Happy Thanksgiving! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 1
March 25, 2005
The Wests, etc.
Signed 1B/OF-B Kendry Morales to a six-year contract. [12/1]
Signed OF-L Steve Finley to a two-year contract with an option for 2007. [12/10]
Signed RHP Esteban Yan to a two-year contract. [12/13]
Designated RHP Bobby Jenks for assignment. [12/16]
Re-signed OF-B Jeff DaVanon to a one-year, $950,000 contract. [1/17]
Signed INF-R Lou Merloni to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/21]
Signed C-R Josh Paul to a one-year, $450,000 contract. [1/27]
This was something of a weird winter for the Angels, and while it's clear that they're players, it may not be quite so clear where they're going to wind up. Some of the deals were akin to the previous winter's moves: big dollar bids for big name ballplayers. But the similiarities are only general, and this winter certainly didn't bring in a Vlad Guerrero. Perhaps I fret too much over the little things, but I'm baffled why the Angels, an organization with an excellent track record for scouting and building a great supporting cast in the bullpen on the cheap, would then turn around and spend big money on a pitcher like Yan. It isn't that Yan can't pitch, but this was the sort of filler move the Angels could skip, because they were instead digging up guys like Brendan Donnelly, Ben Weber, or Kevin Gregg.
Over in the big print department, the roster moves are similarly more flash than substance. They significantly overpaid for Cabrera. However much he's apparently an upgrade from David Eckstein, it might not be that much difference. Last year, Cabrera's VORP was 20.0, Eckstein's 15.7; defensively, however terrible Eckstein's reputation is, turning to Clay Davenport's fielding translations, he was good for 19 Fielding Runs Above Replacement (FRAR), while Cabrera's much more touted defensive rep was only good for 15 FRAR. However crude the defensive tools we have at our disposal might be, it seems outlandish to expect Cabrera to be that much more valuable than Eckstein.
Bringing in Steve Finley has that feel-good vibe you occasionally want when trying to win friends and woo prospective ticket holders. Finley's game-winning slam on the next-to-last day of the season last year was one of the highlights of SoCal baseball, after all, and scoring political points off of the Los Angeles team in a bid to challenge the Dodgers might tally on some sort of scorecard. But on the diamond, it's the addition of a hitter who may not significantly help the Angels more than getting at-bats to Jeff DaVanon and Juan Rivera would. It also means no chance that Garret Anderson or Darin Erstad will ever move back to center, handicapping the Angels offensively relative to the rest of the league at first and left, two of the premiere offensive positions in a lineup. Defensively, Finley may still be able to handle center well enough, but let's face it, he's not what he was in the late '90s, and there aren't a lot of great gloves in center among forty year-olds as a group. Like Cabrera, this is a bigger move by reputation than in terms of actual talent.
All isn't surprising or mysterious, however. Some of the little moves are pretty sweet, like bringing in Lou Merloni to take over the utility infield duties. Not only is he an upgrade on the likes of Shane Halter, he makes for a nice enough alternative to lefty-hitting Adam Kennedy at second and Dallas McPherson at third. That in turn lets the Angels send Maicer Izturis down, and while that puts them behind the Dodgers in the Izturis races, it does give Maicer development time he probably still needs. I'm also impressed with the particularly decisive blotting out of last season's steamless controversy over Aaron Sele vs. Ramon Ortiz by deciding to choose neither for this year. Dumping Ortiz on the Reds brings them an interesting arm in Moseley, cuts costs, and made space for signing Byrd, a pretty clear upgrade.
Finally, I know that I've said nothing here about Kendry Morales, but that's in part because I was pretty noisy in voicing my doubts about overpaying for forbidden fruit from Castro's kingdom in our Top Prospects roundtable, and because Clay Davenport followed up that debate with an excellent piece about evaluating Morales. Consider me still skeptical, but with all due credit to Clay and to the Angels. If it works, he won't be the new Andy Morales.
Signed RHP Jorge Julio to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. [2/12]
Signed LHP John Parrish to a one-year, $615,000 contract. [2/17]
Claimed OF-R Matt Diaz off of waivers from the Devil Rays.[2/22]
Optioned RHP John Maine, 1B-L Walter Young, C-R Eli Whiteside, and RHP Jacobo Sequea to Ottawa; optioned LHP Adam Loewen to Frederick (A-ball); reassigned RHPs Hayden Penn, Brian Forystek and Marino Salas, and LHP Tony Saunders to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Signed 1B-L Roberto Petagine to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/8]
Signed RHP Denny Tomori to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI; acquired INF-R Alejandro Machado from the Nationals for a PTBNL or cash. [2/15]
Optioned LHP Abe Alvarez and 2B-R Alejandro Machado to Pawtucket; optioned RHP Chris Smith to Portland (Double-A); optioned RHPs Manny Delcarmen, Anibal Sanchez and Luis Mendoza, and LHP Juan Cedeno to Wilmington (A-ball); assigned SS-B Kenny Perez and OF Chip Ambres to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Now, I know, we here in stathead central are supposed to be so excited about seeing Roberto Petagine turn up somewhere in the hemisphere that some people might pee themselves with delight. But let's face it, the guy's going to be 34 this year. As glad as I am to see him back, he's sort of an older, more recent version of Orestes Destrade. Back when everyone's favorite Cuban émigré came over from a Japanese sojourn, we all nattered like so many furies as to what Orestes could or should do. In the end, he acquitted himself as you thought he might: able to play, yet less than expected. Petagine's arriving three years older than Destrade was in 1993, and if he's a notably better player than Destrade was, he's also arriving after a down year by his own standards. He's also arriving as a NRI on a team that can boast David Ortiz and Kevin Millar in the slots at first and DH, and on a roster that has to sort out where Kevin Youkilis should be, and whether or not they'll carry twelve pitchers to (over)compensate for Curt Schilling's absence at the opening of the season. He makes for a nifty bit of insurance, and it's nice to see him back, but Petagine's an injury replacement likely doomed to the pleasures of a Pawtucket summer.
