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December 16, 1999

Transaction Analysis

December 9-December 15, 1999

by Christina Kahrl

Looking for the Lost Transaction Analysis? Click Here.


Signed SS Tony Womack to a four-year contract extension. [12/12]

Acquired RHP Brad Clontz from the Pirates for a PTBNL. [12/13]

Acquired SS Luis Ordaz from the Cardinals for CF Dante Powell. [12/15]

Talk about hedging your bets: the Snakes give Tony Womack a few hundred times what he's worth while planning on moving him to short, but there's just enough of a sense of unease about it that they pick up a glove man from the Redbirds just in case. There are some amusing similarities between Colangelo's operations in the major leagues and in the NBA: he pays top dollar for the coattail types, the guys who get blamed for success because of their more talented teammates.

Giving Womack big money is bad on several counts. First, you may as well have paid a hobo to put a five-dollar bill on every cactus in the state of Arizona for all the good this is going to do a team that didn't win with Womack playing. Second, you have to play Tony Womack. Worst yet, that spent money is going to make the Snakes that much more unlikely to shell out top dollar to fix their leadoff problem or their shortstop problem, let alone any other problem that crops up when their old team comes crashing down. Now that Sal Bando's gone, the most they can hope for is to dump salary on the Devil Rays or Pat Gillick once they notice how badly things are going.


Re-signed free agent 1B Brian Hunter to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [12/8]

Just a handy insurance policy in case the Big Cat doesn't beat cancer as well as we all hope he does.


Released RHP Doug Linton. [12/8]

Signed free agent DH Harold Baines to a one-year contract. [12/9]

Acquired LHP Chuck McElroy from the Mets for LHP Jesse Orosco. [12/10]

Traded INF Jeff Reboulet to the Royals for a PTBNL. [12/12]

Traded SS Augie Ojeda to the Cubs for RHP Richard Negrette. [12/13]

Acquired OF Stephen Larkin from the Reds for a PTBNL. [12/14]

Overall, you should give the GM-by-committee credit. Now, they haven't built a good team or anything like that, but they haven't done anything to endanger the Orioles' shot at third place.

Signing Baines is a gimme considering there isn't anywhere else he'd sign, but picking up McElroy for Jesse Orosco is a steal made all the more important by Arthur Lee Rhodes' expected departure. That's assuming Mike Hargrove doesn't make the same mistake with McElroy that he made with Ricky Rincon in Cleveland, by trying to turn a legitimately good lefty reliever into a situational guy.


Signed CF Damon Buford to a two-year contract extension. [12/9]

Acquired INF Manny Alexander from the Cubs for CF Damon Buford. [12/11]

Acquired CF Carl Everett from the Astros for SS Adam Everett and LHP Greg Miller. [12/15]

Picking up Carl for Adam in the Everett exchange is a great fit for the Red Sox, giving them their first really good-hitting outfielder since the Bush administration. The Duke has been smart enough to build a lineup that has the positional advantages of having a great hitting combo up the middle in Jose Offerman and Nomar. Because of them, the Red Sox don't have to get Ken Griffey Jr. to significantly improve their offense.

The only sad aspect of all of this is that this deal is two years too late, after slowly learning not to accept Darren Lewis or Damon Buford on their own terms. Two postseason appearances have already been wasted, and the Yankees have a long way to fall if the Red Sox are going to contend for the division title. The wild card is far from a sure thing. So while this is a great move for the Red Sox, there's the bittersweet knowledge that it would have been a lot more helpful to have made this sort of pickup a couple of years ago.

Not only does Manny lose his place as Sammy's little buddy on the Cubs, but he has to replace Nomar's little buddy, Lou Merloni? Talk about pressure.


