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August 17, 1999
August 14-16, 1999
Placed RHP Ken Hill on the 15-day DL (strained groin, strained
abdominal muscle, tendinitis/knee, plain old broken-downedness). [8/15]
Recalled LHP Jarrod Washburn from Edmonton. [8/16]
The Angels' rotation has been exactly the debacle it was supposed to be all
season. Now that they've mercifully put Ken Hill on the shelf and Black
Jack in the killing jar, they need to sit Tim Belcher down for the
remainder of the season so that they can get serious about looking at some
of the "maybe" pitchers for next year's staff.
That means calling up Washburn and putting him into the rotation, where he
belonged from the get-go after last year's good work. In an injury-plagued
season, he still managed a 4.73 ERA in the PCL, with 55 strikeouts in 59
innings, allowing 50 hits and 17 walks. It means Ramon Ortiz will be called
up and start on Thursday. It's probably worthwhile to take a look at Mike
Fyhrie, not because he'll grow up to be Greg Maddux, but because the
experience will give the Angels something to draw on if they decide to keep
him around as their fifth starter. At least. It could give him value as a
throw-in in one of the deals they're going to have to make this winter.
Belcher has no value. He's a paycheck, and whether the team pays him to
pitch and bitch or vacation for the duration, the only thing of value the
team can get from him is his playing time, given to someone more deserving
or relevant to the organization's future.
Placed 1B Travis Lee on the 15-day DL (torn ligaments/ankle). [8/15]
Recalled OF Rob Ryan from Tucson. [8/16]
Lee had already lost his job to the platoon of Erubiel Durazo and Greg
Colbrunn, which raises an interesting question: are young first basemen the
guys you really want to invest in, long-term? A team should always be able
to find a solid bat to pencil in at first, which leads us to rightly doubt
the wisdom of the Giants for giving J.T. Snow oodles of cash, and warn the
Phillies against similarly rewarding Rico Brogna.
The Brewers adopted a completely different approach with John Jaha, going
year-to-year with him until finally deciding his bad wheels weren't worth a
multi-year contract. For them, it was a worthwhile decision, no matter how
well he's subsequently played for the A's; there was no guarantee he'd
perform if given lots of money for lots of years. Given his track record,
he could have broken his foot or blown out his knee at any point, and the
Brewers knew it.
The difference between John Jaha (or Snow or Brogna) and Travis Lee is that
Jaha was old coming up and was under his team's control until he was
eligible for free agency, while Lee was signed as a free agent because of a
draft screwup. The D'backs had to pay for Lee in direct competition with
other clubs. It was a calculated risk at the time, and should still pay off
in that Lee ought to have a good major league career. Like several recent
players with limited experience above A-ball before cracking the majors
(Jon Nunnally and Mike Caruso come to mind), Lee has struggled in his
second season in the majors. He's still only 24, but he also may be trade
bait by next spring if Durazo breaks through in his absence.
BOSTON RED SOX
Activated C Scott Hatteberg from the DL; designated C Lenny
Webster for assignment. [8/16]
It isn't easy being Lenny. When the reason for your professional existence
is to be Scott Erickson's personal catcher, and the team that has Scott
Erickson doesn't want you, it had better be you and not Gregg Zaun hitting
The Hatteberg/Varitek combo was an asset behind the plate last year, and
the experience Varitek has gotten in Hatteberg's absence should profit the
Sox by eliminating the straight platoon. Jimy Williams can mix and match
them as he sees fit, which will strengthen the bottom third of the lineup.
Acquired 2B/3B Carlos Baerga from the Padres for a PTBNL or cash;
optioned UT Jolbert Cabrera to Buffalo; transferred OF Jacob
Cruz from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/16]
The Indians are claiming that Baerga is "not just here for a warm
fuzzy; he's here to help us win" The Braves said the same thing about
picking up Terry Pendleton two years ago. This move is just as misguided,
representing the deliberate selection of a worst-case scenario because it's
Until Travis Fryman heals, and with nothing at stake but playing time and
experience, the Tribe flubbed their chance to help themselves by either
playing Jeff Manto or giving Russell Branyan a clean shot at six or seven
weeks of major league playing time. Already having made the mistake of
bringing in Wil Cordero to crowd out Richie Sexson at DH--only to have
Sexson worm his way back into the lineup--the Indians appear to be
desperately afraid of letting talented ballplayers earn spots on the
postseason roster over retreads like the Beeg Belly. Either John Hart wants
to make a point, as he did with Kenny Lofton, or he's going to have to tell
us it wasn't so bad, because he didn't inhale.
