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June 12, 1999

Transaction Analysis

June 8-June 11

by Christina Kahrl

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Recalled INF Hanley Frias from Tucson; designated RHP Amaury Telemaco for assignment. [6/8]

So Telemaco is lost on waivers twice in thirteen months; he didn't help himself during his brief duty with the D'backs this year, but more importantly, he didn't cost enough to draw attention to himself in a Colangelo operation. It sort of reflects an organizational strength that the D'backs have four unmovable veterans in the pen (Gregg Olson, Darren Holmes, Greg Swindell and John Frascatore), plus two prospects (Vlad Nunez and Byung-Hyun Kim) who should be in purple and teal for awhile.

Nevertheless, Telemaco has value, and to have to change teams twice, essentially because neither of your employers had a very firm grip on roster management, is silly. On the other hand, it's great for Telemaco, because it means he'll get an opportunity to help a team instead of rotting in some sort of organizational limbo for the D'backs.

The D'backs have something of a problem on their hands. They're already having a hard time finding enough playing time for Andy Fox and Tony Batista, and Frias isn't good enough to push his way past either of them.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Placed SS Walt Weiss on the 15-day DL; recalled SS Mark DeRosa from Richmond. [6/9]

This is a doubly painful injury that hurts the Braves both offensively and defensively. Ozzie Guillen is a menace in the field...and that might be his strong suit. DeRosa's better than the Ozzeroo afield, but at best he might platoon. This could be divine intervention, in that the Braves had only recently recognized that it's better to bench Otis Nixon and Ice Williams, while playing Ryan Klesko in left field and a mildly dangerous first-base platoon of Randall Simon and Brian Hunter. If the Braves actually wanted to get major-league offense out of more than seven lineup slots, they might dispense with the Mets and the Phillies by August 1.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed DH Wil Cordero on the 60-day DL (broken wrist); optioned UT Jolbert Cabrera to Buffalo; recalled OF Jacob Cruz and purchased the contract of INF Jeff Manto from Buffalo. [6/9]

Cordero's out for at least ten weeks, which is about as important to this team as John Hart's golf stroke. Less so, because if Hart can't putt, he might get frustrated and make a bad deal. Cruz can play (.278/.363/.444 at Buffalo), and Manto has always been capable of contributing some quality PAs and filling in around the infield. The shame is for Bisons fans, because Manto was arguably the International League's MVP based on his .322/.493/.698 start.

With Cordero gone, Manny Ramirez serving his suspension and Richie Sexson prone to long slumps, Cruz has the opportunity to claim a good chunk of playing time against right-handed pitchers. If you're wondering what happened to Alex Ramirez, he's also hitting well at Buffalo: .300/.338/.486. But he's also very similar to Sexson (right-handed with power, little patience so far, an outfielder), while Cruz gives the Tribe a left-handed bat, and Manto gives the team a spare infielder who can handle both corners and, in a pinch, second base. Ramirez might have more of a future than Manto, but we're talking about the twelfth or thirteenth man: neither is going to get major playing time.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Purchased the contract of RHP David Wainhouse from Colorado Springs; optioned RHP David Lee to Colorado Springs. [6/9]

Wainhouse has had a nice run in the PCL, racking up nine saves and a 2.75 ERA. Earlier this year with the Rox, he posted up a 7.56 ERA, vs. the 7.04 ERA Lee compiled to earn his demotion. Basically, there's no sign that this is anything other than organizational indecisiveness.

DETROIT TIGERS

Optioned UT Jason Wood to Toledo. [6/9]

Activated 1B Tony Clark from the DL. [6/11]

I'm not sold on the proposition that Clark is going to out-hit Frank Catalanotto, but both of them should easily out-hit anointed leadoff savior Luis Polonia, or Gregg Jefferies, "Lord of the Pool". The move should cut into Catalanotto's playing time, which isn't going to help the Tigers in their pricey, pathetic quest for second place in the AL Central.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Optioned RHP Rafael Medina to Calgary; activated 3B Kevin Orie from the DL. [6/8]

Now Orie gets to become...a pinch-hitter? A defensive replacement for Mike Lowell? A guy to trade back to the Cubs, who need a right-handed-hitting gloveman to spot for and platoon with Tyler Houston? Orie won't out-hit Lowell or Kevin Millar, and he's not good enough to command all that much unless the shopper is really hard up. Or named "Robinson".

MONTREAL EXPOS

Claimed OF Scott Hunter off of waivers from the Mets. [6/10]

The question is whether he's worth a spot on the 40-man roster. At Triple-A Norfolk, he was hitting .228/.269/.383, with eight home runs and eight walks in 194 plate appearances. Admittedly, it's his first full season at the level, and he's only 23, but the only good season he's ever had came when he repeated Double-A last year. As much faith as I have in young players, this seems a stretch, even for an organization like the Expos that has plaenty of room for useful players on the 40-man roster.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Placed OF Matt Lawton on the 15-day DL (fractured eye socket); recalled OF Jacque Jones from Salt Lake City. [6/9]

Activated SS Cristian Guzman from the DL; optioned INF Cleatus Davidson to New Britain (Double-A). [6/10]

Add Lawton's pair of orbital fractures, courtesy of Dennis Reyes, to the list of reasons why this is a year he'd rather forget. Between extended slumps, operating as the equally unfortunate LaTroy Hawkins' spokesman of sorts and now this, Lawton has been the most-suffering Twin. Even so, he should only be out for the two weeks before coming back. Jones hasn't mastered Triple-A pitching yet; despite hitting at Salt Lake, he's only put up a .298/.325/.444, which is anemic for the PCL in general, and his park in particular.

