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March 24, 2000

Transaction Analysis

March 14-22, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Optioned RHP Matt Wise to Edmonton; optioned RHPs Elvin Nina and Scot Shields and C Jason Dewey to Erie (Double-A); optioned OF Elpidio Guzman to Lake Elsinore (A); assigned RHP Steve Green and C Shawn Wooten to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Released LHP Greg Cadaret. [3/16]

Released IFs Archi Cianfrocco and Carlos Garcia. [3/17]

Assigned 2B Justin Baughman to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Announced the retirement of 2B Pat Kelly; released IF Jason Bates; optioned OF Norm Hutchins to Edmonton. [3/22]

No real surprises among the Angels' cuts, as they sort through a lot of journeymen bound for nowhere. The battle at second base looks done now that Pat Kelly has retired. Scott Spiezio should get most of the playing time, with Trent Durrington coming in for pinch-running, defensive substitutions, and spot starts. (Ed. note: Thursday's acquisition of Adam Kennedy complicates this.) Interestingly, Keith Luuloa is still in camp, and he may yet be worth handing a couple hundred at-bats at either Spiezio's or Durrington's expense. Even then, second base is a position the Angels could upgrade with a waiver claim or two.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Signed 2B Craig Counsell to a minor-league contract; traded 2B Jackie Rexrode to the White Sox for RHP Brian Scott. [3/17]

Optioned RHP Geraldo Guzman to Tucson; assigned C Ken Huckaby to their minor-league camp. [3/19]

Dumping Rexrode for a run-of-the-mill minor-league pitcher is nothing short of baffling. While Andy Fox's injury can be used to explain the decision to sign Counsell as a left-handed-hitting backup to Jay Bell, Counsell may now have to be Tucson's starting second baseman as well, since Rexrode was the organization's best player at the position above A ball.

What's really disappointing is that in losing a good leadoff prospect like Rexrode, the Snakes only get back a 24-year old pitcher with considerable college experience (at San Diego State) who hasn't gotten out of A ball after three years. The best possible spin to put on this deal is that somehow Jerry Colangelo is trying to buy a Reinsdorf vote to keep the Snakes in the National League, but deals with the devil usually carry a higher price tag than this.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Announced that RHP Everett Stull refused a minor-league assignment and opted for free agency. [3/20]

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Optioned RHP Richard Negrette to Rochester; optioned RHP Juan Aracena, 2B Carlos Casimiro, 3B Ivanon Coffie and OF Luis Matos to Bowie (Double-A); optioned RHP Juan Guzman to Frederick (A); assigned Cs Joe DePastino and Jayson Werth and RHP Sean Maloney and LHP Matt Ryan to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Optioned SS Eddy Martinez to Rochester, and assigned OFs Wady Almonte and Billy Ashley to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

There's something here that reflects the organization's circumstances when the only demotion of note is Billy "Son of Kittle" Ashley, signed to back up the team's backup DH, Jeff Conine. Hey, not every team has a fallback fallback position at DH, do they?

The more important demotion to note is that of Jayson Werth, who's moving up the ladder fast and who might put Charles Johnson on the market by the end of July.

BOSTON RED SOX

Optioned RHPs Jason Sekany and Tomokazu Ohka to Pawtucket; optioned RHP Pax Crawford to Trenton (Double-A); assigned RHP Dario Perez and IF Aaron Holbert to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Optioned 1B Dernell Stenson, 2B David Eckstein and LHP Tim Young to Pawtucket. [3/19]

The Sox demote some solid talent. Like every right-handed flavor of the week, Ohka will be back as Boston's fifth starter at some point, probably even for consecutive turns in the rotation. Joe Kerrigan will teach him something he never knew about pitching inside of a week, and the Duke won't wait to see if it works, because by the time Ohka has the pitch working, someone like Scott Sanders will be available for a start or two. Then Kerrigan will teach him something, he'll look good for five innings, and the Duke will find someone else on the waiver wire....

While it is amusing, an end to this cycle will come only when the Duke decides to deal from strength. That will mean offering up someone like Stenson or Michael Coleman for a good starting pitcher, but just one of them probably wouldn't be enough to fetch Brad Radke.

CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned LHP Brian McNichol to Iowa; returned CF Corey Patterson and C Angelo Encarnacion to their minor-league camp. [3/17]

Optioned LHPs Micah Bowie, Scott Downs and Phil Norton, 2B/OF Chad Meyers and 1B Julio Zuleta to Iowa; returned C/1B Alan Zinter to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Optioned 3B Cole Liniak and C Jose Molina to Iowa; assigned RHPs Daniel Garibay, Mike Heathcott and Todd Van Poppel to their minor league camp. [3/22]

Buck up, Cubs fans! Okay, so Kerry Wood is still hurt. You knew that. Ismael Valdes is damaged goods. Maybe he makes only 30 starts instead of 34. Sure, the rotation is down to Kevin Tapani, Jon Lieber, Kyle Farnsworth and Andrew Lorraine. But remember how well things turned out last year, when Ed Lynch craftily waited until the last moments of camp, then nabbed heroes like Brad Woodall and Dan Serafini?

The initial expectation is that Scott Downs will get the call to be the team's fifth starter once the schedule actually demands one. Iowa's rotation (probably Van Poppel, Bowie, Downs, Norton and Ruben Quevedo) is starting to look pretty good compared to the big-league outfit. In the meantime, Don Baylor can weigh important choices like whether to carry Ray King or Danny Young as a third left-hander in the pen.

Among the position players, demoting Zuleta despite the noise he's made in camp isn't bad news. Glenallen Hill may yet go to the DL, which might make room for Zuleta after all. Roosevelt Brown is hanging on in the hope that Lynch doesn't get that extra center fielder he says he's shopping for.

In light of Chris Hatcher's demotion Thursday, it looks like the Cubs are going to carry Tarrik Brock as their sixth outfielder. While this ought to defy description, it does bring to light how much the Cubs are handicapped by the Japan trip, since they won't be able to take advantage of waiver-wire claims as easily as other teams. Otherwise, it means a bench with only one right-handed pinch-hitter--Hill, if he's healthy--and a bench featuring players bad enough (especially Brock and Jeff Huson) to keep the bad regulars regular (especially Damon Buford and Ricky Gutierrez).

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Optioned RHPs Lorenzo Barcelo and Jason Secoda to Charlotte; outrighted RHP Joe Davenport to Charlotte; assigned RHP Matt Ginter, C Humberto Quintero, SS Esteban Beltre and OF Aaron Rowand to their minor-league camp; optioned SS Jason Dellaero to Birmingham (Double-A). [3/14]

Acquired 2B Jackie Rexrode from the Diamondbacks for RHP Brian Scott. [3/17]

Assigned OFs Yamil Benitez and Steve Gibralter, LHP Mark Buerhle and RHP Jon Garland to their minor-league camp; optioned 3B Joe Crede, CF McKay Christensen and RHP Pat Daneker to Charlotte. [3/22]

No real surprises among these demotions. The Sox have made it plain that they don't want to bring up Jon Garland until they feel he's ready to come up to stay. He's had an impressive camp, and it doesn't look like Cal Eldred will last through July. It also probably doesn't hurt that this puts off starting Garland's arbitration clock. Similarly, Joe Crede only needs to prove he's healthy at Charlotte. A couple of good months should be enough to get him to Chicago.

The really fun pickup is nabbing Jackie Rexrode on the cheap. He's an outstanding leadoff hitter who got some time in the Sox organization last year on loan from the Snakes. While he may not stick at second base, he's 21, fast and extremely patient. He's already shown he can hit at Double-A. He's young enough to improve at second, and good enough offensively to consider converting to center field. For the sake of crosstown comparisons, he's a significantly better if similar player to Chad Meyers. That the Sox managed to get him for an adequate college pitcher who was being shoved aside by the great crop of pitchers they drafted in 1999 is nothing short of a steal.

The over/under on how many games the Sox will finish ahead of the Cubs--something that matters on the South Side--should start at 10, with a solid shot at 15 or more.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Optioned RHP John Riedling to Louisville; assigned C Guillermo Garcia and UT Chris Sexton to Louisville. [3/18]

Assigned CB Pine Time Sanders and RHP Mark Wohlers to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

Optioned RHP Eddie Gaillard to Louisville; announced that 3B/OF Freddy Garcia cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Louisville. [3/22]

Slowly but surely, the Reds wind their way down to the roster we knew they'd carry all along: Mark Lewis, Hal Morris and Alex Ochoa on the bench, and Fonzie Bichette in right field. The only battle left is between Benito Santiago and Jason LaRue for the right to caddy for Eddie Taubensee.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Optioned RHP Jamie Brown to Buffalo; optioned RHP Martin Vargas to Akron (Double-A). [3/14]

