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April 21, 2005

Transaction Analysis

April 14-19, 2005

by Christina Kahrl

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS Return to Top

Placed C-R Bengie Molina on the 15-day DL (strained quad); recalled 3B-L Dallas McPherson from Salt Lake. [4/18]

I guess this is the benefit of carrying three catchers, none of whom are all that. In Bengie's latest absence, Jose Molina and Josh Paul seem set to split the playing time, while Maicer Izturis was spared the indignity of a trip to America's theocratic wasteland. Then again, Izturis might not be in that much danger, the way people are being played in the early going. Lou Merloni seems to have been forgotten, and Robb Quinlan appears to be first in line for what looks like half (or less) of the playing time at third now that McPherson is back.

I mention "half" because while McPherson ought to get most of the playing time in a near-platoon arrangement, he might have to settle for sharing the job with Quinlan until Mike Scioscia learns to fancy Quinlan less. The Angels' lineup leans pretty heavily to the left, especially with McPherson, Darin Erstad, Garret Anderson and Jeff Davanon all doing their best stuff against right-handers. In that situation, Merloni's platoon rate (.280/.359/.437 vs. LHPs) and Juan Rivera ought to have a chance to make themselves handy if opponents start spotting lefties against them. Of course, if people start jiggering their rotations to slot their lefties against the Halos, what really matters--beyond the effect on the standings--would be the monster season that Vladi Guerrero would probably put up if he saw more of the people he's slugged .667 against over the last three years.

BOSTON RED SOX Return to Top

Signed RHP Tim Wakefield to a one-year, $4-million contract extension through 2006. [4/19]

Coming on top of a deal that was already an underheralded bit of brilliance when he was re-upped for three years in November of 2002 (not on Theo Epstein's watch, although he was Assistant GM, but in the waning days of the oft-lamented reign of Dan Duquette), adding Wake for yet another season is a nifty little move. The price is right by industry standards for mid-rotation starters, but beyond that, the move preserves one of the game's treasures in the flesh as a Beantown standby.

CLEVELAND INDIANS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Matt Miller to Buffalo; activated LHP C.C. Sabathia from the 15-day DL. [4/16]

I don't think anyone's surprised that Miller turned out to be the loser in this particular bit of musical chairs on the roster. As is, beyond the value of getting Sabathia back at the top end of the rotation, the Tribe gets Jason Davis back in the pen, giving them the viable long reliever they lacked, even in a seven-man pen.

DETROIT TIGERS Return to Top

Purchased the contract of RHP Andrew Good from Toledo; placed OF-R Magglio Ordonez on the 15-day DL (hernia). [4/15]

Claimed RHP Adam Peterson off of waivers from the Diamondbacks, and optioned him to Erie (Double-A). [4/18]

Counting on Ordonez early on clearly seems to have been wishful thinking, but the money's already spent, so just focus on the fact that this allows that much more of an opportunity for Marcus Thames to play, and perhaps generate some interest. But the fun is in picking up Peterson; I may have less confidence that the Snakes did the right thing in swapping him out for Javier Lopez, but I know the Tigers did the smart thing in snagging Peterson. There's a very real opportunity for him here, even with the misguided Troy Percival signing. Come July, los Tigres will have relief pitching to shop, either in the form of Uggy Urbina or Kyle Farnsworth, both of whom ought to make attractive rentals for a contender down the stretch. By then, Peterson should be ready to step in and well, set up Percival.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS Return to Top

Placed LHP Jeremy Affeldt on the 15-day DL (strained groin); recalled RHP Kyle Snyder from Omaha. [4/16]

I suppose this move matters for Rob & Rany and those given to sweating the details over who gets saves for the Royals, but let's face it, if Allard Baird can pump up the perceived value of Mike MacDougal and make him a Brave in exchange for something useful, it'd be brilliant, or at least something like it. Meanwhile, watch for word on Affeldt's status in Will Carroll's column.

NEW YORK YANKEES Return to Top

Activated RHP Kevin Brown from the 15-day DL; optioned 1B-R Andy Phillips to Columbus. [4/17]

Placed RHP Tanyon Sturtze on the 15-day DL (strained oblique), retroactive to 4/17. [4/18]

Purchased the contract of LHP Buddy Groom from Columbus. [4/19]

We'll just have to see if Brown's actually going to be able to pitch effectively, or if this is the start of his conversion to being Whitsonized. I mean, sure, Jaret Wright remains the safer bet, but Brown has that element of personal charm that can lose friends and influence people (in the wrong ways).

