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September 16, 1999

Transaction Analysis

September 8-13, 1999

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated LHP Mike Holtz from the DL. [9/10]

As is the theme for the Halos, this has been a wasted year for Holtz. He entered the year with a golden opportunity to clinch a spot as a situational lefty, and he hasn't done it. He could still be useful to somebody.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Activated UT Andy Fox from the DL. [9/12]

Enough of Hanley Frias already!

ATLANTA BRAVES

Acquired 3B Freddy Garcia from the Pirates for RHP Greg Dukeman. [9/9]

Not a bad little pickup, in that Garcia is very similar to Howard Battle: some right-handed pop, and he can play third base, first base or left field if you ask him. The Braves' bench is weak enough that Garcia is necessary insurance should anything bad happen to Battle or Randall Simon.

BOSTON RED SOX

Activated RHP Bret Saberhagen from the DL. [9/10]

A critical return for the Sox. Just as an aside, one of the silliest comments I've heard this season about Saberhagen came from Ed Farmer, the White Sox radio color man. Farmer went off on the Sox for "turning Saberhagen into a five-inning pitcher".

Now maybe Farmer doesn't think what happens in the National League matters. When I was 13 years old and lived and died with the standings in the AL West, maybe I'd have agreed that the NL didn't matter. But it amazes me that somebody whose job is to follow baseball every day of his life would fail to notice how Jimy Williams and Joe Kerrigan made sure Saberhagen logged his first 30-start season since 1989 by pulling him early and sparing him from the machismo of an extra inning pitched with a big lead. If Jim Leyland had crossed Sabes' path, we probably wouldn't even be talking about Saberhagen, except about how really small his shot at the Hall of Fame might be.

CHICAGO CUBS

Signed 3B Shane Andrews. [9/9]

Designated LHP Doug Creek for assignment. [9/10]

Not a bad little move for the Cubs. Free agent defections will clear plenty of space on the 40-man roster to carry Andrews, and he's an adequate fall-back in case Cole Liniak can't win the job in camp next spring.

Liniak will have to earn the job: while he's already got two years of experience at Triple-A at 23, he hasn't been outstanding at Pawtucket. He's not a can't-miss prospect. Andrews, however, is a flyball hitter coming into the best home run ballpark on Planet Earth (as opposed to Planet Coors), he's willing to take a walk and he's a good glove man.

Andrews is a prime example of an underrated player: his batting average is never going to awe people, and the strikeouts will keep the hecklers or some writers unhappy out of all proportion. It'll be up to Jeff Pentland to see if he can help Andrews get back to where he was in 1998.

So is there a downside to picking him up? Well, let's see, they've got Henry Rodriguez and Andrews, and they covet Chris Widger. Now that Rondell White's demanding to be traded, the Cubs could be well on the way to reassembling the 1997 Expos, who were the best major league baseball team in Quebec province that year.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated UT Wil Cordero from the DL. [9/8]

Activated RHPs Jaret Wright and David Riske and LHP Mark Langston from the DL; recalled UT Jolbert Cabrera, SS John McDonald and LHP Tom Martin from Buffalo. [9/10]

They'll try them all. Cordero's "ability" to play third base is being heralded as a good thing, but coming after a lackadaisical rehab effort that has him playing heavy, he's merely keeping company on the bench with Carlos Baerga.

Wright tired quickly in his first start back, and while everyone's saying he threw with good velocity, he got knocked around by a light-hitting Sox team. He's not ready to take the fourth starter's slot on the playoff roster. If the alternative is Langston, Chris Haney has to like his chances of making a playoff start.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Purchased the contracts of OF John Cangelosi, 1B J.R. Phillips and RHP David Wainhouse from Colorado Springs, and recalled SS Juan Sosa from Carolina (Double-A). [9/9]

Outrighted SS Chris Petersen and RHP Jim Stoops to Colorado Springs. [9/10]

Leyland's swan song wouldn't be complete without at least Cangelosi in attendance. Where's John Wehner?