Assigned RHP Tim Drew to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Announced the retirement of LHP Mark Langston; optioned OF Scott Morgan to Buffalo; assigned UT Bill Selby and C Mandy Romero to their minor-league camp; released DH Ruben Sierra. [3/19]

Optioned LHP Al Newman to Buffalo. [3/21]

The end of the line for Langston, who despite the fun I've had at his expense, I'll seriously miss. How many pitchers could pitch for as many bad Mariners and Angels teams as Langston did, and still wind up with a winning record for his career? Plenty of media types gave him flak for somehow falling short of greatness, but over the course of his career, he was always one of the league's best left-handers. I'm not stumping for a Hall of Fame campaign here, just trying to give the guy his due. Like Dave Stieb, he's far short of the Hall, but deserves to be remembered as one of the best of his day.

Otherwise, there are no real surprises here. Sierra is as done as he has been throughout the Clinton era, and there isn't any roster space for the Indians to give Morgan more than a cursory glance.

DETROIT TIGERS

Optioned RHPs Erik Hiljus and Brandon Villafuerte to Toledo. [3/14]

Released LHP Ramon Tatis. [3/15]

Optioned C Javier Cardona to Toledo. [3/17]

Optioned RHP Dave Borkowski to Toledo; reassigned RHPs David Darwin and Bart Evans, IFs Jesus Azuaje, Giomar Guevera, Marty Malloy, Kevin Polcovich and Carlos Mendez and OF Billy McMillon to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

If there's any doubt about whether the Tigers need to be taken seriously, the epic pickup of Shane Halter should lay it to rest. Rather than evaluate whether or not Halter's better than any of their other utility-infield options, guys they've been able to watch all the way through camp, they've effectively handed Halter the job. Picking the stiff you don't know over the ones you do, on the mistaken impression that Halter's major-league experience somehow makes him better, reflects a lack of thought typical of a Randy Smith outfit.

Similarly, Billy McMillon is still a better player than Luis Polonia or Gregg Jefferies, but the circular logic loop that traps talented hitters in the minors because they're the mythic "minor-league hitter" has him doomed to Mudhendom.

Among the other talent the Tigers demoted, Cardona is a top-notch prospect who should be a target for any team with a major-league hitter or outfielder to spare. Do the Tigers have the talent on hand to improve? Yes. Will they play it? As much as the choice to put Robert Fick on the roster inspires hope, generally speaking, things still don't look so hot.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Optioned RHP Joe Fontenot to Calgary; optioned RHP Nelson Lara to Portland (Double-A); optioned RHP Josh Beckett to Kane County (A); assigned C Ryan Robertson and RHP Claudio Vargas to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Optioned 1B Nate Rolison to Calgary; re-assigned LHP Scott Comer, Cs Brandon Harper and Matt Treanor, IFs Joe Funaro and Mendy Lopez, 3B Sean McNally and CF Abraham Nunez to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Not a surprising demotion in the bunch, although the Tigers should be so lucky as to have a utility infielder as good as Funaro. Unfortunately for Funaro, the Marlins are well-stocked with utilitymen, from Dave Berg to Chris Clapinski to Amaury Garcia (assuming he doesn't get a crack at Luis Castillo's job at second base).

The significant bad news is the injury to A.J. Burnett, which looks like it may force Jesus Sanchez back into the rotation in the fifth spot. In itself, it isn't going to keep the Fish out of the World Series, but Sanchez is still trying to recover from the workload Jim Leyland subjected him to in 1998.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Assigned RHPs Jason Green, Eric Ireland, Tony McKnight, Brian Powell, Travis Driskill , Rick Huisman, Brad Kaufman, Rusty Meacham, Don Wengert and Bryan Wolff, LHPs Wayne Franklin and Wilfredo Rodriguez and 1B Aaron McNeal to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Assigned RHP Wade Miller and Cs Scott Chapman and Frank Charles to their minor-league camp. [3/18]

Acquired C Carlos Maldonado from the Mariners for 2B/SS Carlos Hernandez; assigned SS Adam Everett to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

With so many retread projects to choose from, not even the Astros could look past Doc Gooden. Wade Miller will have to wait for his opportunity while hopefully building on last year's experience at New Orleans. It looks like Jose Cabrera has a spot in middle relief locked down, where he'll be needed if neither Doug Henry nor Jay Powell iron out their problems.

