November 11, 1998
October 6-November 11
Exercised their option on RHP Troy Percival and agreed upon an additional option for 2002. [10/19]
Named Dick Pole pitching coach. [11/7]
Percival remains one of the best closers in the game, and the Angels aren't going to have to worry about him until 2002.
Exercised their options on LHP Brian Anderson and RHP Gregg Olson for 1999. [10/23]
Traded LHP Alan Embree to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Dante Powell. [11/10]
It looks like the D-Backs may be dropping out of the Bernie Williams race by trading for Powell, who has a full toolbox but hasn't put it together with the bat. Embree is a useful lefty, and trading him for the underwhelming Powell wasn't a particularly good move.
Exercised their option on outfielder Gerald Williams for 1999. [10/23]
Named Don Baylor hitting coach and Glenn Hubbard first base coach. [11/2]
Traded LHP Denny Neagle, RHP Rob Bell, and outfielder Michael Tucker to the Cincinnati Reds for RHP Mike Remlinger and second baseman Bret Boone. [11/10]
Schuerholz strikes again, dealing his number one bargaining chip for a guy who has been one of the worst second basemen in the league two out of the previous three years. Boone had something of a revival in 1998, but he should be regarded as guilty-until-proven-innocent property at this point, due to his absolutely terrible play in 1996 and 1997. Instead, the Braves move one of the best lefties in the league for him. Granted, they don't actually need Neagle all that much--and could they be clearing space out for Kevin Brown? Talk about overkill--but this doesn't look like effective maximization of return for dealing him.
Remlinger still has lots of potential, but while he strikes people out, he has yet to be really effective. What do the Reds need Michael Tucker for? Expect Reggie Sanders to be playing somewhere else in 1999, and Jon Nunnally to not be very happy with this deal. The minor-leaguer is Rob Bell, who struck out 197 in A ball this season.
Don Baylor replaces Clarence Jones, Braves hitting coach since 1990, who was the sacrificial lamb for this year's punchless LCS against the Padres.
BOSTON RED SOX
Exercised their option on RHP Jim Corsi for 1999. [10/22]
Resigned outfielder Darren Lewis to a three-year $7M contract. [11/6]
Jim Corsi was part of the surprisingly strong Red Sox bullpen this season. He's 36, but he's a ground ball pitcher, which is nice in Fenway Park. He should get plenty of work next year.
Good heavens. That's a lot of kesh to pay a defensive sub. Darren Lewis played his best baseball in 1998, and his timing is impeccable. It looks like the Sox aren't saving their money to break the bank for Mo Vaughn.
Resigned RHP Rod Beck to a two-year $9.5M contract with club option for 2001. [11/2]
Traded RHP Scott Downs to the Minnesota Twins as the PTBNL in the Mike Morgan trade. Named Ryne Sandberg roving instructor. [11/3]
Extended the contract of manager Jim Riggleman through 2000. [11/4]
Resigned LHP Terry Mulholland to a two-year $5.9M contract. [11/5]
The bountiful returns for this year's feel-good playoff run begin. Mulholland was a nice pickup; once pitching for his career, he turned in an excellent season in 1998, pitching well all year both from the pen and as an emergency starter. Meanwhile, Rod Beck saved 48 and finished strong. He'll anchor the bullpen again in 1999. Jim Riggleman gets his share of the booty; hopefully he'll forgive Brant Brown by the start of spring training.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of first baseman Wil Cordero. [11/3]
This time, it wasn't because he hits his wife; it was because he sucked. It wasn't all that long ago that Cordero was one of the hottest prospects in baseball, but his not being able to handle a middle infield spot has really limited his usefulness.
Extended the contract of general manager Jim Bowden through 2003. [10/8]
Offered arbitration to RHP Jason Bere. Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of outfielder Melvin Nieves. [11/5]
Traded RHP Mike Remlinger and second baseman Bret Boone to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Denny Neagle, RHP Rob Bell, and outfielder Michael Tucker. [11/10]
Bowden has a great track record overall. He gets the best of the trade in almost every move he makes, though he doesn't seem to have a defining agenda for the team, so he winds up with about eight DH/1B prospects and nobody to play third. Hopefully, the length of the contract will give him some wiggle as far as targeting his rebuilding goes.
The Neagle trade netted the Reds an instant ace; if there's a downside, it's that Pokey Reese is almost assured of a starting spot in the infield next year, either at second or third, due to Jack McKeon's proclivity for playing him at all costs.
