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August 10, 2004

Transaction Analysis

August 3-8

by Christina Kahrl

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS Return to Top

Placed C-R Bengie Molina on the 15-day DL (broken finger). [8/3]

Signed 1B-R Andres Galarraga to a minor-league contract, and assigned him to Salt Lake; recalled C-R Wil Nieves from Salt Lake. [8/5]

After being teased with possible comebackery by the Giants, Marlins and Rockies, the Big Cat was going to get something from somebody somewhere, and sheesh, if guys named Franco can keep it going, why not Galarraga, too? I suppose he might be able to show up and handle platoon duties should the Angels ever want to take a breather from the public slavering over Darin Erstad that makes even Al and Tipper Gore blush.

As for absolutely having to have a fourth catcher after losing one of the first three, should it surprise anybody that Mike Scioscia goes all fanboy about anyone wearing the tools of ignorance? It's a point of interest I've always shared; some people get silly about knuckleballers and sidearmers and scrubby scrappy middle infielders, but my weak spot is always going to be for catchers and who's catching where. I'm not crazy; I'm merely curious about them. Nieves hit .289/.313/.463 up in Salt Lake's thin air, good for only a .209 translated Equivalent Average. That isn't exactly the sort of guy who does anything better than either Jose Molina or Josh Paul, and Paul has barely gotten into any game action all year.

BOSTON RED SOX Return to Top

Acquired LHP Mike Myers from the Mariners for a PTBNL; designated RHP Jamie Brown for assignment; optioned LHP Mark Malaska to Pawtucket. [8/6]

Finally, a move the Sox needed to make, as they pick up one of the better bets among the various pretenders striving to claim the "greatest situational starlet's" petal throne, abandoned since Jesse Orosco was carried off by virgins to Avalon or Valhalla or the VFW down the street or wherever it is that situational lefties go to when they shuffle off this professional coil. With Byung-Hyun Kim and Curtis Leskanic getting good news lately, the Sox should be able to shore up the pen by the end of the month, even if Scott Williamson is out of action for the indefinite future. The question is whether that might be too late. Happily, both the Angels and Rangers are flawed teams, and I don't think anyone really expects the White Sox to make a move, so maybe it'll work out.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX Return to Top

Acquired 2B-B Roberto Alomar from the Diamondbacks for a PTBNL and cash. [8/5]

Returned LHP Scott Schoeneweis to the 15-day DL (elbow inflammation), retroactive to 8/5. [8/6]

Optioned C-R Jamie Burke to Charlotte. [8/8]

Picking up Robbie Alomar resembles a contention-minded move, but does it really help? I suppose it might if Willie Harris moves to center field and Aaron Rowand to right, but if instead Ross Gload, Joe Borchard and Timo Perez keep getting to play while Harris sits, the Sox won't really have helped themselves all that much. Carl Everett isn't hitting, and the catcher's spot had been a zero until Ben Davis got hot of late. With Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez gone for the rest of the year, they're going to have a hard time finishing ahead of Cleveland. Fidgeting between thinking they can still contend and wanting to work someone like Borchard into the lineup reflects a conflicting sense of priorities. Getting Alomar doesn't hurt, of course, but it's hardly a commitment to trying to keep up with the Twins as much as it's a gesture that they'd really like to keep up with the Twins. Since the Twins haven't been quite so obliging of late, it's just wishful thinking.

CLEVELAND INDIANS Return to Top

Acquired LHP Pierre-Luc Marceau from the Expos for LHP Jeriome Robertson. [8/3]

Acquired DH-R Josh Phelps from the Blue Jays for 1B-L Eric Crozier. [8/6]

Designated OF-R Alex Escobar for assignment; optioned RHP Kazuhito Tadano to Buffalo. [8/7]

If you skip ahead and see what I have to say about the deal from the Jays' perspective, keep all that in mind when I also say that this is a gamble worth taking if you're the Tribe. Despite the likelihood that Phelps will be a super-two arbitration case, and so guaranteed a significant raise despite being a very unguaranteed commodity, consider the lineup. Guys locked in for next year like Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Jody Gerut bat left-handed, as does token veteran hitter Matt Lawton. Ben Broussard might not hit well enough to stick at first base or DH; he also bats lefty. Other than a nearly 31-year-old Casey Blake and switch-hitter Victor Martinez, this is a lineup that's a little light on right-handed power sources. So Phelps makes a great gamble in that sense, and if the Tribe's coaches can work with him, the Indians might have a right-handed bopper in the DH slot to be the anti-Snider in this very lefty lineup. It's a two-month trial; if they don't like what they see, they can always non-tender him.

