figueroa, and cash for RHP Willie Blair, C Jorge Fabregas, and a PTBNL. [7/31]

Lee's injury ended up being slightly more serious than expected, and it probably squelches whatever long odds there were that he could claim the NL Rookie of the Year award, but it also means that once Matt Williams returns in the next day or two, Andy Fox will simply slip over to the opposite infield corner. Wolcott's promotion and send-down were only to cover for Brian Anderson's absence. I'm baffled by the decision to acquire Bernard Gilkey; at its best, it keeps the D-backs from the historic indignity of having a 20-game loser (Blair), while removing their worst catcher from the roster. At worst, it means the D-backs are saddled with an old corner outfielder with little power. Figueroa may be related to someone who could pitch, but his second go-round in the Eastern League hasn't been much more successful than his first.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Acquired 1B Greg Colbrunn from Colorado for RHP David Cortes and LHP Mike Porzio. [7/30]

So, who's going to sign Colbrunn in the off-season, so that they can trade him to the Braves in July of '99? He steps right in as the Braves' best right-handed pinch-hitter.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Activated LHP Jimmy Key from the DL; released LHP Norm Charlton unconditionally. [7/28]

Acquired RHP Juan Guzman from Toronto for RHP Nerio Rodriguez and OF Shannon Carter. [7/31]

With Guzman and Key in the rotation, the Orioles are clearly telling themselves they're back in the race, and if they continue to win 90% of their games, sure, I guess they are. Of course, that isn't going to happen, even with the improvements that come from making a clean sweep of this winter's ill-considered decisions: Ozzie Guillen and Charlton cut, Joe Carter traded, and Doug Drabek getting sized for his future as glue. Guzman and Key will back up Mike Mussina and Scott Erickson, and they'll have to consider whether they want to leave Sid Ponson in the rotation, or stick with Scott Kamieniecki.

BOSTON RED SOX

Acquired DH Mike Stanley for RHPs Jay Yennaco and Peter Munro. [7/30]

Traded RHP Joe Hudson to Milwaukee for INF Eddy Diaz. [7/31]

Acquired LHP Greg Swindell and 1B/RF Orlando Merced from Minnesota for CF John Barnes, RHP Matt Kinney, and P Joe Thomas; designated DH Billy Ashley for assignment. [7/31]

Placed OF Midre Cummings on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/29 (sprained wrist). [7/31]

Nothing really earth-shattering here, as the Sox gear up to fend off wild-card challengers. Stanley is a known quantity on the downslope of his career, and Merced is a handy bench player who'd rather have a bigger role. More critically, it means that the Sox are well-insured if Reggie Jefferson doesn't come back or if something happens to another regular. The really critical addition is that of Swindell; having "Flounder" means they can stop joking around with David West, and there probably isn't a better lefty long reliever in the game today. That in turn could let Jimy Williams reduce the workload for Dennis Eckersley, and/or reserve Flash Gordon for the ninth inning alone; conversely, he has more latitude in making some quick hooks for his non-Pedro starters.

CHICAGO CUBS

Traded RHP Jon Garland to the White Sox for RHP Matt Karchner. [7/29]

Optioned RHP Rod Myers to Iowa; transferred RHP Jeremi Gonzalez from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/30]

Traded RHP Todd Noel and Justin Speier and 3B Kevin Orie to Florida for LHPs Felix Heredia and Steve Hoff. [7/31]

Reinforcing a bullpen shouldn't have to be expensive, but for the Cubs, it was. I don't disagree with the idea that loading up on pitching prospects in the draft can be a great source of fodder for trades to help the major league roster; most pitching "prospects" don't survive AA. But even if we're charitable, to get a mediocre righty and a good young lefty, the Cubs gave up two first-round pitchers, a struggling but promising third baseman, and the son of a major league vet. Picking up Heredia isn't a bad idea: he's young, slags lefties (.187/.262/.280 with the Fish this year), and having him around lets the Cubs move Terry Mulholland to the rotation. The shine has come off of both Noel and Orie this year (and Speier's no loss), but in general, dumping young players when there value is low is a good way to get burned. Trading Garland for Karchner straight up seems misguided; beyond the question of whether or not Karchner really is much better than Cookies Pisciotta, Garland is a top ten draft choice from '97, and trading him now for waiver-bait like Karchner is just dumb. As bad as Orie has been this year, the Cubs are now left with Manny Alexander as their #1 replacement if anything happens to any infield regular, and that's a potential disaster.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Traded RHP Matt Karchner to the Cubs for RHP Jon Garland. [7/29]