I guess if there's good news here, it might be that the Yankees have a second lefty in the pen, and it isn't Felix Heredia. Of course, Groom might be that perfect example of the player who can make you rue getting what you wished for, but as a guy about to reach 40 and in his tenth year as a situational guy, he understands the role.

Don't weep for Phillips. He might be handy, but in the context of Torrethink, he didn't exist. With the constant pressure of trying to find at-bats for Ruben Sierra, and with Rey Sanchez and Bubba Crosby safely ensconced in scripted reserve roles, having an extra position player might have been a veritable nuisance.

SEATTLE MARINERS Return to Top

Optioned INF-R Justin Leone to Tacoma. [4/14]

Sold the contracts of LHP Scott Mullen to the Yomiuri Giants (Japan) and OF-R Kit Pellow to the Lotte Giants (Korea); activated OF-L Chris Snelling from the 15-day DL and optioned him to Tacoma; activated RHP Joel Pineiro from the 15-day DL. [4/15]

All of which really boils down to a lot of status quo ante machinations. Snelling? Still hurt. Pineiro? Healthy, at least for now, although there may be a rule preventing him from being in full working order at the same time as Gil Meche, something about crossing the streams or ending the world as we know it. I guess there's the additional chore of punching holes in the boxes they're putting Mullen and Pellow in, but I think we can all take some satisfaction in the Marines doing their part, however small, to iron out the trade deficit. Not that we need to worry about this, even if the quality of the exports involved isn't quite what I think overseas markets should be excited about receiving. I mean, how would you feel if you were the schmuck wearing the "I went shopping in America, and all I got was Kit Pellow" t-shirt?

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS Return to Top

Activated OF-L Alex Sanchez from the suspended list; optioned OF-L Joey Gathright to Durham. [4/14]

Activated C-R Charles Johnson; outrighted C-R Tim Laker to Durham; recalled RHP Doug Waechter from Durham; placed RHP Jesus Colome on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendonitis). [4/15]

Placed LHP Mark Hendrickson on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder), retroactive to 4/14; purchased the contract of RHP John Webb from Durham. [4/20]

Waechter won't be up for long, since there's a chance that Hendrickson will be back at the end of the mont, so there was no need to go off of the 40-man and haul up a Jimmy Haynes. Waechter will eventually get the time he needs at Durham to take his turns, and get the home-run problems that marred both last season (31 in 99 2/3 IP) and this spring (a half-dozen in 13 spring innings in Florida) under control.

I guess we need to be excited that the miscreants are back, not that having Sanchez and Johnson instead of Gathright and Laker will mean squat in the standings. On its basic level, checking out the menu to see which D-Ray du jour is most green around the gills pales next to a more fundamental concern for baseball fans. I am speaking, of course, of the desperate worry that we should probably all harbor for B.J. Upton, since he's been entrusted to hitting coach Richie "the Hackmaster" Hebner. I guess this is an added boon of Chuck LaMar's resuscitation of Cam Bonifay. How badly can a good prospect be screwed up, anyway? Let's watch and see.

TEXAS RANGERS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Nick Regilio to Oklahoma; reinstated RHP Carlos Almanzar from the bereavement list. [4/15]

Placed RHP Ryan Bukvich on the 15-day DL (sore elbow); recalled RHP Nick Regilio from Oklahoma. [4/17]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS Return to Top

Optioned RHP Brandon League to Syracuse; purchased the contract of RHP Matt Whiteside from Syracuse. [4/2]

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Return to Top

Claimed LHP Javier Lopez off of waivers from the Rockies; designated RHP Adam Peterson for assignment. [4/14]

Placed OF-B Jose Cruz Jr. on the 15-day DL (strained back), retroactive to 4/10; recalled OF-R Scott Hairston from Tucson. [4/16]

Losing Cruz isn't good news, but it does create an opportunity for Luis Terrero. Yes, the Snakes are temporarily saddled with the collective idiocy of the front office and Bob Melvin when it comes to having Quinton McCracken around, but I have every confidence in McCracken's ability to take that playing time and use it as a compelling argument for Terrero. Hairston will have to cool his heels on the bench regardless, perhaps spotting for either Shawn Green or Luis Gonzalez against a tough lefty. Before you start daydreaming about putting Hairston at second and Craig Counsell at short and Royce Clayton in some spider hole in Coconino County, just don't. Hairston's move to the outfield will be permanent, like Ron Gant's was.

