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April 3, 1999

Transaction Analysis

March 22-April 1

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed SS Gary DiSarcina, 2B Justin Baughman, and RHPs Jack McDowell and Pep Harris on the 15-day DL; placed RHP Mike James on the 60-day DL. [3/24]

Optioned LHPs Jarrod Washburn and Scott Schoeneweis to Edmonton. [3/25]

Acquired INF Andy Sheets and OF Gus Kennedy from the Padres for C Phil Nevin and LHP Keith Volkman; announced the retirement of SS Luis Rivera. [3/29]

Released RHP Rich DeLucia and 2B Andy Stankiewicz; acquired SS Tomas Perez from the Blue Jays for 3B Dave Hollins, and assigned Perez to Vancouver. [3/30]

I'm pretty impressed by how quickly Bill Bavasi managed to replace Gary DiSarcina in the wake of the acknowledgment that DiSarcina is out until July or August. Okay, so a bunch of Hacking Mass teams just bit the dust. Okay, Andy Sheets isn't really a major improvement, but he can play short well enough, and will add some extra sock from the ninth slot. What impresses me is that teams could know what the Angels' situation was, how desperate they could have been, and Bavasi only had to cough up a bad catcher and a dubious pitcher to get a thoroughly adequate replacement. I'm also impressed that they didn't decide to keep Dave Hollins around for the DH/1B/3B mix, since of all of the alternatives on the team, he was the only one with a clear opportunity to be less useful than Garret Anderson. Picking up a slick fielder like Tomas Perez, in case Sheets struggles, again strikes me as a nice little move. Of course, the Angels might not have had to depend on these sorts of things if they had any adequate shortstops of their own coming up, but they didn't give up much to bring them in, so it isn't a bad news/bad news situation.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Assigned SS Danny Klassen, INF Edwin Diaz, LHP Troy Brohawn, RHPs Clint Sodowsky, Ben Ford, Fernando Hernandez and Nelson Figueroa, 1B Desi Wilson, and C Marcus Hanel to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Released RHP Frank Castillo. [3/27]

Acquired RHP Darren Holmes and cash from the Yankees for RHP Ben Ford and C Izzy Molina; acquired RHP John Frascatore from the Cardinals for RHP Clint Sodowsky; placed RHP Aaron Small on waivers; assigned LHP Brian Shouse to Tucson, and RHP Byung-Hyun Kim to El Paso (AA). [3/30]

Assigned RHPs Bobby Chouinard, Rich Batchelor and Dan Carlson, and DH Pete Incaviglia to Tucson. [4/1]

Not a bad job of damage-containment here either. Darren Holmes may end up closing games for the D-backs now that it looks like Gregg Olson could head back to the pumpkin patch, and Frascatore is handy as a middle reliever. The really good news is that the organization didn't take the battle between Danny Klassen and Tony Batista at short nearly as seriously as some would have you believe. Bautista is a great bet to build on a '98 season where he surprised some people with his power in a bandbox. Is it just me, or does Frank Castillo's agent need a horsewhipping, both for his presumption of his clients' skills (which irked several teams over the winter), and for putting Frank in Arizona, where he had only a slightly better chance than a rag-arm like Huckabay of cracking the rotation?

ATLANTA BRAVES

Optioned LHP Bruce Chen to Richmond. [3/29]

Acquired 1B Mike Glavine from the Indians for future considerations. [3/30]

Unconditionally released 2B Tony Graffanino and OF Danny Bautista; accepted CF Tyrone Pendergrass back from the White Sox. [3/31]

Acquired RHP Justin Speier from the Marlins for a PTBNL. [4/1]

So the Braves shock everyone by handing the fifth starter slot to Odalis Perez over Bruce Chen. The Braves have enough pitching depth that they can afford to let things like performance in camp dictate who wins a job. All the other teams can do is look on with envy. This isn't a situation like the Mets sending down Dotel; the Braves can legitimately afford to see Chen lose the job, and still be stronger for it. Don't be surprised to see Mike Glavine in a major league uniform in September, and don't be surprised when it has absolutely nothing to do with how well he hit in the minors.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned LHP Terry Burrows and RHPs Rocky Coppinger and Gabe Molina to Rochester. [3/25]

