August 10, 2005
Signed 1B-B Tony Clark to a two-year contract extension. [8/5]
Clark's deal includes a no-trade clause that's good through 2006, which seems sensible enough for the Snakes to have offered, since that's about the period through which they'll really need to determine whether or not Conor Jackson is the regular first baseman of the present as well as the future. Clark seems happy to have the situation settled, and also seems to be sensible enough to have recognized that there aren't a lot of places where he was going to slug better than .660.
The decision to option Gosling has less to do with how he's pitched than it does with the Snakes' unshakeable conviction that somehow, Russ Ortiz is going to be ready to return to the rotation this weekend. Gosling wasn't a disaster as a temp, more of a perceived disaster in waiting while giving up almost two baserunners per inning, but to be fair, he had given the D-Backs four adequate outings out of five from a runs allowed perspective, and I wouldn't be so sure that Ortiz will be any more reliable than that after his getting shellacked in what was supposed to be his final tune-up in Tucson this week.
What might seem less explicable is Arizona's decision to carry three catchers now that Stinnett's healthy. But Koyie Hill hit in Stinnett's absence, the Snakes can't really afford to let their one actual veteran catcher go when they see themselves in a pennant race (no matter how pathetic it may be), and apparently Chris Snyder's more loveable than Ray Romano, no matter how badly he hits. Optioning Hill or Snyder would make sense, but let's face it, when the bench is weak enough to need a Quinton McCracken, you've got a weak bench. Guys in Tucson you might want to bring up, like Andy Green (hitting .344/.424/.599) aren't on the 40-man roster, and usual suspects like Alan Zinter or Scott Hairston are out for the season. There's a point at which some of the prospects at the back end of the 40-man might get designated for assignment, should Arizona close the gap with the Padres. Putting Hairston on the 60-day DL might work, but Marland Williams has seen his prospect status take a dive by hitting .230/.290/.344 in Double-A this year, and there isn't a whole lot of space on the 40-man after that.
Placed RHP Sidney Ponson on the 15-day DL (strained calf), retroactive to 8/8; placed OF-L B.J. Surhoff on the 15-day DL (strained groin), retroactive to 8/8; optioned RHP Chris Ray to Bowie (Double-A); recalled RHP Aaron Rakers from Ottawa; recalled LHP Eric DuBose from Bowie (Double-A); purchased the contract of 1B-R Alejandro Freire from Ottawa. [8/9]
Although you might take this sort of mass swap as some sort of punctuation in the Orioles' fall from grace, let's not get too overwrought on the subject. As a rotation regular, Ponson has single-handedly put a big dent in the team's place in the standings as well as hitting it hard in the pocket book. In terms of VORP, he's among the worst five IP-qualifying pitchers in baseball, in a group that includes Jamey Wright, Mark Hendrickson, Eric Milton, and Jose Lima. As long as he's going to continue to be a problem of this magnitude, it's just as well that he's not pitching. DuBose titillated the Orioles with another nice bit of pitching in the minors since his demotion, striking out 114 and walking 29 in 122.0 IP. Still, that was in Double-A, and DuBose is 29. Since he is still on the 40-man, I guess there's virtue in seeing if he can do any worse than Ponson to determine if he's worth keeping. Since two-fifths of the rotation is made up of successful retreads (Bruce Chen and Rodrigo Lopez), it makes sense for the Orioles not to give up, especially when DuBose is a relatively modest investment, and while so much of their money's tied up in Ponson. There's a chance he'll start, but John Maine is also being mentioned as a plug for the rotation's Ponson-sized hole.
A name like Alejandro Freire just rolls off the tongue in a fun, fun way, like Barbaro Garbey... say it slowly, and enjoy the R's, free of charge. Like Garbey, Freire's position is most basically "hitter," having always shown a good power stroke in his minor league career (.466 career SLG through '03). Originally signed by the Astros after he'd turned 16, the Venezuelan wound up in the Tigers chain at a time when that was a bad career move, and basically had to spend four years (1998-2001) with their Double-A affiliates. In Ottawa this year, he's been a thumper, hitting .299/.376/.512 for the Lynx. Considering that he's 30, there's no reason to feel he's going to be anything more than an interesting reserve and prospective platoon partner for guys like Rafael Palmeiro or Jay Gibbons, but as we all know, it's hard to find roster space for the short halves of platoons while managers are fixated on carrying twelfth pitchers and running their bullpens with overly quick hooks. That Freire also really only plays first doesn't help, so his chances of even having a career as good as Garbey's seems limited at best. Still, with Olmedo Saenz demonstrating the value of a right-handed bat who can make contact with power at any age, maybe Freire will be taken more seriously than as just a temp covering for a substance-suspension.