Signed C Yoon-Min Kweon. [12/10]

Acquired CF Damon Buford from the Red Sox for INF Manny Alexander. [12/11]

Acquired RHP Ismael Valdes and 2B Eric Young from the Dodgers for RHPs Terry Adams and Chad Ricketts and a PTBNL. [12/12]

Traded RHP Richard Negrette to the Orioles for SS Augie Ojeda. [12/13]

Signed free agent C Joe Girardi to a three-year contract. [12/15]

Stop me if you've heard this before: Andy MacPhail brings in fresh face. Moves get made, every makes happy noises, and the Cubs don't actually get better. While the Dodgers' heist gives the Cubs an improved rotation and their best leadoff hitter since Ivan DeJesus, did they really help themselves that much? Buford and Girardi are going to play regularly, and neither one of them are good offensive players. Put them into the a lineup already featuring Jose Nieves, Shane Andrews, and the NL Central's fifth-best-hitting first baseman. The problem isn't that Andrews or Buford or Girardi can't play (okay, maybe not Joe), its that they're all decent #8 hitters on good teams, and on the Cubs they'll be miscast into more important offensive roles. Using them, the Cubs have a very reasonable shot at finishing even closer to last in scoring in the NL than they did in 1999, when they were 13th. In Wrigley Field, that's a formula for losing baseball, and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the kind of teams that win in their ballpark or in the current offensive environment.

There are other things to make you wonder: Valdes is a good pitcher, but coming over from Chavez Ravine to the Wrigley bandbox, his ERA will probably jump by a full run, and it isn't like he's going to get good run support. Even Girardi's defensive reputation is severely overstated. He's one of the only catchers over the last twenty years to show any indication one way or another that he's not a good gamecaller, and that's without remembering that Greg Maddux, the same guy who picks Eddie Perez over Javy Lopez for defensive reasons, preferred ol' Hector Villanueva over Joe. Adding Buford and Girardi is frightening because it gives you a good sense of what the Cubs think they'll need to fill in at center and catcher until Corey Patterson and Jeff Goldbach are ready. These are the guys that the new master plan says will keep the team competitive until good baseball players arrive.

Three years of Joe Girardi is more mean-spirited than most minimum sentencing laws.


Re-signed UT Chris Stynes to a one-year contract. [12/9]

Released INF Juan Melo. [12/10]

Acquired OF Kimera Bartee from the Tigers for a PTBNL or cash; released C Guillermo Garcia. [12/11]

Signed free agent RHP Elmer Dessens to a one-year contract; designated CB Deion Sanders for assignment. [12/13]

Traded OF Stephen Larkin to the Orioles for a PTBNL.

This Christmas season, get your little boy "Boy Wonder GM." Boy Wonder GM can do everything! Ever wanted your magazine rack reshuffled, or just wanted to exchange that subscription of "Southwestern Living" for "Southwestern Fashion?" Put BWGM on the case! Ever wonder if you could get one Orthodox Patriarch for a Pontiff to be named later? BWGM will do all sorts of things which strike you as neat at the time, but in retrospect seem downright silly. But for petty amusements, there's no beating Boy Wonder GM! Only $19.95. Gruppenführer Schott and Schottzie 02 thrifty inaction figures sold separately.


Re-signed LHP Mark Langston to a minor-league contract, with a spring training NRI. [12/8]

Now that Paul Assenmacher's probably bound for Tampa Bay to get to 1000 games or some equally important "record," John Hart just couldn't bring himself to let go of two left-handed senior citizens in a month.


Traded RHP Scott Randall to the Twins for CF Chris Latham. [12/7]

Signed free agent CF Tom Goodwin to a three-year contract. [12/8]

Signed free agent C Brent Mayne to a two-year contract, with a club option for 2002. [12/9]

Acquired 3B Jeff Cirillo, LHP Scott Karl and cash from the Brewers, and RHP Rolando Arrojo and INF Aaron Ledesma from the Devil Rays in exchange for 3B Vinny Castilla, C Henry Blanco, RHP Jamey Wright and RHP Justin Miller in the four-team trade. [12/13]

Re-signed UT Terry Shumpert to a one-year contract, with a club option for 2001. [12/15]

Dan O'Dowd owes Jim Leyland big. Who else could have brought the Rox so low that Jerry McMorris was willing to brave angry season ticket holders by busting up the Blake Street Bombers?

