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February 14, 1999

Transaction Analysis

February 6-12

by Christina Kahrl

BOSTON RED SOX

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP John Wasdin, avoiding arbitration; extended the player development contracts of Pawtucket (Triple-A) and Lowell (A) through 2002. [2/11]

Wasdin seems to have got caught up in the rush to avoid salary arbitration after the owners' early winning streak. He'll continue in the role the Sox need him for - spot starter and long relief. With the rotation saddled with injury-prone starters like Portugal and Saberhagen, and pitchers of dubious value like Portugal and Rapp, Wasdin will almost certainly get a few starts.

CHICAGO CUBS

Signed C/UT Danny Sheaffer to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/9]

Great, the Cubs now have two catchers who can boot the ball around at third if asked. They could even platoon Sheaffer and Tyler Houston in a Jamie Quirk, "don't do much well, but do it all over" unique sort of role. Sandy Martinez may have reason to be afraid for his major league future.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Traded RHP John Ambrose to the Cardinals for RHP Sean Lowe. [2/9]

A steal for the Sox, in that Lowe may actually have some value at the major league level as a middle reliever, while Ambrose has none.

CINCINNATI REDS

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with OF Michael Tucker, avoiding arbitration. [2/9]

Now that Greg Vaughn's aboard, Tucker may get asked to do things that aren't in his long-term interest: play a good amount of center field if Mike Cameron doesn't get straightened out, or sit on the bench if the Reds prefer playing Dmitri Young or Jeffrey Hammonds in right. Don't be surprised if the Reds work out a trade by the end of spring training. Any team that's listening to the Pirates offer Al Martin around could do themselves a better turn by asking after Tucker.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Signed RHP Mike DeJean to a three-year contract. [2/9]

There's a sort of "same old, same old" quality to mentioning that if there's something the Rox have done well so far, it's finding, developing, and using quality relievers. Whether or not that changes under Leyland remains to be seen.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Agreed to terms with SS Ricky Gutierrez on a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. [2/9]

We tend to sing the Astros' praises early and often in these parts, so I'll point out that Gutierrez ought to be the sort of player you don't offer arbitration to, assuming you want to take league-wide poor-mouthing seriously (my advice: don't). He isn't a brilliant defensive player, and there are a healthy number of people with better offensive skills stranded in other organizations, Triple-A rosters, or even New Orleans if you're Russ Johnson. For all intents and purposes, he's just holding the job for the next year or two pending the arrival of Julio Lugo, and in the meantime, Gutierrez won't be either a major asset or a problem.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Hired Paul Molitor as a color man for games on the Midwest Sports Channel. [2/11]

Nothing against Molitor, but I'm not a big fan of the continuing expansion of the jockocracy in the booth. It isn't like Molly is going to come clean and say "Ron Coomer probably shouldn't play every day" or "It's a good thing we got Otis Nixon out of here."

MONTREAL EXPOS

Signed RHP Jose Bautista to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI; invited RHP Christian Parker, LHP Matt Blank and INF Geoff Blum to spring training. [2/12]

Blank is the closest thing to a prospect on this list, having led the Expos' minors in wins (and, unfortunately, IP), but he's a lefty soft-tosser. Bautista is a great candidate to resurrect his career with the benefit of working with Felipe Alou. Parker got knocked around at Harrisburg more than his ERA indicates (17 unearned runs), so I don't expect much from him. Blum is... an organizational soldier, and possibly better than Mike Mordecai.

NEW YORK METS

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP Turk Wendell, avoiding arbitration. [2/10]

I've always had a soft spot in my head/heart for Turk; the only thing I have to note here is that I'd watch really closely to see that Bobby Valentine doesn't keep using him every day entering this year as he did finishing last year. Between what Valentine did to Turk in September, and with Jim Riggleman yakking away about how he thinks Terry Mulholland could pitch every day if asked, I'm beginning to wonder if some managers have learned anything over the course of their careers regarding pitchers, arms, and injuries.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Named J.P. Ricciardi director of player personnel; promoted Dave Seifert to assistant GM. [2/10]

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with PH Kevin Jordan, avoiding arbitration. [2/8]

The man who should have had Mark Lewis' job last year gets a nifty little reward and potentially a shot at some platoon work at second with Marlon Anderson.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Traded RHP Sean Lowe to the White Sox for RHP John Ambrose. [2/9]

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with SS Edgar Renteria, avoiding arbitration. [2/12]

Ambrose probably fulfills LaRussa's tall-tosser goofball Mark Acre fetish, since the original article is in Japan. Who doesn't need a power forward for those off-field pickup basketball games? Cutting to the point: the Cardinals pick up a non-prospect for no obviously good reason.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Gave Singer Garth Brooks a NRI to spring training. [2/12]

Wasting time on a celebrity roster spot? Wow, we haven't seen this since Michael Jordan (okay, maybe Joe Carter). A classic move in the great tradition of the franchise that gave us Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem. Coming up next: letting the San Diego Chicken manage.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with DH Butch Huskey, avoiding arbitration. [2/11]

Another signing in the wake of the owner's arbitration victories. Now that Jay Buhner is making noises about trying to play left before he heals up, Huskey will move to right, and probably fight for playing time with John Mabry. Both of them are even worse at third than Russ Davis, but I think it's safe to guess that Piniella will let them both kick around a few balls there as part of his program to demonize Davis.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with OF Quinton McCracken, avoiding arbitration. [2/8]

QMcC is part of a team-wide offensive problem, not the solution. What's more interesting is what the whole episode of negotiations leading up to this signing says about Devil Rays' management. McCracken's agent stated he was more than happy to meet the Rays halfway between the two arbitration offers, and the Rays spent a few weeks stonewalling and sabre-rattling before agreeing to exactly those terms. I don't know what boardroom warrior ethic motivated them to snub McCracken first before giving in, but I don't see this as a good example of a new and improved sensibility in player-management relations.

TEXAS RANGERS

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP Aaron Sele, avoiding arbitration. [2/8]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed DH Cecil Fielder to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/8]

Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with 1B Carlos Delgado, avoiding arbitration; released OF Patrick Lennon. [2/12]

My first instinct about any signing involving Cecil-san is to be really savage, since baseball's latter-day Tub of Goo is a waste of a roster spot. On the good side, neither the money or a roster spot is guaranteed. Unfortunately, we're talking about the organization that wasted a few years' worth of roster time on Juan Samuel, and Fielder would give the team yet another excuse to avoid keeping Tom Evans around (as if his injury travails weren't already enough of a problem), which would let Willie Greene concentrate on playing third while Fielder chews up outs in the DH slot.

As for Pat Lennon, I guess I'm tuckered out on writing "Poor Pat Lennon" bits in this space. Once upon a time, the man earned the opportunity to play, and never got it as teams wasted service and playing time on the Fielders or Samuels or Ruben Sierras of the world. There are few better demonstrations that getting a shot at the majors isn't just about merit.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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