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June 19, 2003

Transaction Analysis

June 10-15

by Christina Kahrl

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Return to Top

Signed LHP Dennys Reyes to a minor league contract, and assigned him to Tucson. [6/11]

Activated RHP Mike Koplove from the 15-day DL; designated RHP Scott Service for assignment. [6/13]

Placed 2B-R Junior Spivey on the 15-day DL (sprained ankle); recalled 2B-B Matt Kata from Tucson. [6/14]

Losing Junior Spivey might get lost in the blur of the team's debilitating roster roulette, where every spin produces another casualty, but it goes well beyond the obvious to say it hurts. Of course, Spivey's reputation is slightly overstated, considering his season rates might make you think he was going to turn into Bret Boone, when his BOB vs. BOB-less numbers give you a more compelling portrait of somebody from the Eric Young class of the simply useful at the keystone. Nevertheless, when Alex Cintron is your big stick in the infield, that's a sign of trouble. But with Carlos Baerga basically only good for a few singles outside of the BOB, and with Shea Hillenbrand limping, that's what they're left with. Add to that not making up a particularly talented group of leathermen in the infield, and you've got a contributing factor for why the Snakes have disappointed above and beyond the loss of the Big Two in the rotation. Still, it's worth noting the good: Cintron's claimed a job for himself in the time being, and Brandon Webb and Andrew Good have been heralds of a future where the organization has some homegrown talent to brag about. Joe Garagiola Jr. isn't anybody's posterboy for front office acumen, but at least he's got some stuff on hand to work with beyond the failing flesh of yesteryear's big ticket items, and he deserves credit for that.

Elsewhere, it's interesting to see the Snakes take a chance on Denny Reyes. The organization isn't notably strong when it comes to lefty pitching, leaving them in a situation where they've been fortunate to get a good month out of Eddie Oropesa. Snagging Reyes off of waivers gives them an alternative should Oropesa revert to form, one that doesn't involve planetary alignments, live virgin sacrifices, secrets man was not meant to know, all for the sake of a Greg Swindell resurrection.

ATLANTA BRAVES Return to Top

Placed RHP Roberto Hernandez on the 15-day DL (strained abdomen), retroactive to 6/12; recalled RHP Jason Marquis from Richmond. [6/13]

While it might seem odd to recall Marquis, the Braves aren't certain about Mike Hampton's health, and they have to ask themselves how valuable Shane Reynolds has really been. He's not pitching well enough to keep his job almost anywhere but on a team with a fully functioning lineup, which the Braves, to their credit, have. But as much as Reynolds hasn't been an asset, Roberto Hernandez has been a menace, so if Marquis is given a shot at sticking in a relief role, he might turn out to be as helpful as Trey Hodges and Jung Bong have been in what has turned out to be an unfortunately shallow pen. Whatever role they plug Marquis into, if they choose to keep him up, he arrives after having done some good work in Richmond. He hasn't really ironed out his control problems, having given up 24 walks in 60.2 IP. But a 3.26 ERA, 45 strikeouts, and 55 hits allowed are all reasons to feel he's not nearly as out of whack as he looked in his brief work with the club in the opening weeks.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES Return to Top

Activated RHP Rodrigo Lopez from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Rick Bauer to Ottawa. [6/15]

Lopez's return from the DL creates an interesting problem, because nobody in the rotation beyond Sidney Ponson has pitched well, but nobody has pitched any worse than the others. Jason Johnson looks superficially better than the likes of Omar Daal, Rick Hellling, or Pat Hentgen, but that's courtesy of a few unearned runs; he's only tossed four quality starts in 13, which is downright lousy for a putative second starter. Despite the highest ERA (besides Lopez's) in the rotation, Helling has actually done better, posting six quality starts (one was blown in the seventh) in his 13 starts. So who gets bumped? Having accumulated interchangeable veteran mediocrity, the Orioles have one of those choices they can make randomly, or not make, given the amount of difference it will make. They're going to finish fourth in the AL East again; it's what they're for. Should Lopez actually snap out of his early funk and pitch like last year's Cinderella instead of this year's ersatz starter (add water and raisins, good for any meal), at least that would give them a better shot at playing spoiler.

