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September 13, 2006

Transaction Analysis

September 5-11

by Christina Kahrl


IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Purchased the contract of C-R Raul Chavez from Bowie (Double-A); transferred LHP Kurt Birkins from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/5]

Recalled RHP Sendy Rleal from Ottawa (Triple-A); purchased the contract of LHP Brian Burres from Ottawa; designated C-R Danny Ardoin for assignment. [9/7]

Burres is getting a brief trial as a reliever after a solid season in Ottawa's rotation: 10-6, 4.1 runs allowed per nine, a 110-56 strikeout-walk ratio in 139 innings. Not too shabby for a winter waiver claim from the Giants, or for a string-bean draft-and-follow picked in the 2000 draft. The danger is that the Orioles might expect him to be a situational lefty, when his splits suggest that's the one thing you shouldn't ask of him, considering he relies on a cut fastball as his out pitch, while pushing across slow heat and a for-show curve. He's got the makings of a fifth starter at the very least, so he was certainly a worthwhile grab in January, and he'd make for a cheap and decent alternative to Hayden Penn next spring.

Okay, I know the stakes are puny, but who in their right minds bothers to exchange Raul Chavez and Danny Ardoin? Admittedly, neither has hit, but Chavez's career is a pretty clear indication that he never will-we're talking about a 33-year-old with career averages of .258/.308/.338 in the minor leagues. Meanwhile, Ardoin's numbers suggest that he's a perfectly adequate backup catcher, and PECOTA projected him to hit a park-neutral .232/.314/.394 this year. Maybe it's symptomatic of a club that doesn't know what it's doing, but perhaps it's a matter of not liking how Ardoin calls a game. The difference between the two won't make a difference in the standings.

BOSTON RED SOX
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Recalled LHP Kason Gabbard and RHP Craig Hansen from Pawtucket (Triple-A); acquired C-L George Kottaras from the Padres to complete the Jumbo Wells trade; designated RHP Jermaine Van Buren for assignment. [9/5]

Purchased the contract of C-R Ken Huckaby from Pawtucket; released C-R Javy Lopez outright. [9/8]

So, the Sox get their guy, so at least they get something for having invested so much of this season in the drama of the whens and ifs of Jumbo's last season (maybe). Kottaras is an excellent payoff, the sort of player who should allow Theo Epstein to consider his options for 2007 and beyond. Despite some neck problems, Kottaras hit .256/.362/.424 overall between Double- and Triple-A, and notably hit .277/.397/.462 against right-handed pitching. Although he gets tagged with a bad-glove rep, a lot of the issue seems to be a slow release on throws, and that's the sort of thing coaching (and aptitude) can fix, whether you want to bring up Jorge Posada or Mike Stanley. Before this season, PECOTA projected him to be the sort of guy you could start if you didn't have a great regular, but that might improve somewhat now that he's got more of a track record above A-ball. Still, we're talking about a guy who can be a useful regular, not a superstar, with the real value being that Kottaras can catch. Considering that he'll turn 24 next May, Kottaras isn't an especially young player, but you can probably expect that he'll have to open the year in Pawtucket given that most of his season was spent in Double-A this year. The question is whether or not Kottaras is seen as potentially being ready for the whole pot instead of just a cup of coffee at some point during next season. If he is, that might encourage Epstein to play hardball in negotiations with Doug Mirabelli, leading to non-tendering him if he won't take a pay cut. That would in turn generate a search for a backup backstop who can handle the knuckler to permit Jason Varitek his preferred absence from Tim Wakefield starts.

As for giving Lopez his outright release: not that Huckaby can play, but it was clear that Lopez wasn't worth it any longer. I know that I defended the decision to take a chance on Lopez at the time, and stand by that-it wasn't like the Sox had all sorts of alternatives, not when it involves a choice between Huckaby or Corky Miller. But once they had him, Lopez looked done behind the plate, and no better at it. It's interesting to ponder what's next for him. Before the year, his top comparables were Carlton Fisk, Terry Steinbach, Bob Watson, and Elston Howard, and none of them was really all that comparable-an indication of a pretty unique career. At 35, Fisk still had seven seasons left as a regular catcher, eight if you count the Hawk Harrelson mistake season, and Steinbach was still a useful player for the last two years of his career. In contrast, Watson and Howard were done as effective regulars at 35, and Watson had long since given up on catching. Lopez surprised everybody before with his bounce-back seasons in 2003 and 2004, but it's easier to do that at 32 than at 36. His crankiness over playing first base last spring and the question over whether he's got anything left as a hitter won't help him any this winter.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Activated RHP Dustin Hermanson from the 15-day DL. [9/5]

