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April 1, 2005

Transaction Analysis

March 16-28, 2005

by Christina Kahrl

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS Return to Top

Reassigned LHPs Eric Cyr and Corey Lee to minor league camp. [3/16]

Optioned 1B-B Kendry Morales, RHPs Dustin Moseley and Ervin Santana, C-R Jeff Mathis, and 2B-B Alberto Callaspo to Salt Lake; reassigned C-R Tom Gregorio, SS-B Erick Aybar and OF-L Brian Gordon to their minor league camp. [3/18]

Reassigned LHP Mark Watson to their minor league camp. [3/24]

Optioned RHP Scott Dunn to Salt Lake; reassigned UT-B Zach Sorensen to their minor league camp. [3/26]

Placed DH-R Tim Salmon (left knee) and RHP Matt Hensley (shoulder weakness) on the 15-day DL. [3/28]

So, Kendry Morales isn't the DH, but it's just as well. Let's face it, if he's really just 22, and since he's still coping with visa issues (changing flags from Cuba to the D.R., ideally without the D.R.'s tradition of floating birthdays), and if we're generally not sure about the quality of the competition in Cuba, then it's better that the Angels take their time with him.

They have reasonable alternatives in the meantime. Jeff DaVanon and Juan Rivera should get the lion's share of the at-bats available through the DH slot in the absence of a regular DH. Supersub Chone Figgins won't need to play much outfield, especially with Adam Kennedy and Dallas McPherson out of action. Even after Kennedy heals up, say by the end of May, Figgins might have to settle for only getting his at-bats in the infield this year, because with the starting three in the outfield, plus DaVanon and Rivera, Mike Scioscia shouldn't have a shortage of bats to stick into those lineup slots.

As a result of this wealth of choices, the Angels shouldn't miss Salmon too terribly. The hope here is that he's healthy enough to play in September, so that if the bum knee is going to spell the end of him, he might at least wind up saying good-bye on his own terms.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES Return to Top

Optioned RHPs Eddy Rodriguez and Aaron Rakers to Ottawa; reassigned RHPs Dave Borkowski and Tony Fiore, OF-L Nick Markakis, and C-R Brandon Marsters to their minor league camp. [3/20]

Reassigned RHP James Baldwin to their minor league camp. [3/25]

Optioned OF-B Tim Raines Jr. to Ottawa; reassigned 3B-R Napoleon Calzado, SS/3B-R Eddie Rogers, C-Rs Sal Fasano and Keith McDonald, and RF-R Keith Reed to their minor league camp. [3/28]

Which work of literature does the Orioles rotation remind you of? Admittedly, James Baldwin's chances of resurrecting his career aren't all that hot, but Rick Bauer's possible victory in the battle for the last spot in the rotation has me thinking about that story given to us by a Bal'mer native son, Masque of the Red Death. When Bauer is one of your aspiring Prosperos, you know you're stuck in a tale of pointless, somewhat baroque, and fleeting survival. With Eric DuBose looking plagued, and Bruce Chen seemingly stuck in a swing role, the Orioles might rival the Cubs for this spring's most odd creative solutions to their pitching questions.

BOSTON RED SOX Return to Top

Optioned SS-B Hanley Ramirez to Portland (Double-A); optioned C-R Kelly Shoppach to Pawtucket; reassigned RHPs Denney Tomori and Kris Wilson, UT-R Dave Berg and 1B/3B-L Simon Pond to their minor league camp. [3/18]

Acquired RHP Blaine Neal from the Padres for OF-R Adam Hyzdu. [3/22]

Optioned LHPs Lenny DiNardo and Mark Malaska to Pawtucket; reassigned RHP Scott Cassidy, LHP Jason Kershner, INF-R Tim Hummel and C/OF-R Jeff Bailey to their minor league camp. [3/23]

Released RHP Josias Manzanillo. [3/24]

Reassigned 1B-L Roberto Petagine, OF-Ls George Lombard and Billy McMillon, RHPs Jack Cressend and Jeremi Gonzalez, and C/UT-R Shawn Wooten to their minor league camp. [3/27]

Damn, that's a hell of a fine team… in Pawtucket. In the spring given to a celebration of all things Red Sox, maybe there will be enough good will that some will seep into Rhode Island. True, PawSox love probably falls short of the real thing, but maybe Red Sox Nation could use the game-experience equivalent of a dry hump now and again. I'd probably peg Pawtucket to mimic the big-league club and wind up with the best record in its league, after all.