BOSTON RED SOX Return to Top

Activated RHP Pedro Martinez from the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Jason Shiell from Pawtucket; placed LHP Casey Fossum on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis), retroactive to 6/8; placed RHP Robert Person on the 15-day DL (inflamed hip), retroactive to 6/8. [6/11]

Placed RHP Ramiro Mendoza on the 15-day DL (knee tendinitis); recalled RHP Ryan Rupe from Pawtucket. [6/13]

For all of the reshuffling, they managed to survive Pedro's absence well enough, since they're still running with the Yankees. Indeed, excusing Ramiro Mendoza can't really be considered a loss when he's remained so very thwackable even as he whittles his ERA down into the sixes. Jason Shiell may not have really earned a recall, but he was no more or less wild than Robert Person. The dilemma for the Red Sox is how much they invest in hoping that damaged goods like Person or Chad Fox or Rudy Seanez, or a bitter disappointment like Mendoza or Bobby Howry can help them in the near future. The longer they stay tight with New York, the harder it will be to blithely accept that Mendoza or his like will just finally start contributing. The bullpen has been the AL's worst with an unfortunate consistency, but with the Yankees so very takeable, the howls of despair and hunger from Red Sox Nation will be hard to ignore, any more than the pen's performance can be. They're caught in an unfortunate bind. Because of the wealth of alternatives they've assembled, they may not have the patience to invest the time in fixing any one of their guys. An alternative would be that they decide to start dealing for a few extra pen pieces out of frustration with all of the farting around. I guess the positive way to look at it is that with Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, and Brandon Lyon, they've got a few more relievers than the '93 Phillies had to work with, but it would be nice to add somebody instead of having to constantly reshuffle the various options on the off chance that somebody turns up healthy and hot at the same time.

Part of the solution might be internal and not depend on one of the various flyers turning into beer and skittles. With the thinking that Casey Fossum's stay on the DL will be a very short one, and with Byung-Hyun Kim on hand, the Sox have a tough decision on their hands. Will Fossum slip into the pen, or will they bump Kim? With both Tim Wakefield and John Burkett struggling in the rotation, that might end up being the wrong question to ask. There's an argument that Wakefield might be the reliever this team needs, since he can handle a multi-inning workload in the pen, has enjoyed success as a reliever, and could even fit pretty evenly into a saves co-op situation. The problem there is that it leaves Burkett in place to take his drubbing every fifth day. Sadly, there's not even the tidy statistical hint to make you think Fossum would slip easily into the pen, since of late he's struggled terribly early in-game as well as the second time through lineups. It's clear that Fossum is one of their most talented arms, and that just as they have the possibility of getting good work out of Wakefield in either role, they have the same problem with Fossum. There's no obvious answer, which is where you and I shouldn't envy Theo Epstein or Grady Little their responsibilities. I'd rather take my chances with Fossum and Wakefield and Kim in the rotation, but eating Burkett's contract might be on the team's in-season operational menu.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX Return to Top

Optioned OF-B Joe Borchard to Charlotte; recalled OF-R Aaron Rowand from Charlotte. [6/10]

This is what you might generally refer to as a course of action known as 'indecisive,' where you fiddle around with all of your choices because picking and sticking with one would reflect another concept we generally refer to as 'conviction.' These abstractions really don't add up to much, what with the Sox dealing with the practical problem of being in Year Three of the Williams Era, and they're the team that helps make life easier for the Twins while betraying the Seligian world view. Certainly, Willie Harris' injury has added complications, but we're almost halfway into the season, and the team leader in starts in center is Rowand, with 20. Handing Borchard or Rowand or Harris 40 at-bats to win a job or face re-shufflement is your basic half-assed way to run a ballclub while not doing anything to make the players' jobs or lives any easier. It would be nice to see Kenny Williams get around to taking right now seriously enough to make a decision and stick with it, instead of taking a page from the O'Dowd playbook and changing his mind every other week. The Twins are doing plenty to keep things interesting, but the jarring lack of confidence in the considerable talent base that has been assembled here is starting to become debilitating.

