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August 20, 1998

Transaction Analysis

August 14-18

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated RHP Jack McDowell from the DL; designated LHP Greg Cadaret for assignment. [8/15]

I'm curious as to why they activated Black Jack early, only to wait a few days before letting him make his first start. That decision basically cost them a roster spot for that time, not to mention left their pen short-handed while pen-bound Allen Watson rested up from his last start before taking Cadaret's place as the second lefty with Trevor Wilson.

Of course, I'm also curious as to why the Halos prefer either of Wilson and Watson to Cadaret.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Activated LHP Arthur Rhodes from the DL; designated RHP Bobby Munoz for assignment. [8/17]

So now, not only are the Orioles keeping 12 pitchers, they're in that rarest of situations where they have four left-handed relievers. Okay, so Rhodes pitches long relief when they have a lead, Doug Johns pitches long relief when they don't, and they have both Jesse Orosco and an ailing Jimmy Key for setup and single-batter duties. Holy fail-safe redundancies, Batman!

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Added DH Cecil Fielder to the active roster; optioned 2B/SS Enrique Wilson to Buffalo; placed LHP Ron Villone on the 15-day DL (muscle strain). [8/14]

Recalled LHP Tom Martin from Buffalo. [8/15]

Purchased the contract of UT Torey Lovullo from Buffalo; designated INF Jeff Manto for assignment. [8/18]

Well, my sentiments were correct, if my aim was off. To make room for Cecil on the roster, the Indians have not sat Richie Sexson down, and they made the right call (sort of) in sending Jeff Manto away. The misfortune is that they first had to remind themselves that Manto isn't really a utility infielder, since he can't handle either second or short for any length of time, so sending down Enrique Wilson turns out to be one mistake. It gets worse when the Tribe subsequently decided to call up Lovullo, who they claim will platoon with David Bell at second. Why not play Enrique Wilson? There isn't going to be any pressure down the stretch, so you hardly need a minor league retread like Lovullo because you're worried about Wilson's "youthful jitters." Lovullo isn't an asset defensively, and moreover, it isn't quite clear who David Bell needs to sit down against, since he doesn't really have a large platoon split. If it's a job-sharing arrangement, why not have Bell share the job with the man who won the starting second base job out of spring training, only to go down with an injury? Enrique Wilson is going to be this team's starting second baseman someday, and just as it would have been a mistake to not give Richie Sexson the last seven weeks of the season, it's almost a bigger mistake not to do the same for Wilson.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Received LHP Jason Brester from San Francisco to complete the Darryl Hamilton-Ellis Burks trade. [8/18]

Talk about making a bad deal even worse for the Giants; Brester has been getting much stronger in the second half at Shreveport, and he's a fine pitching prospect. Kudos to the Rox.

DETROIT TIGERS

Optioned OF Trey Beamon to Toledo; recalled OF Juan Encarnacion from Toledo. [8/17]

It looks like one of our faves, Frank Catalanotto, is going to continue to get a chunk of the playing time at DH. Beamon's only notable skill is thwacking singles, and he's never been able to get good jumps or reads in the outfield, so the Tigers have sensibly decided to take a look at Encarnacion. One of the big questions for prospect watchers entering this year was whether Encarnacion was going to build off of last year's dramatic improvement in plate discipline, and the answer is basically yes. In his first year at AAA, he's managed a .346 OBP (.281/.346/.403, 23 steals in 27 attempts), which isn't outstanding, but it is better than his .290 '96 mark at Lakeland. At 22, he's being groomed as an alternative to Brian Hunter in center, and given how badly Hunter's offensive contributions have collapsed this season, that can't be a bad thing.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed RHP Matt Mantei on the 15-day DL (sprained ankle). [8/17]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Placed LHP Glendon Rusch on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/8 (tendinitis); optioned LHP Tim Byrdak to Omaha; recalled RHP Bart Evans and INF Shane Halter from Omaha. [8/15]

Losing Rusch squelches his bid for twenty losses while placing the Royals in an essentially pointless debate about whether or not to call up Brian Barber. Although Barber's given up an exciting 24 taters in 136.2 IP in the PCL, he has pitched well: 8-4, 3.75 ERA, only 114 hits and 53 walks. Given his epic struggles to stay healthy in the Cards' organization, it would be nice to see him break through. The alternatives? Probably taking another spin with Chris Haney. I'm still not impressed with how they've handled Jim Pittsley, and he's apparently not being considered for any starts down the stretch.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed 1B John Jaha on the 15-day DL (hamstring strain); optioned UT Brian Banks to Louisville; recalled LHP Rafael Roque and OF Geoff Jenkins from Louisville. [8/16]

Roque returns from minor league anonymity to rejoin the rotation; he's an interesting test case for how much a change of organizations can make a difference, since he throws pretty hard for a lefty, and has added a good changeup since struggling in the Florida State League for the Mets last year. It also means that the Brewers are in the interesting situation that they've got four lefties in their rotation: Scott Karl, Brad Woodall, Roque, and Bill Pulsipher.

