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June 8, 1999

Transaction Analysis

June 4-June 7

by Christina Kahrl

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned C Tommy Davis to Rochester. [6/4]

Placed RHP Mike Fetters on the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Scott Kamieniecki from Rochester. [6/7]

Nothing really important to note here; neither Fetters nor Kamieniecki will ever again be significant parts of any team, even one as bad as the Orioles.

BOSTON RED SOX

Activated RHP Kip Gross from the DL, and outrighted him to Pawtucket. [6/4]

Activated RHP Juan Pena from the DL, and optioned him to Pawtucket. [6/6]

Well, if they were hoping Mark Portugal was really going to retire, they didn't get their wish. Gross has all the makings of a fine Pawsock: he was a prospect at some point since Gorbymania, he has the cachet of mystery that comes with being a Japanese Leagues vet, and he can always thank his folks for naming him Kip.

Pena will inherit a rotation spot in the near future, when the organization decides to cut its losses on Pat Rapp, or if Tim Wakefield doesn't come around, or if Bret Saberhagen blows a sprocket refilling his bleach gun. Or all of the above. That's part of the fun of the Red Sox: infinite possibilities for almost-infinite interchangeability.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Recalled INF Liu Rodriguez from Birmingham (Double-A); optioned RHP Chad Bradford to Charlotte. [6/5]

Jerry Manuel's been kvetching about getting a second utility infielder for months now. It's somewhat baffling, in that he pretty much refuses to use the one he already has (Craig Wilson). Part of Manuel's reluctance to use Wilson may be his trying to avoid getting caught short-handed in case someone gets injured, which is also the big reason managers avoid using all their catchers in a game. I've never been a big fan of a "save the last bullet" managing style, but I'm not sure if that's what's happening here. If Wilson gets used more as a defensive replacement for Greg Norton now, then we'll know.

In the meantime, Rodriguez is sort of wasted on the bench. He's mostly a second baseman, so he isn't a true utility infielder, and he has solid on-base skills and enough speed to be handy as a pinch-runner. The best-case scenario for him is a Joey Cora career, but even that's a longshot.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Outrighted RHP Rich DeLucia outright to Buffalo. [6/7]

COLORADO ROCKIES

Activated C Kirt Manwaring from the DL; outrighted 1B J.R. Phillips to Colorado Springs; named John Cangelosi roving minor league base running-outfield instructor. [6/4]

Purchased the contract of UT Terry Shumpert from Colorado Springs; optioned INF Chris Petersen to Colorado Springs. [6/5]

Activated UT Kurt Abbott from the DL; optioned UT Chris Sexton to Colorado Springs. [6/7]

What's a managerial genius to do? Second base is becomingan oozing sore for the organization. To make matters worse, they're carrying three catchers because they've already made the mistake of keeping Kirt Manwaring around after wasting the chance to let him walk away last winter. So now some extra-zesty combo of Kurt Abbott, Terry Shumpert and maybe even old, mostly harmless Lenny Harris will log more valuable service time.

Hey, at least Leyland gets to give his old buddy the Cangy-man a cozy sinecure after mean old Jerry Manuel cut everyone's favorite sixth outfielder in camp.

DETROIT TIGERS

Optioned RHP Matt Anderson to Toledo; recalled RHP Nelson Cruz from Toledo. [6/7] Announced that Toledo Mudhens DH Bob Hamelin has retired, effective immediately. [6/8]

Cruz is being called up for an emergency start, with Justin Thompson unable to go. He's a changeup artist of no great note, so he's not going to turn into Jose Lima anytime soon. Demoting Anderson may make sense on one level, letting him get straightened out in the minors (or "work on his breaking stuff," as Tigers management claims).

The Tigers BS'd their way through the off-season and spring talking about how competitive it was going to be, only to predictably fall on its face. Given that bravado, it seems strange that the Tigers are calling up minor league veterans and demoting people with talent, while entertaining their fans with contests like "Which Mlicki have we got?" or slogans like "More souvenirs when you fly Air Blair!" In light of that morass, I can understand why the Hammer decided to hang 'em up. Who'd want to be associated with this organization?

HOUSTON ASTROS

Activated SS Ricky Gutierrez from the DL; optioned INF Carlos Hernandez to New Orleans. [6/7]

For those of you keeping score at home, this means the Astros now officially have more than half of their Opening Day lineup available to them. Despite the injuries, they're still three games up on everyone else in the division. The only disappointment here is this sort of nips Russ Johnson's opportunity in the bud.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Placed 1B/OF Larry Sutton on the 15-day DL (sore elbow); recalled 1B/OF Jeremy Giambi from Omaha. [6/5]

Tony Muser can huff and puff about the importance of getting good glovework at first base, but the Royals aren't going to win the World Series, or even get to second place in the AL Central, goofing around with Larry Sutton at first base. No other goal, no matter how far off late-October baseball might seem now, is worthwhile. So as long as you're breaking in Los Dos Carlitos, you may as well play Giambi the Lesser until you have enough information to make an informed decision about whether he's going to be part of the next good Royals team.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Recalled CF Kevin Gibbs from Albuquerque, and placed him on the 60-day DL (shoulder lesion). [6/4]

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Returned 2B Fernando Vina to the 15-day DL (strained quadricep); recalled INF Lou Collier from Louisville. [6/5]

No word on whether Vina hurt his quad running around the clubhouse during another one of his disagreements with Phil Garner. The more playing time the Brewers can get for Ronnie Belliard, the better off they are--as long as Vina demonstrates his health before the July 31 trade deadline.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Optioned RHP Javier Vazquez to Ottawa; recalled RHP Dan Smith from Ottawa. [6/6]

Even the Expos get frustrated, and Vazquez has proven to be a big disappointment. Smith isn't a prospect, but neither is Mike Thurman and the Expos are still running him out there. Although I think a lot of us tend to wish Felipe Alou and his crew the best, sometimes you have to wonder how much thought is going into decisions like trotting out Thurman or Miguel Batista or Shawn Boskie or Mike Johnson. Do they recognize the differences among the group, or are they just throwing things at the wall in the hope that something sticks?