CHICAGO CUBS Return to Top

Optioned 1B/3B/LF-R David Kelton to Iowa; recalled RHP Francis Beltran from Iowa. [6/15]

The Cubs played some DH games, gave Kelton some seasoning, and then got him the hell out of Dodge before he did anything that might make you wonder what Troy O'Leary or Tom Goodwin are for. Nevertheless, it seems strange to have brought in another pitcher, considering that Baker isn't really using the six relievers he already has. Todd Wellemeyer has been used sporadically at best, having appeared once this month. Of course, Beltran's not really up to stay, since Bobby Hill will be up by the time you read this, but it's an odd choice nonetheless. Why not keep Kelton for the day? I suspect that belongs to the same realm of managerial discretion as crippling the offense or stocking the bench with the washed-up and over-Baked.

CINCINNATI REDS Return to Top

Activated SS-R Barry Larkin from the 15-day DL; placed RHP John Riedling on the 15-day DL (elbow tendinitis). [6/13]

One of the themes in Alfred Döblin's masterpiece, Berlin Alexanderplatz, is that the hero, retired pimp Franz Biberkopf, gets chewed up by life, literally losing bits and pieces of himself as he tries to adapt to existence in a new, menacing urban landscape. This is the part where Dieter compares this nifty bit of literature to Barry Larkin's battles with modernity, which for him involves losing bits of himself as he enters a new ballpark, raging against the dying of the light on a team that remains far away, yet so close. If Barry was his own agent in the business of selling his flesh to Carl Lindner, the symmetry would be almost perfect. Gods know it isn't baseball in the Rhineland these days if we don't get another bizarre paean from Bob Boone wrestling with a reality that fails to conform to his theories of Boonian supremacy, and I think the world is a little emptier without a Leni Riefenstahl biopic of The Power of Bob.

OK, enough of that nonsense, so let's not touch the monkey.

Anyway, you're left with a team making do with a middle infield of Larkin and Juan Castro, which gives you fractions of ballplayers in two full-time jobs, and not in anything resembling any kind of happy platoons or job-sharing arrangements. Add to that losing Riedling to the conceit that he would somehow thrive in a conversion to starting, and you're left with the same basic problems the Reds haven't fixed in over a year: no middle infield, no rotation, and a group of potent hitters being spited by the ghosts of ownership decisions past and present. Sometimes, if you live with a problem long enough, you forget it's a problem, but the handicaps the Reds are operating with this season have long since passed into chronic. And since the Chattanooga rotation seems to have hit a rough patch, there may not really be as much hope for 2005 as you might have liked.

CLEVELAND INDIANS Return to Top

Placed DH-R Ellis Burks on the 15-day DL (hand), retroactive to 6/8; recalled OF-B Coco Crisp from Buffalo. [6/10]

Claimed LHP Nick Bierbrodt off of waivers from the Devil Rays, and placed him on the active roster; placed RHP Ricardo Rodriguez on the 15-day DL (strained triceps), retroactive to 6/9. [6/11]

Placed SS-B Omar Vizquel on the 15-day DL (knee); recalled SS-R Jhonny Peralta from Buffalo. [6/12]

Talk about a rough week, but the Tribe just lost both of their elder statesmen, losing their universally-respected DH (no, not Andy Thornton), and Leetle O. They also lose a rotation starter, but this time, it isn't a temporary irrelevance, like the fate of Jason Bere, it's one of last year's prospect swag, Ricardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez hasn't done well of late, having struggled since opening the year with four straight quality starts, but he wasn't overworked, and it's expected that he'll be fine after a couple of weeks away. Given that the Indians' season was already going to break down into the first half and sifting through the temps, and the second half when we could all look forward to seeing how the organization is really doing, it's not a bad thing to get Brian Tallet into the rotation now instead of later, joining Billy Traber behind C.C. Sabathia, Brian Anderson, and Jason Davis.