As much as I like the idea of snagging Lopez off of waivers, but I'm not sure if losing Peterson was really the right move. Lopez has good velocity for a lefty, and after spending the last three seasons pitching in El Paso ('02) and Coors Field ('03-'04), he knows a thing or two about life in a bandbox, making him doubly worthwhile to have as a pitcher in the BOB. Add in that Randy Choate seems to never be on track for any length of time, and the wishful thinking that has both Mike Gosling and Lance Cormier here, and adding Lopez looks that much more sensible.

ATLANTA BRAVES Return to Top

Released LHP Tom Martin; purchased the contract of LHP John Foster from Richmond. [4/15]

CINCINNATI REDS Return to Top

Placed RHP Ramon Ortiz on the 15-day DL (strained groin), retroactive to 4/9. [4/17]

Recalled RHP Todd Coffey from Louisville. [3/18]

However long it takes Ortiz to come back, it's a credit to the Reds' restocking program that they can turn to somebody like Matt Belisle to take his place in the rotation, instead of lurching back to wondering what Todd Van Poppel or Jimmy Haynes are up to. Not having to automatically call up Jared Fernandez or a guy like Jeriome Robertson reflects well on them. Besides, Ortiz is expected to be back shortly. As much as the Reds are supposed to be shopping for pitching, when it comes to fixing problems like a brief injury, they're already in a much stronger position in terms of second-line talent than they've been in years.

As for Coffey, "Cuppa" isn't so far from being up for the whole pot. Although this is his eighth year as a pro, that's because he graduated from high school at 17, and took time to mature as he sorted out adolescence, adding and then losing weight, and learning to harness his mid-90s heat. If Dave Weathers and Ben Weber continue to struggle, Coffey might join Ryan Wagner as a homegrown solution to the Reds' bullpen woes.

COLORADO ROCKIES Return to Top

Recalled RHP Jose Acevedo from Colorado Springs; placed LHP Bobby Seay on the 15-day DL (strained pectoral muscle), retroactive to 4/17. [4/18]

FLORIDA MARLINS Return to Top

Activated RHP John Riedling from the 15-day DL. [4/15]

MILWAUKEE BREWERS Return to Top

Signed RHP Ben Sheets to a four-year, $38.5 million contract. [4/15]

There isn't much to say about this deal. Sheets is the best player in the organization, one of the very few signature talents for an franchise stewing in a simmering blandness that threatens to turn the Brewers from despised plaything of the Seligs to the most dull team in baseball. I'm not sure that's a change for the better, but at least signing Sheets is considerably more sensible than the insane extension they granted to the occasionally healthy Geoff Jenkins.

NEW YORK METS Return to Top

Released RHP Grant Roberts. [4/16]

Placed LHP Felix Heredia on the 15-day DL (strained thumb); recalled RHP Heath Bell from Norfolk. [4/19]

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES Return to Top

Optioned RHP Pedro Liriano to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; activated RHP Vicente Padilla from the 15-day DL. [4/19]

Maybe Padilla's healthy, and maybe he'll have to pitch his way into full form. We'll see. In the meantime, it makes sense to have Gavin Floyd still here in long relief. Should Floyd flourish there, it isn't like he'll be doomed to be permanently converted like Ryan Madson, not when there's reason to worry about the health of Padilla or Randy Wolf, or the week-to-week wondering about whether or not Cory Lidle can hold his job.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES Return to Top

Activated C-R Humberto Cota from the 15-day DL; placed C-R Benito Santiago on the 15-day DL (viral infection), retroactive to 4/15. [4/19]

This isn't really a setback, since Santiago is just another one of Littlefield's ticky-tack rentals that don't advance the organization much, while Cota is considered by some to be a guy with a future. David Ross should remain in the co-starring role made famous by character actor Tom Prince. So the Bucs get to see what Cota can do, and if he's not the answer behind the plate, they can start wondering if Ryan Doumit will ever be healthy enough or if Ronny Paulino can build on last year so that they might be.

SAN DIEGO PADRES Return to Top

Activated CF-L Dave Roberts from the 15-day DL; placed SS-R Khalil Greene on the 15-day DL (fractured ring finger). [4/18]

Losing Greene is a major setback. If the Pads had an injury in either infield corner or the outfield, Xavier Nady provides an easy fix. Get Roberts back, and you can plug Nady into a new hole in any corner. Even in Greene's absence, if Eric Young was healthy, you could have used Young to play second base and moved Mark Loretta across the bag to play short. With Young on the DL for potentially forever, that's off the table.

