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August 7, 1999

Transaction Analysis

August 2-5

by Christina Kahrl


Activated CF Jim Edmonds from the DL; designated OF Reggie Williams for assignment. [8/2]

Designated C Charlie O'Brien for assignment; purchased contract of C Ben Molina from Edmonton. [8/3]

Well, the cavalry's riding in, just in time to find that the natives have already wiped out the settlers, paved over the range and built a really nice casino. Edmonds' arrival is basically a warmup for his coming free agency, and a few sentimental Angels fans who might remember life before the team became a Mickey Mouse operation. (Speaking of which, anyone else remember Virgo Rat? I didn't think so.)

Ben Molina's arrival has been accompanied with a few statements that he's going to get to play down the stretch. Unlike Matt Walbeck, he can be a useful major league hitter (.286/.338/.440 at Edmonton this year), and he isn't bad behind the plate. The Angels are now almost where they should have been in April. If they'd opened the year with Molina and/or Bret Hemphill, and at least one of Steve Decker, Charlie O'Brien or Walbeck, they'd have selected their best possible combination of talent, expense and players with a future on a good Angels team. Instead, people had to pay real money to watch Year Two of the Age of Walbeck.


Signed OF Luis Gonzalez to a three-year contract extension, with a club option for 2003. [8/2]

Placed RHP Byung-Hyun Kim on the 15-day DL (sore neck); recalled RHP Erik Sabel from Tucson. [8/3]

Recalled CF Dante Powell from Tucson; optioned INF Edwin Diaz to Tucson. [8/4]

With David Dellucci's future in doubt, and with the Diamondbacks' organization not exactly bursting with outfielders with good-looking futures, I guess you can make a case for Gonzalez's multi-year deal. His situation makes for an interesting comparison to that of J.T. Snow: they're basically the same age, but while Snow has that gaudy, alien-possession '97 season making him look like someone who just needs to get back to where he was to be an All-Star, Gonzalez has been the far more consistent player.

While Gonzo's currently enjoying an extraterrestrial season himself, he deserves credit over Snow for the things he does better: he's a good glove in the outfield, runs well and while he won't be one of the league's best players, unlike Snow it'll take awhile before he's one of the worst. And for that, plus his rep as one of baseball's nicest guys, he gets a multi-year deal worth about $2 million less per year than Snow. This is more than just an accounting victory over a divisional rival: it enhances the organization's reputation as far as how players get treated. Jerry Colangelo's outfit doesn't seem to tire of these sorts of PR wins, and in the context of today's market for veteran players (and while the farm system is still gearing up), this wasn't as bad an investment as the deals for Matt Williams, Jay Bell or Steve Finley.

One of the ripple effects of Dellucci's injury is that Powell had to come up to give the team an adequate caddy for Finley. Unfortunately, they're still missing somebody who can actually play shortstop, while enduring Andy Fox's game attempt to be a bit more useful than a scarecrow out there.

Losing Kim hurts; part of the problem seems to have been Kim's inability to really communicate with his coaches. The real danger is that in his absence, Buck Showalter will become even more reluctant to go to his pen, and will burn out his rotation before Labor Day.


Added LHP Terry Mulholland and UT Jose Hernandez to the active roster; placed PR Otis Nixon on the 15-day DL (sprained neck). [8/3]

Nixon's convenient injury spares the Ozzeroo for another couple of weeks. The danger for the Braves is the chance that they'll carry either of them on the postseason roster, bringing back ghastly memories of Terry Pendleton DHing in the World Series. As has continued to be the problem under John Schuerholz, they're treating their last few roster spots as sinecures, and it's hurting them. There's no longer a margin for error.


Placed 3B Cal Ripken on the 15-day DL (nerve irritation - lower back); recalled 3B Ryan Minor from Rochester. [8/3]

Losing Ripken isn't the end of the world, unless you're in some sort of pool involving when he's going to reach 3,000 hits or something. In his absence, the Orioles have been willing to explore letting B.J. Surhoff play some third base, which makes perfect sense when Minor is the alternative.


Activated RHP Pedro Martinez from the DL; optioned INF Lou Merloni to Pawtucket. [8/3]

Martinez is back, and not a moment too soon. Having him back, in conjunction with the upcoming sets against the Angels, Royals and Mariners, should give the Sox a little lift over the next week and a half. In the meantime, the Blue Jays play the Rangers, an improved Twins team and the A's. The margin of error for the team is so slim that every scheduling advantage has to be taken advantage of right now.

