July 15, 2014
The Man Who Would Replace Yadier
Recalled RHP Zach McAllister from Triple-A Columbus; optioned RHP Vinnie Pestano to Triple-A Columbus; outrighted RHP Mark Lowe to Triple-A Columbus; acquired LHP Nick Maronde from the Angels for cash considerations; transferred DH-L Jason Giambi to the 60-day disabled list (knee inflammation). [7/12]
The timing of Justin Masterson's trip to the DL just before the All-Star break allowed the Indians to manipulate their rotation. T.J. House was sent to the minors and McAllister, who hadn't started for the big-league club in nearly two months, made his return to the rotation. McAllister's exile to the minors came after he had three poor starts in a row, during which he allowed 18 runs and four home runs in fewer than eight innings of work. His first start back was a step of the right stride, as he held the White Sox to three runs and six baserunners over seven innings. He should remain in the rotation once the schedule resumes.
As for Maronde, he won't see the rotation or the majors anytime soon. A physical southpaw with a low-90s fastball and slider, Maronde's long-standing control problems have turned hellish this season, as he's walked 41 batters in 24 innings across various levels. Whether he's hurt, physically or mentally, or not is anyone's guess, but you figure something is wrong here. If the Indians can help Maronde get back on track, he's got the chance to be a productive middle reliever. He's a non-entity for now.
With Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list with a partially torn UCL, the Yankees needed another starter. Francis is not that guy. He is, however, an experienced pitcher who allows Chase Whitley to slide back into the rotation for the time being. Putting a soft-tossing lefty with platoon and home-run problems in Yankee Stadium seems like a bad fit, but Francis shouldn't pitch in dire enough situations for it to matter. And if he does find himself into the rotation or high-leverage work, then the Yankees have bigger problems at hand.
Transferred LHP Cliff Lee to the 60-day disabled list (elbow strain); optioned RHP David Buchanan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley; purchased the contract of OF-L Grady Sizemore from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. [7/11]
In the span of a month, Sizemore went from unemployed to hitting leadoff. Nitpicking a last-place team's batting order is pointless, yet Ryne Sandberg is inviting second-guessing by placing Sizemore at the top of his lineup. Ben Revere, the incumbent leadoff hitter, entered Sunday with a .316 on-base percentage, fourth among active Phillies with 100-plus plate appearances. While that might not be an ideal OBP for the top spot, Revere's mark is better than any Sizemore has produced since 2009. Perhaps Sandberg believes Sizemore's familiarity at the head of the lineup will provide him comfort and help him regain his old form. Working against Sandberg's hypothesis is the fact that John Farrell, albeit briefly, tried the same approach. When it didn't take, Farrell dropped Sizemore in the order. Expect Sandberg to do the same in time, leaving the Phillies only slightly worse than they would have been otherwise. Until then, expect many to question why Sandberg is even going through the trouble.
Claimed C-L George Kottaras off waivers from the Indians; designated OF-L Mike O'Neill for assignment; optioned LHP Tyler Lyons and C-R Audry Perez to Triple-A Memphis; transferred LHP Jaime Garcia on the 60-day disabled list (shoulder inflammation); activated RHP Joe Kelly from the 60-day disabled list. [7/11]
The Cardinals, with Yadier Molina out for two months due to a thumb injury, were known to be on the lookout for some help behind the plate. Kottaras fits, and in the process joins his sixth organization within the past two years. Just why has a catcher who, for his career, has been an above-average hitter, bounced around so much? Part of the explanation stems from his poor defense. Kottaras is a fine blocker, but struggles to throw and receive the ball. There's also the matter of his limited and risky offensive profile. Kottaras has to be platooned to be effective, and he takes the walks-and-bops approach to an extreme. Given his ever-increasing contact woes, there's no guarantee Kottaras is effective for much longer anyway. As such, Kottaras is an example of a player who teams tolerate until they can replace—and boy is he replaced often.