Activated RHP Kevin McGlinchy from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP
Kerry Ligtenberg to Richmond. [5/13]
Just your basic good idea. Ligtenberg needs to regain control of his
breaking stuff to pitch effectively in the majors, and not even the Braves
can afford to fool around with a rehab project. Now that Kevin McGlinchy is
back, the Braves have a pen featuring two quality left-handers (John Rocker
and Mike Remlinger), two veteran right-handers (Rudy Seanez and Greg
McMichael) and two good future starting pitchers (McGlinchy and Bruce Chen).
Of that group, they only developed three of them, swiping Seanez and
McMichael off the scrap heap, and nabbing Remlinger in the Denny Neagle
trade. It should still say something about the Braves that they're getting
good work out of Seanez and McMichael when few other teams ever have or could.
Transferred CF Eugene Kingsale from the 15- to 60-day DL. [5/12]
Activated C Willie Morales from the DL and optioned him to Rochester.
BOSTON RED SOX
Placed SS Nomar Garciaparra on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring);
recalled UT Donnie Sadler from Pawtucket. [5/12]
It couldn't be a worse time to lose Nomar Garciaparra. The Yankees are
scuffling, which gives the Sox an ideal opportunity to open a four- or
five-game lead while the guys in pinstripes continue to pretend their
offensive problems will just go away somehow.
The Red Sox have done well so far because of the breadth of offensive
contributions they've gotten from just about everyone not named Jose
Offerman; once he gets going and Garciaparra returns, the Red Sox could be
one of the top four offensive teams in the league. It's a bit soon to start
worrying about double-think, things like if the Sox get a lead now,
wouldn't that encourage the Yankees to do something bold to fix their
offensive problems, which would only make Beantown's lot in life that much
In Nomar's absence, they'll have to continue to thrive on what's really
fueled their success so far: a rotation floating on decent little
five-inning outings from the non-Pedros backed by great multi-inning relief
work from Derek Lowe, Rich Garces and Tim Wakefield. Essentially, everyone
not named Pedro gets the Saberhagen treatment.
It's a riff of sorts on what the Reds and White Sox did last season, by
concentrating as many high-leverage innings as possible on their good
relievers while avoiding losses from tiring starters or tenth or 11th
pitchers. It means keeping the workload spread among your best eight or
nine pitchers and not getting caught up in LaRussian roleplaying. In a
high-offense era, it's the best adaptation possible for a team with Pedro
Martinez and four nice fourth starters.
Placed 1B Mark Grace on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring); recalled
1B Julio Zuleta from Iowa; designated LHP Andrew Lorraine for
assignment; recalled RHP Todd Van Poppel from Iowa. [5/11]
Acquired OF Dave Martinez from the Devil Rays for LHP Mark
Guthrie and cash. [5/12]
What do these moves really end up doing? Julio Zuleta will only platoon
with Willie Greene, with Shane Andrews flip-flopping between the corners,
so that hardly adds much offensively. Dave Martinez is a nicely-aged
outfielder who can't really play center field regularly, so he doesn't
change any of the problems the Cubs would have had if they'd kept Rosie
Brown on the roster. With the Corey Patterson boosters already preparing
for an August call-up (gotta delay arbitration by a year if possible, after
all), nabbing Martinez might have made sense if the Cubs were striving to
contend in the meantime, but this team was never good enough to do much
more than wrestle the Brewers over a return engagement with the cellar.
What's really silly about it is that while Martinez's fielding stats as a
center fielder have been decidedly subpar lately, Ed Lynch claimed that
Rich Becker wasn't an option because of his glovework. While it's
unreasonable to expect a repeat of past banditry from every GM, in a world
where Dan Plesac might fetch you Tony Batista, Lynch managed to turn a
veteran left-hander into a 35-year-old utility oufielder who won't make the
difference between fifth and sixth right now, let alone be someone who
might help do something two or three years down the road.
