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May 11, 1999

Transaction Analysis

May 5 - May 9

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Purchased the contract of INF Dave Silvestri from Edmonton; optioned LHP Mike Holtz to Edmonton; transferred 2B Justin Baughman from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/8]

You have to hand it to the Angels: they've begun to notice that something's amiss in the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, it's going to take more than reshuffling the lesser dwarves. Much as I've pulled for Dave Silvestri throughout his pro career, benching Andy Sheets because he's error-prone doesn't solve any of the Angels' major problems: Matt Walbeck, bad outfield defense and a bad rotation. Silvestri isn't even an outstanding glove man, so although he'll probably get on base at a slightly better clip than Sheets, he won't make a major impact.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Activated RHP Amaury Telemaco from the DL; optioned LHP Brian Anderson to Tucson. [5/8]

What we have here is a failure to properly distribute resources. Let's call this scenario "a free agent too far." Anderson already made his bones last year, demonstrating he was a solid rotation starter. But the decisions to sign Todd Stottlemyre, Randy Johnson and Armando Reynoso shunted Anderson out of the rotation. After seeing Anderson struggle as a mop-up man and middle reliever, the D-Backs really ought to either admit they made a mistake by bringing in Reynoso, or start thinking about peddling Anderson or Reynoso for something they can use, like a real leadoff hitter, a right fielder or a top-notch catching prospect. If they want to win now, they can peddle Anderson for the leadoff hitter. If they want to win now and into the future, they'll trade Reynoso, whose value shouldn't be as high as Anderson's.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Recalled C Pascual Matos from Richmond; optioned 1B Randall Simon to Richmond. [5/8]

The real misfortune here is Javy Lopez's, who lost his mother and will be in Puerto Rico attending her funeral. Matos will caddy for Eddie Perez in Lopez' absence.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Activated RHP Scott Kamieniecki from the DL; optioned RHP Rocky Coppinger to Rochester. [5/8]

The Polish Prince takes back his spot in the rotation for as long as his bad back, arm and legs can keep him there. This may be one of Ray Miller's last happy days, as he gets the thrill of sending away his bete noire, Rocky.

BOSTON RED SOX

Placed RHP Bret Saberhagen on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder); recalled RHP Juan Pena from Pawtucket; activated C Scott Hatteberg from the DL; optioned C Creighton Gubanich to Pawtucket; outrighted the contract of RHP Tim Harikkala to Pawtucket. [5/7] Optioned 2B/SS Donnie Sadler to Pawtucket. [5/9]

All gambles have risks, and here the Duke gets to reap the other side of Bret Saberhagen's career: his perennial fragility. There's no reason to blame Jimy Williams or the Duke or anyone in the organization: Sabes is damaged goods, and if you get as much out of him as the Sox did last year, you deserve tobe proud of yourself and your organization. Fortunately for the Sox, there are a couple of worthwhile alternatives to explore. Pena's no minor-league flamethrower. He's pretty polished, throwing four pitches for strikes. As long as the Red Sox are keeping around the oft-injured Saberhagen and Mark Portugal, and the oft-ineffective Pat Rapp, the opportunity is there for a Pena or a Jin Ho Cho to claim a rotation spot.

Hatteberg's return is a good thing, since Varitek wasn't too special as a regular, while Gubanich got a chance to remind the front office he can hit. If the Sox are looking to peddle a catcher, their best-case scenario would be to move Varitek, instead of Hatteberg as rumored. Sadler's demotion was caused by Flash Gordon's return on Monday, and merited by his .226 OBP.