With Merloni hitting especially poorly, not even his good bud Nomar can trouble himself to complain too much about this.


Placed OF Darrin Jackson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/27 (back strain); purchased the contract of RHP Kip Wells from Birmingham(Double-A). [8/2]

Optioned RHP Kip Wells to Birmingham (Double-A). [8/3]

Last year's first-rounder out of Baylor, Wells came up for a spot start when Jim Parque's bruised thumb forced him to miss a turn, but Wells quickly built on his hot streak at Birmingham by winning his major league debut handily. He'd run off six straight wins since moving up to the Southern League, posting a 1.58 ERA while allowing only 39 baserunners and one home run in 40 innings pitched. He's got good heat and a tight, jaw-dropping curve. He'll be back, so you can believe that Jaime Navarro and James Baldwin both need to consider what other cities they might like pitching in.


Added RHP Juan Guzman to the active roster; optioned C Jason LaRue to Indianapolis. [8/3]

Activated RHP Jason Bere from the 15-day DL, and released him. [8/4]

Guzman had a nice first start in the National League, but it should be pointed out that Eric Gregg was working the plate, which never hurts.

Bere, released? "Look Ma, I'm still finished! No, really, I mean it this time! Nothing left, honest!" Everyone who mistook Bere for some sort of clay that wondercoach Don Gullett could mold into a useful pitcher, off to the back of the classroom.


Placed RHP Dwight Gooden on the 15-day DL (shoulder stiffness); activated RHP Jaret Wright from the 15-day DL. [8/3]

Swapping one guy with control problems and an ERA pushing six with another guy with control problems and an ERA pushing six may sound like bad news for a team, but this is the Indians, so it qualifies as "reinforcements". As long as they keep Colon going, they don't have world-ending problems, because Charles Nagy and Dave Burba have their good nights. But with this team's bullpen problems pestering them as well, if they draw a first-round matchup with the Rangers, they're going to lose because of the Zimmerman Factor.


Recalled RHP Francisco Cordero from Jacksonville (Double-A). [8/2]

Placed $$ Gregg Jefferies on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled OF Kimera Bartee from Toledo. [8/3]

Cordero's call-up should be a good two-month test. His recovery from last year's elbow and shoulder problems has demonstrated that he didn't lose his fastball on the surgeon's table, punching out 58 batters in 52 1/3 innings. Racking up 27 saves doesn't describe his talent, but it does impress management. Since they're already tied into a couple more years of Todd Jones, Cordero can look forward to a few months doing set-up work.

How badly are things getting for the Tigers? Time to shovel Gregg Jefferies and his paychecks into Lake Huron, and call up the pizza baron's favorite, Mr. Bartee. On the plus side, Bartee can actually play center field, which gives the Tigers a needed defensive replacement for the statuesque Gabe Kapler.


Recalled 3B Kevin Orie from Calgary; outrighted RHP Archie Corbin to Calgary. [8/5]

With Orie back up, he can resume his death-struggle with Mike Lowell for the third-base job. So far, Orie's hitting .266/.325/.427 versus Lowell's .247/.333/.367. If either one of them heats up, it won't be enough for the Fish to put distance between them and les Expos. Having Eddie Yarnall out there every five days might have, not to mention it wouldn't be such a bad thing to have Todd Noel and Mark Johnson (the pitcher, not the catcher or the first baseman) hanging out in the minors. But you knew that.


Acquired C George Williams from the Twins for C Josh Dimmick. [8/3]

Activated CF Carl Everett from the DL; optioned LF Lance Berkman to New Orleans. [8/5]

Both moves reflect an organizational approach: get deep and stay deep. Everett's return coincides with a pretty lengthy slump out by Richard Hidalgo, and while Derek Bell's almost had enough of a hot streak to hide his season-long miseries, Larry Dierker's crew is almost certainly better off with Berkman from this point forward.

