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August 7, 1998

Transaction Analysis

August 1-5

by Christina Kahrl

We've recieved some comments about the extensive use of italics in the Transaction Analysis and how it makes for some difficult reading. Today, we're trying typewriter text for Chris' comments. What do you think? Better? Worse? Please email me at bpadmin@baseballprospectus.com if you've got an opinion on the matter. And now, on to the good stuff...

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated UT Randy Velarde from the DL; recalled LHP Trevor Wilson from Vancouver; optioned LHP Mike Holtz and 2B Justin Baughman to Vancouver; designated RHP Anthony Chavez for assignment. [8/2]

Designated 1B Cecil Fielder for assignment; activated DH Todd Greene from the DL. [8/5]

Since they didn't pull off the big trade or help their faltering rotation or the shorthanded bullpen, the Angels are taking some big risks with the talent they have in hand. You have to respect their willingness to try; conventional wisdom would have the Angels riding Cecil-san and Dave Hollins into the tank, or fretting about undermining Baughman's confidence if they sent him down. Instead, they've gone for broke, plugging Troy Glaus in at third, Velarde at second, and Todd Greene entering the 1B/OF/DH mix. Dumping Fielder instead of Hollins is a dubious choice in terms of talent. Although some folks like to say Hollins would make a nifty DH, he's not really a dangerous enough hitter for the job: he's hitting .247/.340/.396, and he's never going to get back to where he was in '92-'93 (his age 26-27 seasons). Fielder's been in a miserable slump, but he outhit Hollins (.241/.335/.423). The critical factor was that the Angels made a multiyear commitment to Hollins, whereas they only have to eat two months of Fielder's contract, so they decided to "save" themselves some money by keeping Hollins. Which one they kept really only ought to be an expensive, 24th-man sort of question, since Greene will hopefully be handed regular playing time at first or left (basically wherever they feel they shouldn't play Darin Erstad). In his month of work at Vancouver, Greene slugged .583, and PCL or no, that's more important to look at than goofing off trying to figure who's better between Hollins or Fielder.

Yes, it's that Trevor Wilson, last seen in the Giants' rotation in '95. Have working left arm, will play for food... he was actually pitching reasonably well in the Canadians' rotation, putting up a 3.62 ERA while allowing less than a hit per inning. Since he doesn't have Rich Robertson's control problems, he's probably a better fit as a lefty middle-man, since it looks like Terry Collins has pretty well burned out Holtz.

Velarde doesn't know when to quit, does he? I'm reminded of a scene from the Schwarzenegger movie "Predator," where the sidekick who's just had his chest crushed by a swinging tree trunk insists "I can make it!" For years, that phrase was a code phrase for desperation among my buddies, and looking over Velarde's returns, near-retirements, and re-injuries, it's all I can think of.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Traded UT Hensley Meulens to the White Sox for a PTBNL. [8/1]

Purchased the contract of RHP Barry Manuel from Tucson. [8/2]

Activated 3B Matt Williams from the DL; optioned OF/1B Brent Brede to Tucson. [8/3]

Optioned RHP Clint Sodowsky to Tucson; recalled INF Hanley Frias from Tucson. [8/5]

Sodowsky has been pitching's answer to the Pinto this year, so it's worth the D-backs' time to see if Manuel or Felix Rodriguez isn't a better setup man for Gregg(g?) Olson. Williams' return (and subsequent new injury to his hand) doesn't eliminate the playing time that Andy Fox and Tony Batista have been getting; indeed, their continued effectiveness bodes ill for Danny Klassen once Travis Lee returns this weekend.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Signed LHP Norm Charlton and RHP Paul Wagner to minor-league contracts. [8/5]

Rats, I guess Terry Forster and Len Barker weren't available. I mean, they aren't effective any more either, but they've put in the time, worked hard, and deserve to be affiliated with a winner, right?