I think the more problematic consideration is whether or not the Sox have shuffled their roster to give it the best possible bench. Certainly, seeing Petagine go down might make a host of statheads prep firing up that "Free Roberto!" campaign, but let's be honest, the guy's 34 and coming off of what was, for him, a down season hitting for Yomiuri. He's a Ken Phelps All-Star emeritus more than a current titlist. So I guess Dave McCarty and Ramon Vazquez work better as a righty-lefty bench combo than Petagine or McMillon and Hummel, although I see a roster short of outfield help if Kevin Millar is being counted on heavily, as well as one missing a lefty thumper on the bench. However, to be fair, it isn't like this lineup has people you pinch-hit for in it, and the Red Sox are smart enough to know that playing Petagine or McMillon every day is almost certainly the best way to keep them sharp for expanded rosters and stretch drive call-ups. Besides, it gives McCarty a chance to get his ring in person as opposed to through the mail, and he does give the Sox that cute 13th pitcher option if they feel the urge.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX Return to Top

Reassigned LHPs Josh Stewart, David Sanders and Ryan Meaux to minor league camp. [3/16]

Optioned RHP Bobby Jenks to Charlotte; optioned IF-R Pedro Lopez and RHP Sean Tracey to Birmingham (Double-A); reassigned 3B-R Josh Fields to minor league camp. [3/18]

Reassigned OF-R Brian Anderson and OF-L Ryan Sweeney to minor league camp. [3/22]

CLEVELAND INDIANS Return to Top

Optioned OF-R Franklin Gutierrez and RHP Andrew Brown to Buffalo. [3/18]

Placed OF-L Jody Gerut on the 15-day DL (torn ACL); optioned RHPs Fernando Cabrera, Francisco Cruceta and Kyle Denney to Buffalo; reassigned C/1B-R Ryan Garko, OF-R Ernie Young, and RHPs Kenny Rayborn and Jake Robbins to their minor league camp. [3/20]

Optioned RHP Kaz Tadano to Buffalo; reassigned OF-L Andy Abad, UT-R Mike Kinkade, DH-L Jeff Liefer, OF-R John Rodriguez, RHP Denny Stark, C-R Dusty Wathan and LHP Chad Zerbe to their minor league camp; placed LHP C.C. Sabathia on the 15-day DL (strained oblique). [3/25]

Signed 2B-R Danny Garcia to a minor league contract. [3/26]

Optioned LHP Brian Tallet and OF-L Grady Sizemore to Buffalo; reassigned RHPs Paul Shuey and Jason Bere to their minor league camp. [3/28]

As we already know, Sizemore won't be staying down, any more than Juan Gonzalez will be playing regularly, so the less said about that for the time being, the better. At the end of the day, this won't be Sizemore versus Juan Gone, it'll be Crisp versus Jody Gerut versus Gonzalez versus Ryan Ludwick, and devil take the coldest, or the hindmost.

Meanwhile, although we're generally given to thinking about the Indians as a young team, consider the likely bullpen:


Player         Age on Opening Day
Bob Wickman           36
Arthur Rhodes         35
Bobby Howry           31
David Riske           28
Rafael Betancourt     29 (he'll turn 30 before the end of April)
Matt Miller           33
Scott Sauerbeck       33
This isn't exactly the bullpen of the future, to put it mildly. Now, on the one hand, there's a lot of "free" talent here: guys like Miller, Betancourt, Sauerbeck, Howry… the waiver wire conjures them and their like pretty regularly, and a good GM goes out and gets them, whatever their relative anonymity. Still, this collection conjures up bad memories of last year's pen in Oakland, at least for this A's fan, where an overreliance on the anonymous and aged didn't really generate happy results. Rhodes and Wickman will be under the gun to produce, of course, but at least Riske isn't when it comes to betting on his chances to improve. Things will change in-season, no doubt, once C.C. Sabathia heals up and Jason Davis moves back into the pen, and once Kaz Tadano comes back up. But in the meantime, it's not merely a collection of retreads, it's generally a bunch of older retreads, and that doesn't always work out well.

DETROIT TIGERS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Chris Spurling to Toledo; reassigned RHPs Craig Dingman and Sean Douglass to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Reassigned 1B/3B-R Mike Hessman, C-R Michael Rivera, SS-B Tony Giarratano and INF-R Kevin Hooper to their minor league camp. [3/26]

Reassigned RHPs Jason Grilli and John Ennis to their minor league camp; released RHP Mike James. [3/28]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS Return to Top

Optioned SS-R Andres Blanco to Omaha. [3/16]

Optioned RHP D.J. Carrasco to Omaha. [3/20]

Signed UT-R Joe McEwing to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [3/22]