Although Crozier isn't without value, he was an oldish lefty-hitting organizational soldier, already stranded behind Broussard and Hafner and the outfielders. And since the Indians aren't out of the running yet, it's even a handy in-season risk. It almost certainly won't be remembered as such, but it's a great bit of venture prospecting, yet with stretch-drive value. Tip o'the cap to Mr. Shapiro to company.

DETROIT TIGERS Return to Top

Designated RHP Danny Patterson for assignment; purchased the contract of RHP John Ennis from Toledo. [8/3]

Activated OF-R Craig Monroe from the 15-day DL; optioned C-R Mike DiFelice to Toledo. [8/7]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS Return to Top

Recalled 2B-B Ruben Gotay from Wichita; placed INF-R Tony Graffanino on the 15-day DL (calf injury). [8/3]

Purchased the contract of RHP Jim Serrano from Wichita (Double-A); placed 1B/OF-L Matt Stairs on the 15-day DL (strained oblique). [8/7]

I may be critical of Rickie Weeks, but over here, we have ourselves an actual second-base prospect. In the reckless enthusiasm of and for youth, I might have been as effusive about Gotay now as I was on Ronnie Bellliard seven or eight years ago. After all, Gotay isn't even 22 yet, and he handled the jump to Double-A this season, smacking around the Southern League at a .290/.373/.441 clip. He runs in ways you wish he wouldn't (9 of 19 stealing bases), and he's demonstrated an ability to bunt that might lead to all sorts of wasted time in the big leagues. Like Belliard then, there are concerns today that Gotay might not be a great glove, but I'd say I'm about as enthusiastic about Gotay now as I am about Belliard in retrospect. However much of a star player Belliard did not become, he didn't wind up like Carlos Febles, either. Gotay has a future, and if he and David DeJesus might not have rookie status next year to inspire comparisons to Los Dos Carlitos circa 1999, at least they might inspire some similar renewals of faith.

MINNESOTA TWINS Return to Top

Placed RHP Grant Balfour on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder), retroactive to 7/26; recalled C-B Rob Bowen from New Britain (Double-A). [8/5]

Optioned SS-R Jason Bartlett to Rochester; purchased the contract of INF-B Augie Ojeda from Rochester. [8/7]

NEW YORK YANKEES Return to Top

Optioned RHP Juan Padilla to Columbus; signed 1B-L John Olerud. [8/3]

Purchased the contract of LHP C.J. Nitkowski from Columbus; optioned LHP Felix Heredia to Tampa (A ball). [8/5]

Olerud is not really that useful, not as a regular on a team that needs power at a power position. He is useful in certain scenarios, and right here happens to be one of them. Why is that? First, the Yankees get good power out of every slot in the lineup save second base. As a result, the ravenous maw of the Yankee offensive machine is fueled by OBP, an endless stream of baserunners that grind opposing pitching staffs into mulch, game after game, series after series, all season long. As long as Olerud can get on base, he'll help feed the machine. It does create an interesting problem, considering that Tony Clark hasn't hit lefties much this year (.197/.256/.268 so far), but he's done well against them historically. Okay, enough fidgeting about who bats eighth, I'm sure we're all cranky enough about this.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS Return to Top

Activated INF-R Esteban German from the 15-day DL; optioned INF-R Ramon Castro to Midland (Double-A). [8/1]

Activated RHP Tim Hudson from the 15-day DL; placed RHP Kirk Saarloos on the 15-day DL (bone spur - elbow). [8/7]

As we reach the portion of the program where the guys in green mount another one of their blistering finishes that makes this team something like the Orioles of old, could there be a better bit of scripting than getting Hudson back? Saarloos did well for a guy who needs surgery to clean up his elbow, and he still has a future, but with Hudson shelved the rotation ceased to be a source of strength. Barry Zito's struggles have been widely noted, but Mark Redman should be considered almost as disappointing. Even with Rich Harden improving in-season, Ken Macha hardly has an easy choice to make for who starts the third game of a short series. Now that Hudson is back, however, and with nothing but below-.500 clubs on the schedule for the rest of the month, now is the time for the A's to run the table so that they can spend September fretting about getting everyone prepped for the postseason.