Acquired LHP Jason Stockstill and RHP Brian Tokarse from Anaheim for C Charlie O'Brien; purchased the contract of RHP Chad Bradford from Calgary. [7/30]

So we all get treated to Ron Schueler chuckling about how Garland won't be as old as Kerry Wood for another three years. This ought to be considered an additional bounty of last year's big trade with the Giants: moving Roberto Hernandez put Karchner on the spot, and he conveniently gave the Sox one of his healthy stretches of effectiveness. That doesn't change what he is: replaceable. There was no chance that Karchner was going to be a Type A free agent, let alone one that would be a top ten draft choice, like Garland. Meanwhile, trading O'Brien must mean the statute of limitations on his "Cy Young catcher" voodoo must have worn off. With Mark Johnson and Robert Machado coming up, the Sox have better catching options for the coming seasons.

CINCINNATI REDS

Recalled RHP Todd Williams from Indianapolis; optioned IF/OF Paul Konerko to Indianapolis. [7/29]

Placed CF Mike Frank on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/27; recalled 3B Aaron Boone from Indianapolis. [7/30]

Jack McKeon was having trouble giving Konerko consistent PAs, but that was mostly the product of his misguided attachment to Pokey Reese as a lucky charm in the lineup at third. Reese's season-ending injury puts an end to that. Boone has been pretty disappointing at Indy (.241/.316/.364), so he isn't really a better alternative to Konerko. In the meantime, it will be highly amusing if the Reds could turn Todd Williams into a major commodity in the same fashion they did with Jeff Shaw. For the second consecutive year, he's been dominating as Indy's closer (1.13 ERA, 23 saves, 35 hits and 18 walks in 47.2 IP). Frank's absence conveniently lets the Reds off the hook for bringing him up too soon in the first place, and lets them stick with Pat Watkins, which is what they should have been doing anyways.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Acquired SS Adam Robinson from Oakland to complete the Tim Worrell trade. [7/28]

Recalled RHP Steve Karsay from Buffalo; optioned RHP Chad Ogea to Buffalo. [7/31]

I'm at a loss for why they wanted to exchange Karsay for Ogea; answering the phone for the call up is probably enough to injure Karsay's notoriously weak elbow.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Signed LHP Chuck McElroy to a three-year contract. [7/28]

Optioned RHP Mark Brownson to Colorado Springs; recalled RHP Fred Rath from Colorado Springs. [7/28]

Traded 1B Greg Colbrunn to Atlanta for LHP Mike Porzio and RHP David Cortes. [7/30]

Purchased the contract of 2B Terry Shumpert from Colorado Springs. [7/30]

Acquired CF Darryl Hamilton and RHP Jim Stoops for OF Ellis Burks. [7/31]

So the Rox throw up their hands and say "wait 'til next year!" Dumping Burks for Hamilton works out very well for them: Hamilton can at least actually play center, not to mention he gives them a good leadoff hitter. Stoops has been torching the California League as San Jose's closer, but he's also one of the oldest players in the league. Sending Brownson down leaves Bobby Jones as the fifth starter, but after his shutout against the Astros, its safe to assume he'll be back. Adding Shumpert makes Kurt Abbott sort of redundant, but you already knew that.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed RHP Brian Meadows on the 15-day DL (groin strain); purchased the contract of RHP Donn Pall from Charlotte; transferred 1B Kevin Millar from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/28]

Acquired 3B Jose Santo and RHP Daniel DeYoung from Texas for 3B Todd Zeile. [7/31]

Acquired RHPs Todd Noel and Justin Speier and 3B Kevin Orie from the Cubs for LHPs Felix Heredia and Steve Hoff. [7/31]