Reassigned RHPs Santiago Ramirez, Justin Huisman and Ryan Jensen to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Ambiorix Burgos to Wichita (Double-A). [3/26]

MINNESOTA TWINS Return to Top

Optioned RHPs J.D. Durbin and Boof Bonser to Rochester; reassigned RHP Trey Hodges to their minor league camp. [3/19]

Reassigned RHP Scott Baker to their minor league camp; optioned LHP Dave Gassner to Rochester. [3/23]

Reassigned OF-Ls Jason Tyner and Todd Dunwoody, C-R Gabby Torres, and 2B-R Brent Abernathy to their minor league camp. [3/25]

Returned Rule 5 pick LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith to the Mariners. [3/26]

Released 3B-L Eric Munson and UT-L Andy Fox; optioned OF-L Michael Ryan to Rochester; reassigned OF-L Armando Rios to their minor league camp. [3/27]

What can I say, I'm disappointed for Munson, but he'd make a great pickup for several teams. The Nationals are perhaps too obvious, what with Nick Johnson's fragility and Vinny Castilla's coming struggles. The White Sox, sure, should they want an alternative to Joe Crede. I could see the Dodgers having use for him, if they wanted to employ Jose Valentin for a bit more roving around the diamond and the lineup. The Cardinals? The Reds? Okay, I'm spinning my wheels, I expect he'll be trying to generate interest somewhere in Triple-A.

NEW YORK YANKEES Return to Top

Released 2B-R Homer Bush. [3/21]

Released OF-R Doug Glanville. [3/25]

Optioned 2B-L Robinson Cano to Columbus; reassigned C-R David Parrish to their minor league camp. [3/27]

There is joy in the Bronx, if not in Mudville, as no doubt, someone's exulting, "Scratch two empty suits!" Still, Bush had his cachet in pinstripes back in the day, basically by choosing the right decade in the last three thousand years or so to be named Homer in. Glanville, if never as great a player as the guy that got Ed Lynch and Andy MacPhail and Ed Wade all worked up at one time or another, should still be able to get any job in baseball he wants, as long as it doesn't involve leading off or playing center field.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS Return to Top

Optioned LHP John Rheinecker, C-L John Baker and SS-L Mike Rouse to Sacramento; reassigned 1B-L Daric Barton, RHP Jimmy Serrano, SS-L Omar Quintanilla and OF-B Shawn Garrett to their minor league camp. [3/20]

Returned Rule 5 pick LHP Tyler Johnson to the Cardinals. [3/22]

Reassigned INF-R Bobby Smith and C-R Kurt Suzuki to their minor league camp. [3/27]

SEATTLE MARINERS Return to Top

Optioned SS/2B-R Yuniesky Betancourt and C-R Rene Rivera to San Antonio (Double-A); optioned OF-R Wladimir Balentien to Inland Empire (A-ball); reassigned RHP Jon Huber and 2B-B Mickey Lopez to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Clint Nageotte, 3B-R Justin Leone, SS-R Michael Morse, and OF-L Shin-Soo Choo to Tacoma. [3/16]

Reassigned RHP Masao Kida and C/UT-R Kit Pellow to minor league camp. [3/18]

Optioned SS-R Jose Lopez, RHP Cha Seung Baek and OF-R Jamal Strong to Tacoma. [3/26]

Sold 2B-B Mickey Lopez to the Giants. [3/27]

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS Return to Top

Optioned SS?-R B.J. Upton, OF-R Jonny Gomes and OF-L Joey Gathright to Durham; optioned OF-R Delmon Young, RHP Jose Diaz and LHP Chris Seddon to Montgomery (Double-A); reassigned RHPs Chad Orvella and Brian Sweeney to their minor league camp; released LHP Mark Guthrie. [3/16]

Optioned RHP Jeff Niemann to Montgomery (Double-A). [3/18]

Signed OF-L Alex Sanchez to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI; announced the retirement of 2B-B Roberto Alomar and OF-R Danny Bautista; reassigned RHP Jason Standridge, LHP Wilfredo Rodriguez, and C-R Justin Hatcher to their minor league camp. [3/19]

Released LHP Denny Neagle and OF-L Tom Goodwin; optioned RHP Doug Waechter to Durham; reassigned C-L Pete Laforest to their minor league camp. [3/24]

There's a certain kind of misery, that sickly sweetness that must come with being a honest-to-goodness Devil Fish fan--and we know there has to be a few dozen of you, mutation within the species predicts it--when you go through a spring like this. After so many wise cuts, sensible outright releases and fortuitous retirements, to wind up being the team that employs Alex Sanchez is about as disgraceful as it gets.