Acquired RHP Jason Johnson from the Devil Rays for OF Danny Clyburn and a PTBNL. [3/29]

Assigned 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

The question here is whether Jason Johnson gets a crack at the fifth starter slot, since Scott Kamieniecki is hurt (as always), and because the alternative is Doug "the Ignitor" Linton. Johnson isn't really a great prospect, but once upon a time, Ray Miller had a good reputation as a pitching coach, and maybe he can do something with Johnson. Linton's tailor-made for some serious souvenir action in Camden Yards, so in a season where the Orioles aren't likely to accomplish much, doing something with Johnson might be one of the nicest things that can happen. As for Jerry Hairston Jr., he may not get his chance on this team or until September, but he will make you forget Jesse Garcia faster than you can say "Chris Pittaro."

BOSTON RED SOX

Acquired CF Jon Nunnally from the Reds for RHP Pat Flury. [3/25]

Assigned RHP Brad Clontz to their minor-league camp; waived PH Midre Cummings. [3/30]

Arrrrgh. I hate to see outfielder for whom I harbor hopes wind up with the Red Sox. As always, Dan Duquette is smart enough to see the potential that Jon Nunnally represents: a centerfielder with power and patience, possibly better off in one of the corners, where he'd still hit enough to hold a job... if you just let him play. That's the rub. The Duke runs his team as if he runs 1,000 simulations with Player X on the team, likes what the numbers might say, gets the guy, and loses interest after back-to-back ofers. Nunnally could easily end up being more important to this team than "tools drool"-splattered teammate Trot Nixon, if they just let him play. The chance that Nunnally will end up being the best source of power picked up on the cheap by any team, anywhere, is there.

CHICAGO CUBS

Assigned LHP Andrew Lorraine to their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Claimed CF Curtis Goodwin off of waivers from the Rockies. [3/29]

Unconditionally released RHP Marc Pisciotta. [3/30]

Placed RHP Kerry Wood on the 60-day DL (elbow); bought LHP Dan Serafini from the Twins; claimed LHP Brad Woodall off of waivers from the Brewers; assigned LHP Doug Creek, RHP Steve Gajkowski, C/1B Alan Zinter, 1B Scott Stahoviak, and OF Derrick White to their minor-league camp; optioned LHP Ray King and SS Jose Nieves to Iowa. [3/31]

Signed RHP Hideo Nomo to a minor-league contract; placed RHP Jeremi Gonzalez on the 15-day DL (offseason elbow surgery); placed OF Robin Jennings on the 15-day DL (sprained hand). [4/1]

In the wake of Kerrygate, Ed Lynch may deserve some credit for grabbing a few guys capable of giving him innings for 1999. Serafini has talent, and he wasn't the first pitching prospect to struggle with the Twins lately. Brad Woodall is your average lefty junkballer. Add the two of them to Kurt Miller and Scott Sanders in the bottom of the rotation or in middle relief, and you might get enough useful innings to mount a charge on third place in the NL Central. Wait, you wanted more? Well, Hideo Nomo ought to be worth a few laughs. My wild guess is that he would have been better off pulling a Doug Jones and switching leagues, to see if his stunts will help him any with a group of hitters mostly unfamiliar with him. Put him in Wrigley, and I'm more pessimistic. Because of Chicago's small and basically sorry collection of Japanese restaurants, again, my uneducated guess is that he isn't going to do much for ticket sales. What I think is the bitter pill in this lot is the decision to add Curtis Goodwin. The Rox had this figured out: if your starting CF is a lefty hitter with speed, you don't need a worse lefty hitter with speed as his backup. The Cubs have Lance Johnson, a... lefty hitter with speed. If they had wanted a stronger bench, they could have chosen to do what the Rockies did, and get Pat Watkins. The last outfield spot basically had to go to someone who could handle center, but that doesn't make the idea of seeing lots of Curtis Goodwin any more acceptable. So what's bitter about this? Picking him up cut off the opportunity for minor league vets like Derrick White or Alan Zinter to actually stick around; they've done more for longer than Goodwin, but they don't match the team's needs. In theory, Robin Jennings will get a roster spot when he comes back, but I'll believe that when I see it; Goodwin is going to have to be bad fast (something he can do in a pinch) in order to get the team to lose interest.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Assigned 1B Mario Valdez and RHP Carlos Castillo to their minor-league camp; returned RHP Walker Chapman to the Twins. [3/24]

