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July 21, 1999

Transaction Analysis

July 17-19, 1999

by Christina Kahrl


Activated RF Tim Salmon from the DL; designated UT Tim Unroe for assignment. [7/17]

Activated RHP Ken Hill from the DL; optioned INF Andy Sheets to Edmonton. [7/19]

Salmon's back but restricted to DH for the near future, which means the Halos will have to continue getting by with Orlando Palmeiro in right field. That would be fine if the Angels would actually bat Palmeiro at the top of the order, but they seem convinced that having Darin Erstad up top is going to somehow help him shake out of his slump.

What's really odd here is the decision to send Andy Sheets down to clear space for Ken Hill. It isn't that Sheets couldn't use the regular work in Edmonton, or hasn't been a disappointment as an Angel. It's that the demotion leaves the Angels with a four-man bench of Jeff Huson, Reggie Williams and the pair of catchers who should have Matt Walbeck's job (Bret Hemphill and Steve Decker).

Hill's return won't help all that much in the standings, but it will remove one more excuse for why this club has disappointed its fans.


Returned RHP Darren Holmes to the 15-day DL (lower back pain); recalled RHP Vincente Padilla from Tucson. [7/19]

Losing Holmes within a week of his reactivation isn't a good thing, but it also shouldn't mean that much. The D'backs are stumbling back towards .500, and although the bullpen helped make sure the Snakes didn't have so far to fall, there's more wrong here than just the bullpen. Playing David Dellucci daily would be a step in the right direction.


Optioned RHP Jin Ho Cho to Pawtucket; recalled RHP Tomokazu Ohka from Pawtucket. [7/18]

Placed RHP John Wasdin on the 15-day DL (strained forearm); recalled RHPs Jin Ho Cho and Marino Santana from Pawtucket; optioned 3B Wilton Veras to Trenton (Double-A). [7/19]

Cho's down and up just like that, thanks to the declaration of soreness reverberating throughout Beantown. He'll get the start on Friday in Pedro's place. His problem seems pretty straightforward: he hasn't adapted to Fenway yet, Being a fine control pitcher, he's firing strikes out over the plate without wasting a few balls inside to right-handed batters to back them off the plate, and they're teeing off on him. Maybe the arrival of a Japanese pitcher will get Cho cranky enough to start claiming the inside the plate.

Ohka's up after starting the year 11-0 in 17 starts at Trenton and Pawtucket. In 95 innings between the two levels, he'd allowed 79 hits, and 29 walks, and struck out 78 hitters, putting together a 2.46 ERA. Definitely not a case of getting Rapped around. Still, throwing a rookie into the rotation entering what's looking like a gory wild-card race seems hasty, but until Juan Pena heals, the Red Sox need all the help they can get in the rotation.

Santana should be useful in the pen. He was pitching well in middle relief for the PawSox, allowing only 45 baserunners in 39 1/3 innings, punching out 45 batters and compiling a 2.95 ERA. He looks like a potentially outstanding late bloomer.


Returned RHP Matt Karchner on the 15-day DL (re-strained groin); optioned C Sandy Martinez to Iowa; recalled RHP Kyle Farnsworth from Iowa and RHP Steve Rain from West Tennessee (Double-A). [7/17]

Tales of the Obvious: nobody claims Sandy Martinez on waivers. Matt Karchner hurts himself. After these messages, we'll bring you a story about that pesky sun, still coming up in the east after all these years.

The hope is that Farnsworth is up to pitch some middle relief, but given the length of his very successful outing against the Twins, Dan Serafini's struggles, and the general desire to move Terry Mulholland back into the bullpen, his won't be a long tenure in the pen.

Calling up Rain is almost inspired: he's been outstanding as a closer at Double-A, racking up 24 saves while punching out 55 batters in 45 1/3 innings. He also allowed only 32 hits. He seems to have regained control of his outstanding slider. If you've never seen him pitch, try to. He's 6'6" and probably around 250 pounds; somebody that big can't help but make you think of Fred Gwynne. He won't get many save opportunities, and he'll almost certainly go down for Rod Beck when Shooter comes back, but at least the Cubs will have the physical comedy aspect of things under control in Beck's absence.