Having seen an unfortunate amount of Sanchez trying to play the outfield over the years, I can only offer the perception that he's even worse indoors. His gift for bad jumps seemed even worse in artificial lighting in Milwaukee, exacerbating the problems created by playing such a uniquely skilled ballplayer. My friend Stu Shea has nicknamed Terrence Long "Magellan," in honor of his circuitous routes to balls hit in his general direction; Magellan did at least get places in life before dying on the road. In contrast, Sanchez is a disaster waiting to happen, so perhaps his nickname should be something like Vasa. I may not be a big fan of Joey Gathright, but better to see how much he might be something more than the new Jason Tyner than to inflict Sanchez on those unhappy few who buy season tickets and then use them.

TEXAS RANGERS Return to Top

Placed RHP Frank Francisco on the 15-day DL (sore elbow). [3/24]

Optioned UT-R Ramon Nivar to Oklahoma. [3/26]

Reassigned RHP John Wasdin to their minor league camp. [3/28]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS Return to Top

Released RHP Billy Koch. [3/17]

Optioned RHPs Chad Gaudin and Francisco Rosario to Syracuse. [3/18]

Optioned 1B-L Eric Crozier and OF-L John-Ford Griffin and C-R Guillermo Quiroz to Syracuse. [3/20]

Reassigned RHPs Mike Nannini and Spike Lundberg and LHP Jesse Carlson to minor league camp. [3/21]

Acquired LHP Aaron Wideman from the Nationals for OF-L Tyrell Godwin. [3/22]

Cutting Koch might have seemed pretty dramatic to the saves-hungry fantheads out there, but let's give credit where credit is due. Guaranteed contract or no, J.P. Ricciardi had the good sense to sink a cost with the same finality as the Bismarck gets sunk every Saturday night, all across the country. (Sports Illustrated wins points for journalistic conceit by claiming that this classic collegiate binge sport is a uniquely IU pastime.) Regardless, as I mentioned in chat, I think the subsequent plan to move Miguel Batista to a closing role might make sense in that it might pump up his value; ideally, Ricciardi will then dump Batista on the highest bidder. After that, they can turn over the closing chores to Brandon League or Vinny Chulk or whoever, and it shouldn't make a whit of difference in the standings.

I'm more intrigued with the cuts on the 20th, or as I refer to them, the bungee trio, because I expect we'll see all three back. Quiroz, because he's the team's catcher of the future, and you can only go so far with two good backup catchers (Gregg Zaun and Greg Myers), plus roster roach Ken Huckaby. Even though he showed nothing in camp, I just expect we'll see Crozier back, even if only briefly, because they're counting on Shea Hillenbrand, and that doesn't seem likely to work out well. Griffin… well, his shot is probably the worst of the three. Gabe Gross has had a stupendous camp, and Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto are earning their keep, so outfield depth doesn't like it will be the problem it was last year. Griffin's had two full seasons at Double-A, and didn't build on his first year there. He may get the obligatory look-see once rosters expand, but after that, his roster spot may be in doubt.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Return to Top

Optioned LHP Bill Murphy and RHPs Edgar Gonzalez, Jason Bulger and Adam Peterson to their minor league camp. [3/18]

Optioned RHP Tony Pena to Tucson. [3/19]

Reassigned LHP Shane Nance and C-R Craig Ansman to their minor league camp. [3/23]

Reassigned OF-R Carlos Quentin and INF-R Andy Green to their minor league camp; released RHPs Juan Acevedo and Jose Jimenez. [3/25]

Optioned 2B/LF-R Scott Hairston and RHP Lance Cormier to Tuscon; reassigned LHP Kevin Tolar to their minor league camp. [3/28]

Perhaps I'm overstating the case, but how would you feel if you were Scott Hairston? To some people, he resembled a blue-chip prospect, regardless of his glovework. But rather than even consider weaving him into a big-league lineup already chock full of graybeards, he's been squeezed out by the acquisitions of Craig Counsell and Royce Clayton, the ultimate Kelly Girl solution to your temporary middle-infield needs. Backing them up, Matt Kata and Alex Cintron get to aspire to future temp-dom, while Hairston gets to move into the outfield, where he'll have to fend off the current crop of blue chippers, Quentin and Conor Jackson and Josh Kroeger. Combined with Hairston's rep as a malingerer of sorts, he's probably stuck in roster limbo, hard to trade, and oversloughed within the organization he's in. He could still be somebody's Ron Gant knockoff, and who knows, maybe he'll get dealt for something appropriately well-aged after a slow start panics the Snakes.

