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November 2, 1999

Transaction Analysis

October 6-October 24, 1999

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Exercised their options on CFs Garret Anderson and Jim Edmonds for 2000. [10/7]

Designated RHP Pep Harris and 2B/SS Justin Baughman for assignment; outrighted LHP Steve Mintz to Edmonton. [10/11]

Outrighted RHPs Pep Harris and Steve Sparks, 2B/SS Justin Baughman, 1B Chris Pritchett, OF Matt Luke, and C Steve Decker to Edmonton. [10/13]

Announced the resignation of Jeff Parker, the team's director of player development. [10/18]

No real surprises here: Edmonds' option was picked up to shore up his status as trade bait. The interesting development for the Angels is Garret Anderson being a better center fielder than he ever was in either corner. That hidden talent turns him from an overrated singles hitter to a player with some value to the Angels. Edmonds should fetch more in trade from whatever team wants to rent him for a year, and with this year's weak free agent class, Edmonds should be the target of choice for teams seeking outfield help.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Named Frank Wren assistant GM; signed LHP Mike Remlinger to a two-year contract extension, with a club option for 2002. [10/13]

Snagging Wren may yield a fine from the commissioner's office for John Schuerholz's failure to submit a list of potential candidates for the job. Considering that he was trying to replace Bud Selig's team's new GM (the Brewers' Dean Taylor), he'll probably get away with a slap on the wrist.

If baseball is going to go into the business of fining teams for not asking Dave Stewart to come to town for a token interview, my question is how long does somebody like Stewart want to play his part in that kind of process/charade?

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Fired manager Ray Miller and GM Frank Wren. [10/7]

Purchased the contract of RHP Calvin Maduro from Rochester; purchased the contract of OF Wady Almonte from Bowie (Double-A); outrighted Cs Chip Alley and Tommy Davis to Rochester; announced that Nepotista Derrick May rejected a minor-league assignment, and can blight some other roster in the very near future. [10/18]

Heads roll, and along with all the others in the gutters is probably Angelos' own. The Orioles say they're going to phase out the position of general manager altogether, which is probably for the best. The organization is already a trangely disjointed collection of loosely federated components: Syd Thrift's farm system exists almost independently from anything involving the parent club, as Clan Angelos runs through its money, making sure that people like Jeff Conine can get a wee bit more service time.

In that sort of organization, what's the point of paying someone to wrench his hands and say "maybe you should be smarter with your own money" or "major league baseball teams don't need third-string DHs"? Who wants to hear those sorts of things from professional party poopers or bean counters? You're the owner of a major league baseball team, and that rocks!

CHICAGO CUBS

Released CF Lance Johnson; purchased the contract of 1B Julio Zuleta from West Tennessee (Double-A). [10/6]

Released 3B Gary Gaetti; purchased contract of LHP Dan Serafini from Iowa. [10/18]

Some psychic rewards here, as the Cubs clear yesteryear's chaff off the roster. While adding Dan Serafini to the 40-man roster seems laughable, it keeps him from minor-league free agency, and it isn't like anyone's going to snag him when they outright him back to Iowa after a free-agent pickup or the Rule V draft. Okay, maybe Jim Bowden would, but with Andrew Lorraine, Micah Bowie and Brian McNichol all fighting for a spot in next year's rotation, how many left-handed people whose best pitch is a changeup does one roster need?

CINCINNATI REDS

Claimed LHP Heath Murray off of waivers from the Padres. [10/6]

Released C Brian Johnson; exercised their option on RHP Stan Belinda for 2000; declined to exercise their option on RHP Mark Wohlers for 2000; outrighted CF Kerry Robinson and RHPs Rick Greene and Keith Glauber to Indianapolis. [10/8]

Added RHPs Pat Flury and John Riedling and 1B D.T. Cromer to the 40-man roster. [10/11]

Claimed 1B Ron Wright on waivers from the Pirates. [10/14]

Dan Duquette has to be jealous. The season's over, and he has to notice that Bowden's already got a big lead in little transactions to satiate those roster move cravings they share. If Wright is finally healthy, he could make a dandy platoon mate for Sean Casey, but I suspect he'll end up entertaining the folks in Louisville next summer.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Announced the resignation of pitching coach Phil Regan. [10/14]

Fired manager Mike Hargrove. [10/15]

These moves are intimately interrelated, in that Phil Regan deserves a big portion of the credit for getting Hargrove fired, credit that's currently all being dumped in John Hart's lap. The Indians' pitching problems were to no small extent self-inflicted, with many Indians' pitchers pitching with or through injuries without mentioning them to Regan or Hargrove (Steve Reed, Paul Shuey, Dwight Gooden, Jaret Wright and Steve Karsay). There seems to have been a serious communications problem, where nobody was talking to Regan, Regan wasn't picking up on the problems and Hargrove had a pitching coach on his hands who was better suited to yammering with Bob Feller about what a bunch of wusses modern pitchers are than running a major league pitching staff. Meanwhile, Mark Wiley's gainfully employed with Cleveland West...