Dave Dombrowski pulls in another great swag. Orie may just need to get away from Jeff Pentland to get his swing working again, but with his injury history, he may never come around. He's a worthwhile gamble, and getting Santo, who's been dominating the Sally League, gives them great insurance (not to mention making Josh Booty little more than a punchline). Noel throws blistering heat, and his eventual destination is probably a major league bullpen. Speier is no prospect; closer or no at Iowa, ten taters in less than fifty innings is the stuff Robby Stanifer's made of. Meanwhile, on the major league roster, losing Meadows means that Kirt Ojala will get another couple of starts.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Acquired LHP Randy Johnson from Seattle for SS Carlos Guillen, RHP Freddy Garcia and PTBNL. [7/31]

Wow! Talk about an offer that comes out of left field. Yes, it didn't involve the fireworks of the published offers: every talented Yankee prospect, or every graduate of the Dodger's Domincan academy. But this deal reflects a slightly more sober valuation for two months of a great pitcher with a bad back and a temper. It was expensive, but not outlandish. Will the Astrodome, a new league, and another great offense be enough to help repair the Big Unit's lustre? There isn't a better situation in the majors for him to succeed in and to help him drive up his value as a free agent. Trading Guillen hurts, but the Astros still have good prospects at short (Jhonny Perez, Julio Lugo). Who loses in this? Pete Schourek.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Placed 1B/OF Jeff Conine on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/27 (sore back); purchased the contract of INF Scott Leius from Omaha; transferred LHP Jamie Walker from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/31]

Isn't there some sort of rule that teams can't have both Terry Pendleton and Leius?

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Placed RHP Ismael Valdes on the 15-day DL (muscle strains - left side); purchased the contract of RHP Sean Maloney from Albuquerque. [7/27]

Activated C Henry Blanco from the DL, and optioned him to Albuquerque. [7/29]

Acquired LHP Carlos Perez, SS Mark Grudzielanek, and OF Hiram Bocachica from Montreal for 2B/SS Wil Guerrero, OF Pete Bergeron, LHP Ted Lilly, and 1B Jonathan Tucker. [7/31]

So the Pastaman pays another ransom to keep his long-term job prospects (if not necessarily the Dodgers' playoff chances) alive. Carlos Perez is a nice enough pitcher to have around, but Grudzielanek and Bocachica are two low-OBP defensive liabilities. Did I mention neither has any power? What happens in the offseason, when they'll have to take Grudz to arbitration, while still having Eric Young and Jose Vizcaino under contract? And is Perez enough to paper over their rotation? They're not just using Dreifort and Mlicki now, they're counting on them, and Mike Judd is the fifth starter for the time being.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed RHP Cal Eldred on the 15-day DL (forearm stress fracure); released RHP Paul Wagner; purchased the contract of UT Greg Martinez from Louisville; recalled LHP Valerio De Los Santos from El Paso (AA). [7/27]

Acquired LHP Bill Pulsipher from the Mets for 3B Mike Kinkade; acquired RHP Joe Hudson from Boston for INF Eddy Diaz. [7/31]

So this is how Sal Bando fills his time. Adding De Los Santos to the bullpen is a good thing: lefties with good heat are few and far between, and he's been miscast as a starting pitcher for too long. Why go out and get Pulsipher? He won't be plugged right into the rotation (they're going to experiment with Raffy Roque).

MINNESOTA TWINS

Acquired CF John Barnes, RHP Matt Kinney, and P Joe Thomas from Boston for 1B/OF Orlando Merced and LHP Greg Swindell. [7/31]

A good swag for a handy pair of vets. Barnes is an outstanding potential all-tools prospect, and while Kinney still hasn't learned to control his overpowering assortment, he's a decent pitching prospect. The indictment here is that Barnes is something of a necessity, since the organization cast Richie Becker aside, and Torii Hunter and Chris Latham look like they'll never develop. Otis Nixon is a long-term answer, if you think September is a long time away.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Traded LHP Carlos Perez, SS Mark Grudzielanek, and OF Hiram Bocachica to the Dodgers for 2B/SS Wil Guerrero, OF Pete Bergeron, LHP Ted Lilly, and 1B Jonathan Tucker. [7/31]

Activated UT F.P. Santangelo off the DL. [7/31]

