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September 17, 1998
September 4-13ANAHEIM ANGELS
Activated INF Craig Shipley from the DL. [9/4]
Recalled LHP Jarrod Washburn from Vancouver. [9/8]
Acquired 1B Mark Johnson from Cincinnati for a PTBNL. [9/11]
Nothing too surprising here, although Washburn, like Steve Sparks, earned better consideration than he's gotten for the Angels' rotation down the stretch. I'm at a loss to explain why Mark Johnson has been acquired: is he any more valuable or useful than Chris Pritchett? Not really, even though he's enjoyed a big year at Indianapolis. Having a big year in AAA at 30 isn't a good predictor of future major league value, and although Pritchett is no spring chicken, he hasn't embarassed himself.
Recalled OF/1B Brent Brede and SS/2B Hanley Frias from Tucson. [9/4]
Purchased the contract of RHP Vlad Nunez from Tucson. [9/7]
Recalled LHP Neil Weber from Tucson; activated RHP Bobby Chouinard from the DL. [9/8]
The D-backs' Cuban free agent, Nunez pitched reasonably well after being promoted to Tucson halfway through the season. They'll take a look at what they spent their money on, but it's unlikely that he'll get a start before next spring.
Purchased the contract of INF Marty Malloy from Richmond; transferred RHP Mark Wohlers from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/6]
Recalled LHP Adam Butler from Richmond. [9/7]
Butler makes his return to Atlanta, and although he's had more success with Richmond this year than Norm Charlton has had since Bubba's first term ended, if you watch Butler, it looks like he's tipping his pitches with his hand motions during his delivery. That's the sort of thing that can be ironed out easily enough, just probably once the games don't matter any more.
Agreed to terms with DH Harold Baines on a contract for 1999. [9/4]
Recalled RHP Rocky Coppinger from Rochester. [9/6]
Purchased the contracts of 3B Ryan Minor, 2B Jerry Hairston, and 1B Cal Pickering from Bowie (AA); designated C Melvin Rosario for assignment; recalled 2B P.J. Forbes and RHP Chris Fussell from Rochester; transferred RHP Scott Kamieniecki and 3B Willis Otanez from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/11]
Coppinger will get an opportunity to reclaim the rotation spot he lost last year and which was gruesomely occupied by Doug Drabek for much of this year. Although he's had his run-ins with Ray Miller, the Orioles should try to take their own prospects a little more seriously. On that score, the Baines contract should be considered a bad sign. Don't get me wrong: I love Harold Baines, and I've loved watching him over the years, but is an injury-prone platoon DH really what this team needs? Taking Calvin Pickering's future seriously is more important than anything Harold has left to give, and you can't play both and make a good effort to re-sign Palmeiro this offseason. On the other hand, they've called up a prospect they need to start taking much less seriously, Minor. With no command of the strikezone and dubious defensive skills, he's a wealthy man's Phil Hiatt, and we all know that Pete Angelos can afford that even if his team shouldn't.
BOSTON RED SOX
Recalled LHP Ron Mahay from Pawtucket. [9/5]
Released LHP David West; recalled LHP Brian Barkley and OF Trot Nixon from Pawtucket; selected the contract of RHP Carlos Valdez from Pawtucket; activated PH Midre Cummings from the DL. [9/7]
Activated CF Damon Buford from the DL; recalled DH Billy Ashley from Pawtucket, and then placed him on the 60-day DL (wrist). [9/11]
Activated 2B Lou Merloni from the DL; transferred RHP Rich Garces from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/12]
Signed RHP Bret Saberhagen to a three-year contract with a team option for a fourth. [9/13]
Think Dan Duquette isn't getting nervous? That's an insane amount of moves that either make no impact or less impact than they would have if they'd been made (and stuck with) a month ago. Why wasn't Ron Mahay on the roster all year? Why goof off with David West at all, or trade for Pete Schourek? Why sign Saberhagen to a four-year deal, when this is (arguably) his first full season in a rotation since 1989? The problem comes from the Duke's version of the carrot-and-stick: motivation through handing out carrots ("Here's money. Pitch better!") or whacking people with sticks ("Back to Pawtucket! You're worthless and weak!"). Any postseason roster that's littered with the Eck and Schourek and Carlos Reyes and Mike Benjamin should get what it deserves: extra shopping days 'til Christmas.
