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July 19, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Arizona's Bauer Goes Out

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated LHP Jonathan Sanchez for assignment. [7/17]
Optioned OF-R Jason Bourgeois to Triple-A Omaha. [7/17]
Recalled RHP Vin Mazzaro and LHP Ryan Verdugo from Triple-A Omaha. [7/17]

This is what it looks like when a combustible starter implodes. Sanchez performed worse than even the unkindest of projections, almost as if he took them as a challenge. His 7.76 ERA is higher than the sum of his previous two (7.33), and he allowed one fewer home run than last season in 48 fewer innings. We knew it could be bad, just not this bad. The write-up of the Sanchez-Melky Cabrera deal concluded, “New pitching coach Dave Eiland will swoon over Sanchez during spring side sessions but, once the games start to count, could find himself heartbroken by the results—particularly if Sanchez’s earned run average conforms to the company his quality start rates keep.”

It’s not entirely Eiland’s fault, of course. The Royals tried changing Sanchez’s delivery: instituting a high leg lift, altering his follow through, and perhaps tweaking his arm slot. Nothing worked. That sounds a lot like Sanchez’s time in San Francisco, except the rare moments of brilliance were absent. In essence, the Royals acquired Sanchez and disarmed the time bomb nature of his performances. The shame is that, in doing so, they cut the wrong wire.  

The other piece in the Sanchez-Cabrera trade, Verdugo, benefits directly from Sanchez’s dismissal. Verdugo has the opportunity to make the trade about him, to salvage the deal on the Royals' end, and he … oh forget it. He made his first major-league start on Tuesday night and failed to get out of the second inning, as if paying homage to Sanchez. Verdugo’s best-case scenario is turning into a fifth starter. Otherwise, he, his deceptive delivery, and plus-changeup could turn into a situational reliever.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Placed RF-R Jose Bautista on the 15-day disabled list. [7/17]

Purchased the contract of OF-L Anthony Gose from Triple-A Las Vegas. [7/17]

Bautista injured himself on a swing, but there is no break. The only reported prognosis is “wrist inflammation” and it remains unclear how long Bautista will miss beyond the 15 days.

Gose, 21, had hit .292/.375/.432 during his time in Triple-A this season, and entered the season ranked as the Blue Jays’ fourth-best prospect. Jason Parks provided the full Gose scouting picture after seeing him at the Futures Game:

One of the top toolsheds in the minors; athletic and wiry; swing is loose and easy; some length, but good coverage; power is big in batting practice; looks to be easy plus; explosive hips/hands; bat speed is very present; hit tool continues to improve; will always have some miss because of approach and swing length; speed is plus-plus; quickness/instincts give him plus-plus range in CF; made nice diving catch in game; arm is easy plus-plus as well; made strong throw in game; overall defensive profile in center is well above-average; tools are very loud; power is sleeping giant in skill set; development of hit tool and approach refinement is difference between 4th/5th outfielder and All-Star. That’s the range for Gose.

Nearly as interesting as Gose the player is the Jays’ decision to call upon him. The Jays could have brought up Travis Snider to fill the void. Instead, Snider will remain in a purgatory-like state, seemingly until another team acquires him. Alternatively, Eric Thames could have provided the Jays with another outfield option. They chose Gose. Perhaps to just get a look-see at the future; symbolically it says that, if they want a look at the past, they know where to find Snider. Bill Parker covered this angle in more depth on Wednesday.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Optioned RHP Trevor Bauer to Triple-A Reno. [7/18]

Recalled RHP Jonathan Albaladejo from Triple-A Reno. [7/18]

Bauer’s first tour of duty ends after four starts. The lesson learned here is that pitch economy matters. Bauer averaged more than 19 pitches per inning, and failed to complete five or more innings in three of his four tries. Aside from a strong six-inning outing against the Dodgers, Bauer walked at least as many batters as he struck out, and capped his call-up by walking five Reds in three innings on Tuesday night. He’ll be back, and hopefully with a better understanding of how to go deeper into ballgames.

The recall of Albaladejo could signal that the Diamondbacks’ plan involves moving Josh Collmenter back to the rotation. Arizona optioned Patrick Corbin, the other healthy Diamondbacks pitcher to start a game for them this season, to the minors over the weekend to make room for Joe Saunders.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Optioned RHP Stephen Fife to Triple-A Albuquerque. [7/18

Placed RHP Chad Billingsley on the 15-day disabled list. [7/17]

Recalled RHP Stephen Fife from Triple-A Albuquerque. [7/17]

Billingsley heads to the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. The early indications are that he will return next week, barring further incident.

The Dodgers grabbed Fife in last July’s Trayvon Robinson trade. Fife has average fastball velocity and a nondescript repertoire; however, he does command the pitches well. If he turns into a fifth starter then consider it a victory. In Fife’s first big-league start, he went six innings, walked three, allowed four hits, but still held the Phillies to a run.

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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