I'm pretty enthusiastic about seeing Rakers finally get an opportunity. He was excellent in Ottawa last year (80 Ks and 25 BBs in 78.2 IP), and simply followed that up with another outstanding season (80 Ks and 20 BBs in 65.1 IP). He's less scoutily overpowering in terms of velocity than he is simply dominating with a great forkball, and as long as the Orioles are willing to give him an extended trial, they shouldn't be disappointed. As for Ray's fall from light, he'll be back, and I'd put this on Lee Mazzilli more than anyone. Ray was having a nifty introduction to the majors before he was asked to pitch in five games over six days, after which he's flailed a bit. Put back into a situation where he's handled appropriately, he should join Rakers in next year's pen. Assuming they can wean themselves of their fascination with the Jason Grimsleys of the world, of course.
Signed LHP Matt Perisho to a minor league contract, and assigned him to Pawtucket. [8/6]
Acquired LHP Mike Remlinger and cash from the Cubs for RHP Olivo Astacio; placed RHP Wade Miller on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder); traded OF-B Jose Cruz Jr. to the Dodgers for a PTBNL; signed RHP Ricky Bottalico to a minor league contract, and assigned him to Pawtucket. [8/9]
The Red Sox have three immediate problems, none of which involved finding a way that Cruz was useful. First, there's the perpetual problem of how healthy Bill Mueller may be for any length of time, between problems with his knee and his back and just being 34. With Mark Bellhorn still on the DL, the on-roster alternative is playing Alex Cora, and from an offensive standpoint, that's a bit on the sub side of sub-optimal. So the Greek God of Walks gets to come back, for however long that lasts this time around. In his wisdom, Terry Francona elected not to use Youkilis, preferring Cora's "hot" bat--if you missed it, he's hit some singles in the past week. So Cruz was casually discarded to no obvious point to cover for a temporary need that wasn't needed, and considering that Cruz cost two semi-interesting farmhands to get, some people are speculating that there might have been more involved. Regardless of whether there's any fire, let alone much smoke, I'm not a big believer in Cruz at this point anyways, so as long as the Sox get something useful for the system as the PTBNL, no serious harm done. None of this is as important as getting Trot Nixon back, and that's beginning to look like it will happen sooner instead of later.
The larger problems involve the pitching staff now that Miller has broken down. Maybe this would be the time to push Curt Schilling back into the rotation, but can he handle the workload? It's a pity this happened right after the Sox started trying out Jon Papelbon as a reliever in Pawtucket, but it hasn't been that long, and they could always plug him back in, while leaving Schilling still on the "once Keith Foulke returns" timetable. Even without Foulke back, I'd suggest that they have the arms to resolve the problem. They could always turn back to Jeremi Gonzalez in a pinch, but that never seems to work out well, and time is short. If Papelbon get brought into the rotation, that might delay that particular option.
Part of pulling Schilling out of the rotation is what gets stuck into the pen after his departure, particularly in a Foulke-less pen. Mike Timlin's fine, and I guess the situational twins of Chad Bradford and Mike Myers give you further space in your late inning endgame. It's too soon to say whether they'll give Manny Delcarmen the experience he needs to subsequently lean on him down the stretch, something that doesn't bode well if they subsequently claim that they'll use Papelbon in the pen this year. As a bit of Myers insurance, I do like picking up Perisho at this point.