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Activated 2B Roberto Alomar and DH Harold Baines from the DL; optioned 2B P.J. Forbes and OF Lyle Mouton to Rochester. [8/4]

This straightens out certain things as far as the lineup: Rich Becker will go back to the bench for Baines, while Hammonds will effectively be reduced to platooning with him. Given Harold's aches and pains (and those of Eric Davis), both of them still ought to get a start or two per week. Too bad none of them play third.

CHICAGO CUBS

Released LHP Tony Fossas unconditionally; recalled SS Jose Nieves from West Tennessee (AA). [8/4]

Picked up their options on the contracts of GM Ed Lynch and manager Jim Riggleman for 1999. [8/5]

Fossas' release means the Cubs will stick with Don Wengert as their fifth starter, and keep Terry Mulholland in the pen. As indefensible as that may sound, keep in mind that with several fortuitous off-days, Wengert may only start once in the next two weeks, pending whatever they decide (and un-decide) to do with Kerry Wood's infamous bout with a "tired" arm. Keep an eye on Nieves: he is the organization's shorstop of the future, although he'll be hard-pressed to outhit Rey Sanchez. There's already talk of him taking over in '00, after Blauser's contract is up.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Acquired UT Hensley Meulens from Arizona for a PTBNL. [8/1]

Promoted LHP Jim Abbott from Birmingham to Calgary. [8/5]

The Sox are seriously considering putting Abbott in the rotation, for either Jaime Navarro (if he agrees to go to the pen) or Jim Parque. I don't disagree with the sentiment of bumping either, but for Jim Abbott? He isn't getting people out, but he's "battling," as if that somehow makes him better than Navarro.

CINCINNATI REDS

Placed INF Pokey Reese on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/31 (torn ligaments - thumb); recalled LHP Dennis Reyes from Indianapolis. [8/1]

Losing Reese finally rids the Reds of Jack McKeon's fascination with playing him at third, probably for the rest of the season. Because they'd just sent Konerko down, they'll fiddle with Aaron Boone, or shift Willie Greene back from the OF, or diddle around with Chris Stynes. One would hope they just bring Konerko back after letting him get in a week or two at third for Indy and just plug him at the hot corner for the rest of his professional life with the Reds, rather than waste him like Nick Esasky, only without Pete Rose around to blame for it. Reyes steps right into the rotation, which gives the Reds a very competitive group of Tomko, Reyes, Harnisch, Remlinger, and Steve Parris.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed INF Jeff Branson on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled 2B/SS Enrique Wilson from Buffalo. [8/2]

This is really going to hurt the Bisons. Wilson should end up sharing the job at second with David Bell down the stretch, before reclaiming the job he lost to injuries this April entirely by next spring. That isn't a knock on Bell; he's been an outstanding waiver-wire pickup and fill-in, and the Tribe will be in great shape if they have him around as their backup at second and third for the next few years. That the Indians were willing to take a "chance" on him rather than continue to futz around with Shawon Dunston was one of the best in-season talent decisions any of the contending teams made this year.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Optioned RHP Fred Rath to Colorado Springs; recalled OF Derrick White from Colorado Springs. [8/5]

With Colbrunn traded away, the Rox need a better righty bat off the bench than Kurt Abbott.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed 2B Craig Counsell on the 15-day DL (fractured jaw); recalled 2B Luis Castillo from Charlotte. [8/4]

Counsell's tour of duty was a holding pattern for Castillo in the first place, but noboby likes to see things end up in the grisly fashion that they did. Hitting .251/.355/.373, Counsell has been a fine representative of low-cost talent scavengers can nab from the minor leagues to fill in their roster with. I'm a Castillo skeptic, but he has had an outstanding season as far as playing to his strengths: getting on base (.403 OBP), and swiping bases (41, against 15 times caught). But he still hasn't shown any hint of power (11 doubles and 3 triples this year - no taters), so he has to be an on-base machine to hold any value at all. Still, if somebody is willing to play Tony Womack every day, it's worthwhile to see what you can get from Castillo if you leave him alone for a couple of years.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Designated PH J.R. Phillips for assignment. [8/2]

