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April 22, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Ending Bradley

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Activated DH-L David Ortiz from the 15-day disabled list. [4/19]

Optioned OF-L Jackie Bradley Jr. to Triple-A Pawtucket. [4/19]

Ortiz's return ends Bradley's first run in the majors. Things started well before turning sour. Pitchers exposed Bradley's greenhorn tendencies at the plate to the point where the Red Sox stashed the youngster on the bench. Bradley will return one day. In the interim let's end a common misconception: the Red Sox have not cost themselves a year of team control. Any optional assignment that lasts fewer than 20 days sees that time credited to the player's big-league service time. After that the Red Sox need to keep him down for another few weeks to gain back that extra year. He can return later in the summer without these three weeks having much in the way of long-term ramifications. 

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Purchased the contract of 3B-R Brandon Laird from Triple-A Oklahoma City. [4/18]

Optioned 1B-L Brett Wallace to Triple-A Oklahoma City. [4/18]

Designated LHP Xavier Cedeno for assignment. [4/18]

Is Brett Wallace-for-Michael Taylor the worst prospect-for-prospect trade in league history? Wallace heads to the minors after striking out in 17 of 26 plate appearances this season. His contact rate stands at 51 percent, which is to say he had about a coin flip's odds of making contact on any given swing. Laird may not change tides for the Astros, but Wallace needed to get out of the majors for his own sake.

Cedeno is your stereotypical crafty southpaw. He sits in the high-80s with his fastball and doesn't have anything menacing in his arsenal. Yet he gets by with location and deception. Watch any given outing, or say this clip, and keep an eye on Cedeno's arm slot. See how he dropped it against Bryce Harper? It's just one of the tricks in his book. Given his history of success, however limited, versus same-handed batters, don't be surprised if Cedeno latches onto another roster. 

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired LHP Jeff Beliveau from the Rangers for cash considerations. [4/16]

The Rangers and Rays have made three minor trades over the past two weeks. The one sending Beliveau to St. Pete is the latest. Originally drafted by the Cubs, Beliveau throws in the upper-80s to low-90s. He's got a changeup, breaking ball, and closed delivery that creates a tough angle on left-handed hitters. It's not hard to envision Beliveau spending some time in a big-league bullpen as a secondary lefty. For the time being he'll toil in Triple-A.

TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed LHP Charles Leesman off release waivers from the White Sox. [4/19]

Leesman is a fleshy southpaw who works off a sinker-changeup and controls the running game. You might be asking yourself, how is this guy not a Twin? The answer is that he didn't sign when they drafted him out of high school. Leesman's control issues limit his upside to back-end starter. Texas presumably wants him for depth purposes. Leesman has a few more days to decide whether he'd rather become a free agent. 

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed OF-L Julio Borbon off waivers from the Rangers. [4/19]

Designated UTL-R Alberto Gonzalez for assignment. [4/19]

Claimed UTL-R Cody Ransom off waivers from the Padres. [4/16]

In 2010 Borbon was a regular for the Rangers, recording nearly 500 plate appearances with the big-league club. Last season, despite being healthy and on the 40-man roster, Borbon spent the entire season in Triple-A. Clearly something was up. Whatever it was didn't stop the Rangers from shopping Borbon around this season, nor did it stop the Cubs from adding him off waivers. Borbon has some baseball skills—namely good speed and some bat-to-ball abilities—that are undercut by noticeable weaknesses—a poor arm and lack of secondary skills. He'll work fine as a cheap fourth or fifth outfielder.

Ransom is 37 years old and now on MLB team number eight. The story is the same as it's always been: solid pop, okay glove, and not enough of anything else to stick around the majors for long. 

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated RHP John Maine for assignment. [4/19]

Recalled RHP Tom Koehler from Triple-A New Orleans. [4/19]

Injuries might be the worst part of baseball. Maine, having dealt with a fair share of his own, made it back to the majors. He made it back and appeared in four games for the Fish. The results were poor because Maine lived up in the zone too much for a pitcher of his stuff. You figure the Marlins might recall him later in the yeart. Until then his final big-league appearance saw him walk five and allow six runs over two innings of work. It's still a win for Maine because it includes a 2013 date.

Koehler is another underdog story. The Stony Brook product—only Joe Nathan can claim that and a big-league job—debuted last season and allowed four home runs in 13 1/3 innings. Koehler's fastball does sit around the mid-90s, but he's not known for having good raw stuff; nor is he known for his control or groundball rates. Expect Koehler to mop up messes. 

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Francisco Rodriguez to a minor-league deal. [4/17]

Once the hot young bullpen thing, now an afterthought. Rodriguez's September arrest for domestic abuse served as the capstone for the worst season of his career. Still, there's reason to think Rodriguez can hold down a middle-relief job. He doesn't throw as hard as he used to, and his trademark slider is a thing of the past. The Brewers know this Rodriguez better than any other team. If they feel comfortable with the details of the arrest and his remaining stuff then it's an okay low-risk move. At most they'll be paying $2 million to a once-prestigious closer who can't cut it anymore.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Placed LHP Jeremy Affeldt on the 15-day disabled list. [4/17]

Recalled RHP Jean Machi from Triple-A Fresno. [4/17]

Affeldt is dealing with a strained oblique. In his place—and some—is Machi. The native Venezuelan began his pro career in 2002, pitching for the Phillies as a 20-year-old. He bounced around the minors, pitching for the Rays, Blue Jays, and Pirates, and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2009. He went to Mexico for most of 2011 before the Giants signed him. Last season San Francisco brought him to the majors in September. Machi throws harder than you might anticipate—closer to the mid-90s than low-90s—yet he's not good enough to be an entrenched middle reliever on a good team. 

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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