Claimed 1B/OF Orlando Merced on waivers from the Red Sox. [9/7]
Activated SS Jeff Blauser from the DL. [9/10]
Purchased the contract of LHP Chris Haney from the Royals. [9/12]
Recalled RHP Kurt Miller from Iowa. [9/15]
How 'bout those Cubs? In for a penny, in for... another penny! Its a tossup about which issue is more significant: how pathetic is the NL wild card drive, when the leader is depending on two waiver-wire pickups (Gary Gaetti and Glenallen Hill), an injured Mike Morgan, Don Wengert, and now... a pinch-hitter and a damaged and damaging lefty with an ERA over 7? Or, having saved their own jobs, do Andy MacPhail and Ed Lynch really think these moves make any difference at all? They could have avoided carrying three catchers, and kept a tremendous minor league slugger like Rod McCall around, rather than pray to their lucky stars that the great Orlando Merced would be unemployed in September. This goes beyond shooting yourself in the foot; this is emptying each barrel of your twelve-gauge to give yourself a matching pair of stumps.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Recalled C Mark Johnson from Birmingham (AA). [9/8]
Johnson is the Sox' catcher for the future, although they're diddling around with Robert Machado, and Jerry Manuel wastes almost as much time talking about how kids have to pay their dues as he does playing Machado. With brilliant catching skills and outstanding plate discipline, Johnson could overnight become an incredibly valuable player.
Sent 1B Mark Johnson to the Angels for a PTBNL. [9/11]
Its generally considered that getting something for a guy who's going to be a minor league free agent is generally a good thing.
Recalled RHP Steve Karsay from Buffalo. [9/5]
The ripple effect of Mike Hargrove's current dissatisfaction with Bartolo Colon, in that Karsay assumes Chad Ogea's spot as the long reliever in the club's pen. This didn't do much to help the Bisons in their postseason drive any more than it helps Colon put up with Hargrove's needling comments about his "lack of intensity."
Placed RHP Mike DeJean on the 60-day DL, retroactive to 9/2 (broken left hand). [9/4]
Recalled RHPs Jim Stoops and Lariel Gonzalez and OFs Edgard Clemente and Derrick Gibson from Colorado Springs. [9/8]
Received RHP Anthony Briggs from Atlanta, completing the Greg Colbrunn trade. [9/10]
Gibson ended up not having a very inspiring season at AAA this year, hitting for less power than expected while continuing to struggle with his plate discipline. Clemente has been almost as disappointing since changing his name from Velazquez, which may help to explain why the Rox already re-signed Fonzie Bichette. Both Stoops and Gonzalez have had outstanding seasons as minor league closers, so each have small opportunities to strut their stuff before the Rox can consider whether they'll want to use their bullpen depth to trade for help in the offseason.
Recalled RHP Dean Crow from Toledo. [9/4]
Claimed LHP Will Brunson on waivers from the Dodgers; recalled 3B Jason Wood from Toledo. [9/6]
Recalled OF Trey Beamon from Toledo. [9/8]
No shocking callups here, since Crow and Beamon have both spent time on the major league roster already. Wood is being used as a right-handed DH, and with Gabe Alvarez out for the year, will get time in the infield to give the Tigers reasons to think about letting Joe Randa go. Brunson has been a fine pitcher in the Dodgers organization, but like fellow lefty Gary Rath, never caught a break. A very astute pickup by Randy Smith.