There's a little bit of sunshine to spread over the loss of Omar Vizquel. First, it gives them an opportunity to play Peralta, who, while he doesn't rank high on many people's prospect lists, did show good patience and sock at Akron last year. He wasn't hitting especially well at Buffalo in his Triple-A debut (.256/.310/.335), but he also just turned 21. It's still an open question about whether he'll eventually stick at short or move over to third, but the Indians don't have a prospect in his way at third--no, they're never going to take Greg LaRocca all that seriously, not at this rate--and they have Vizquel signed for another year, so some time at third in 2004 doesn't seem all that unlikely. Consider that another hidden cost of making Omar financially happy, as the Tribe has had to move first Brandon Phillips and now potentially Peralta as well to another position.

Second, they can also spend a little bit of time showcasing John McDonald, on the off chance they can peddle him to the coalition of the easily gulled as an everyday shortstop. What it doesn't cost the Tribe is a shot at shopping Vizquel. As a 10-and-5 guy, it's his call, and at his price tag through 2004, there aren't many contenders that would want to try to work their way through the nuisance of acquiring him anyway.

If there's a sad note, it's that having Coco Crisp doesn't really fix their outfield. Matt Lawton's contract has two more years to run beyond this one, so you can look forward to Milton Bradley, Crisp, and Jody Gerut sorting out between themselves who gets the other two jobs. However, as long as Ellis Burks is out, there are at-bats to go around. It's just a shame that Travis Hafner isn't in the mix, preferably at Lawton's expense, but Hafner's banged up on his rehab stint in Buffalo, and won't be here particularly soon. But Crisp arrives having had an outstanding couple of months as a Bison, hitting .360/.434/.511, swiping 20 bases, and...sacrificing nine times. I don't know what that demonstrates, beyond the wasted development time that proving that a kid who can hit can bunt if you want an out, but I guess it takes a certain sort of perspective to take a guy hitting .360 and decide that tactical chicanery in the minors outweighs letting him hit.

Finally, it's a good thing to see the Tribe snag Nick Bierbrodt. Beyond the general amusement of seeing the Devil Rays mess something else up, it's nice to see Bierbrodt rescued from that organization and placed onto a team that's willing to take chances with young pitchers, and willing to put Bierbrodt into the long relief role previously manned by Traber and Tallet this season. If the Indians wind up with yet another worthwhile alternative for their rotation, chalk one up to an organization having the presence of mind to keep an eye on the waiver wire.

DETROIT TIGERS Return to Top

Placed OF-B Gene Kingsale on the 15-day DL (pulled groin), retroactive to 6/9; purchased the contract of OF-R Ernie Young from Toledo; designated LHP Tim Kalita for assignment. [6/10]

Just when you thought the Tigers' season couldn't get any more bizarre in its balance between squalid, putrid, and noisome, there seem to be a few discordant leitmotivs cropping up. On the one hand, you've got the Miguel Dilone Plan, where the Tigers could potentially field an outfield of Alex Sanchez, Andres Torres, and Gene Kingsale, which would be simultaneously one of the fastest and least dangerous outfields anywhere at any level. That particular prematurely popped weasel has only the admission of failure to send it back into its hole, leaving a fascinating alternative, as the Tigers suddenly seem to be exploring the splendors of KPAS.

No, I'm not referring to Kevin Spacey's "hey, I have a mortgage to pay" star vehicle, but to Ken Phelps All-Stars, the old fun Bill James exercise of conjuring up a better-than-average lineup from overlooked players and career minor leaguers and the like. Now, I don't think that a lineup that's counting on Kevin Witt and Ernie Young and Craig Monroe is really going to set the league afire, but it's a whole lot better than paying the likes of Dean Palmer or Craig Paquette oodles of cash to be worse. Witt and Monroe have power enough to be worth a look. Young has been destroying Triple-A for years after a brief opportunity to be the Terrence Long of the mid-90s Athletics, making him a better bet than Long to be worth anything next week, month, year, or presidential term at this rate.

That's not to say that this represents any deeply-held philosophical change within the organization. KPASTers wind up on the bad and desperate teams far more often than they wind up playing for some of the general managerdom's young guns, and the Tigers still employ Sanchez and still think Brandon Inge is a prospect. But it's a reason to watch and to care, beyond the anticipation of Brian Kingman sightings or '62 Mets Q&As appearing in the Detroit media.