It's not a bad move for the Astros to nab a 21-year old catcher with some offensive talent in exchange for their middle-infield organizational depth.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Announced David Glass has been selected to purchase the team. [3/14]

Optioned RHPs Lance Carter and Jeff D'Amico and OF Geofrey Tomlinson to Omaha; optioned LHP Justin Lamber to Wichita (Double-A); assigned to Cs Izzy Molina and Paul Phillips, IF Alejandro Prieto and RHP Bill Risley to their minor-league camp; released RHP Clint Sodowsky. [3/15]

Optioned RHP Derek Wallace to Omaha. [3/17]

Assigned OF Jeremy Dodson to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Between the farce of the make-believe sale of the A's and the non-shocking non-decision that with Ewing Kaufmann dead and gone for seven years, his chosen successor David Glass will finally buy the team, we can lay to rest the idea that either franchise was ever really on the market. That ought to make most of us reevaluate cherished notions about how unprofitable these teams are supposed to be, but the "big-market, small-market" paradigm is dug in pretty deep these days, and it's going to take one hell of a pair of forceps to pry it out.

Meanwhile, some of the more frightening journeymen brought in to shore up the bullpen have been sent away. It still won't be easy for both Jose Santiago and Orber Moreno to win jobs from the various losers in the fifth-starter fight and someone like Doug Bochtler, but at least Wengert-style pickups like Risley and Sodowsky won't be holding them back.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned RHP Chad Ricketts and 2B Jorge Nunez to Albuquerque; assigned RHPs Jim Bullinger and Maximo Nunez, 2B Adam Riggs and UT Shawn Gilbert to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Optioned RHP Jamie Arnold, OF Kevin Gibbs and C Angel Pena to Albuquerque; assigned LHP Rick DeHart and OF Brent Cookson to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

The Dodgers are currently pretending that Todd Hollandsworth can play center field on an everyday basis, and are still saddled with Devon White's turkey contract. Still, if Gibbs has a couple of good months in the PCL, he might yet be able to force his way into the picture.

It looks like Angel Pena is going to have to have the facts of life explained to him, since wrangling over his conditioning and his relationship with Davey Johnson has seriously undermined his shot at putting together a career.

Chad Ricketts may end up coming back by June, considering that the Dodgers are wasting their time with bad-bet retreads like Mike Fetters.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Optioned RHP Allen Levrault and CF Chad Green to Indianapolis; optioned RHPs Jose Garcia and Paul Stewart to Huntsville (Double-A); assigned LHP Greg McCarthy, RHPs Greg Mix, Mike Rossiter and Ben Sheets, Cs Alex Andreopoulos and Obispo Bristo, UT Kurt Bierek, 2B Mickey Lopez, IF Norberto Martin and OFs Matt Luke and Brad Tyler to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Assigned RHPs Rod Bolton and Joe Crawford and C Creighton Gubanich to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Released LHP David West. [3/21]

Signed 3B/1B Charile Hayes to a minor-league contract. [3/22]

Certain situations get a wee bit clearer, and one gets somewhat murkier. The rotation is basically turning into SoxFest, as it's beginning to look like three guys from the White Sox rotation in September of 1998 will be in the Brewers' rotation: Jaime Navarro, Jason Bere and John Snyder. With Levrault demoted, and Kyle Peterson, Jamey Wright and Rocky Coppinger all hurt, there are only seven contenders for the five spots, with only Steve Woodard really deserving to be a lock. Rafael Roque or Juan Acevedo might yet earn spots with a good outing or two, especially considering how badly Jimmy Haynes has looked in camp. All in all, this is shaping up into a rotation as likely to turn over four slots between Opening Day and June 1 as last year's outfit was.

The catching situation has cleared up considerably, in that the Brewers have tossed aside the one catcher they had who could hit (Gubanich) and have lost Robinson Cancel to injury. The trio of Bobby Hughes, Tyler Houston and Henry Blanco couldn't fend off Charlie Moore if he decided to show up in shin guards. The murky situation? Maybe, just maybe Charlie Hayes will get a crack at beating out Sean Berry for the job of caddying and platooning with Kevin Barker.