Recalled RHP Pat Daneker from Charlotte; optioned LHP Todd Rizzo to Charlotte. [7/19]

No shocker as the Sox recall their current fifth-starter designate. Rizzo flubbed his opportunity to push past Bryan Ward and Scott Eyre, although not on the strength of anything either of them did. There's been some controversy locally over Manuel's repeated use of Ward in key situations--and the disasters that followed--over the weekend. But the Sox aren't going to win this year, and need to sort out whether they want to have any of these guys around. The answer, built incrementally but bloodily, game after game, is going to be a resounding "no," but at least it won't be for lack of trying.


Optioned UT Chris Sexton to Colorado Springs; recalled LHP Roberto Ramirez from Colorado Springs. [7/18]

So the four-man rotation passes away, unmourned. Why is Ramirez joining into the rotation? Because Jim Leyland likes left-handed starters, that's why. To be fair to Ramirez, he's pitched well as a starter on Planet Coors' moon, Colorado Springs: a 3.50 ERA, 64 hits and 17 walks in 61 2/3 innings, 55 strikeouts, and only six home runs allowed. That said, given Leyland's disgust for John Thomson and preference for Bobby Jones, it seems he still hasn't gotten a handle on the Coors experience.


Transferred OF Cliff Floyd from the 15- to the 60-day DL; purchased the contract of INF Chris Clapinski from Calgary; optioned INF Amaury Garcia to Calgary. [7/17]

This makes sense: Garcia needs to play every day to help Dave Dombrowski decide whether he's a prospect or not, or to encourage other GMs to covet him as a throw-in in deals. Clapinski's your run of the mill good bench player. He can switch-hit, play anywhere other than pitcher and catcher, was hitting well (.322/.393/.536), and since he's about to turn 28, is undoubtedly happy for the opportunity. He'll be a useful part of a strong bench.


Activated RHP Doug Henry off of the DL; optioned RHP Wade Miller to New Orleans. [7/15]

Designated C Randy Knorr for assignment; recalled INF Carlos Hernandez from New Orleans. [7/18]

Another reinforcement, and an interesting twist, for the Astros. If he's 100% healthy and anything close to where he was in the first half of last year, Henry will do a lot to replace Scott Elarton in the bullpen. That will make it much easier for them to leave Elarton in the rotation. Of course, Jose Cabrera's also looking good during his second chance, so the Astros may not have to shop out of need come the trade deadline.

Calling up Hernandez is very interesting. Hernandez was hitting well (.298/.365/.337), and he's a very good glove at shortstop or second base. Much of that OBP comes from his willingness to take a pitch (plunked ten times so far), and he can run a bit (17/8 SB/CS). What his callup really signals is that the team doesn't think Bill Spiers or Russ Johnson can play much shortstop, which means Johnson's probably out of luck when the team activates Ken Caminiti. For several teams who could use a guy who can play second or third and get on base, like the Cubs or Rockies or A's or Indians, Johnson could be an extremely nifty waiver pickup.


Placed RF Jeromy Burnitz on the 15-day DL (broken bone - hand). [7/18]

Designated RHP Jim Pittsley for assignment; recalled RHP Kyle Peterson from Louisville. [7/19]

Losing Burnitz is obviously a critical blow to the Brewers' wild-card chances, and considering the alternative is Alex Ochoa, probably mortal. Although they still have Dave Nilsson and Geoff Jenkins to menace pitchers from the left side, and even though Burnitz is theoretically only going to be gone for three weeks, and just as theoretically, he'd only be worth X number of runs over Ochoa anyway, I can't shake the idea that this brings any delusions of grandeur to an end. That isn't the end of the world: if the Brewers want to have an "exit strategy" out of the last campaign in County Stadium, they can always blame the injury to Burnitz.

The Brewers are hoping Pittsley accepts the assignment, because while Sal Bando's been happily scooping up people like him and Rocky Coppinger, he ran out of roster room when it came time to call up Peterson. Of course, what they really want is for Jim Abbott to retire or Cal Eldred to learn how to pitch without the fastball he left on the surgeon's table.

The Brewers' top pick in the '97 draft, Peterson doesn't throw hard but he does have command of four pitches thrown out of a deceptive delivery. He's already drawn comparisons to Steve Woodard. At Louisville this year, he'd put up a 3.55 ERA in 109 innings, allowing 90 hits and 42 walks to go with 95 strikeouts and 13 home runs. The Brewers would probably be better off breaking him in as a middle reliever, and putting a vet like David Weathers out there for a couple of turns through the rotation. But Peterson's dealt well with a lot of expectations so far, and Phil Garner's outfit has a definite need right now.


