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August 4, 1999

Transaction Analysis

July 30-August 1, 1999

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Recalled INF Andy Sheets and C/OF Todd Greene from Edmonton. [7/30]

Just when you thought a team couldn't get less offensive production out of a position than the Angels already get out of Gary DiSarcina at shortstop or Matt Walbeck at catcher, the Angels one-up themselves and go with Jeff Huson (.288 OBP) and Andy Sheets (.237 OBP) at second base. Toss in Greene at DH or catcher with his imposing .273 OBP, and you've got a good snapshot of what's gone, and is still going, wrong.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Acquired LHP Terry Mulholland and UT Jose Hernandez from the Cubs for LHP Micah Bowie, RHP Ruben Quevedo, and a PTBNL. [7/31]

Not a bad move for the Braves. Bowie and Quevedo are both good prospects, but they aren't Bruce Chen or George Lombard. Hernandez should step right in and play shortstop over the weak contributions of Walt Weiss and Ozzie Guillen. While that still doesn't give the Braves a lineup they can really count on, it does get the worst hitters out of the order.

Terry Mulholland is a nice enough contingency contributor. If Bobby Cox gets frustrated with Chen, Mulholland can be the fifth starter. If John Smoltz breaks down again, Mulholland isn't the worst guy in the world to take his place. And if the Braves merely want Mulholland to pitch middle relief, he'll be part of a very strong bullpen.

Unfortunately, while this is a nice little move, it isn't the one the Braves really needed to make. They really needed to find a left fielder or first baseman who would help this team score runs, and John Schuerholz failed to do so. While they don't have anyone as light-hitting as Rey Ordonez in the lineup, they're going to have to hope that Tom Glavine and Chen improve down the stretch if they're going to put any distance between themselves and the Mets.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Traded RHP Juan Guzman to the Reds in exchange for LHP B.J. Ryan and RHP Jacobo Sequea. [7/31]

Purchased contract of RHP Jim Corsi from Rochester. [8/1]

Not as much as you might want, but not a terrible return for the Orioles, since Guzman is a free agent after the season. At 17, Sequea throws hard, is pitching in a full-season league, and if he stays healthy, should fill out and maybe even add a couple of inches both to his height and his fastball. He could also grow up to be the next Josias Manzanillo, if you remember his extensive career with the Red Sox organization before his 20th birthday. Ryan has rocketed through the Reds' organization since being drafted in June of 1998, and should get a clean shot at the Orioles bullpen in 2000.

BOSTON RED SOX

Traded C Mandy Romero to the Mets for a PTBNL. [7/30]

Optioned RHP Jin Ho Cho to Pawtucket; called up RHP Jared Fernandez from Pawtucket; acquired RHP Bryce Florie from the Tigers for LHP Mike Maroth; transferred RHP Tom Gordon from the 15- to the 60-day DL; optioned Fernandez back to Pawtucket. [7/31]

The bad news for the Red Sox is that despite their various needs, they settled for getting Bryce Florie and Butch Huskey. They need more than that to finish ahead of the Blue Jays for the wild card. Pending a Pedro Martinez return, the rotation is Bret Saberhagen, Brian Rose, Pat Rapp, Mark Portugal and possibly Florie or waiver bait Julio Santana. Losing Flash Gordon for the year isn't going to be nearly as critical as potentially losing Pedro, or not fixing their wounded offense, or settling for the meager contributions of Rapp and Portugal.

CHICAGO CUBS

Acquired LHP Micah Bowie, RHP Ruben Quevedo, and a PTBNL from the Braves in exchange for LHP Terry Mulholland and UT Jose Hernandez. [7/31]

Recalled SS Jose Nieves and RHP Steve Rain from Iowa; placed RHP Rick Aguilera on the 15-day DL (strained calf). [8/1]

The Cubs almost recognize that they've got a problem or two. Unfortunately, they went after a small problem while ignoring the big one. For the entire MacPhail/Lynch era, they've emphasized pitching in their drafts and player development. As a result, they don't have great hitting prospects, which means they don't have adequate replacements for this year's old, bad lineup.

But now that they have finally acknowledged this year is lost, and with few hitting prospects even remotely ready, what do the Cubs trade for? More pitching. Not a catcher, not a center fielder with a future, not a third baseman who can play baseball, but more pitching. Does this mean they're not optimistic about what Phil Norton or Brian McNichol or Mike Meyers can do for them anytime soon? Does that mean the draft strategy of the last five years has been one big mistake? Getting two (and possibly three) prospects from the Braves is nice, but having to go out and get them is an indictment of how the organization has been run over the previous five years.