Is anyone else upset that it looks like David West will never get a shot to add to his World Series fame? Maybe George Frazier is happy, in a Brian Kingman sort of way.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned RHPs Dan Perkins and Brent Stentz and C A.J. Pierzynski to Salt Lake; optioned RHP Matt Kinney, LHP Mike Kusiewicz, 2B Cleatus Davidson and SS Luis Rivas to New Britain (Double-A); assigned RHPs Rich Batchelor, Gus Gandarillas and Ricky Greene, C Jon Schaeffer, 2B Dan Cey, 3B Michael Cuddyer and OFs Bobby Kielty and Michael Restovich to their minor-league camp. [3/16]

Optioned RHP Jack Cressend, LHP Benj Sampson, 1B Doug Mientkiewicz and C Chad Moeller to Salt Lake; assigned 3B Brian Richardson to their minor-league camp. [3/19]

Call me a ludicrously interested party, but things are getting interesting in the Twins' camp. The catching situation has come down to Matt LeCroy, Javy Valentin and journeyman Marcus Jensen, so even conservative old Tom Kelly has sorted out the wheat from the chaff in dispensing with Chad Moeller. They've bumped Minky out of the first-base picture, leaving a three-sided fight among Mario Valdez, David Ortiz and Butch Huskey for first base and DH playing time. Again, they've worked their way through to the right candidates. I'm sad to see Luis Rivas not get a more serious crack at Cristian Guzman's job, but that will come with time.

With Corey Koskie and Matt Lawton playing every day, if LeCroy, Ortiz, Huskey and/or Valdez play, the Twins could literally end up hitting nearly twice as many home runs as they did last year. They might even push for 70 wins. Okay, that's a baby step, but until the Cuddyer/Restovich/Garbe/Kielty crop comes in, the Twins can take whatever progress they can get.

Meanwhile, Kelly still has to sort through one of the deepest collections of useful left-handed relievers in baseball, with Eddie Guardado, Travis Miller, J.C. Romero and Rule 5er Johan Santana all looking good enough to keep.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Optioned LHPs Brent Billingsley and Trey Moore, SS Tomas De La Rosa and 1B/LF Talmadge Nunnari to Ottawa; optioned LHP Matt Blank to Harrisburg (Double-A); assigned C Yohanny Valera, 2B Jamey Carroll and OF Scott Hunter to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Acquired 1B Lee Stevens from the Rangers in a three-way trade with the Blue Jays for 1B Brad Fullmer. [3/16]

Optioned RHP Guillermo Mota to Ottawa; assigned RHP Matt Skrmetta to their minor-league camp. [3/22]

Did the Expos need a left-handed thumper to bat behind Vlad Guerrero? Sure, I think so. Did Felipe Alou make it plain he just wasn't going to take a shine to Fullmer, especially after last year's infighting over punitive demotions and potential grievances? Definitely. Is Lee Stevens the answer? Hell, no.

Trading Fullmer now, when his value is low, is exactly the kind of mistake the Expos can't afford, no matter how wealthy Jeff Loria feels he is right now. The Expos cannot afford to toss talent aside as carelessly as this, and Stevens isn't going to add squat to the team's offense relative to Fullmer. This deal smacks of the same short-sightedness that cost the team Ted Lilly and Jake Westbrook, when the value of either and possibly both could exceed Hideki Irabu's within a few short years.

As much as the Expos need to make happy headlines to help them in their quest to get local financing and local corporate support for LaBatt/Molson/Jarry II/Loria Park in the next couple of months, the value of this kind of PR is only going to last until around Opening Day. After that, they're going to have to generate a lot of spin to make a barely mediocre team look good enough to rally around. And in the meantime, they'll have shed a lot of good talent.

If the Expos don't get their publicly-financed stadium in the next few months, then the gamble reflected in the money Loria is blowing on these people will have failed, and we may get a repeat of the original "bad news" in Quebec situation.

NEW YORK METS

Acquired 2B/OF Joe McEwing from the Cardinals for LHP Jesse Orosco. [3/18]

Optioned C Vance Wilson to Norfolk; assigned IFs David Lamb and Domingo Cedeno, OFs Mike Kelly and Jason Tyner, UT Mike Kinkade and 1B/OF Ryan McGuire to their minor-league complex; granted Celebrity Garth Brooks his unconditional release. [3/19]

Released 3B Charlie Hayes. [3/20]

Optioned LHPs Bobby M. Jones and Glendon Rusch and 1B/OF Jorge Toca to Norfolk; assigned OF Curtis Pride and RHP Dennis Springer to their minor-league camp; traded SS Jersen Perez to the Blue Jays to keep the rights to Rule 5 RHP Jim Mann. [3/22]

Steve Phillips begins to reap the bitter fruits of some of his dopier off-season pickups. The Mets are fretting over who their fifth starter is going to be, with Bad Bobby Jones out of the running and Bill Pusipher never in it. Masato Yoshii would be pretty handy right around now, but apparently Glendon Rusch has won the job, barring further organizational infighting between Phillips and Bobby Valentine. Given the competition, Rusch is the best choice for the job, but a Mets rotation built around injury risks like Al Leiter, Bobby Jones and Rick Reed isn't a source of confidence, before even touching on a weakened offense.

