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April 9, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Ramon Mania

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired LHP Travis Blackley from the Athletics for OF-L Jake Goebbert. [4/4]

The Astros placed Blackley on the disabled list after acquiring him. Dealing for damaged goods sometimes make sense. In this case Blackley could fill a swingman role for the Astros, or perhaps even take a spot in the rotation. He put together respectable numbers for the Athletics by mixing and matching a deep arsenal. Look for more of the same with the Astros once he gets healthy. 

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Outrighted RHP Dan Otero to Triple-A Sacramento. [4/7]

Acquired PH-L Stephen Vogt from the Rays for a player to be named later or cash considerations. [4/5]

Acquired OF-L Jake Goebbert from the Astros for LHP Travis Blackley. [4/4]

Write about transactions for long enough and certain trends become apparent. Like this one: the A's, however long removed from Moneyball, still value minor-league numbers in the face of mediocre scouting reports perhaps more than any other team. Goebbert and Vogt both fit.

Goebbert is a 6-foot-tall product of Northwestern University. He does not run or throw well and his power potential is limited. What Goebbert does do well is work counts, grind out at-bats, and hit liners. Because Goebbert is a left-handed hitter there is a chance he can latch onto a bench spot as a reserve outfielder. Houston, in need of outfield help, deemed him replaceable. Take that as you may.

Vogt's chances of making it are slimmer. Limited athleticism means he's either a designated hitter (currently without a hit) or below-average corner outfielder or catcher. Fine and dandy if the bat were sweet like candy. Alas, Vogt lacks secondary skills at the plate and has not shown he can hit big-league pitching. In a perfect world he becomes a professional pinch-hitter. In this world he's closer to the beginning of a coaching career. 

TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired C-R Robinson Chirinos from the Rays for a player to be named later or cash. [4/8]

In an alternate universe this would not be the first time the Rangers acquired Chirinos. That's because the Rangers were willing to grab him from the Cubs years ago and then spin him to the Rays in a Matt Garza trade. Such a scenario did not play out. Instead the Rays acquired Chirinos on their own and gave him some big-league playing time in 2011. He entered last spring with an outside shot at cracking the Opening Day roster, but a concussion prematurely ended his season and his time with the club. Chirinos, a converted infielder, remains raw behind the plate. The hope here is that he'll be able to hit enough to justify subpar defense. Given the missed time it's a longer shot now than it was before.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed INF-R Mauro Gomez off waivers from the Red Sox. [4/8]

Claimed RHP Edgar Gonzalez off waivers from the Astros. [4/7]

Here's what I wrote about Gomez when he was designated for assignment:

Gomez played both corner infield positions last season for the Red Sox. A surprise since Gomez's last start at third base prior to 2012 was 2009. While the pinch of flexibility is an added bonus, Gomez's game revolves around his bat. That looks like a good thing when he's thumping fastballs from left-handed pitchers. But it's a bad thing when right-handers break him down with soft or spinning. Should a team claim Gomez they'll be doing so because of his potential as a bat off the bench.

Is there a player the Jays will not claim? Gonzalez, who pitched for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, is a good approximation of a Quad-A pitcher. His smoke and mirrors act works in the minors but the magic show fools no one in the majors. Add him as organizational depth and it's no big deal. But for a competitive team to use a 40- or 25-man roster spot on him seems off—especially since the Jays were unwilling to part with Jeremy Jeffress and Brett Cecil a week ago.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed RHP Will Harris off waivers from the Athletics. [4/6]

Harris is 28 years old with a 8.15 career big-league ERA who has been designated for assignment twice this spring. Yet Harris, armed with a low-90s fastball and knockout curveball, might have a future. For one, he is a Texan. For another, he caught the eye of Kevin Towers—the king of building cheap bullpens. Towers probably sees in Harris the potential to become a middle reliever. Getting him away from Coors Field is a good step toward realizing that upside. 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired C-R Ramon Hernandez from the Rockies for RHP Aaron Harang and cash considerations. [4/6]

Sometimes old catchers fall apart without warning. Hernandez did in 2012 despite playing ball in the friendliest offensive environment in the league. He dealt with a fair share of injuries, too, make no mistake. It's just hard to figure if Hernandez's days as a productive player are extinct or merely endangered. The Dodgers didn't need Harang any more than the money they're spending here. Best-case: Hernandez is better than Tim Federowicz; worst-case: Hernandez is forgotten by June.

For Colorado this is about cash. They'll save money by adding Harang, even though they intend to trade or release him in the coming days. 

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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