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March 18, 2003
March 11-16, 2003
Optioned LHP Eric Cyr to Arkansas (Double-A), and reassigned RHP Brandon Emanuel to their minor league camp. [3/11]
Optioned OF-R Barry Wesson and Nathan Haynes to Salt Lake; reassigned UT-Rs Trent Durrington and Adam Riggs, C-R Tom Gregorio, 1B/OF-L Jeff Guiel, and INF-Rs Keith Johnson and Oscar Salazar to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Eric Cyr has to rehab, Derrick Turnbow is one of a lot of Rule 5 projects where it takes years to realize a return if there's one to be had (as you'd expect with anything involving pitchers), and popular amusement aside, Bobby Jenks has a lot to prove before he deserves to be rated particularly highly in my book. So what does that leave? Not a whole lot in terms of people who should have made it but didn't, or might have challenged but hadn't. Eric Owens was already crowding the outfield reserve picture, even if Barry Wesson or Nathan Haynes had a shot. That pretty much leaves Jeff DaVanon for a notional last outfield slot, but when you're carrying a DH platoon, it's hard to make space for a fifth outfielder versus a sixth infielder versus a 12th pitcher. With the frontline talent on squad, that's been an issue for over a year, Owens or no Owens, so this is nothing new.
Optioned RHPs Matt Belisle, John Ennis and Billy Sylvester to Richmond; optioned RHP Brett Evert, LHP Chris Waters and OF-Ls Cory Aldridge and Ryan Langerhans to Greenville (Double-A); assigned LHP Chris Haney, RHP Chris Fussell, and C-B Lee Evans to Richmond; assigned RHPs Bubba Nelson and Adam Wainwright and C-R Jean Boscan to Greenville; assigned OF-R Jeff Francoeur to Rome (A). [3/12]
The fun or interesting thing about this list of demotions is just a reminder that while the Braves are screwing around with this year's rotation gamble and the near-term seems and feels a little out of the ordinary, the organization is still loaded with pitching talent. Note that I didn't say prospects, since the term 'prospects' is merely synonymous with 'survivors' most of the time. But in this particular case, you're talking about a nice swag, and should things go really sour this year--as they could, considering they're counting on Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz, for god's sakes--they might be able to take a peek at some of the pitching talent that might be part of the next Braves powerhouse. That's another way of saying that this year's team is a bridge team, between the great Braves past and the future, whatever it might hold.
Traded 1B/OF-L Chris Richard and cash to the Rockies for DH-L Jack Cust; optioned RHP Sean Douglass and OF-R Darnell McDonald to Ottawa; optioned RHP Mike Paradis, LHP Matt Riley, SS-R Ed Rogers, and C-R Eli Whiteside to Bowie (Double-A); optioned RHP Daniel Cabrera to Delmarva (A-ball); assigned LHP Rigo Beltran and 3B-R Brian Rios to Ottawa, and OF-B Tim Raines Jr. to Bowie. [3/11]
Happy days in Bal'mer, there was a nice bit of banditry to brag about here. Now sure, I'm about as much of a Jack Cust doubter as there is these days, since he's done nothing but stay in place as a hitter from a statistical point of view for the last couple of years. But getting him for damaged goods like Chris Richard right now is a nice little flip and a worthwhile investment of a roster spot, while Richard had no options, a bum wing, and a bat that wasn't a lock to contribute value in a reserve role. Considering they're still carrying Ed Rogers (among others from this group of demotions), they've got lots of roster space to spare, so if they choose to get aggressive between now and Opening Day, they can afford to outright a lot of the dreck on the 40-man.
The usual polite thing to say here is that the Red Sox made the nice gesture by releasing Benny Agbayani and Willie Banks now, with a few weeks to go in camp. That way, they can catch on wherever opportunities might arise and/or injuries occur. Agbayani immediately caught on, and Banks will be somebody's 11th pitcher somewhere. Otherwise, there's some good stuff here that's Pawtucket-bound, Justin Kaye and Tom Davey being two of my usual suspects in terms of guys I've always thought were worth flyers.
