CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Happy Thanksgiving! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 1

No Previous Article
<< Previous Column
Transaction Analysis: ... (08/17)
Next Column >>
Transaction Analysis: ... (08/25)
No Next Article

August 22, 1999

Transaction Analysis

August 17-19

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Recalled RHP Ramon Ortiz from Edmonton; optioned RHP Mike Fyhrie to Edmonton. [8/19]

Ortiz' highly-touted debut has come and gone, and he managed to mow down the White Sox. Comparisons to Pedro Martinez abound, but unlike Martinez, he isn't going to get to cut his teeth in middle relief, and unlike Martinez, he had serious arm problems in '98 after being worked hard in '97. Did the organization learn anything from that? In 1999, as a 23 year old, he's tossed 155.1 innings between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Edmonton in 24 starts. Between the two levels, he's allowed 134 hits (19 homeruns), with 59 walks and an impressive 150 strikeouts. That's in a season coming off of an injury, which is both impressive and troubling. He still has his velocity despite last year's elbow problems, but the Sox claimed they weren't that impressed, saying Ortiz is hittable. Terry Collins is not known for his careful treatment of young starters, and the Angels are a bad team, so there's definitely some danger that something stupid will happen and Ortiz will be put at risk. Fyhrie goes down in his place, courtesy of Tim Belcher's contract, despite having an ERA nearly two runs lower than Belcher's 6.67.

CHICAGO CUBS

Agreed to a one-year contract extension with 1B Mark Grace for 2000. [8/18]

The Cubs take up the challenge one more time: can they build a winner with a first baseman who doesn't hit for power? Despite this year's offensive surge and some highly touted winter conditioning, Grace has only twelve homeruns (thirteen as of a few minutes ago). Can a team win with Grace? Sure, but to do it requires getting more offense out of other positions, and the Cubs are carrying offensive zeroes at second, center, third, short, and catcher. The challenge Ed Lynch has to respond to is to get good players at all of those positions, instead of merely settling for improvement over Gary Gaetti or Tyler Houston.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Purchased the contract of LHP Chris Haney and recalled RHP Jason Rakers from Buffalo; placed LHP Mark Langston on the 15-day DL (strained quadriceps); optioned LHP Tom Martin to Buffalo; transferred 3B Travis Fryman from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [8/18]

Between Haney and Rakers, the Indians have called up Sunday's starting pitcher. Mike Hargrove's made no promises about which one will make the start, or if a rehabbing Doc Gooden will take Steve Karsay's place or that of Langston/Haney/Rakers. To make this murky situation all the murkier, Tom Martin had to go down because the bullpen was "fried" after the Texas series. You could argue that either Rakers or Haney deserved a crack at the fifth spot before Tom Candiotti ever did; Haney's had another workmanlike season for Buffalo, and Rakers has shown signs of life (4.92 ERA, only 31 waks in 131.2 IP, although 151 hits and 17 homeruns).

COLORADO ROCKIES

Optioned LHP Bobby Jones to Colorado Springs; recalled LHP Rigo Beltran from Colorado Springs. [8/17]

Beltran clearly deserved to be up sooner than this since his pickup from the Mets, but the real question is whether there's going to be any accountability at all on the subject of the Rox rotation. With Jamey Wright and John Thomson back in the rotation, the Rox are back to the rotation they had in April. If this is what the Rox call rebuilding now that it's August and they're awful, what do you refer to it as looking back at April, when expectations were high? Leyland's facetious claim to like lefties better aside, Jones had little business starting ahead of Thomson. Leyland's inability to wake up and smell the Coors, and his newfound palavering about a need for defense and speed, condemn the greater Denver area to a pretty grim future.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Purchased the contract of RHP A.J. Burnett from Portland (Double-A); optioned RHP Hector Almonte to Portland. [8/17]

Optioned RHP A.J. Burnett to Portland (Double-A); purchased the contract of LHP Brent Billingsley from Calgary. [8/18]

Burnett came up after pitching so poorly in Portland that he got demoted to the bullpen. Was it a reward? Not really, because going to the pen is what made him (and not lefty Mike Tejera, who's been outstanding) available for the spot start in the first place. At Portland this year, Burnett's been wild: a 5.78 ERA (and 6.8 runs per nine), 122 hits, 70 walks, and 15 wild pitches in 113.2 IP, but he has punched out 119 batters. But as Dave Dombrowski put it, the brief callup can give Burnett a bit of incentive to improve. It was also a good spot to break him in: the wide open spaces of Chavez Ravine, against a struggling Dodgers team. It seems uncanny how almost every NL team tries to break in a rookie starter against either the Marlins or the Expos, but the Marlins obviously don't have one of those options.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed RF Derek Bell on the 15-day DL (strained groin); recalled INF Russ Johnson from New Orleans. [8/17]

As previously mentioned/expected. Bell's absence creates a good shot at serious playing time for a legit member of the Killer B's, Lance Berkman. Berkman will probably have to settle for platooning with Matt Mieske so that Glenn Barker fills in at center with Carl Everett in right, but the Astros could help themselves every once in awhile if they just told Carl Everett to cover everything between the foul poles, and put Berkman in right and Daryle Ward in left.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Traded OF Rich Becker to the Athletics for a PTBNL; recalled 1B Kevin Barker from Louisville. [8/18]