Acquired C Brook Fordyce from the Reds for RHP Jake Meyer. [3/25]

Optioned 3B Carlos Lee, LHP Scott Eyre, and RHPs Jason Olsen and Chad Bradford to Charlotte; optioned C Josh Paul to Birmingham (AA); released OF John Cangelosi; assigned SS Gabby Martinez and RHP Mike Heathcott to their minor-league camp; placed RHP Darren Hall on the 15-day DL (rotator cuff); returned Rule 5 pick CF Tyrone Pendergrass to the Braves. [3/31]

No shockers here. Paul sported a swing that would have a hard time bruising a tomato, and Carlos Lee essentially lost out because he, like almost every Sox regular, bats right-handed (which is why lefty DH Jeff Liefer will make the team). That doesn't explain why Mario Valdez didn't get a better opportunity; sure Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko may have 1B and DH nailed down, but they could have put Konerko in left, moved Jeff Abbott back to center now that Brian Simmons is out for a month, and let Valdez play first and Frank DH. Given that the alternative seems to be that Darrin Jackson may be the team's Opening Day centerfielder, it seems all the more unfortunate. There were some surprises as far as who lost out in the fight for spots on the pitching staff; Scott Eyre can use the regular starts in Charlotte, and Carlos Castillo is still a work in progress. I was surprised Chad Bradford got sent down, making room for both Sean Lowe and Dave Lundquist, but Lundquist and Lowe both have their merits in the bullpen. The real shocker is that Jaime Navarro is still a Sock, and will be the fifth starter. Picking up Brook Fordyce will make for a nice platoon between him and Mark Johnson. It won't be a strict platoon, and I could see the playing time split 55-45 in Fordyce's favor. Fordyce will be adequate, although there's already rumblings about what a good hitter he'll be, which is overstated. Overall, things have worked out well in Jerry Manuel's second camp, with the worst thing being Darrin Jackson's presence on the roster, not to mention the lineup.

CINCINNATI REDS

Signed Tubbo Carlos Baerga to a minor-league contract. [3/23]

Placed RHPs Scott Winchester and Stan Belinda, and LHP Denny Neagle on the 15-day DL (all with "weak shoulders"), assigned RHPs Manuel Barrios and Mark Thompson to their minor-league camp. [3/24]

Acquired RHP Pat Flury from the Red Sox for CF Jon Nunnally; acquired RHP Jake Meyer from the Sox for C Brook Fordyce. [3/25]

Assigned C Jayhawk Owens to their minor-league camp; optioned RHP Steve Parris to Indianapolis. [3/30]

Placed 2B Ralph Milliard on the 15-day DL (back). [3/31]

Why am I not surprised that Jim Bowden just couldn't resist signing one more old man? Toss the Baerga signing onto the scrap heap with the Sierra trade; it's Bowden being Bowden, not being discrete when he can't resist a "bargain." Married men undoubtedly understand this phenomenon, especially after your wife has discovered Sam's Club. At any rate, the Reds didn't even really get value for Jon Nunnally; indeed, they may have gotten a better prospect for Fordyce. As we've pointed out in the past, in the case of Jim Bowden, energy and action are often mistaken for progress.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Optioned RHP Jason Rakers and LHP Mike Matthews, and SS John McDonald to Buffalo. [3/24]