Optioned RHP Felix Diaz to Charlotte, LHP Corwin Malone and RHP Brian West to Birmingham (Double-A); reassigned OF-R Cliff Brumbaugh, C-B Steve Morales and 1B/OF-R Scott Morgan to their minor league camp. [3/11]
Again, not really a surprising bunch of cuts, because the White Sox haven't had any major injuries, and they haven't made any deals. Corwin Malone and Brian West will need to have good years before they'll earn real consideration for a rotation slot in the second half. Even after nabbing Bartolo Colon, the Sox are still not locked in on a fifth starter, and one of Dan Wright or John Garland could just as easily regress as progress this summer. Also, should any of the Frank Thomas trade rumors pan out, the opportunity will be there for Cliff Brumbaugh to come back up and perhaps get some platoon at-bats as the short half of a platoon with Brian Daubach, assuming the Sox don't bring in another bat in the deal.
Optioned RHP Todd Wellemeyer to Iowa, and RHPs Jon Leicester and John Webb to West Tenn (Double-A); assigned C-Rs Eliezer Alfonzo and Casey Kopitzke and LHP Phil Norton to their minor league camp. [3/11]
Optioned LHP Steve Smyth to Iowa; assigned RHP Mike Meyers to their minor league camp. [3/15]
Not that Nic Jackson (coming off of an injury) or Jackson Melian (coming off yet another disappointing season) had real shots at winning jobs this spring, but the Cubs are flirting with carrying both Tom Goodwin and Troy O'Leary as outfield reserves. This is another way of saying Dusty Baker's current "scoring runs is overrated" kick should strangle any delusions of postseason grandeur in the cradle. Other options still include the reliably punchless Lenny Harris, Charles Gipson, and Midre Cummings. Fortunately, when not mulling over these tasty alternatives, Dusty's inspired to screw with Mark Bellhorn's success. Improvement over Don Baylor or Bruce Kimm is apparently very, very relative. Beyond those sorts of self-inflicted or actively-sought-out woes, Bobby Hill is having a chilly camp. The Cardinals and the Astros are pretty touchable, and the Reds are no better positioned to mount a challenge in the NL Central, but the race seems to be degenerating into thumbwrestling in a leper colony before things even get started.
Re-signed OF-R Jose Guillen to a minor league contract. [3/12]
Optioned RHP Ricardo Aramboles to Chattanooga (Double-A) and assigned RHP Carlos Almanzar to their minor league camp. [3/13]
Signed OF-R Benny Agbayani to a minor league contract; reassigned RHPs Dustin Moseley and Bobby Basham back to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Optioned 1B/LF-L Dernell Stenson to Louisville. [3/15]
While it's nice to be set free and all of that, why would you, as a free agent outfielder, choose to come to the Reds organization? There's depth to go around, and a finite number of jobs. Griffey, Dunn, and Kearns are a pretty good unit. Reggie Taylor strikes his manager's fancy. Ruben Mateo's here, and apparently healthy, and he's out of options. Wily Mo Pena has to make the team or get (perhaps inevitably) diagnosed with daunting hamstring problems. Russ Branyan and Brandon Larson need at-bats. Now sure, Kearns and Larson are nursing minor hurts, so I suppose shooting for even more depth makes sense if you're the Reds. But why does it make sense for Benny Agbayani?
Acquired LHP Derrick Van Dusen from the Rangers in exchange for surrendering their rights to Rule 5 pick INF-R Marshall McDougall. [3/16]
Acquired 1B/OF-L Chris Richard and cash from the Orioles for DH-L Jack Cust. [3/11]
Optioned SS-R Clint Barmes, 1B-L Brad Hawpe and OF-R Choo Freeman to their minor league camp; assigned RHPs Brad Clontz, Matt Miller, Chin-hui Tsao, and Jason Young, LHP Chris Michalak, and C-B Mandy Romero to their minor league camp. [3/15]
Dan O'Dowd has managed to outmaneuver himself so convincingly, that this latest stroke is perhaps the penultimate organizational masterstroke, right before his ultimate gesture, dealing himself to an organization to be named later for a general manager to be named sooner. It's a bit surprising to see him convert Jack Cust, a player who was worth acquiring, for an identifiable veteran commodity in Mike Myers, then flip Cust after a couple of years of cooling his jets for a damaged spare part. As disappointing as Cust's lack of progress has been, the decision to wait for the better deal really seems to have led to no good end. A healthy Chris Richard can play baseball, but he's also just another warm NRI-caliber talent. Sometimes, it's a good thing to flip talent for value, but when it's a young DH, it's worth asking what value he's really going to have. O'Dowd had an opportunity to shop, and uncharacteristically, he was less aggressive than normal, and was left holding the bag.