ATLANTA BRAVES Return to Top

Optioned 3B-R Andy Marte, SS-R Tony Pena Jr. , OF-L Kelly Johnson and OF-L Billy McCarthy, and RHPs Kyle Davies and Jorge Vasquez to Richmond; optioned RHPs Blaine Boyer and Anthony Lerew and 1B-R Scott Thorman to Mississippi (Double-A). [3/18]

Claimed 2B-B Jason Bourgeois off of waivers from the Rangers. [3/24]

At this point, Bourgeois has gone from prospect to someone who's young enough to still have a future. He just turned 23, has a season and a half of Double-A under his belt, and he's athletic and not entirely impatient. In his five years as a pro, though, he's really only hit in the Appy League and in the half-season of Cal League baseball he had in 2003, so he hasn't proven himself yet. He's going to have to get it turned around relatively quickly; this is not the organization in which to be an infielder working through a slow start. With guys like Wilson Betemit, Pete Orr and Pena all knocking around, there's a surfeit of talent in-house. Bourgeois might have to settle for being Pena's partner up the middle in Richmond.

CHICAGO CUBS Return to Top

Optioned 2B-R Richard Lewis and C-R Geovany Soto to Iowa; reassigned INF Danny Klassen and OF-L Peter Bergeron to minor league camp. [3/18]

Reassigned LHPs Jimmy Anderson and Eddie Oropesa to minor league camp. [3/20]

Optioned RHP Angel Guzman and SS-R Ronny Cedeno to Iowa; reassigned C-R Casey Kopitzke and RHP Jermaine Van Buren to their minor league camp. [3/25]

Acquired C-L Mark Johnson from the Brewers for OF-B Travis Ezi. [3/26]

Just when I'd given up all hope for Mark Johnson's big-league career, he gets this sort of opportunity? Not that he'll get a clean shot at Henry Blanco's job backing up Michael Barrett, but when the competition is this weak… I guess when you're the little people at Stonehenge, maybe there's an advantage to being the tallest midget.

CINCINNATI REDS Return to Top

Reassigned 1B-L A.J. Zapp, 3B-R Travis Chapman, RHP Jared Fernandez, OF-R Kenny Kelly and C-R Brian Peterson to their minor league camp; optioned LHP Brian Shackelford, 2B-R William Bergolla and RHP Daylan Childress to Louisville; optioned RHPs Bubba Nelson and Elizardo Ramirez, and LHP Ben Kozlowski to Chattanooga (Double-A); optioned LHP Phil Dumatrait and C-R Miguel Perez to Sarasota (A-ball). [3/16]

Reassigned RHP Ricky Stone, LHP Randy Keisler, and OF-R Rob Stratton to their minor league camp; optioned 3B-R Edwin Encarnacion and C-R Dane Sardinha to Louisville. [3/22]

COLORADO ROCKIES Return to Top

Optioned OF-R Choo Freeman and 1B-R Ryan Shealy to Colorado Springs; reassigned RHPs Scott Chiasson and Tim Drew and C-R Tom Wilson to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Optioned OF-L Jorge Piedra and RHP Jason Young to Colorado Springs; reassigned C-R Danny Ardoin and RHP Eddie Gaillard to their minor league camp. [3/25]

Reassigned OF-L Reggie Taylor to their minor league camp. [3/26]

Reassigned PH-B Greg Norton, INF-B Eddy Garabito and 1B/3B-L Andy Tracy to their minor league camp; optioned 3B-R Jeff Baker to Tulsa (Double-A); designated RHP Aaron Taylor for assignment. [3/28]

FLORIDA MARLINS Return to Top

Optioned 1B-R Jason Stokes to Albuquerque; optioned RHP Yorman Bazardo and OF-L Eric Reed to Carolina (Double-A); reassigned LHP Chad Bentz, RHP Bart Miadich, C-R Jason Hill and OF-L Matt Padgett to their minor league camp. [3/16]

Outrighted RHP Justin Wayne to Albuquerque; optioned RHP Randy Messenger to Albuquerque; optioned RHP Chris Resop to Jupiter (A-ball). [3/17]

Optioned SS-R Josh Wilson and UT-B Derek Wathan to Albuquerque; optioned RHP Logan Kensing to Carolina (Double-A). [3/18]

Reassigned RHPs Frank Castillo and Bryan Corey, OF-L Jeremy Hermida, OF-R Mike Colangelo, C-R Ryan Jorgensen, SS-R Robert Andino and 1B-L Larry Barnes to their minor league camp. [3/25]

Reassigned C-R Mike DiFelice. [3/27]

Mike DiFelice loses a turf war to Matt Treanor? My god, is a union card from International Brotherhood of Backup Catchers worth nothing these days? It's all this mayhem caused by this damned globalization, I tell you.