Optioned LHP Arnie Munoz and RHPs Jeff Bajenaru and Matt Smith to Charlotte; optioned RHP Kris Honel, LHP Paulino Reynoso and 1B-L Casey Rogowski to Birmingham (Double-A); reassigned C-B Raul Casanova, OF-L Jerry Owens and OF-R Chris Young to their minor league camp.
Optioned RHPs Jeremy Guthrie and Fausto Carmona to Buffalo and RHP Jake Dittler to Akron (Double-A); reassigned LHPs Billy Traber and Mariano Gomez, C-Rs David Wallace and Javi Herrera, 3B-L Jake Gautreau, and OF-R Darnell McDonald to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Reassigned RHPs Andrew Good, Nelson Cruz, and Matt Roney, and 3B-L Jack Hannahan to their minor league camp; optioned OF-L Curtis Granderson, RHPs Kenny Baugh and Mark Woodyard, 2B-R Ryan Raburn, 1B-C Chris Shelton and OF-R Byron Gettis to Toledo; optioned RHP Preston Larrison to Erie (Double-A); optioned RHP Justin Verlander to Lakeland (A-ball); placed 2B-L Fernando Vina on the 60-day DL (tendinitis - knee, strained hamstring). [3/15]
Reassigned pitchers RHPs Billy Buckner, Jonah Bayliss and Matt Howell, LHP J.P. Howell, 1B-R Darrin Fenster, and OF-R Alan Moye to minor league camp. [3/9] Optioned 1B/C-R Justin Huber and C-R Paul Phillips to Omaha; optioned RHPs Brian Bass, Leo Nunez and Devon Lowery, and 2B-R Donnie Murphy to Wichita (Double-A); reassigned OF-B Adrian Brown and RHPs Steve Stemle, Roberto Giron and Byron Embry to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Optioned LHP Francisco Liriano to New Britain (Double-A); optioned RHP Travis Bowyer, C-B Rob Bowen, 1B-L Garrett Jones and INF-B Luis Rodriguez to Rochester; optioned RHP Scott Tyler to Ft. Myers (A-ball); reassigned INF-R Luis Maza and OF-R Josh Rabe to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Signed LHP Buddy Groom to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/4]
Signed RHP Ramiro Mendoza to a minor league contract. [2/17]
Optioned RHPs Ramon Ramirez, Jason Anderson, and Eduardo Sierra, LHP Sean Henn and SS-R Ferdin Tejeda to Columbus; reassigned RHPs Marc Valdes and Brad Voyles, C-R Ryan Hankins, and C-L John-Mark Sprowl to their minor league camp. [3/10]
Reassigned LHP Danny Borrell to their minor league camp. [3/11]
Outrighted SS-R Ferdin Tejeda to Trenton (Double-A). [3/15]
I think we all want to know what's going to happen with Ramiro Mendoza now that he's reported back to Dr. Evil's pinstriped volcano, having failed in his mission to undermine the Red Sox's quest for a world championship. He did give it a go, though, and he did suck shekels out of Boston's coffers, so hopefully it won't be a straight shot to the fire pits or the laser-wielding shark tank for him. As for bringing in Buddy Groom, although the Yankees can boast a small herd of formerly famous right-handed relievers vying for roster spots, they're still short of lefties with the experience to command Joe Torre's attention. They've really only got Mike Stanton to fill that particular bill, which means Groom just has to avoid an epically bad day or a hung curve to David Ortiz in camp, and he'll end up getting a good shot at a roster spot at some point this season.