Optioned LHPs Adrian Burnside, Tim Kalita, and Nate Robertson, RHP Jorge Cordova, and OF-L Cody Ross to Toledo; optioned OF-B Nook Logan to Erie (Double-A) and INF-B David Espinosa to Lakeland (A); assigned LHPs Carlos Alvarado, Rob Henkel, Jason Jimenez, and Rafael Roque, C-Rs Russ Cleveland and Max St. Pierre, C-B Andy Kropf, and 3B-R Tom Evans to their minor league camp. [3/12]
There isn't much to note here. Pitchers like Adrian Burnside, Nate Robertson and Tim Kalita will be up at some point, while Tom Evans probably deserved a longer look than what he got. There's the unresolved issue of where the organization wants David Espinosa to wind up on the diamond, which, if rumors of his shoe size (insanely NBA-sized large) are true, should rule out the middle infield. Overall, it looks like Alan Trammell is working his way down to the short-term decisions that need to be made, looking at fringe people like Hiram Bocachica and Craig Paquette and Craig Monroe to see if they can stick around or not. Larger issues can be tackled later, when the epic battle for third place in the AL Central reaches a crescendo.
Claimed LHP Steve Kent off of waivers from the Mariners. [3/12]
Optioned RHP Nate Bump and 2B/SS-R Kevin Hooper and 2B-R Jesus Medrano to Albuquerque; optioned LHP Ryan Snare and SS-R Josh Wilson to Carolina (Double-A); announced RHP Jose Cueto cleared waivers and was outrighted to Carolina; assigned UT-B Derek Wathan and C-R Ryan Jorgensen to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Snagging Steve Kent makes a goodly amount of sense, since the Fish aren't wealthy in lefty relief alternatives; they've had to consider Oswaldo Mairena, after all. There might be some modest surprise that Kevin Hooper got sent down already, but with Mike Mordecai and Andy Fox holding down the utility infield jobs, and Jeff Torborg predisposed to carry a third catcher (likely Ramon Castro) and perhaps even a fourth (utility non-catching catcher Brian Banks), Hooper's best shot to make the squad was if the Marlins thought of Andy Fox as an outfielder. That way, Hooper would have been contending with people like Chad Allen or Ice Williams or (heaven help the forces in teal) Al Martin, people he could have beaten out for a job much more easily than he could vanquish his manager's fancy for the tools of ignorance.
Signed LHP Bruce Chen to a minor league contract; optioned RHPs Jimmy Barrett, Santiago Ramirez, and Rodrigo Rosario, LHP Greg Miller, C-R John Buck, SS-R Tommy Whiteman, and OF-L Henri Stanley to New Orleans; assigned RHP Chris Gissell and C-R Toby Rumfield to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Whither Chen now? To Astro-land, and another pitching coach willing to take a flyer on talent and hope that he's the one who can turn talent into value. Having taken his tour of the NL East, I guess it's the NL Central's turn, after which he can sweep through the NL West, then that other league, and eventually find himself by his 50th birthday or so. If it worked for the Boomers, why should baseball be any different?
Elsewhere, the Astros simply cleared away some of their up-and-coming pitching talent to review their options. With journeymen like Scuffy Moehler, Peter Munro, and Ken Vining having good camps, the pressure is on the upper level pitchers like Kirk Saarloos and Tim Redding to put up or get reacquainted with New Orleans.