Signed RHP Bartolo Colon to a four-year contract, with a club option for 2003. [3/25]

Traded 1B Mike Glavine to the Braves for future considerations; released RHP John Burke. [3/30]

Placed OFs Mark Whiten (stress fracture - foot) and Jacob Cruz (strained oblique) on the 15-day DL; accepted back OF David Miller from the Phillies. [3/31]

Perhaps no news item was more strident in tone that the denials that Colon elected to sign his multi-year deal in the wake of the announcements concerning Kerry Wood and Matt Morris. The issue of whether or not he's at risk has already drawn plenty of commentary for us and others, so in light of so much public commentary, it's interesting that his decision to sign had to be accompanied by denials that concerns for his health had anything to do with it. What really has me wondering is why an organization would hand out a multi-year contract to a pitcher whose future they control. Let's say I'm playing Pastaman's advocate here: knowing that it's a rare pitcher who will ever say "stop using me," what's to keep an evil organization from trying to find a perfect balance between getting the most possible use out of the kid before free agency over the six years in question, without any concern for whether that prevents him from ever cashing in on free agency? There's nothing to stop a team from doing this, of course. I guess the payoff for the multi-year deal is the hedge it represents: if Colon stays healthy and pitches over the length of the contract, then the Indians undoubtedly believe they'll have paid him less than they would have if they fought Colon in salary arbitration year after year. It's almost high-minded.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Optioned RHP Jim Stoops and OF Derrick Gibson to Colorado Springs; assigned INF Terry Shumpert to their minor-league camp; acquired OF Pat Watkins from the Marlins for a PTBNL. [3/29]

Waived RHP Dave Wainhouse. [3/31]

As mentioned in the Cubs comment, kudos to the Rockies for figuring out that a right-handed caddy for a left-handed regular in center makes a wee bit of sense. One of the fun things about expansion teams is that Pat Watkins could easily turn out to be the best fourth outfielder in franchise history. What, are you still waiting for Derrick Gibson to learn to play baseball?

DETROIT TIGERS

Claimed 2B/SS Jason Maxwell on waivers from the Cubs. [3/24]

Placed INF Jason Wood on the 15-day DL (fractured forearm). [3/29]

Optioned RHP Robinson Checo and CF Kimera Bartee to Toledo; assigned RHP Nelson Cruz and 1B Dave McCarty to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Placed C Raul Casanova (back strain) and C Robert Fick (strained shoulder) on the 15-day DL; assigned LF Luis Polonia, RHP Brandon Reed, LHP Albert Blanco, C Joe Siddall, and 2B/SS Jason Maxwell to their minor-league camp. [4/1]

Okay, it may seem silly to mention here, but the Cubs screwed up here as well, by allowing Jason Maxwell to enter waivers. They (or more precisely, Ed Lynch himself) lost count of Maxwell's options, and the NL office had to inform the team that they'd have to pass Maxwell through waivers. Of everyone on this group of cuts (or among the Cubs), Maxwell may well be the one most deserving of a major league job, despite being almost totally unheralded. Utility infielder jobs, however, seem to be heavily influenced by considerations of patronage, so Maxwell has to wait until people like Manny Alexander and Raffy Bournigal fade away.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Assigned RHPs Justin Speier and Joe Fontenot and SS Pablo Ozuna to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Optioned RHP Rafael Medina and LHP Armando Almanza to Calgary; assigned SS Benji Gil and INF Chris Clapinski to their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Traded OF Pat Watkins to the Rockies for a PTBNL. [3/29]

Placed LF Cliff Floyd on the 15-day DL (sprained left knee). [3/30]

Optioned LHP Brent Billingsley to Calgary; optioned RHP A.J. Burnett to Portland (AA); assigned DH John Roskos to their minor-league camp. [3/31]

