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September 25, 1999

Transaction Analysis

September 14-22, 1999

by Christina Kahrl

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Purchased the contract of C Rod Barajas from El Paso (Double-A); placed LHP Bryan Shouse on the 60-day DL. [9/18]

Claimed LHP Jeff Kubenka off of waivers from the Dodgers. [9/20]

It's a bit surprising that the Snakes didn't have a third catcher up sooner. Greg Colbrunn really isn't much more than an emergency catcher, and Kelly Stinnett has had to fight off the usual collection of bumps and bruises.

In this organization, Barajas is considered a prospect, especially after a season in the Texas League in which he hit .318/.354/.488 with 41 doubles and 14 home runs. He has a decent defensive reputation, but he's played in High Desert last year and El Paso this year, so he's been helped by hitting in two of the best hitting environments in organized baseball. He hasn't helped himself by walking: only 24 in 127 games this year.

BOSTON RED SOX

Placed LHP Kent Mercker on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 9/7 (strained rib cage muscle). [9/14]

Activated RHP Brian Rose off of the DL. [9/17]

Recalled C Steve Lomasney from Trenton (Double-A). [9/18]

Losing Mercker doesn't mean as much as it might have when Bret Saberhagen was missing. With Sabes backing up Pedro, and with Pat Rapp having good starts more often than not, the Sox shouldn't have any trouble whatsoever clinching the wild-card.

The interesting decision was to call up Lomasney. In 47 games at Trenton, he managed to paste a dozen home runs. Only 22, he'll have an excellent opportunity next spring to put Scott Hatteberg into some other team's uniform.

CHICAGO CUBS

Signed DH Glenallen Hill to a one-year contract with a club option for 2001. [9/14]

The most amusing aspect of this was Hill's statement that he likes the direction the Cubs are going (behind Florida?), and things would have been much better this year if only Lance Johnson hadn't struggled with an injury/managerial snit fit.

Hill has his uses (pinch-hitter, lefty masher), but the team's primary off-season task is going to be to shop for a good offensive center fielder. Henry Rodriguez is only under contract through next season, and Corey Patterson will undoubtedly be in a Cubs' uniform by 2001. The creative solution would be to go out and get Johnny Damon to lead off and play center field, and move him to left field once Rodriguez leaves and Patteron is ready. The more pathetic alternative will be to get some 30-year-old stiff with a reputation and a nice price tag. We both know which one is more likely.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated RHP Steve Karsay from the DL. [9/22]

Nobody is pretending Karsay's elbow is sound. He's monkeying around with a new grip on his curve, which reflects how desperate the situation is. With Steve Reed hurting, Paul Shuey hurting or being wildly ineffective, and none of the left-handers earning their keep, the Tribe's pen is enough to make everyone unhappy. Well, unless you're Sean DePaula and you have a shot at getting onto the postseason roster because of all these problems.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Named Dan O'Dowd their GM, and signed him to a five-year contract. [9/20]

O'Dowd's future in a front office has been inevitable for a couple of years now. What will be interesting is to see how well he does out of John Hart's shadow, and how many people from the Indians' organization he can convince to come with him.

The most interesting possibility is that he'll bring hitting instructor Charlie Manuel over to manage. Once upon a time, Manuel was one of the game's better managerial prospects. After winning the PCL in 1992 with a pretty mediocre Colorado Springs roster (anyone else remember the wispy clouds of hope that got spun around Beau Allred?), he was named manager of the year over noted peers like Jim Riggleman, Bob Boone and Bill Russell. He won a title again in Charlotte in 1993. But a combination of need (Manuel's current reputation is as the man who has to keep Jim Thome's swing correct) and the inequalities of opportunity (Boone was certainly never hired for merit) might have cost Manuel his opportunity to manage a big league team.

I hope he gets the shot now. While the real reason would be his prior association with O'Dowd, it would be interesting to see if the experience of managing in the mile-high conditions of Colorado Springs prepared Manuel for the challenge of running a team on Planet Coors. It's interesting to note that one of the other names mentioned for the job is Royals' manager Tony Muser, who also has thin air experience from managing the Denver Zephyrs while Manuel was in Colorado Springs.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Purchased the contract of RHP Lance Carter from Wichita (Double-A); traded LHP Glendon Rusch to the Mets for RHP Dan Murray. [9/14]

Recalled 1B/OF Larry Sutton from Omaha. [9/15]

Activated 2B Carlos Febles off of the DL. [9/17]

After a season in which he had a 0.78 ERA as Wichita's closer, you'd think that Carter should have been up sooner, except that the Royals let him help win the Texas League championship. Assuming he sticks around, Muser would be well advised to give Carter first crack at the closer's job next spring. Better yet, let him share the job with Scott Service for the first few months, taking a page from Jack McKeon's playbook with the Reds this season.

