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May 31, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Ack to the Minors

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled 3B-R Alex Liddi from Triple-A Tacoma. [5/29]

Optioned RHP Brandon Maurer to Triple-A Tacoma. [5/29]

Purchased the contract of 2B-S Nick Franklin from Triple-A Tacoma. [5/27]

Recalled RHP Hector Noesi from Triple-A Tacoma. [5/27]

Optioned 2B-L Dustin Ackley and LHP Lucas Luetge to Triple-A Tacoma. [5/27]

There's no way to describe Ackley's career-to-date without using the word disappointing. The former no. 2 pick accumulated more than 800 poor plate appearances before the M's demoted him. Whatever the reasons for Ackley's struggles—be it passiveness, a poor swing, a combination thereof—the M's need him to figure things out, and it doesn't appear that was going to happen in the majors. Instead Ackley will work on things away from the bright lights. It can't hurt.

Likewise for Maurer. Seattle skipped the big righty from Double-A to the majors this spring. They gave him 10 starts and he recorded quality starts in four of them. Maurer's issues with command and sequencing were no surprise: Jason Parks highlighted both issues during the offseason. Expect to see Maurer again sometime in the near future; he still has a chance at becoming a no. 3 or 4 starter.

As for the new guys, Mark Anderson covered the bat-first Franklin already. Noesi used to have a similar projection as Maurer, though he struggled last season to put away hitters and might only be a reliever. Liddi can put a charge into the ball. He can't, however, command the strike zone or put the bat on the ball enough to be useful—evidenced by his 34 percent strikeout rate in Triple-A. 

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled RHP Alex Colome from Triple-A Durham. [5/29]

Optioned RHP Jake Odorizzi to Triple-A Durham. [5/28]

Odorizzi started two games for the Rays, including an inefficient four-inning outing against the Marlins. He pitched as advertised: some good, some bad. For now he'll return to the minors and work on the sales pitch. Colome takes Odorizzi's place. The original plan had him in the bullpen, but Alex Cobb needed a few extra days off due to a fingernail issue. Many have earmarked Colome for the bullpen because of the difference in quality between his stuff and command. Mark Anderson covered his issues in more depth. 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated 1B-R Clint Robinson and RHP Ramon Ortiz for assignment. [5/29]

Recalled RHP Todd Redmond from Triple-A Buffalo. [5/29]

Selected the contract of LHP Juan Perez and RHP Neil Wagner from Triple-A Buffalo. [5/29]

Optioned RHP Thad Weber to Triple-A Buffalo. [5/29]

Placed 3B-R Brett Lawrie on the 15-day disabled list. [5/29]

Plenty of movement but little significance. Redmond is an upgrade over Ramon Ortiz, who had no business being in the majors. Perez is a hard-throwing southpaw. Wagner is a hard-throwing northpaw. It's doubtful the Jays lose Robinson. He had a Quad-A tag attached to him before this spring, when the Jays optioned him down to Double-A. Even if they do, it's not like they'll miss him. 

ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Promoted LHP Alex Wood from Double-A Mississippi. [5/30]

Designated 3B-L Juan Francisco for assignment. [5/30]

Wood's promotion to the majors comes less than a year after he signed his first professional contract. Still, it's not as surprising as it sounds. The Braves could use another southpaw in their bullpen after losing Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery. Wood fits the bill. Moving him to the bullpen after 11 months seems hasty, but many projected him there anyway. That's what happens when a pitcher combines unorthodox mechanics—complete with deception, effort, and a backward hop upon completion—and a shallow, albeit quality arsenal—consisting of a plus fastball and plus changeup. 

Don't worry about Francisco; he's likely to find a new home soon. He's only a platoon player, with glaring weaknesses against left-handed pitchers, but the ability to hit for some power and play third base makes him a worthwhile one. Factor in Francisco's age—he turns 26 at the end of June—and it's possible some non-competitive teams inquire along with the usual contending suspects.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Placed 3B-R Michael Young on the bereavement list. [5/29]

Recalled 2B-S Cesar Hernandez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. [5/29]

The idea of Hernandez succeeding Chase Utley is less preposterous now than it was a few months ago. Hernandez is a small Venezuelan with a good hit tool. Problem is that hit tool is the long and short of his offensive skill set, which leads to translatability issues. Can Hernandez burn big-league pitchers enough to fend off a hearty helping of strikes? He doesn't much in the way of power, so it'll come down to his batting average. A good one makes him a passable option at the keystone. A less-good one makes him an extra.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Activated C-S Yasmani Grandal from the restricted list. [5/28]

Optioned C-L John Baker to Triple-A Tucson. [5/28]

Remember when Nick Hundley tore into Grandal? Unfortunately for Hundley, any hopes he had of keeping the starting job vanished with a poor May. Not that San Diego was likely to bench the young and talented Grandal anyway. Given the typically dry catcher's market, one has to wonder what San Diego could fetch for Hundley, who has shown in the past he's a capable backstop. The past year-plus didn't help his value, but all it takes is one team to believe in his offensive ability outside of Petco. Until then Hundley will have to play nice. 

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

Related Content:  Dustin Ackley,  Alex Liddi,  Nick Franklin

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