Bowie's a good prospect. In Richmond this year, he had a 2.96 ERA, punching out 82 batters in 73 innings while allowing only 63 hits (four home runs) and 14 walks. He can top 90, and does a good job of mixing in a curve and a changeup. He's going directly into the rotation, despite past elbow problems.

Quevedo is very young (20), and needs to fill out while not being overworked. He gets his fastball into the low 90s, but for mixed results: 26 home runs and 112 hits allowed in 105 2/3 innings, with a good 98-to-34 K/BB ratio. He should be in middle relief or Iowa next year.

Hopefully, the Cubs will let Nieves get the next two months in at shortstop, rather the fool around with Manny Alexander. They know what Alexander can do, and it isn't enough. Nieves isn't an offensive standout himself (.268/.314/.431 with 11 home runs at Iowa). By going out and getting pitching when the offense is such a big problem, the Cubs don't seem to realize that they'll never be good until they put together the kind of lineup that will lead the league in scoring. That's their Wrigley legacy, and that's how the Cubs have won in the past. With so many pitchers already on board for next year, and with so many free agent hitters likely to leave, the challenge for the Cubs is going to be to buy a better lineup in the offseason. That can be a good thing, as long as it doesn't mean settling for someone slightly better than Mickey Morandini or Benito Santiago. Ed Lynch's taste in offensive players leaves a lot to be desired, but if you want to be optimistic, you can hope that he's learned from his--and his team's--failures.

CINCINNATI REDS

Activated LHP Denny Neagle off of the DL; optioned LHP B.J. Ryan to Indianapolis. [7/30]

Acquired RHP Juan Guzman and cash from the Orioles for LHP B.J. Ryan and RHP Jacobo Sequea. [7/31]

Activated C Brian Johnson off of the DL; placed RHP Steve Parris on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/31 (shoulder tightness). [8/1]

The Reds go for broke at the deadline, bless their wily hearts. Bringing in Guzman is a nice calculated risk. His ERA has been in the low 3.00s since April, so he might be the best veteran pitcher to have acquired for the stretch. He's a free agent at season's end, and while Ryan and Sequea are a nice pair of arms, the Reds aren't going to have opportunities like this every year. With Neagle back, the rotation is currently him, Guzman, Pete Harnisch, Brett Tomko and an inconsistent Ron Villone. Once Parris heal, Villone should get bumped back into long relief. Overall, the Reds have the best rotation in the division, and arguably the best pen as well. With Dmitri Young getting back on track, the offense looks like it's hitting full stride, which means the Reds are about as well-positioned to push the Astros as they're going to get.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed C Jesse Levis; designated C Pat Borders for assignment. [7/30]

Jerry Willard and Andy Allanson weren't available, and Joel Skinner says he prefers managing these days. But anybody's a better catcher than Borders, so bring on Levis.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Acquired CF Brian McRae, OF Thomas Johnson, and LHP Rigo Beltran from the Mets in exchange for CF Darryl Hamilton and LHP Chuck McElroy; assigned Beltran to Colorado Springs, and Johnson to Asheville (A-ball). [7/31]

Recalled RHP Jamey Wright from Colorado Springs. [8/1]

The nicest thing you can say about the deal is that it's a salary dump, because Hamilton's under contract for 2000, while McRae is mercifully free after this year. Johnson doesn't look like much of a prospect (tall speed guy, light hitter, already 23 and not out of, let alone dominating, A-ball), and if he's supposed to make up the differences between McRae and Hamilton and between Beltran and McElroy, the Rox have been had. Like all stick-waving bipeds, McRae will have a nice couple of months in Coors. He'll still be the same player, and he'll be happy to be out from under Bobby Valentine's thumb, but he won't be an asset.

Wright's return to the big leagues follows a miserable couple of months pitching for Colorado Springs: a 6.46 ERA, 133 hits in 100 1/3 innings, but at least he had a decent 75-to-38 K/BB ratio. With Roberto Ramirez doing nothing to keep the fifth spot in the rotation, Wright should get an opportunity to reclaim it.

DETROIT TIGERS

Acquired RHP Brandon Villafuerte from the Marlins for RHP Mike Drumright. Acquired LHP Mike Maroth from the Red Sox for RHP Bryce Florie. [7/31]

Randy Smith keeps himself busy. Villafuerte's a nice return on Drumright (who was going on his third straight awful season as a Mud Hen), pitching well in long relief and as a spot starter in Portland (3.50 ERA).