FLORIDA MARLINS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Vladimir Nunez to Albuquerque; recalled RHP Kevin Olsen from Albuquerque. [6/10]

So much for my wishful thinking. Two outings, and nobody, not even Jack McKeon, could find a silver lining in what Vladi Nunez is able to do these days. Kevin Olsen will slip into his slot in the bullpen, since the rotation experiment with Tommy Phelps seems to be working out well enough for now, and they're short of right-handed relief help. Down in Albuquerque, Olsen was showing his usual corner-painting skills, showing outstanding command and less-than-ideal velocity. He's flopped in his first couple of assignments already, but the Fish are desperate, and can afford to take a little bit of time to see if he can turn into an asset in middle relief.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS Return to Top

Designated LHP Rick DeHart for assignment; purchased the contract of RHP Nate Field from Omaha. [6/10]

Signed RHP Jose Lima to a minor league contract, and assigned him to Omaha. [6/11]

Purchased the contract of RHP Jose Lima from Omaha; activated 2B-R Carlos Febles from the 15-day DL; placed INF-R Mendy Lopez on the 15-day DL (calf); optioned RHP Nate Field to Omaha; transferred RHP Miguel Asencio from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/15]

There was once a time when "Lima Time" could bring a smile to your face, as you considered a guy with that Oil Can Boyd panache and just enough talent to keep you entertained and indulgent. These days, "Lima Time" ought to make you think of beatings, the beans, and other forms of cruelty, parental, culinary, or stadium-bound. It's a pretty clear sign of desperation when this is what you're reduced to, but Runelvys Hernandez won't be back until July, and Miguel Asencio's gone for much longer than that. The pity is that it matters, because the Royals aren't out of the running in the AL Central just yet, not when the Twins want to keep Johan Santana out of their rotation and make things interesting.

The other development here is that they've got Carlos Febles back, and they'll take another spin on his well-worn career wheel. They're also not simply handing him his job back, since Mendy Lopez's injury helped make it easy to keep Brent Abernathy around. Febles' future is on life support as is, and with the team in contention after a fashion, it will be hard to take more time to sort out if Febles is merely going to be the biggest keystone tease since Geronimo Pena or Roberto Mejia.

MINNESOTA TWINS Return to Top

Placed INF-R Chris Gomez on the 15-day DL (sprained knee), retroactive to 6/7; recalled 1B-L Justin Morneau from Rochester. [6/10]

It's pretty cool to see the Twins just sort of glide into calling up one of their blue-chippers, almost on a lark. But as long as they have Denny Hocking around to back up all of the infield positions, and with Luis Rivas heating up a little and Cristian Guzman xeroxed onto the lineup card for what seems like forever, it isn't as if Ron Gardenhire fiddles with too many in-game tactical options. Besides which, having Morneau around does create some interesting choices. The Twins have already given thought to playing Doug Mientkiewicz at third base once in a while, and Morneau hasn't really sat since coming up, getting five starts. In three weeks in Double-A, he slugged over .620, then enjoyed a nice Triple-A debut, hitting .297/.377/.623 in Rochester, and he's already totaled 19 home runs on the year (his first big league shot from last night being his twentieth on the season). The Twins are choking on depth, to the point that they're squandering Johan Santana and under-using Bobby Kielty. Normally, you would think this would create some incentive to package some of their vast quantities or useful stuff for some game-breaking talent, but that hasn't really been the Twins way since they rescued Bert Blyleven from the Indians, or perhaps John Smiley from the Pirates. Terry Ryan can't afford to squander opportunities like the last season or two again, so fixing the team's rotation and clearing room to let the Santanas, the Morneaus, or the Kieltys play makes for a tough front office assignment, balanced as it is against the team's responsibility to win the division.