SEATTLE MARINERS Return to Top

Acquired a PTBNL from the Red Sox for LHP Mike Myers; recalled RHP Cha Seung Baek from Tacoma. [8/6]

The Red Sox aren't exactly an organization laden with prospects, so Mariners fans shouldn't hold their breath about what goody they just got. This is basically an additional punt on top of all of the others, where Bill Bavasi gets to cash in another chip made valueless by events so that he can instead take a look at what else is lying around

Baek is not exactly a prospect as pitchers go: decent velocity, outstanding command of four pitches, well short of dominating. As another entry in the Mariners' fascination with building their own Pacific Rim Co-Prosperity Sphere for baseball talent, Baek is one of their high-profile Korean signings. He's being put into middle relief, appropriate enough for a guy who was giving up more than 5.3 runs per nine in pitcher-friendly Tacoma. He didn't exactly earn the promotion, but again, now is as good a time as any to sort out what he's doing on the 40-man roster.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS Return to Top

Recalled RHP John Webb from Montgomery (Double-A). [8/1]

Activated RHP Seth McClung from the 60-day DL, and optioned to Durham. [8/3]

Optioned RHP John Webb to Durham; recalled RHPJeremi Gonzalez from Durham. [8/5]

There's this theory that if you make a merry-go-round go round really fast, it's fun, even if you're staying in place. And it's conceivably so much fun that it's an experience relished by the perpetually drunk (ah, the spins). And as Caesar might have said, it's a pleasure that can be enjoyed by the rich and the poor alike, because you can do it yourself. Just find an open space and spin yourself in a circle, and you'll reach dizzying heights of dizziness. Or maybe it's more of a dizzy plateau, but that's a bit confusing, and we'd have to ask someone about agoraphobia to really set that straight.

At any rate, on the subject of going 'round and 'round, how do you think Jeremi Gonzalez feels? He won't be pushed back into the rotation just yet: in what is probably his last-chance sweepstakes to stick with the Devil Fishies, he's going to toss in long relief, the lonely lot of someone banished to the bullpen. And it is lonely; just ask David Cone.

TEXAS RANGERS Return to Top

Optioned LHP Sam Narron to Oklahoma; purchased the contract of LHP Mike Bacsik from Oklahoma. [7/31]

Optioned LHP Erasmo Ramirez to Oklahoma; added RHP Scott Erickson to the active 25-man roster. [8/3]

Returned RHP Jeff Nelson to the 15-day DL (flexor tendonitis); recalled LHP Ryan Snare from Oklahoma. [8/5]

Recalled RHP Rosman Garcia from Oklahoma; optioned Ryan Snare to Oklahoma. [8/7]

There comes a point where the deck chairs can be reshuffled only so many times, and the Rangers are basically there. Along the way, they wound up with Narron losing an option a season early--just so that he could get blitzed--the enfeebled Erickson comeback, no Jeff Nelson this month, and all the Garcia, Snare, and Nick Regilio you can stand. Throw 'em in a blender and name Rosnick Snaregilio your starter.

Amidst that dreck, it's worth wondering why Bacsik wasn't up sooner. He's not a prospect, but he does throw strikes, and can boast some small measure of relative durability. Of course, that's what you could have said about John Wasdin, too. If you think Buck Showalter's least favorite part of the day is picking a starting pitcher, you'd probably be right. Sometime soon, Juan Dominguez, Chan Ho Park and R.A. Dickey are all supposed to come off of the DL, and while it would be easy to say "be careful what you wish for," let's face it, the situation is desperate. Any quality start out of somebody not named Kenny Rogers or Ryan Drese needs to be treated like major local news.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Mike Nakamura to Syracuse; activated RHP Justin Miller from the 15-day DL. [8/5]

Traded DH-R Josh Phelps to the Indians for 1B-L Eric Crozier. [8/6]

Recalled OF-L Gabe Gross from Syracuse. [8/7]

Fired manager Carlos Tosca, and named John Gibbons interim manager. [8/8]

Phelps had hit three home runs in his last two starts, and he gets to sit on the bench and subsequently get dealt? In short, yes, because a DH who's hitting .188/.252/.290 against right-handed pitching isn't very useful, even if he was conjuring up memories of Cliff Johnson by mashing lefties at a .321/.370/.633 clip. He wasn't listening, wasn't making adjustments and wasn't producing. In that light, you can understand why the Jays felt they needed to do something. Given that the fact that their displeasure wasn't especially secret, it's clear that they weren't going to get much for someone who's a 26-year-old platoon DH instead of the slugging monster we all sort of expected he'd be, and probably due to be a super-two arbitration-eligible guy. If you don't know which way he's going, do you really want to risk a major payday?