Purchased the contract of 3B-R Josh Fields from Charlotte (Triple-A); activated OF-L Jerry Owens from the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Sean Tracey from Charlotte. [9/10]

Although there was plenty of speculation that Fields would be plugged into the lineup for Joe Crede, he never did enter the lineup before Crede felt well enough to play. Fields hit .305/.379/.515 at Charlotte this season, and the athleticism that made him an effective quarterback one sport ago shows up in his swiping 28 bags in 33 attempts. It doesn't show up as much in his fielding, however, although he's made himself into a creditable third baseman. Instead, in three Crede-free games, Ozzie Guillen gave Alex Cintron, Pablo Ozuna, and Rob Mackowiak one start apiece, equitably enough, and there's already talk of Fields spending time in left in winter ball. That's to the good, not merely because of the questions about his glovework at the hot corner, but because it potentially frees Kenny Williams to non-tender Scott Podsednik this winter. If you have a choice between paying Podzilla plenty, or rewarding Crede, you're better off paying Crede-he's two years younger, a defensive asset, and this year's power spike isn't all just a Cell-ular fiction. I admit, it might be nice to have Podsednik around as potential insurance against Fields struggling to make the move, and also as a veteran alternative should neither Brian Anderson nor Ryan Sweeney decisively win the job in center next spring. However, the five rotation regulars are getting a combined raise of almost $8 million for 2007, so it isn't going to be easy to afford keeping everybody, and Podsednik's spotty on-base skills should make this a relatively easy decision, assuming that trying Fields out in left doesn't already indicate that the decision's been made.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Recalled RHPs Fausto Carmona, Jeremy Guthrie, and Brian Slocum, LHP Rafael Perez, and CF-R Franklin Gutierrez from Buffalo (Triple-A); purchased the contract of LHP Juan Lara from Buffalo; activated RHP Matt Miller from the 15-day DL. [9/5]

DETROIT TIGERS
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Recalled OF-R Brent Clevlen from Erie (Double-A). [9/5]

Released DH-B Dmitri Young outright; activated LHP Mike Maroth from the 60-day DL; designated RHP Chris Spurling for assignment. [9/6]

Outrighted INF-L Don Kelly to Erie (Double-A). [9/8]

If there was any question over whether or not the Tigers are panicking, boom, there it is. This wasn't like the decision to go get Neifi Perez; as ill-considered as that was, Dombrowski's pointless pickup in that case seemed more a matter of adding somebody Jim Leyland remembered from a season he'd otherwise rather forget, and as such, reflects something about the fallibility of memory. (There was a time people thought that great Chief Wounded Stick was worth something. I mean, besides Dusty Baker.)

No, instead, this is just a plain old lashing-out, omigod-we-might-blow-this-thing freakout. (Not a technical term.) Young was actually one of their best hitters since the All-Star break, hitting .292/.331/.504, or an awful lot like you'd expect Dmitri Young to hit. But all of a sudden, the guy has a bad week within that timeframe, and he's boldly cut loose for non-performance? What does that mean, that they're going to have Marcus Thames shot for inadequacy in the second half? Come on down to "Magglio Ordonez's Flogging Night" during the next homestand? For all of the subsequent inside whispering that Young was a cancer, I'd suggest it's better to let yourself rot from the inside out and go down fighting than simply die with the anemia that comes with playing Sean Casey, solid citizen. If cutting Young was supposed to inspire people, it didn't inspire them to play well against the Twins last weekend, and the Tigers still aren't getting anything from their first basemen or their DHs. If they lose, it's because they made it so.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Activated RHP Mike Wood from the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Joselo Diaz from Omaha (Triple-A); recalled C-R Paul Phillips from Omaha; transferred 1B-L Doug Mientkiewicz from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/5]

Activated RHP Adam Bernero from the 15-day DL. [9/10]

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Activated RHP Mike Mussina from the 15-day DL; transferred RHP Carl Pavano from the 15- to the 60-day DL; purchased the contracts of SS-R Andy Cannizaro and LHP Sean Henn from Columbus (Triple-A). [9/5]

If you're concerned about what's going to happen to the Yankees in the postseason, you should be. The Moose might be loose, but the Yankees need him to go back to being their beast of burden, pulling the rest of the rotation along behind him, and instead he got slapped around by the Royals-the Royals-in his first game back. We'll see how he did tonight, but with Jaret Wright veering back into unpredictability, the Yankees are closer to having to have to win their postseason matchups by outpounding the other guys than they'd like to admit.