Signed RHP Keiichi Yabu to a one-year, $1 million contract with an option for 2006. [1/13]
Signed RHP Dan Reichert to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/19]
Signed OF-R Eric Byrnes to a one-year, $2.2 million contract. [2/4]
Reassigned DH-L Jack Cust, RHPs Evan Fahrner, Brad Sullivan, and Billy Sylvester, 3B-R Brian Snyder, and OF-L Richie Robnett to their minor league camp; optioned RHPs Jairo Garcia and Chris Mabeus, UT-L Freddie Bynum, INF-R Adam Morrissey, and OF-L Matt Watson to Sacramento. [3/13]
I know that I've plugged the book a couple of times in this space already, so it might seem weak if I do so again, but in this particular case, where I have to catch up on a winter's worth of action after writing the A's chapter-okay, so I've outed myself-there isn't a lot that I have to add to what I said in December and January in another medium. In brief, I'm as impressed as a lot of people are by the new bullpen: not only is it a lot less brittle than last year's collection of tried-and-occasionally true veterans, with power arms like those of Juan Cruz and Kiko Calero, it might now boast the sort of stuff that even the most tools-minded scouts can warm to. As we've touted in our prospects lists and in the book, getting Daric Barton qualifies as an unqualified good thing, complete with Walt Jocketty asking "where have you gone?" As interesting as the newly-acquired challengers for the bottom pair of slots in the rotation might be, the organization seems taken with Joe Blanton, and I'm reluctant to get on the Yabu bandwagon. I remain more interested in Meyer and Haren than either Blanton or Yabu. The spare parts for the lineup are interesting, but I think Ginter might not be able to handle second all that well on an everyday basis. It might surprise some, but I prefer the pickup of Charles Thomas: not only does he give the A's an 'unlike' player (fast, makes good contact), but he's not going to be the next Luis Polonia, since he can play center and get on base at a decent clip. As a fourth outfielder in case Nick Swisher falters or Mark Kotsay breaks down, it would be hard to do better. Since he could also claim playing time from Eric Byrnes against tougher right-handed starting pitchers, it makes for an interesting outfield, with several working parts if you count on Bobby Kielty to make a comeback. Is it enough to keep up with the Angels? We'll see, but as an active bit of retooling, there were few offseasons quite so bold in ambition and execution.
Re-signed C-R Dan Wilson to a one-year contract. [12/7]
Signed 1B-R Richie Sexson to a four-year, $48 million contract. [12/15]
Non-tendered INF-B Luis Ugueto. [12/21]
Re-signed RHP Gil Meche to a one-year, $2.535 million contract. [1/12]
Signed INF-R Benji Gil to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/15]
Re-signed LHP Ron Villone to a two-year, $4.2 million contract. [1/18]
Designated RHP Aaron Looper for assignment; signed IF-??? Yuniesky Betancourt to a four-year, $2.826 million contract. [1/26]
Signed RHP Jeff Nelson to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/31]
Placed LHP Travis Blackley on the 60-day DL (torn labrum); purchased the contract of RHP Jorge Campillo from Tacoma. [3/3]
Similar to what I've said above about the Giants and their moves, I can't say I'm wild about what the Mariners have done to preserve their relevance. Certainly, I've been an enthusiastic booster of a return to the days of Barry Bonnell and Al Cowens, but that's my unhidden interest in seeing Oakland win out, a loyalty that goes back before the current or more ancient versions of Billyball.
But to stick to the topic at hand, I guess I see the Mariners buying two less-than-certain commodities at a time when they're poised to go tumbling back into their ancient abyss. Sexson's shoulder may never be right, making him some sort of Pacific Northwest homage to Joe Hauser, or a Nick Johnson impersonator. Beltre was signed at the best possible moment… for Beltre. I don't know if anyone should be that confident that he may lose only half of his value relative to last year. PECOTA sensibly sees him as most probably reverting to something like what we were hoping for him before his three-year downturn after 2000. That's still a very valuable player, but almost certainly not as valuable as what the Mariners think they're getting. As much as these moves might send a message that the M's didn't stand Pat, I see this as Bill Bavasi doing some expensive fiddling while the future burns.
Perhaps inevitably, there are little, likeable moves. Jeff Nelson and Aaron Sele make for a nice pair of lotto tix: no, you probably won't get that big pot of gold, but for the investment, what the hell, it is better than buying yet another venti double-decaf latte.
Signed RHP Travis Harper to a one-year, $745,000 contract. [2/11]
Signed RHP Jorge Sosa to a one-year, $650,000 contract. [2/14]
Signed LHP Mark Hendrickson to a one-year contract. [2/15]
Announced the retirement of OF-R Marty Cordova. [2/24]
Reassigned 3B-Rs Brandon Larson and Earl Snyder, OF-R Brian Buchanan, C-Rs Paul Hoover, and Dan Massiatte, OF-L Damon Hollins, RHPs Jimmy Haynes, Tim Corcoran, Gerardo Garcia and John Webb, and LHP Joe Beimel to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Carlos Hines and LHP Jon Switzer to Montgomery (Double-A).
Is Florida the place where players go to die? No wonder they put the Senior League there. At any rate, the Devil Fishies are being saved from themselves only through the weaknesses of so much of the flesh they piled up this winter. The retirements of players like Cordova (and the subsequent announcements by Roberto Alomar and Danny Bautista) spare them the indignity of futzing around with this sort of team in the first few months, before coming to (another) grudging acknowledgment that this isn't helping, and that they might as well go back to seeing what else is in the organizational cupboard… ideally not something quite so stale. The three retirements are different, of course: Bautista had played his way into uselessness, Cordova was ruined long ago by injuries, and Robbie Alomar gets to fire up what ought to be a no-brainer: his Hall of Fame candidacy.
However much hope these retirements might generate, though, this is a team that really does plan to go into the season with an infield of Travis Lee, Jorge Cantu, Julio Lugo and Alex Gonzalez. When Cantu may well be the best player in your infield, that isn't exactly progress, but it does more closely resemble a formula for getting back to the hundred-loss seasons of yesteryear. Although I think everyone's curiosity on the subject has long since withered into morbidity, this might be the team that finally pushes Chuck LaMar out the door.