But I'm a lot less enthusiastic about getting Remlinger. He isn't insurance, he's supposed to be part of the immediate patch job at the major league level right now, and he hasn't been especially effective, consistently healthy, or even reliable since leaving the Braves three years ago. It's easy to blame all of it on the cascading effect of Dusty Baker's overmanagement of his bullpens, but Remlinger's 39 and not a situational lefty given his reliance on a splitter. Situational bass-ackwards lefties who aren't durable might come in handy once in a while in a Strat league, but in real life, asking a big league manager to recognize his strengths and try to hide his weaknesses just isn't going to happen. This will not work out well, and similar to the decision to borrow Cruz for a couple of weeks, should leave people wondering whether the front office is spending its time entirely profitably when it comes to its shopping trips. One of the most fundamental lessons any shopper learns is not to buy just to buy. Deciding to add some bit of roster clutter to show that you did do something can be wasteful (in Cruz's case), or downright dangerous in Remlinger's.
Activated SS-R Nomar Garciaparra and RHP Scott Williamson from the 60-day DL; activated RHP Kerry Wood from the 15-day DL; placed 2B/CF-B Jerry Hairston Jr. on the 15-day DL (elbow); optioned RHP Sergio Mitre to Iowa; designated LHP Mike Remlinger for assignment. [8/5]
So here it is, the last best hope for the Cubs' drive on the wild card. By themselves, the names are impressive, involving all sorts of famous people. Nomar, Woody, even Williamson and Patterson have thrilled folks in the not so distant past. But Wood is being put into the pen in the hope that he can help in that role, and with some admitting that he'll just be shut down if Labor Day rolls around and the Cubs have fallen out of it. Williamson is only ten months removed from his Tommy John surgery. Indeed, Williamson's being pressed into action is reminiscent of last year's rush to get Ryan Dempster onto the active roster, which didn't really work all that well down the stretch. Williamson's gotten all of seven innings under his belt at Iowa before getting activated, and this just seems to be more of a case of wishcasting him into a solution for the club's mostly self-inflicted bullpen problems.
But if the Cubs are serious about making a run, why is Glendon Rusch back in the pen? Because Remlinger is done? Please. The rotation, and the bid at contention, is handicapped by its current reliance on both Rich Hill and Jerome Williams, and while I'd be happy to leave Williams in the fifth slot, better to use Rusch to best advantage as a starter, while satisfying Dusty Baker's situational worries by giving him Cliff Bartosh if you must, while making it clear that your real expectation is that he'll give Wood and Williamson and Michael Wuertz complete innings in which to pitch, and reminding him that he does already have Will Ohman.
As for the lineup, although it's not good news to have lost Hairston, his departure does come after the happy acquisition of Matt Lawton, so it isn't like the Cubs are without a leadoff man in the meantime. The real hope is that Garciaparra's finally going to be himself, healthy enough to play short as well as he did for the Cubs last year (or better), healthy enough to give the lineup a third right-handed slugger to score Lawton early and often, and healthy enough to keep Neifi frickin' Perez on the bench. Patterson's hitting funk stayed with him in Iowa, although he showed some sign of life this past week. That isn't why he's up; his recall is a function of defensive necessity in particular, and simple hope that Patterson will snap out of it and give the club a center fielder it doesn't have now that Hairston's seriously injured again. But sort of like the decisions to put Wood and Williamson in the pen, I think it's a matter of the Cubs simply hoping that the talent generates results, without as much hope as the names themselves might inspire.
Claimed RHP Sun-Woo Kim off of waivers from the Nationals. [8/5]
Paul Lo Duca is out with a strained hammy, and with Delgado out as well, it's worth wondering if this isn't what's going to kill off the Marlins' ambitions. However, the Braves are mockingly within reach, which can only heighten the frustration for the Fish from the lowliest Lorian to the Collector himself. Happily, there's always the wild-card, and if the Nationals might be fading from that race as well, there's still the Mets and Phillies and Astros to wonder about. The real dilemma isn't how to fix the lineup in the meantime, because they can't. They can hope that Jeff Conine does something, but it's crazy to hope for much more than what he's done already, and there's nothing to be expected from Jorgensen or Matt Treanor in LoDuca's place, any more than it's likely that Chris Aguila can fill Juan Encarnacion's suddenly large shoes. This is extra bad luck that comes on top of having Josh Willingham out for another couple of weeks, and with Jason Stokes missing most of the season. Either would have been handy right around now, and neither are available.