Since Dave Clark's contract is guaranteed, and the 'Stros expect Jack Howell back in September, Phillips lost out in the round of musical chairs following the Big Unit acquisition.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned RHP Sean Maloney to Albuquerque. [8/1]

Activated 3B/OF Bobby Bonilla from the DL; optioned SS Alex Cora to Albuquerque. [8/5]

Bonilla's return will put him in left, which means the Boys in Blue will continue to give Adrian Beltre the playing time at third. The tough question is what will happen once Jose Vizcaino comes back off of the DL. Someone seriously suggested that Mark Grudzielanek would move to third, which would be pathetic. The point isn't that Grudz (.273/.320/.372) isn't outhitting Beltre (.221/.269/.328), it's that this is as good as it gets for Grudz, while Beltre is the future of the franchise. I wouldn't bench him if my job depended on it, but that's easy to say when I'm not the Pastaman.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Recalled LHP Rafael Roque from Louisville; optioned OF Greg Martinez to Louisville. [8/1]

Added LHP Bill Pulsipher and RHP Joe Hudson to the active roster; optioned LHPs Rafael Roque and Valerio De Los Santos to Louisville. [8/3]

It's that time of year again, folks: the horrors of Brew crew stretch-drive pickups. Last year it was Darrin Jackson and Julio Franco. The year before that it was Ice Williams, Jeromy Burnitz, and Bob Wickman... well, okay, two out of seven ain't bad. Pulsipher may end up in the rotation, even if the Brewers don't tire of Jeff Juden's struggles. The alternatives for the fifth spot are David Weathers and Bronswell Patrick. If Patrick can't dent bread, the loaf would take Weathers deep, and Pulsipher would hurt himself trying to get it out. Talk about tasty options.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Signed RHP Rick Aguilera to a one-year contract extension; recalled CF Chris Latham and LHP Travis Baptist from Salt Lake City. [8/1]

Latham and Baptist fill in the roster for the departed Merced and Swindell. It might be nice to see Latham get a two-month crack at the CF job, since Otis Nixon won't do them much good, but that isn't Tom Kelly's style. We'll just end up having to wait for an outfield of Jacque Jones, Marty Cordova, and the unheralded Matt Lawton. Baptist was having another good season at Salt Lake: a 3.08 ERA, 8-4, 113 hits and 37 walks in 122.2 IP, and only 8 homeruns allowed.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled RHP Jeremy Powell from Harrisburg (AA). [8/1]

Powell steps right into Carlos Perez' spot in the rotation, and it won't hurt the Expos in the least.

NEW YORK METS

Optioned C Vance Wilson and OF Benny Agbayani to Norfolk. [8/1]

Placed DH, er... RF Butch Huskey on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled C Todd Pratt from Norfolk. [8/3]

Signed LHP John Franco to a two-year contract extension; activated RHP Paul Wilson from the DL and optioned him to Norfolk. [8/4]

So, lesse, that's five, no... four catchers on the roster, since they've got both Jorge Fabregas and Pratt on the bench behind Piazza (and arguably Hundley). Fabregas has no value as a pinch-hitter, but Pratt does, so Jorge gets to be the defensive replacement while Tony Phillips ends up playing every day in rightfield while Huskey is out.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Placed RHP Darren Holmes on the 15-day DL (bulging disc - lower back); purchased the contract of RHP Joe Borowski from Columbus; transferred DH Chili Davis from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/1]

Optioned RHP Mike Buddie to Columbus; recalled RHP Mike Jerzembeck from Columbus. [8/4]

Borowski was having an outstanding season for the Clippers, so he may get to stick around should either Holmes' or Jeff Nelson's injury problems continue. At Columbus, he put up a 2.93 ERA while tossing 73.2 innings as a reliever. At this point, people are basically volunteering to be a part of this club: after cutting Dale Sveum, he promptly retired and put himself at the club's disposal as a bullpen catcher, batting practice pitcher, and whatever else it might take to get voted a full playoff share.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed OF Mike Neill on the 15-day DL (shoulder). [8/2]