Talk about a case of changing times. Raffy Medina loses the rotation spot he won a year ago, and Joe Fontenot gets to work on his career in the minors. Okay, so it's only to get the great Dennis Springer into the rotation, but thats a case of a move a year to late. If the Fish had it to do over again, youd have to hope theyve realized that they would have been better off with guys like Springer in last year's rotation, so that guys like Medina or Fontenot could have been ready about now. Instead, everyone got jerked around, and the few remaining Dombrowski loyalists (counting John Boles) will have to see if they can straighten things out this year. Beyond the pitching situation, the really exciting opportunity comes in the wake of Floyd's injury. Will Preston Wilson get the chance to sink or swim? Regardless of whether or not you believe he's been pre-fitted with cement galoshes or not, it's something we'll get to see in April. Does that mean Bruce Aven will get an opportunity to weasel his way into 300 at-bats? Maybe, and that wouldn't hurt.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Acquired OF Jim Betzold from the Indians for a PTBNL. [3/23]

Unconditionally released RHP Xavier Hernandez and PH Dave Clark. [3/29]

Assigned Cs Paul Bako and Randy Knorr and OF Ryan Thompson to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Optioned 1B/LF Daryle Ward to New Orleans. [4/1]

Maybe it's just me, but there seemed to be an unusually high number of people rooting for Bako to beat out Mitch Meluskey. I don't know if that's anti-statheadism, or just bias against young players who "haven't paid their dues," or a general belief that the Astros are just doing things the wrong way by trading a known commodity like Brad Ausmus, just to play this whippersnapper. I salute the Astros for having the intelligence to stick to their guns. On the other hand, I'm disappointed that they didn't give Daryle Ward a shot to make the club, especially in light of the dubious decision to retain minor league veteran Glen Barker as a backup outfielder, or even more indefensible, the immortally bad Alex Diaz. Perhaps that weakness in upper-level outfielders helps to explain the decision to acquire an organizational soldier like Betzold. Even then, it appears that although long-suffering and long-deserving infielder Russ Johnson has made the team, that's only for as long as Ken Caminiti is on the DL. Thinking about that, maybe he does have job security after all.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Released RHP Pete Smith. [3/24]

Optioned LHP Alvin Morman to Omaha; assigned RHP Dan Reichert and C Henry Mercedes to their minor-league camp; released RHPs Tim Scott and Dario Veras. [3/26]

Acquired RHP Jay Witasick from the Athletics for cash and a PTBNL. [3/30]

Released RHPs Erik Hanson and A.J. Sager; optioned LHP Glendon Rusch to Omaha. [3/31]

Assigned RHP Terry Mathews and OFs Scott Pose and Les Norman to their minor-league camp. [4/1]

So the Royals will have a rotation of Kevin Appier, Jose Rosado, Jeff Suppan, Brian Barber, and probably Hipolito Pichardo or Jim Pittsley. I guess improvement is relative, but they got Suppan and Barber cheaply, which almost makes up for the ongoing bad investment in Pichardo. The good news is they aren't going to goof off with A.J. Sager. The bad news is that they can't make up their minds about Don Wengert. Snagging Witasick from the A's before he had to enter waivers may be a nifty move, but Witasick's major league record has been awful in several brief trials. It looks like he's bound for the pen, where he could turn into a nifty reclamation project.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Traded C Tim Laker to the Pirates for a PTBNL. [3/26]

Optioned SS Juan Castro and C Angel Pena to Albuquerque; assigned LHP Chris Haney and PH Scott Livingstone to their minor-league camp; placed RHP Antonio Osuna and 2B/SS Alex Cora on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/25; announced that RHP Doug Bochtler has become a free agent. [3/29]

Outrighted C Marcus Jensen and OF Thomas Howard to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

With Pena's demotion, the Dodgers really are stating that they think Hundley's ready to catch. I still cant shake the idea that were going to see a whole lot more of Rick Wilkins and Paul LoDuca than you'd like. Osuna's injury isn't considered long-term or serious, and he should be back with the team by mid-April.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Assigned RHPs Kyle Peterson and Steve Falteisek to the inor-league camp. [3/22]