I'm more intrigued by the untold story of Yorman Bazardo. Isn't that a great name? It's an Eli Wallach-role sort of name, or the name of some simpering federale lieutenant in a Peckinpaugh bloodbath. On a somewhat less gory note, I wouldn't be surprised if Frank Castillo got to utter "I'll be back." Although he's frightened bleacher concourse pedestrians across the country, the Marlins' rotation is hardly a fivesome carved from granite. Among Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Al Leiter and Ismael Valdez, at least one somebody won't be making 30 starts this summer. The job of filling in for them looks like Scuffy Moehler's to lose, but how much would you bet on Moehler's happy-ending potential after more than four years of struggle? He has great Cinderella potential for now, but like any date that ends at midnight, it'll end up a disappointment. I wouldn't count Boom-Boom Castillo out just yet.

HOUSTON ASTROS Return to Top

Waived RHP Peter Munro. [3/16]

Optioned OF-R Charlton Jimerson to Round Rock; reassigned OF-R Barry Wesson to their minor-league camp.

Signed OF-B Lance Berkman on a six-year, $85 million contract extension, with a club option for 2011. [3/19]

Optioned LHP Carlos Hernandez to Round Rock; reassigned RHP Turk Wendell and UT-R Charles Gipson to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Released RHP Turk Wendell. [3/24]

Acquired C-R Humberto Quintero from the Padres for RHP Tim Redding. [3/28]

The Berkman deal is a major commitment for a team already burdened with the epic commitment to Jeff Bagwell. Maybe it's just me, but what happened to the hometown discount? He's 29, he's a Texan who went to college in Texas and who married a Texan… what was he going to do, go to New York and take a bath on taxes? Go Richie Allen on us, and take up bodysurfing as an alternative career? More power to him, of course, but whether the Astros eat their option on Bagwell for 2007 or pick it up, Tim Purpura is going to have some salary management issues to handle.

As for dumping Redding on the Pads, the Astros demonstrated the ease of the easy achievement, or in this case, finding a catcher who might almost be better than Brad Ausmus. That's just about up there with finding a Starbucks, but who knows, maybe there's a mysterious master plan involved that'll leave the Astros in clover. Regardless, finding a catcher better than Raul Chavez is not the sort of move that's going to make it any easier for the Astros to finish higher than fourth in the NL Central, and ditching Redding when he was value was particularly low has a great chance of leaving them looking bitten.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS Return to Top

Optioned 2B-B Willy Aybar, C-R Russell Martin, RHP Franquelis Osoria and 1B-L Brian Myrow to Las Vegas. [3/17]

Acquired C-R Jason Phillips from the Mets for LHP Kazuhisa Ishii. [3/20]

Reassigned OF-L Henri Stanley to their minor league camp. [3/27]

Nabbing Phillips for Ishii is an easy move to like, for several reasons. First, Phillips ought to bounce back from last season's struggles at the plate. Second, he gives Jim Tracy a catcher who can play a bit of first base if his bat merits keeping in the lineup, similar to what they had in Paul Lo Duca, although admittedly less so. Third, there's the whole "Ishii is somebody else's problem" angle.

I admit, I'm a bit surprised to see Scott Erickson back in a big-league rotation. At best, I guess this is where we'll see how much leather Cesar Izturis can throw down, but more realistically, by May 1 I think we'll see Edwin Jackson, Wilson Alvarez, or perhaps even Elmer Dessens taking that particular turn.

If there's a downside to getting Phillips, it's that we won't see both David Ross and Mike Rose both get opportunities. Instead, the Dodgers seem intent of trusting to Paul Bako. So we get no answer to the single-letter superiority questions that vex us all: Ross or Rose, Haren or Harden, potato or potatoe. For want of a letter, I could have been Scott Karl, but then we'd all be strangers, and what's the fun of that?

MILWAUKEE BREWERS Return to Top

Outrighted LHP Andy Pratt to Nashville; released LHP Rigo Beltran; optioned LHP Sam Narron and OF-R Nelson Cruz to Nashville; reassigned 2B/3B-L Matt Erickson to their minor league camp. [3/18]

Optioned RHPs Ben Hendrickson, Jose Capellan, and Jeff Bennett to Nashville; acquired OF-B Travis Ezi from the Cubs for C-L Mark Johnson. [3/26]

Optioned 2B-R Rickie Weeks and OF-R Corey Hart to Nashville; reassigned 1B-L Prince Fielder to their minor league camp. [3/28]

At this point, I think everyone's beginning to wonder if Ben Hendrickson's case of the yips rivals Scott Ruffcorn's, but with the Brewers feeling they've found their particular answer to the fifth-starter drama haunting so many camps by turning to Gary Glover, it's safe to say that Hendrickson will be back sooner, with Jose Capellan hoving into view later. It isn't like a rotation relying on Glove, Victor Santos or Chris Capuano (a pitcher so fragile he was probably voted least rugged playmate in the fourth grade) has all that many safe bets.