Re-signed LHP Michael Tejera to a minor league contract. [12/2]
Signed C-R Sandy Alomar Jr. to a one-year, $550,000 deal. [12/8]
Signed OF-R Richard Hidalgo to a one-year contract, $5 million contract. [12/10]
Signed 1B-R Greg Colbrunn to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [12/17]
Re-signed OF-L David Dellucci to a two-year, $1.8 million contract. [12/19]
Re-signed RHP Jeff Zimmerman to a minor league contract. [12/21]
Re-signed C-R Rod Barajas to a one-year, $1.85 million contract. [1/8]
Outrighted OF-B Ruddy Yan to Oklahoma. [1/13]
Re-signed 2B-R Alfonso Soriano to a one-year, $7.5 million contract. [1/17]
Signed OF-B Gary Matthews Jr. to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. [1/18]
Signed LHP Wilfredo Rodriguez to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/26]
Optioned 2B-B Jason Bourgeois to Frisco (Double-A); reassigned SS-R Joaquin Arias, RHPs Shane Bazzell and Jose Veras, LHPs John Danks and Michael Tejera, and C-R Mike Nickeas to their minor league camp. [3/10]
There really was only one big-ticket signing, and that's Hidalgo. I guess he's supposed to provide certainty in right field, and certainty is apparently good when it's expensive. Continuing to rely on the bloodless language of business, I guess this also means that the Rangers have also created healthy competition between Kevin Mench, Adrian Gonzalez, David Dellucci, and Gary Matthews, Jr. (and subsequently Greg Colbrunn) for the available at-bats for two lineup slots, left field and DH. We all know, competition is good, right? I guess the problem is when there's an unanswered question over whether this combination of certainty and competition creates a better lineup. Admittedly, Mench and Dellucci and Matthews were all beneficiaries of the usual dose of home ballpark goodness that comes from being a Ranger, so you can tip your cap to John Hart for addressing that. The question is whether Hidalgo is a legitimately great hitter who fixes this problem. As a fragile hitter with two bad seasons in his last three to overcome, and this done for the most part in Juicy Juice (Juiced?) Non-Carbonated Fruit Beverage Ballpark in Houston, he's a risky investment. However, as PECOTA speculates, there is yet some chance of a quality performance; Hart's certainly rolling the appropriate bones with that very hope. The good news is that, unlike taking a chance on Magglio Ordonez's knee, the Rangers only signed Hidalgo for a year, and they still have the depth to paper over the hole that would appear should Hidalgo break down or suck.
What other goodness there is all comes from the bin of relative bargains and intriguing roster knickknacks. Mark DeRosa makes a nifty enough pickup as a utility infielder; the alternatives are Esteban German and the unkillable Manny Alexander, so DeRosa should make for an easy choice. Greg Colbrunn makes for a potentially useful right-handed hitting alternative to lefties Gonzalez or Dellucci. The real problem is that Colbrunn can really only play first, and on a roster already clogging up with choices at first, DH, or the outfield corners, it might be hard to keep a reserve 1B/DH over the inevitably more valued (if less valuable) third lefty or twelfth reliever.
Among the various pitching retreads shuffling around at the back end of the clubhouse, there are other reasons for hope. Ryan Bukvich is a potentially nifty claim, the Rangers are clearly doing a classy thing in letting Zimmerman pitch until he decides he can't, and I'm always going to hope that Pedro Astacio doesn't join Mario Soto at the top of the list of once-great pitchers whose careers were used up on teams that didn't deserve them. The important point is that any of them are worth looking at, and that the Rangers haven't invested anything more than they should in doing so.