No, what the Marlins can do about a weakened offense is take their other problems seriously. If you can't score runs as well as you were earlier, you can at least address the runs you're giving up these days a lot more pro-actively than they have. This isn't grade school, where everyone should get to take turns: Scuffy Moehler isn't earning his keep, and Ismael Valdez isn't earning himself a chance. Relying on both while giving an occasional nod to young lefty Jason Vargas isn't going to make your rotation better, it simply reflects an inability to make a choice when you need to sort this out, and perhaps also address whether any of them can help shore up a bullpen short one Mecir no sooner than they had supposedly patched it with Ron Villone.
Purchased the contract of UT-B Denny Hocking and recalled RHP Mike Wood from Omaha; recalled RHP Jonah Bayliss from Wichita (Double-A); optioned RHPs Kyle Snyder and Leo Nunez and 2B-B Ruben Gotay to Omaha. [8/5]
Primal scream therapy's all well and good, but what happens when everyone's gone hoarse? Some of this resembles progress, and some of it doesn't, although I do think the good outweighs the bad. As much as Hocking's a utility spud you hope to use minimally at most, Gotay has lost the job at second to Donald Murphy for the moment, so the most fair thing to do under the circumstances is give both their chances to play everyday, Murphy in the majors, and Gotay in Omaha, trying to remind people that he's a prospect on some level. As for swapping out Castillo and Phillips, that's just progress. Castillo's almost the definition of the useless backup catcher: he cannot hit and never has, and as catch-and-throws go, he's infamously bad at plate-blocking, which leaves you with hoping he has good game-calling skills, and since no one on the Royals is throwing well, even that needs to be called into question. Phillips isn't particularly special, but as a former prospect, he might at least challenge John Buck for playing time after having hit .267/.316/.399 in Omaha. Look at those numbers again, and that tells you how little progress Buck has made in his second year with the Royals.
On the pitching side of the ledger, I'm also cautiously optimistic. Dropping Wood back into the rotation isn't sexy, but it does give them another quick worker who throws strikes, and better that than any exercises in finding more people who can pitch as badly as Jose Lima. It makes for a rotation with four people who should all be useful going forward, and the circus act doing his thing in the last slot. I wouldn't give up on Leo Nunez, but despite showing good heat, he has not pitched all that well in the Royals' pen, and it needs to be remembered that he was in A-ball last year. So was Bayliss, for that matter, which sort of says something about the Royals' predicament, but at least everyone involved has a good arm. I'm not a huge fan of the 'throw'em at the wall and see what sticks' approach, but you can't really blame them for trying.
Acquired OF-B Jose Cruz Jr. from the Red Sox for a PTBNL. [8/9]
This makes a wee bit more sense for the Dodgers than getting Cruz did for the Sox, but only because the Dodgers are completely desperate, while the Sox aren't, not in the way that the Dodgers can answer affirmatively that they're better off with Cruz than Chin-Feng Chen or Jason Repko. With one outfield slot manned by Milton Bradley, and the other two by Repko, Ricky Ledee, Jose Valentin, and Mike Edwards, every spare part helps. Between Cruz and the likely return of Jayson Werth in the next week, it seems likely that the Dodgers might at least get back up to Bradley plus a pair of adequate platoons. In itself, it won't be enough to help them gain ground, but at least it might not cost them more space in the standings.
Gave LHP Alex Graman his outright release. [8/5]
What is that about a New York minute? Hell, at this point, who's cut more to the quick by the Yankees' decision that they needed a utility infielder who could play in the infield: Phillips, whose limited mobility appears to have condemned him to first base, or Tony Womack, who used to be a shortstop and second baseman, what the Yankees wish they had on their bench. As utility infielders go, Escalona can hit with enough sock and patience to be above the Enrique Wilson Threshold of Fan Fear, while also plausibly wearing a glove at second or short. Whatever combination of roster events might make Phillips valuable or keep Womack employable as anything more than the Damian Jackson priced with a New York mark-up, they haven't happened, and the Yankees are instead making use of the spot they'd hoped that Rey Sanchez might have filled in the way he would have filled it.