The question now is whether or not O'Dowd is building a good team. Jeff Cirillo is a better player than Vinny Castilla, and should be the odds-on favorite to win the batting title. Aaron Ledesma and Tom Goodwin and Brent Mayne aren't great players or even especially good ones, but like Cirillo they get the ball in play, and on Planet Coors balls in play are more likely to be extra base hits. Goodwin has a nice shot at leading the league in triples. But Mayne isn't a better player than Ben Petrick, and if this was anywhere but Denver, would anyone think these were the moves to build a good team?

As for the pitching side of the add-ons, Scott Karl's been treading water for three years. The nicest thing you can say for his chances in thin air is that at least he knows how to pitch from the stretch. The interesting aspect of bringing him in is that unlike most lefty junkballers, he doesn't throw a good curve, so he might not be punished by Coors as much as you think. That means an ERA under six for us optimists. Bringing in Arrojo is the best move in the bunch, but it shouldn't be enough to get anyone excited.


Traded OF Kimera Bartee to the Reds for a PTBNL or cash. [12/11]

It's a cold, hard day indeed when even Kimera's biggest fan, pizza baron Mike Ilitch himself, can finally cut the cord.


Acquired RHP Jared Camp from the Twins for RHP Johan Santana and cash; acquired CF Abraham Nunez from the Diamondbacks as the PTBNL in the Mantei trade; traded OF Bruce Aven to the Pirates for OF Brant Brown. [12/13]

Acquired 3B/1B Sean McNally from the Royals for CF Todd Dunwoody. [12/15]

Nunez is the final part of the Mantei swag in which the Marlins did a great job of turning an injury-prone arb-eligible Rule Ver into three good prospects. Nunez is sort of a newfangled version of Julio Ramirez. Like anybody, he hit well at High Desert, but he's 19 with high A-ball experience, speed, power, and a good glove.

Having Nunez and Ramirez around made Dunwoody expendable, and McNally is exactly the kind of guy the Marlins can use. While he's old for a prospect, McNally has lefty power, can play either infield corner, and he'll take a walk. When the only alternative at third is Mike Lowell, McNally will be a lot more helpful than Dunwoody was ever going to be.

Bringing in Brant Brown doesn't do the Marlins any good, but there is a good chance that between Cliff Floyd's injury problems and the holes in Derrek Lee's swing, he'll get another 300 PA.


Signed 2B Craig Biggio to a three-year contract extension through 2003. [12/9]

Acquired SS Adam Everett and LHP Greg Miller from the Red Sox for CF Carl Everett. [12/15]

Gerry Hunsicker and Tim Purpurra were in a bind with Moises Alou and Derek Bell still around, and nobody wanted to take either of them off their hands. So they did the best the could, turning Carl Everett into the one thing the organization doesn't have, a premiere shortstop prospect. Adam Everett won't win the job outright in camp, but he will fight Julio Lugo for a future, and between the two of them, the Astros will have somebody to push past Tim Bogar by the All-Star break.

Now that Carl's gone, they can look forward to leaving Ricky Hidalgo in center, with Bell and Alou in the corners, and with Daryle Ward or Lance Berkman winning the fourth outfielder's job and getting a good number of plate appearances. Right now, I'm guessing Berkman's going to be stuck in New Orleans on Opening Day, until the Astros find someone to take Bell off of their hands.


Re-signed SS Rey Sanchez to a two-year contract. [12/7]

Acquired INF Jeff Reboulet from the Orioles for a PTBNL. [12/12]

Acquired RHP Jerry Spradlin from the Giants for a PTBNL. [12/13]

Signed free agent C Brian Johnson to a one-year contract, with a club option for 2001. [12/14]

Acquired CF Todd Dunwoody from the Marlins for 3B/1B Sean McNally. [12/15]

Re-signing Rey Sanchez pretty much describes what the Royals represent: a timid rebuilding effort, with no attempt to trade for the shortstop prospect they so desperately need. Jerry Spradlin may get two dozen saves, or he may run into more problems because of his outspoken religiosity. As hard up as the Royals have been for quality relief, I'm guessing they'll be more patient with him than the Phillies, Indians, or Giants have been in the last twelve months.

The worst case scenario for the Royals for the time being is that picking up Dunwoody is a preparatory step to dealing Johnny Damon, because they really could have used Sean McNally. It isn't like Joe Randa is going to have another career year. The good news is that Brian Johnson and Sal Fasano make a nice pair of catchers.