Not only did the Expos move Perez, they eliminated two headaches: the annual fight with Grudz about his salary, and what position they want to pick for Bocachica every spring. In return, they have a potentially great leadoff man in Bergeron, a good pitching prospect in Lilly, and Tucker's a prospect as well. Getting Wil Guerrero isn't really an improvement on Grudz, but it also isn't a step backwards. Its probably unfair to hold Jim Beattie to the burglary standards already set by Jim Bowden now that the Pastaman runs the Dodgers, so all things considered, he got a good group of talent. The critical issue is whether the Expos can learn from their confrontations with Grudz, so that they can avoid them in the future.

NEW YORK METS

Outrighted OF Wayne Kirby to Norfolk. [7/28]

Acquired RHP Willie Blair, C Jorge Fabregas, and a PTBNL from Arizona for LF Bernard Gilkey, RHP Nelson Figueroa, and cash; optioned C Todd Pratt to Norfolk; recalled OF Benny Agbayani and C Vance Wilson from Norfolk. [7/31]

Acquired UT Tony Phillips from Toronto for RHP Leoncio Estrella. [7/31]

Traded LHP Bill Pulsipher to Milwaukee for INF Mike Kinkade. [7/31]

So the Mets bring in Blair, Phillips, and Fabregas. Does that really do anything to help? Phillips is obviously a good addition, since he can play regularly while shifting between the outfield corners, second, and third, allowing Bobby Valentine to use everyone else to their best advantage while finally having a good leadoff hitter. But what does Blair do? He isn't a better sixth starter than Reynoso, and he isn't going to bump Reed or Leiter or Nomo or Yoshii or Jones. He isn't a better middle reliever than Turk Wendell or Greg McMichael. Jorge Fabregas isn't a step up from Alberto Castillo, but getting him meant that the Mets handed Todd Pratt his walking papers yet again, at which point we should be wondering what he did to offend Bobby Valentine. Ask for a date? Ditch his daughter? Run over his cat? Smoke in the locker room? Call Tommy Lasorda a witless turnip?

NEW YORK YANKEES

Designated INF Dale Sveum for assignment; recalled OF Shane Spencer from Columbus. [7/27]

I don't think anyone's weeping for George's decision to give Sveum a two-year contract. What this all really means is that the roster spot (currently occupied by Spencer) is available for Chili Davis when he's activated. It also means that Homer Bush's place is safe, which should please his fans.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Recalled OF Mike Neill from Edmonton; optioned RHP Steve Connelly to Edmonton. [7/27]

Activated 2B Scott Spiezio from the 15-day DL; outrighted UT Jack Voigt to Edmonton. [7/30]

Acquired 3B Ed Sprague from Toronto for RHP Scott Rivette and cash. [7/31]

If there's a silver lining here, it might be that the A's will find a way to play Bip Roberts less, but that's probably wishful thinking. Bringing in Sprague seems especially futile: Eric Chavez is on his way up, and Sprague is, at best, a step up from Mike Blowers as a lefty masher. Having both of them, as well as Kevin Mitchell, defies description. In the meantime, the A's pile on their left-handed strengths by bringing in one of the organization's big tough-luck players, Neill. There's more of Keith Lockhart to him than Warren Newson: unlike Newson, he never could have been a great player, but like Lockhart, he can be handy as a spot starter and pinch-hitter.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Placed RHP Tyler Green on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/29 (elbow); activated RHP Ken Ryan from the DL. [7/31]

This leaves the Phillies short as far as a fifth starter, but Green's gone bad (yet again), while their bullpen has been a major asset for them this year, so they can probably survive Garret Stephenson or someone else pitching as badly as Green.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated 3B Doug Strange from the DL; optioned UT Steve Bieser to Nashville. [7/31]

Strange will pinch-hit and get spot starts at best. Unlike Turner Ward or Keith Osik, his two-year contract is looking like a mistake.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Acquired LHP Darren Oliver, 3B Fernando Tatis, and a PTBNL from Texas for RHP Todd Stottlemyre and SS Royce Clayton. [7/31]