NEW YORK METS Return to Top

Released 2B-R Danny Garcia; reassigned RHP Juan Padilla and LHP Blake McGinley to their minor league camp; optioned OF-B Angel Pagan, OF-R Ambiorix Concepcion, C-L Mike Jacobs, and RHP Matt Lindstrom to their minor league camp. [3/16]

Released UT-R Joe McEwing. [3/17]

Returned RHP Francisco Campos to Campeche of the Mexican League. [3/19]

Acquired LHP Kaz Ishii and cash from the Dodgers for C-R Jason Phillips. [3/22]

Reassigned RHPs Scott Strickland and Orber Moreno, LHP Scott Stewart to their minor league camp; optioned RHP Jae Seo to Norfolk. [3/27]

Much as I like Ramon Castro as a backup catcher, I'm not wild about the Mets' twin decisions to dump both Vance Wilson and Jason Phillips. Admittedly, the Mets' shot at contention would start taking on water should Mike Piazza ever have to go to the DL, but this really sort of maximizes the potential damage. Pressed into regular duty, Castro could rise to the occasion, but it's more likely that he'd have his usual problems getting on base. The problem with the Mark Parent family of catchers is that you don't want them getting more than 200 plate appearances, otherwise they start to resemble a problem as opposed to a nice spare part.

The really odd part of the deal is that Ishii will have a hard time holding onto a job in the rotation, and provides no real certainty that he's an improvement on Jae Seo or Aaron Heilman. Certainly, Steve Trachsel's departure because of back surgery creates a problem, but is Ishii the solution? Here are their projected PERAs for 2005:


Pitcher        Projected PERA
Kaz Ishii           5.66
Aaron Heilman       4.88
Jae Seo             5.24
Matt Ginter         4.83
So who is it who's locked in? Why, the guy with the fancy motion and the big rep, and who cares about performance? It takes an awful lot of faith in the healing power of Rick Peterson for Ishii to make up almost a full run, and that still only really makes him an adequate alternative, not one you obviously want over the other options.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES Return to Top

Re-assigned RHPs Edwin Moreno, Franklin Perez, and Robinson Tejeda, LHP Eude Brito, and C-R Carlos Ruiz to their minor league camp. [3/18]

Optioned RHP Geoff Geary to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; reassigned RHP Dan Giese, C/1B-R Chris Coste, and INF-R Danny Sandoval to their minor league camp. [3/22]

Reassigned LHP Mike Bacsik, INF-R Anthony Medrano and C-R Todd Pratt to their minor league camp. [3/27]

PITTSBURGH PIRATES Return to Top

Optioned RHPs Ian Snell and Bobby Bradley and 3B-R Jose Bautista to Indianapolis; reassigned RHPs Brian Mallette and Justin Reid, LHP Jeremy Harts, UT-L Howie Clark, UT-B Cesar Crespo, 1B/3B-R Jose Leon, SS-R Jorge Velandia, C-R Paul Chiaffredo and OF-L Jon Nunnally to their minor league camp. [3/20]

Released RHP Albie Lopez. [3/23]

Reassigned RHP Zach Duke, 1B-L Graham Koonce and UT-L Edwards Guzman to their minor league camp. [3/26]

Optioned LHP Mike Johnston to Indianapolis. [3/28]

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Optioned RHP Justin Germano, C-R Humberto Quintero, SS-R J.J. Furmaniak, and OF-Rs Ben Johnson and Jon Knott to Portland; optioned 1B-L Paul McAnulty to Mobile (Double-A). [3/18]

Optioned RHPs Danny Patterson and Marty McLeary to Portland. [3/21]

Acquired OF-R Adam Hyzdu from the Red Sox for RHP Blaine Neal. [3/22]

Optioned LHP Randy Williams to Portland; reassigned RHP Angel Tovar to their minor league camp; acquired RHP Tim Redding from the Astros for C-R Humberto Quintero. [3/28]

I love the Pads picking up Redding for all sorts of reasons, but keep in mind, it only took something they weren't going to use to get him. First, he's coming out of the shell-shock of pitching in Non-Carbonated Fruit Beverage Ballpark, and escaping from the bad experience he had with Jimy Williams and Phil Garner's relative indifference towards him. Shifting over to the more spacious confines of Petco, and without much in the way of expectations, he ought to thrive. The talent is still there, after all, and with a pretty good defensive unit behind him, he could be… well, not just one of the best fifth starters in baseball, but also an obvious improvement on the calculated risk that Darrell May represents.