Released OF-R Mark Quinn; optioned LHP Jimmy Gobble and SS-R Alejandro Machado to Wichita (Double-A); optioned RHP Ian Ferguson to Omaha; assigned RHPs Buddy Carlyle, Brian Rose, Jason Turman, Nate Field, and Zack Greinke to their minor league camp. [3/11]
Returned Rule 5 draftee C-R Ronny Paulino to the Pirates. [3/13]
Claimed CF-R Rontrez Johnson off of waivers from the Rangers. [3/14]
Mark Quinn hitting the unemployment lines at the same time as other problem children like Bruce Chen or Rob Bell doesn't seem really extraordinary. Quinn is about to turn 29, so he isn't exactly a young prospect anymore, he's made himself a bit of a nuisance during his brief major league career, and he's fragile. If Ken Harvey's poised to win the DH job, that means Raul Ibanez is going to have to man an outfield corner pretty regularly, which eats into whatever at-bats might have gone to Quinn. And would Quinn accept that? Sure, on paper you could see Quinn making a good platoon mate for Ibanez and/or Michael Tucker in an outfield corner, but if he's Chad Curtis Lite (all of the charm, none of the calories), why bother? Perhaps it's amusing to consider that Morgan Burkhart's good camp contributed to the decision, and certainly making space for a backup center fielder like Rontrez Johnson looms large with Carlos Beltran's nagging health considerations. So all in all, it's not one of Allard Baird's worst moves.
Optioned C-B Koyie Hill, LHP Rick Roberts, RHPs Andrew Brown and Calvin Maduro to their minor league camp; released LHPs Pedro Borbon and Yorkis Perez; reassigned UT-B Chris Clapinski to their minor league camp. [3/13]
Koyie Hill got serious playing time but is still a ways off from a real shot, which leaves the Dodgers still taking Todd Hundley seriously as a catcher, not that they have much choice. While cutting Yorkis Perez and Pedro Borbon is thoroughly understandable, it does leave the Dodgers having to take that much more of an interest in Wilson Alvarez, and it makes Troy Brohawn resemble a lock at this early date. Needless to say, it seems more likely that the boys in blue will be shopping for lefty relief help between now and Opening Day.
Ugh. As much as I want to believe that things can only get better under Doug Melvin, and as much as it's relatively small beer, whacking Cody McKay while keeping Keith Osik or Eddie Perez around is illin'. Not fresh illin', either, more that sniffly, sneezy, stuffy head, no-rest, why let that guy ever bat illin', where season ticket holders can rightfully ask what it is they're paying for. Worse still, Javier Valentin's had a godawful camp, which means you could be seeing a whole lot of Robert Machado or Osik or Perez, none of which does the Brewers any good now or into the future.
Optioned 1B-L Justin Morneau, INF-B David Lamb, OF-L Lew Ford, OF-R Michael Restovich, and RHPs Grant Balfour and Kevin Frederick to Rochester, and RHPs Jon Pridie and Beau Kemp to New Britain (Double-A). [3/14]
I'm sure it makes sense on paper to bring in the veteran lefty to replace Eric Milton this year, but Kenny Rogers' peripherals aren't pretty, and having to count on him and Rick Reed and Joe Mays just doesn't bode well. The Twins would have been better off sticking with Johan Santana, and seeing what that got them. All's not lost on that front, of course, considering the worries those other three generate, but all in all, the White Sox and their concerns with the bottom of their rotation don't look quite so limiting any more.
Optioned LHP Scott Downs, RHPs Julio Manon and Claudio Vargas, 1B/OF-R Valentino Pascucci, and OF-L Terrmel Sledge to Edmonton; optioned RHP Seung Song to Harrisburg (Double-A); assigned RHPs Jose Colon and Josh Karp, 1B-R Jeff Bailey, and C-R Scott Sandusky to their minor league camp. [3/14]
It might have been cool to have taken a longer look at Val Pascucci or Terrmel Sledge, given the lack of two regulars in whatever positions between center, left or first base that Brad Wilkerson isn't manning. However, Pascucci isn't coming off of a great 2002 season in Double-A, and the Expos are sorting through potential outfield reserves like Ron Calloway and Damon Buford, and with the rest of the potential roster clogged with positionless bodies like Jeff Liefer, Jose Offerman, Jose Macias, and Will Cordero, it's easy to get overlooked.
