November 17, 1997
Exercised the option on RHP Ken Hill, who declined and is now a free agent. [11/7]
The Angels are supposed to be livid about this, because they claim they would not have traded Matt Perisho to the Rangers had they known this was going to happen. Since the Perisho-Mike Bell deal wasn't a good move in the first place, that's a pretty lame plea to cop. Nevertheless, the bridge isn't burnt, and the Angels may re-sign him.
Acquired RHP Felix Rodriguez from Cincinnati for a PTBNL. [11/11]
Rodriguez is a converted catcher with the cachet of once being mentioned on the Dodgers' top ten prospect lists. While the Reds used him in relief, he has started in the past. He's still mastering pitching, but he's extremely hard to beat when he isn't killing himself with his wildness.
Named Ray Miller manager. [11/11]
Miller's acumen as a pitching coach is highly regarded, but there's a very real question about how well he'll design a roster: he is, after all, the man who gave us Steve Lombardozzi. However, he did not lose hitting coach Rick Down, the loser in the choice for who would replace Davey Johnson, and Down's input may steer him through those kinds of decisions. Nevertheless, Davey Johnson may not have bailed out too soon: the Orioles are an old team with a weak farm system, and a disappointment in '98 already seemed likely.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Acquired LHP Doug Creek from San Francisco for cash. [11/7]
Creek is the last part of the bounty from the "white flag" trade of July 31, contingent on the Giants making the playoffs. Pitching as a starter in the PCL, Creek whiffed 137 men in 129.2 innings while giving up 140 hits and 66 walks. He was, in turn, one of the players traded to the Giants from the Cardinals for Royce Clayton. In terms of his competition among Sox LH starters, he's unlikely to press pass Mike Sirotka or Scott Eyre, is probably even with Tom Fordham if Fordham has continuing problems with tendinitis, and is well ahead of Mike Bertotti. If he's still a Sock after the expansion and Rule V drafts, he'll make a dandy starter for Calgary.
Traded RHP Jeff Brantley to the Cardinals for 1B Dmitri Young. [11/10]
Traded RHP Donne Wall and C Paul Bako to Detroit for OF Mel Nieves; traded RHP Felix Rodriguez to Arizona and CF Mike Kelly to Tampa Bay for PsTBNL. [11/11]
Taking a credo of "do more with less" to heart, Jim Bowden has made an outstanding group of pickups, without even knowing ahead of time what he's gotten from the expansion teams in exchange for party favors. That he managed to turn a waiver-wire pitcher and a fourth catcher into a corner OF with pop was outstanding, while the salary dump of Brantley yielded a potential All-Star in Young, while not damaging a Reds pen already fortified by Shaw, Sullivan, and Belinda.
Exercised their option on RHP Chuck Nagy for 1998. [11/7]
Signed LHP Paul Assenmacher to a two-year contract. [11/12]
John Hart seems to have basically told Assenmacher that they'd make it worth his while to wait after refusing to pick up their initial option for '98. Now he doesn't have to be protected, because he's exempt from the draft.
Announced that SS Walt Weiss has declined to exercise his option for '98, making him a free agent. [11/10]
Weiss has already come out and said that he'll most likely come back to Rox to play second, but he was interested in what offers could come his way through free agency.
Acquired C Paul Bako and RHP Donne Wall from Cincinnati for OF Mel Nieves. [11/11]
I can understand losing patience with Nieves: undisciplined swinger, and frequently accused of bad defensive work. But Bako and a guy you could have claimed off of waivers yourself a month ago? And I like Donne Wall, as much as somebody should...
Traded OF Moises Alou to Houston for RHPs Oscar Henriquez and Manuel Barrios and a PTBNL. [11/11]
A brilliant salary dump by the Marlins, while acquiring two pitchers who will make it that much easier for them to turn around and trade Robb Nen. Henriquez is still probably a long-term risk, because myasthenia gravis doesn't disappear, and the medication is supposed to be debilitating after extensive use, but his fastball is one of the best in the game, both in terms of velocity and movement. Barrios is simply a very good reliever.
