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April 28, 2000

Transaction Analysis

April 24-27, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated SS Gary DiSarcina from the DL; optioned IF Keith Johnson to Edmonton. [4/24]

Activated RHP Elvin Nina from the DL and assigned him to Erie (Double-A). [4/25]

Finally resurfacing after too much quality time in Calgary, Benji Gil managed to demonstrate that there's still no reason to consider him to be more than one of the top 60 or so shortstops on the planet. Keep in mind, though, that when somebody like me says he "sucks," I'm still talking about one of the 60 best shortstops on the planet.

Of course, if Gil's in the top 60, that doesn't mean Gary DiSarcina is in the top 40.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Placed RHP Kevin McGlinchy on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/17; recalled LHP Bruce Chen from Richmond. [4/20]

Optioned RHP Luis Rivera to Richmond; activated RHP Rudy Seanez from the DL. [4/27]

So now not only is John Burkett less than mediocre, he's also fragile? The Braves want him around for what, again? With Kerry Ligtenberg needing to pitch himself into shape, there are two roster spots being wasted on projects.

The Braves don't seem to have the "veteran insurance" thing worked out the way the Indians or Yankees do. Guys like these are made for extended spring training and maximum-length rehab assignments. The Braves sort of have the right idea with Steve Avery, who has been terrible, but with no harm done to the major-league team.

Both Burkett and Kevin McGlinchy have less to offer right now than Bruce Chen and Luis Rivera. Chen ought to be in the rotation, and as long as Bobby Cox doesn't make the same mistake with Chen that he made last year with Odalis Perez, the results will be fine.

At least the return of Seanez should give the Braves one of the best right-handed setup men around, for at least the month or two that he's healthy. After he inevitably reinjures himself, the Braves need to take a page from the Yankees' playbook and leave him in Myrtle Beach until September, to get him prepped for postseason work.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Claimed IF Mark Lewis off of waivers from the Reds; designated RHP Tim Worrell for assignment. [4/26]

At least this gets the Orioles back down to 11 pitchers. Their roster dilemma remains the same: as long as they're committed to carrying three left-handed relievers, refuse to use Chuck McElroy at all and cling to keeping Mike Timlin in the Eck-style closer's role, they really need a second useful right-handed reliever. Calvin Maduro isn't fitting the bill any better than Tim Worrell ever will. Once Scott Erickson returns, chances are that Jose Mercedes will get bumped back into the pen, but the Orioles would be better off either taking a long look at Gabe Molina or bringing Al Reyes back.

BOSTON RED SOX

Signed C Mike Figga and RHP Mel Rojas to minor-league contracts. [4/25]

Acquired OF Curtis Pride from the Mets for a PTBNL. [4/27]

Pawtucket may not push Buffalo this year, and moves like these don't do a lot to help. Pride at least gives the PawSox the left-handed-hitting outfielder they otherwise lacked.

I'm not sure about Pawtucket's alignment on the compass, but I'm willing to bet at least one of Rojas's taters will reach Southie, if not fly all the way to Fenway.

CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned RHP Ruben Quevedo and OF Tarrik Brock to Iowa; recalled RHP Matt Karchner from Iowa; activated 3B/OF Willie Greene from the DL. [4/25]

One of the more pathetic things about the Cubs under the Andy MacPhail/Ed Lynch regime has been that when things get bad, they make noise about shaking up the roster, then pull off moves like these. It isn't Don Baylor's fault; Ed Lynch did the exact same thing in 1996, when he swore that the team needed shaking up, and the prescription for improvement was demoting guys like Brian Dorsett and Todd Haney.

The question is the same now as it was then: what kind of roster has guys like this in the first place? Tarrik Brock had no business being on a major-league roster, and Ruben Quevedo came up too soon. The Cubs are still the kind of organization that gets genuinely surprised when it notices someone like Damon Buford can't hit despite years of professional experience, so what's their guess for success? They're seriously talking about bringing back Lance Johnson, or maybe Curtis Goodwin. After all, they were good enough to have last year, right?

While Willie Greene gives the Cubs a needed dose of left-handed power in the infield and off the bench, he'll only get spot starts for Shane Andrews. Matt Karchner is still part of the right-handed relief problem: as long as this team thinks Brian Williams was a worthwhile off-season signing, and as long as they pretend they need to reserve Rick Aguilera for the ninth-inning lead they'll get about once a week, this pen is never going to get sorted out.