Outrighted RHP Franklin Nunez to Norfolk. [3/12]
Again, no real surprises. Jose Silva wasn't supposed to earn a job, and Roy Smith didn't have a great camp. The A's need to make their decisions with Buddy Hernandez, Mike Neu, and Jeremy Fikac now, especially with Hernandez and Neu being Rule 5 picks, whereas Smith had an option and Silva has a list of injuries that would make most ER docs blanch. So they're sorting through the bodies, and because their preseason ends (and, inanely, re-starts) sooner than 28 other teams, they need to move quickly on these decisions.
Optioned RHP Mike Nicolas to Mobile (Double-A), and assigned RHP Kris Keller, UT-R Chris Sexton and 1B-L Mario Valdez to their minor league camp; acquired the rights to 2B/3B-L Oscar Robles from Oaxaca of the Mexican League and promptly handed him a spring training NRI. [3/16]
The interesting story is the sudden interest in Mexican Leaguer Oscar Robles, which, given the injury to Phil Nevin, does create the possibility of some at-bats in an outfield corner. They could always elect to play both Brian Buchanan and Bubba Trammell every day in the corners, but the results wouldn't be pretty. If there's a guy who's been shafted here, it's arguably Mario Valdez, but after signing on with a team that had already hauled in Dave Hansen, you could understand some ease. However, this is the team that's seriously considering Brady Anderson, Roberto Kelly, and Keith Lockhart, so you could understand Valdez being a little exasperated for the same reasons that you can accept a late pickup of Oscar Robles.
Assigned 3B-R Angel Chavez, SS-L Jamie Athas, INF-B Carlos Mendoza, C-Rs Guillermo Rodriguez, John Pachot, and Alberto Castillo, OF-Bs Todd Linden and Brian Simmons, OF-L Adam Shabala, and RHPs Boof Bonser, Luis Estrella and David Cash to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Jerome Williams to Fresno. [3/12]
There aren't really any shockers here. Brian Simmons might have deserved a longer look, but the blush is pretty thoroughly off his particularly dusty rose. It would have made sense to have taken a longer look, since he's not a bad choice for a fifth outfielder, especially with a Marquis Grissom/Marvin Benard platoon being their best option for either center or right (wherever Jose Cruz Jr. isn't). Instead, they seem determined to watch Tony Torcato do a nice little Scot Thompson impression. But with Joe Vitiello shining and Neifi Perez certain to throttle the life out of one roster spot, it's looking like a crowded camp, where coming to terms with whether or not Andres Galarraga serves any sort of value should be high drama in the next two weeks.
On the pitching staff, Williams probably deserved a longer look, while Boof Bonser got into a few games and didn't shine. Both, obviously, will be back, but both also have to wait for Kurt Ainsworth to get his well-deserved shot first. With both Livan Hernandez and Ryan Jensen looking unlikely to hold their rotation jobs into June, Ainsworth, Jesse Foppert and company might end up with plenty of opportunities to win jobs this summer.
Released RHP Rob Bell. [3/12]
Offered INF-R Marshall McDougall back to the Indians. [3/14]
Acquired the rights to McDougall from the Indians for LHP Derrick Van Dusen. [3/16]
Bruce Chen might get all the headlines for exasperating his coaches, managers, and general managers, but Rob Bell deserves a little spot in the Hall of Fame's closet for managerial frustration. If there's a consistent theme, it's the Braves, and a guy that they lost patience with and peddled. While these are the sorts of things that might provide cover for the otherwise indefensible Millwood trade, more generally it might provide other GMs a reason to hold back when the Braves start peddling the young and unproven. Bell's talent has gotten exceptional marks for years, and his failure to fulfill expectations has been equally remarkable. Not too many people turn out well after Don Gullett gives up, and this may well provide another example for doubting Thomases of the non-Gorman variety. It might not mean much to the already-burned Rangers per se, but a wider acceptance of worthy concern on this front should be of interest to the Mets and Phillies, for example.