The fun guy to note here is Cannizaro, a player straight out of your Andy Stankiewicz buy-me-a-vowel brand of middle infield pests. At 27, he's not a prospect, but it's nice to see him get the call after having to spend much of three seasons at Trenton, longer than any transplant since Oberst Rall made the mistake of celebrating Christmas there. (The lesson: always, always, always celebrate the holidays with family. And not in Trenton, not without an invitation.) Cannizaro's just an organizational soldier, but it's nice to see the Yankees give him the honor of a call-up. In contrast, this was something of a lost season for Henn, but it's worth noting that he's still only 25, and lefties who throw hard get their share of opportunities.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Re-purchased the contract of INF-B D'Angelo Jimenez from Sacramento (Triple-A); designated RHP Matt Roney and INF-L Mike Rouse for assignment; claimed RHP Jerome Williams off of waivers from the Cubs. [9/5]

Activated RHP Huston Street from the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Jason Windsor from Sacramento. [9/8]

Getting Street back is the agate news item, but it seems certain that he'll be pitching through some discomfort, thereby joining Eric Chavez and Mark Kotsay on the easily-identifiable walking wounded list. Me, I'm more interested in the decision to grab Williams, since it seems a much better use for a 40-man roster spot than Roney (an adequate ROOGY type) or Rouse. Although I was high on Rouse's potential as a utility infield type earlier in the season, he went completely flat after a strong May, not the sort of thing a guy who's already 26 can afford in his third year in Sacramento.

I guess what I like about grabbing Williams is the possibility of upside. That's not a prediction of coming greatness, but he was good enough to be a rotation regular in the major leagues in 2004 and 2005, and getting burned by the Baker happens to all sorts of people who cross Dusty's path. Williams did get a bit of a rap for being an attitude problem with the Giants, and getting bounced around as much as he has probably didn't help that any. Despite all of that, he'll only turn 25 this winter, he still throws hard, and he still has a good slider. Maybe he needs to just get the opportunity to sit still with a new organization and re-trench. For an organization that stands to lose Barry Zito in the offseason, and already has to count on Kirk Saarloos, this was definitely a flyer worth taking.

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Recalled RHP Francisco Cruceta, LHP Cesar Jimenez, OF-R T.J. Bohn, PH-L Greg Dobbs, CF-R Adam Jones, and SS-B Oswaldo Navarro from Tacoma (Triple-A); recalled RHP Travis Chick and LHP Ryan Feierabend from San Antonio (Double-A); transferred RHP Mark Lowe from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list; placed RHP Sean Green on the 60-day DL (strained lat). [9/8]

You probably already know all you need to about Jones as the club's shortstop of the future, and Chick's the payoff for Eddie Guardado, and Dobbs will probably have his uniform retired by the Rainiers someday. The guys I'm most interested in among this crew are Cruceta and Navarro.

You may remember that Cruceta was claimed off of waivers from the Indians last year, and he's had an interesting season down in Tacoma. He's been able to mow down hitters with the splitter he's learned to use to complement his low 90s heat, striking out 185 in 160.1 innings this year. Unfortunately, he's also continued to leave pitches up in the zone, giving up 25 home runs, and showing a particular dependence on Tacoma's roomy outfield to stay out of trouble. He's also pretty wild, walking 76 and throwing 18 wild pitches. Still, the guy's only 25, and he has some stuff that fools a lot of the people much of the time-he could still be something more than the new Jeff Juden.