Maroth throws hard for a left-hander, but he's getting knocked around in the Florida State League (4.04 ERA, more than a hit per inning pitched), which isn't a good sign.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Acquired RHP Mike Drumright from the Tigers for RHP Brandon Villafuerte. [7/31]

Designated RHP Archie Corbin for assignment; recalled RHP Rafael Medina from Calgary. [8/1]

Having spent the past 20 months acquiring other people's pitching prospects, it's just as well that they stop diddling around with Corbin, who looks like his claim to fame will be as "the next Dwayne Henry". Medina's been strong in middle relief for Calgary (3.34 ERA, 34 strikeouts in 35 innings), and the Marlins need to evaluate him--and others--to make some informed choices about who will still be on the 40-man roster in December.

As for picking up Drumright, he's got his ERA down to 5.97 ERA in Toledo, improving on his last year's 6.95. Maybe Dave Dombrowski saw something, but more likely, Drumright will be available in the minor league drafts at the winter meetings.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed C Tony Eusebio on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/30 (strained hamstring); purchased the contract of C Randy Knorr from New Orleans. [7/31]

Losing Eusebio isn't the end of the world, in that Paul Bako has a good enough glove and has been hitting right-handers well enough this year that he's good for picking up the majority of the playing time. Knorr will be the notional platoon mate, but don't be surprised if the Astros go waiver-shopping for a veteran catcher before the August 31 deadline.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Acquired RHPs Brad Rigby, Blake Stein and Jeff D'Amico from the Athletics for RHP Kevin Appier; assigned D'Amico to Omaha. [7/31]

Optioned LHP Glendon Rusch to Omaha; transferred RHP Hipolito Pichardo and INF Scott Leius from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/1]

Herk Robinson had his lone opportunity to go out and get a player who might be the shortstop for this team for several years, and it didn't happen. He traded his one disposable, expensive, veteran pitcher, and failed to fill his team's most basic need. Sure, the bullpen's been bad this year, but you can always shake a few arms loose and turn them into something useful. Rey Sanchez has been fine as a caretaker at shortstop, but he's no long-term answer.

So when push came to shove, and the Royals decided that they had to move Appier, either because of economics or inertia, what did they get? Stein is an adequate, borderline, might-turn-into-a-solid-starter type of pitching prospect. If he gets to cut his teeth in middle relief for a few months, he may finally turn into a mid-rotation starter, but the Royals will immediately put him into the rotation. Rigby is a mediocre sinkerball artist who's still recovering from back troubles, but nothing about him screams "hidden talent, future greatness ahead!" Jeff D'Amico has a nice, straight-as-string fastball that makes a dandy souvenir.

The real pity of this deal is that the A's even have a solid shortstop prospect at Vancouver in Jose Ortiz, and it looks like he's blocked by Miguel Tejada If there was one guy the Royals should have gotten in an Appier deal with the A's, it was Ortiz. That might be unreasonable, in that this might have been the best deal that the Royals could get. But dealing Appier didn't make the Royals a better team, and it's a pretty dubious proposition that the money saved will be put to good use. This was a horribly wasted opportunity, where the Royals accepted quantity over any quality. Worse yet, what kind of pitching staff do the Royals have now? A rotation of Jose Rosado, Jeff Suppan, Stein, Jay Witasick and Dan Reichert, with a bullpen of Scott Service, Rigby, Alvin Morman, Matt Whisenant, Mac Suzuki and Brian Barber. Do you take that staff over Richmond's?

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Placed RHP Robinson Checo on the 15-day DL (strained groin); recalled RHP Matt Herges from Albuquerque. [7/30]

Recalled C Paul LoDuca from Albuquerque; optioned C Angel Pena to Albuquerque. [8/1]

The Dodgers' organization is basically running on empty when it has to replace a journeyman like Checo with an even scrubbier minor league vet like Herges. It wasn't so long ago that the Dukes were carrying guys like Dave Pyc and Gary Rath and Will Brunson, solid minor league vets who deserved a shot at the majors. Herges is pushing 30, and while giving up more than 5.5 runs per game isn't that bad by PCL standards, it's indicative that the organization has gotten really shallow really quickly.

