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January 30, 1998

Transaction Analysis

January 23-29

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Signed OF Damon Mashore to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/26]

Mashore has outstanding plate discipline, reasonable range, and a strong, accurate arm. His ability to contribute as a major league regular has essentially been ruined by his annual knee injuries, but as a bench player, platoon partner, and spare part, you can do a lot worse than having Mashore around. He's almost the perfect opposite to Garret Anderson, in that his contributions to his team have everything to do with every stat other than batting average.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Signed RHP Tommy Greene to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/23]

Signed RHP Dennis Martinez to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/29]

Both signings are defensible in terms of adding bodies to fill the roster until Smoltz' health is determined. Tommy Greene is recovering (again) from tearing his rotator cuff, and is a long shot to contribute at Richmond. But if I was a Braves fan, I'd be deeply troubled by John Schuerholz' blithe dismissal of questions about El Presidente's ability to contribute. Schuerholz said he has no concerns when a player comes with the recommendation of one of his scouts. Because it wasn't the same scout who said Terry Pendleton had something left in '96, that means there are two guys in the organization who could seriously hurt the team with their input, and neither of them have been tabbed for the Galarraga signing.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Signed SS Ozzie Guillen to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/29]

Apparently Manny Trillo wasn't returning Pat Gillick's phonecalls. There's a sad bit of flawed circular logic at work here: Ozzie says he wants to be on the Orioles because they're building a winner, except if he's on the team, he'll only hurt their chances to win. Guillen's typically shameless claim that "this isn't about money" seems a far cry from last August's "I won't play for under a million." Ozzie's career has been built around misperceptions or flat-out lies he helped to promote: the mistaken impression that as a SS named Ozzie, he was one of the great shortstops of his generation; the mistaken impression that Ozzie was good with the fans, when he was usually trashing them; the mistaken impression that he's a solid pro, when he's usually whining about how people don't acknowledge his greatness or that of Felix Fermin because they're all Ripken-loving racists, or routinely trashing rookies in the press. If these are the people being foisted on us as fan favorites, give me more quality time with Albert Belle.

BOSTON RED SOX

Signed INF Mike Gallego to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI; agreed to terms with OF Julio Cesar Guerrero. [1/23]

Named Lee Thomas special assistant to the general manager. [1/26]

Signed LHP Butch Henry to a one-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. [1/27]

Signed INF John Valentin to a four-year contract with an option for the 2002 season. [1/29]

Mike Gallego v. Mike Benjamin for the utility infield job. Boy, that should get A's and Giants fans thinking wistfully of years gone by... Duquette signs Valentin after all, after the usual statements and media inventions about how Duquette had driven him out, etc. That he got Val at less than it cost to buy Jay Bell's golden years, despite the media frenzy, Val's stated preference to go somewhere to play short, and the perceived "cost" of having to make it worth his while to have to put up with the Duke, is nothing short of outstanding. Julio Guerrero is Wilton's little brother.

CHICAGO CUBS

Invited RHPs Dave Stevens and Dave Swartzbaugh to spring training as non-roster players. [1/26]

Neither should make it, but Stevens is an ex-Cub (traded with Matt Walbeck for Willie Banks in what seems ages ago) and a MacPhail favorite, and Swartzbaugh has been an organizational soldier.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Signed OF Geronimo Berroa to a one-year contract; designated RHP Maximo De La Rosa for assignment. [1/29]

Although Hart's denying it 'til he's blue in the face, with Berroa locked in at $1.1M less than the Orioles spent of Joe Carter's carcass, the Tribe has the freedom of action to peddle Brian Giles pretty readily in ... the Knoblauch deal-to-come, perhaps? De La Rosa throws hard, so expect him to get snagged on waivers in the next few days.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Signed RHP Mark Thompson to a one-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. [1/27]

Purchased the contract of 1B Greg Colbrunn from Colorado Springs; waived LHP Robbie Beckett. [1/26]

Beckett's done his damnedest to be the new Brad Pennington, and with a bit more work, he may just get there.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Signed C Brad Ausmus to a three-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. [1/23]

Three years? In three years, Ausmus should be riding pine behind some combination of Ramon Castro and Mitch Meluskey. Of course, locking him in now, and seeing that the world is still a friendly place for people like Kirt Manwaring or Scott Servais or John Flaherty, means he makes dandy trade bait once Meluskey and then Castro are ready...

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Signed RF Raul Mondesi to a four-year contract. [1/23]

Tip your hat to him: Raul Mondesi has turned out to be a much better player than many analysts thought he'd be.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Signed RF Jeromy Burnitz to a four-year contract. [1/28]

Burnitz' contract isn't for huge money (except perhaps by Bud's standards), but keep in mind that he isn't young: he'll be 28 shortly after opening day, and the contract is timed to let him walk after he'll have given his best years at a low wage.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Named LHP Denis Boucher to public affairs for the marketing and communications department as well as video coordinator for the baseball operations department. [1/27]

Uncannily timed with the Expos' drive to get a new stadium. If it is built, here's a vote for the three men who may best represent the history of baseball in Montreal over the past fifty years: Jackie Robinson, Bill Stoneman, and Denis Boucher.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Signed RHP Tyler Green to a one-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. [1/26]

The griping that the Phillies haven't added anyone to their pitching staff strikes me as basically petty. The team is looking at a rotation of Curt Schilling, Garret Stephenson, Tyler Green, Matt Beech, and Mike Grace. Green, Grace, and Beech aren't bad prospects, Stephenson surprised a lot of people, and this is without veteran options like Mark Portugal or Mark Leiter. The farm has options like Cal Maduro, Rich Hunter, and Carlton Loewer. Compared to recycling El Presidente (Braves) or signing up Mike Maddux (Expos), that doesn't sound all bad.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Signed C Keith Osik to a three-year contract. [1/23]

Its already been remarked upon that this off-season's most remarkable phenomenon was the two-year contract for bench players like Dale Sveum, Doug Strange, or Turner Ward. But the new paradigm is now dated: accused 'scab' Osik gets a three-year deal for a million dollars. And people want to keep complaining about player movement?

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Traded 1B/OF Dave McCarty to Seattle for OFs Jalal Leach and Scott Smith. [1/29]

Dave McCarty could have given this team everything Glenallen Hill ever did, but the Giants must feel compelled to stock Phoenix or something. Losing Leach and Smith will not come back to haunt Tacoma.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Traded OFs Jalal Leach and Scott Smith to the Giants for 1B/OF Dave McCarty. [1/29]

My guess here is that Piniella thinks he can do something to help McCarty solve his problems at the plate in a major league uniform, and this is a circumstance where I'd give him a wide berth.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Signed INF Craig Shipley to a minor-league contract with a spring training NRI. [1/27]

Shipley is considered one of the game's "good guys," and its nice to see him catch on as a utility man somewhere. The only question left is why here, when LaRussa can't get enough of Danny Sheaffer and has promised significant playing time to David Howard.

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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