Acquired RHPs Terry Adams and Chad Ricketts and a PTBNL from the Cubs for RHP Ismael Valdes and 2B Eric Young. [12/12]

Acquired RHP Dan Naulty from the Yankees for 1B Nick Leach. [12/14]

Signed RHP Mike Fetters to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [12/15]

Having spent plenty of Fox Reichsmarks already, it seems amazing that Kevin Malone would so readily dump salary while getting so little in return. This isn't a case of the rich getting richer, it's more like auto-garnishing the club's revenue stream because they've noticed they're dumb with money.

Maybe Adams and Ricketts both end up being handy major league relievers; the chances of it are pretty good. But the chances are also good that Dan Naulty's going to be a good reliever in Chavez Ravine. Pitching in LA is easy, and considering how much money they've sunk into Jeff Shaw and Alan Mills, it seems strange that they're blowing talent to pick up more relief pitching when this team needs a centerfielder, a second baseman, a catcher, and possibly a third baseman.

But nobody weeps Dodger blue, and nobody should. Fox management needs a visit from the ghost of Christmas Past, as represented by CBS when it ran the Yankees into the ground during the mid-60s an early 70s. Corporate ownership might be a trend, but its track record in baseball is worse than you imagine.


Signed free agent RHPs Mike Busby, Mike Iglesias, Greg Mix, Mike Rossiter, Travis Smith and Eric Ludwick, LHPs Greg McCarthy, David West and Joe Crawford, and C Kade Johnson to minor-league contracts. [12/7]

Acquired RHP Jamey Wright and C Henry Blanco from the Rockies, and RHP Jimmy Haynes from the Athletics in exchange for 3B Jeff Cirillo, LHP Scott Karl and cash in the four-team trade; signed OF James Mouton to a minor-league contract. [12/13]

Dean Taylor and Dave Wilder wanted to shake things up, and they have. Both Jamey Wright and Jimmy Haynes are excellent "risks," Wright because he's young and coming down from Planet Coors, and Haynes because he managed to throw quality starts in more than half of his starts despite a superficially grisly season. It's too bad it comes on the heels of blowing almost a cool million on Jason Bere or with Cal Eldred under contract for one last season, but this is definitely an improvement over dragging in Bill Pulsipher or signing Jim Abbott. If you can't afford to buy successful pitching, you may as well go out and make it yourself.

The misfortune for the Brewers is that they're so convinced that the Nilsson catching experiment was such a terrible mistake that they fixated on finding a strong-armed catcher. Blanco can throw, but he's 28 and he won't hit a lick. The organization should have kept the memory of Mike Matheny's incompetence in mind before going off the deep end for a defensive specialist. They still need a catcher.

Among the minor league signings, Ludwick and Mouton should both have very good shots to make the team, Mouton as a pinch-runner and pinch-hitter, and Ludwick as the staff's 11th man. Don't laugh, it's a role that just made Dave Weathers a wealthy man.


Acquired RHP Scott Randall from the Rockies for CF Chris Latham; signed RHP Hector Carrasco and DH Midre Cummings to one-year contracts. [12/7]

Agreed to terms with RHP Sean Bergman on a one-year contract, with a club option for 2001. [12/8]

Bergman is pretty likely to win a spot in the rotation after being claimed off of waivers from the Braves during the postseason. Behind Eric Milton, Brad Radke, and Joe Mays, that leaves LaTroy Hawkins' spot up for grabs, with Hawkins having to fight off Mark Redman, Randall, and Jason Ryan to start off with.


Released 3B Jose Fernandez. [12/13]

Although the Expos haven't succeeded in their desperate pursuit of third basemen this winter, do not interpret Fernandez' release as proof that they're going to leave Michael Barrett at third.