It's also slightly funny for me that Crozier was the guy picked up, because he was the last cut in the Indians chapter in this season's book. This isn't the first time I've been hoisted on that particular petard, but if I give in to the instinct to include everybody, we'd have an 800-pager in no time, and all passel of workmen's comp suits from various broken-backed UPS and USPS minions. Crozier comes over having hit .297/.375/.571 at Buffalo, which translates to a .265 Equivalent Average in the bigs; not great, but not useless either. For what it's worth, he hit in both of his previous pro seasons as well. He wasn't showing a platoon split this year, hitting righties and lefties, but as his 26th birthday creeps up, whatever future he might have is right now. As a 41st-round pick just a step away from the majors, you'd think the guy would have an element of instant celebrity if he makes it.

Although he'll initially work out of the bullpen, will Miller eventually go back into the rotation? I don't see why not, since that's the role the Jays really need to see him in to decide what to do this winter. The most bumpable starter of the moment is Sean Douglass, although you never know when Josh Towers might uncork another one of his patented 'tater showers. (And before you ask, no, that is not an obscure Irish sexual practice.) As for Nakamura, again, he hasn't capitalized on his opportunity, while Douglass and Vinny Chulk have worked their way into the organization's good graces.

Finally, I have no fond farewells for Carlos Tosca. Like some of his contemporaries, he wasn't much on getting woven into today's fashion of operating through a management team, and he won't be the last guy fired for it. What's a little more interesting to dissect is why the Jays once again went through the rigamarole of saying "he's gone after the year" in-season, as they had with Buck Martinez before. What's the point?

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Return to Top

Recalled INF-R Andy Green from Tucson; placed LF-L Luis Gonzalez on the 15-DL (elbow surgery). [8/3]

Traded 2B-B Roberto Alomar to the White Sox for a PTBNL and cash. [8/5]

Optioned LHP Randy Choate to Tucson; recalled LHP Shane Nance from Tucson. [8/8]

Is "mercy surgery" to be found in any medical dictionary? Gonzo gave playing this year his best shot, but let's face it, he was not himself. It's worth asking whether, at age 37, he's going to have much of himself left to find next year and beyond. With three years left to go on his contract, let's be charitable and hope so. Even maimed, he was mashing and drawing walks and contributing, but between the difficulties with pulling the trigger at the plate and getting the ball back in from the outfield, he's better off getting Elbow 2.0 loaded up in time for next year.

As for the rest, it doesn't really change things much. We'll have to see what dumping Robbie Alomar brings them, but I wouldn't worry about it. The mistake was signing him in the first place, what with the organization's backlog of middle-infield types. Swapping Choate for Nance is interesting, now that Nance is supposed to be healthy. As a lefty with some velocity, he bears watching. Demoting Choate might seem nuts considering his 6.0 Adjusted Runs Prevented, but he wasn't thriving as a situational reliever (lefties were hitting him at a .288/.382/.425 clip), or doing that well stranding inherited runners.

CINCINNATI REDS Return to Top

Activated CF-L Ken Griffey Jr. from the 15-day DL; placed RHP John Riedling on the bereavement list. [8/3]

It's sort of strange, but if Griffey can play, I guess the Reds might have the best outfield unit that they'e going to have from here on out. It would give them a trio of Griffey, an Adam Dunn who's back in the swing of things, and Wily Mo Pena, now beyond circus act and well into what we can call a plain old breakout. Austin Kearns should be back by the end of the month, although given his various injuries, it would be wise for the Reds to not push him too hard. Because Adam Dunn should get a major raise through arbitration, there might be a temptation to see if Kearns can make Dunn expendable so that the Reds can dodge that particular payday. Hopefully, the Reds won't succumb to it.