The supposition with the Pena demotion is that the Dodgers have decided to be daring and go down in flames with Todd Hundley playing every day. LoDuca had a hot month for Albuquerque, but that's sort of besides the point. The nicest thing about this is that maybe Pena gets some benefit from the regular playing time in August so that he can come back and start regularly in September. In the meantime, Malone's Folly (Hundley, for those of you in the cheap seats) can handle the spotlight of everyday duty behind the plate.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Placed C Bobby Hughes on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/25 (elbow inflammation); purchased the contract of INF Eddie Zosky from Louisville. [7/30]

Goddamn Pan Am! With Charlie Greene off playing in the Pan Am games, the logical call-up to caddy for the very caddy-dependent Dave Nilsson wasn't available. Now that Hughes is out, that makes Brian Banks the backup (and near-emergency) catcher, and early-'90s washout Eddie Zosky lucks into some major league service time. Not that any of this will affect the outcome of the World Series.

NEW YORK METS

Signed RHP Vicente Palacios to a minor-league contract; acquired C Mandy Romero from the Red Sox for a PTBNL. [7/30]

Acquired CF Darryl Hamilton and LHP Chuck McElroy from the Rockies for CF Brian McRae, OF Thomas Johnson, and LHP Rigo Beltran; acquired RHP Billy Taylor from the Athletics for RHPs Jason Isringhausen and Greg McMichael; acquired UT Shawon Dunston from the Cardinals for 3B Craig Paquette. [7/31]

Credit Steve Phillips with doing a great job of coming up with an excellent roster to go down the stretch with. The heist here is the deal with the Rox. Hamilton gets on base and can run and play the field well, and reduces Benny Agbayani to a more-suitable platoon role. The Met lineup is now a fun collection of waterbugs who get on and skitter around the bases (Cedeno, Hamilton and Henderson) and boppers to drive them in (Piazza, Olerud, Ventura and Alfonzo). And Rey Ordonez, because somebody other than the pitcher has to make outs.

On top of that, the Mets also rescue Chuck McElroy from Jim Leyland's mismanagement, getting themselves one of the best left-handed middlemen in the business. Bobby Valentine will almost certainly not relegate him to situational usage. Taking a chance on Billy Taylor can be interpreted in a couple of ways: John Franco may not be back until mid-September, so they want an established closer around so that they can leave everyone else in their old roles. Or they want one of the most-fearsome righty-killers of this decade, since Taylor simply slags right-handed batters. Either way, he's a handy addition.

Shawon Dunston probably won't hit .300 the rest of the way, but he's an excellent bench player to have. He can fill in everywhere but pitcher and catcher, and he's a good player to have in a pinch-hitting role, since he isn't very picky at the plate. This team can take the Braves.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Acquired C/UT Jim Leyritz from the Padres for RHP Geraldo Padua. [7/31]

Designated INF Jeff Manto for assignment. [8/1] The King is back, all hail the King! The Yankees have had their share of problems against left-handed pitching this year, so bringing Leyritz back isn't a bad idea. He can DH, catch, play some first base or resurrect the memory of Andy Hawkins' no-hit loss with a few innings out in left field. Mostly, he'll make for good drama during his at-bats in the postseason.

Anyone want to give me odds that the Indians re-claim Manto?

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Optioned RHP Chad Harville to Vancouver; transferred RHP Ariel Prieto from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/30]

Optioned RHP Blake Stein to Vancouver; added RHP Omar Olivares to the active roster. Acquired RHPs Jason Isringhausen and Greg McMichael from the Mets for RHP Billy Taylor; acquired RHP Kevin Appier from the Royals for RHPs Brad Rigby, Blake Stein and Jeff D'Amico. [7/31]

Recalled RHPs Carl Dale and Brett Laxton from Vancouver. [8/1]

What have the A's accomplished? Mostly a public relations coup. They have created a sense that the A's are close and that they're trying to get closer. There's no way to quantify that.

Now, it's still more likely that the Rangers will come back to the A's than the A's will outplay the Jays for the wild card or get so scorching hot that they pass the Rangers. But the victories of these deals are that they didn't cost the A's much in terms of talent, while scoring big in terms of team morale and selling themselves to fans and potential season-ticket holders for seasons to come. On that level, the trades are huge successes.

Take a hard look at the numbers, and you see that Appier hasn't been that good this year, to the point that it's an open question whether or not they pick up the option for next year. He's obviously an improvement on Mike Oquist, though. Izzy and McMichael are probably better guys to have around than a suddenly flammable Billy Taylor or the immortal Brad Rigby. But if you ask me whether or not it's enough, I'll tell you I don't know, and I don't think so, but damned if it doesn't give them a fighting chance.