NEW YORK YANKEES Return to Top

Placed RHP Jose Contreras on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder), retroactive to 6/7; released RHP Juan Acevedo; recalled RHP Jason Anderson from Columbus; repurchased the contract of RHP Al Reyes from Columbus. [6/10]

Red Sox fans should be allowed some snickering on this. No, Jose Contreras probably doesn't make up for Steve Avery, but between this latest setback and the roster execution of Juan Acevedo, it might almost be enough to give you hope that the panicked, randomly insane, bloodthirsty days of King George aren't too far lost in the shrouds of history. There may, no doubt, be some Yankee fans wailing over the loss of Contreras; he shut out the Tigers for seven innings, donchaknow. And not to help matters any, but Jeff Weaver has struggled in both of his starts since rejoining the rotation, and Andy Pettitte's continued to be all over the place, and Acevedo cost them that game giving up a home run to Eric $&%$&*%& Karros, and the sky is falling, and, and, and...

Face it folks, it's a guilty pleasure, and you're one among millions enjoying, if not the team's actual struggles, the hysterics and parochial insecurity reflected in anything less than certain victory. So it's worth taking a deep breath, and reminding ourselves that they're still running alongside with the Red Sox after seeing both of their big ticket foreign imports disappoint, Derek Jeter hit the DL for an extended period of time, and have Jason Giambi go blind for a stretch. It adds up to a race, which is fun, even if part of the fun is laughing at the infantile overreactions and media freakouts that are so very, very local.

NEW YORK METS Return to Top

Returned SS-R Rey Sanchez to the 15-day DL (strained thumb), retroactive to 6/6; purchased the contract of SS-B Jose Reyes from Norfolk; optioned OF-R Raul Gonzalez to Norfolk; activated CF-L Timo Perez from the 15-day DL. [6/10]

Fired general manager Steve Phillips; named Jim Duquette as interim general manager. [6/12]

Placed LHP Mike Stanton on the 15-day DL (knee), retroactive to 6/11; purchased the contract of RHP Jason Roach from Norfolk; transferred RHP Pedro Astacio from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/13]

In terms of roster moves, these boil down to one exchange that matters: they're finally trusting to Jose Reyes to see what they've got. It's just as well, considering that neither Jay Bell nor Joe McEwing can really handle the position on an everyday basis. And while the Mets are out of it, they're not an awful ballclub as much as they're one with over-lofty expectations that have been squelched, leaving a freedom of action to do the sorts of things they ought to do. That means they get to behave like a baseball organization again, without having to worry about how excited the local media will be over any and every twitch. Reyes wasn't dominating in the International League, but he was doing well enough, hitting .269/.333/.356, and stealing 26 bases despite some hamstring problems. It's not a clean shot at a job as much as it's a cameo, a peek to take the edge off of the time when he's up to stay. That'll have to wait until after Sanchez comes back off of the DL and then heads off to be somebody else's problem, but that's the direction these Mets are happily going, towards the future and away from expedients.

Which brings us to the unlamented departure of Steve Phillips. It's worth noting that he has the respect of some of the game's other, good GMs, but that also reflects on professional consideration you can always get out of comments aimed at public consumption. If anything, I'd make a comparison to John Hart, only better, in that Phillips was a man given a checkbook and a weak hand, and he played it for what he was worth for as long as he could. As Joe Sheehan has already pointed out, the job he was brought in to do has already disappeared, but that's a generous assessment that doesn't highlight the waste, or the increasing desperation that helped create a situation where Phillips' commitments to win now only brought collapse that much sooner. Nobody forced him to acquire the likes of Mo Vaughn, and nobody forced him to field a crummy collection of outfielders. Better alternatives were around for less, but Phillips' actions have, if anything, made the collapse seem more dramatic than it needed to be. In his pursuit to build a team capable of 85 wins, he achieved something less. Would it have been better to keep limping along, winning 80-85 games, harboring wild-card dreams? I guess the left-handed compliment is that by making things look worse than they really are right now, the Mets were never tempted to deal any of their limited yet outstanding collection of prospects, giving Jim Duquette something to build around over the next couple of years as the various Phillips contracts ka-ching their way into history.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES Return to Top

Activated OF-L Matt Stairs from the 15-day DL. [6/10]