COLORADO ROCKIES Return to Top

Acquired RHP Jason Burch and two PTBNLs from the Cardinals for OF-L Larry Walker and cash. [8/6]

Placed RHP Aaron Cook on the 15-day DL (blood clots - lungs); purchased the contract of OF-L Jorge Piedra from Colorado Springs. [8/7]

Recalled LHP Javier Lopez from Colorado Springs. [8/8]

I guess the best possible thing to say under the circumstances is that the Rockies worked something out to allow Larry Walker to play some meaningful baseball again. Never mind the dreck they're getting in return; beyond the inevitable minor-league closer already named, you can start off with Jay Jaffe's exercise involving the Yankees' peddled wares, and take it down several notches to get down to the assortment of bottle caps and Bazooka Joe comics Walt Jocketty has had to give up to make these things happen. When one of the objectives achieved by this exercise is to revisit the nascent Bichettery of the awesomely uninspiring Matt Holliday, I lose any sense of hope that the Rockies are ever going to be straightened.

You might point out "what choice do they have," which is perfectly reasonable: they're the Rockies, and however many times you say it, the excuse seems to lose none of its value over time. As power prospects go, Holliday is like Ken Gerhart or Doug Frobel or Brad Komminsk or even Fonzie himself, a vessel into which too much hope and not as much talent has been crammed. If there were a lack of alternatives, I suppose it would make sense to play him, but even Piedra is one more pony in my herd of hobbyhorses, a guy who's shown just enough hitting talent that I'd like to see what he can do. Beyond having been batted around a bit, flitting from the Dodgers to the Cubs to the Rockies, he's still only 25, and he managed to hit .334/.371/.555 in Colorado Springs this year. Yes, you might note that's Colorado Springs, where the mound is a mile-high sacrificial altar to the souls unfortunate enough to stand on it, but that line is better than anything Holliday has ever done, and Piedra is only eight months older than the "prospect."

If there's bad news beyond swag unacquired or wrong people playing, I guess it can be found on the pitching staff. Losing Cook for the year after already losing Jason Young really takes a lot of evaluation off of the agenda. Instead, fans will be treated to the Jamey Wright comeback tour, the existential mystery of Adam Bernero, and learning to like Jeff Fassero for his thoughtful homage to The Human Torch of the Fantastic Four. Who said you need to have a fireworks show at the ballpark?

FLORIDA MARLINS Return to Top

Designated RHP Aaron Small for assignment; recalled OF-R Chris Aguila from Albuquerque. [8/3] Outrighted Small to Albuquerque. [8/4]

HOUSTON ASTROS Return to Top

Placed SS-R Adam Everett on the 15-day DL (broken bone - wrist); recalled SS-R Eric Bruntlett from New Orleans. [8/7]

Outside of the bandbox down in Houston, Everett is hitting .229/.258/.313 this year. We're not talking the next Jay Bell or the next Chris Speier, but a second-generation Johnnie LeMaster with that exciting new glove upgrade that almost makes him resemble a real shortstop. If Garner wants an inoffensive shortstop to paste the occasional single and bunt, he has the luxury of Jose Vizcaino's expensive services and Bruntlett's more cost-effective contributions. Everybody involved has all of their fingers and toes, so they'll be able to live up to the standard that has been set.

To say that this will have absolutely no impact on the Astros' irrelevance, other than being another note lost in their season's symphony of white noise, would be to say too much. They're done. All that's left now is to sort out onto which deserted isle they need to dump Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Brad Ausmus on, as they slip deeper into decrepitude.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS Return to Top

Re-purchased the contract of OF-B Chris Magruder from Indianapolis; placed INF-R Keith Ginter on the 15-day DL (wrist), retroactive to 7/25. [8/5]

Designated RHP Matt Kinney for assignment; recalled RHP Wes Obermueller from Indianapolis. [8/6]

Ouch, no Ginter on top of losing Junior Spivey for the year means a whole lot of Bill Hall, and while that's not the end of the world, it probably also kills off any consideration of dealing Craig Counsell. Ginter is part of the near future, so losing him for the time being isn't a backbreaker. Instead, the Brewers can sort out what to do about getting Russ Branyan some at-bats. I suppose they could call up Rickie Weeks at some point, but after all of the overhyped expectations, even my modest hope that we might have a new Johnny Ray on our hands might be overstated: down at Huntsville, Weeks is hitting just .253/.366/.391, and the OBP is boosted by 24 HBPs, not the sort of thing you'd generally associate with long-term good stuff. The running game, supposedly another weapon in Weeks' arsenal, has been a pop run: he's been caught stealing 11 times in 19 attempts. Weeks still isn't 22 yet, so it's not like we should write him off, but the hasty pronouncements that he was going to be an almost immediate star appear to be in tatters.

