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February 17, 1998

Transaction Analysis

February 6-12

by Keith Law

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Traded minor-league infielder Mike Bell to the New York Mets for minor-league pitcher Joe Lisio. [2/10]

Since Mike Bell was blocked at third by Matt Williams until forever and doesn't hit enough to play third in the majors anyway, the D-backs essentially gave up nothing to get a minor-league closer with perhaps a 2% chance of having an impact at the major-league level someday. Not a bad day's work, yes, but it's also a sure sign that someone in Arizona's front office needs some busywork.

BOSTON RED SOX

Agreed to terms on a four-year contract and an option for 2002 with outfielder Troy O'Leary. [2/6]

True, it wasn't for a lot of money. But just as Duquette found O'Leary on the waiver wire three years ago, he could go back to the waiver wire now and find a comparable ballplayer for $150K/year plus meal money. Signing players like O'Leary to long-term deals defeats the entire purpose of plucking replaceable talent off waivers in the first place, and does nothing to solve Boston's outfield problem.

CHICAGO CUBS

Invited pitcher Courtney Duncan to spring training as a non-roster player. [2/12]

For a bad team, the Cubs have churned out a handful of good pitching prospects recently, and Duncan is next in that line. Although he doesn't throw a blistering fastball, he has good command, throws four plus pitches, and really just needs to work his way up the system and stay healthy. If he makes the big club, he'll get hammered.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Agreed to terms with pitcher Robbie Beckett on a minor-league contract. [2/10]

Guys who throw as hard as Beckett have nine lives to try to find some control, and most of them die trying.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Acquired pitchers Jesus Sanchez and A.J. Burnett and outfielder Robert Stratton from the New York Mets for pitcher Al Leiter and infielder Ralph Milliard. [2/6]

In the end, I'd rather have Esteban Yan and get to keep Ralph Milliard, but Milliard wasn't going to get a chance in Florida, and Sanchez isn't a bad prospect. Sanchez hasn't been worked to death like most Met pitching prospects, throws hard, has good control, and looks fully recovered from 1995 elbow surgery. He could see time in the Marlins' rotation this year, although an ideal ETA for him would be 1999. Stratton's a former #1 pick ('96) who controls the strike zone about as well as Bill Clinton controls his er, nevermind. Stratton's a complete project at this point, but the Fish have had pretty good success in building major leaguers with plate discipline, so he may be headed to the right organization. Burnett's a thrower who needs to learn how to pitch: in 44 IP in the New York-Penn League last year, he gave up just 28 hits and struck out 48, but walked 35. He's only 21, and is obviously at least three years away.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Signed pitcher Chris Howard to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training. [2/10]

MINNESOTA TWINS

Acquired pitchers Eric Milton and Danny Mota, outfielder Brian Buchanan and shortstop Cristian Guzman and cash considerations from the New York Yankees for second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. [2/6]

Oops. The Twins traded their franchise player and got very little in return. Thoughts of Enrique Wilson, Chad Ogea, Denny Neagle, or Ricky Ledee have all gone up in smoke, and the Twins missed a golden opportunity to restock the system and build for another title run. Milton's a year away, but there's a good chance none of the other three will pan out. They tried to control the trade negotiations and play the various bidders off each other, and they blew it.

NEW YORK METS

Acquired pitcher Al Leiter and infielder Ralph Milliard from the Florida Marlins for pitchers Jesus Sanchez and A.J. Burnett and outfielder Robert Stratton; signed pitchers Turk Wendell, Derek Wallace and Jason Isringhausen to one-year contracts. [2/6]

Traded minor-league pitcher Joe Lisio to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor-league infielder Mike Bell. [2/10]

The Mets didn't give up the farm for Leiter, although whether Leiter solves any of their problems is a good question. Leiter's been consistently inconsistent and brittle throughout his career, and gave back all of the ground he'd gained in '96 plus some last year. Milliard could play a role for the Mets this year once they realize that giving Carlos Baerga at bats is like giving money and power to government - they'll either waste them or use them against you. The Mets' first solution to the Baerga problem might be to put Huskey at third and Alfonzo at second, but my money says they're done screwing around with Alfonzo and would rather not move him again. As for Mike Bell, I guess Norfolk has to have a third baseman, too.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Acquired second baseman Chuck Knoblauch from the Minnesota Twins for pitchers Eric Milton and Danny Mota, outfielder Brian Buchanan and shortstop Cristian Guzman and cash considerations. [2/6]

As a Yankee fan, I'm pretty pleased. We only gave up one of our top 5 prospects (Milton), and only 20-year-old Guzman looks to have a high ceiling of the three lower-tier prospects - if he ever stops swinging at everything (17 BB/105 K last year). At this point, he's not a good bet for future success. Buchanan's a future bench player/tweener type who had approximately no future with the Yanks, and Mota's an A-ball closer who still hasn't mastered his control yet. For this, plus some Steinbrenner pocket change, the Yanks get a second baseman not named Luis Sojo who is also a solid leadoff hitter (.406 OBA out of that slot in the last 5 years, .390 last year). This move pushes the Yanks back ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East preseason favorites race, which means squat come October but helps us pass the time until Opening Day.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Sold the contract of pitcher Ryan Hancock to Fukuoka of Japan's Pacific League. [2/10]

Picture the 6'2" Hancock in Tokyo. Yeah, he'll blend.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Designated pitcher Ken Robinson for assignment. [2/10]

Related Content:  Jesus Guzman

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