Signed DH-R Shea Hillenbrand to a one-year, $3.87 million contract. [2/4]
Optioned RHP Dustin McGowan to Syracuse and reassigned LHPs Zach Jackson and David Purcey to minor league camp. [3/10]
Optioned 3B-B John Hattig and RHP Jason Arnold to Syracuse; OF-L Miguel Negron, INF-R Raul Tablado, and RHPs Ismael Ramirez and Vince Perkins to New Hampshire (Double-A); reassigned C-R Tim Whittaker to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Signed 3B-R Troy Glaus to a four-year, $45 million contract. [12/9]
Signed RHP Russ Ortiz, to a four-year, $33 million contract. [12/10]
Signed SS-R Royce Clayton to a one-year, $1.3 million contract. [12/14]
Signed INF-L Craig Counsell to a two-year contract. [12/15]
Acquired a PTBNL from the Cubs for LHP Stephen Randolph. [1/10]
Acquired RHP Javier Vazquez, LHP Brad Halsey, C-B Dioner Navarro and $9 million from the Yankees for LHP Randy Johnson; acquired 1B/RF-L Shawn Green and $10 million from the Dodgers for C-B Dioner Navarro and RHPs Danny Muegge, Beltran Perez, and William Juarez; signed Green to a three-year, $32 million contract. [1/11]
Designated RHP Casey Daigle for assignment. [1/13]
Signed LHP Randy Choate to a two-year contract. [1/17]
Re-signed RHP Brandon Lyon to a one-year, $330,000 contract. [1/18]
Signed RHP Jose Jimenez to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/19]
Signed 1B-B Tony Clark to a one-year, $750,000 contract. [1/24]
Re-signed RHP Mike Koplove to a two-year, $2 million contract. [1/27]
Signed LHP Kevin Tolar to a minor league contract; designated C/UT-R Robby Hammock for assignment. [1/28]
Signed LHP Donovan Osborne to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/10]
Signed RHP Juan Acevedo to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/11]
Acquired LHP Brad Murray from the White Sox as the PTBNL in the most recent Roberto Alomar trade. [2/18]
Released LHP Donovan Osborne; optioned OF-R Reggie Abercrombie, OF-L Josh Kroeger, and RHPs Justin Wechsler, Dustin Nippert, Enrique Gonzales to Tucson; reassigned RHPs Phil Stockman and Casey Daigle, INF-R Corey Myers, 1B-B Alan Zinter, C-R Juan Brito and OF-L Doug DeVore to their minor league camp. [3/14]
At the end of March, I'm left thinking that on some level, this might be the most interesting team to watch at the beginning of the season. Not because they'll be great or good or terrible, but because the Snakes had an insanely busy winter. After this much movement, I really don't know what to expect. I mean, yes, I don't expect a lineup counting on Counsell and Clayton in the top two slots to score that many runs, but I'm not sure. The division is a bit of a mess, and while it ought to be between the Padres and the Dodgers, I'm left wondering how much we really know about what to expect from an instantly reconfigured roster.
Certainly, I'm amused to see Joe Garagiola Jr.'s transmogrification into the game's ultimate rejectionist when it comes to team chemistry. This lineup features seven new regulars from last July, and that's without bringing up Chad Tracy's move across the diamond. Indeed, of all of the reshuffles, it's the decision to move Tracy I understand least; he did a good job starting the deuce, and his primary value is as a platoon third baseman, not trying to fulfill the expectations of being able to carry the offensive responsibilities of first. The horror is that this could be a formula for a Tony Clark comeback, since he's aged, rested, and not entirely dissolute.
Similarly, I'm impressed with the decision to go get Javier Vazquez. While getting Russ Ortiz and Shawn Estes won't help much, Vazquez could be the latest survivor of Whitsonitis, freed from the Yankees' increasing distemper. Not that the BOB is a fun place to pitch, or that this ancient collection of talent on the field will provide all that much defensive support, but if he's healthy, he could help keep things interesting.
Signed RHP Tim Hudson to a four-year, $47 million contract extension through 2009 with a mutual option for 2010. [3/1]
Optioned LHP Macay McBride and SS-B Luis Hernandez to Mississippi (Double-A). [3/15]
Optioned LHP Renyel Pinto to Iowa and LHP Carlos Vasquez to West Tenn (Double-A). [3/6]
Optioned LHPs John Koronka and Russ Rohlicek and 2B-L Mike Fontenot to Iowa. [3/15]
Signed UT-R Tim Olson to a minor league contract. [12/4]
Outrighted LHP Justin Hampson to Colorado Springs; terminated the contract of LHP Denny Neagle. [12/6]
Signed RHP David Cortes to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [12/16]
Claimed INF-B Alfredo Amezaga off of waivers from the Angels. [12/17]
Acquired RHP Aaron Taylor from the Mariners for RHP Sean Green. [12/20]
Signed PH-B Greg Norton to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI; re-signed C-R Todd Greene to a one-year, $750,000 contract with an option for 2006; re-signed RHP Jamey Wright to a one-year, $550,000 contract. [12/21]
Signed INF-B Desi Relaford to a one-year, $1.05 million contract with an option for 2006; outrighted OF-R Tony Miller to Colorado Springs; signed OF-R Dustan Mohr to a one-year, $1.05 million contract with a mutual option for 2006. [1/5]
Signed RHP Tim Drew to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/11]
Signed RHP Shawn Chacon to a one-year, $2.35 million contract. [2/4]
Signed RHP Matt Anderson to a minor league contract. [2/24]
Optioned 2B-R Jayson Nix, RHPs Juan Morillo and Ubaldo Jimenez, LHP Chris Narveson and OF-L Jeff Salazar to Colorado Springs; reassigned RHP Mike Esposito, LHP Justin Hampson, SS-R Tim Olson and OF-R Tony Miller to minor league camp. [3/15]
Basically, the Rockies' winter can be boiled down into one of two flavors of disposability. First, there's the players you've heard of, who might make perfectly respectable names for your 15th through 25th best players on your big league roster, but little more. Then there are the minor league free agents, generally useful, but also generally not likely to do more than strive to be a perfectly respectable alternative for the 15th through 25th best players on your big league roster. Whether it's Desi Relaford or Dustan Mohr or Greg Norton, these aren't guys who radically improve your roster, nor are they people who will fetch much in barter during the season. Jamey Wright is just going to be Jamey Wright, after all, and while that's functional, so is a pointed stick. The best-case scenario is that Relaford challenges for the job at second or short, because Clint Barmes and Aaron Miles should not be mistaken for prospects.