I'm a little surprised they're dumping Kinney, but he was awful with other people's baserunners, and even 35 strikeouts in 37 1/3 relief innings can be forgotten once you get associated with them curvy numbers going up on the scoreboard. Dumping him to take the time to remind yourself that Obermueller needs to be taken off of the 40-man roster seems a bit overly dramatic, however. Now that the deed is done, somebody who's appropriately hard up should put in a claim on Kinney, including not a few contenders.

MONTREAL EXPOS Return to Top

Acquired LHP Jeriome Robertson from the Indians for LHP Pierre-Luc Marceau; designated RHP Jeremy Fikac for assignment. [8/3]

Recalled RHP Jon Rauch from Edmonton; optioned RHP Roy Corcoran to Edmonton. [8/7]

Whew, talk about "Perils of Pauline" stuff. Omar Minaya gets a favor and rebuilds his rotation for yet another week just in the nick of time. With Robertston in hand, they have a ready alternative if Rocky Biddle has to miss time after being hit by a line drive. Now that Rauch is plugged in behind Livan Hernandez, Tony Armas and John Patterson, at least Minaya is fielding a rotation with promise, and that's the closest thing to good news that the Expos get.

Perhaps more ominous is whatever subtext you want to read into the Expos discarding a Quebecker, even if Marceau is a non-prospect. We should be getting news on that front before the end of the month, as baseball cashes in on its most recent ballpark banditry. If only Bud would settle for stealing lupens

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES Return to Top

Added RHP Felix Rodriguez to the active 25-man roster; optioned RHP Geoff Geary to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [8/4]

Placed LF-R Pat Burrell on the 15-day DL (wrist), retroactive to 8/4; purchased the contract of INF-R Lou Collier from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [8/5]

Placed RHP Kevin Millwood on the 15-day DL (elbow tendonitis); recalled RHP Geoff Geary from Scranton/Wilkes Barre. [8/6]

Hey, it's excuseriffic! It was the injuries that kept this team from making good on its expected cakewalk in the East, yeah, those injuries. A terrible tragedy, yes, yes, I think we can all agree on that. Well, time to walk it off, right? No problem.

I don't see things quite that way, of course. Losing Burrell for the season now does not explain why the Phillies are already reduced to milling around amidst the rest of the wild card-minded herd. That it happens after having dealt Ricky Ledee is inconvenient, of course, but the bullpen needed F-Rod. I guess they'll try to get by with Chase Utley and Jason Michaels in left field in Burrell's absence, although Lou Collier's back-to-back starts are a bit discouraging.

Similarly, the rotation could be a mess in Millwood's absence, as he may well miss the rest of the season. There is good news; Vicente Padilla will be coming off of the DL shortly, and Brett Myers has given the Phils three good starts in his last four. It's a terrible predicament to have to hope the pitching staff can carry this team back into contention now that the offense has been whittled down to Thome, Abreu and some guys, but there's also some hope there. Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Marlon Byrd could all hit better. Maybe everybody plays well down the stretch, and this team matters again.

It's nice to hope for, and although Ed Wade isn't giving up, more and more it seems to me that this team's main mission is to avoid getting people blamed, or worse yet, fired. In baseball's most old-boy of old-boy ballclubs, that would be about as earth-shattering as anything that's happened since the good old boys started living off of whatever fuzzy memories of 1980 anybody has left. As disappointments go, this team ought to rank with 1964, still behind the near-bliss turned to agony in 1950 or 1993, but worth its own bitter place in Philly history.

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Activated LHP Sterling Hitchcock from the 15-day DL; re-purchased the contract of OF-R Brian Buchanan from Portland; optioned OF-R Xavier Nady to Portland; requested unconditional release waivers for INF-R Jeff Cirillo. [8/5]

Cirillo might normally have earned consideration for team LVP during his active duty, but his request to be released is one of the best gestures a finished player could make to a team that should get the best out of every roster spot in its playoff push.