Resigned RHP Jaret Wright to a four-year contract with a club option for 2003. [10/15]
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 options on the contracts of RHP Doug Jones and second baseman Joey Cora. Exercised their options on RHP Steve Reed for 1999 and shortstop Omar Vizquel for 2002. [10/20]
Named Phil Regan pitching coach. [10/27]
Extended the contact of RHP Dave Burba through 2001. [11/6]
Despite his troubles this year, Jaret Wright is one of the best young starters in baseball, and it was a fine move by the Indians to lock him up now. Dave Burba will be back as well; for some reason, he was relegated to the bullpen in the playoffs, but he's really one of their better starters and his new contract should ensure that he stays in the rotation next season. Keeping Reed was never really a question, despite his less than stellar numbers with the Indians. He remains one of the best relievers in the game, and a whole lot better than Jose Mesa.
Picking up Vizquel's 2002 option seems just a bit excessive, but the Cleveland organization has always liked Omar better than I have, and he did have another fine season.
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of catcher Kirt Manwaring. [10/26]
Acquired outfielder Kevin Burford from the San Diego Padres as the PTBNL in the John VanderWal trade. [10/29]
Purchased the contract of LHP Roberto Ramirez from the San Diego Padres. [10/29]
Resigned infielder Kurt Abbott to a one-year $800K contract. [11/5]
Signed infielder-outfielder Lenny Harris to a two-year contract. Resigned outfielder Darryl Hamilton to a three-year $10.5M contact. [11/6]
Signed LHP Brian Bohanon to a three-year $9M contract. [11/8]
The Rockies have been quick to assemble some guys for Jim Leyland to work with, and the results have been inconsistent. It was a no-brainer to ditch Manwaring, but of course it was a mistake to sign the guy in the first place. Kurt Abbott and Lenny Harris are pickups that a team preoccupied with utility players would make, so of course it doesn't make sense for a team that plays on Planet Coors. Hamilton had nice trial run after being acquired from the Giants towards the end of the season, batting .335/.406/.469 in 194 AB. He's probably a better fit for the team than Ellis Burks, since he's a fine flycatcher; if he can keep getting on base like he did this year, he'll be everything Mike Lansing was supposed to be.
Bohanon had a fine season in Los Angeles and New York, successfully making the transition to regular starter. Unfortunately, he's 29 and moving from a great pitcher's park to a great hitter's park. With luck, he'll be Jeff Fassero, but the Rockies haven't had a whole lot of luck with free agent pitcher pickups.
In less important news, the set-to the Padres and Rockies had over Roberto Ramirez last season was completely ridiculous. Being a star in the Mexican League isn't a good causal relationship with success in the bigs, as the Padres found when Ramirez was hit hard as their new lefty out of the pen this season. Some teams just have way too much time on their hands.
Named Larry Parrish manager and signed him to a two-year contract with club option for 2001. [10/15]
Signed third baseman Dean Palmer to a five-year, $35M contract. [11/11]
Parrish beats the odds and removes the "interim" from his title. He'll have a third baseman next year, though Palmer is horribly expensive for his skill set. Sure, he's bested a .500 SLG three times in his career, but a guy who gets on base like Palmer does isn't worth near seven million a year unless he's Ozzie Smith defensively--which Palmer isn't. This isn't the kind of signing Randy Smith needs to make to turn the Tigers into a reliable contender.
Speaking of Smith, ouch--Ken Caminiti spurns Los Tigres' three year, $21M contract offer, saying he'd play for less than half as much in Houston? Good grief,that had to hurt.
Extended the contracts of general manager Gerry Hunsicker and manager Larry Dierker through 2000. [10/15]
Restructured the contract of outfielder Moises Alou. [11/5]
The Astros will hold on to Alou, who had a legitimately great season after a good 1997. He's another signing from the Marlins big spending spree who, improbably, has actually been worth the money thus far.
Hunsicker and Dierker are rewarded for the team's memorable 1998 with some additional job security. Now, if Hunsicker can just land Randy Johnson...
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Named Mark Wiley pitching coach and Lamar Johnson hitting coach. [11/3]
Now the team is all set to go out and build on last year's encouraging finish. Or something.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Named Davey Johnson manager. [10/23]
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 options on the contracts of RHP Ramon Martinez and outfielder Jim Eisenreich. [10/26]
Announced the resignation of chairman of the board Peter O'Malley. [10/29]
Named Mike Scioscia manager of the team's Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate. [11/2]
Restructured the contract of Jeff Shaw, adding a club option for 2002. Signed infielder Tripp Cromer to a one-year contract. [11/4]
Signed outfielder Devon White to a three-year $12.4M contract. [11/6]
General manager Kevin Malone didn't get his man with Felipe Alou re-upped with Montreal, so he settles for the booby prize--one of the best managers in major league history. Johnson can manage a major-league team effectively in his sleep. At his last stop in Baltimore, he took a good but not great squad to the LCS both years he was in charge. The first guy out of town after this will likely be Bobby Bonilla, who didn't get along with Johnson when the two were on the Orioles. That brings up the only real question about Johnson: can he manage somewhere for more than a few seasons being run out of town? He hasn't done that in a while, so the Dodgers are grooming former catcher Mike Scioscia to take over in case something happens.