Okay, so they're still stuck with Marquis Grissom, and they just gave up their best-case scenario platoon partner for the multi-million boondoggle John Hart saddled them with. With the expectation that Dave Nilsson is going to walk away, the Brewers could still do themselves some good with this deal, by asking that the PTBNL be the ragin' cajun catcher, Danny Ardoin. Ardoin's blocked in the A's system, but he's a good catcher, draws a few walks, and would be a good alternative to Bobby Hughes for next year. If the Brewers instead get Prieto-flavored slurry, they didn't help thelmselves. How they've helped themselves right now is by making space for their first baseman of the future, Kevin Barker. Brewers fans, thank your lucky stars you're not one of the teams that's giving big money to a J.T. Snow or a Rico Brogna. At Louisville this year, Barker hit .278/.363/.518 with 23 homeruns, but he's a platoon player, having slapped right-handers around for a .295 average, 21 of the homers, while slugging .565. He's an adequte fielder at first, but he'll need Mark Loretta or Sean Berry to spot him against lefties. Since he's just 24, the Brewers should look forward to writing his name into the lineup for years to come.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled 1B/OF Ryan McGuire from Ottawa; optioned RHP Tony Armas Jr. to Harrisburg (Double-A). [8/17]

Armas will be back, although perhaps not until he puts the finishing touches on a fifth (!) pitch, the splitter, which he just added this spring. He should be able to walk right in and claim a rotation spot next spring, and the expectations of future success are both high and well-merited.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Acquired OF Rich Becker from the Brewers for a PTBNL; optioned UT Jason McDonald to Midland (Double-A). [8/18]

Delicious. Okay, my true colors are showing, but I like this deal for obvious reasons. Becker's still a good centerfielder, still kills righthanded pitching (.252/.395/.424 with the Brewers this year), and he can run. Basically, he's the ideal platoon mate for Ryan Christenson as a solution to the leadoff problem in Tony Phillips' absence, which leaves the A's better off overall, offensively and defensively. As icing of sorts, Becker's arbitration-eligible this winter, but after two years of part-time play, he'll have a pretty hard time turning that into a huge raise. That means the A's can go into next year with the Becker/Christenson platoon in place, and (if they let John Jaha walk/limp away to a multi-year deal with someone like the Mariners or the Blue Jays) put Mario Encarnacion in RF and get Matt Stairs back to DH.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Signed 1B Rico Brogna to a one-year contract extension for 2000. [8/18]

The National League is slugging .432 last I looked, and Rico Brogna is slugging .434. The NL figures count pitchers' hitting totals, so Brogna's slugging worse than your average NL position player, counting Rey Ordonez. If this is the new "Phillies Way," someone might have to tell them that if this new path involves giving lots of cash to guys who aren't even as good as Lenny Matuszek was (and that was actually pretty good, once upon a time, but I digress), they might not like where the road ends. If Curt Schilling doesn't pitch for a significant amount of time next year, the Phillies could easily finish in last place, at which point the Philly renaissance ends up looking like a disaster.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Activated LHP Jeff Wallace from the DL, and optioned him to Nashville. [8/19]

The latest Wild Boy can work on his control in the PCL prior to getting a September return engagement.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Optioned RHP Jose Jimenez to Memphis; recalled RHP Rick Heiserman from Memphis. [8/17]

Jimenez has two basic problems: first, his slider still hasn't come along, leaving him overly dependent on his great sinker. Second, he's lost command of the sinker, leaving it up so that instead of punishing right-handed batters, they're catching up to him. He still has the makings of a fine starting pitcher, but he has work to do. When his spot comes up again on Tuesday, Rick Ankiel will be getting the start, and Rick Heiserman will be back in Memphis.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

0 comments have been left for this article.

No Previous Article
<< Previous Column
Transaction Analysis: ... (08/17)
Next Column >>
Transaction Analysis: ... (08/25)
No Next Article

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Fantasy Team Preview: Baltimore Orioles
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: The Ace Chase, the Rays' Face...
Premium Article Daisy Cutter: Jon Lester's New Peers
Premium Article Prospect Mechanics
Moonshot: A New View of Plate Discipline, Pa...
The Lineup Card: Nine of the Worst Baseball ...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Yasmany Tomas is a Dia...


MORE BY CHRISTINA KAHRL
1999-09-03 - Transaction Analysis: August 28-31, 1999
1999-08-30 - Transaction Analysis: August 24-27
1999-08-25 - Transaction Analysis: August 20-23
1999-08-22 - Transaction Analysis: August 17-19
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
More...

MORE TRANSACTION ANALYSIS
1999-09-03 - Transaction Analysis: August 28-31, 1999
1999-08-30 - Transaction Analysis: August 24-27
1999-08-25 - Transaction Analysis: August 20-23
1999-08-22 - Transaction Analysis: August 17-19
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
More...