It's worth wondering if the Pads are really giving this as much thought as they should. There was little reason to prefer Nady to Buchanan two weeks ago, when you consider the reserve role that whichever one was on the big-league roster was doomed to. But perhaps there's the method, which is that by sending Buchanan down, he got some regular playing time, which arguably helped him get back his stroke. Whether it was by design or accident, the Pads are better off with Buchanan on the bench as Ryan Klesko's erstwhile platoon partner, and with Nady playing in the PCL to determine if he's ever really going to be a player.

As for Hitchcock, he's being handed the fifth slot in the rotation, i.e., the slot you skip. Ismael Valdez had pitched his way out of town, so this resembles a gain, but keep in mind that the Padres' rotation has really been a three-man operation, relying on Jake Peavy, Brian Lawrence and David Wells; Adam Eaton has been far from consistent. As long as nothing bad happens to the front three, it's a rotation with which you can get to the playoffs. However, if Eaton and Lawrence become something more than the guys you push aside or back now and again, the Pads will have some tough choices. Who gets pressed into the rotation in that situation? Justin Germano or Dennis Tankersley again? Brian Sweeney? Such a scenario might encourage a really bad deal for some sort of craptastic non-savior veteran starter. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Kevin Correia to Fresno; recalled LHP Noah Lowry from Fresno. [8/3]

Optioned RHP Merkin Valdez to Norwich (Double-A); purchased the contract of RHP Brad Hennessey from Fresno. [8/6]

As much as the Rangers deserve our concern, pity, and scorn in turn, the Giants deserve something; I just don't really know what. Crafting a pitching staff with a cell phone and an Easy-Bake Oven isn't something MacGyver would try, but at this point, Brian Sabean is clearly off the map and trying anything.

Lowry and Hennessey are a pair of first-rounders picked in 2001, both are tough-luck stories. Hennessey has lost most of his career to date battling cancer; Lowry hasn't missed as much time, but he has had shoulder trouble. Neither has been especially dominant this year, but both have been healthy and effective, and with Jerome Williams in the shop and Brett Tomko up on blocks, the Giants need to take a look at the "merely" healthy and effective. With Barry Bonds, it might even be enough to stay in this thing for a while. That's always been the bet, that Sabean could somehow scrape up enough around Bonds to make it work.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Return to Top

Acquired OF-L Larry Walker and cash from the Rockies for RHP Jason Burch and two PTBNLs. [8/6]

Placed RHP Kiko Calero on the 15-day DL (rotator cuff tendonitis). [8/7]

I touched on this in yesterday's chat, but the Cardinals have done a fine job relying on their army of temps to staff both outfield corners. That's right, I'm lumping Reggie Sanders in with So Taguchi and Marlon Anderson, Roger Cedeno and Ray Lankford.


Player           MLVr, 2004       Projected MLVr, 2004 (PECOTA, weighted mean)
Anderson           -.179                    -.093
Cedeno              .142                    -.107
Lankford            .038                    -.063
Mabry               .327                    -.172
Sanders             .012                     .059
Taguchi            -.086                    -.197
Walker        .483                     .228

Now, not that Jocketty thinks in these terms or relies on this sort of data or anything like it. But consider the men on that list. If there's a guy who's a head above that crowd, it's John Mabry, and does anyone really want to bank on that continuing? Even if Walker slumps back to that projection, it's reasonable to expect him to be significantly better than all of the alternatives, even at the not-so-tender age of 37. He gives the lineup a fourth outstanding bat, and that's not counting Edgar Renteria. Add in an outfielder from amongst that squad of options, keep hoping Tony Womack doesn't get a season-ending case of the sucks, and all you have to really worry about is using some of the leftover outfielders to pinch-hit for the catchers.

So Walt Jocketty kept an ear to the ground and picked up an upgrade. Admittedly, corner outfielders who contribute with the bat aren't exactly rare, but in yet another deal, he managed to pick up a worthwhile vet for squid scraps and an assumed obligation (Walker's contract for 2005). With the Rockies helping foot the bill, this deal gets sweeter in the details. All in all, it's a great October move. I mean, c'mon, it isn't like the Cubs are going to catch up.

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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