Sometimes, unfortunately, speculation crosses the line from wishful thinking to mental Disneyland. Now, we are talking about a decision that would be made by Bruce Bochy, who back in the day had the gumption to let Archi Cianfrocco not merely fill in but start a gaggle of games at shortstop in the late '90s. But Cianfrocco was an experienced infielder, so beyond the delight of having a shortstop built like a Redwood (Cianfrocco is 6'5") clomping around on the left side of the infield, he could actually do the job in spots. Having never played the position professionally, and barely playing all that much third base since being drafted in 2000, Nady is about as likely to play second base as he is to pitch, or marry J-Lo, or fly. Okay, one of those things could happen, but I'll leave it for you to guess which is the most likely.

So what are the Pads really left with? A lot of Geoff Blum (or worse yet, Jesse Garcia) demonstrating that he can't play shortstop and can't put runs on the board. If, once upon a time, the art of managing was all about putting players in a position to do the things that they can do well, Blum's pretty thoroughly misdeployed. Now that they're without a shortstop for any length of time, who then can they turn to? Given that Blum and Garcia cannot do the job, now would be a good time to give J.J. Furmaniak a trial, or if that seems overly risky, perhaps Damian Jackson makes sense. Regardless, this is a situation very similar to last season's disaster in Snugglyville, when the Cubs lost Alex Gonzalez and lacked for a viable alternative.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Return to Top

Signed RHP Chris Carpenter to a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2008; placed RHP Cal Eldred on the 15-day DL (viral infection), retroactive to 4/11; recalled RHP Jimmy Journell from Memphis. [4/15]

Activated RHP Matt Morris from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Carmen Cali to Memphis. [4/19]

Morris is back, as expected, so now the Cards rotation is at full strength. Carpenter's been healthy for weeks, so a multi-year deal seems to be just the thing. I don't know the money in the deal, but a two-year plus option deal makes sense, given the risks involved, especially since acquiring insurance on Carpenter probably isn't all that likely. Maybe a private investment account would do the trick? As soon as Carpenter's fallen and can't get up, the Cards could clap their hands, and save themselves with an emergency carve-out. Neat. I'm sure they'll decide it's a good idea if they simply talk among themselves.

Over in the pen, Cali was without a role; even in a LaRussian pen, third lefties don't get used all that often. Journell has a better opportunity to stick, finally, especially if he shows that his shoulder is sound. He has considerably more upside than guys like Eldred or Al Reyes, and he'd be handier than goofing around with this latest Bill Pulsipher comeback. If everything worked out perfectly, he could give the Cards what they lost in Kiko Calero (when healthy), a setup man good enough to trust in the tightest situations.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS Return to Top

Placed RHP Antonio Osuna on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder), retroactive to 4/11; recalled RHP Gary Majewski from New Orleans. [4/18]

Purchased the contract of RHP Hector Carrasco from New Orleans; placed RHP T.J. Tucker on the 15-day DL (strained groin); transferred OF-R Alex Escobar from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/20]

Normally, Carrasco's call-up might inspire something appropriately snarky about Bowden hauling up one of his projects and depositing it on the roster the way my barn cats would spend slow days, piling up dragonflies at the back door as proof that they were on the job. Add in that it comes during the same stretch of time that the team endures a predictable bit of misfortune, when, from among last winter's various ill-considered signings, they lost Osuna to his reliably cranky bum wing, and it might seem easy to light up the human torch of the front office.

But to be fair, consider the circumstances of Carrasco's return to the bigs. It isn't Bowden's fault that he inherited an organization short of talent at every level; the onus for that is shared between Omar Minaya, for his trying to play with the grown-ups, and MLB, for having encouraged him. As a result, beyond Carrasco, the Zephyrs are carrying guys like Micah Bowie, Brian Powell and Chad Durbin. Majewski has promise, but he'd already gotten the first call. Jon Rauch is a prospect, but you want him taking regular turns in a rotation, not doing slop work as it becomes available. It helped that Carrasco got off to a good start in New Orleans, tossing eight shutout innings. Finally, somebody on the staff has to be an innings soaker, and with Joe Horgan redefining combustibility, I guess sticking an old hand there out of loyalty isn't the worst foible. Besides, he should be the automatic fall guy when Tony Armas Jr. is ready to come off of the DL.

No, the real target of any ire I have here is the decision to ever sign Osuna, but at only $800K, you could wish he was just a signing to be flipped to Chad Fox fans or Matt Mantei maniacs. Who wouldn't want to assemble and build a marketing campaign around a "chicks dig scars/surgery/nosocomial infections" pitching staff?

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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