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July 17, 1999

Transaction Analysis

July 12-16, 1999

by Christina Kahrl

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Activated RHP Darren Holmes from the DL; optioned RHP Eric Sabel to Tucson. [7/15]

With Holmes' return, the Diamondbacks have gone from their three rookie right-handers in the pen to one (Byung-Hyun Kim), along with Matt Mantei, Bobby Chouinard and the four codgers (Greg Swindell, Dan Plesac, Gregg Olson and Holmes). The important difference, at least for the next few weeks, won't be the talent, but Buck Showalter's comfort with this group. Jerry Colangelo is talking about how teams need to go for it when they're close, referring back to his experiences with the Phoenix Suns. Sadly, a sense of history isn't serving Jerry well here: in-season trades for relievers have very rarely made the difference to a team, instead producing some of the greatest ripoffs in history, Larry Andersen-for-Jeff Bagwell being only the most notorious. Look, I'm sure the Brewers wish they'd done something like this in 1982, but the best way to win and win handily isn't to build a better bullpen, but to build a better lineup. That means finding someone who can really play shortstop, or getting Travis Lee back on track, or benching Tony Womack.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Activated 3B Wes Helms from the DL, and optioned him to Greenville (Double-A); transferred 1B Andres Galarraga from the 15- to the 60-day DL; activated C Javy Lopez from the DL; optioned C Pascual Matos to Richmond. [7/15]

Lopez' return isn't a moment too soon, since the Braves are in a stretch where they're playing the Yankees and the Blue Jays, while the Mets draw the Orioles and the D-Rays.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Designated C Lenny Webster for assignment; activated RHP Ricky Bones from the DL; recalled 3B Ryan Minor from Rochester; optioned RHP Gabe Molina to Rochester; traded RHP Rocky Coppinger to the Brewers for a PTBNL. [7/16]

Expect Webster to be in a Pirates uniform within the next few days. The interesting plot point here is that Webster has been Scott Erickson's personal catcher for a few years now. Will the O's package the pair of them to some suitably desperate team that could use a starting pitcher and a catcher? While the Indians might seem like an obvious good match, I just don't see that working out.

The ugliest news here is the petty dispatch of Rocky Coppinger. Most of what's gone wrong in Baltimore can't be blamed on Ray Miller, but this can be. When a manager demonizes one of his team's better prospects, then runs him out of town, that's as good a reason for a firing as I need. Middle relief should be an opportunity for young pitchers to get their innings before being worked in as starters. Who do the Orioles have working those innings? Ricky Bones and Scott Kamieniecki, putting in their internships before graduating to the Angels' rotation by their fortieth birthdays.

Ryan Minor passes for a prospect in the Orioles chain, and in Camden he might poke a tater or two, but he's still terribly undisciplined at the plate (a .314 OBP at Rochester), evoking memories of Craig Paquette.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Recalled CF Brian Simmons from Charlotte; optioned 1B/LF Jeff Liefer to Charlotte. [7/14]

Liefer basically got a roster spot for having a hot week in camp for a team that needed some left-handed pop. But on a team already carrying Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko, there wasn't a lot of playing time for a third DH, and even less when he had a hard time hitting anything past the infielders.

Having won the center field job in camp, only to lose it when he was gashed by Dave Bell, Simmons will get some spot starts in center along with some defensive subbing for Carlos Lee in left. He was hitting about as well as you'd expect at Triple-A (.270/.363/.425). The Sox will take the opportunity to evaluate who among Simmons and Singleton will be part of next year's team.

DETROIT TIGERS

Activated C Raul Casanova from the DL, and outrighted him to Toledo. [7/14]

Optioned LHP Wil Brunson to Toledo; recalled RHP Dave Borkowski from Toledo. [7/16]

Borkowski's up for an emergency start, but he might get to create a bigger opportunity for himself after his good outing. He's suffered through a season of being the only guy with a real future on arguably the worst Triple-A team in baseball. Nevertheless, he's pitched well: 6-8, a 3.50 ERA, 119 hits allowed in 126 innings with 43 walks and 94 strikeouts, while giving up 16 home runs. On the aggressive side, he's plunked ten men. In the big league rotation, Dave Mlicki isn't famous for being much more than a fifth starter, while Justin Thompson's being shopped around.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Acquired LHP Ryan Moskau from the Dodgers as the PTBNL in the Craig Counsell trade. [7/15]

Acquired RHP Kevin Gordon from the Rockies to complete a previous deal. [7/16]

Moskau's not a half-bad pitcher, so getting him for a guy who's about as good as a dozen minor-league second basemen is a nifty return.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed CF Carl Everett on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); purchased the contract of LF Lance Berkman from New Orleans; transferred 3B Ken Caminiti from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/16]

Bully for the Astros for having the courage to be greedy while flipping their noses at the Pan Am games. For everything that gets written about the Angels and their injuries, it's the Astros who have now lost five of their eight regulars (C Mitch Meluskey, SS Ricky Gutierrez, 3B Ken Caminiti, LF Moises Alou and Everett).