What these moves really highlight is how badly the Cubs evaluate personnel
and design their roster. It's currently chic to bash Ed Lynch as the man
solely responsible, but Lynch didn't make Don Baylor carry four left-handed
relievers. Now the Cubs are down to a more appropriate two (Felix Heredia
and Daniel Garibay), and could lose Andrew Lorraine on waivers or as a free
While I think Todd Van Poppel is a worthwhile project as a reliever, the
team is already saddled with the flickering embers of Rick Aguilera's
career, career scrub Brian Williams and Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth's
participation is perhaps the most tragic. Pitching coach Oscar Acosta is
blubbering about his great no-motion fastball, and denying that the kid
should even worry about tossing anything that wiggles. As good as his
fastball is supposed to be, it doesn't have the movement of a Ryan Anderson
fastball or even the Eric Plunk or Scott Garrelts models. It isn't as
good as Dave Stewart's straight-as-string heat was before Stewart learned
he needed a forkball to survive in the majors; it isn't as good as Rob
Dibble's or Rich Gossage's cheese before they learned they needed to use
their slider consistently. Yet the Cubs claim to know that Farnsworth is
so good that he doesn't have to do something as basic as master a
Recalled RHP Osvaldo Fernandez from Louisville. [5/13]
Because the Reds already made the smart choice and handed the fifth starter
slot to Rob Bell, Osvaldo Fernandez is who they have to go to now that Pete
Harnisch is out. There really isn't all that much to recommend Fernandez
over minor-league vet Larry Luebbers, other than that he's Cuban and we
can't seem to get enough of that in the news these days.
Outrighted C Bobby Hughes to Buffalo. [5/11]
Activated CF Kenny Lofton and RHP Bartolo Colon from the DL;
designated RHP Bobby Witt for assignment; outrighted OF Mark
Whiten to Buffalo.
Kenny Lofton's return may be too soon, but the Tribe is awakening to the
fact that this year an AL Central title is far from guaranteed, and just as
they may have rushed him back from the shoulder injury, they may be rushing
him back this time.
I could find fault with John Hart's failure to sign a more useful minor
league veteran outfielder or two over the winter: Mark Whiten has no
defensive value as a center fielder, and Lance Johnson was even more
finished than Whiten is. But the farm system also hasn't produced much in
the way of center-field talent, which helps to explain past trades for
minor-league outfielders like David Roberts and Dan McKinley to fill the
position in the system. Trading a spare shortstop like John McDonald
(destined for little more than fame as the next Doug Baker) for a spare
jackrabbit for center field might make sense.
Bartolo Colon will need to be watched closely to see if his conditioning
really is becoming an issue, because otherwise the missed time isn't such a
bad thing for his long-term health. Since it looks like Dick Pole has Jaret
Wright back on track, the Tribe's never-ending ace quest looks like it will
be filled internally by Colon and Wright after all. That only begs the
question of why it took so long to sift through people like Phil Regan
first before finally bringing in a pitching coach with a track record of
success instead of just a reputation.
As for cutting loose Bobby Witt, one of the nice things about saddling your
roster with washed-up veteran lard is that you can cut it loose and not
miss it. Picking him up made little sense at the time, and the results were
consistent with previous wasted time and space spent on Tom Candiotti and
Mark Langston. No truth to the rumor that Hart is trying to find Doug
Drabek. Not yet, anyway.
Placed RF Larry Walker on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/11
(elbow); purchased the contract of OF Bubba Carpenter from Colorado
Springs; transferred RHP Jerry Dipoto from the 15- to the 60-day DL.
While you can expect Larry Walker to go to the DL about as regularly as you
can expect the sunrise, it doesn't make it any easier to accept. What's
strange is the decision to call up Bubba Carpenter, of all people. Angel
Echevarria had a solid year on the Rox bench last season, and because of
the available regular playing time now that Walker is gone for at least a
month, would have been a nice choice. Instead, it seems as if they'll hand
the at-bats to Darren Bragg and the bench job to Carpenter, and that
shouldn't inspire hope anywhere but among Pad people hoping to get out of
Placed 1B Tony Clark on the 15-day DL (strained rib cage); recalled
DH Gabe Alvarez from Toledo. [5/13]
Tony Clark's struggle with adequacy is a reflection of the offensive era
we're in. Normally, you hear about a first baseman who's popped 30 or more
taters for three straight seasons, and you might confuse him with a young
Fred McGriff. Instead, at his best Clark is sort of a latter-day Leon
Durham or Greg Walker, a nice player in a league filled with better ones at
his position; it says a lot about the Tigers that he's one of their best
Clark's slow starts might make for a handy scapegoat for another pathetic
Tigers season, but his shortcomings are only symptomatic of the
organization's bigger problem: the inability to identify top-notch
offensive talent at either the minor- or major-league levels. A good case
in point is Gabe Alvarez, another slugger of limited offensive skill and
significant defensive shortcomings.