Navarro's another one of the organization's aggressively promoted youngsters, jumping from the Midwest League past the High-A Cal League to spend this season in Double- and Triple-A, and hitting .258/.348/.332 between San Antonio and Tacoma at the tender age of 21. It's hard to know what to expect-he doesn't run well, and you have to hope that the power he showed in Wisconsin last season (when he hit 29 doubles and nine homers) will show up again. He gets projected as a utilityman, but I guess I'm hopeful that he could turn out better than that. If the power reappears with age, and he retains the patience, he can play short well enough to stay there. It'll certainly be interesting to see who PECOTA compares him to this winter, because last year's list didn't really suggest he'd get even this far. As far as that goes, credit the Mariners for their aggressiveness with their charges, because it seems as if Navarro's potential upside, like Jones', is the better for it.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
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Activated RHP Jae Seo from the 15-day DL. [9/5]

Released 1B-L Travis Lee outright. [9/10]

At this point, I wouldn't wish Lee on the worst team in the Korean Leagues, but for whatever reason, it took the D-Rays this long to finally acknowledge that he's beyond usefulness. If you want a signature moment that these aren't your... well, not your Dad's D-Rays, so how about your older brother's Devil Fish? At any rate, this might be it, that symbolic break from the team that gave us the Jose Canseco Hall of Fame plaque pledge, or the otherwise unimaginable Hal McRae comeback, or the mind-numbing power of losses piled so high that they stopped up Mt. Piniella's eruptions. They're a baseball team these days, and one of the really fun ones to follow. That isn't to say that they're definitely going to wind up being a good team, but with as much talent as they've assembled, it's nice to finally see them divorce themselves from one of the last veteran reminders of their squalid past.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Recalled RHP Nick Masset and SS-R Joaquin Arias from Oklahoma (Triple-A). [9/5]

Recalled RHP Frank Francisco from Frisco (Double-A). [9/8]

For some people, the name of note here might be the chair-tosser, but I'm pretty indifferent. He's had his dance card punched by John Law a few times over, and he's just another reliever. Arias should be the person to note, because he's up before his 22nd birthday, and after hitting only .268/.296/.361 in his first season in Triple-A, so he clearly isn't up for merit. You might consider this a major step backwards, but it's really of a piece with the rest of his career-he's effectively stood still while the competition he's facing gets better. So his relative lack of power doesn't improve, his lack of strikezone judgment got worse, and his baserunning is still on that borderline between 'tantalizing' and 'regrettable.' In-season, he didn't get better this year as the season progressed, he just kept doing what he's doing, and that's not a positive sign. He's still very raw despite four full seasons as a pro, and has the "traded for A-Rod" aspect of things to live up to, so the question is whether he's going to learn against more experience competition. He's young enough, but for the time being, he's no threat to Michael Young.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Recalled RHP Francisco Rosario from Syracuse (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Josh Towers from Syracuse; transferred RHP Pete Walker from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/5]

If you were hoping that Towers had rehabilitated his bid for a fifth starter's job down in Syracuse, you might take hope in his Tewksburyian exploit, walking only ten hitters unintentionally while allowing a dozen home runs. Generally speaking, it's hard not to be positive about a guy with a 76-10 strikeout-walk ratio in 101 innings, but Towers will be 30 next season, and really needs to be in a pitcher's park in the DH-less league if he was going to be successful. Can he tamper with himself, and send the Padres a blank contract? Would a fruit basket improve matters any? Heck, just go flat-out "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"-level indiscreet, it's only your career we're talking about.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Acquired RHP Adam Harben from the Twins to complete the Phil Nevin trade; recalled RHP Jae Kuk Ryu and C-B Jose Reyes from Iowa; noted that RHP Jerome Williams has been claimed off of waivers by the Athletics. [9/5]

Activated LHP Ryan O'Malley from the 15-day DL. [9/8]

Not a bad flip by GM Jim Hendry, considering that he gave up the eminently fungible Jerry Hairston Jr. to bring Nevin aboard, and reaped Harben and three months of Nevin's life for their troubles. Harben's big and all kinds of wild-not all of it unintentional-and really only throws a sinking fastball for strikes, but for a 22-year-old making the jump to Double-A, he didn't embarrass himself, allowing only five home runs and 118 hits in 122.2 IP, and posting a groundball/flyball ratio of better than 2:1. What was embarrassing about his season was his walking five guys per nine while striking out only 5.4, and even more amazing was his hitting 17 batters. The kid's wild, but does apparently have a mean streak, something that's even more frustrating when you consider he's beaning the guys he otherwise gets out-15 of those hit batsmen were right-handed, and Harben held right-handers to hitting .195 and slugging .258. Whether that's fixable or just mindless aggression, we'll have to see, but it's something the Cubs will have to work on in addition to his messy mechanics. The Cubs are pretty good at noticing and developing pitching talent, but the Twins are even better at it. Although I wonder why Hendry added another pitcher to a pitching-rich organization, I nevertheless like the risk the Cubs took here.