On the other hand, we're talking Team Herk, which is why trading Rusch for Murray would otherwise seem a bit strange: Rusch could still turn into a good left-handed reliever, while Murray's older and coming off of an awful season in Norfolk, which is not a tough park to pitch in: 91 runs and 22 home runs in 145 innings, with a poor 70-to-96 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Royals fans can at least take some small satisfaction from knowing that Larry Sutton was nice enough to stay out of the way most of the year, and that Febles will get a chance to finish with a flourish.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Named Dean Taylor their GM, and signed him to a four-year contract. [9/21]

I don't think it's a uniquely Beertown phenomenon that there was almost wild exultation when the GM-designate came out and said the organization he's inheriting basically sucks. You'd think the guy had predicted the sunrise. What this really means is that all of those ex-Brewers working in every nook and cranny of the organization had better start calling the Angels or some other suitably adrift franchise, sprucing up resumes, and finding out where the office fax machine is.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled RHP Mike Johnson from Ottawa. [9/21]

Johnson doesn't deserve a callup after another ugly minor league season (6-12, 5.38 ERA, 24 home runs in 147 1/3 innings, and 105 runs allowed on 174 hits and 63 walks), but with Guillermo Mota and Carl Pavano aching, the Expos could use a spare body. It's better to hand some waste innings to a waste pitcher than add any more mileage to Tony Armas Jr.'s arm. Armas has already done all he needs to do this season, and the only thing the Expos are playing for is fourth place.

NEW YORK METS

Traded RHP Dan Murray to the Royals for LHP Glendon Rusch. [9/14]

Given how successful Bobby Valentine has been with his bullpens lately, I like Rusch's chances of turning into a good left-handed long reliever.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Purchased the contract of RHP Jeff Juden from Columbus; placed RHP Luis de los Santos on the 60-day DL (torn ACL). [9/16]

Maybe I'm wrong, but I suspect that Juden's hitting 17 batters had nothing to do with his unique brand of understated charm, or his joy at spending most of the year pitching in central Ohio. It's just that he didn't pitch particularly well: a 5.56 ERA, 164 hits and 76 walks allowed in 176 1/3 innings, along with 24 home runs. At least he's still bringing the heat, with 151 strikeouts. Talent-wise, he might have been a good middle reliever for the Yanks this year, except that there would undoubtedly have been some sort of clubhouse clash of the titans between Juden and a red ass like Paul O'Neill.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Activated 3B Eric Chavez off of the DL. [9/19]

With Oakland's playoff chances rapidly petering out, Chavez ended up doing Vancouver some good in helping them get to the Triple-A World Series during his rehab assignment. Of course, in his absence the Canadians will get to use Adam Piatt, so they won't exactly be short-handed.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Signed OF Rob Ducey to a two-year contract. [9/20]

Ugh, another Turner Ward contract. If owners want "cost certainty," they'd be doing themselves a favor if they didn't keep rewarding fourth outfielders with multi-year deals for considerably more than the minimum.

It is nice to see Ducey get his payday after a career on the fringes. Unlike a stiff like Derrick May, Ducey had a chance to be a legitimately good major league player, but injuries and a few bad breaks kept him from getting even as much service time as a nepotista like May.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Placed 3B Ed Sprague on the 60-day DL (fractured pinky). [9/20]

Activated SS Pat Meares from the DL. [9/21]

Perfect timing for Sprague, because more playing time this year was probably only going to keep hurting his rate stats. Now he can stagger into the free-agent market and see who wants to make him the next Danny Tartabull.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Acquired OF Adrian Myers from the Rangers to complete the Jeff Fassero trade. [9/22]

Fassero brings in Brian Hunter Lite, which should make it that much easier for the Ms to non-tender Hunter this winter.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Exercised the team's contract option for 2000 on DH Jose Canseco. [9/15]

Activated RHP Cory Lidle from the DL; recalled 1B Steve Cox, DH Julio Franco and LHP Jim Morris from Durham; designated LHP Terrell Wade, RHP Mickey Callaway and OFs Carlos Mendoza and Rich Butler for assignment. [9/18]

Recalled RHP Eddie Gaillard from Durham. [9/21]

I know everyone thinks it's just swell that Jim Morris and his "98 mph" fastball got this late lease on life at 35. Hell, even I think it's pretty cool. But in a dog-and-pony show like the D-Rays, it's hard to say that a guy who put up a 5.48 ERA in a brief tryout in Durham earned it. We're talking about a franchise that would pinch-run giraffes ("Look, it can touch home plate from third base! It tags up in less than a second!") or clone a Jose Canseco Mini-Me to pinch-hit and pitch if it thought it would get the bluehairs and beehives of sunny Florida to buy a ticket.

If you want to take the talk of stripping franchises from markets seriously, take the D-Rays. They've shown absolutely no ability and even less interest in fielding a professional baseball team. "Steve Cox? He's too young to be shooting for any records. It's a damned fine thing that we've got the Crime Dog in the fold. Unless Bill Buckner's finally returning those calls...."

TEXAS RANGERS

Extended the contracts of Manager Johnny Oates and GM Doug Melvin through 2002. [9/21]

What is there to say? They earned it, having done a much better job in their Rangers lifetimes than the Tom Grieve/Bobby Valentine combo did. They started off with a script calling for Baltimore West, and built off of that. While the Mariners frittered away the years that should have belonged to them, the Rangers have slowly put together a decent farm system to back up great frontline talent. Hats off to a well-run operation.

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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