Activated RHP Matt Mantei from the DL; transferred RHP Joe Fontenot from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/4]
Activated C Mike Redmond from the DL; purchased the contract of OF Brian Daubach from Charlotte. [9/8]
Re-signed GM Dave Dombrowski to a five-year contract. [9/10]
Acquired 2B Cesar Crespo from the Mets to complete a previous trade. [9/15]
The other shoe finally drops: Dombrowski's going to stay. Now, if they can disentangle themselves from Leyland before he does any more damage to the young pitchers on the team, they'll be in pretty good shape in two years.
Activated LHP Trever Miller from the DL. [9/7]
Activated OF Pete Incaviglia from the DL. [9/10]
The Astros have so many options as far as filling out their postseason roster it's somewhat ridiculous, and should Jack Howell heal up, they'll have a difficult group of choices for the last two or three position players on the postseason roster, not to mention sorting out the last pitcher or two to carry.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Recalled OF Chris Hatcher from Omaha; designated SS Felix Martinez for assignment. [9/5]
Sold the contract of LHP Chris Haney to the Cubs; recalled OF Dermal Brown from Wilmington (A). [9/12]
Recalled 2B Carlos Febles, and purchased the contract of OF Carlos Beltran from Wichita (AA). [9/13]
Gave manager Tony Muser a contract for 1999. [9/15]
Speaking of Phil Hiatt, here's Chris Hatcher, hot off of a 46-HR campaign in Omaha that saw him put up a pretty grisly 5:1 K:BB ratio. That isn't to say he's not a better choice to have around than Jeff Conine or Jermaine Dye as a platoon outfielder and spare part. Febles and Beltran will join Jeremy Giambi in auditioning for '99 jobs, assuming Herk Robinson doesn't continue to prattle about the dignity of playing Hal Morris. That in turn creates a very interesting dilemma for the Royals: Jose Offerman has been outstanding, but Febles is a whippet-quick on-base machine. If the Royals are serious about trying to put a team on the field that their fans deserve to see, they'll move Offerman to first, send Jeff King and Hal Morris out of town for the closest thing resembling a shortstop, play Febles, and go into '99 counting on an outfield of Beltran, Giambi, and Johnny Damon. That team might give Tony Muser peptic ulcers for a month or two as they cut their teeth next spring, but the Royals aren't going to become either a worthwhile investment or a team worth following until they stop screwing around with time-servers like Terry Pendleton.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Recalled C Angel Pena from San Antonio (AA). [9/5]
Named Orioles executive Kevin Malone their executive vice president and GM, giving him a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth; named Tommy Lasorda senior vice president. [9/11]
Recalled 2B Mike Metcalfe from San Antonio (AA). [9/15]
Angel Pena is going to be something special, so this month may be his opportunity to let Malone think long and hard about either going into the Piazza sweepstakes or paying attention to Charles Johnson's noisome contract demands. Metcalfe isn't going to be handed Eric Young's job just yet, but Adam Riggs' lost season probably did a lot to help give him a chance to be the organization's top internal replacement.
Activated RHP Al Reyes from the DL. [9/10]
Recalled LHP Greg Mullins, CF Greg Martinez, C/UT Brian Banks, and 2B Ron Belliard from Louisville. [9/12]
The Brewers have been touting young lefties like Mike Pasqualicchio and Kelly Wunsch, but Mullins actually got people out, so he earned the callup. Mullins is a soft-tossing lefty who lives on breaking stuff. While he isn't Billy Wagner, he'll be pitching for a major league job next spring. Ronnie Belliard is who he's been for the last two years: the future at second base, and blocked by Fernando Vina. Now that Vina's enjoyed his career year, one of Sal Bando's biggest tasks will be to snooker somebody into taking the veteran so that the Brewers can move on.
