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June 24, 1999

Transaction Analysis

June 20-22

by Christina Kahrl

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed 2B Delino DeShields on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/20 (strained hamstring). [6/21]

DeShields is well on the way to earning a "fragile" label. Between injuries he hasn't exactly busted out to the kind of offensive season (.274/.355/.374) people might have expected from a guy coming into Camden Yards in what's turning into a historic offensive season. In his absence, the Orioles can solidify their choke hold on fourth place with Jeff Reboulet manning second base, which isn't going to hurt much. Richie Amaral will be available for some spot duty as well. In a surprise,it looks like they're going to call up Jerry Hairston. Don't get too excited: they called up Calvin Pickering during Will Clark's absence and refused to play him.

CHICAGO CUBS

Activated OF Robin Jennings from the DL; optioned LHP Doug Creek to Iowa. [6/21]

As with many of their transactions, the Cubs are painting this one as another misfortune of circumstance. Their explanation is that Jennings has to come up because the Cubs must have a left-handed pinch-hitter on the bench, and it's unfortunate that Creek has to go down in his place.

This isn't meant as an homage to Creek, who appears to be a useful middle reliever at most. But the roster is saddled with three backup infielders (the equally fragile Jeff Blauser and Manny Alexander, and toothless old Gary Gaetti), all of whom bat right-handed, and a third catcher in Sandy Martinez. The easy solution would be to admit they screwed up, and put Gaetti out to pasture; but Andy MacPhail isn't going to let that happen to the man who helped get them both World Series rings back in 1987.

On a Riggleman-run team, going without a twelve-man pitching staff spells trouble. His greatest weakness as a manager is that he obsesses over every little situational advantage, without using any discretion over which situations are important enough to change pitchers for. That usually means a bullpen where appearances are short and plentiful, with no reliever allowed to really get into a rhythm or do his team much good for more than an inning at a time. It isn't often that I argue on behalf of the twelve-man staff, but when the manager has problems running his pen when he doesn't have seven relievers, the organization has two choices: find another manager (which this team won't do), or give him the team that he can handle. Riggleman hasn't run his bullpens well yet, so if making it easier on him is the price this team has to pay, you may as well try it. That means inventing another excuse to DL Jeff Blauser, or coming to terms with the idea that Gary Gaetti is never going to get back those glorious seven weeks he gave the Cubs last year.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Recalled LHP Scott Eyre from Charlotte; optioned RHP David Lundquist to Charlotte. [6/20]

Lundquist had pitched his way into the black hole that very few rookies can clamber out of: his manager was afraid to use him in any situation. Rather than continue to waste the roster spot, the Sox can let Lundquist get his confidence back in Charlotte while using Scott Eyre as a long reliever. Eyre also gives the Sox a second left-hander in the pen, which can create a "deterrent" to the opposing manager's pinch-hitting moves. When Bryan Ward was the only lefty, the Sox could use him, and opposing teams wouldn't have to worry about seeing another lefthanded reliever (and with Ward, you could say they still didn't).

As a starter at Charlotte, Eyre was pitching well: a 3.82 ERA, 75 hits and 23 walks in 68 1/3 innings, with 63 strikeouts. That's a significant improvement in his control. If he pitches well, and if Kevin Beirne continues to dominate, the Sox should be in a great position to simultaneously improve and make a salary dump by offering Jaime Navarro to some suitably desperate contender, like the Rangers.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Announced that RHP Dave Stevens declined his assignment to Buffalo, and has become a free agent; outrighted RHP Paul Wagner to Buffalo. [6/21]

Stevens should get snapped up. After all, some team just traded for Cookies Pisciotta, despite an ERA over 6.00 at Triple-A.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Placed OF Cliff Floyd on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/20 (Achilles tendon); activated RHP Archie Corbin from the DL. [6/21]

The Marlins' season keeps on getting worse than it has to. In part, that's a result of your better players, people like Floyd or Alex Fernandez, being really fragile. The good news is that at least the Marlins have been getting good power out of Preston Wilson, and have an exceptional replacement for Floyd in Bruce Aven. With Kevin Millar up and playing well, and Mark Kotsay starting to come around, team offense should keep getting better overall, even without Floyd.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Acquired OF Matt Mieske from the Mariners for RHP Kevin Hodges. [6/20]

Placed OF Alex Diaz on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder); transferred C Mitch Meluskey from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/21]

An interesting move, in that Mieske may be redundant if Moises Alou really is ready to go by September. Mieske's skills are handy: he's a good glove in either corner, and he can mash a left-handed pitcher. But it isn't like Carl Everett or Derek Bell need to sit against lefties, and Richard Hidalgo's poor early performance isn't enough to merit taking him out of the lineup against them. Basically, Mieske's role should be the same here as it was in Seattle: pinch-hitter. The problem is that he's a right-handed pinch-hitter on an extremely right-handed team, so making playing time for him will be a problem.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Placed RHP Orber Moreno on the 15-day DL (bicep tendinitis). [6/19]