Sosa has a shot to unseat Neifi Perez in the near future. He's a burner (38 steals) with a decent defensive rep, and like Perez he isn't really a threat at the plate (.276/.318/.384). That's still more dangerous than Rey Ordonez, even without the Coors effect.

DETROIT TIGERS

Activated C Robert Fick from the DL; recalled DH Gabe Alvarez, RHP Erik Hiljus and INF Jason Wood from Toledo. [9/8]

Alvarez and Wood are making their return engagements. Fick doesn't really have a shot at much more than DH duty, or possibly some time at first base. After all, team captain/carpetbagger/Randy Smith toy Brad Ausmus is ensconced behind the plate, and Tony Clark is playing first base for now.

Hiljus is coming off of a decent season in middle relief as a Mud Hen: 65 baserunners in 59 1/3 innings with 73 strikeouts, and this is the team that gave a chance to Mel Rojas. He's far from his days of being touted by the Mets, but he's still only 26.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Recalled 2B Amaury Garcia from Calgary, and CF Julio Ramirez from Portland (Double-A). [9/10]

Has anyone ever given thought to a different kind of platoon? Luis Castillo has broken through as an on-base threat, he can run and he's a good second baseman. He also has zero power. So would it be worth it to have an alternative like Garcia, who does have some pop (63 extra-base hits with Calgary), for those points in the game when you've got men aboard? Okay, it's a half-baked notion, but Castillo's problems with getting the ball out of the infield can present an offensive problem once in a while.

Ramirez is another interesting player: he's a great center fielder with a shoulder-mounted cannon, he can run like the wind (64 steals versus 14 times caught) and he has solid power (30 doubles, ten triples, and 13 homeruns). But he can't get on base to save his life, having hit .261/.308/.417 as a Sea Dog. It would be interesting to see what he'd turn into if he was introduced to the A's minor league instructors and taught to work the count and take a pitch or two. As things stand now, he's merely young (22), extremely talented and a dud on offense.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Activated OF Glen Barker from the DL. [9/8]

This doesn't exactly count as a reinforcement, and it's unlikely that he'll be carried on the postseason roster.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Optioned INF Jed Hansen to Omaha; released INF Steve Scarsone. [9/11]

Recalled OF Mark Quinn from Omaha; activated RHP Jose Santiago from the DL. [9/12]

Recalled INF Jed Hansen from Omaha. [9/13]

Quinn comes up after Omaha gets eliminated. While he missed time with injuries, he still ended up having an outstanding year: .360/.409/.598, with 25 home runs. Unfortunately, he had only 28 walks in 107 games. It will be interesting to see if he gets a shot at the DH job; Muser is down on Jeremy Giambi, and if Johnny Damon gets dealt in the off-season, then Dee Brown will get a good chunk of playing time between left field and DH, which would create an opportunity for Quinn to sneak in, Sweeney-style.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Claimed RHP Dwayne Jacobs off of waivers from the the White Sox; designated LHP Jeff Kubenka for assignment. [9/10]

Activated RHP Robinson Checo from the DL. [9/12]

A big mistake by the Dodgers, since a smart team should snag Kubenka while it has the chance.

Jacobs had another one of his walk-per-inning, strikeout-per-inning seasons in which he wasn't all that effective, but he's big and he throws hard, so he'll get a zillion opportunities to grow up to be Dwayne Henry.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Activated RHP Steve Woodard from the DL. [9/11]

I probably would have left him alone and let his broken wrist heal entirely, but if it's important to stay ahead of the Cubs, you must be the Brewers.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Purchased the contracts of OF Midre Cummings and LHP J.C. Romero from Salt Lake; recalled 1B David Ortiz and LHP Mark Redman from Salt Lake. [9/13]

Ortiz got to rot in the minors, working on his weight, glove and attitude. He's still heavy, and he still can't field especially well, but you're looking at a season in which he hit .315/.412/.590 with 30 home runs and 79 walks. We're talking about a team that hasn't had a 30-homer player since Tom Brunansky in 1987. If Ortiz isn't playing regularly (nobody gets to play every day for TK) in '99, then the Twins don't know what they're doing.