Placed RHP Mike DeJean on the 15-day DL (tendinitis/elbow, mercy);
recalled RHP John Thomson from Colorado Springs. [8/14]
Thomson gets a reprieve, in that he might get the next seven weeks to
reclaim something from a season mostly lost to injuries and Jim Leyland's
You have to hope DeJean's season is at an end. Even by Coors standards, an
ERA of 8.05, with 12 home runs allowed in 53 2/3 innings, is grisly. Of
course, like Thomson and most of the bullpen, DeJean might have been better
off with someone else running the pitching staff....
Placed LHP Justin Thompson on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder);
recalled RHP Matt Anderson from Toledo. [8/16]
Early on, the Tigers are saying Thompson's shoulder isn't so bad that he'll
have to be shut down for the year, but this bears watching closely.
Thompson's shoulder has been a source of concern during his entire career,
and if they run him out there for competitiveness' sake, they could get
burned. The Tigers can't even claim to be playing for pride at this point,
while Randy Smith has ludicrously pronounced this season a massive fluke.
Meanwhile, Anderson didn't sort himself out in Toledo, getting plastered
for a 6.40 ERA while allowing 31 walks, 32 hits and nine home runs in 38
innings. In short, he's no Francisco Cordero.
Activated C Tony Eusebio from the DL; designated C Randy
Knorr forassignment. [8/15]
Activated 3B Ken Caminiti from the DL; optioned INF Russ
Johnson to New Orleans. [8/16]
Caminiti's return comes just as Derek Bell will be hitting the DL,
maintaining the team's quota of lineup regulars lost to the DL (four or
five, depending on how you look at it). While performance approaching last
year's might be too much to expect from Caminiti, as long as he outhits
Bell--easy enough--it's a net gain for the team offense. Similarly, it
isn't that Eusebio is a great offensive player, but a .340 OBP is a nice
thing to have at the bottom of the order. His absences have given Paul Bako
opportunity to earn a bigger chunk of the playing time, adding a lefty bat
with even better patience (.358 OBP).
Demoting Johnson seemed unjust given that he finally got to show that he
deserves a major league job, but he's coming back in Bell's place.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Released RHP Terry Mathews and LHP Matt Whisenant; added RHP
Derek Wallace to the active roster; recalled RHP Chris
Fussell from Omaha. [8/14]
This year's horrendous bullpen experience coule be an excellent example of
negative reinforcement, in that Tony Muser probably now believes in the
interchangeability of relievers. It's a good thing to believe, even if he
got there by foul rather than fair means.
Both Mathews and Whisenant can be helpful, but the Royals have a
responsibility to their own future. Putting Fussell into long relief right
now should give him the sort of experience which will help his bid to win a
spot in the rotation next year, while Wallace will get a chance to show
whether he'll ever be more than another New York newspaper puff piece.
Placed RHP Steve Woodard on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/12
(fractured wrist). [8/14]
Activated RHP Cal Eldred from the DL. [8/15]
Woodard broke his left, non-pitching, wrist almost a month ago, but leave
it to Phil Garner to have him try to pitch through it. It got so bad that
Woodard had to pace around the mound after every few pitches to wait for
the pain to subside.He was also complaining that the umpires weren't
rubbing up the balls well enough, something he obviously couldn't do
himself. Putting him on the DL is a sign of progress, in that there was
nothing to be gained from having the anchor of next year's rotation pitch
hurt to help this team finish fifth.
If you'd have told me four months ago that three members of the Brewers'
Opening Day rotation would be there in mid-August, and that Woodard
wouldn't one of them, I'd have thought things would be even worse than they
are. On the plus side, Kyle Peterson's looking pretty good, and Hideo Nomo
has been a useful addition. Cal Eldred doesn't have much to offer, which is
why I hope Jim Lefebvre gives Rocky Coppinger a few starts down the
stretch, or that Allen Levrault gets a September cuppajoe.
Purchased the contract of RHP Shayne Bennett from Ottawa; optioned
RHP Scott Strickland to Ottawa; post-game, optioned Bennett to
Ottawa; recalled RHP Tony Armas Jr. from Harrisburg (Double-A).