Optioned RHP Al Reyes to Louisville; outrighted RHP Joe Borowski and C Charlie Greene to Louisville; released RHP William VanLandingham; lost LHP Brad Woodall on waivers to the Cubs. [3/31]

Gosh, a week ago, the Brewers were thinking the Copperhead (VanLandingham) could end up in their rotation if he could only beat out Raffy Roque, and this week, Roque is their Opening Day starter, WVL is unemployed, and the Brewers still look like a team that may have to replace four-fifths of its rotation by the All-Star break. Al Reyes didn't do much to get himself cut, not on the basis of last year's performance, but the fascination with David Weathers is taking up the fourth right-handed relief spot on the team behind Bob Wickman, Chad Fox, and Eric Plunk. Given how unsettled the pitching situation is going to be this summer, don't be surprised if Reyes comes up when the first Brewers' starter implodes (my money is on Pulsipher), with Weathers entering the rotation.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Assigned C A.J. Pierzynski to their minor-league camp. [3/25]

Assigned RHP Frank Rodriguez, 1B David Ortiz, and 1B Eddie Williams to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Sold LHP Dan Serafini to the Cubs. [3/31]

This is interesting stuff. We know Rodriguez can't dig his way out of Tom Kelly's doghouse, and Dan Serafini offended folks this spring with a brief absence from camp. But sending away David Ortiz seems very strange indeed, especially in light of the team's lukewarm commitment to Corey Koskie at third. Ron Coomer can't play everywhere, but in the meantime, the good news is that the team seems very interested in Doug Mientkiewicz, who will get every opportunity to do his Mark Grace Lite impression, sort of like Scott Stahoviak three years ago.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Assigned UT Trace Coquilette and 1B/OF Ryan McGuire to their minor-league camp. [3/26]

Signed RHP Pete Smith to a minor-league contract. [3/29]

So McGuire hasn't panned out, and the team is still wrestling with who to start in the one free outfield slot. As long as Rondell White's body still aches, I'm betting that Pete Bergeron is in centerfield long before June 1. You know, it was almost ten years ago that I read that some young pitcher in the Braves rotation was going to win the Cy Young Award, soon. Pete Smith still hasn't quite gotten there, but if Pascual Perez and Dennis Martinez can start anew with Felipe's fountain of youth, who's to say Pete Smith can't?

NEW YORK METS

Assigned Cs Vance Wilson and Pedro Grifol and 2B Todd Haney to their minor-league camp. [3/23]

Optioned RHP Hideo Nomo to Norfolk. [3/24]

Signed RHP Orel Hershiser to a one-year contract. [3/25]

Unconditionally released RHP Hideo Nomo. [3/26]

Unconditionally released UT Mariano Duncan. [3/27]

Placed RHPs Greg McMichael and Jeff Tam and OF Jay Payton on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

Assigned OF Andy Tomberlin to their minor-league camp. [3/31]

It's almost sad to see camp come to an end, just to see which ex-ballplayer the Mets would release next. Bobby Bonilla? The only nice thing I can say about the Hershiser signing is that he'll probably pitch better than Hideo Nomo this year, which may be setting the bar just high enough for Mickey Rooney to step over it. As always, New York's gutters are awash with spilled ink and vented spleen, and for what? This team has gotten almost as much attention as the Buddy Harrelson Mets that never amounted to anything. Coincidence?

NEW YORK YANKEES

Signed LHP Tony Fossas to a minor-league contract. [3/25]

Traded RHP Darren Holmes (with cash) to the Diamondbacks for RHP Ben Ford and C Izzy Molina; assigned RHP Jeff Juden to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

"Jeff Juden, meet Kat Maeda." "Soulbrother!"