Recalled LHPs Travis Miller and Benji Sampson, C A.J. Pierzynski, CF Chris Latham, and 3B Corey Koskie from Salt Lake City. [9/7]
Sampson will get a look because he throws reasonably hard for a lefty and was solid by PCL standards, putting up a 5.14 ERA in 28 starts with good H/IP and BB:K ratios. Pierzynski has been laboring in the wake of Javy Valentin up the chain, but he's had another nice season offensively, and he's a left-handed bat. If Paul Bako can make it, so can he, but with Matt LeCroy's meteoric rise through the organization, the point's probably moot. Koskie is the big hope for next year at third. He made good progress during the season at Salt Lake, hitting for better power, contact, and patience by year's end. Like Todd Walker, he won't get mentioned for his glovework, but he should be the favorite to win the job for next year.
NEW YORK METS
Recalled 3B Mike Kinkade from Norfolk. [9/4]
Recalled C Vance Wilson from Norfolk, and placed him on the 60-day DL (broken forearm); purchased the contract of 2B Todd Haney, and recalled RHP Octavio Dotel from Norfolk. [9/7]
Placed RHP Brad Clontz on the 60-day DL (elbow - bone spurs); purchased the contract of RHP Josias Manzanillo from Norfolk. [9/10]
Activated C Todd Hundley from the DL. [9/12]
Hundley will get some starts as Piazza's backup behind the plate, which is great if they make the World Series and get to use the DH. Clearly, this situation won't last past the Winter Meetings, if that long. The most notable callup here is Dotel. His progress this year (as well as that of Dan Murray) was a big part of making Bill Pulsipher a Brewer, and it won't take much for O.D. to erase and surpass most memories of the fabled "Young Guns."
NEW YORK YANKEES
Activated RHPs Jeff Nelson and Darren Holmes from the DL. [9/4]
The audition for the postseason begins here. How well Nelson pitches isn't as important as being able to stay healthy or show he can pitch on consecutive nights. As long as he's sharp by the end of next week, the Yankees can dispel some reasonable doubts about their bullpen.
Recalled RHP Jay Witasick and SS Jorge Velandia and purchased the contract of 3B Eric Chavez from Edmonton; transferred 3B/1B Dave Magadan from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]
Say howdy to your '99 American League Rookie of the Year, Eric Chavez. It still isn't clear if the A's will finally just leave Witasick alone and use him as a starter, or they finally move him to the pen once and for all. Either way, it isn't a herculanean task to beat out Mike Oquist on the one hand, or T.J. Mathews on the other.
Recalled RHP Mike Welch, 2B Marlon Anderson, and 1B/LF Jon Zuber from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [9/5]
Acquired RHP Doug Nickle from Anaheim, completing the Gregg Jefferies deal. [9/10]
Anderson will be given every opportunity to win the second base job between now and Opening Day '99. The misfortune is that he's almost exactly the player a team already batting Doug Glanville at the top of the order doesn't need: another free-swinger with moderate power and speed, who doesn't get on base much. Teams can win ballgames with players like Anderson and Glanville in the lineup, but those have first basemen or leftfielders who can hit, and the Phillies don't really. If there's a growing problem with the Phillies, it's that they have one great player in Rolen, one potentially great player in Estalella, and a bunch of mediocrities who don't really help Rolen (or Estalella) by getting on base.