As for the Williams situation, I touch on that a little more in the Oakland segment, but having broken him, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the Cubs subsequently risked losing him so cavalierly. While I don't think he's going to grow up to be the next Ray Burris or something, it seems pretty clear that Williams' fall from grace was the case of another player running afoul of the great Dusty Baker. In April, Williams gave the team two good relief appearances out of three, and a quality start in two, but Baker gave up on him right there, mere weeks before he'd wind up begging to have somebody who could do that much for him. After running Corey Patterson out of town, you'd think the organization might begin to notice that they're costing themselves a goodly amount of talent in return for... well, what, another postgame press conference with Darren Baker doing his best Charlie McCarthy impression?

CINCINNATI REDS
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Acquired RHP Sun-Woo Kim and cash from the Rockies for future considerations; designated LHP Michael Gosling for assignment. [9/5]

Purchased the contract of RHP Jason Johnson from Louisville (Triple-A); transferred LHP Eddie Guardado from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/6]

Outrighted LHP Michael Gosling to Louisville. [9/7]

Kim and Johnson are exactly what they seem-straggling bits of punctuation to the ever-lengthening list of second-rate and second-line pitching talent that Wayne Krivsky dealt for in his desperate quest for adequacy. For all of Krivsky's machinations during the season, the Reds are really left with a basic challenge: is Bill Bray's career going to be worth the bare minimum of what the Nationals got (two arbitration years from both Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns)? For all of the PTBNLs (or cash) that the Reds have to parcel out this winter to complete Krivsky's other deals, there's probably not a whole lot left to peddle away. Krivsky's challenge transcends fixing this team inside of one season, and I guess I'm left wondering what you do if you get to the postseason with guys like Kim and Johnson, besides play speed bump on somebody else's road to destiny, but let's face it, this Reds season wasn't about winning. It's more about making sure season ticket sales go up this winter, and it's too soon to say whether the Castellini/Williams ownership troika should break out a "mission accomplished" banner on that score.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Traded RHP Sun-Woo Kim and cash to the Reds for future considerations. [9/5]

Recalled OF/3B-R Jeff Baker, OF-L Jeff Salazar, and RHP Denny Bautista from Colorado Springs (Triple-A); purchased the contracts of LHPs Justin Hampson and Mike Venafro from Colorado Springs. [9/7]

Placed C-R Yorvit Torrealba on the 60-day DL (strained shoulder); purchased the contract of C-R Alvin Colina from Tulsa (Double-A). [9/10]

As much as it's easy to get worked up about the Iannettas or Tulowitzkis, it's worth remembering that the franchise has internal options who won't be superstars, just potentially solid players. The question is whether or not Baker, Salazar, and Bautista might be those solid B-list ballplayers. Baker's prospect status didn't really improve with a move to right field-although he hit .305/.369/.508, a lot of that was getting to hit in Colorado Springs (.350/.417/.632). Now 25, he's basically one of a few dozen guys who could catch a break and have a career as a major league outfielder, but who's instead more likely to balance on that question of whether or not the PCL is someplace you can or should set down roots, or if you might draw the attention of the Japanese Leagues and make some yen before the inevitable trip to Pawtucket. In contrast, Salazar's in a pretty interesting situation, even if he's also 25. After missing the first two months while recovering from having his elbow Tommy John'd, he did good stuff against right-handers in the PCL (.283/.369/.478), good enough to present a challenger to Cory Sullivan for the job in center. The other name to notice is Bautista's, as the former Royal prospect makes his Rockie debut. He's still a power-groundball pitcher, and striking out 35 in 36 innings at Colorado Springs gives reason for hope. Armed with the mush ball, it isn't unreasonable to expect that he might mount a threat to Josh Fogg's job security.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Recalled C-R Paul Hoover, OF-R Chris Aguila, and OF-L Eric Reed from Albuquerque (Triple-A); purchased the contract of INF-R Jason Wood from Albuquerque; transferred RHP Logan Kensing from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/5]

Wow, faster than you can forget Scott Pose, here's Reed back all over again. He actually showed some power down in Albuquerque, hitting .303/.344/.438 overall, and .319/.354/.471 against right-handers, so he might be better-suited to be the team's regular center fielder than utilityman Alfredo Amezaga. Although it was nice to see Joe Girardi get over Reggie Abercrombie, that same decisiveness seems to have cut against Jeremy Hermida, although Hermida's injured ankle seems to have assisted that. Still, Reed might get a look in center, and as long as Cody Ross and Joe Borchard do good stuff in right in Hermida's place, the Fish might be able to keep up with the other frontrunners in the wild-card chase.