Unfortunately, the other two don't have options to play with, and Berkman would be wasted on the bench for the next two weeks or so of New Orleans' season. So he'll get to stay sharp, while the Astros wrestle with how and when they can make Bell disappear, not to mention make room for Moises Alou's return on September 1st. Assuming Alou comes back at full speed, burying Bell behind Matt Mieske on the bench is probably the best thing they can do, while letting Everett, Hidalgo, Alou and Berkman split the playing time.

Meanwhile, behind the plate, they're figuring out that they may not be able to count on Tony Eusebio and are quickly getting disenchanted with Randy Knorr. Snagging PCL All-Star and Triple-A vet Williams during a very good season for him (.303/.424/.461) makes for an excellent insurance policy down the stretch.


Recalled C Charlie Greene from Louisville; outrighted INF Eddie Zosky to Louisville. [8/4]

Greene is finally available, not that his arrival should be heralded as much more than a necessity. At bat, he makes Mike Matheny look like Babe Ruth, so if Dave Nilsson's back keeps him in the "catch and throw" role, so much the better.


Placed LHP Mark Redman on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder); recalled RHP Dan Perkins from Salt Lake. [8/2]

It's unfortunate that Redman's best pitching was at Salt Lake this year, and that it wore him out. The Twins' rotation has just started to roll, as Joe Mays takes his "average Joe" shtick and command of four pitches to set the league on its ear, while Eric Milton grows up and LaTroy Hawkins finally gets on track, and Brad Radke continues to be Brad Radke. Dan Perkins probably didn't get enough time to sort himself out at Salt Lake, making only three appearances. The Twins will try to avoid the fifth spot for another swing through the rotation, and then toss Perkins or Benj Sampson out for another shellacking.


Added UT Shawon Dunston to the active roster; optioned UT Melvin Mora to Norfolk. [8/3]


Added RHPs Kevin Appier and Jason Isringhausen to the active roster; optioned RHPs Carl Dale and Brett Laxton to Vancouver. [8/2]

Added RHP Greg McMichael to the active roster; optioned LHP Tim Kubinski to Vancouver. [8/3]


Placed OF Darren Bragg on the 15-day DL (torn ACL); recalled UT Craig Paquette from Memphis. [8/3]

This isn't good news for the Cardinals, given that Eric Davis is probably done for the year; now, so is Bragg. The danger is that they're so indifferent to the future that they'll simply run broken-down old Willie McGee out there game after game. Taking a long look at Nate Dishington to see if he's ever going to turn into something, or Chris Haas, or even Stubby Clapp for the amusement he'd bring, has to be better than turning the last two months into a rerun.


Placed 2B Jeff Kent on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/3 (foot); recalled RHP Joe Nathan from Fresno. [8/4]

This is a loss-loss situation for the Giants. Nathan's getting tossed into the flames of the pennant race because Dusty has overworked some starters and seen others--notably Mark Gardner--flop. They're basically desperate, and losing Kent only makes them more so. Replacing him in the lineup with Ramon Martinez isn't going to be the answer, and if the Giants feel tempted to move Bill Mueller back to second base to get Charlie Hayes into the lineup, that isn't helpful either. Your basic bad situation in which a team loses an irreplaceable ballplayer.


Placed CF Ruben Mateo on the 15-day DL (broken bone - wrist). [8/5]

Mateo's done for the year with his rookie status intact, and replacing him with Goodwin isn't going to send them tumbling past Oakland. It leaves their bench weak--paging Roberto Kelly--which makes for a big contrast with last year's crew, and as long as they don't take Scott Sheldon seriously, there isn't much to drag up from the minors that they can use.

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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1999-08-17 - Transaction Analysis: August 14-16, 1999
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1999-08-10 - Transaction Analysis: August 6-8, 1999
1999-08-07 - Transaction Analysis: August 2-5
1999-08-04 - Transaction Analysis: July 30-August 1, 1999
1999-07-31 - Transaction Analysis: July 26-29, 1999
1999-07-27 - Transaction Analysis: July 23-25, 1999

1999-08-17 - Transaction Analysis: August 14-16, 1999
1999-08-15 - Transaction Analysis: August 9-13
1999-08-10 - Transaction Analysis: August 6-8, 1999
1999-08-07 - Transaction Analysis: August 2-5
1999-08-04 - Transaction Analysis: July 30-August 1, 1999
1999-07-31 - Transaction Analysis: July 26-29, 1999
1999-07-27 - Transaction Analysis: July 23-25, 1999