CHICAGO CUBS

Activated RHPs Terry Adams and Jon Lieber from the DL; optioned RHP Richard Barker to Iowa; outrighted LHP Brad Woodall to Iowa. [5/7] Placed DH Glenallen Hill on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); purchased the contract of OF Bo Porter from Iowa. [5/9]

There's still no joy in Wrigleyville. Adams was activated several days earlier than they told him he was going to be activated; as recently as Friday, the Cubs were telling him he'd fly to Los Angeles to join the team on Monday. Lieber looked fine in his first start back, which leaves the Cubs with a rotation of Trachsel, Tapani, Lieber, and two of Farnsworth, Mulholland and Scott Sanders. I'd bump Sanders for as long as they want to keep Farnsworth up, but the danger is that Riggleman will want to "solve" his bullpen problem by ridding himself of Mulholland's adequacy as a starter. With the Cubs' offense continuing to be among the league's worst, I'll stick with the argument that they need Mulholland in the rotation.

Losing Hill is something that's been expected for awhile, with the excuses being offered like "he's too muscular," while moaning and groaning about how the Cubs would be great if only they weren't hurt. That sort of misses the point: the Cubs are an old, old team, almost the oldest team in NL history (they're about even with the famed '83 Phillies), and old teams get hurt.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Released SS Gabby Martinez from Charlotte. [5/6] Recalled 3B/LF Carlos Lee from Charlotte; optioned OF Jeff Abbott to Charlotte. [5/7]

The Sox can afford the luxury of playing people on merit. This is one of those situations where Abbott is being sent down for his 2-for-25 start, not for what he's done since (a still-meager 7-for-32). Lee has been red-hot, and it looks like he'll be a big part of the team's future. The big winner here is Greg Norton. He played well enough in the early going to help the Sox decide to move Lee to the outfield, which means Norton probably won't have to worry about his job security again until sometime in August, when the Sox will be kicking around whether or not to call up Joe Crede. As for Gabby Martinez, let's just hope Mike Caruso draws the appropriate conclusions from Manuel's silly suggestions that Martinez could have won the job in camp.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Purchased the contract of RHP David Wainhouse from Colorado Springs; optioned OF Edgard Clemente to Colorado Springs. [5/7]

With everyone not named Jerry DiPoto looking awful in the Rox pen, and with the bench being used sparingly at best, it seems to make sense to bring in a twelfth pitcher.

DETROIT TIGERS

Activated RHP Bryce Florie from the DL; designated RHP Mel Rojas for assignment. [5/6] Placed LHP Sean Runyan on the DL (strained shoulder); recalled INF Jose Macias from Toledo. [5/7]

An interesting development for los Tigres: Florie's return covers for Moehler's suspension, but what will happen when that's up? Willie Blair has been awful (8.21 ERA), so do they bump him to the pen to keep the fragile Florie in the rotation? As for losing Runyan, he was used in far too many games by Buddy Bell last year, and despite being shoe-horned into the role, he has yet to be an effective lefty-getter. The Tigers aren't going to be a factor in any race this year, so here's hoping they let him heal.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Recalled RHP Ryan Dempster from Calgary; optioned LHP Kirt Ojala to Calgary. [5/7]

Dempster's up, and will be in the rotation during Alex Fernandez' absence. Ojala effectively blew his shot at claiming a rotation spot by pitching as badly as he has in mop-up duty. At 30, he's got to be one of the oldest players with options to burn.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Activated 1B Jeff King from the DL; optioned RHP Don Wengert to Omaha. [5/8]

Just when the team was playing well, something like this has to happen to them. Not that losing Don Wengert's going to hurt--far from it. It's just that with Beltran and Febles going strong at the top of the order, with Johnny Damon just heating up and with Mike Sweeney finally getting a chance, the last thing the Royals need is a weak offensive player batting in the heart of the order because he's an "experienced" out-maker.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Purchased the contract of RHP Mike Maddux from San Bernardino (A-ball); placed (and lost) OF Jacob Brumfield on waivers. [5/7]

Maybe this is the method to the madness of keeping people like Jacob Brumfield on a major league roster: you can always use the roster spot for something else if the need arises, because losing Brumfield is no loss. Short-term, the Dodgers are papering over Carlos Perez' physical problems and ineffectiveness. Long-term, the Dodgers are still going to have to come up with a second useful bench player after Dave Hansen.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Recalled RHP Hideo Nomo from Louisville; optioned LHP Horacio Estrada to Louisville. [5/9]

