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April 19, 2000

Transaction Analysis

April 12-17

by Christina Kahrl

If you missed the last Transaction Analysis, you can find it here.

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Signed OF Garret Anderson to a four-year contract extension through 2004. [4/14]

Garret Anderson had already made it clear he planned on sticking around, and now that he's proven he's a better-than-average center fielder, he's a valuable guy to have. It's a reasonable risk that he'll give the Angels decent value for the four years.

It's interesting to speculate about whether the decision to sign him represents a frank appreciation for the outfield suspects in the organization. Mike Colangelo's health record is one bad break after another, and it will be another couple of years before the Angels can start to project Nathan Haynes into their plans. If Haynes is ready by 2002, Anderson will return to being either a light-hitting left fielder or a great piece of trade bait.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Acquired RHP Ryan Creek from the Marlins for C John Pachot. [4/15]

Activated UT Andy Fox from the DL; optioned OF David Dellucci to Tucson. [4/17]

Andy Fox's return gives the Snakes a real ballplayer to trot out at third base. Since he's never really needed platooning, they would be better off letting him play there every day rather than platooning him with Danny Klassen.

The nice thing to say here is that David Dellucci had an option and wasn't getting much playing time anyway; he'll get more in Tucson. But that's just wrong-headed. Klassen isn't going to do them much good as a spare part and Lenny Harris is still a useless trophy from last season's stretch-drive moves. His only really good seasons were during the Bush presidency, and how much veteran savvy is he supposed to impart to people like Luis Gonzalez or Jay Bell, anyway?

Ryan Creek is a veteran of the Astros' system, famed for his wildness. Injuries at Tucson have left the Sidewinders short-handed, and Pachot's a journeyman of equally limited fame or future.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Optioned LHP Bruce Chen to Richmond. [4/17]

The cost of reinstating John Rocker, and a result of the organization's choice to bring back Steve Avery and to claim John Burkett. The Braves would be better off keeping Chen, but there's only so much damage Burkett can do before he's back on waivers, especially as the Braves plan to skip the fifth spot as many times as possible.

For all of the blathering about "expansion pitching" and how it's lowering the quality of play, decisions like these ought to highlight that it isn't minor leaguers who are being pressed into action as a result of the extra jobs theoretically created by expansion. Instead, organizations are resurrecting the lame, the broken-winged, the gray and the known mediocrities. Expansion isn't creating opportunities for guys who have never pitched or would never pitch, it's giving life to careers that would have previously been spent bouncing around the Pacific Coast League after three or four consecutive bad major-league seasons.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Activated RHP Mike Timlin and C Greg Myers from the DL; placed C Willie Morales on the 15-day DL (hyperextended elbow); optioned RHP Gabe Molina to Rochester. [4/17]

The returns of Timlin and Myers might help get the team's average age back up towards Syd Thrift's, but won't make much of a difference in terms of on-field results. Myers will be given more opportunity to spell Charles Johnson against tough right-handers, which should be nice for Johnson's rate stats before he leaves town as a free agent. Timlin's return will only give the Orioles a better-paid candidate to blame for ninth inning pyrotechnics.

BOSTON RED SOX

Announced the retirement of Grand Old Man Gary Gaetti; recalled IF Andy Sheets from Pawtucket. [4/14]

I've taken more than my fair share of jabs at Gary Gaetti as he stumbled along on his personal rendition of the end of Steve Carlton's career. I'd still be the first to bring up his glorious peak stretch from 1986 to 1988 (not coincidentally before his 30th birthday), and his outstanding play down the stretch and into the World Series in 1987. Then he found God, lost his bat and survived long enough to prove one had nothing to do with the other.

Now here's Clay Davenport with a bit of a career retrospective:

