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January 23, 1998
January 16-22ANAHEIM ANGELS
Signed LHP Rich Robertson to a minor league contract. [1/19]
Signed OF Gary Thurman to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/22]
Neither are bad additions. The Angels rotation is currently looking to be Chuck Finley, Ken Hill, Allen Watson, Jason Dickson, and Omar Olivares. Robertson joins William VanLandingham on the fringes as a veteran alternative should the Angels prefer to not give shots to Jarrod Washburn or Geoff Edsell when one of the starters goes down. Olivares is always fragile, and Dickson has been ridden pretty hard the last two years. As for Thurman, he has a dandy opportunity to push past Orlando Palmeiro for the last OF spot on the bench, and the fact that he bats righty when Garrett Anderson, Jim Edmonds, and Darin Erstad all bat lefty won't hurt.
Signed RHP Russ Springer to a two-year contract. [1/20]
As I've said before in this space, Springer isn't a bad guy to have around, but with the D-backs, there's a definite danger that he'll get away from the relief role that he succeeded in with the Astros, and move into the sparsely populated rotation. That should be nothing if not entertaining.
Signed PH Keith Lockhart to a one-year contract. [1/19]
Lockhart was, remarkably, arbitration-eligible at the ripe old age of 33. That he's finally around to stay thanks to the well-cultivated image of "clutch pinch hitter" he nabbed with the Padres in '94 after years of scuffling in the Reds' chain should be considered an inspiration for the Brian Raabes or David Dosters of the world.
BOSTON RED SOX
Signed LHP Curtis Shaw to a minor league contract. [1/16]
Curtis Shaw's existence is a sort of codeword between A's fans for the bad old days when A's minor league pitching discussions circled around the stiffs other than the Four Aces stiffs. In what inevitably turned out to be conversations that started with "Todd Revenig's getting jobbed," you could work your way to "can you top this" games that invariably got to the dregs, like Curtis Shaw, who could only be trumped by a reference to Dana Allison. But he's still around, and he's LH, so he can hope he has Ken Grundt's good fortune...
Signed RHP Pete Harnisch to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract. [1/21]
A duck-soup gamble, in that even if you've got it, do you want it? From a human interest angle, I think we'd all like him to come back. However, even if he's beaten his personal demons, he's homer-prone, and he's been an oft-absent mediocrity in great pitcher's parks for the last four years. Coming to a Cincy, a good power park, isn't the best place for him to pull off his comeback, but as a German boy coming to the Rhineland, at least he might be a friendly environment.
Signed INF Jolbert Cabrera to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/19]
Minor league FA refugee from the Expos' organization, and not a prospect.
Invited DH Pete Incaviglia to spring training as a non-roster player. [1/16]
Inky's praying he catches on as a part-time DH or platoon-mate for Luis Gonzalez.
Signed RHP Bob Milacki to a minor league contract. [1/21]
Signed LHP Mike Hampton to a three-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. [1/20]
Over the last three years, Hampton has faced 641, 691, and 941 batters. He may have grown into the workload at 24, but scout's biases against short pitchers seem to be the product of the experience that shorter pitchers can't handle extended heavy workloads. We'll have to see. Milacki's coming off of a bad year in Japan with Kinetsu, so I doubt he'll be able to help much at AAA.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Signed RHP Lee Smith and Lucky Charm Terry Pendleton to minor league contracts with spring training NRIs. [1/20]
Signed RHP Pat Rapp to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/22]
Right now, the Royals' rotation looks to be Kevin Appier, Tim Belcher, Jose Rosado, and who knows. The bottom two slots will go to the victors of a spring training struggle between Jim Pittsley, Glendon Rusch, a recuperating Chris Haney, and now Pat Rapp. As is, the Royals' upper levels are almost devoid of starting pitcher prospects, so the losers of this fight will anchor Omaha's rotation. Lee Smith has been pretty astute in his choices for where he can actually make a team out of spring training; like Montreal last year, I expect he'll be gone by the end of May. Signing Terry Pendleton is a cruel joke for just about everyone concerned. If Herk Robinson is trying to turn the Royals' organization into a distressed property for Tom Vu to snap up, he couldn't do much better than this.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Signed OF Mike Devereaux to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/16]
Devereaux should have been considered done a few years back, but there's a definite danger that he could make the team, and if they lose their patience with Roger Cedeno again, garner serious playing time.
Signed LHP Eddie Guardado to a two-year contract, with a club option for 2000. [1/21]
Laboring in the obscurity of Minnesota, Guardado has steadily improved into one of the game's great LH specialists, which means he's great potential trade bait for a stretch drive, a la Graeme Lloyd.
Signed PH Scott Livingstone and INF Mike Mordecai to minor-league contracts with spring training NRIs. [1/16]
Signed RHP Mike Maddux and CF Lee Tinsley to minor-league contracts with spring training NRIs. [1/19]
Livingstone and Mordecai are conceivably a platoon at third, if les 'Spos don't go with Jose Vidro. Tinsley could very well be the Expos' starting LF, since his major competition are such greats as nepo-scrub Derrick May, one of Ryan McGuire and Brad Fullmer (whichever isn't starting at first), and DaRond Stovall. Jim Beattie has said Jon Saffer will not be invited to the major league camp. Let's just say this isn't the year to be saying Felipe Alou will do more with less. Mike Maddux is still trying to recover from Kevin Kennedy's slagging, and with Montreal, he's in the right place to try to make a comeback. Of course, that would be 15 good starts, after which he'll be peddled to Milwaukee or somebody who thinks they're one pitcher away from being a wild-card team.
NEW YORK METS
Signed RHP Bobby Jones to a three-year contract. [1/22]
Jones has turned out to be a far better major league pitcher than the Young Guns, good for 30 starts and 190 innings per year. It isn't greatness, but you can't do much better for a second or third man in your rotation.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Claimed RHP Hector Ramirez off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, and designated him for assignment. [1/20]
Ramirez isn't really a prospect, but this is probably one of those nose-thumbings between moguls.
Signed LF Rickey Henderson to a one-year contract. [1/22]
His fourth return to Oakland, Rickey could get to score the 2000th run of his career in green and gold this season. Currently at 1913, that will move him to sixth on the all-time runs list, behind Ty Cobb (2245), Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron (tied at 2174), Pete Rose (2165), and Willie Mays (2061). It doesn't seem likely that he'll be a regular for the three seasons that it would take for him to get a crack at the record, given that he's 39 and many teams are skittish about playing a LF with little power and a low batting average, but Rickey hasn't put up an OBP below .400 since 1988.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Named Bob Quinn senior advisor and director of Arizona operations. [1/20]
Signed SS Rey Sanchez to a one-year contract with a club option for 1999. [1/22]
Bob Quinn is a lucky guy. He was a contemporary of Lou Gorman, so he was rarely on the top of the list when people gave thought to "worst GMs of the 80s." He put in some time with the Yankees, garnering that media halo for having been a "standup guy" working for the Great Satan. Now he's well-poised to help the organization refine and develop prospects galore in the uncharted waters of Phoenix' finer golf courses.
Rey Sanchez is exactly what this Giants' team doesn't need, since he'll keep Rich Aurilia on the bench. The nicest thing you can say about this signing is that he isn't Ozzie Guillen.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Signed OF Phil Plantier to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/20]
With Carlos Delgado hurt, Plantier has an outstanding opportunity to get some playing time in his absence (which in turn means Mike Stanley should get most of the playing time at first). A pleasant alternative could be that Kevin Witt could impress Tim Johnson and work his way into things. A bad scenario is that they move Ed Sprague to first, but even that would at least get Tom Evans on the field.