Just the tail end of the Columbine tragedy-induced stretch of five games in
three days. Armas acquitted himself well in his spot start on Monday
against the Giants, and will probably come back up in September. He's been
effective as Harrisburg's ace this year, posting a 2.52 ERA whie allowing a
mere 103 hits in 132 innings. His fastball's picking up velocity as he
grows (it's at 93 now), and he's still learning a slider to go with his
good curve and changeup. Once he arrives to stay, it won't be long before
he's the staff ace.
Jim Beattie's tenure as GM has been frustrating in several ways, but 2000
should feature an Expos rotation with five solid young starters.
Placed UT Tony Phillips on the 15-day DL (broken leg); activated
3B/1B Olmedo Saenz from the DL. [8/16]
The A's lose their leadoff man for the remainder of the season, leading to
all sorts of "momentum shift" blather from the media. For
Phillips, this has to be galling, in that this was first, and probably
only, shot at being a regular on a team in the playoffs. That's if the A's
make it, which was far from a sure thing with or without Phillips.
Right now, he's talking retirement, and the game will be poorer for his
absence. The term "scrappy" is almost always slapped on
media-friendly, dirty-uniformed white guys, but is any player more of a
scrapper than Phillips?
As much as he's has been pivotal in adding good old-fashioned aggression to
baseball on the East Bay this year, his flexibility has been a double-edged
sword, in that he's a serious defensive liability at second base or center
field. As Kevin Appier quickly pointed out, Ryan Christenson has his
merits, in that he's willing to work the count and take a walk, while
playing a good defensive center field. It's rumored that the A's are
shopping for a platoon mate for Christenson, either Rich Becker or Stan
Javier. Chad Curtis has also been brought up, since he's distressed
property with Darryl Strawberry's comeback on the way.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Traded 2B/3B Carlos Baerga to the Indians for a PTBNL or cash;
placed RHP Brian Boehringer on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/14
(strained rotator cuff); recalled RHP Stan Spencer and UT David
Newhan from Las Vegas. [8/16]
The argument already rages over whether or not Boehringer was going to burn
out as a starter, but it's hard to dismiss how much more valuable he was in
that role. One surgery later, he should still end up a much richer man for
the experience at some point. In his absence, the Pads will take the last
few weeks to decide whether Stan Spencer will get to stay on the 40-man
roster or not. If he drops his shot at the rotation again, he'll be gone
and Buddy Carlyle will have a job to compete for.
As for dumping Baerga, good riddance. He's less valuable than Dave Magadan
or Ed Giovanola, and Newhan is a useful utility man in that he can stand in
at second base or third base, play the outfield, and out-hit Baerga. It
isn't expected that the PTBNL is going to be anyone of note, but if it ends
up being someone who can help Rancho Cucamonga contend in the California
League next year, that's more useful to this organization than Carlos Baerga.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Recalled RHP Joe Nathan from Fresno; optioned RHP Julian
Tavarez to Fresno. [8/16]
Nathan should be up, and in the rotation, to stay. The Giants' chances of
catching the Snakes are getting more and more unrealistic, which on one
level takes the pressure off, at least according to conventional wisdom.
Overall, finally getting Mark Gardner out of the rotation can only help
their slim chances.
Nathan's still going to need to improve his breaking stuff, and sadly Dick
Pole isn't the Giants' pitching coach these days, but better that they try
to win a game or two and develop Nathan simultaneously.
Placed UT John Mabry on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/14
(fractured kneecap); recalled 1B/OF Ryan Jackson from Tacoma. [8/15]
It says volumes about the Mariners' organization that when John Mabry went
down for the season, they had a John Mabry clone handy. If Mabry played in
the PCL this season, he'd probably hit pretty close to Jackson's
.308/.360/.438. Maybe a bit more power, but Tacoma has one of the better
pitchers' parks in the league. Neither of them have any business playing
first base regularly, so you could say the Mariners have a bit of a problem.
Recalled RHP Danny Kolb from Oklahoma; optioned RHP Ryan
Glynn to Oklahoma. [8/14]
The usual Okie City shuffle. Next up: Doug Davis. Heck, as long as they're
flushing a roster spot on spot mop-up duty, why not drag Nolan Ryan's kid
out of retirement? Wait...there's gotta be a pitcher named Bubba somewhere,
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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