Gary Gaetti
YR  TEAM    AB   H   DB  TP  HR  BB+  SB  CS  OUT  RUN  RBI  BA   OBA  SA   UEQR    EQA  EQR  RAR  WAA
1981 MIN-A   26    5   0   0   2    0   0   0   21    4    3 .192 .192 .423    2 0.2158    2    0   -1
1982 MIN-A  508  117  25   4  25   40   0   4  395   59   84 .230 .286 .443   62 0.2524   63   13   -5
1983 MIN-A  584  143  30   3  21   58   7   1  442   81   78 .245 .313 .414   76 0.2561   73   17   -3
1984 MIN-A  588  154  29   4   5   48  11   5  439   55   65 .262 .318 .350   64 0.2433   64    8  -13
1985 MIN-A  560  138  31   0  20   44  13   5  427   71   63 .246 .301 .409   69 0.2508   67   13   -7
1986 MIN-A  596  171  34   1  34   58  14  15  440   91  108 .287 .350 .518  103 0.2836   94   38   20
1987 MIN-A  584  150  36   2  31   40  10   7  441   95  109 .257 .304 .485   84 0.2689   83   27    7
1988 MIN-A  468  141  29   2  28   41   7   4  331   66   88 .301 .358 .551   87 0.3076   87   45   31
1989 MIN-A  498  125  11   4  19   28   6   2  375   63   75 .251 .291 .404   56 0.2468   57    9   -9
1990 MIN-A  577  132  27   5  16   39   6   1  446   61   85 .229 .278 .376   58 0.2322   58    1  -21
1991 CAL-A  586  144  22   1  18   41   5   5  447   58   66 .246 .295 .379   62 0.2505   70   13   -7
1992 CAL-A  456  103  13   2  12   27   3   1  354   41   48 .226 .269 .342   39 0.2210   41   -4  -22
1993 CAL-A   50    9   2   0   0    5   1   0   41    3    4 .180 .255 .220    2 0.1648    2   -3   -5
1993 KC_-A  281   72  18   1  14   24   0   3  212   37   46 .256 .315 .477   40 0.2618   37   10    1
1994 KC_-A  327   94  15   3  12   21   0   2  235   53   57 .287 .330 .462   46 0.2527   38    8   -3
1995 KC_-A  514  134  27   0  35   55   3   3  383   76   96 .261 .332 .518   86 0.2807   80   31   15
1996 STL-N  522  143  27   4  23   43   2   2  381   71   80 .274 .329 .473   78 0.2744   75   27   10
1997 STL-N  502  126  24   1  17   42   7   3  379   63   69 .251 .309 .404   60 0.2493   59   11   -7
1998 STL-N  306   81  23   1  11   36   1   1  226   39   43 .265 .342 .454   46 0.2708   43   14    4
1998 CHI-N  128   41  11   0   8   17   0   0   87   21   27 .320 .400 .594   28 0.3263   26   15   12
1999 CHI-N  280   57   9   1   9   23   0   1  224   22   46 .204 .264 .339   22 0.1896   18  -11  -23
2000 BOS-A   10    0   0   0   0    0   0   0   10    0    1 .000 .000 .000   -1 -.2230   -1   -2   -3
career     8951 2280 443  39 360  730  96  65 6736 1130 1341 .255 .311 .434 1169 0.2578 1137  280  -29

Gaetti retires with a career .258 Equivalent Average (EqA) with 1,137 career Equivalent Runs (EqR). That EqR total is good for 190th on the all-time list, tied with former teammate Kirby Puckett (who used 1,700 fewer outs to get there). Notice that with a career EqA under .260, his Wins Above Average (WAA) score goes to negative. Gaetti has the third-highest EqR total among all players who finished with a career EqA below the league-average mark of .260. The full list:

                        EqR   EqA
1.  Luis Aparicio      1236  .253
2.  Rabbit Maranville  1169  .248
3.  GARY GAETTI        1138  .258
4.  Dave Concepcion    1089  .257
5.  Doc Cramer         1020  .250
6.  Herman Long         971  .258
7.  Tony Taylor         956  .256
8.  Gary Templeton      896  .250
9.  Roger Peckinpaugh   894  .255
10. Frank White         891  .246

All of the above players had outstanding defensive reputations, something you pretty much have to have to play 20 years while being an average or below-average hitter. Gaetti had the reputation of a great fielder, winning four Gold Gloves from 1986 through 1989. His defensive statistics are excellent: Palmer, through Total Baseball III, had given him 119 fielding runs. I give him a very similar +106 at third base, and would have given him four Gold Gloves, from 1983 through 1986.

Overall, his final numbers are similar to Tim Wallach's:

Wallach    .265 EqA  1102 EqR  .257/.319/.416
Gaetti     .258 EqA  1138 EqR  .255/.311/.434

Gaetti had an advantage in home parks, basestealing and probably in fielding.