As for losing Jaha (again), the Brewers will again use the opportunity to take Dave Nilsson out of the outfield and put him at first, allowing Jenkins to platoon with Marc Newfield in left. With their season essentially over as far as trying to sneak into wildcard contention, taking a long look at Jenkins is the best thing they can do. They were sensible to string Jaha along on one-year contracts for several years, but it looks like he's outlasted his usefulness. Meanwhile, Nilsson hasn't convinced anyone he can play left, and if he has any future at all (and that's in doubt), it will have to be at first. Similarly, for Jenkins, the future is now, in the sense that he has to start worrying about people like Scott Krause coming up behind him.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Activated RHP Mike Morgan from the DL; optioned LHP Travis Baptist to Salt Lake City. [8/17]

Morgan's return gives the Twins a tough decision as far as their fifth starter: knuckle under and let Frankie Rodriguez come out of the doghouse after pitching a couple of good starts, or stick with a struggling Dan Serafini? I'm guessing that moving Baptist hints that they'll return Serafini to the pen, but we'll see whether Tom Kelly swallows his chaw and lets Rodriguez pitch.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Recalled RHP Mike Buddie from Columbus; optioned RHP Mike Jerzembeck to Columbus. [8/15]

Activated DH Chili Davis from the DL; optioned OF Shane Spencer to Columbus. [8/17]

"Thank you, Mr. Turner, for participating in this year's 1998 New York Yankees. For your not very expensive time, you'll get a fraction to be named later of a playoff share, a stylish Nike gym bag, and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat."

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Placed LHP Matt Beech on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/10 (stretched ligament - elbow); claimed RHP Paul Byrd off waivers from Atlanta. [8/15]

Fired Player Development Director Del Unser, Instruction Coordinator Don Blasingame, Pitching Instructor George Culver and Catching Instructor Don McCormack; named Lee Elia Director of Minor-League Instruction and Dallas Green Interim Director of Player Development; promoted Gary Ruby from pitching coach at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Minor-League Pitching Coordinator. [8/17]

So the Braves shed another pitcher, and what does he do? Toss a four-hit shutout against the Astros. Safe to say that Mr. Byrd probably just grabbed the fifth starter's spot for the rest of the season, although with their historical injury woes, we'll probably have to see Garrett Stephenson come up for a double-header start this week.

A number of folks have been griping for years that the Phillies have needed to dump Unser and his clique from the front office. It remains to be seen if Dallas Green or a Phillies soldier like Lee Elia really represent any kind of improvement, and/or how serious they are about Green's "interim" status.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated RHP Rich Loiselle from the DL; optioned RHP Elmer Dessens to Nashville. [8/17]

Right-handed relief pitching has been a problem for the Bucs all season. It isn't coincidental that winding up with Mike Williams or Jeff McCurry represents improvement. If they're smart, they will not return Loiselle to the closer's role, or at least let Ricardo Rincon continue to share the job. Rincon is the pitcher with the better stuff and the better future, and it's time the Pirates set aside Loiselle's surprising '97 and recognize what they've got.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Released C Tom Pagnozzi; activated RHP Juan Acevedo from the DL. [8/16]

Pagnozzi's multi-year contract after the '96 season was one of Walt Jocketty's worst mistakes, so seeing things end this way isn't really that surprising. Eli Marrero is healthy and ready, and Tom Lampkin is an outstanding caddy for him. Acevedo returns to find he won't get his rotation spot back too quickly. Donovan Osborne is temporarily healthy, Matt Morris is back, Kent Bottenfield has been solid, and Darren Oliver and Kent Mercker aren't going to the pen. The Cards have said they'll let Acevedo get his feet wet in the pen, and see what happens. Given Osborne's track record, or that of Tony LaRussa over the past couple of seasons, that's a nice way of telling Acevedo not to get too comfortable in the pen.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Recalled OF James Mouton from Las Vegas. [8/14]

Mouton got his jollies smacking the ball better than he had since his famed Arizona Fall League campaign, pasting PCL pitching to the tune of .362/.414/.552. Having him around in Gwynn's absence means that the Pad people retain their bench of one lefty hitter and one righty hitter each for catcher, the infield, and the outfield. Ruben Rivera will get the majority of the playing time in right in the meantime, in what's essentially a preview of a Steve Finley-less Pads outfield for the '99 season.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Optioned OF Rich Butler to Durham; recalled LHP Ramon Tatis from Durham. [8/16]

After being absolutely horrendous for the D-Rays to open the season, Tatis finally got some time to go back to the minors and work on his assortment. Having come up to the Cubs via the Rule V draft, he'd been living off of a good fastball with little movement the past two years, and he needed to get back to learning how to set up his pitches. He's been reasonably effective in Durham, switching from the pen to starting while posting a 3.67 ERA. Beyond the fact that lefties have more lives than a cat, he obviously still has a chance to have a career.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Optioned SS Tomas Perez to Syracuse; recalled RHP Carlos Almanzar from Syracuse. [8/16]

I have no idea why a team carrying Juan Samuel's festering carcass would want to cut down to 13 position players, when he's one of them. Certainly, with the Jays trying so many new or different things with so many pitchers at once, it seems odd to throw Almanzar into a jumbled situation.

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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