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Activated RHP Fernando Nieve from the 15-day DL. [9/6]

Recalled RHP Taylor Buchholz from Round Rock (Triple-A). [9/11]

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Recalled OF-B Delwyn Young and INF-L Oscar Robles from Las Vegas (Triple-A). [9/5]

A full season at Las Vegas spent almost entirely in the outfield agreed with Young well enough, but he hit only .273/.326/.457, or a lot less than you want from a corner outfielder, and certainly less than you'd want from a guy who's 24 and in the PCL. Hopes that his plate discipline would improve went unfulfilled, as he managed only 37 unintentional walks in 583 plate appearances. His only meaningful tool is his bat, so at first glance, this wasn't the sort of season that did anything to proclaim that he's ready. However, he did do some damage against right-handed pitching, so while I wouldn't suggest that he's ready, between him and Matt Kemp, nor are the Dodgers entirely naked the next time J.D. Drew breaks down.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Claimed RHP Chris Spurling off of waivers from the Tigers; transferred RHP Matt Wise from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]

Recalled CF-L Tony Gwynn Jr. and RHP Carlos Villanueva from Nashville (Triple-A); purchased the contract of OF-L Drew Anderson from Nashville; transferred 3B-L Corey Koskie to the 60-day DL. [9/11]

Spurling's not really an exciting grab these days, not since he seemed to lose velocity to elbow surgery. Barring a nifty September, I wouldn't bet against his being a minor league free agent this winter. Gwynn and Villanueva have both already been up, and both will be part of the picture next spring after having their moments this year. Frankly, I'd rather have Gwynn than Rangers castoff Laynce Nix, but the Brewers seem to have gotten wildly overenthusiastic about Nix's brief hot streak in Nashville. Regardless, neither of them will get much of an opportunity to play unless and until Doug Melvin decides to shop Brady Clark around in the last year of his contract. If there's a surprise, it's their calling up Anderson. Not really a prospect, he's a University of Nebraska product seen as a fourth outfielder in the making, and between Double- and Triple-A he managed to hit .304/.364/.432. Already 25, he has very little upside, but the Brewers were going to have to decide whether or not to put him on the 40-man roster this winter anyway, and there's nothing wrong with seeing what he does with a cup of coffee to help them make up their minds. It's up to him whether it's vente, grande, or whatever the third size is. (No, I really don't know, I'm a homebrewer who takes her coffee straight, without the sprinkles.)

NEW YORK METS
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Recalled OF-R Lastings Milledge, LHP Dave Williams, and RHP Brian Bannister from Norfolk (Triple-A); purchased the contracts of C-R Kelly Stinnett and OF-L Ricky Ledee from Norfolk; recalled RHP Philip Humber from Binghamton (Double-A); recalled RHP Steve Schmoll from Norfolk and placed him on the 60-day DL (hamstring). [9/5]

Mets fans should be pretty familiar with all of these guys, perhaps Ledee less so, unless they had their Bronx Bomber envy groove going back in those simpler times, back when we wondered where the President left things more personal than battalions. Heck, I don't know, it was the one year I skipped the World Series, and instead went to Quebec to watch the leaves change-it wasn't like I harbored any great hopes that the Pads were going to sneak up on the Yankees. Of course, back then Mets fans had Benny Agbayani to look forward to, so they didn't need to get overly jealous of the odd Ledee. The guy to give a shout-out to here is Humber, because he's bouncing back from Tommy John surgery, and by striking out 79 hitters in 76.1 innings across three levels, it looks like it's safe to say that he's back and kicking as a pitching prospect.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Recalled INF-R Danny Sandoval from Reading (Double-A); purchased the contract of C-R Tim Gradoville from Reading (Double-A); outrighted OF-L Josh Kroeger to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A). [9/5]

Recalled OF-L Michael Bourn from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [9/7]