... and there's still no joy in Wrigleyville. As if Kerrygate and the mealymouthed half-truths Lynch and Riggleman publicly offer about their pitching weren't enough, to see Nomo pitch a good game for the Brewers on Sunday had to a particularly bitter pill. Nomo inherits Jim Abbott's slot, which is an improvement, but Cal Eldred and Scott Karl still need to get straightened out or put down. But as long as this team is on the fringes of contention, they should be grateful for their good fortune.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Optioned OF Ricky Ledee to Columbus; recalled OF Shane Spencer from Columbus. [5/9]

Frankly, I hate this. No, I don't have Ricky Ledee in some fantasy league or something, but jerking around is only going to make things worse. Yes, Spencer looked good at Columbus during his brief demotion. Does that mean that if Ledee looks good during his, he gets to come back in two weeks? The Yankees need to pick a left fielder and stick with him. Ledee has a big league future, and Spencer can be a useful spare part. As long as they've already got another useful spare part (Chad Curtis) under contract as the fourth outfielder, I know who I'd be using in left field, regardless of whether he's hot or cold in his last 50 plate appearances.

NEW YORK METS

Placed LF Rickey Henderson on the 15-day DL (sprained knee); recalled LHP Rigo Beltran from Norfolk. [5/7]

The good news: the Mets can afford to lose Rickey, because as expected, Roger Cedeno is looking like a major steal. He'll be more than adequate subbing for Henderson, and they still have Jermaine Allensworth lying around. The problem remains the same: how to turn Bobby Bonilla into a turnip, while mailing his checks to charity and his playing time to someone who belongs. The real fun with the Mets is to think about what they could do if they wanted to be the go-go Mets of '99, and play the whippets all at once: Henderson, Cedeno and Allensworth, getting on base and terrorizing the base paths. Add that to the power core of Piazza, Olerud, Ventura and Alfonzo. Well, it looks good on paper... As far as calling up Beltran, with Masato Yoshii, Orel Hershiser and Rick Reed all struggling to get through the fifth inning, and with Bobby Jones being his normal six-inning self, the Mets may actually have to carry a spare long reliever.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Acquired RHP Robert Person from the Blue Jays for LHP Paul Spoljaric/; purchased the contract of RHP Joel Bennett from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; optioned RHP Steve Montgomery to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/5]

The only improvement here is that Bennett should be a solid #5 starter which Spoljaric was never going to be. Acquiring Person is something of a waste; he's your run-of-the-mill straight fastball guy who works high in the strike zone and routinely gets pasted. But folks fixate on the speed gun, and Person keeps getting opportunities based on that and a brief fling with prospectdom based on a nice month or two with the Mets. He'll flirt with the closer's job, and play hot potato with the opportunity.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed RHP Rich Loiselle on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/8 (sprained elbow); purchased the contract of RHP Brad Clontz from Nashville. [5/9]

Loiselle had already lost the closer's job, and wasn't doing much to help the team. If he does heal in the next four weeks, he can still contribute as a setup man; he can be very tough on right-handed batters. Clontz will get another spin as a sidearming setup man on a team that needs anyone to pitch effectively in the seventh and eighth innings.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed LHP Donovan Osborne on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation); recalled RHP Rick Croushore from Memphis. [5/7]

Gosh, what a shocking development. This is sort of like reporting earthquakes in California, back before the evening news became a parade of babies, clowns, puppy dogs and rainy days. But I digress. Osborne's bum wing simply reinforces the conviction that Cardinals were right not to trade Manny Aybar for Fernando Vina, since Aybar's now in the rotation. Unfortunately, that means that Kent Mercker is also still in the rotation, which isn't going to help. Given their starting pitching woes, and that Ricky Bottalico is going good so far, the Cardinals may decide to move Juan Acevedo back into the rotation. The critical factor will be whether or not Jose Jimenez and Mercker get their acts together. Will Osborne come back? Sure, he always seems to try. Will it be for more than a start or two? I wouldn't bet on it.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated 3B George Arias from the DL; optioned LHP Roberto Rivera to Las Vegas. [5/7]

