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July 31, 2004
Activated CF-L Alex Sanchez from the 15-day DL; optioned OF-R Nook Logan to Toledo. [7/29]
Basepath mayhem is back in fashion in the Motor City. Since miscegenation between sportswriters and statistics have given us "Productive Outs," maybe we need to spend more time worrying about Sanchez's forte, "Wasted Time On-Base." He's easily the craziest baserunner in the game today, the antithesis of the unselfish leadoff man who puts himself on base to get driven in. I know, it's all fun and games, but between that and the brutal, almost literally flat-footed fielding, Sanchez makes a great nominee for the most overrated player in the game today. He's certainly my candidate. He's very nearly the worst leadoff man on the team in terms of being able to get on base, but he bats leadoff because… because… well, because the game is a captive of people who played or got into the game in the '70s, that loathed time when even Chuck Tanner was hip. I can't say I miss those days, either as a fan or as a person.
Optioned LHP Jimmy Gobble to Omaha. [7/29]
This one seems like a fit of pique, one in which Gobble gets dispatched to the fringes of the Nebraska tabletop to work on his mechanics, and then maybe start a game or two for Omaha, and then maybe they'll let him come back and play.
There's no other place for this, so let's review what's in the Royals rotation. As somber as things might seem, Zack Greinke and Mike Wood are pitching their guts out and proving they belong. Darrell May has 20-loss stuff, to give the lefty a left-handed compliment: he's good enough to keep sending out there, and if that means he loses 20 games, I hope the Royals aren't so lily-livered as to quaver at the prospect. It isn't a bad trio for an obviously weak team. Down on the farm, Denny Bautista is busily making the Orioles rue the day they dealt him, so perhaps by next year, the Royals will boast a young trio of Greinke, Wood, and Bautista. Worse things could happen, but that's the way pitching goes.
Beyond that, things get ugly. Brian Anderson has earned his way out of the rotation, but he's being paid far too much for them to pull the plug, especially since he's owed a big chunk of change for 2005. (Some sunk costs can't sink out of sight soon enough.) The fifth starter? Well, in Gobble's punitive absence, you've got choices like Dennys Reyes out of the big-league bullpen, while Omaha offers organizational usual suspects like Les Walrond, Kris Wilson and Chris George. Wichita might cough up former pitching suspects like Junior Herndon or Jimmy Serrano.
Now, sure, that sounds grim, but keep in mind, the Royals' sand castle in the sky, involving contending this year, has long since blown away and given somebody in central Missouri a bad beach day experience from above. So really, we're talking about a rebuild with a 2003 blip that's akin to the Pirates' BIG YEAR WITH BONIFAY.
Released 1B-R Eric Karros. [7/29]
This has been Cordero's breakthrough season, and given the way that arbitration panels have neither the time nor inclination to have the relative value of closers to other relievers explained to them, it seems sensible to circumvent the process and pay the guy up front. When you read that, keep in mind that Cordero really has been the Rangers' best reliever, as estimated by Michael Wolverton's Reliever Evaluation Tools, in what is the American League's best pen. (It's sort of amazing to note that despite all of their rotation problems, the Rangers are only in the middle of the pack in terms of total relief innings pitched.)
Anyway, on the level of whatever sense of reason underlies reliever compensation, Cordero's getting a nice enough chunk of change. Although he's 29, as a reliever and a closer, he could remain at this sort of one-inning per night workload for the rest of the decade and not really lose much.
Optioned RHP Justin Wayne to Albuquerque. [7/29]
This is a precursor to the latest reactivation of Josh Beckett. I always thought "Waiting for Beckett" involved Peter O'Toole hamming it up against a brooding Richard Burton, but instead it seems to be the sort of thing that includes Will Carroll fidgeting with his cell phone and sage wisdom from the equally squishy-fingered Ismael Valdes.
Placed LHP Wayne Franklin on the 15-day DL (strained lower back); recalled RHP Kevin Correia from Fresno. [7/29]
Franklin is one of several disappointments on the staff, but he doesn't deserve to be singled out, not when Matt Herges and Jason Christiansen are doing just as much to make Felipe Alou reach for the Pepto. It's sort of another iteration of the Giants' same old, same old problem: with so much spent on their big-ticket players, and so little time invested in bringing in worthwhile minor-league free agents, they wind up with few options when things go wrong.
One adaptation is the recent decision to convert Correia to relief. If it represented a bit of Earl Weaver wisdom, I'd probably be more impressed, but as a move inspired by desperate need, it can still produce the same happy result, an effective reliever on a team that needs one. As a sinker-slider guy with decent command, I wouldn't be surprised to see Correia become useful in short order.