Activated RF Matt Lawton from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Dan Perkins to Salt Lake. [7/18]

Lawton's return should put an end to Marty Cordova's career as a Twins' outfielder, while also cutting into Torii Hunter's playing time. That's fine, since Hunter's already gotten all the ABs he needed to convince people he's going to be a very good defensive replacement for years to come. Now the Twins need Lawton to get back to where he was last year, so that they can put Randy Smith's Tigers into the basement once and for all.


Recalled RHP Javier Vazquez from Ottawa; activated OF Rondell White from the DL; optioned OF Chris Stowers to Ottawa. [7/17]

White's return is critical for this team. Without him, they have to struggle with the hopeless choice between Terry Jones and anybody not named Terry Jones. With White, they can reduce Jones to a part-time role with James Mouton.

Vazquez returns to inherit Carl Pavano's rotation spot. After losing his slot earlier this year, he'd pitched at Triple-A about like you would expect a guy with almost no experience above A-ball before '98 to: a 4.85 ERA, 45 hits (seven home runs) and 16 walks allowed in 42 2/3 innings, with 46 strikeouts. He's still a work in progress, and calling him up now is probably ill-considered.


Optioned DH Mike Kinkade to Norfolk; recalled RHP Octavio Dotel from Norfolk. [7/19]

As expected, Dotel returns after the break. He's definitely Johnny-on-the-spot, in that if he pitches to his potential, he could be the pitcher who puts the Mets comfortably into the wild-card spot. His start Monday was a good sign.


Optioned RHP Garrett Stephenson to Memphis; recalled RHP Rick Heiserman from Memphis. [7/18]

At this point, Walt Jocketty and Tony LaRussa are treating the Cardinals' bullpen like Bill Shatner treated the infamous "red shirt guys" in the original Star Trek series: dispensable bodies to find out what the villains were up to.

Sadly, this is baseball, not a cheesy set, so those explosions are real runs scoring, not a neat way to make some giant pizza-puff space monster wear itself out. Heiserman's pitched badly in Memphis. Stephenson's pitched badly in St. Louis. With the clock ticking and the games counting, the Cardinals are just about ready to sign off on this season if they don't get their acts together within the next ten days and do something.


Activated RF Tony Gwynn from the DL; optioned LHP Heath Murray to Las Vegas. [7/19]

Boggs was starting to look like he'd get to 3,000 first, so can you blame Gwynn for wanting to come back? Since the Pads have a good group of outfielders to carry Gwynn through a few extra days off now and then, they can afford to let him hang around and play when he can.

Meanwhile, Murray gets to go down and start regularly. Now that Brian Boehringer's got the fifth spot locked up, and with the rest of the rotation rolling along, Murray's a commodity Kevin Towers can afford to shop next winter.


Recalled RHP Ryan Glynn from Oklahoma; optioned CF Scarborough Green to Oklahoma. [7/19]

Recalling Glynn to drop him into the rotation is basically indefensible if the organization has any serious interest in his future. He's been awful from the get-go, and the Rangers can't always count on their ability to outscore the opposition. Why did they go out and get Esteban Loaiza in the first place, if not to start? What's Glynn going to learn getting hammered every fifth night out? As pathetic as it sounds, maybe they should do the Red Sox a favor and inquire after Pat Rapp.

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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NL West Notebook

1999-07-31 - Transaction Analysis: July 26-29, 1999
1999-07-27 - Transaction Analysis: July 23-25, 1999
1999-07-24 - Transaction Analysis: July 20-22
1999-07-21 - Transaction Analysis: July 17-19, 1999
1999-07-19 - AL Central Notebook
1999-07-17 - Transaction Analysis: July 12-16, 1999
1999-07-14 - Transaction Analysis: July 6-11, 1999

1999-07-31 - Transaction Analysis: July 26-29, 1999
1999-07-27 - Transaction Analysis: July 23-25, 1999
1999-07-24 - Transaction Analysis: July 20-22
1999-07-21 - Transaction Analysis: July 17-19, 1999
1999-07-17 - Transaction Analysis: July 12-16, 1999
1999-07-14 - Transaction Analysis: July 6-11, 1999
1999-07-07 - Transaction Analysis: June 30-July 5, 1999