Optioned RHP Brian Meadows to Nashville; recalled RHP Ryan Vogelsong from Nashville. [6/14]

There isn't really a rotation slot open and waiting for Vogelsong as much as the Bucs just tired of Brian Meadows' routine shellackings. Because of Wednesday's double-header, Vogelsong may finally get a start this weekend, but he's effectively in a long relief/swing role until they do something like deal either of the journeymen in the rotation, there's no space to squeeze him, and no compelling reason to bounce Kip Wells or Josh Fogg or Kris Benson for Vogelsong's sake. Vogelsong hasn't even really pitched all that well, having arrived from Nashville with a 5.06 ERA that was the highest mark in the Sounds' rotation. At least he sported a 76:28 strikeout to walk ratio in his 78.1 innings pitched. Considering that the Pirates' pen has been the second-worst in the NL (topping only a Pads pen that underwhelms even the Red Sox), it's just as well that they give Vogelsong a shot at a structured long relief role. The question is whether you believe that Lloyd McClendon can execute that kind of plan, or will remember it in-game.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Return to Top

Placed C-R Chris Widger on the 15-day DL (bruised thumb), retroactive to 6/7; activated RHP Jason Isringhausen from the 15-day DL and C-R Joe Girardi from the 60-day DL; optioned OF-R So Taguchi to Memphis. [6/10]

Designated LHP Kevin Ohme for assignment. [6/12]

I know it's supposed to mean great things to have Izzy back, and with a division race as tight as the NL Central's, it's hard not to subscribe to the theory that any improvement is critical. It certainly helps the case that, with alternatives were guys like Cal Eldred or Dustin Hermanson, the Cardinals could tell themselves they need a closer, because they basically need somebody who can give them three good innings per week.

As for the catching situation, there are very, very few teams that can say losing Chris Widger is bad news, but he's managed to be with two such teams in the past year, the Yankees and the Cardinals. Both generally seem to prefer the depths of backup catcherdom, and have profound talents for finding it. Joe Girardi's both a great ambassador for the game and a nice guy by all accounts, but he's also close to being the worst backup catcher in the game today.

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Activated RHP Kevin Jarvis from the 60-day DL; recalled LHP Oliver Perez from Portland; outrighted RHP Carlton Loewer to Portland; optioned RHP Brian Tollberg to Portland. [6/13]

The Kramdenesque hijinks aside, it looks like the Padres are willing to settle down and go back to pitching Perez, who probably didn't need the punitive reassignment in the first place. But that's me, I tend to be indulgent, and the Pads apparently felt they couldn't spare the rod. But this being the Padres, replacing two-fifths of the rotation is hardly a major operation. Hopefully, Kevin Jarvis is healthy enough to give them some decent work, and hopefully, they'll be a little more patient with Perez this time around, and perhaps he'll reward that patience.

SEATTLE MARINERS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Julio Mateo to Tacoma. [6/10]

Placed RHP Kaz Sasaki on the 15-day DL (bruised ribs), retroactive to 6/6; recalled RHP Julio Mateo from Tacoma. [6/11]

Placed 1B-R Greg Colbrunn on the 15-day DL (strained oblique); recalled INF-B Luis Ugueto from San Antonio (Double-A). [6/15]

It isn't often that you have to concede that losing Greg Colbrunn is a really hard blow for a team doing as well as the Mariners are, but consider the alternative. Luis Ugueto? Pinch-running, roster spot-munching Luis Ugueto? What's he for? Because he's already on the 40-man? To make Willie Bloomquist believe he has the strength of 10 men, if they're all Uguetos? To leave John Mabry absolutely secure in the knowledge that he's the second-best player on this team's bench, behind Mark McLemore? (For the sake of argument, we'll set aside Ben Davis, who should have Dan Wilson's job.)