CINCINNATI REDS

Recalled RHP Elmer Dessens from Louisville; placed (and lost) IF Mark Lewis on waivers. [4/26]

Twelve pitchers might make sense, considering that Ron Villone, Steve Parris and Pete Harnisch are all having problems getting through the fifth inning in their starts. But especially in Villone's case, I'd take that as an incentive to start changing some roles. The Reds are talking about how great Elmer Dessens is looking nowadays. The hope is that a stint in Japan might have taught him about breaking stuff and changing speeds.

The Reds will probably stay with 12 pitchers even after Barry Larkin heals; the alternative would be to bring up a utilityman like Chris Sexton, better known as the poor man's Chris Stynes, and the Reds already have the original model.

DETROIT TIGERS

Activated 2B Damion Easley from the DL; optioned RF Karim Garcia to Toledo. [4/25]

Karim Garcia was demoted just before receiving his suspension, which puts him in the company of Bob Sebra, if I remember correctly. Sebra's demotion effectively ended his career, not that it was that impressive to start off with.

That's another thing Garcia has in common with Sebra. Garcia is starting to enter Brad Komminsk territory as far as being one of the all-time outfield-prospect flops, at least in the non-Blue Jay category. Maybe it's because he's lying about his age; he did come out of the Dodgers' organization originally, after all.

Damion Easley's return will do more for the Tigers' defense than anything else, but between Tony Clark's struggles and Dean Palmer's suspension, all of a sudden Gregg Jefferies is going to get a lot more playing time than is healthy for a team claiming it's going to push the Indians.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Activated IF Dave Berg from the DL; optioned UT Chris Clapinski to Calgary. [4/25]

Dave Berg only returns to reprise his super-utility role; John Boles is claiming he's going to let Pablo Ozuna play second base as long as he's up and Luis Castillo is on the DL. But just as I'd rather let Ozuna stay at shortstop over Alex Gonzalez, I'd rather let Berg play every day at shortstop over Alex Gonzalez.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Recalled RHP Jason Rakers from Omaha. [4/24]

Acquired RHP Miguel Batista from the Expos for RHP Brad Rigby. [4/25]

Optioned RHP Chris Fussell to Omaha. [4/26]

Hmm, this all looks suspiciously like a couple of good ideas from a place not known for them. The key feature here is that the Royals realize that two rotation spots are wide open. Chris Fussell is going down to make a few starts at Omaha, after which he might be back up and in the big-league rotation. In the meantime, the Royals can decide how much longer it will be until they pull the plug on Jay Witasick and possibly Mac Suzuki. In Witasick's case, most people have been expecting him to move back into the bullpen at some point, while Suzuki is another one of Woody Woodward's follies.

Toss in stealing Miguel Batista from the Expos, and you've got a situation where Tony Muser has a lot of flexibility. Batista should start off in the pen, but if Fussell's retrofitting into starterdom goes slowly, Batista can be slipped into the rotation for either Witasick or Suzuki, whoever doesn't get his act together first.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Activated RHP Kevin Brown from the DL; optioned LHP Jeff Williams to Albuquerque. [4/25]

Kevin Brown's absence wasn't as much of a problem as it could have been, but he does return in time for a major offensive tailspin. Demoting Jeff Williams temporarily leaves the Dodgers without a left-handed reliever. Unless Onan Masaoka gets his control problems straightened out at Albuquerque, the Dodgers will have to trade for one, because the organization is short of left-handed pitching above A ball.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Acquired RHP Brad Rigby from the Royals for RHP Miguel Batista. [4/25]

If this was a salary dump, it was oddly timed, and didn't bring in any talent. The only possible excuse for this move is that the Expos needed a pitcher who might have an option to burn, because there isn't much to separate Rigby from people like J.D. Smart or Shayne Bennett. Like so many guys Jim Beattie gets the hots for, Rigby's just very tall.

NEW YORK METS

Optioned RHP Dennis Springer to Norfolk; recalled RHP Eric Cammack from Norfolk. [4/27]

Your basic roster shenanigan. It's expected that by the next time the fifth rotation spot rolls around, the worthwhile Bobby Jones (the right-handed one) will be ready to come off of the DL. Meanwhile, the Mets get to effectively carry a 26th man, in this case Eric Cammack, for mop-up duties as they head off to Planet Coors.