NEW YORK METS

Signed RHP Jose Bautista to a minor-league contract, and assigned him to Norfolk. [6/4]

Fired pitching coach Bob Apodaca, bullpen coach Randy Niemann and hitting coach Tom Robson; named Dave Wallace pitching coach, Al Jackson bullpen coach, and Mickey Brantley hitting coach. [6/5]

OAKLAND A'S

Activated RHP Kevin Jarvis from the DL, and outrighted him to Vancouver. [6/6]

Purchased the contract of RHP Tim Hudson from Vancouver; designated RHP Tom Candiotti for assignment. [6/7]

Hudson makes his major league debut tonight. He's an interesting story, falling to the fifth round because he lacks a classic power pitcher's build, since he's considered thin and a bit short at 6'. Having mastered his new delivery, he's shown improved control of his fastball/splitter combo. Billy Beane's been singing his praises for several weeks, so with that kind of buildup and the A's offensive struggles, he'll have his work cut out for him.

As for Candiotti, you might think he's almost certainly old enough to pitch for Lou Piniella, except Lou was the man who cut Phil Niekro a year or two too soon. I won't be surprised at all if Candiotti clears waivers and winds up a Brewer, so that he can finish where he started back in 1983.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Placed SS Chris Gomez on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/2 (corrective knee surgery), and OF Reggie Sanders on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/3 (pulled stomach muscle); recalled OF Gary Matthews, Jr. from Las Vegas; purchased the contract of 2B/OF David Newhan from Las Vegas; transferred LHP Randy Myers from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/4]

Signed INF Carlos Baerga and OF Wayne Kirby to minor-league contracts and assigned them to Las Vegas; recalled RHP Will Cunnane from Las Vegas; placed LHP Ed Vosberg on unconditional waivers. [6/5]

Randy Myers is done for the year, making the decision to trade for him look even worse in retrospect than it did at the time, especially since it was pretty clear that nobody else wanted to play "hot potato" with Kevin Towers.

In Gomez's absence, the Pad people will have to survive with Damian Jackson getting a clean shot at lots of playing time at short. Gary Matthews, Jr. may also have the opportunity to push his way past Ruben Rivera for the still-available center field job. That's about as positive as I can get about what's looking like a miserable situation for the Pads. Newhan can't really play second base, and doesn't hit well enough to man an outfield corner, which means he has a lot in common with Eric Owens. That isn't meant to put them down; players like that have value, as long as they're spare parts. But with so many Padre starters down, these guys are the heart of the lineup. That's simply grim.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Purchased the contract of CF Terrell Lowery from Durham; optioned OF Danny Clyburn to Durham; transferred OF Quinton McCracken from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/4]

Some things can renew your faith that there is justice in the universe. Lowery's a better prospect than Clyburn ever was; he can actually hurt left-handed pitching, run a bit and play a nifty center field, while Clyburn does a third-rate impression of Glenn Braggs. This isn't going to make the D-Rays significantly better, but every little bit helps: there's nothing worse than a wasted roster spot on a bad team.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Optioned 2B Pat Kelly and OF Patrick Lennon to Syracuse. [6/6]

Purchased the contracts of 3B Willie Greene and SS Chris Woodward from Syracuse. [6/7]

So why was it a good idea to send Greene down in the first place? Because you needed to blow major-league PAs on Dave Hollins? I'd almost write off any positives that come from bringing Greene back as the lucky benefit of a random move; if the Jays keep demoting and promoting people willy-nilly, the chances are somebody will do something well. But what's the point of complimenting them on it when they had to send the player down just to call him up?

If this team can't tell the difference between Willie Greene and Willis Otanez when it comes to fixing their problem at third base or DH, that's a lack of direction. Not that we should be so surprised: Tom Evans should be around, after all, except that Gord Ash lost him on waivers already.

At least an organizational soldier like Woodward is getting his big break. He's not a great glove at shortstop, and he won't be an important offensive contributor, but unlike Homer Bush he is familiar with the basics of playing the position. What's sad is that Bush has been outplayed by Pat Kelly as well as by Craig Grebeck, and the Jays' response is to get everyone's favorite 25th man more playing time while moving the productive players aside.

To reiterate, Bush is not going to be part of the Jays' future any more than Grebeck or Kelly, so why give him the playing time? It isn't like any of them are prospects with great futures ahead of them. While Bush may not be in the twilight of his career, the career he's in the prime of isn't going to be a great one. If the Jays want to take the time to prove it to themselves, I guess we can say, "hey, it's their team," except that this team should be contending, and guys like Gord Ash and Jim Fregosi seem to have found ways to keep it from happening.

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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