COLORADO ROCKIES

Named Josh Byrnes to the position of director of baseball operations and assistant GM, Boyd Coffie as minor league field coordinator, Michael Hill as director of player development, and Bill Schmidt as director of scouting. [10/12]

Named Mark Wiley director of player personnel. [10/19]

Named Buddy Bell the team's manager. [10/20]

Named Marcel Lachemann pitching coach. [10/21]

Recycling Buddy Bell is probably a nice enough gesture after his work with Team USA in the Pan Am games and all, but it's amusing to see some folks already touting the arrival of "Buddyball" on Planet Coors.

Now, maybe it's just the context of my experiences as a fan, but "Billyball" meant something: it meant basepath aggression, great outfield defense, routine squeezing (insert punchline here), dirt-kicking and forgetting that there are pitchers on the other end of the bullpen phone. What are "Buddyball"'s defining characteristics? Amiability? Smoking in the manager's office? Some terms need to be earned, not invented.

DETROIT TIGERS

Outrighted UT Jason Wood, SS Jose Macias and RHP Beiker Graterol to Toledo. [10/11]

Named Phil Garner manager, and fired some other guy. [10/14]

Another target for a Czar Bud statement of imperial displeasure. The Pizza Baron did not have Randy Smith submit a list with a token minority candidate to the commissioner's office, and the cavalier way in which Larry Parrish was given news of his future--with all the subtlety of package from Ted Kaczynski--elicited a few cries of sympathy. But hiring Phil Garner for lots of money underscores the organization's basic problem: nobody knows what they're doing, and tossing money around only sounds like progress.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Reinstated RHPs Alex Fernandez and Joe Fontenot from the 60-day DL. [10/20]

HOUSTON ASTROS

Announced that C Randy Knorr, RHPs Derek Root and Joe Slusarski, and CF Ryan Thompson are all now free agents. [10/20]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Signed RF Jermaine Dye to a two-year contract. [10/14]

Claimed RHP David Lundquist off of waivers from the White Sox, and added him to their 40-man roster; announced that 1Bs Larry Sutton and Joe Vitiello and RHP Bart Evans refused assignments to the minor leagues, and are all free agents. [10/18]

Dye's two-year contract extension could be interpreted as something that puts the kibosh on keeping Johnny Damon around; otherwise, there are no real casualties yet. Lundquist had yet another injury-plagued season, but if he flashes the same mid-90s heat he did in camp with the Sox last spring, he should be a lock to make the worst bullpen in the majors.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Promoted Jerry Weinstein to director of player development. [10/13]

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Agreed to a one-year player development contract with Indianapolis. [10/6]

Named Guy Hansen to the position of minor-league pitching coordinator; re-assigned Mike Caldwell to pitching coach at Huntsville (Double-A). [10/11]

Outrighted C Charlie Greene and INF Eddie Zosky to Louisville; both refused the assignment, becoming free agents. [10/12]

Re-signed SS Jose Valentin to a one-year contract. [10/15]

Named Gary Matthews to the position of minor-league hitting coordinator. [10/18]

The re-shuffling of the organization commences, as the ex-Brewers and Bando cronies bite the dust, get reassigned or are fired outright. Whether or not it's progress remains to be seen, but the Bando-Califano crew in player development needed shaking up, and Dean Taylor's willingness to be relatively ruthless early on is progress.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Exercised their option on RHP Brad Radke for 2000; announced DH Marty Cordova and INF Brent Gates have chosen free agency over outright assignments to Salt Lake. [10/8]

There's a lot of wish fulfillment here: Twins' management gets to give itself a warm fuzzy by finally getting to cut Marty Cordova after finding out that, yes, he had no value on the trade market. He'd talked his way out of town, and who wants a mouthy/cranky adequate DH anyways?

Meanwhile, Twins fans can be happy that Brent Gates won't be getting another 300 PAs for next year's team. It's not enough to get them to vote for a bond issue for a new stadium, but it has to be reassuring on some level.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Announced the resignation of VP of communications Johanne Heroux, effective at the end of November. [10/22]

Another one of Claude Brochu's people is axed, and like everyone in his outfit, she won't be joining the commissioner's office any time soon, any more than he will be.

NEW YORK METS

Outrighted RHP Jeff Tam to Norfolk. [10/16]

OAKLAND A'S

Re-signed 2B Randy Velarde to a two-year contract, with a club option for 2002. [10/8]

Promoted Thad Bosley to hitting coach, and named Mike Quade first base coach; announced that hitting coach Dave Hudgens will get to do something else in the organization. [10/19]

Velarde's re-signing seems to be another data point in what's becoming a signature feature of the Beane regime: cooperation with players' wishes. Velarde got very comfortable very quickly, and players (notably Jason Giambi) were noisy in insisting they needed him back.