Why the cycle of Rigo Beltran to Chuck McElroy to Jesse Orosco to a nice piece of waiver bait like McEwing? McEwing's major asset is that he's an arguably better utilityman than Kurt Abbott, and with space on the 40-man roster tight, the Mets might not be able to add Abbott. The good news is that they got rid of the right aging left-hander from among Orosco, John Franco and Dennis Cook, even if it ended up offending Orosco.

The problem is that the acquisition of McEwing may lead to Benny Agbayani's demotion (and Jay Payton's retention). While hardly tragic, it's another offensive downgrade on a team that's already cut itself down in the outfield and at first base, and carries Rey Ordonez's toothpick in the eighth spot.

If there's really good news, it's that Jon Nunnally should be a lock to make the teams, and will hopefully chase Derek Bell to the bench during the course of the season. The other good news is that no more PAs will be wasted on Garth Brooks.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Optioned CF Donzell McDonald and RHP Ben Ford to Columbus; assigned 3B/OF Mike Coolbaugh and RHP Mike Jerzembeck to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Acquired LHP Ted Lilly from the Expos as one of two PsTBNL in the Irabu trade. [3/17]

Optioned RHP Jake Westbrook to Columbus. [3/19]

Optioned RHPs Ryan Bradley and Craig Dingman to Columbus; assigned OF Luke Wilcox and C Tom Wilson to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Acquired RHP Christian Parker from the Expos to complete the Irabu trade. [3/22]

The rich get richer, as the Yankees get another outstanding pitching prospect from the Expos. Lilly is still recovering from a relatively minor surgery, and should be pitching in May. If he has a good couple of months in Columbus and if Ed Yarnall is struggling, he might get Yarnall's job, and he's good enough to keep the spot. At least Parker isn't a top prospect, but getting Westbrook and Lilly after getting two solid years from Irabu from the Padres in exchange for Ruben Rivera and a barrel of pig snouts is looking like pretty neat trick.

On a more sorrowful note, it looks like the Yankees will be granting Joe Torre a roster dispensation, as Tom Pagnozzi will be handed the backup catcher job over minor-league veteran Tom Wilson on the basis of Pagnozzi's time with Torre on the Cardinals. While there might be some sort of argument that it's good to have a veteran caddy for a young catcher, Jorge Posada is going to be 29 in August and has caught in two World Series. How much more handholding would anyone need at that point? The answer is none, and the issue ought to be considered a red herring. Pagnozzi's inheritance of Joe Girardi's roster spot is an ugly little bit of cronyism. That after years of proving that he can play in the minors, Tom Wilson won't get service time or union benefits because this sort of thing is simply reprehensible.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Optioned LHP Eric DuBose, RHPs Chris Enochs, Kevin Gregg and Justin Miller, 2B/SS Josue Espada and 3B Adam Piatt to Sacramento. [3/14]

Optioned RHPs Chad Harville and Ariel Prieto, LHP Leo Vasquez, 2B/SS Jose Ortiz and OF Mario Encarnacion to Sacramento; assigned LHPs Tim Kubinski, Rich Sauveur and Barry Zito, C Javier Flores and OF Greg Martinez to their minor-league camp. [3/19]

No real shockers among the list of cuts, although you have to hope Chad Harville will earn a shot in the near future. With the center-field battle garnering the most attention, it would have been nice to see Josue Espada or Jose Ortiz get more serious opportunities to push into the fight for the utility-infield spot over Jorge Velandia and along with Frankie Menechino. Both of them probably have more value in trade playing every day in Sacramento than they would in rare sub opportunities for Miguel Tejada, or more frequent time for the always-fragile Randy Velarde. Meanwhile, the Sacramento River Cats (named in honor of the many tossed in?) are shaping up to be a better team than the Marlins.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Assigned OF Jalal Leach to their minor-league camp. [3/17]

