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June 6, 2014

Transaction Analysis

Dietrich Without the D

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled RHP Jose Ramirez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; optioned RHP Preston Claiborne to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; designated RHP Alfredo Aceves for assignment; claimed LHP Wade LeBlanc off waivers from the Angels. [6/4]

Have the Yankees built one of the lengthiest bullpens in the league by accident or design? You'd have to think design at this point. The additions of Ramirez and LeBlanc give Joe Girardi four relievers capable of tossing multiple innings on any given night. (The exceptions: David Robertson, Matt Thornton, and Matt Daley.) Girardi has been particularly aggressive with Adam Warren and Dellin Betances, with each recording four-plus outs in at least half their appearances. Given the decimated state of the Yankees' rotation, having a few more rubber arms than normal probably isn't a bad idea.

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned INF-S Nick Franklin to Triple-A Tacoma; recalled RHP Erasmo Ramirez from Triple-A Tacoma. [6/3]

The Franklin saga takes another turn. Unlike the last go, the Mariners used him exclusively in the middle infield. Alas, Franklin didn't hit any better: he fanned 15 times in 34 plate appearances, walked just once, and recorded four hits (all singles). Where can the Mariners go from here? Franklin hasn't done himself any favors, yet Jack Zduriencik should be hesitant to spin him off for the sake of change. At the same time, he may not have a choice if Franklin continues to perform poorly during his big-league stints. This is becoming an ugly situation.

So is the rotation. Ramirez got hit around in his first start since replacing Brandon Maurer, and Taijuan Walker didn't look much better in the minors. The Mariners are without the injured Blake Beavan and James Paxton, so they might get creative with the fifth spot in their rotation. One possibility, as noted by Bob Dutton, is to go to a bullpen game the next time Ramirez is scheduled to start. That's not a feasible long-term solution, however, so Zduriencik will have to figure out something else.

COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled C-R Michael McKenry and INF-L Ryan Wheeler from Triple-A Colorado Springs; designated C/1B/3B-R Jordan Pacheco for assignment; placed OF-L Carlos Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list (index finger inflammation). [6/4]

Remember when Pacheco hit .309 a few seasons back? His bat has disappointed since, leaving him without a marketable attribute. He is, in a sense, the new Tyler Houston; a player who can catch and man the infield corners (albeit not well). The comparison runs deeper than roles: both have identical OPS+ through their age-28 seasons (though Pacheco has time to improve on his). The encouraging news, should the comparison hold true, is that Houston's bat came to life over the subsequent four seasons. If Pacheco's is to do the same, he'll need a team to claim him off waivers.

MIAMI MARLINS
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Optioned 2B-L Derek Dietrich to Triple-A New Orleans; purchased the contract of 1B-L Justin Bour from Triple-A New Orleans; transferred RHP Carter Capps to the 60-day disabled list (elbow). [6/4]

The rare instance where a good bat is deemed not enough. Dietrich heads to the minors despite the league's third-highest True Average among second basemen. The reason? His defense. The Marlins want him to play daily, believing that to be the only way he can improve his glovework. Rafael Furcal's return meant consistent big-league reps would no longer be available to Dietrich, hence the demotion. (Whether Furcal deserves such deference anymore is another topic.) It is amusing that Dan Uggla's original club now prioritizes second-base defense, but this is different regime and an easy move to undo should Furcal falter or succumb to injury—even if the interim arrangement stinks for Dietrich.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled INF-L Jace Peterson from Triple-A El Paso; optioned RHP Jesse Hahn to Double-A San Antonio. [6/4]

Peterson's recall goes beyond giving the Padres an extra hand off the bench. Word has it Jedd Gyorko—whose early-season struggles have reached an uncomfortable point—could be on his way to the minors. Gyorko's demotion would allow him a mental break and the opportunity to tinker with his swing. Peterson, who has the chance to become more than a spare infielder, would fill in at second base. Obviously the Padres wish the circumstances were better, but at least they'll get a close-up view of another promising youngster.

Hahn, who came over in an offseason trade with Tampa Bay, debuted on Tuesday night. He showed a quality fastball and curveball, but struggled with his command, prompting a fourth-inning exit. Where Hahn pitches heading forward is unclear. If he remains in the rotation, he has the chance to become a no. 3 starter. Injuries have plagued him in the past, however, and his funky arm action—he stabs and has significant arm drag—prevents him from passing the mechanical eye test. San Diego is likely to let his body answer the role question. For now, he'll continue to work as a starter.

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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