Second is the Rox' like-minded approach to minor league free agents. Sure, Tom Wilson and Danny Ardoin might make for a nice alternatives to Todd Greene. So what? The basic question is still whether or not Charles Johnson gets kept around, and whether keeping him will cut into J.D. Closser's playing time. Alfredo Amezaga's a good grab, but will he ever be more than a utility infielder? Tim Drew? Tim Olson? William Peterson's comment on West African art seems appropriate here: in so many words, the Rockies have unfortunate taste in ballplayers. Modest ambitions merely make for a weak excuse.
Denny Neagle's contract, terminated? Man, that sucks. I guess I have a different take on this particular situation. Not that I'm against players having rights, far from it, but this seems a little bit like various accidents that befell Jeff Kent or Paul Quantrill: if you do something that isn't covered in your contract, and it puts you on the spot, at the end of the day, you're the guy who signed the deal, and its provisions become your obligations.
Where things get… slippery (ahem) is with interpreting what's covered in Section 7 of the Universal Player Contract, which Neagle signed. Under its provisions, the player is can have his contract terminated should he "fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition." To hear some state attorneys general tell it, somebody having oral sex isn't merely nobody else's business, engaging in it is considered a crime. Engaging in it in a play for pay scenario? A double no-no, almost certainly. No one will ever mistake me for a legal scholar, but I'm curious about how this plays out. That's assuming both parties want to fight it out to the bitter end of course, instead of reach an accord. But what's the fun of that, considering this whole scenario started off as a search for a spot of fun?
Assigned RHP Rodrigo Rosario to their minor league camp. [3/7]
Reassigned RHPs Mike Neu, Kevin Cave, Trevor Hutchinson, and Josh Johnson, and LHP Scott Olsen to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Ronald Belisario to Carolina (Double-A); outrighted RHP Michael Flannery to Albuquerque. [3/11]
Optioned RHP Taylor Buchholz and C-B Hector Gimenez to Round Rock; optioned LHP Mark McLemore and RHP Fernando Nieve to Corpus Christi (Double-A); optioned RHP Juan Gutierrez to Lexington (A-ball). [3/15]
Signed OF-L Ricky Ledee to a two-year contract. [12/6]
Re-signed RHP Elmer Dessens to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2006. [12/7]
Signed 2B-R Jeff Kent to a two-year, $17 million contract. [12/9]
Claimed LHP Frank Brooks off of waivers from the Pirates. [12/11]
Signed LHP Kelly Wunsch to a minor league contract. [12/14]
Re-signed LHP Wilson Alvarez to a two-year, $4 million contract; signed SS/3B-B Jose Valentin to a one-year, $3.5 million contract; re-signed PH-R Olmedo Saenz to a one-year, $650,000 contract; re-signed RHP Giovanni Carrara to a one-year, $550,000 contract; signed OF-L J.D. Drew to a five-year, $55 million contract. [12/21]
Re-signed LHP Odalis Perez to a three-year contract with a club option for 2008. [1/6]
Acquired C-B Dioner Navarro and RHPs Danny Muegge, Beltran Perez and William Juarez from the Diamondbacks for RF/1B-L Shawn Green and $10 million; signed RHP Derek Lowe to a four-year, $36 million contract; signed C-L Paul Bako to a one-year, $650,000 contract. [1/11]
Designated 2B-L Joe Thurston and OF-L Henri Stanley for assignment. [1/12]
Designated OF-R Chin-Feng Chen for assignment. [1/14]
Re-signed SS-B Cesar Izturis to a three-year, $9.9 million contract with a team option for 2008. [1/17]
Re-signed LHP Mike Venafro to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/19]
Signed RHP Aquilino Lopez to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/21]
Re-signed RHP Brad Penny to a one-year, $5.1 million contract. [1/24]
Signed RHP Scott Erickson to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/25]
Signed 3B-R Norihiro Nakamura to a minor league contract with a spring NRI. [2/3]
Optioned LHPs Ryan Ketchner, Derek Thompson, and Orlando Rodriguez , RHP Joel Hanrahan, and 2B-B Delwyn Young to Las Vegas; reassigned 1B-L James Loney, and OF-R Tydus Meadows to their minor league camp. [3/14]
I don't know what's more interesting, that the Dodgers had such an interesting winter, or that the reviews were so overwhelmingly given to condemnation. Not buying Beltre at Beltre's price? Reasonable enough in principle, but because it's a "Moneyball" GM's decision, it's an event worth russlin' up the self-righteous in the Fourth Estate for a hanging. That isn't to say that some of what Paul DePodesta has done isn't worth criticizing. In the end, the significant upgrades that Kent and Drew provide over Alex Cora and Shawn Green will make up for a lot of the ground lost, but it's not a perfect winter, but one that blends solid moves with risks alternately clever or expensive. Adding Kent and Drew are easy upgrades to an offense that needed the help, but there are at least two genuinely strange decisions, at least from this stathead's point of view.