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Assigned RHPs Dave Stevens, Bronson Arroyo, Blas Minor and Jason Phillips, LHP Clint Johnston, IF Eddie Zosky and OFs Darryl Brinkley and Tike Redman to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Assigned LHP Brian O'Connor to their minor-league camp. [3/19]

Assigned RHPs Dave Pavlas and Cory Bailey and C Lee Evans to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Not a surprise demotion in the bunch. The non-story in Pirates camp is still the notion that Aramis Ramirez has "won" the job at third, as if there was any alternative. Along with breaking in Chad Hermansen, I think we can all be glad that at long last Cam Bonifay has finally decided to get on with the future.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Assigned RHPs John Ambrose, Jim Dougherty, Rick Heiserman, John Hudek and Chad Hutchinson, LHP Justin Brunette, C Steve Bieser, UT Casey Candaele, IFs Luis Garcia and Lou Lucca, 1B/3B Chris Haas, 1B Chris Richard, SS Jason Woolf and OFs Luis Saturria, Glenn Murray and Ernie Young to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Acquired LHP Jesse Orosco from the Mets for 2B/OF Joe McEwing. [3/18]

Optioned 2B/LF Adam Kennedy and RHP Luther Hackman to Memphis; outrighted CF Dante Powell to Memphis. [3/20]

At long last, Tony LaRussa has his replacement for Rick Honeycutt. The cover story for this pickup is that with mistake signee Scott Radinsky hurting, the Cardinals needed a third left-hander for their pen (Mike Mohler and Paul Spoljaric are already around). But you just knew TLR couldn't resist picking up someone who's been around since the Carter Administration. Even now, he's probably scanning the waiver wire in the hope that maybe the Snakes will cut loose Mike Morgan.

As for the rest of the cuts, once again, we see the bane of post-expansion roster willies, as favored geezers like Brian McRae get preferential treatment over better players like Ernie Young. Hell, you can extend that argument to Shawon Dunston over Joe McEwing. While McEwing's 15 minutes are probably up, he would have made a good platoon partner with Fernando Vina at second, a position Dunston still can't play. While the Cardinals have finally gotten serious about backing up the McGwire/Lankford duo with some starting pitching, it looks like they're going to be carrying a Geritol-guzzling bench for the ages.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Optioned RHP Brandon Kolb to Las Vegas; assigned C George Williams, 1Bs Dusty Allen and Joe Vitiello, 3B Sean Burroughs and OF Ryan Radmanovich to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

There are some pretty good players among these cuts. George Williams was an All-Star last year, and should be starting for teams like the Cubs or Brewers or Marlins. Heck, as a Wisconsin native, he'd be a great add for the Brewers. Radmanovich and Vitiello could both have their uses on the right teams, and Sean Burroughs should be the best player in a Padres uniform in the new decade.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned RHP Kevin Joseph, C Guillermo Rodriguez, SS Nelson Castro and 3B Pedro Feliz to Fresno; assigned RHPs Kurt Ainsworth, Mike McMullen and Ryan Vogelsong, LHP Erasmo Ramirez, C Sammy Serrano, SSs Raul Marval and Carlos Mendoza and OFs Mike Glendenning and Pedro Mota to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Optioned LHP Mike Riley, C Giuseppe Chiaramonte, 1B Damon Minor, and OFs Michael Byas, Doug Clark and Chris Magruder to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

The Giants didn't cut anybody who shouldn't have expected it. There are still some fun potential backups clinging to spots: Felipe Crespo and Terrell Lowery are a couple of my favorite long-suffering minor-league vets,and Jay Canizaro is still hanging on. There's also the potential wisdom of letting Aaron Fultz break in as the left-handed middle reliever. That might put him in a great position to claim a rotation slot after the All-Star break, once Livan Hernandez and Russ Ortiz burn out and/or after Mark Gardner stages one Pearl Harbor reenactment too many in the Bay beyond right field in Pac Bell Park.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Optioned LHP Rob Ramsay and RHP Ivan Montane to Tacoma; optioned RHP Chris Mears to Lancaster (A). [3/14]

Optioned LHPs Steve Sinclair and Jordan Zimmerman to Tacoma; assigned OF Brian Lesher, IF Ricky Magdaleno and C Dusty Wathan to their minor-league camp. [3/20]

Acquired 2B/SS Carlos Hernandez from the Astros in exchange for C Carlos Maldonado. [3/21]

In the confusion due to the transition from Woody Woodward to Pat Gillick, some pretty solid pitching prospects that Woodward brought in last year are losing out to the wave of free-agent pickups that Gillick has added. Several teams would love to have left-handed relievers as good as Sinclair or Zimmerman in camp.