Shaw basically had the Dodgers over a barrel. His contract, signed when he was with Cincinnati, was to pay him $2.8M a year from 1999-2001. Unfortunately, Pastaman Lasorda didn't check baseball's collective bargaining agreement before trading prospect Paul Konerko for Shaw during the season; Shaw's seniority would have allowed him to demand a trade after the season. The result? The Dodgers are now paying him nearly double his previous contract over the duration of the contract, with a $7M club option added for 2002. Shaw's a good pitcher, but he's not nearly as attractive a player at that salary.
The Dodgers will likely be batting Young, White, Mondesi, and Karros all in the top five lineup spots next season. Man, is that going to be ugly. Obviously, the White signing trashes promising Roger Cedeno's career with the Dodgers, so expect him to get traded and outplay White every year for the rest of their respective careers.
Signed RHP David Weathers to a one-year contract. [10/30]
The Brew Crew didn't waste time--they beat the rush and locked up the back corner of their bullpen for next year. That's a relief.
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 options on the contracts of catcher Terry Steinbach and outfielder Otis Nixon. [10/23]
Resigned RHP Hector Carrasco and infielder Jon Shave. [10/29]
Named John Gibbons manager of the team's Triple-A Norfolk affiliate. [11/2]
Acquired RHP Scott Downs from the Chicago Cubs as the PTBNL in the Mike Morgan trade. [11/3]
The deadwood is slowing flaking away from this team. Nixon and Steinbach are about the two players this team needs least; local boy Steinbach was a disappointment coming off his 35 HR season in Oakland in 1996, but he's certainly still a useful player and may be resigned for a lower price. Every time I think Nixon's down, he experiences something of a rebound. He was OK this year, and didn't show any signs of slowing down, so he'll be useful to someone, but the Twins certainly don't need him.
Resigned manager Felipe Alou to a three-year contract. [10/11]
Alou resigns with the Expos, so apparently he's decided he can put up with developing players and then seeing them bolt once they achieve free agency.
NEW YORK METS
Resigned catcher Mike Piazza to a seven-year $91M contact. [10/26]
Resigned LHP Al Leiter to a four-year $32M contract. [10/28]
Announced general manager Steve Phillips is taking a leave of absence, and named Frank Cashen interim general manager. [11/8]
Big moves in the Big Apple. Piazza becomes the highest paid player in baseball, and elicits all kinds of weird quotes from Mets owner Fred Wilpon in the process ("The guy's a handsome guy", "He's an extremely attractive man."). Piazza is unquestionably one of the top three players in baseball, and was excellent down the stretch for the Mets. Whether it was a good idea to sign him for seven years is an open question, but it's also kind of irrelevant, since he was going to get that deal somewhere. Hopefully his knees hold up for most of the deal; obviously, he's much less useful at first base. A year after being the toast of New York, Todd Hundley is on his way out of town.
Al Leiter had a great year in New York, and was a nice signing. Meanwhile, the Steve Phillips brouhaha is just another situation in which it probably would have been smart to keep grabass out of the workplace. The Mets want to have the situation resolved one way or another by spring training, so Cashen might be the guy by then.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Exercised their option on catcher Joe Girardi for 1999. [10/31]
Resigned third baseman/playoff hero Scott Brosius to a three-year $17.5M contract. [11/6]
What's with this fascination with Joey G.? First you trade for the guy, and then you give him too large of a contract, and then you pick up his option after a year in which the younger, cheaper, vastly more talented Jorge Posada outperformed him in every way. Must be a New York thing. Needless to say, if Girardi gets any appreciable playing time next year, the front office isn't doing its job--and if he doesn't, the front office still isn't doing its job, since they're paying him starting catcher salary.
That Brosius deal looks pretty wacky, but if Palmer's worth $35M... Mike Lowell is going to have to find somewhere else to play. He's a good prospect, and if the Yanks get something useful for him they may be ahead in the game for this signing.
Resigned manager Art Howe to a one-year contract with a club option for 2000. [10/7]
Extended the contract of general manager Billy Beane through 2002. [11/3]
Beane gets an early reward for the Athletics having one of the most exciting young teams in baseball. Now that he's obligated to trade Kenny Rogers, he needs to find some pitching somewhere to compliment all the young bats.