As with John Jaha, I'm not really happy with handing out a multi-year deal to a player with Velarde's record of injuries, but it didn't cost the A's draft-picks or talent to keep him, and the minors are loaded with people to take Velarde's place if he gets hurt.

Another thing to consider is that if the Schott/Hoffman ownership duo were really all that interested in selling the team, would they be shelling out their money so easily? Why? To prove they're "big league" to the McMorris crabby-losing-bazillionaire lunatic fringe? To help when/if they make a play for the San Jose market so casually ceded to Pete Magowan? Or just to make the players happy?

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Claimed Petty Thug Felix Martinez off of waivers from the Royals, and RHP Carlos Reyes off of waivers from the Padres; outrighted INF Torey Lovullo, LHPs Billy Brewer and Yorkis Perez, and RHPs Mike Grace, Ryan Nye, Chad Ogea and Joe Grahe to Scranton. [10/6]

Claimed RHP Manny Barrios off of waivers from the Reds. [10/22]

Carlos Reyes and Manny Barrios? Well, those are two nice claims, but getting Felix Martinez isn't going to do anything to make Desi Relaford lose sleep over his job security. Reyes is a nice enough veteran long-reliever and fifth-starter type, while Barrios still has a nice fastball and the ability to be a handy reliever in next year's pen.

The real question for the Phillies is going to be whether Terry Francona learned anything from wearing out his staff this year, because no number of nice waiver pickups is going to paper over that.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Named George Zuraw assistant GM. [10/13]

Outrighted RHP Jason Phillips, LHP Jeff Tabaka, C Tim Laker and UT John Wehner to Nashville. [10/14]

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Extended the contract of manager Tony LaRussa through 2001. [10/8]

Signed RHP Mike James and UT Steve Bieser to minor-league contract; outrighted RHPs Mike Busby, Curtis King, Larry Luebbers and Clint Sodowsky, C Marcus Jensen and 1B Eduardo Perez to Memphis. [10/15]

It's going to be interesting to see if Jensen ends up on next year's Olympic squad, and off of anyone's 40-man roster, or whether he'll re-up with the Cardinals to get a clean shot at a wide-open catching situation.

The rest of this is sort of besides the point. Larry Luebbers was smart enough to re-sign as a minor league free agent last year, and he should be smart enough to do so again. On this team, his chances of turning in a Bottenfield-style surprise season are pretty good, and Tony LaRussa's ability to kill off the good pitchers only helps that.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Announced that RHPs Stan Spencer and Matt Whiteside have refused assignments to the minors, and have elected to become free agents. [10/13]

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Outrighted RHPs Steve Connolly, Robbie Crabtree and Steve Soderstrom to Fresno. [10/7]

Named Robby Thompson first-base coach, Dave Righetti pitching coach and Carlos Alfonso administrative coach and video coordinator; Ron Perranoski was "promoted" to special assistant to GM Brian Sabean; claimed SS Nelson Castro off of waivers from the Angels; outrighted RHP Bronswell Patrick off of the roster to an unnamed minor-league destination. [10/13]

Crabtree deserves to get a break, and could be a serviceable major-league middle man somewhere. It doesn't look like things are ever going to turn Soderstrom's way, which adds him to the heap of used-up Giants pitching prospects.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Outrighted RHP Rick Gorecki to Durham. [10/14]

Gorecki's persistent arm problems still haven't gone away, but he'll undoubtedly crop up as an NRI somewhere. He may even give his employer more starts than Butch Henry would, for less, so get your checkbooks out, you savvy shoppers!

TEXAS RANGERS

Re-signed RHP Juan Moreno to a contract with Oklahoma City, with an NRI to spring training. [10/18]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Outrighted OF Rob Butler, 3B Willie Greene and RHP Mike Romano to Syracuse. [10/6]

Announced the retirement of baseball operations advisor Bob Engle; announced that trainer Tommy Craig will not return for 2000; named Cito Gaston batting coach, Lee Elia bench coach and Bobby Knoop first base coach for 2000. [10/12]

Named Rick Langford pitching coach and Roly de Armas bullpen coach. [10/19]

Released RHP John Hudek; outrighted C Kevin Brown to Syracuse; announced that OF Jacob Brumfield rejected a minor-league assignment, and is now a free agent. [10/20]

That's right, Mike Matheny has been found to be competent to hold a major league job over Kevin Brown by a management team of "professionals". There is literally nothing Matheny does better than Brown on a baseball field, but there you have it.

Why can't I shake the feeling that the next stop on Willie Greene's unhappy trail is Pawtucket?

Meanwhile, Jim Fregosi's coaching staff will feature the ex-Jays manager who did so much to derail the careers of Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado, old White Sox buddy Knoop and Terry Bevington. If there were reasons for pessimism before, they're only getting worse.

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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