Acquired LHP Jesse Orosco from the Orioles for LHP Chuck McElroy. [12/10]

Signed free agent 1B/3B Todd Zeile to a three-year contract. [12/11]

Signed free agent 1B Ryan McGuire; re-signed RHP Johann Lopez and OF Juan Moreno. [12/13]

Signing Zeile for only a little less than what John Olerud signed for with the Mariners seems like a criminal waste. We're talking about a 34 year old past his peak and top dollar being paid for him out of some misguided desperate need to spend close to what had been budgeted for Olerud. It isn't like the Mets' rotation is stocked, and Zeile won't be noticeably better than Jorge Toca, let alone Roberto Petagine. Panicky moves like this aren't going to trouble the Braves.

There's no good reason for swapping Orosco and McElroy. What's next, Billy Taylor for Doug Sisk?


Re-signed free agent LHP Allen Watson to a two-year contract. [12/7]

Traded OF Chad Curtis to the Rangers for Ps Sam Marsonek and Brandon Knight. [12/13]

Traded RHP Dan Naulty to the Dodgers for 1B Nick Leach. [12/14]

Pity the Yankees, the poor bastards have to keep making room on the 40-man roster because the organization is packed to bursting with prospects. What do you tell a kid like Nick Leach after picking him up? "Welcome to an organization proud to call Nick Johnson one of its own. Have you given thought to retiring to lovely Norwich?"


Acquired RHP Justin Miller and cash from the Rockies for RHP Jimmy Haynes in the four-team trade. [12/13]

Billy Beane lets his disgust get the better of him. While the A's desperately wanted to get rid of Haynes for his perceived bad attitude, this was little better than giving him away. A rotation counting on a rebuilt Appier, Gil Heredia, and Tim Hudson is not so deep that the organization can just throw away someone with Haynes' talent.


Re-signed RHP Jeff Brantley to a one-year contract; designated INF David Doster for assignment. [12/7]

Acquired RHP Chris Brock from the Giants for C Bobby Estalella. [12/12]

Extended the contract of GM Ed Wade through 2002; announced that INF Dave Doster cleared waivers and was assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [12/13]

Speaking of throwing away talent, Chris Brock? Having already blown it with Chad Ogea, what's the point of trading the Giants the catcher who will be starting for them for a bad fifth starter? Some savvy shopping among the minor league free agents could have prevented this, and plenty of teams are shopping for catching of any sort, let alone someone who can hit as well as Estalella. And for this sort of largesse, Ed Wade gets a few guaranteed years?


Signed INF Jason Wood to a minor-league contract; sold the contract of RHP Greg Hansell to the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Leagues. [12/7]

Signed INF Dale Sveum to a minor-league contract. [12/10]

Acquired OF Bruce Aven from the Marlins in exchange for OF/1B Brant Brown; traded RHP Brad Clontz to the Diamondbacks for a PTBNL. [12/13]

Signed DH Wil Cordero to a three-year contract. [12/14]

Acquired P Roberto Manzueta from the Diamondbacks to complete the Clontz trade. [12/15]

Speaking of throwing away talent--sheesh. Who but Cam Bonifay can turn Jon Lieber into Brant Brown into Bruce Aven, someone he could have picked up on waivers about the time he was trading for Brant Brown? Everyone loves to say Bonifay is a nice guy and all, but this crosses over from nice to downright easy, sleazy, and looking to please. Who signs both Jason Wood and Dale Sveum, two punchless utility men? Who brings in a light-hitting DH like Cordero for three guaranteed years, while having the gall to talk about small market constraints? On top of the money thrown at Pat Meares, or turning Jon Lieber into waiver bait, it doesn't look like Kevin McClatchy is ever going to get his money's worth out of Bonifay.

Don't take this as a criticism of Aven: he can hit, and he's a better player than Brant Brown will ever turn into. But when a GM doesn't know the difference between talent you keep and talent you can replace with minimum salary waiver claims like Aven, then you've got a guy who doesn't know talent or how to spend the money he's given.


Signed free agent 1B-OF Larry Sutton to a one-year contract. [12/8]

Acquired CF Dante Powell from the Diamondbacks for SS Luis Ordaz. [12/15]

Hey, these guys are all better than Willie McGee or John Mabry! Who knew there were so many of them?

Powell should make a decent caddy for J.D. Drew, but the danger is that he'll instead platoon with Thomas Howard while LaRussa spitefully ships Drew off to Memphis.