Released DO (designated out) Kevin Mitchell unconditionally; recalled RHP Jay Witasick from Edmonton. [8/3]

Activated OF Jason McDonald from the DL; optioned RHP Jay Witasick to Edmonton. [8/4]

At least the A's have recognized that having Ed Sprague and Mike Blowers and Kevin Mitchell around was redundant, so they cut the worst of the lot. McDonald won't get his starting job back, but Ben Grieve will always need a defensive replacement, and Rickey Henderson can always use two days off each week to rest his hamstrings, so there's work for McDonald.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Released 1B Brian Hunter unconditionally; recalled SS Luis Ordaz from Memphis. [8/2]

Okay, so you're going to spend two months looking at Luis Ordaz after trading Royce Clayton. Those two months may tell you a thing or two on what kind of timetable your organization will want to have Brent Butler or Pablo Ozuna on. If those are your priorities, you'd think that getting Ordaz as much playing time as possible would mean something to you. Unfortunately, your manager is so convinced of his geniusdom that he has to prove to the world that only he is clever enough to bat your pitcher eighth, and by some bit of specious logic, that's somehow important to your first baseman's drive for Roger Maris' homerun record. So the ripple effect is that you lose perhaps 20 PA for Ordaz, not to mention a few runs, and you get nothing to show for it but your manager's sense of self-worth. I'd like to see a cost-benefit analysis of that, thank you very much.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Recalled LHP David Holdridge from Tacoma; designated 1B Dan Rohrmeier for assignment. [8/1]

It seems like a million years ago that Holdridge was traded for Lance Parrish, straight up, but it was actually "only" about ten years ago. Holdridge is now "only" 29, three years younger than when Tony Fossas was when he made the majors to stay. Like Fossas did in '89, he's made something of himself as a reliever: this year, he's put up a 3.00 ERA, allowing only 49 hits and 26 walks in 63 IP, while striking out 66. If Scotty Bailes can make a comeback, then Dave Holdridge could still have a good ten-year major league career.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed RHP Albie Lopez on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/1 (heel - bursitis); recalled RHP Dennis Springer from Durham. [8/4]

The D-Rays have seen some very good pitching out of their middle relievers: Lopez has broken through this year, Esteban Yan had a hot start, Jim Mecir has had a fine season, and Scott Aldred has been semi-useful. But they've also had to carry a heavy load, and now Yan isn't going well and Lopez is hurt and Mecir isn't carrying his consecutive scoreless outings streak around. That clues me in that we ought to take a look at Larry Rothschild's usage patterns closely for our next book. Springer won't take Bryan Rekar's spot in the rotation, so he'll be hard-pressed to add to his loss total (unless he really works at it).

TEXAS RANGERS

Optioned RHP Dan Smith and 3B Rob Sasser to Tulsa (AA); placed LHP Scott Bailes on the 15-day DL (bursitis - shoulder); recalled RHP Al Levine from Oklahoma City. [8/1]

Levine is still a serviceable middle reliever, although Bailes' absence may crimp Johnny Oates' pen use since he's down to just Eric Gunderson for lefty relief. (Dave Holdridge take note: where were Bailes and Gunderson a couple of years ago? Retired, or worse, trying to break through with the Mariners. All right, that's a mixed message. Just keep plugging away, okay?)

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Recalled RHP Kelvim Escobar from Syracuse. [8/1]

Escobar is up to go into the rotation, which may cause anguish to some rotoheads who need their saves category totals to get better, but it's a good move for the Jays. He was pitching well in Syracuse's rotation, racking up a 3.77 ERA while striking out 64 in 59.2 IP, allowing 51 hits and giving up a characteristic 24 walks. Sometimes it's just better to give good heat a reasonable workload, rather than let it molder in the pen in overly structured roles.

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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