Midre Cummings? Midre Cummings? Talk about humiliating acquisitions of yesteryear coming back warmed-over. Heads up, Brian Buchanan: this can be you in a few short years.

Romero and Redman will both get shots to make next year's staff. Romero has good heat, but he's still wild; if he's ready, it will make Eddie Guardado that much more available. Redman has a shot at the fifth spot in the rotation, but much depends on whether Specs Ryan will be better now that he can see, and whether the team is ever going to get fed up with LaTroy Hawkins.

NEW YORK METS

Activated RHP Bobby Jones from the DL. [9/10]

The answer to the question is no, not even Bobby Valentine thinks a seven-man rotation is a good idea. Jones' selling point over the years is that you could expect 30 starts and 190 IP, but now he doesn't even have that to his credit.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Recalled LHP Ed Yarnall, RHP Mike Buddie, SS Alfonso Soriano and SS/2B D'Angelo Jimenez from Columbus. [9/11]

Columbus lost, so here they are, several of the prizes of the tremendous Yankees' system. Jimenez is one of the top prospects in the game, and should the Yankees decide they need anything, he might get a major league job. He's clearly ready after a season where he hit .327/.392/.492 for the Clippers.

Soriano struggled in his month with Columbus, and there's still speculation that he's going to move to third base to eventually inherit the job from Brosius.

Yarnall still looks like one of the best starting pitcher prospects in the game; that the Marlins traded him for Mike Lowell defies explanation.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Signed manager Terry Francona to a contract extension through 2002, and announced that the entire coaching staff will be retained through 2000; activated SS Desi Relaford from the DL; released INF Domingo Cedeno. [9/12]

Re-upping Francona might generate good vibes in the wake of another second-half Phillie Phlop, but if he doesn't learn from his mistakes and do a better job of pulling his starters earlier, rather than letting them blow up in the eighth and ninth innings, he's a liability. Yes, using Wayne Gomes in the late innings inspires fear, similar to such frightening lifestyle choices like hammer juggling or listening to Mancow Muller. The best I can offer is a switch to decaf, and learn to cope. Endangering Randy Wolf's future isn't worth the difference between finishing 20 or 25 games behind the Mets or Braves, let alone wearing out Curt Schilling.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Traded 3B Freddy Garcia to the Braves for RHP Greg Dukeman. [9/8]

Scratch one roadblock...no, let's say speed bump...to Aramis Ramirez's progress to what should be an assured future at third base.

SAND DIEGO PADRES

Recalled RF Mike Darr, CF Gary Matthews Jr., 2B/OF David Newhan and RHP Carlos Almanzar from Las Vegas; recalled RHP Domingo Guzman from Mobile (Double-A). [9/9]

Overall, not an inspiring group of callups. Darr (.298/.384/.465), Matthews (.256/.352/.386) and Newhan (.286/.342/.471) have all had decent but hardly awe-inspiring years at Vegas. Any of them could end up on next year's roster, but Darr isn't going to move Gwynn, Matthews won't chase Ruben Rivera off that quickly, and Newhan can't really play second. Almanzar could stick in middle reliever.

I literally have no explanation for why Guzman's up. He hardly earned it in Mobile.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Purchased contract of RHP Jeff Sparks from Durham. [9/12]

"Excuse me, but are you going for any records?"

"Well, the Reds gave up on me, and the Hit King played for them."

"Close enough, welcome aboard! Do you think you can catch Jesse Orosco? We've got nothing better to do, and you seem like a good-natured, quick-thinking sort. We can use that around here."

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

Related Content:  Bret Saberhagen

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