-- Clay Davenport

CHICAGO CUBS

Traded C Pat Cline to the Brewers for a PTBNL and cash. [4/13]

Traded LHP Ray King to the Brewers for RHP Doug Johnston. [4/14]

While Doug Johnston flopped in his first exposure to Double-A last year, he's still very young at 22, and might yet develop into a worthwhile major-league starter. The chain from losing Greg Maddux goes from Maddux to Jon Ratliff (selected with the compensation pick) to Ray King (from the Braves for Ratliff) to Johnston. Johnston has a decent shot at being the second-best pitcher on that list.

As for the end of the Pat Cline era, what needs to be said? Great athletes don't necessarily make great catchers any more than they make good ballplayers at any position.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed RHP Bartolo Colon on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/16 (pulled oblique muscle); recalled RHP Sean DePaula from Buffalo. [4/17]

It's still too early for this to fuel delusions of grandeur among Sox or Royals fans. After all, Bobby Witt can only lose once per start, and with the Indians' offense and seven relief pitchers, he may not even do that much damage. With Chuck Finley, Dave Burba and Charles Nagy, the Indians still have a steady front half of a rotation, and if Dick Pole really does get Jaret Wright back on track, then the Indians would still be in good shape to win the division. The problem is what it was last year: if Bartolo Colon isn't right for the playoffs, the Indians will be dead in the water in another October.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Activated RHP Jerry DiPoto from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP David Lee to Colorado Springs. [4/15]

How fast can you unanoint a closer? Faster than you can say "Ron Davis," from the looks of it.

DETROIT TIGERS

Placed 2B Damion Easley on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/10 (strained rib cage); recalled RHP Jeff Weaver from Toledo. [4/15]

Here's creative management: having lost Damion Easley, and without a utility infielder worthy of playing time, what do Randy Smith and Phil Garner do? Call up someone who can play both halves of the game, like Tilson Brito or maybe even Giomar Guevara? Pull off a puny trade to bring in one of the dozen or so veteran Triple-A second basemen you can get for a song (heck, ol' buddy Kevin Towers has two at Las Vegas in Ralph Milliard and Jed Hansen)? No, they decide to let Gregg Jefferies play for his pay, at a position he hasn't played regularly since 1991. While this might make some sense if you had a bunch of starting pitchers who throw hard, a rotation depending on Dave Mlicki or Scuffy Moehler isn't going to have fun with Jefferies being added to a team already carrying some serious lead at third base, center field and right field.

Meanwhile, Weaver is back up to take up the fifth spot in the rotation. In a season in which a lot of things are going to go wrong, the Tigers have to hope that, at the least, they can get Weaver somewhere close to where he was last summer, before he fell apart in the second half.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Outrighted C Sandy Martinez to Calgary. [4/14]

Acquired C John Pachot from the Diamondbacks for RHP Ryan Creek. [4/15]

HOUSTON ASTROS

Sold RHP Doc Gooden to the Devil Rays; activated OF Matt Mieske from the 15-day DL. [4/13]

With Scott Elarton due back faster than expected, the Astros pulled the plug on the Doctor at the right time, even going so far as to put him in the appropriate circle of Valhalla/Hell/the Seniors Tour.

With Mieske's return, the Astros' nice problem of creating playing time for the three good regular outfielders they have (Moises Alou, Roger Cedeno and Richard Hidalgo), plus the potentially outstanding platoon of Daryle Ward and Mieske, all make for a great case to move the franchise over to the DH league.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned LHP Onan Masaoka to Albuquerque; recalled RHP Eric Gagne from Albuquerque. [4/15]

Because he had an option to burn, Onan Masaoka loses out in the roster shuffling caused by the injuries to Kevin Brown and Gregg Olson. While putting Eric Gagne and Jeff Williams up for spot starts won't last too long, they're still better off finding a way to turn Carlos Perez into a toadstool if he won't go to the pen.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Acquired C Pat Cline from the Cubs for a PTBNL and cash. [4/13]

Acquired LHP Ray King from the Cubs for RHP Doug Johnston. [4/14]

Placed C Henry Blanco on the 15-day DL (lacerated right finger); purchased the contract of C Raul Casanova from Indianapolis; transferred RHP Kyle Peterson from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [4/15]

Blame a bunch of this on Assistant GM Dave Wilder, late of the Cubs. That isn't all bad; Ray King can pitch, and would be a pretty good situational left-hander in the majors; Rule 5 pick Matt Williams hasn't done all that much to hold the job, and Valerio de los Santos is better off in long relief.