Arias' return should move Dave Magadan back to spot starterdom and pinch-hitting, which is sort of a shame, since he was playing third base better than he had in years. On the other hand, the Pads have been having horrible problems with power, so they need Arias in the lineup in what is a rebuilding year anyways.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Placed RHP Julian Tavarez on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/1 (pneumonia); recalled SS Wilson Delgado from Fresno. [5/7] Acvtivated RHP Mark Gardner from the DL; optioned 3B Edwards Guzman to Fresno. [5/9]

Gardner's return pushes Joe Nathan to middle relief, which is a swell place for a young starter, not to mention he'll be an improvement on Tavarez in the job. As for why the Giants are carrying three shortstops now that they've got Delgado up, there's no good explanation. As is, Dusty probably isn't using F.P. Santagelo as much as he should, and not having any real alternative to Charlie Hayes in Bill Mueller's absence isn't helping the Giants put any distance between themselves and the Dodgers and D-Backs.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed 3B Wade Boggs on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring). [5/5] Purchased the contract of 1B/3B Herb Perry from Durham; transferred RHP Rick Gorecki from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/6]

3,000 hits is looking further and further away. As it stood, Gwynn was going to get there first anyways, but Boggs is not doing much to justify playing. At least there's some satisfaction in that he isn't writing his own name on the lineup card. As for Herb Perry, it would be unreasonable to expect him to play third base all that well after three major operations on his knee, but it is nice to see that he made it back. He can still hack and line the ball around the park, but I wouldn't go putting him down for 300 at-bats or anything.

TEXAS RANGERS

Activated RHP John Burkett from the DL; placed LHP Eric Gunderson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/8 (shoulder). [5/9]

The Rangers return to a five-man rotation. What's interesting about their situation is that between Burkett and Mike Morgan, they've got two guys who probably have to come out after five innings, but with a deep and somewhat talented pen and a solid offense, they can probably live with that. The Rangers' fortunes won't be handicapped by fourth and fifth starters who can't get beyond the sixth nearly as much as you have to wonder how well they'll match up in the postseason with a front three of Rick Helling, Aaron Sele and Mark Clark. The team is being built to win the AL West and to compete in divisional play, but that rotation isn't going to shut down the Indians or the Yankees. So the issue for the summer is probably going to be whether or not the Rangers go out of their way to pick up a great starting pitcher, or whether they settle for being a first-round wipeout again. They don't have much to trade down on the farm, as Ruben Mateo ought to be unavailable. Are Rangers fans happy with "we made the playoffs, and have very little chance of doing much more than that!" fever?

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Traded RHP Robert Person to the Phillies for LHP Paul Spoljaric; purchased the contract of RHP Billy Koch from Syracuse; optioned LHP Steve Sinclair to Syracuse. [5/5] Transferred RHP Bill Risley from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/6] Claimed OF Jacob Brumfield on waivers from the Dodgers; transferred RHP Paul Quantrill from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [5/7] Optioned CF Anthony Sanders to Syracuse. [5/8]

Sometimes Gord Ash does something right, but then promptly hands it back. I'm not a Person person, so getting Spoljaric back seems like a good idea. Both Dan Plesac and Graeme Lloyd are lefty-getters, while Spoljaric can be an effective long reliever. Koch's callup may or may not be temporary. Once Joey Hamilton reclaims his rotation spot, the Jays are thinking about moving Kelvim Escobar into the pen to be their right-handed closer, which means somebody will have to go. That could be Koch, or it could be Peter Munro or Tom Davey. The Jays will be in a happy situation--they can let results dictate their choice.

But why claim Jacob Brumfield at all? He doesn't do anything better than Anthony Sanders, let alone almost any other Triple-A veteran outfielder. This team can use a defensive sub in the outfield, and Sanders is the organization's best defensive outfielder. Brumfield isn't going to outhit anyone on the roster save Mike Matheny, and finding pinch-hitters for Matheny isn't hard.

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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