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June 28, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Marmol Gets a Free Pass

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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Placed C-R David Ross on the 60-day disabled list. [6/25]

Optioned 3B-R Will Middlebrooks to Triple-A Pawtucket. [6/25]

Purchased the contract of 4C-R Brandon Snyder from Triple-A Pawtucket. [6/25]

With Ross on the 60-day disabled list it's worth noting how rare it is for a catcher to miss time with concussion. Ross is one of the 10 catchers with multiple concussions over his career, according to our database, which dates back about a decade. Does that pass the smell test? Of course not. Catchers are hit with projectiles on a nightly basis—some twice within the same at-bat. To believe all those strikes have added up to as few concussions as are reported borders on naivety. Given the concussion revolution in football, don't be surprised if the way that backstops are examined following blows to the head becomes a bigger story in time.

Jose Iglesias takes jobs. He knocked Pedro Ciriaco off the roster a few weeks back, and now he's nudged Middlebrooks to the minors. In fairness it's not all Iglesias' doing, though he stands to benefit the most. Middlebrooks struggled with plate discipline throughout the season, and those issues drove the Red Sox to demote him with the hope that he can sharpen his eye under dimmer lights. Expect to see him return in due time. Meanwhile Snyder, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2005, has a golden opportunity to prove he belongs on a big-league bench. The causes for optimism stem from his ability to play each corner position, and to swing a league-average bat.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed RHP Maikel Cleto off waivers from the Cardinals. [6/23]

Designated LHP Francisley Bueno for assignment. [6/23]

Outrighted OF-L Quintin Berry to Triple-A Omaha. [6/25]

Cleto's greatest career achievement thus far is being known as the guy the Mariners traded for Brendan Ryan. Not quite Cooperstown stuff, but there's still hope Cleto could develop into a middle reliever. He throws hard, he just has no idea where the ball is going. If he could improve on his location and his slider he has a chance. In the interim the Royals' transaction cost for adding the chunky right-hander is bumping the 32-year-old Bueno from the 40-man roster.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Activated SS-S Jose Reyes from the 15-day disabled list. [6/26]

Optioned SS-L Munenori Kawasaki to Triple-A Buffalo. [6/26]

Placed RHP Ramon Ortiz on the 60-day disabled list. [6/26]

Recalled SS-L Munenori Kawasaki from Triple-A Buffalo. [6/27]

Reyes rejoined the Jays lineup on Wednesday, more than two months after spraining his ankle. His comeback, however welcomed, came with some contention. Not about Reyes, but rather about his replacement, Kawasaki. During Kawasaki's two-month stay in the majors, he ascended to mascot status; his antics and general acts of buffoonery served as a galvanizing agent for a struggling team. Since the Jays employ an eight-man bullpen, the argument went, then they could sacrifice an arm to keep the team's heart. The Jays decided to risk it, and optioned Kawasaki to the minors.

There is undeniable, if unquantifiable, value in having a player like Kawasaki around. At the same time the Jays' thought process is understandable, if unknown. Ignoring the logistics of the situation, consider these two factors. One: No matter how loose Kawasaki keeps the clubhouse, he remains a poor player. Two: The Jays are close to getting Brett Lawrie back, and when they do, they'll have multiple utility types on the bench. Added together this move becomes inevitable. The Jays did not sign Maicer Izturis or acquire Emilio Bonifacio during the offseason to dump either over three bad months instead of a player who, though delightful to be around, isn't particularly useful on the field.

Of course, the next injury is often just a day away, and so Kawasaki returns to fill Melky Cabrera's roster spot, for now.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Designated RHP Carlos Marmol for assignment. [6/25]

Purchased the contract of OF-L Brian Bogusevic from Triple-A Iowa. [6/25]

Released 3B-L Ian Stewart. [6/25]

There was a period of time not too long ago when Marmol was an elite reliever. Now the expectation is he will go unclaimed through waivers, because of his remaining salary (somewhere around $5 million), before being released. From there Marmol will find another opportunity. He might be as frustrating as any reliever in the league, but he still misses bats at a good enough rate to merit work. Here's the most interesting thing about Marmol nowadays: despite being a fastball-slider pitcher he's had a reverse platoon split for a few years running. Could a team try him as a right-handed left-handed specialist? Probably not. It's funner to think about than his downfall anyway.

Stewart's release comes on the heels of a late-night Twitter rant, which led to a two-week suspension. The irony in the whole mess is Stewart wanted his release because he felt boxed out from the big leagues with the Cubs. Yet by taking to social media to air his qualms it's possible Stewart poisoned the wells of 29 other teams. Maybe not, and a team will view this as a one-time public venting—the Cubs, after all, traded for and later re-signed Stewart—but he's at the point in his career where he's closer to organizational depth than impact player, and that means he cannot afford to make noise.

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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