The problem is that the organization is desperately short of catching, as even the injuries to a mediocre (to be generous) pair like Robinson Cancel and Henry Blanco exposes. It was why they had to claim Papo Casanova on waivers, and it wasn't made any better by the unfortunate decision to sign Tyler Houston. Signing Houston is especially unfortunate, because his limitations in turn limit what the Brewers can do to replace Blanco. Houston can't really catch.

The best choice in the organization is Creighton Gubanich, but he's never going to win any awards for his glovework. The next-best choice might be organizational soldier Alex Andreopolous, but like Houston he bats left-handed, and Houston needs platooning. If I'm the Brewers, I'd probably hose my affiliates and call them both up, scare up some independent leaguers to stock Indianapolis and Huntsville, and let Houston combat Charlie Hayes and Sean Berry in Celebrity Death Match 2000 for who gets to be last man on the bench.

NEW YORK METS

Placed RHP Bobby J. Jones on the 15-day DL (strained calf); announced that the contract of RHP Dennis Springer will be purchased from Norfolk on 4/18. [4/17]

Bill Pulsipher is still hurt and the other Bobby Jones is still bad, so Springer gets the call to fill in in the rotation. A four/five combination of Springer and a retread like Glendon Rusch would be half-decent filler on a team marking time until prospects arrived, but the Mets are laboring under the delusion that they're going to win big this year. The eventual answer to the problem will probably be Grant Roberts, but I'd be reluctant to call him up while expectations of this team are still silly.

Unfortunately, there aren't that many prospects to peddle for the starting pitcher they've so desperately needed since dumping Masato Yoshii. I'll be the first to commend Steve Phillips if he gets that starter by the end of May; their aging offensive core basically dictates that they try to contend this year, and as long as he doesn't give up the team's lone hitting prospect above A ball (Alex Escobar), he'll have done something to make up for this winter's miscalculations.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Placed LHP Andy Pettitte on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/8 (strained muscle - back); recalled RHP Darrell Einertson from Columbus; announced that RHP Mike Buddie cleared waivers and outrighted him to Columbus. [4/13]

My feelings about Andy Pettitte are probably about the same as my feelings towards Steve Avery were six or seven years ago: a nice enough starter to have around as long as you've got a great front three, but there's a lot of mileage on that arm. Some Yankees fans on the BP team have been kvetching for quite a while that the Yankees should have avoided a multi-year deal, but I doubt any of the rest of us should weep for wasted Boss dollars.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Rescinded the assignment of RHP Kirk Bullinger to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; placed Bullinger on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/10 (lower back sprain). [4/15]

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Placed LHP Jesse Orosco and RHP Mark Thompson on the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Mike James from Memphis; recalled LHP Justin Brunette from Arkansas (Double-A). [4/13]

Optioned LHP Justin Brunette to Memphis; recalled RHP Alan Benes from Memphis. [4/14]

The thing about Jesse Orosco nowadays is that he's replaceable, and a young pitcher like Justin Brunette is probably a step up. Brunette throws hard, harder than he did before surgery, and now the Cardinals have lost Paul Spoljaric and have nothing to show for it: no handy utility Super Joe McEwing, a broken Orosco and Alan Benes on the roster when his busted wing won't let him pitch anywhere but in relief, and then only with plenty of rest between appearances. Sure, once Scott Radinsky is healthy these points are moot, but he wasn't effective in 1998 with the Dodgers. The Cardinals can't afford to discard talent so quickly or easily. They may be hot right now, but they're not that good.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Outrighted LHP Dan Serafini to Las Vegas; recalled LHP Kevin Walker from Memphis. [4/13]

Placed CF Ruben Rivera on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/12 (tendinitis - wrist); recalled OF Mike Darr from Las Vegas. [4/15]

Losing Ruben Rivera is as close to a defensive disaster as a team might have to suffer. The Padres are not a good defensive team, and Rivera was basically their lone great glove man, and at an important defensive position. On any team carrying Tony Gwynn's girth in one corner, Rivera is a necessity. Now that the outfield will feature the stylings of ex-infielder Eric Owens as well as Gwynn and tree stump Al Martin, that's an outfield born to give up doubles and triples.