First, there's signing Derek Lowe for an insane amount of money; will Chavez Ravine, a tighter infield defense than the one he had in Boston, and the pleasure of facing DH-less lineups do enough to make him worth the money? I'm skeptical, but admittedly, too much skepticism and doubt can make the baby go blind; just ask Ma Wittgenstein. I know it's a bit cowardly to waffle on the question in a column labeled 'analysis'-anything, and to say something like "In DePo We Trust." Frankly, I don't see how Lowe is supposed to build on the last two years of struggle and suddenly be the significantly better pitcher he has to be to validate this contract. The strikeout rates aren't promising, the walk rates are headed in the wrong direction, and he's always had his issues with left-handed hitters. This is supposed to work in the division that has hitters like Helton, Giles, and eventually Bonds again?
The second question is whether or not he plugged the hole at third created by Beltre's departure. Nakamura is a couple of seasons removed from his better days, so as interesting as he is, you can't count on him to fix the position. The bigger catch is Jose Valentin, and while Valentin is an underrated asset in a lineup, that's if he's playing short, or perhaps second or center. Putting him at third severely handicaps his value, relative to what other teams get out of their third basemen, and it short-changes the Dodgers in putting him at a position that, defensively, might exaggerate his tendency to be error-prone while doing little to exploit his range or ability to turn the deuce.
Out of all of the re-shuffling, there were added benefits, however. Dioner Navarro immediately becomes the team's catcher of the future, and while Mike Rose and David Ross and whoever else might fill the position for the time being, the job should eventually belong to Navarro. In itself, ending the years of temporary solutions the Dodgers have had to rely upon since dealing Mike Piazza is something to look forward to.
Finally, you can't really be a "Moneyball" GM without understanding the fungibility of relievers, so it should surprise nobody when DePo stocked his shelves with all sorts of potentially useful goodies. Whether Mike Venafro or Frank Brooks or Kelly Wunsch winds up as the team's second lefty behind Wilson Alvarez doesn't need to provide an 'all of the above' answer; the Dodgers just need one of them to pan out. Aquilino Lopez might have flattened out with the Jays, but all of the things that Lowe has to be counting on (no DHs, a big ballpark) apply to Lopez as well. If the team can resurrect the careers of guys like Yhency Brazoban, Giovanni Carrara, and Elmer Dessens, it seems safe to assume they can take their chances with Lopez and see what they get. If he falters, that's the nice thing about not being afraid of other people's failures: there are always more of them, freshly discarded, ready to be dusted off and pressed into action.
Signed LHP Jose Rosado to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/11]
Signed RHP Todd Van Poppel to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/14]
Signed RHP Pat Mahomes to a minor league contract. [2/20]
Optioned OF-R Wayne Lydon to their minor league camp. [3/11]
Released RHP Lance Davis. [3/12]
As much as I think we all have all due regard for Rick Peterson's earned reputation as one of the game's best and most thoughtful pitching coaches, I think it's equally reasonable to check that regard at the door and wonder what can be done with guys like Joey Hamilton or Todd Van Poppel. Sure, it might be interesting if Peterson resurrects people that the well-regarded Don Gullett couldn't, but to credit Gullett, we're talking about Hamilton and TVP here, not to mention Pat Mahomes. I think we all have to notice that Norfolk is where Jose Rosado has washed up, and I think you'd have to be pretty mean-spirited not to want to see Rosado reclaim some small portion of his promise. But will he?
Optioned RHPs Keith Bucktrot and Zack Segovia, 3B-R Juan Richardson, and OF-R Chris Roberson to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; reassigned UT-R John Castellano, C-R Tim Gradoville and OF-R Jorge Padilla to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Optioned 1B-R Brad Eldred, RHP Jeff Miller, LHP Cory Stewart, C-R Ronny Paulino; and OF-L Nate McLouth to Indianapolis; optioned CF-B Rajai Davis to Altoona (Double-A); announced the retirement of RHP Todd Ritchie; re-assigned OF-L Rich Thompson, RHPs Bryan Bullington, Chris Enochs, Brian Reith, Kirk Bullinger and Ron Chiavacci to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Signed LHP Chris Hammond to a one-year, $750,000 contract. [1/11]
Signed RHP Steve Sparks to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/21]
Signed RHP Jake Peavy to a four-year, $14.5 million contract with an option for 2009. [3/5]
Optioned RHPs Brad Baker and Chris Oxspring, LHP Rusty Tucker, 2B-R Josh Barfield, 1B-R Tagg Bozied, and OF-R Corey Smith to Portland; optioned LHP Sean Thompson to Mobile (Double-A); reassigned RHPs Michael Brunet and Travis Chick, C-L George Kottaras and INF-L Michael Johnson to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Overcompensation has the virtue of telegraphing to everyone how very, very seriously you take a certain problem, so I guess you can consider this winter's pickups of Dave Roberts and Eric Young as proof positive that the Pads will not just be the lumbering station-to-station slugging Pad pepples of yesteryear. I'm impressed that Theo Epstein managed to acquire Roberts for little and dispatch him to San Diego for more, but that doesn't help the Pads all that much, and to be fair, Roberts was what they wound up with, not what they initially went into the Hot Stove League thinking they were going to wind up with. After the winter meetings didn't bring them bigger game, they got small, and settled for Roberts. The deal also bought them roster space; Jay Payton was crowded out by Roberts and Young, while Vazquez was doomed by Khalil Greene's breakthrough and the resurrection of Mark Loretta. In that sense, this deal was a dump, since it bought back a roster spot while landing a better fit for their center field and leadoff needs. Similarly, Young can step into the role of backing up Loretta at second (while Loretta fills the utility infield role, since he can play short or third as needed), while also being a platoon partner, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement for Ryan Klesko. That would in turn keep Geoff Blum in a minor role, a bit of wisdom Jimy Williams learned too late.