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Optioned C Ramon Hernandez to Vancouver; assigned RHP Mike Oquist to their minor-league camp. [3/28]

Claimed LHP Ron Mahay off of waivers from the Red Sox; sent RHP Jay Witasick to the Royals for cash and a PTBNL; assigned LF Marc Newfield to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Released LHP Mark Holzemer. [4/1]

Picking up Mahay was a nice little snag, since he'll almost certainly be a better second lefty in the pen than Holzemer. Too bad he can't toss 200 innings with an ERA under 5, since that's what the A's really need.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Placed RHP Tyler Green on the 15-day DL. [3/27]

Assigned LHP Billy Brewer, RHP Steve Montgomery, and OFs Billy McMillon and Jon Zuber to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Returned Rule 5 pick OF David Miller back to the Indians. [3/31]

Tyler Green is still damaged goods, but he may still toss more innings over the rest of his career than his old college rival, Alan Benes. Billy Brewer might almost have value in trade, now that the Phillies have two good lefties in the major league pen, and Brewer had a good camp. Stranger things have happened. What's really nice to note here is that returning David Miller to the Indians apparently means that organizational soldier David Doster will get the last spot on the bench. In terms of turning this into a shot at a career, it may be too little too late; he really should have been the Phillies second baseman last year, instead of goofing off with Mark Lewis, but that's spilled milk. Caddying for Scott Rolen and Marlon Anderson won't lead to too much playing time, but I'm glad he's getting a chance.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Acquired C Tim Laker from the Dodgers for a PTBNL; placed RHP Jose Silva and LHP Jeff Tabaka on the 15-day DL. [3/26]

Assigned LHP Rich Sauveur, RHP Todd Ritchie, C Chris Tremie, and 1B Ivan Cruz to their minor-league camp; unconditionally released 2B/SS Rafael Bournigal; placed RHP Marc Wilkins on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

Placed RHP Jeff Wallace on the 15-day DL. [3/30]

Silva's latest injury, plus Peters' return to the pen, means Kris Benson is a lock for the rotation. That and the decision to let Warren Morris play in the major leagues constitutes all of the good news coming out of the Pirates' camp. Keeping with established precedent from network news, rather than delve yet again into all of the bad news, we'll devote the rest of our Pirates segment to pictures of puppies and clowns.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Acquired RHP Clint Sodowsky from the Diamondbacks for RHP John Frascatore, and assigned Sodowsky to Memphis. [3/30]

The interesting development here is that the Cardinals claim they're going to carry twelve pitchers, and we're supposed to believe Frascatore wasn't one of them. But Curtis King and Mike Mohler are. Let's just say I'm still reluctant to get all excited about the Cardinals' supposed big push this year.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Acquired C Phil Nevin and LHP Keith Volkman from the Angels for INF Andy Sheets and OF Gus Kennedy; placed C Carlos Hernandez on the 15-day DL (ruptured Achilles tendon); optioned LHP Heath Murray, C Ben Davis, CF Gary Matthews Jr., INF Ed Giovanola, and SS Juan Melo to their minor-league camp; assigned OF Shane Mack to minor league camp; released C Mark Parent and PH Chris Jones; announced the retirement of LHP Mark Langston. [3/29]

Optioned OF Mike Darr to Las Vegas. [3/31]

Adios to Mark Langston, another one of my favorites from the '80s, and a guy who was a real pleasure to watch when he still had his heat. One of the really interesting things about Langston on his career is that he wound up with an above-.500 career record (178-156), despite pitching for some awful Mariners and Angels teams. That probably makes him the exact opposite of... well, who exactly? Jose DeLeon? Vida Blue? Mike Morgan? I'm willing to listen to other people's guesses. Langston was one of the best pitchers of his generation, but will probably end up in the Ken Holtzman class of pitchers ("oh yeah, he was good too."). As for the Padres, this team is going to be much more fun to watch in July than it will be right now, while they're struggling to admit Woody Williams is broken, and while they're getting carried away with John VanderWal.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned RHPs Joe Nathan and Steve Soderstrom to Fresno; designated RHP Corey Bailey for assignment. [3/29]

Yee-ha! Chris Brock wins the fifth starter's slot. Call it a hunch, but the Giants will probably be trading for a starter, any starter, by May. The only alternative is rushing Grilli, which is pretty tempting...