Activated RHP Jon Lieber from the DL. [9/15]
Lieber should be given a pair of token appearances to finish the season on a nice note, nothing more.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Activated RHP Mike Busby from the DL; optioned OFJuan Munoz to Memphis. [9/4]
Recalled RHPs Rich Croushore, Curtis King, Manny Aybar and Jose Jimenez, and OFs J.D. Drew and Mark Little from Memphis. [9/8]
There are two players here to notice: Drew, obviously, because he's clearly shown the minors don't have much to teach him about hitting, and because of that he'll almost certainly make Brian Jordan a very wealthy man wearing somebody else's uniform in 1999; and Jose Jimenez. Jimenez has yet to wow scouts with his stuff, but he just knows how to pitch. He had arguably his best season in his first year at AA, allowing a career-best rate of fewer than 8 hits per 9. Even without the Cardinals' grisly assortment of pitching injuries, he's a dark horse for next year's rotation.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Recalled RHP Matt Clement and OF James Mouton from Las Vegas. [9/4]
Activated LHP Mark Langston from the DL; purchased the contract of UT Archi Cianfrocco from Las Vegas; recalled LHP Roberto Ramirez and INF Ed Giovanola from Las Vegas; designated 1B Eddie Williams for assignment. [9/8]
Clement's shot at pitching in the postseason was wrecked when the Pads' three-way trade that would send Joey Hamilton to Detroit fell through, but there's nothing novel in mentioning that he's a lock for next year's rotation, even if Mark Langston gets a courtesy spot on the postseason roster.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Activated LHP Shawn Estes from the DL. [9/4]
Recalled OF Dante Powell and SS Wilson Delgado from Fresno; purchased the contract of RHP Steve Soderstrom from Fresno; waived OF Alex Diaz. [9/15]
This was a good year for Soderstrom, in that he finally put together a respectable season recovering from multiple arm injuries. Even though Danny Darwin's heading for retirement, Brian Sabean isn't going to count on him for more. I hope for the sake of Estes' fragile arm that they aren't taking a desperate chance on their slender wild-card ambitions by bringing him back at all.
Recalled 2B/SS Carlos Guillen from Tacoma. [9/6]
Placed RF Jay Buhner on the 60-day DL (elbow); purchased the contract of LHP Andrew Lorraine, and recalled RHP Steve Gajkowski and OF Ryan Radmonovich from Tacoma. [9/8]
Purchased the contract of RHP Paul Abbott from Tacoma; placed UT Rich Amaral on the 60-day DL (leg). [9/10]
Who's on first, or second, or third next year? There's early talk that Buhner's elbow injury is so severe that he'll have to play first next year, moving Segui to the outfield. Then there's the decision about whether to keep bitching about Russ Davis, or learn to live with him. Then there's Guillen, who really should be the everyday second baseman next year, but we've been down this path with Mt. Piniella before, where he goofs off with Felix Fermin or Luis Sojo over Alex Rodriguez, or Alex Diaz over Darren Bragg.
Recalled OF Warren Newson from Oklahoma; signed CF Milt Cuyler to a minor-league contract, and assigned him to Oklahoma. [9/5]
Purchased the contract of CF Milt Cuyler from Oklahoma; recalled SS Scott Sheldon from Oklahoma. [9/7]
Claimed CF Scarborough Green on waivers from the Cardinals. [9/8]
Nothing here will be critical in terms of catching the Angels, but it would be nice if old fave Newson got a shot at a critical pinch-hit or something.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Recalled 3B Tom Evans from Syracuse. [9/6]
Purchased the contracts of OF Pat Lennon and RHP Shannon Withem from Syracuse; recalled SS Tomas Perez from Syracuse. [9/12]
Recalled 1B Kevin Witt from Syracuse. [9/15]
Evans is coming off of another outstanding season at Syracuse that was, once again, marred by nagging injuries. Although it's clear he'll be an outstanding hitter and fielder, it's also reasonably clear that the Jays will be wise to have an alternate in place to have around for 40 starts at the hot corner next year. It was a disappointing year for upper-level pitching prospects for the Jays, and the wild-card push isn't the right time to break in a Billy Koch or Roy Halladay anyways. Even so, it's a nice gesture that they decided to bring up Withem as a reward for a fine year from the well-travelled (at 25) minor league vet for his 17 wins for Syracuse. For Witt, he continued to show the quick-wristed power he's known for, while not quite hitting enough to look like a no-brain choice to move Delgado to DH in '99. The decision to move him over from the left side of the infield is looking like a mistake, although at a mere 22 and having never had to repeat a level, he's obviously capable of becoming much more dangerous.