Optioned RHP Kaz Ishii to Norfolk; recalled RHP Jae Seo from Norfolk. [8/5]
Ishii's been shipped out to work on his mechanics, and while I'm sure that has everything to do with trying to get him to do it in games that don't count in the NL East, isn't this another one of those things that Rick Peterson was supposed to be able to address? Although to be fair to Peterson, this isn't a case of bad judgment where he might deserve some criticism, a la Victor Zambrano, let's face it, Ishii was broken before he got here. The fact that they've finally gone back to Seo, however overdue, is a good thing, as much as getting excited about plugging in an adequate fifth starter can be a source of joy. Seo's strikeout rate has been improving down at Norfolk, going from last year's weak 4.1 K's per nine as a Met to this year's 8.2 as a Tideling. It won't matter to Seo for that long, in that he's almost certainly going to be swapped out of the rotation for a mending Steve Trachsel, but a few more good outings will be enough to make him a nice bartering chip for Omar Minaya this winter.
I guess the chaotic way in which memory works, or at least the way in which my memory works, is that the fragments of memory that clamor for attention when I see a name like Eude's come across the wires include the Black Sea, or the Euxinus Pontus, as it was once known, and Frank Eufemia who was not known as a blackguard or a black anything beyond his being a Twins farmhand who briefly appeared in the majors in 1985, just long enough to scar prospect maven and Twins fan John Sickels somehow. Regardless, neither have anything to do with Brito, since he's a lefty with mid-90s heat and the talent to stick. It might be cynical to note that trusting your farmhands must be the last refuge for scoundrels, but in this case, I think it's simply a matter of getting a kid who can throw hard in middle relief onto the big league ballclub. Brito was on the 40-man, and although his 13 homeruns allowed or 4.85 ERA in 98.1 IP are nothing to get excited about, a 76-39 strikeout-to-walk ratio is to some extent, as is his ability to start or relieve. Considering that Kata wasn't seeing much use as the last hitter on the bench, I guess this makes life easier should the Phillies need to get a starting pitcher out early, without subsequently having to overtax the more regular usage patterns for the bullpen's more famous inhabitants.
Released C-R Pat Borders. [8/8]
So now, here it is, the opportunity that Mariners fans have been waiting for over the last three years, the answer to the question about what they've actually got in Snelling. Despite his having been touted five years ago, the Aussie import is still only 23, so it's hard to say what we might expect from him. If you go simply on his track record as a hitter, you've got corner outfielder without a lot of power, since he's generally putting up Isolated Power rates of around .160-.170, not shabby, but less than you might expect from a hitter with a minor league career SLG of .498. What generates that nice number is an average of .328. That's not a bad thing to have, but keep in mind, that's basically his skill set: contact with modest power. Is that what you want in a corner outfielder? He can't run much after repeated injuries to his knee, so he won't be a center fielder. If he can keep hitting better than .300, he'll add enough pop to be an improvement on Randy Winn, certainly, but whether the Mariners as a team can afford a lineup where none of their outfielders can really get the ball out of the yard doesn't sound like the kind of significant improvement the M's need to make on a lineup that's neck and neck with the Royals and Rockies for baseball's worst. But to be fair to Snelling, he might still be more than that. He's lost so much development time to injuries in the last four years that he might yet develop well enough to be... well, maybe the new Mike Greenwell. That's not a bad ballplayer, but it's a lot less than the overly optimistic expectations generated by a nice year hitting in the hitter's paradise that is the Cal League back in 2001.
As nice as it is to see Snelling finally getting an opportunity, it remains nevertheless frustrating that Strong isn't being kept around as a fourth outfielder. He's done his bit at Tacoma to prove that he's ready (.288/.367/.392), and he'd make a dandy fourth outfielder as the right-handed guy behind the three lefty-hitting starters. But the problem is that Bill Bavasi's still working up the nerve to get rid of Scott Spiezio and/or Dave Hansen. I mean, look how quickly Bret Boone got snapped up. It could be such a major setback should the organization release another punchless old infielder. Admittedly, his 'performance-enhancing illicit substance' suspension probably doesn't help, but Strong's been almost as fragile as Snelling, and whatever he used never helped him hit for power at any level. Strong's already 27, he has a reputation as a primo defensive outfielder, so between his limited ceiling and his readiness right now, he really should be up.
So where do you assign Pat Borders once you've designated him? Tacoma? Out of thine sight? Perhaps take a page from Zeus, and put him in Tartarus? Assuming that Kronos can pitch, I suppose he might like the variety of having someone besides Rhea to play catch with. (Yes, I'm indulging in Dan Simmons' latest. We all have a sweet tooth for something, and not everything can be Carl Schorske, right?) At rate, the proper answer is not to think in terms of vengeance, and shipping him COD to Pat Gillick. It really is more adult to just let go.