What does this do for the Cardinals? Stottlemyre may be damaged goods, but Oliver's probably even more likely to be hiding a potentially major injury. Will they play Tatis? Maybe, but LaRussa never makes this sort of thing easy for a young player, and it would mean giving up on the whole Mabry-to-third nonsense, let alone putting Gary Gaetti out to pasture. And that's assuming that Tatis is a better prospect than the Cards' own Chris Haas, which probably isn't the case. They can easily replace Clayton with Luis Ordaz (and eventually Brent Butler), but its going to have to be some PTBNL to make this deal look remotely worthwhile for the Cards.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Acquired OF Ellis Burks from Colorado for CF Darryl Hamilton and RHP Jim Stoops. [7/31]

It almost works. Almost. If the Giants take Burks, drop him into the lineup as their rightfielder, and put Stan Javier in center, they wouldn't really miss Hamilton's .390+ OBP, outfield defense wouldn't be a major problem, and they'd have added some right-handed power. Sadly, that isn't what's going to happen. Burks will man center as long as his back lets him, Joe Carter will make outs hand over fist, and Stan Javier will get to watch all this fun from the bench. If Brian Sabean had wanted to make his team worse, he couldn't have done a much better job.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Traded LHP Randy Johnson to Houston for SS Carlos Guillen, RHP Freddy Garcia, and a PTBNL. [7/31]

A sobering reflection of what the trade market is really like, and that isn't a bad thing. Guillen is a very good prospect, and by all accounts, has a tremendous up-side. I can't really overstate that: Guillen has developed exceptionally despite losing considerable time to injury, and if the Mariners have patience (something that's hard to find with Piniella at the helm), he could easily be an All-Star and a great candidate for the '99 Rookie of the Year. Acquiring him means the Mariners have a solution at second or third for years to come, but I expect they'll put him at second (moving A-Rod just won't happen). Freddy Garcia is a very good pitching prospect, having turned out as the best graduate of the great Kissimme class of '97, but Ken Cloude is a good pitching prospect, and Bob Wolcott was a good pitching prospect. Until the Mariners get a pitching coach who can shield the pitchers from Piniella, or until they just can the man himself, acquiring pitching prospects just adds to the body count.

TEXAS RANGERS

Acquired 3B Todd Zeile from Florida for 3B Jose Santo and RHP Daniel DeYoung; acquired RHP Todd Stottlemyre and SS Royce Clayton from the Cardinals for LHP Darren Oliver, 3B Fernando Tatis, and a PTBNL; waived SS Kevin Elster unconditionally; recalled 3B Rob Sasser and RHP Dan Smith from Tulsa (AA). [7/31]

Now that takes chutzpah. Not just any contender runs out and gets an ace pitcher and a new left side of their infield despite having only a very few prospects. That they did not have to give up either Ruben Mateo or Cesar King to get Zeile, Clayton, and Stottlemyre is outstanding. As far as their lineup, they just dumped their #8 and #9 hitters, and added power, speed, and defense. Clayton has become a more patient hitter (40 walks in 355 ABs), and he's one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. The only real loss here is Santo, and in exchange for making their rotation, their lineup, and their defense better in a push for the AL West lead, that's a bargain.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Traded DH Mike Stanley to Boston for RHPs Peter Munro and Jay Yennaco. [7/30]

Traded RHP Juan Guzman to Baltimore for RHP Nerio Rodriguez and OF Shannon Carter. [7/31]

Traded UT Tony Phillips to Mets for RHP Leoncio Estrella. [7/31]

Traded 3B Ed Sprague to Oakland for RHP Scott Rivette and cash. [7/31]

The Blue Jays publicly pull the plug on their wild card hopes, except for the fact that they probably made themselves better. Phillips aside, they can now put Tom Evans in the lineup at third, return Shannon Stewart to an everyday role, recall Jose Cruz Jr., and get Jose Canseco back to DH. Rodriguez may take his lumps as the fifth starter, or they may just put Dave Stieb into the rotation for the last two months; both options have their attractions, but they could just drop Rodriguez into a middle relief role, as they did with Chris Carpenter earlier in the season. Munro still has his good heat, but he hasn't harnessed it, and it remains to be seen if he'll live up to his billing.

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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