Resigned infielder Alex Arias to a two-year contract. [10/19]
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of RHP Mark Portugal. Excercised their option on RHP Mark Leiter for 1999. [10/26]
Resigned outfielder Doug Glanville to a three-year $5.57M contract. [10/28]
Signed LHP Billy Brewer, RHP Joel Bennett, Steve Schrenk, Steve Montgomery, Chad Williams, catcher Alberto Castillo, infielder Torey Louvillo, and outfielder Lou Frazier to minor league contracts. Announced the retirement of outfielder Lenny Dykstra. [11/5]
Traded RHP Mark Leiter to the Seattle Mariners for LHP Paul Spoljaric. [11/9]
A busy month for the Phillies. They "locked up" their leadoff hitting centerfielder by resigning Glanville, another player whose press is far more impressive than anything he does on the field. He's a far cry from the glory days of "Nails" Dykstra, who finally decided to officially retire, now that he's sucked all the money he can out of his last contract.
Trading Leiter for Spoljaric was a nice deal. Spoljaric is a useful lefty who should prosper now that he's out of the clutches of Lou Piniella, and turning someone who was as ineffective as Mark Leiter was through most of his innings with the team into anything is a huge win.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Exercised their option on catcher-first baseman Jim Leyritz for 1999. [10/28]
Traded outfielder Kevin Burford to the Colorado Rockies as the PTBNL in the John VanderWal trade. Resigned first baseman Wally Joyner to a two-year $6.7M contract with option for 2001. [10/29]
Joyner "taking a pay cut" to resign with the Padres was a no-brainer, seeing as how the market for 36 year old slap hitting first basemen isn't exactly hopping. He's hit well his last two seasons after slumping through his years in Kansas City, and if the Padres would platoon him with someone who can hit lefties they'd be set at first base.
That platoon partner should probably be The King himself. Leyritz will be back in 1999, and he'll again see time at first and behind the plate, as well as being the club's top pinch hitter.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of pitcher Orel Hershiser. Exercised their options on RHP Julian Tavarez and third baseman Charlie Hayes for 1999. [10/21]
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of pitcher Osvaldo Fernandez. Excercised their option on first baseman J.T. Snow for 1999. [10/26]
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of shortstop Rey Sanchez. [11/3]
Resigned "ace" RHP Mark Gardner to a two-year $5M contract. [11/9]
Traded outfielder Dante Powell to the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Alan Embree. [11/10]
The Giants chose to let the ancient Orel Hershiser walk, though they might try to resign him at a lower price. Meanwhile, it must hurt to be calling a pitcher like Mark Gardner your ace, but he was given a new deal and might be the opening day starter in 1999, depending on what the Giants do from now on. J.T. Snow gets the nod despite his terrible season, so he'll be back at first base. Sanchez is gone, and that's a pretty good idea--he hit way over his head most of the season, and Rich Aurilia is ready for the job full-time.
Embree should compliment fellow lefty Rich Rodriguez nicely in the Giant pen and give Dusty more arms to work with, while Powell wasn't the answer the Giants needed in center. This was an uncharacteristically nice move by the Brain Sabean.
Traded LHP Paul Spoljaric to the Philadelphia Phillies for RHP Mark Leiter. [11/9]
Ugh. What's worse is that Seattle is planning on starting Leiter next year. Now, I can see Piniella's perspective on this, seeing as he can't deal with players under 30, but if a rotation with Leiter, Jamie Moyer, and Jeff Fassero in it isn't a ticking time bomb, I don't know what is. Like the rest of the Seattle pen, Spoljaric wilted this season, but he's young, not too expensive, and left handed, which are all qualities that Mark Leiter lacks. Did anyone check and see if Don Robinson was available before this trade was made?
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Exercised their option on third baseman Wade Boggs for 1999 and extended the option through 2000. [10/30]
Boggs can't hit anymore, but Bobby Smith probably isn't ready to take the third base job outright, the fans reportedly love Boggs, and it's not like the Devil Rays are going anywhere anyway, so this isn't bad as far as your what-the-heck moves go.
Signed outfielder Milt Cuyler to a minor-league contract. [10/23]
Exercised their option on outfielder Juan Gonzalez for 1999. [10/27]
Extended the contracts of manager Johnny Oates and general manager Doug Melvin through 2001. [11/6]
Word is the Rangers are about to spend some serious money this offseason, and both Oates and Melvin got a long-term vote of confidence from the team with their extensions. Melvin did an excellent job picking up players near the deadline for the Rangers; hopefully, he works the offseason market as deftly.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Announced the team will not exercise its 1999 option on the contract of catcher Benito Santiago. Excercised their option on infielder Tony Fernandez for 1999. [10/22]
Resigned infielder Craig Grebeck to a two-year contract. [10/27]
Named Dave Stewart assistant general manager. [11/3]
So Stewart goes from assistant GM at San Diego to pitching coach with the Padres to assistant GM with Toronto. Huh. I guess the Padres didn't want to let him have his old job back.
Grebeck is several years removed from the player who should have had Ozzie Guillen's job in Chicago. Now he's a punchless but reliable infielder (which could also be used to describe Alex Gonzalez). Tony Fernandez got the bulk of the playing time at second this year, and responded with an excellent season. He's a worthy gamble for 1999.