Acquired OF Moises Alou from Florida for RHPs Oscar Henriquez and Manuel Barrios and a PTBNL. [11/11]
If the Astros get stuck with Alou for the life of his deal (through 2001), they'll regret it. Although the team still wants to move Derek Bell, if they don't, they'll have to stick with Alou in left and Bell in right for the next two years. At that point, their '97 first rounder, Lance Berkman, should be ready to take over left. That still leaves them with Alou, but the Astros' entire system is thin on outfielders, so they may have to play him beyond '99.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Traded LHP Kenny Rogers to Oakland for a PTBNL. [11/7]
Traded 3B Charlie Hayes and cash to San Francisco to for OF Chris Singleton and LHP Alberto Castillo. [11/11]
The Yankees are doing a fine job of removing potential targets of the expansion draft off of their roster, although to be fair, the Rogers trade buys them a protection spot (for Mike Lowell if you're positive, or Hideki Irabu if you're cranky). Losing Charlie Hayes will hurt them even less than it did the first time, but that's just because Hayes is the ultimate replaceable commodity: no team has ever lost him and suffered for it.
Acquired LHP Kenny Rogers from the Yankees for a PTBNL. [11/7]
Signed 1B/3B Dave Magadan to a one-year contract. [11/12]
It may say something about my shell-shocked state as an A's fan that I'm very happy that the team has picked up the Gamblin' Man for Scott Brosius (the PTBNL), because the potential up-side is that Rogers will be Ed Whitson II, thriving far from an explosive owner or a hostile manager. The downside is that the deal consumes two protection slots on the roster for the purposes of the expansion draft, and for a team with a farm system as bountiful as theirs, that could hurt. The A's like the idea of having Magadan around as the established clubhouse pro, and there are worse alternatives to have as a spot starter at either infield corner or for pinch-hitting duty.
Signed RHP Francisco Cordova to a three-year contract with a club option for 2001. [11/7]
After bad ideas like the Fernando Vina multi-year contract, its good to see that the quintessential "small market" team is signing the right type of player to the multi-year deal. When the time comes to exercise the option, Cordova will have never had to go through arbitration, and will be about to turn 29. If he's still healthy then, the Pirates can pat themselves on the back for reaping the reward of a intelligent and justifiable expense.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Traded 1B Dmitri Young to Cincinnati for RHP Jeff Brantley. [11/10]
If it weren't for all of the pitching they have in the system, comparisons to the A's after '92 might be appropriate. Jeff Brantley is damaged goods, and any kind of move made to acquire "closer mystique" is usually a bad expense, but to top it off, the Cardinals have no one to adequately fill in for any one of the injury-prone McGwire, Jordan, or Gant. As things stood, they were already an old team, but if one of their vets go down, they can now look forward to what? Scarborough nee Bert Green? Kerry Robinson?
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Signed OFs Derrek Lee and Charlie Poe, C Creighton Gubanich, RHPs Carlos Reyes, Mike Rossiter, Archie Corbin, Bryan Wolff, Kevin Lomon, and Scott Davison. [11/7]
Signed C Carlos Hernandez to a one-year contract. [11/12]
A good crop of minor league free agent signings, which seems to be Kevin Towers' modus operandi. Gubanich should probably be the Pads' starting catcher right now, with Hernandez as his caddy. You probably remember Charlie Poe as the man Michael Jordan forced to stay in A-ball for another year while he sold tickets in Birmingham.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Acquired 3B Charlie Hayes from the Yankees for LHP Alberto Castillo and OF Chris Singleton. [11/11]
O woe. Hayes has long passed into that fuzzy area of near uselessness (for his salary), and Brian Sabean is ecstatic about the possibility of having an underpowered and dubious defender share time at the hot corner with Bill Mueller. Take heed: the hangover of the Giants' '97 season will be long and grisly, sort of like waking up with Dennis Rodman or Sally Kellerman. Or both.
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Named Larry Rothschild manager. [11/7]
Acquired CF Mike Kelly from Cincinnati for a PTBNL. [11/11]
Selecting Rothschild is another example of the increasing importance organizations place on a manager's ability to handle pitching, although most people are giving Rothschild plenty of credit for his knowledge of how offenses work. We'll have to wait and see. Chuck LaMar probably couldn't resist the opportunity to grab someone he'd helped to develop in the Braves' organization, and Kelly has his strengths... as a fourth or fifth OF that can pound a lefty, pinch-run, or play the field.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Signed RHP Luis Andujar to a minor league contract, and invited him to spring training. [11/11]
The Jays took Andujar off of the 40-man roster after the season. He's been hurt three of the last four years, so his star has fallen pretty far from his banner year in Birmingham in '95.