This isn't the Mets' fault: the system is designed to be exploited and they're smart enough to do so. But a team carrying several pitchers with less than three years' experience could pull a lot of sleight-of-hand with moves like this, and it will take an aggressive commissioner's office to keep it from happening.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Placed LHP Allen Watson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 4/23 (strained oblique); recalled LHP Ed Yarnall from Columbus. [4/24]

Activated 3B Scott Brosius from the DL; optioned 3B Alfonso Soriano to Columbus. [4/25]

Activated LHP Andy Pettitte from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Ed Yarnall to Columbus. [4/26]

Slowly but surely, the Yankee are putting their roster back together again, and while it was amusing to submit Rangers' fans to the indignity of losing on a Clay Bellinger home run, the Yankees are better with Scott Brosius back.

They're going to reach a point where they'll have decide whether or not to try to slip Todd Erdos through waivers. While I like him more than most, if push comes to shove they can afford the risk.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Placed DH John Jaha on the 15-day DL (shoulder strain); optioned OF Jeremy Giambi to Sacramento; recalled CF Terrence Long and 1B/3B Adam Piatt from Sacramento. [4/24]

Signed 1B Paul Sorrento and RHP Rich DeLucia to minor-league contracts and assigned them to Sacramento. [4/27]

The A's reap the bitter fruit of last winter's political decision to bring back the oft-injured John Jaha and Randy Velarde: it isn't even May, and neither of them have been healthy.

Fortunately, the A's have choices. While I'm not a member of the Cult of Terrence Long, on a tactical level there might be something to be said for a guy who will hit a bit like Garret Anderson on a team loaded with guys who'll take ball four. While I'm fond of the Rich Becker/Ryan Christenson platoon in center field, it just as easily makes for a fine fourth outfielder.

Adam Piatt's callup is a fun development, in that it gives the heavily left-leaning lineup a much-needed dose of right-handed sock. The A's were already letting Olmedo Saenz play every day, and the team may not have to worry as much about left-handed pitching as they did last year.

As for letting Jeremy Giambi slip back to the minors, he didn't do much with limited playing time. For all of this spring's tough talk (or last year's ugly experiment with Tony Phillips in center field), even the A's decided that a roster heavy on DH types makes for some bad baseball.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Activated OF Kory DeHaan from the DL; optioned DH John Roskos to Las Vegas. [4/24]

Now that Rule 5 pick DeHaan's "injury" is completely healed, he can look forward to plenty of exciting duty as a defensive replacement for either of Al Martin or Tony Gwynn.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Optioned RHP Kevin Hodges to Tacoma; recalled LHP Robert Ramsay from Tacoma. [4/25]

See the Mets comment above, with this situation also being brought on by injuries, in this case to Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer. Kevin Hodges was in the major leagues for all of 72 hours.

To keep teams from getting really silly about these sorts of moves, a longer minimum call-up time might not be such a bad idea. The Mariners are carrying two potential emergency starter/long-relief guys in Frankie Rodriguez and Paul Abbott, so there's something tacky about letting them carry a third. It wasn't as if either Rodriguez or Abbott were even all that tired. Rodriguez pitched four innings last Friday, which means he should have been ready for some work by Monday or Tuesday; Abbott pitched two innings on Saturday, which should have had him also available by Monday, when Hodges tossed three mopup innings in a shutout loss.

The question is whether stopping this sort of ticky-tack roster move is a worthwhile goal. The plus is that somebody like Hodges gets his cup of coffee, but the downside is that it undermines the validity of setting the roster limit at 25 in the first place. There's been talk of wooing the union with the offer of an extra roster spot or two during the next CBA, and we can expect that will mean a roster spot for mop-up pitchers to keep the slaughter rule off the books, and probably some more aggressive action in the Rule 5 draft. And again, you have to ask yourself: are these worthy goals.

TEXAS RANGERS

Placed LHP Mike Munoz on the 15-day DL (tendinitis); recalled LHP Doug Davis from Oklahoma. [4/26]

Johnny Oates is known for being a literalist: he's decided to carry 12 pitchers, so it doesn't matter if he's still got two left-handers in the pen even after losing Mike Munoz--he just has to have that third left-hander, so up Davis comes. It won't be for long. Assuming the Rangers can't find a taker for Mark Clark right at this moment, someone has to go once Justin Thompson returns, and Davis can be optioned back down.

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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