The best-case scenario is that Isringhausen is actually up to stepping into next year's rotation, and Appier looks so good the A's pick up the option. Add the two of them to Tim Hudson and a more consistent Jimmy Haynes, and it isn't hard to see the A's hammering out a few division titles over the next few years. They won't need new ownership to do it, and they won't need more money. As always, they need time, and right now they could use some luck going into a stretch in which they'll go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the next couple of weeks.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed Jason Christiansen on the 15-day DL (lower back); recalled LHP Jimmy Anderson from Nashville. [7/30]

Losing Christiansen hurts the Pirates, but Nashville's losing Jimmy Anderson hurts their chances for PCL postseason glory even worse. It isn't like the Pirates' games mean all that much at this point, and it isn't like Anderson's going to get to start.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Traded UT Shawon Dunston to the Mets for 3B Craig Paquette. [7/31]

Recalled INF Placido Polanco from Memphis. [8/1]

Paquette will probably end up in Memphis after he returns from the Pan Am games, not that it's surprising that another ex-Oaklander will wind up playing for Walt Jocketty and Tony LaRussa. Mostly, this move is just a nice "get Shawon to the postseason" gesture.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Designated 3B George Arias for assignment; activated C/UT Jim Leyritz from the DL. [7/30]

Acquired RHP Geraldo Padua from the Yankees for C/UT Jim Leyritz; activated SS Chris Gomez off of the DL. [7/31]

Arias has been built up for so long that it's important to remember that he's 27 already. If it hasn't happened yet, it isn't going to, and the Padres are right to take the next couple of months to decide if Phil Nevin can go back to being a third baseman.

Getting Padua for Leyritz seems about right, considering how tight most teams have been about surrendering prospects. He's been dominant in the Carolina League, with an excellent record of control and 155 strikeouts in 139 2/3 innings, but it will be several years before the Pads will earn any bragging rights in their half of the deal.

I know a few Yankee fans who are already regretting this trade because Padua's a legitimate prospect, but the Knoblauch and Yarnall heists have made them a greedy lot who get disappointed when Cashman doesn't humiliate his trading partner.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Agreed to a four-year contract with 1B J.T. Snow; exercised one-year contract options on OF Barry Bonds and 2B Jeff Kent. [7/30]

Recalled INF Ramon Martinez from Fresno; optioned INF Wilson Delgado to Fresno. [7/31]

A four-year contract for Snow? Pennies from heaven, indeed. It isn't every mediocre, benchable first baseman who gets multi-year security, and it isn't going to help the Giants at all. Giant fans can at least take some heart in that they've got Bonds and especially Kent signed for less than market value. But chalk this up as a major gaffe for Brian Sabean. Snow simply isn't among the league's better first basemen, and this deal makes any mistake the Phillies will make by signing Rico Brogna for years to come look semi-astute by comparison.

SEATLLE MARINERS

Added RHP Tom Davey to the big league roster; optioned RHP Ken Cloude to Tacoma. [7/31]

Cloude can let out a sigh of relief, since he's free of Lou Piniella for a few days. Letting him start in Tacoma is probably the best way to get him back on track. Firing Piniella before calling him back would be even better.

Davey's 4.70 ERA from his stint with the Jays is good for the third-best ERA in the Mariners' pen. That isn't a statement of quality as much as an indictment of Piniella.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Placed 2B Miguel Cairo on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); purchased the contract of 2B Tony Graffanino from Durham. [7/30]

A possible upgrade? Graffy hit well for Durham (.313/.379/.499), while Cairo's continuing his Johnny Ray Lite act (.302/.343/.396). The problem isn't really one of which one is good and which one isn't, since both are adequate. The problems are ones of price, choice and whether or not any potential savings from not committing to either of them would be spent wisely.

TEXAS RANGERS

Recalled LHP Doug Davis from Oklahoma; optioned RHP Jonathan Johnson to Oklahoma. [8/1]

As reader John Perkins has pointed out, the Rangers' exploitation of Oklahoma's pitching staff has taken a pretty nasty turn. As the Rangers essentially keep a roster spot open to sift through Danny Kolb, Johnson, and now Davis as mop-up men, they're undermining Oklahoma's playoff hopes. The Red Hawks have the third-best record in the PCL, seven games in back of Nashville. Losing a rotation starter every week so that he can cool his heels and hope to pitch in a blowout isn't a particularly effective way to use your talent or honor a relationship with a minor league affiliate.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Optioned INF Norberto Martin to Syracuse. [7/30]

Signed RHP John Hudek to a minor-league contract, and assigned him to Syracuse. [7/31]

Nothing wrong with stockpiling guys with opposable thumbs, I guess.

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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