Acquired C Bobby Estalella from the Phillies for RHP Chris Brock. [12/12]

Traded RHP Jerry Spradlin to the Royals for a PTBNL. [12/13]

Having cut loose Scott Servais and Brent Mayne, the Giants needed somebody to catch, and managed to steal Estalella on the cheap. Instead of a true platoon, they can let Estalella and Doug Mirabelli share the job, which will give them better production at a bargain price over the people paying oodles of cash to Joe Girardi or Mayne. Hell, they cost less combined than Brian Johnson is going to cost the Royals, and each are better than he is.


Signed free agent 1B John Olerud to a multi-year contract. [12/7]

Olerud's portraying this as a "I took less money to come home" story, which considering the different tax rates between New York and Washington state is a white lie. The Mariners didn't get any extra benefits or a discount, they simply got a great player.

If the Mariners sit still right now, and hold onto both Griffey and A-Rod, they could be good enough to contend, and subsequently hope to entice one or both of them back into the fold for 2001 and beyond. Whether or not Mt. Piniella blows his top or slags his rotation or mismanages his bullpen (again) are still the major stumbling blocks.


Acquired 3B Vinny Castilla from the Rockies for RHP Rolando Arrojo and INF Aaron Ledesma; signed LF Greg Vaughn to a multi-year contract. [12/13]

Buying over-30 offensive talent at top dollar is generally a bad idea, especially when you aren't going to win anything more than a shot at third place in the AL East. The Devil Rays are playing this up as proof that they want to be taken seriously, and that if the fans don't return, then maybe the area doesn't deserve baseball.

The problem is that fans from the Tampa-Saint Pete area aren't any different from fans anywhere else. They aren't going to turn up to watch a bad team, and with a crummy rotation and a lineup saddled with stiffs like Miguel Cairo or Kevin Stocker or Randy Winn, they aren't going to be a good team. Building a softball lineup featuring Jose Canseco and Fred McGriff and Vaughn and a deflated Coors-less Castilla is sort of like those lame early 80s Mariners teams that brought in Richie Zisk and Tom Paciorek and Bruce Bochte, and talked about how much the fans would simply have to show up to watch these guys score runs.

Until Vince Naimoli's golden domer braintrust figures out that fans support winning teams and attempts to build winning teams, and not runs or homeruns or the pathetic drives of worn-out old men adding milestones to cap used-up careers or promotional gimmicks, then the question is not whether or not Tampa-St. Pete deserves the Devil Rays, but whether or not Tampa-St. Pete deserves something more major league-flavored.


Signed INF Luis Alicea to a one-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration; re-signed LHP Mike Munoz to a one-year contract, with a club option for 2001. [12/7]

Signed RHP Koichi Taniguchi to a minor-league contract. [12/11]

Acquired OF Chad Curtis from the Yankees for Ps Sam Marconek and Brandon Knight. [12/13]

Doug Melvin continues to produce nice little incremental moves to help the Rangers shift over from the team that couldn't to--well, a cheaper team that won't, but could still win the AL West. Alicea can look forward to sharing playing time with Frank Catalanotto at second, unless Catalanotto's playing a lot of third (very possible).

The outfield now has a nice foursome of Rusty Greer, Gabe Kapler, Ruben Mateo, and Curtis. All of them can play the field and hit a little, and both Kapler and Mateo could have breakout seasons.


Signed 3B Willis Otanez and OF Jacob Brumfield to one-year contracts. [12/7]

Re-signed 1B Carlos Delgado to a three-year contract. [12/10]

Delgado's decision to stay is sort of sad when you think about it. Would you take extra money to ride the roller coaster when you know they forgot to finish building it about halfway through? The Blue Jays wasted the last two years and their opportunities to contend. Now they're throwing talent away hand over fist and will have a hard time staving off the Orioles and D-Rays. Who would want to stick around to watch? Okay, the same people who watch NASCAR for the crashes.

The sad thing about all of this is that they already went down this road with Cito Gaston once before, and now Gord Ash is giving it up for Jim Fregosi without even accomplishing anything first. The question isn't whether or not the Jays won't contend, but whether they'll win more games than the Expos.

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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