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March 10, 2004

Transaction Analysis

March 8-9, 2004

by Christina Kahrl

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

KANSAS CITY ROYALS Return to Top

Reassigned CF-L Shane Costa, 2B-B Ruben Gotay, C/OF-L Mitch Maier, and 2B-R Donald Murphy to minor league camp. [3/8]

The team's mass dispensations to its promising youngsters ran out early, but it's a good group of 2003 picks and A-ball farmhands coming back to the minor league camp after a few weeks of watching, listening, and trying not to get razzed too often. Numbers suggest that Murphy's a better second baseman than currently given credit for, which puts that much more pressure on Gotay as he tries to make the jump up to Double-A. As a Christmas baby from 1982, you'd normally think that Gotay's young enough to be able to afford a little bit of struggle in the face of the game's steepest jump, but if Murphy keeps clambering up from behind, either they're going to have to reconsider the decision to move Murphy away from short, or Gotay's going to be oversloughed within the organization. Strangely, they seem a little inclined to push Costa (a second-round pick in last year's draft out of Cal State-Fullerton), but not Maier (a first-rounder in the same draft), but keep in mind, they're not yet quite sure where Maier will wind up on the diamond, while Costa seems set in center until his arm creates some concern. Even then, with David DeJesus well ahead of him, and the off chance that they re-sign Carlos Beltran, the Royals can afford to move Costa to a corner if his bat will carry him in one.

NEW YORK YANKEES Return to Top

Outrighted LHP Danny Borrell to Columbus; outrighted RHP Chien-Ming Wang to Double-A Trenton. [3/8]

It's interesting to see that the Yankees, an organization that does so much right, can still get a little footloose with minor league assignments. Wang missed 2001 to shoulder surgery, pitched 2002 in the New York/Penn League, and then skips two levels of A-ball to spend last season in Double-A? And does a creditable job (4.65 ERA), all things considered, only to get a quick "disappointment" label? Well, I suppose that's that standards sort of thing that New Yorkers pride themselves for; gods above and below know that there's no way any pizza joint in the greater D.C. metropolitan area survives a month if it's within 100 miles of New York. Wang's young enough to turn into a useful starter in the back of a big league rotation, but with this organization, that means he's trade bait. Future participation in the Expos' League of Nations (or was that the Jailer of Nations? Bud Selig probably resembles Nicholas I, dim reactionary thug and unhappy product of internecine palace intrigue, as much as any historical figure).

Meanwhile, Danny Borrell's damaged goods, and not likely to contribute beyond demonstrating good health by year's end, so shipping him out now should come as no surprise. Again, in another era, I can't help but think that Wang and Borrell would be the sorts of guys Casey Stengel might find a use for, but with this organization, a happy destiny is becoming a bargaining chip. Is that progress? Or inflexibility and ever-expanding demand for name talent fueled by the misfortune of expectations fueled by WFAN and the like? Even if Joe Torre was the creative type, inclined to trust an evaluation of young talent--whether it was his or from the front office--would anyone in this burg have the patience to trust his judgment? When the alternatives ran to Jason Grimsley and Clay Bellinger, you'd wish it to be so.

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Signed 3B-R Jose Nieves to a minor league contract. [3/8]

Far removed from the wishful thinking of his semi-prospecty days with the Cubs, Nieves is nearly 30. Having bounced from the Cardinals to the Yankees' Triple-A affiliates last year after washing out of the Angels' system, he's basically filler in case the ripples of the Pads' three-way battle for shortstop--Khalil Greene versus Rey Ordonez versus Ramon Vazquez--play out in one likely scenario. If Greene wins the job, Ordonez is probably gone rather than a sign-on for a soggy summer in Portland. At which point the Pads' affiliate might wind up short a shortstop. Remember, you don't have Donaldo Mendez to kick around any more, and with Greene effectively skipping Triple-A, the system's not deep in guys who have played short above A-ball.

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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