Picking up Hyzdu, on the other hand, was a matter of covering for Portland's needs, and not a pick-me-up for a Klekovian case of the lead-gloved, platoon-needy, everybody-hates-me blues. With Freddy Guzman hurt and Xavier Nady sticking as part-timer in the bigs, the Pads felt they had to keep their affiliate stocked. If Nady ends up claiming a larger share of the playing time at third base, or if Dave Roberts' lingering groin problem sticks around even longer than expected, then Hyzdu might end up getting back in the bigs by May.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS Return to Top

Acquired 2B-B Mickey Lopez from the Mariners for cash considerations. [3/27]

Anyone worrying about the state of Little Bull Ray Durham's groin cannot take much hope from this particular turn of events. Still, as insurance policies go, Lopez is a better choice to fill in at second base than Deivi Cruz or Brian Dallimore is. Basically, a worthwhile little move by Brian Sabean, whatever the implications.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Return to Top

Optioned RHPs Jimmy Journell and Evan Rust and OF-R Reid Gorecki to Memphis; reassigned OF-L Skip Schumaker and OF-Rs Raul Gonzalez and Brandon Berger to their minor league camp.[3/17]

Optioned OF-R John Gall, 3B-R Scott Seabol, 2B-R Bo Hart, and C-R Mike Mahoney to Memphis. [3/27]

As much as I might be initially inclined to decry the demotion of Seabol, let's face it, as long as Scott Rolen is healthy, he's going to get 90% of a season's starts at third base. So yes, while John Mabry can't play third, and while Hector Luna is on nobody's ideal list of fill-ins at the position, if something goes wrong with Rolen, Seabol's only a phone call away.

I think the more basic question is why they're keeping Roger Cedeno instead of Seabol. They'll have Mabry and So Taguchi as outfield reserves, and where expiration dates are concerned, Cedeno's slowly degenerated into fridge experiment territory.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS Return to Top

Optioned 1B-L Larry Broadway and RHP Danny Rueckel to New Orleans; optioned RHP Darrell Rasner to Harrisburg (Double-A); reassigned C-Rs John Wilson and Hector Ortiz to their minor league camp; placed 2B-B Henry Mateo on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendonitis); placed RHP Claudio Vargas on the 15-day DL (sprained elbow). [3/16]

Reassigned RHP Sun Woo Kim to their minor league camp. [3/17]

Optioned 3B/2B-R Brendan Harris to New Orleans; reassigned RHP Hector Carrasco and 1B/3B-R George Arias to their minor league camp. [3/21]

Reassigned OF-R Jeffrey Hammonds to their minor league camp; acquired OF-L Tyrell Godwin from the Blue Jays for LHP Aaron Wideman, and outrighted Godwin to New Orleans. [3/22]

Placed OF-R Alex Escobar on the 15-day DL (strained quadriceps); released C-R Keith Osik. [3/24]

Placed RHP Tony Armas Jr. on the 15-day DL (strained groin). [3/28]

Harris may be the player betrayed by Jim Bowden's roto sensibilities, but if Castilla's non-contributions to offense at sea level are accumulate in the sort of bulk I think we all anticipate, you can count on his being back. Otherwise, the cutdowns involve a lot of Bowden's freaks: a pair of former Reds in Hector Carrasco and the Jeffrey Hammonds/Lazarus experiment, the token Japanese League émigré making the attempt to re-cross the Pacific (Arias), and one of the various feats o' strength a-tha-letes (Escobar) Bowden generally slobbers over. The roster should still wind up with one of the latter (J.J. Davis), which works for me insofar as he makes a nifty reserve and potential platoon partner with Terrmel Sledge should the Nats really want to take their offense seriously.

As for Tony Armas' latest breakdown, this was pretty much exactly the sort of thing the Nationals should have expected. Happily, however bitter the Minaya legacy may be for the franchise, the man did pick up a boatload of pitching, and this makes for an easy plug-in with John Patterson at the back end of the rotation. Patterson's spring ERA (8.18) might sound like part of the tax code, but a 13-1 strikeout to walk ration in 11 IP is a little more indicative of the kind of work he can do. If Patterson falters, or any of the other starters break down, there's always Jon Rauch. After that, things might be a bit more ugly; Micah Bowie and Sunny Kim might be the last line of defense, barring a hurried call-up of Michael Hinckley.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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