SEATTLE MARINERS

Released Living Fossil Bill Swift. [3/29]

Optioned RHPs Rafael Carmona and Ken Cloude and LHP Greg McCarthy to Tacoma; assigned C Raul Chavez to their minor-league camp. [3/31]

Not that I like to make cross-sports comparisons, but the Mariners cutting Bill Swift is like the charade the Raiders would play with third-string quarterback David Humm every camp. Humm would get cut, go to Vegas to party for a month or two, and sure enough, he was available as soon as the Raiders needed a backup quarterback again. Similarly, nobody else is going to pay Bill Swift to do anything with all of his free time, and after Piniella either betrays or overuses Freddy Garcia or Ken Cloude or John Halama, Bill Swift will still be waiting to work.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Assigned RHP Ryan Rupe to their minor-league camp; sent DH Julio Franco to the Mexico City Tigers. [3/27]

Placed RHP Cory Lidle on the 60-day DL. [3/28]

Acquired OF Danny Clyburn and a PTBNL from the Orioles for RHP Jason Johnson. [3/29]

Assigned 3B Scott McClain and Cs Jesse Levis and Julio Mosquera to their minor-league camp. [3/30]

Released OF Mike Kelly; assigned LHPs Steve Cooke and Larry Casian, RHPs Mark Hutton, Steve Ontiveros and Mark Sievert, and DH Billy Ashley from their minor-league camp. [3/31]

For those of you keeping score at home, this means that Bobby Witt is the fifth starter for the St. Petersburg Pelicans... er, I mean the major league Devil Rays. What's really amazing about this team is that in acquiring Clyburn, they've picked up another DH on a team that already has Jose Canseco and Paul Sorrento, and that won't make time for Bubba Trammell. I don't care how many Mike Veeck promotions you come up with, this team is going to be even more boring than last year's bad and boring inaugural edition.

TEXAS RANGERS

Assigned SS Kelly Dransfeldt to their minor-league camp; signed 2B/SS Rafael Bournigal. [3/30]

Released RHP Al Levine; optioned RHP Jonathan Johnson to Oklahoma; assigned RHP Brandon Knight outright to Oklahoma after he cleared waivers. [3/31]

Bournigal steps right into the fight for the utility infield spot, battling far more deserving candidates (minor league veterans Jon Shave and Scott Sheldon). Why does a team carrrying a great defensive shortstop like Royce Clayton need a light-hitting defensive replacement for a caddy?

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Assigned DH Kevin Witt, OF Anthony Sanders, and C Kevin L. Brown to their minor-league camp. [3/25]

Placed RHPs Bill Risley and Paul Quantrill on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

Assigned OF Jimmy Hurst to their minor-league camp. [3/29]

Acquired 3B Dave Hollins from the Angels for SS Tomas Perez. [3/30]

Released Undertall Person Cecil Fielder; assigned OF Wayne Kirby to their minor-league camp; optioned RHPs Tom Davey and Nerio Rodriguez to Syracuse; re-assigned third base coach Sal Butera; named Terry Bevington third base coach. [3/31]

The Blue Jays didn't help themselves out. First off, Kevin Brown would have been better to keep around as a caddy for Mike Matheny. But that pales in comparison to the decision to acquire Dave Hollins, who maybe, just maybe, is the fourth-best third baseman on the team, behind Tony Fernandez, Willie Greene, and Tom Evans. I don't know if Hollins has more use than Craig Grebeck at this point. Hollins is being reunited with Jim Fregosi, of course, and every manager likes to have a familiar face in the clubhouse, but Hollins has basically nothing to offer a team on the field. Well, maybe the Devil Rays. They could play him for the next fifteen years, to give him a shot at Reggie's strikeout record. Mike Veeck could even call it "madcap, wacky fun!"

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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