Activated OF-L Alex Sanchez from the 15-day DL, and designated him for assignment. [8/9]
Yes, so Kirk Rueter suffers from the royal disease, a thing he now has in common with Henry VIII, Louis XVIII, and the somewhat less regal Jumbo Wells. It's not fun, since it involves uric acids building up as crystals in joints (the toe's a usual spot), causing swelling and "exquisite pain." Since the Giants weren't about to invest in a palanquin, they instead decided to leave an immobilized Rueter behind before heading out on the road, abandoning the final slot in the rotation to Cooper, a journeyman aspiring to do well enough this time around to not be rewarded with wage-slavery in Korea, the way he was in last season's brief call-up. He was having a nice enough year at Fresno by his own lights (123 hits allowed in 120.2 IP, a 4.40 ERA), but 19 homeruns allowed and only five strikeouts per nine bode for more bad days at the office than good. Meanwhile, Rueter can see if he gets any of the other benefits of enduring a disease of kings. Does anyone in San Francisco have scrofula?
As for Sanchez, there never was a reasonable explanation for why he was acquired in the first place. At this point, his dilemma is increasingly going to be one of finding a team willing to employ him that isn't in the Mexican League. At least, I hope so, for your team's sake.
Officially, Reyes is up to give the five starters in the rotation an extra day of rest, but I guess I look at the Cardinals' rotation, and I'd begin to worry. Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis have not really been all that effective, and I guess I'm inclined to fret over Mark Mulder's flagging strikeout rate. Is this a rotation you should be afraid of in a short series, or one that grinds out a good year for you over 162 games? I'm inclined to believe that it's more the latter, although having Chris Carpenter healthy for the postseason should make a major difference this year.
But to bring it back to Reyes, with neither Suppan nor Marquis looking like world-beaters of late, I guess I'd start wondering about who you might want to start that fourth game in a postseason series. Reyes has been dominant down in Memphis, striking out 106 in 104.2 IP while walking only 28 and posting a 3.35 ERA. With excellent velocity and a slider with bite, he might make some people remember John Tudor in a place where that carries mostly good memories. Ordinarily, I might argue that Tony LaRussa would never take a kid seriously, but Reyes is that good, and LaRussa has made space for rookie Brad Thompson in this year's pen. Add in that Reyes was outstanding in last night's spot start against the Brewers, and it gets you to thinking... okay, so I still don't think LaRussa will do it, but it is an option.
It's been a season's worth of setbacks for Brazelton, but I guess I keep coming back to wondering why he's in the pen. He's done reasonably well in the long relief and mop-up situations he's been given, and although he hasn't pitched in a D-Rays win since late June, did he really earn this? It's easy to say 'yes' because of the 27 walks and 20 runs he's allowed in 24 IP since July 1. But has it really been that bad? Take a look at what he's done in that time, game-by-game:
7/1: he comes into the bottom of the 7th against the Twins, one out, runners on first and third, holding a 4-3 Rays lead; he gets a double-play, then blows it in the bottom of the 8th, giving up four runs on five walks. 7/4: he starts off the sixth with the Rays trailing the Sox 10-7, pitches three shutout innings, but Tampa never gets closer than 10-8. 7/8: starts off the fourth with the Rays down 5-0 to the Tigers, throws three shutout innings, gives up a pair on a two-run shot by Craig Monroe, and pitches a fifth scoreless inning, leaving the game down 7-1. That's two runs in five innings. 7/15: his first game since the All-Star Break, he enters the third down 7-3, and makes it 10-3 before he leaves at the end of the fourth. 7/20: enters the game with nobody out in the first after Mark Hendrickson spots the Red Sox four runs, sees the two remaining baserunners score on a passed ball and an infield groundout, and in what's effectively an emergency start, he pitches into the sixth, giving up three runs of his own, and leaving down 9-1. 7/26: Hendrickson's turn again, and Boston again, so Brazelton enters a tied game, 5-5, to lead off the fourth. He holds Boston scoreless into the seventh with a 6-5 lead, but he walks two, and Trever Miller gives up the tying run coming in for relief. 8/4: comes in to pitch the 8th down 7-5 on the road; he gives up six runs in his first appearance in over a week to cinch the loss. 8/7: enters the game in the bottom of the third with the Rays already down 6-0, tosses 3.1 IP and allows a run, and leaves with Tampa down 7-2.