Purchased the contracts of RHPs Jason Grilli and Joe Strong
from Calgary; placed RHP Ricky Bones on the 15-day DL, retroactive
to 5/6 (lounge chair accident); placed OF Mark Smith on the 15-day
DL (strained elbow); purchashed LHP Ron Mahay from the Athletics.
Placed 3B Mike Lowell on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/13 (thumb
muscle); purchased the contract of IF Chris Clapinski from Calgary.
Ricky Bones managed to hurt himself in time to miss his first start, which
was probably the best way to keep his season looking good. In his absence,
the Marlins get to take a peek at Jason Grilli to see if they will get
anything of value out of the Livan Hernandez trade. Of course, it's too
soon to say; Grilli has talent and hasn't done a great job of translating
that into results. He made it to the Pacific Coast League as a 21-year-old,
and honing your craft in Calgary is no easy thing. He may get to stick
around, if only because Vladimir Nunez has been so terrible that an
extended visit to middle relief is necessary.
The amazing story of Joe Strong is even more amusing if you're someone,
like me, who can remember when he was sort of a prospect, along with other
corny names like Will Schock or the infamous Darrel Akerfelds. The current
claim, just like that made last summer for Jim Morris, is that he throws
well over 90 mph despite his age, and in this age where fast gun readings
are accepted as literal truths, it might even be true.
Hopefully Mike Lowell won't be down for long, if only because it may put a
crimp in his claim for the token Marlin spot on the All-Star team. Ryan
Dempster might have the best shot at the moment, but a few bad starts could
kill his bid pretty easily. If Dan Miceli continues having such a great
season, I think it would be pretty cool to hand him a spot on behalf of
middle relievers everywhere.
Activated OF Moises Alou from the DL; optioned OF Lance
Berkman to New Orleans. [5/14]
Lance Berkman didn't get called up to sit. He also didn't end up staking a
strong claim in his two weeks, hitting a mere .222/.317/.333 in this
admittedly brief trial. The Astros still have an ugly choice--one they're
likely to continue to procrastinate over in the hope that a decision won't
be necessary--whether or not to trade Berkman, Moises Alou or Daryle Ward
for ammo for this year.
The question is what goal a trade would serve: to catch the Cardinals, or
add talent for the future? They're probably better off procrastinating: if
a contender needs Alou and the Astros feel they can part with him, they
might get a better deal waiting until July 31; if they're still only five
games away from the lead in July and need pitching, then they have two
outstanding young hitters to peddle, and several bad teams should want
either Ward or Berkman over almost any other player they might be able to
Placed RHP Jim Bruske on the 15-day DL (strained elbow); purchased
the contract of RHP Hector Ramirez from Indianapolis. [5/14]
As long as Davey Lopes has done Jim Bruske the favor of giving him service
time, Bruske ought to be glad to keep getting it while on the DL. Hector
Ramirez will get mop-up opportunities, which means he might get to pitch as
much as middle men like Juan Acevedo or Curtis Leskanic because of the
scarcity of Brewer leads.
Activated RHP Mike Thurman from the DL; placed RHP Ugueth
Urbina on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/9 (bone chips - elbow). [5/12]
Optioned 3B Michael Barrett to Ottawa; recalled RHP Antonio
Armas from Ottawa. [5/13]
Hand it to Felipe Alou: he's nothing if not flexible. Having lost Ugueth
Urbina for at least a month, and still driven by the tantalizing goal of a
wild-card berth, les Expos are jumbling everything all at once so that they
can have a messed-up rotation and bullpen all at once.
Replacing Urbina as closer is Dustin Hermanson, the team's best starter.
