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February 26, 1999

Transaction Analysis

February 20-26

by Christina Kahrl

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Acquired 2B Tony Womack from the Pirates for a PTBNL and OF Paul Weichard. [2/26]

The D-backs are claiming they're going to move Womack to the outfield, where his value isn't merely negligible, it's Omar Moreno territory. What's especially goofy is that acquiring Womack cuts into the playing time of a player who's about as good as he is but gets on base more frequently - supersub Andy Fox. Both of them are barely adequate afield, and both of them might be better than Jay Bell this year. In terms of giving themselves a leadoff hitter, the D-backs haven't improved themselves, and gave up a good-looking 19 year old in Weichard, and a PTBNL. Moreover, the D-backs have gummed themselves up with non-power hitters at a power-hitting position, right field, on a team that desperately needs power. Maybe Jerry Colangelo can afford expensive mediocrity, but if Arizona really wants to reap the benefit that their big money rotation is supposed to bring to them, they need to add something better than barely adequate veterans like Luis Gonzalez or Tony Womack.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed RHP Orel Hershiser to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/20]

Signed C Pat Borders to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/26]

Hershiser isn't guaranteed a space on the roster or in the rotation, but he claims he wants wins, contention, and a shot at the Hall of Fame. If he's interested in all of those goals, he'd have been better off signing with a team that needed him that could also score some runs, like the Mariners, because Orel wasn't very effective last season.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Signed OF Curtis Pride to a minor-league contract. [2/24]

Pride isn't a bad little player to bring in, but it seems odd when the team already doesn't know what to do with Jeff Conine or Larry Sutton or Jermaine Dye. It's more likely that Pride will have to settle for getting most of his playing time at Omaha.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Signed manager Joe Torre to a two-year contract extension. [2/24]

Two more years, and more opportunities to win some ballgames and build a respectable set of credentials as a manager to add to his playing days for a Hall of Fame ticket that the Veteran's Committee will undoubtedly scramble to punch. And since everybody in contact with the man respects and likes Joe Torre, more power to him.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Signed SS Pat Meares to a one-year contract. [2/20]

Acquired OF Paul Weichard and a PTBNL from the Diamondbacks for 2B Tony Womack. [2/26]

The amusing dimension to this is that the Pirates traded their best middle infielder with major league experience (Womack), leaving them temporarily with the worst infield in baseball: Mike Benjamin at second, Pat Meares at short, and Ed Sprague at third. The hope is that this group won't make it to Opening Day, as the Bucs already have (and had, before they signed any of these guys) a better internal alternative: Warren Morris at second, Abe Nunez at short, and Aramis Ramirez at third. Right now, the chances that Morris will win the second base job outright by Opening Day seem pretty good, but only bitter disappointments with Sprague and Meares will get the Pirates' best possible combination onto the field this year. Also interesting is the question of who will bat leadoff for the Pirates now that Womack is gone: if Morris wins the job, I'm guessing he bats leadoff, because the only other alternative may be CF Brant Brown.

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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