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September 10, 2012

Transaction Analysis

A 2012 Draftee In the Show

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

National League

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Transferred C-R Henry Blanco to the 60-day disabled list. [9/4]
Purchased the contract of OF-L Adam Eaton from Triple-A Reno. [9/4]

Did you know Blanco still played? He did, until early August. Left thumb surgery ended his season. Although Blanco’s contract includes a mutual option, it’s to anyone’s guess whether he appears in another big-league game. Arizona chose to re-sign Blanco after 37 appearances in 2011, so it’s possible they decide to bring him back for one more year to serve as Miguel Montero’s backup. 

Eaton is a small left-handed hitter without a ton of tools. He runs well, smacks line drives, takes walks, and plays with high energy; a combination that could see him develop into a second-division starter. Keep an eye on the Diamondbacks’ outfield situation this winter. If they go to make a move with Justin Upton or Chris Young, they could do it with Eaton in mind.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Placed RHP Blake Parker on the 60-day disabled list. [9/7]
Claimed RHP Jason Berken off waivers from the Orioles. [9/7]

Parker returned from the 60-day disabled list in late August. A little over a week and three appearances later, Parker heads right back. Doug Padilla, of ESPN Chicago, describes Parker’s injury as “a reoccurrence of discomfort from an earlier bone contusion.” Fair enough. The reoccurrence does come at a good time. Between the injuries and a relatively low ceiling, it would be surprising to see Parker maintain his position on the 40-man roster heading forward.

Berken will join the Cubs rotation for the remainder of the season. He’s spent most of the season in Triple-A after making more than 100 appearances for the Oriole from 2009-11. Berken’s stuff profiles as a back-end starter. He relies on locating a low-90s fastball in setting up his slider. First things first, but it’s easy to see the Cubs keeping Berken around to fill a bullpen role next season.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Transferred RHP Chad Billingsley to the 60-day disabled list. [9/5]
Purchased the contract of LHP Steven Rodriguez from Double-A Chattanooga. [9/5]

As of this moment, Billingsley’s immediate future is unclear. Tommy John surgery is a possibility, which typically means Tommy John surgery is an inevitability. The 2014 season becomes vital for Billingsley if he does undergo surgery soon; Los Angeles holds a $14 million club option on him for the 2015 season. Billingsley is an above-average starter, albeit not the front-of-the-rotation mammoth envisioned during his prospect days.

While the outlook for Billingsley is somber, Paco Rodriguez is having the best summer of his life. Drafted out of the University of Florida in June, Rodriguez is the first member of the class to make it to the major leagues. He’s a tall left-hander with a deceptive delivery and enough stuff to become more than a specialist. For now, however, Rodriguez is likely to serve in a lefty-on-lefty role.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Re-signed OF-R Chris Denorfia to a two-year contract extension worth $4.25 million. [9/5]

San Diego continues its trend of extending veteran players. Josh Byrnes has locked up Huston Street, Carlos Quentin, and Mark Kotsay already. Now comes Denorfia, who otherwise would have qualified for free agency after the 2013 season. Denorfia’s ability to play each outfield position and hit left-handed pitching (this is the third straight season he’s managed an on-base percentage over .380 against southpaws) makes him an ideal fourth outfielder. The length and cost are justifiable, and would allow the Padres to trade Denorfia in the future, were they to pursue such a deal.

Given the Padres’ recent winning ways, and how Byrnes appears committed to keeping the core in place, it would seem Bud Black’s job is safe. Not only that, but, with some offseason tweaking, the Padres could become a trendy breakout pick entering the 2013 season.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Designated RHP Steve Edlefsen for assignment. [9/7]
Purchased the contract of RHP Yusmeiro Petit from Triple-A Fresno. [9/7]

In 27 appearances for the Giants, Edlefsen allowed 37 hits, walked more batters than he struck out, and yielded 20 runs. Up-and-down relievers typically have a skill to hang their hats on. With Edlefsen, that skill is generating groundballs. The problem is that Edlefsen’s control problems make his groundball-getting ways a necessity rather than a luxury. Expect Edlefsen to clear waivers.

At one point, Petit was a sabermetrics cause célèbre. PECOTA even ranked him as the second-best pitching prospect in the game thanks to gaudy numbers. Granted, Petit did rank fairly high on more traditional prospect lists, too. A four-pitch mix heavy on command and deceptive delivery led to middle-of-the-rotation aspirations. Petit never did live up to those dreams. Since last appearing in the majors in 2009, Petit has spent one full season in Triple-A and another in Mexico.

It’s easy to look at Petit’s background and previous shortcomings and wonder if the Giants can perform the same magic with him that they did with Ryan Vogelsong. Never say never; but do say “highly unlikely,” particularly if the Giants plan to use Petit out of the bullpen. His stuff won’t play up in short bursts, and hasn’t across 35 previous relief appearances. Opponents have hit .312/.358/.584 off him in those outings.

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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