As expected. The misfortune is that the time to spend on his first opportunity is going to be wasted in his absence on Cookies Pisciotta.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Activated OF Todd Hollandsworth from the DL; designated RHP Doug Bochtler for assignment. [6/19]

You've come a long way, baby. After starting the season with an extremely weak bench, almost three months later the Dodgers have the bench they should have started with: Dave Hansen for either corner infield slot and top left-handed pinch-hitter; Todd Hollandsworth as the fourth outfielder; and Trenidad Hubbard as the fifth outfielder and top right-handed pinch-hitter. It's no credit to either Kevin Malone or Davey Johnson that it took this long to wind up with what were the best available choices coming out of camp, but at least they finally got it right.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Activated C Terry Steinbach from the DL; optioned C A.J. Pierzynski to Salt Lake. [6/20]

Javy Valentin got to strut his stuff over the past month or so, putting together decent numbers (.263/.308/.381) and doing a decent job controlling opposing basestealers. This should secure him a nice little future as a card-carrying member of the MLB-experienced catcher's union, which should be good for at least a decade's worth of playing time as a caddy.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed OF Rondell White on the 15-day DL (hamstring), retroactive to 6/14; recalled 1B/LF Fernando Seguignol from Ottawa. [6/21]

Not much is going well for the Expos. Losing White to his persistent leg problems damages their chances of trading him at the July 31 deadline, as well as robbing the team of its second-best hitter. On the plus side, Seguignol was hitting well in Ottawa (.284/.374/.547, with an improved 35 BB + HBP in 270 PA), and he'll get every opportunity to earn playing time at first base and in left field. If he's successful over the next two weeks, the guy who gets dealt then should be Shane Andrews.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Traded OF Matt Mieske to the Astros for RHP Kevin Hodges. [6/20]

Recalled UT Charles Gipson from Tacoma. [6/21]

What was the point of signing Mieske in the first place? He was essentially backup Butch Huskey's backup, and while Mieske has some value, why keep a spare for a spare when all you can get in trade for him is a guy who spent four years at Wilmington? Okay, to be fair, Hodges had injury problems during his days in the Royals' chain. But for that very reason, he has been and will be a minor-league free agent, and he's allowing more than five runs per nine innings without giving much reason to suspect there's lightning to be caught in a bottle. Who trades for this kind of guy? At least you could donate the price of a waiver claim (because the Mariners do need roster space once Jay Buhner comes back) to charity.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed RHP Mickey Callaway on the 15-day DL (hamstring); recalled LHP Alan Newman from Durham. [6/19]

Placed RHP Esteban Yan on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation); activated RHP Albie Lopez from the DL. [6/20]

Some of what's happened in the retiree's megalopolis by the bay is just plain old bad luck. Tony Saunders' broken arm, certainly. But you've got a pitching- and tools-oriented GM, an anointed pitching guru for a manager, and you still manage to wind up with four starting pitchers on the DL? Okay, one of them, Triple-A immortal Dave Eiland, should be coming off of the DL to take over the fifth spot Callaway's abandoning, but this seems like more than just bad luck. For the time being, this means a rotation of Wilson Alvarez, Ryan Rupe, Bryan Rekar, Bobby Witt and probably Eiland.

Year Two of the master plan makes Year One look pretty good in retrospect. At least Lopez should be able to improve on his 7.94 ERA, but Yan was struggling along with a 5.03. Both men were critical members of last year's great D-Rays pen, along with out-for-the-year Jim Mecir (lost to an injury of the freaky variety). That's a lot of injured or struggling pitchers, and at some point you'd think somebody's going to be held responsible.

TEXAS RANGERS

Placed RHP Mark Clark on the 15-day DL (sore elbow); recalled RHP Danny Kolb from Oklahoma. [6/20]

Happy day! What other team can boldly improve on being in first place by DL'ing Mark Clark's 8.60 ERA for John Burkett and his obviously better 7.85? The issue remains the same: are the Rangers going to trade for a starter or two to avoid another year of being somebody else's postseason speed bump?

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed LHP David Wells to a two-year contract extension, through 2002. [6/20]

Released DH Dave Hollins. [6/21]

There's speculation that the Blue Jays won't be the ones paying this contract, but I'd be surprised if Gord Ash dumps the man he got for the Rocket this soon.

As for Dave Hollins, the best you can say for what he gave the Blue Jays is that by acquiring him for Tomas Perez at the end of spring training, the Jays needed to go out and get a shortstop once Alex Gonzalez went down, and Tony Batista's better than Hollins or Perez or Gonzalez, so hey, this story has a happy ending after all, right? If they don't trade Perez for Hollins, the Jays might have Tomas Perez out there right now. So here's to Dave Hollins, for helping this team in all sorts of ways that don't involve what he does on the field. Is that what gets called chemistry?

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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