It was something of a surprise that Dan Serafini made the team in the first place, but he's just another one of the guys Ed Lynch and Kevin Towers like to play hot potato with. Kevin Walker has made progress since moving to the pen, and while I can't help but wish Huck Flener got some consideration for the spot of second left-hander, it's just as well that Towers looks over one of his own.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned RHP Ben Weber to Fresno; recalled RHP Scott Linebrink from Fresno. [4/14]

Optioned RHP Scott Linebrink to Fresno; activated LHP Shawn Estes from the DL. [4/16]

And so, for the time being, a fun story of a longshot making the roster comes to an end. If anyone hasn't seen the goggled ben Weber and his rat-tail haircut on the mound, you'll have to see it in Fresno. There really wasn't the room for him, although he should be back, barring a fistful of minor miracles from pitching coach Dave Righetti.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Placed IF Carlos Guillen on the 15-day DL (pulled hamstring); activated C Tom Lampkin from the DL. [4/13]

While no one's expectations for Carlos Guillen should be high, especially now that he's playing out of position, you have to hate seeing him get bit by the injury bug again.

While most of the playing time at third base will probably go to David Bell while Mark McLemore handles second base, the bad/ugly aspect of this is that it means the Mariners are going to continue the experiment that should have died long ago: John Mabry as a third baseman. To his credit, Mabry has worked long and hard at being adequate at third base, despite which it hasn't worked. He doesn't hit well enough to deserve regular playing time, but that hasn't stopped two of the most stubborn managers in the game, Tony LaRussa and Lou Piniella, from trying.

It's definitely strange for the Mariners to carry three catchers. Part of the problem is the sense that if Joe Oliver was so valuable last year, somebody might snag him if he was deposited in Tacoma. A bigger part of the problem is Dan Wilson's steady collapse as a hitter. While people started touting him as a player after his nifty 1996 season, he's been going downhill ever since. There is some evidence that catchers can enjoy later career surges than regular position players, but Wilson had his peak years in 1996 and 1997, when he was 27 and 28.

A big part of the problem has been that Wilson was asked to catch a huge number of games in those years, 138 in 1996 and 146 in 1997. Because of the shadow Pudge Rodriguez casts over his peers as far as being able to handle that kind of workload, it doesn't sound like much, but it very well might have wrecked Wilson. The question may now be whether he can enjoy a mid-30s renaissance, a la Jim Sundberg. He's a good catcher, and with a good left-handed hitter to soak up at least half of the playing time, he could be an asset again.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Optioned RHP Dan Wheeler to Durham; recalled RHP Cory Lidle from Durham; acquired RHP Doc Gooden from the Astros for cash. [4/13]

Optioned RHP Cory Lidle to Durham; added Gooden to the active roster. [4/15]

"Is that a BP cage? It's kind of small and funny-looking."

"No, it's your complimentary walker, Mr. Gooden. Welcome to paradise! Clubhouse bingo every night during every homestand. Watch out, that young Mr. Flaherty's a bit of a bingo shark. We let things get a little more informal on the road trips. We think you'll love it here, especially after we replace those sweaty caps with iridiscent team sun visors"

"Don't we play indoors?"

"They're glow-in-the-dark. The fans love'm for those late-night shuffleboard battles."

TEXAS RANGERS

Placed LF Rusty Greer on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/13 (strained hamstring); purchased the contract of OF Jason McDonald from Oklahoma; designated RHP Brian Sikorski for assignment. [4/15]

Rusty Greer is out for a month, maybe two. That's exactly the kind of bad news that Mariners and A's fans want to hear. Even better for them is that while the Rangers have a solid internal replacement for Greer in Pedro Valdes, they didn't even consider calling him up.

While McDonald is a nifty bench player and spare part, the role that's available right now is those 100-150 or so at-bats from their left fielder. The Rangers aren't brimming with power, and Valdes would give them some from the left side; if instead they really do elevate Chad Curtis into a full-time role, they'll have missed an opportunity to help themselves.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Signed DH Todd Greene to a minor-league contract. [4/15]

Optioned IF Chris Woodward to Syracuse; recalled LHP Clayton Andrews from Syracuse. [4/16]

Optioned RHP Peter Munro to Syracuse; recalled LHP John Bale from Syracuse. [4/17]

While a good amount of the reshuffling of the pitching staff is a product of last weekend's disaster at the bats of the Mariners, they're making a mistake in carrying three left-handed relievers. The question is whether they'll let Clayton Andrews start. Why call him up if the answer is "no"? Why let Frank Castillo "win" the fifth slot in the first place, if a bad start or two is enough to put his job security in doubt? What does Peter Munro do differently now from last season or this spring, beside having endured one really ghastly inning on Sunday? Sensibly enough, Gord Ash has publicly stated his interest in acquiring a starting pitcher, but in terms of day-to-day management of the staff, this is pretty sloppy.

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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