The trade with the Astros nets the Mariners a nice utility infielder and defensive replacement at second base, but they seem to have failed to notice that the organization isn't deep in catching. Dan Wilson is 31 and hasn't hit well for a couple of years. Maldonado might have been the closest thing to a catching prospect the organization had. While last year's top pick, Ryan Christianson, is a catcher and had a nice debut, high-school catchers are about as infamously high-risk prospects as you can get.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Optioned LHP Mike Duvall and RHP Cory Lidle to Durham; assigned RHPs Mickey Callaway, Terry Mathews and Marc Valdes, LHPs Doug Creek and Chris Michalak, OFs Josh Hamilton and Ozzie Timmons, C Paul Hoover and 1B/OF Ryan Jackson to their minor-league camp. [3/14]

Optioned LHP Jim Morris and RHP Jeff Sparks to Durham; assigned RHP Matt White and LHP Bobby Seay to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

There's not much to say about this group. Duvall deserved a clean shot at Norm Charlton's job, but there was no way he was going to get it. On a smaller scale, Creek and Michalak both have their uses. Lidle and Valdes aren't bad retread/rehab projects, but they need regular work in the minors first. Paul Hoover is too old to be called a prospect, but has his uses.

To see Vince Naimoli's money in action, don't be afraid to motor over to either Orlando and St. Pete, where you can watch White and Seay continue to struggle.

TEXAS RANGERS

Acquired 1B David Segui and cash from the Blue Jays in a three-way trade with the Expos for 1B Lee Stevens. [3/16]

Optioned C Cesar King, SS Kelly Dransfeldt, RHP Danny Kolb and LHP Doug Davis to Oklahoma City; optioned RHP Joaquin Benoit to Tulsa (Double-A); assigned OF David Hulse to their minor-league camp. [3/21]

Not a bad move for the Rangers to nab Segui. Given last year's experiences, they're probably better off having Rafael Palmeiro DH as often as possible. Lee Stevens gave them the best year he's ever going to have, so cashing him in now makes sense. Segui's primary value is defensive, and he'll probably give the Rangers an OBP boost (over Stevens) that they could use. Letting him walk after this year will be painless, and should help the team play in next winter's high-stakes free-agent market.

The aspect of the demotions I like best is that sending Dransfeldt to Triple-A means Scott Sheldon really does have a shot. I'm bullish on what a second-base platoon of Catalanotto-Sheldon could do (hell, bat it sixth). The Rangers could end up putting together a very interesting team, with a fun blend of last year's stars, the guys they nabbed from the Tigers, and Ken Phelps All-Stars like Sheldon, Tom Evans and maybe even Jason McDonald. While it wasn't all by design, it's the kind of team that will be a much tougher outfit for the A's or Mariners to pass in the AL West.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Optioned RHP Matt DeWitt, LHP John Bale and 3B Casey Blake to Syracuse; assigned SS Felipe Lopez to their minor-league camp. [3/15]

Acquired 1B Brad Fullmer from the Expos in a three-way trade with the Rangers for 1B David Segui and cash. [3/16]

Optioned OF Andy Thompson and 1B/OF Kevin Witt to Syracuse; assigned C Mark Dalesandro to their minor-league camp. [3/17]

Placed RHP Joey Hamilton on the 15-day DL (shoulder). [3/21]

Assigned Cs Charlie Greene and Kevin Brown and 3B Willis Otanez to their minor-league camp; optioned CF Vernon Wells to Syracuse; acquired SS Jersen Perez from the Mets in exchange for waiving a claim on Rule 5 RHP Jim Mann. [3/22]

It was good for Gord Ash to move beyond his mistaken retention of David Segui. Brad Fullmer was born to DH, which means Carlos Delgado will get to enjoy himself afield after all. While I would have targeted something other than a DH who may not be any better than Kevin Witt and Andy Thompson, there's every reason to believe Fullmer will outhit Segui this year. Add that to the salary savings, and the Jays might have some wiggle room to add a much-needed starting pitcher. That's the price of carrying Jim Fregosi around as your manager, but the Jays finally did something to help themselves win this year.

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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