It's nice to have Bourn up, in no small part because he did something solid against right-handed pitching this year, hitting .282/.362/.420 against them. He also swiped 45 bases in 50 attempts, so maybe we're talking the new Milt Thompson here. That's not a bad player, and as someone to alternate in for Shane Victorino against certain right-handers, wouldn't be a bad guy to spot start. If it has the added benefit of giving a homegrown prospect a taste of a playoff chase, so much the better.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Purchased the contracts of C-R Carlos Maldonado and LHP Shane Youman from Indianapolis (Triple-A); recalled LHP Juan Perez from Indianapolis. [9/5]

Nobody here is a prospect. Youman's a pretty typical fringoid lefty, an organizational soldier whose gaudy 1.51 ERA in Altoona was the product of a repeat at the level and a convenient bunch of unearned runs-he might stick in a seventh reliever or second lefty sort of job, but that's about it. Nabbed from the Mets off of waivers, Perez is cut from that same cloth, although he throws a little harder than Youman, and has that always-tasty ex-Red Sock prospect cachet that gets some people to mention him out of habit. Maldonado's a decent enough minor league veteran backstop, the sort of guy who doesn't seem to catch as many breaks as Ken Huckaby, but wouldn't embarrass you as your backup catcher.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Sent C-L George Kottaras to the Red Sox to complete the Jumbo Wells trade; recalled 4C-L Paul McAnulty, OF-R Ben Johnson, and RHP Mike Thompson from Portland (Triple-A); purchased the contract of LF-L Jack Cust from Portland. [9/5]

Purchased the contract of 1B/OF-R Jon Knott from Portland; transferred 1B/OF-L Ryan Klesko from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]

Ugh, so it was Kottaras after all, and the Pads are left hoping that Josh Bard is the real deal and that Jumbo actually stays on his feet till the end of the season. So far, Wells has given them one good start against the Reds, and one bad against the Giants, with the Dodgers due next. All of these games are against rivals for a playoff slot, so Wells has been on the spot. I don't like the exchange all that much, but I'm a lot more hopeful about Kottaras' prospects than some.

I'm happy to see Cust get the call after he delivered 297 true outcomes in 591 plate appearances for the Beavers, good for a 50.3% Three True Outcomes season. (That's 30 homers, 143 walks, and 124 strikeouts to those of you who never belonged to the Rob Deer Fan Club.) Hopefully, the good people of Portland will give him something appropriate and equally memorable, like a gold-plated beaver tail, given to him by Jerry Mathers with all due solemnity. It's a little remarkable to consider that Cust is still only 27, and has years of obliterating the PCL to look forward to, but the guy's still a born DH, and none of the 14 big league teams have invested the playing time to see if he could fill their need. To be sure, there aren't 14 jobs available, not in a world that has David Ortiz feeling sorry for himself, or Frank Thomas doing feats of strength almost nightly any more, so Cust needs the "luck" to get a shot with the Royals or somesuch, and a manager who accepts that the guy's going to wear a sombrero a couple of times per week. A trip to Japan seems more likely, and would no doubt be more lucrative.

Not to be outdone, McAnulty and Knott are a nifty pair to have around to call up, although they don't have anything in common beyond not being Jack Cust. Knott hit a nifty .280/.353/.572 while splitting time between first and the outfield corners, and while he's 28, he wouldn't be a terrible guy to have around to hurt lefties and provide power off of the bench. In contrast, McAnulty still has some vestige of a prospect rep after hitting .309/.388/.520 as a 25-year-old in his first full season at Triple-A. He's never going to move Adrian Gonzalez out of his way at first, but he started 48 games at the hot corner for Portland, giving him a slightly better shot at a big league career within the organization. A .909 fielding percentage, 12 errors, and five DPs suggest that he wasn't very good at third, but it's something to add to the mix. If they were willing to give Todd Walker a shot, after all...

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Purchased the contract of SS-R John Nelson from Memphis (Triple-A); recalled RHP Josh Kinney and LHP Chris Narveson from Memphis. [9/5]

Recalled OF-L Skip Schumaker from Memphis. [9/7]

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Recalled LHP Mike O'Connor from New Orleans (Triple-A); activated RHP Felix Rodriguez from the 60-day DL; transferred RF-R Jose Guillen from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/5]

O'Connor will get a few starts in the closing weeks, as they sift between him, Jason Bergmann, and Billy Traber to see if any of them might mount a bid for a job next spring. Right now, the closest thing to a sure thing as far as who's going to start games for next year's Nats is John Patterson, and this summer's extended absence tells you a lot about how much they can count on even that.


As ever, I'm grateful to Kevin Goldstein for his ready answers to the odd question now and again.

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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