That almost matters more than losing Kaz Sasaki again, since the Mariners have the second-best pen in the league, and what with Shiggy Hasegawa making people forget Jeff Nelson as yesteryear's flavor of big-ticket reliever. Mateo's no slouch himself, so the Mariners are fine. It just means some saves dropping into Nelson's or Arthur Rhodes' inboxes, and since it won't affect anything in terms of expectations or arbitration cases, borders on irrelevant beyond the lost entertainment value of having Sasaki on the mound.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS Return to Top

Outrighted RHP Carlos Reyes to Durham; recalled RHP Jason Standridge from Durham. [6/10]

Recalled UT-R Damian Rolls from Durham; optioned 3B-R Jared Sandberg to Durham. [6/13]

Purchased the contract of RHP Rob Bell from Durham; designated OF/1B-L Jeff Liefer for assignment. [6/14]

The usual flim-flammery, this time inspired by today's new neato idea, which is that Damian Rolls needs to be taken seriously all over again, leaving the D-Rays with that yummy choice of playing Rolls, requiring a hefty dose of self-delusion. Not that I weep for Jeff Liefer's latest fall from grace, but a four-game experiment? Why not stick with Jason Smith, if all it would take was four games to make up your mind to use the roster spot in a different way? Why bother? It's as if they're determined to give trials of less than a half-dozen games to anyone, and give up immediately because they didn't reach .500 this week. This smacks of the old Lou, the one who could screw up his teams quickly and thoroughly because he didn't want to sort out what parts worked through the tedium of direct observation, and didn't have time to sort through data or scouting reports to produce any annoying commitments.

There's definitely something appropriate in seeing the Rays turn to Rob Bell, one of the game's great problem children and failed pitching prospects, a man who can almost match Bruce Chen's track record of flummoxed pitching coaches and organizations happy to call him a former employee. Bell even comes back up with some decent pitching in Durham to his credit, having posted a 4.02 ERA, and giving up 72 hits and 15 walks in 71.2 IP (with 48 strikeouts). That doesn't sound like the great arm he was once supposed to be, but it's still probably better than recycling Carlos Reyes, assuming that the Rays can get Bell to function in the major leagues, which would be close to a first for both parties.

More happily, they're giving a rotation slot to Jason Standridge as well. While it might seem as if he's become something of an organizational soldier over the years, since this has been his third year of pitching in Durham, he's still only 24, he still throws pretty hard, and he has been improving in the last couple of seasons. There have been less likely candidates bandied about as the organization's second successfully developed starter (beyond Joe Kennedy).

TEXAS RANGERS Return to Top

Purchased the contract of LHP Tony Mounce from Oklahoma; optioned RHP Colby Lewis to Oklahoma. [6/13]

Colby Lewis was pretty much the worst starting pitcher in terms of that ugly balance between holding his job and taking his regular turn at whatever level of failure, so it isn't surprising for even the Rangers to finally tire of a guy who's given up 60 runs in 61.3 IP. It's almost surprising, if you consider that Lewis had given them his first quality start since April less than three weeks ago. It was brave of them to stick with him as long as they did, given the pressures and the outlandish expectations, but there does come a point where sending him down is the right call.

What's surprising is who they've had to turn to in their latest minute of need, Tony Mounce, the one-time theoretical prospect in the Astros' organization who, having survived this long, finally made it to the major leagues in that waystation for all journeymen, Texas. Unsurprisingly, he got belted around, and with Victor Santos still getting drummed, and with Ismael Valdes and Chan Ho Park both still broken, the Rangers remain short of people who might give up significantly less than a run per inning pitched. Happily, Joaquin Benoit will be available off of the DL soon, and they plan on calling up Mario Ramos this weekend, if for no other reasons than a blend of need and curiosity.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS Return to Top

Recalled RHPs Mike Smith and Corey Thurman from Syracuse; outrighted C-R Ken Huckaby and RHP Josh Towers to Syracuse. [6/12]

Optioned RHP Corey Thurman to Syracuse. [6/15]

There really isn't much to say here, which may surprise, considering the Jays have plans within plans. Basically, they wanted to go back to 12 pitchers once they left the NL-based portion of their interleague schedule behind, and Carlos Tosca seems reluctant to use Josh Towers. So just in case there was need, they brought up both Corey Thurman and Mike Smith, and just as clearly, both weren't going to be around for long. As it turns out, they were contingencies, and ones that went unused, since both have already made the return trip to Syracuse.

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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