Berkman ought to be the Astros' left fielder for at least the next six years. After losing some early time to injury, he's hitting .303/.393/.500. Even with adjustments, that's a far sight better than what they're getting out of Derek Bell, who's bitching about how he doesn't feel appreciated. Once Everett heals, or Moises Alou returns, Bell should hit the bench and stay there, which should do quite a bit to get the Astros back near the top of the league in runs scored. In the meantime, things aren't so good, because Everett's been their best outfielder. In his absence, Richard Hidalgo will play center field, which won't hurt them defensively. He's got the range to the gaps, and a very good arm.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Extended the contract of manager Tony Muser through 2000. [7/14]

Placed RHP Jeff Montgomery on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/10 (tendinitis, hip); purchased the contract of RHP Brian Barber from Omaha; outrighted OF Eric Vann outright to Charleston (A-ball); announced that RHPs Mark Pisciotta and Don Wengert cleared waivers, and that they outrighted Pisciotta to Omaha, and granted Wengert his free agency. [7/16]

Montgomery's hip injury keeps him from pushing off, which basically undermines his ability to do anything useful. If there's a lesson here, it's that Herk Robinson made a big mistake by keeping Montgomery last year for his pathetic push for second place.

MILWAUKE BREWERS

Acquired RHP Rocky Coppinger from the Orioles for a PTBNL. [7/16]

Sal Bando has made another nice pickup for retreading. Jim Pittsley's already joined David Weathers as a semi-functional middle reliever. Coppinger may get to move into the rotation over someone like Bill Pulsipher. Of course, it's also sort of fun to see that Rocky wound up with the same team that already produced Chris Bosio, among the pantheon of portly pitchers.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Placed RHP Carl Pavano on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/12 (sore elbow); recalled 1B/DH Brad Fullmer from Ottawa. [7/15]

Losing Pavano probably pushed Miguel Batista back into the rotation, especially since Ted Lilly is still working his way back from shoulder problems. It won't help the drive to finish ahead of the Marlins.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Purchased the contract of LHP Allen Watson from Columbus; optioned INF Clay Bellinger to Columbus; transferred RHP Mike Jerzembeck from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/15]

It's a mite bit strange to call up Watson right after calling up Eddie Yarnall, since it gives the Yankees three lefties in the pen where they had previously had only one (Mike Stanton). Not that Bellinger was doing anything other than polishing Don Zimmer's head.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Activated C Mike Macfarlane from the DL; optioned C A.J. Hinch to Vancouver. [7/12]

Hinch didn't hit, and throwing to any base was becoming a big problem. Ramon Hernandez doesn't have problems with either, and just like that, Hinch's one-year window of opportunity to have the job to himself has been slammed shut. Hernandez was the better prospect all along, but it was hoped or expected that Hinch would be better prepared for the jump to the majors.

The real question is whether this will be Macfarlane's last year with the A's, so that Hinch or Danny Ardoin will get a shot at the backup job. It sort of depends on quickly Hernandez picks things up from Macfarlane, and whether the A's end up thinking they need a veteran caddy.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Activated RHP Heathcliff Slocumb from the DL; optioned INF Placido Polanco to Memphis. [7/16]

Yet again, the Cards make the jump to a twelve-man staff. This is particularly ill-advised when both catchers need to be pinch-hit for, and the bench is stuck with three of the worst players on any major league roster in Willie McGee and the punchless Howards (Thomas and David). The Cardinals can't afford to carry dead weight, and yet they're carrying more than their fair share.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Activated RF Jay Buhner from the DL; recalled OF Ozzie Timmons from Tacoma; placed UT Charles Gipson on the 15-day DL (separated shoulder); placed OF Brian Hunter on the 15-day DL (hyperextended knee). [7/15]

A happy turn of events for the Mariners, in that getting Hunter's feeble bat out of the lineup is a major boon. It won't be enough to catch the Indians in runs scored, but it might be enough to overcome some of Piniella's tactical indiscretions as far as mismanaging the bullpen. Whether that's enough to make some noise in the West is an open question. The Rangers seem to be improving, and the A's have a much better pitching staff.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Activated RHPs Esteban Yan and Rolando Arrojo from the DL; placed DH Jose Canseco on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/10 (back surgery); designated RHP Julio Santana for assignment. [7/15]

Optioned CF Randy Winn to Durham; recalled CF Terrell Lowery and LHP Mike Duvall from Durham; designated LHP Scott Aldred for assignment. [7/16]

Winn's been a big disappointment this year, and Lowery's deserved a break for years. This may finally be his big shot to play center field regularly in the majors. Dumping Aldred seems strange, since he hasn't been particularly ineffective. With Arrojo's return, the issue is whether Bryan Rekar or Dave Eiland will get to be the fifth starter. I'd pick Rekar, and apparently so will the D-Rays.

Yan's return highlights the huge problems the Rays have had with their bullpen this year. Between the ineffectiveness of Yan and Albie Lopez, and losing Jim Mecir for the year, what was the team's strength last year has been noticeably absent this year.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Purchased the contract of INF Norberto Martin from Syracuse; outrighted OF Rob Butler outright to Knoxville (Double-A). [7/15]

The misery of this move is that with utility infielder Craig Grebeck being relegated to DH duties, the Blue Jays had to add another utility infielder. They're already carrying several guys you don't want batting too often, and sending Butler away leaves them with Jacob Brumfield as their only backup outfielder.

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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