The filler moves provide some interesting choices. I liked nabbing Darrell May at the time, and still do, as a concept. His spotty control this spring hasn't helped him earn the fifth slot in the rotation, but Towers was taking a decent risk with upside, and it may yet work out. It isn't like Steve Sparks was going to beat him out, after all. In-season, we'll see if May can keep his slot ahead of guys like Oxspring or Justin Germano. I'm less enthusiastic about Chris Hammond, but nabbing Dennys Reyes should give the Pads at least one worthwhile lefty in the pen. If anything, I'm more concerned about the pen's overall quality: Hammond, Reyes, Rudy Seanez… they're all reasonable risks, but they're also less than certain quantities. And if they falter, what then? Sparks? Andy Ashby? Joey Dawley? With its reliance on a few too many fragile working parts, the pen could founder under a welter of injuries.
Signed C-R Mike Matheny to a three-year, $10.5 million contract with an option for 2008. [12/13]
Signed RHPs Brandon Villafuerte, Matt Kinney, Brandon Puffer, Jeremy Fikac, and Brian Cooper, SS-Rs Donaldo Mendez and Julio Cordido, OF-L Doug Clark, OF-R Julio Ramirez, C-R Yamid Haad, and LHPs Jeff Fassero and Armando Almanza to minor league contracts with spring training NRIs; placed C-L A.J. Pierzynski on waivers for the purposes of giving him his unconditional release. [12/14]
Re-signed LHP Jason Christiansen to a one-year contract with an option for 2006. [12/17]
Signed OF-R Moises Alou to a two-year, $13.35 million contract. [12/22]
Re-signed UT-R Pedro Feliz to a two-year, $6.1 million contract. [1/17]
Signed C-R Yorvit Torrealba to a one-year contract. [1/18]
Reassigned C-Rs Trey Lunsford and Eliezer Alfonzo, INF-Rs Kevin Frandsen, Angel Chavez and Julio Cordido, OF/3B?-L Nate Schierholtz, RHP Jeremy Accardo and LHP Pat Misch to their minor league camp. [3/3]
There isn't a lot I have to say here, because I'm of like mind as the author of this year's team essay about the Giants' winter. No, that isn't me, and while it isn't Gary Huckabay either, I'm certain everyone within hearing distance of Mount Diablo can hear his cackles. Alou? Matheny? Heck, Brian Sabean didn't even bring in a decent crop of minor league free agents to give Giants fans a reason to trek out to Fresno. I can see some of the filler pickups having value: guys like Almanza or Kinney or Puffer or even Fassero might work out well enough at the back end of a pitching staff, taking full advantage of their home park, but they won't save this team. Julio Ramirez might be useful as a defensive rep and pinch-runner for the Gray Ghost outfield. But these are the ranks of men enlisted in a doomed cause, names to add to a franchise that may now never get Barry Bonds back into the postseason.
Reassigned C-Rs Brad Cresse, Gabe Johnson, and Jason Motte, and C-L Dan Moylan to their minor league camp. [3/11]
Optioned RHP Rhett Parrott to Memphis; reassigned RHPs Brad Thompson, Jeremy Cummings, Chris Gissell, Toby Borland, and Nerio Rodriguez, LHP Hector Mercado, PH-B Wilton Guerrero, 1B-L Chris Duncan, and 3B-R Mike Bell to their minor league camp. [3/14]
Signed INF-B Carlos Baerga to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/21]
Reassigned 3B-R Jared Sandberg, C-R Drew McMillan, INF-R Rick Short, 1B-R Phil Hiatt, and OF-L Brandon Watson to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Josh Karp to New Orleans; reassigned RHPs Seth Greisinger, Chad Durbin, and Luis Pineda, and LHPs Micah Bowie and Bill Bray to their minor league camp. [3/7]
Placed RHP Francis Beltran on the 60-day DL (torn elbow ligament); optioned LHP Mike Hinckley to Harrisburg (Double-A); optioned RHP Josh Karp to New Orleans; reassigned RHP Dan Smith to their minor league camp. [3/14]
There is something sad and appropriate about a bit too much of this. It is sad and appropriate that the Nats would haul in Carlos Baerga. It is equally sad and appropriate that one of their better talents from the slender swag of last summer is scragged for the season, as Beltran wishes a speedy recovery to his favorite elbow. (Presumably, he's writing the 'Get Well Soon' cards lefty.)
It's really sad and appropriate to ponder what sort of team New Orleans is going to field this summer. A rotation featuring guys like Bowie, Greisinger, and Durbin? A lineup that boasts the wrong Sandberg and Phil Hiatt? Is there distinction in possibly becoming the Cleveland Spiders of the PCL? Like the Spiders, the Nationals' organization is a monument to the evils of syndicate management. Like the Spiders, they're mostly made up of players nobody else wants. Where Washington has an advantage is in the monorail salesman in the front office, except he's not only drinking the Kool-Aid, he's sitting in the first car.