Guzman's return doesn't really help in the short term. Denny Hocking was doing a better job at the plate, and neither one of them is going to make that much of a difference in the field for this team. If the Twins let Hocking play, they could turn him into useful trade bait. Does that sound ludicrous? Sure it does, but we live in a world where David Howard makes a lot of money.

NEW YORK METS

Activated OF Jay Payton from the DL, and optioned him to Norfolk; designated OF Scott Hunter for assignment (and lost him on waivers to the Expos). [6/8]

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Acquired RHP Scott Chiasson from the Royals to complete 3/30 trade of RHP Jay Witasick. [6/9]

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Claimed RHP Amaury Telemaco off of waivers from the Diamondbacks; transferred LHP Matt Beech from the 15- to the 60-day DL; optioned RHP Joel Bennett to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/8]

Placed RHP Carlton Loewer on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/6 (stress fracture - upper arm); recalled LHP Randy Wolf from Scranton Wilkes/Barre; transferred RHP Jeff Brantley from the 15- to 60-day DL. [6/9]

A nifty snag for the Phillies, right out of Lee Thomas' playbook: "Taking Your Chances on Tough-Luck Pitching Prospects". Telemaco should become a very important contributor in the Phillies' pen, doing everything the club hoped for from Robert Person and more.

The callup of Wolf may be premature. He's pitched generally well for Scranton, posting a 3.61 ERA in 12 starts, yielding 73 hits, 29 walks and eight home runs in 77 1/3 innings, while punching out 72 batters. He's made a huge accomplishment just by surviving the Phillies' development process this far. Already he's not your usual minor league lefty, because he cooks with gas, so he may not have the same problems people like Doug Johns have coming up. If he really makes the jump, the Phillies' wild-card chances get somewhat more realistic.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Optioned RHP Marc Wilkins to Nashville; purchased the contract of RHP Greg Hansell from Nashville; transferred SS Pat Meares from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/10]

Placed OF Turner Ward on the 15-day DL (knee); recalled CF Adrian Brown from Nashville. [6/11]

Wilkins struggled from the get-go, posting a 5.65 ERA. Armed with both the positives and negatives of their experience with Mike Williams, they've called up another long-suffering Triple-A vet in Hansell. Tossing middle relief for the Sounds, he had a 2.00 ERA, allowing only 27 baserunners in 27 innings while striking out 36. With Williams' example of how narrow is the fence between minor league journeymen and guys with multi-year contracts, this is his big opportunity.

Losing Ward to his still-recuperating knees, and Giles' hamstring problems not going away, might almost be enough to get Brant Brown some playing time in center field. Unfortunately for the Bucs, spending three weeks on the bench didn't help him learn how to field the position.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Activated LF Barry Bonds from the DL; placed RF Ellis Burks on the 15-day DL (inflamed knee). [6/9]

Obviously a net gain. Dusty still gets to have fun mixing and matching playing time among Stan Javier, F.P. Santangelo, Armando Rios and Marvin Benard at two of the outfield spots, which will give him a bench loaded with players sharp from regular playing time. Once several of the D'backs' bats slow down--and they will slow down--the Giants should be in a great position to grab for sole possession of first place.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed RHP Dave Eiland on the 15-day DL (back); recalled LHP Norm Charlton from Durham. [6/8]

Placed LHP Mike Duvall on the 15-day DL (strained oblique muscle); recalled RHP Mickey Callaway from Durham; transferred RHP Jim Mecir from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/9]

Charlton wasn't fooling people in Durham, allowing seven home runs in 31 2/3 innings, so it's safe to say he isn't going to have yet another Travoltian mini-comeback.

How bad off are the D-Rays? They could really use Dennis Springer right about now, because their rotation has been reduced to Wilson Alvarez, Bobby Witt on a respirator, Ryan Rupe, Bryan Rekar and now Mickey Callaway. Callaway doesn't throw that hard, and doesn't really have any great pitch. The International League tattooed him for 62 hits in 49 innings and a 4.98 ERA, but he's got a nifty-looking 4-1 record, so he must be doing something right. Right? Since the Bulls' lineup might be better than the D-Rays', Callaway might have been better off in Durham, getting better run support.

TEXAS RANGERS

Activated RHP Mike Morgan from the DL; optioned RHP Danny Kolb to Oklahoma. [6/8]

As expected, Morgan didn't really miss any time and made his scheduled start on Tuesday. On the other hand, he got rocked, and the Rangers still need a rotation that can give them five innings per start.

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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