Now, that's a litany of pitching in lousy games for a lousy team relatively lousily, but in all of that, you've got five good outings in long relief and three really bad games. That looks more like a guy who might at least be useful in straight long relief situations, but more possibly might still be the guy who was useful in last year's rotation. Is he simply in a very frustrating situation, with a bitter graybeard running the club, while Mark Hendrickson has given you two quality starts in eight over that same stretch, and while Hideo Nomo got several pardons before finally earning his release. Who's the problem? Brazelton? Maybe, but it's someone like Brazelton who should be pitching for the Rays, as a starter, so that they can decide if that just isn't going to work or not, instead of this passive-aggressive nonsense where he's put into awful situations and blamed for not wearing a cape.
Placed LHP Ron Mahay on waivers. [8/8]
The best thing you can hope for if you're Hidalgo is that the wrist helps to explain his awful '05 season. Any year your right fielder hits .221/.289/.416 is a disaster, and after a season and a half away from Houston's short left field porch, it's worth wondering if he should ever be taken seriously as a starter again. Among all right fielders with 250 or more plate appearances, Hidalgo ranks last among the 30 in VORP. When the Rangers say they're looking forward to getting him back from the DL, they're doing little more than reading off the form letter, the same way that they're just grateful to Mom, some deity to be named later, and the US of A that they even managed to get out of bed this morning.
But how to plug this "hole?" Not that he's getting to show it in the bigs, but McDougall's having a nifty season, hitting .341/.416/.578 for Oklahoma. He might make a nifty platoon mate for David Dellucci, although some might wonder whether the time is just about nigh to call back up Jason Botts to man an outfield corner after he's hit .296/.387/.560 in Triple-A, especially with Dellucci limping along. However, they aren't even using McDougall, so I suppose it doesn't really matter. The at-bats at DH are being invested in Phil Nevin regardless, so there's not much thought being given to playing Botts or McDougall or bringing back Adrian Gonzalez (.323/.384/.505 at Oklahoma) at the moment.
In a season where we've seen so many teams turn to their farm systems to help man their bids at convention, I guess we can leave it to John Hart to remain a man apart and do things differently. In that context, the decision to launch the Aaron Sele comeback tour to help patch the rotation makes sense, because it isn't like C.J. Wilson or Rodriguez have been all that helpful. With the suspension of Kenny Rogers ending a week ahead of schedule, it looks like the Rangers might be able to get back up to four vets in their rotation to go with Chris Young down the stretch, although whether the fourth is Sele or John Wasdin depends on how Sele pitches in a couple of Okie gigs. Considering that it's the Rangers, if he gets more outs than runs allowed, I expect he'll be up soon.
Activated 1B/OF-R Tony Blanco from the 15-day DL; activated 2B-B Henry Mateo from the 15-day DL and outrighted him to Harrisburg (Double-A); signed LHP John Halama to a minor league contract, and assigned him to New Orleans. [8/5]
No, this doesn't really fix the outfield, although I guess somebody's going to notice that Watson steals bases and hit .354 in a couple of months' worth of play in the PCL. Unfortunately, Watson's the sort of prospect the Nats have a few too many of: negligible power, little patience, and a willingness to run that you have to curb when it produces 17 times caught for the 33 successes he's had this year (hey, it's improvement, he was 18-for-35 in 2003). I guess we can now see the madness behind the steely willpower that made the end of Endy Chavez. At 23, Watson might pan out, but it's more likely that he'll make people remember Jason Tyner in his better moments.
As for Halama, I guess I can understand the necessity, although why him or Ryan Drese over Sunny Kim is angels on pinheads territory. Since somebody had to come off of active roster to make room for Blanco, a Rule 5 pick, it was Kim's turn to visit and disappear on waivers, but the wire yielded up Halama, which is helpful as the Nats try to retain enough experienced depth in the organization to limp through the rest of the schedule.