The math of it never really makes sense: a good shot at a quality start
every fifth day, or two or three innings every five days when you have as
many outs to get as you are runs up on your opponent. In Hermanson's
absence, the rotation is now made up of Hideki Irabu, Javier Vazquez, Carl
Pavano, Antonio Armas and Mike Thurman. That's still a solid rotation, but
it would be better with Hermanson starting and any one of the other five in
the pen instead.
As further proof of their motivation to win now, they've banished Michael
Barrett. This is already turning into another classic case of how a
prospect should not be handled: you shouldn't keep flipping him between
positions and you shouldn't have him skip levels while doing it. Barrett
already suffered from a dubious command of the strike zone, making his
chances of fulfilling the hype that much tougher, but the organization's
indecision hardly helps.
In his absence, the Expos are going to play a platoon at third base,
probably giving Andy Tracy most of the playing time, and flipping in Trace
Coquillette or Mike Mordecai as needed. It's a move that's peculiarly
Expo-like, with Expo results: they've quit on a prospect who's struggling
at the plate and in the field to put in a non-prospect with no defensive
skills at third base while hoping it will help the offense. We've seen it
first with Brad Fullmer and now Michael Barrett, and if the Expos really do
pick up Rickey Henderson, we'll see it again with Peter Bergeron.
NEW YORK METS
Released OF Rickey Henderson; placed UT Melvin Mora on the
15-day DL (lacerated index finger); recalled 2B/OF Joe McEwing from
Norfolk; purchased the contract of 1B Mark Johnson from Norfolk. [5/13]
Is anyone else revolted by the hypocrisy of listening to either Bobby
Valentine or Steve Phillips lament that keeping Rickey Henderson around
would "compromise our ideals"? Coming from the man in the fake
mustache and Mr. Footloose & Fancy-Free, that might be high praise indeed.
Unfortunately, too much of this is playing out in stereotypes, but
Henderson has never had a consistent problem with white managers. While he
gets lambasted for loafing by the likes of these two goofs, it seems
interesting to remember that Henderson's interactions with his managers
don't contain any neat patterns as far as who he liked or disliked or
played better for or worse.
The manager he loved playing for most was a genuine mean old bastard, Billy
Martin, and the others he's had kind words for have been grandfatherly old
Steve Boros, as well as Tom Trebelhorn from their time together in the
minors. You couldn't pick three more dissimilar people, let alone managers,
other than that each came with a reputation of dealing with their players
in a direct manner, and they all liked the running game. Neither a
press-conference warrior like Valentine or a short-fused berserker like Lou
Piniella worked well with Rickey, and given their numerous failures with
considerable payrolls and talent, I'm not going to chalk this up as a
situation where the forces of sunshine and wisdom and righteousness are all
on one side of the fight.
Henderson will continue to play because he can still do what he does best:
get on base. The Yankees could certainly use him, and wouldn't that be a
handsome kettle of fish? He's always made it plain that he prefers to play
in New York or California, to accomodate his wife or his mother, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Mets reshuffle the bench again. They're still without a real
center fielder and their lineup still leans heavily to the right, so they
still haven't really fixed their problems. Mark Johnson (of the big leg
kick, not the catcher) at least gives them a slightly different flavor of
left-handed pinch-hitter from Matt Franco: low-average thumper versus
contact hitter. It probably doesn't hurt that he's another minor-league vet
with Japanese Leagues experience. I think it's more likely that Phillips
and Valentine collect these guys because they'll put up and shut up than
because of any familiarity with bushido.
Recalled LHP Rich Sauveur from Sacramento; optioned RHP Ariel
Prieto to Sacramento; sold the contract of LHP Ron Mahay to the
Activated RHP Kevin Appier from the 15-day DL; optioned IF Frank
Menechino to Sacramento. [5/13]
Ugh. When you decide to go to 12 pitchers, the 13 position players you're
keeping had all better be able to play baseball. Unfortunately, Billy Beane
and Art Howe decided to keep Jorge Velandia over Frank Menechino, because
the organization doesn't have anyone else like Velandia: absolutely devoid
of any offensive talent at all. Imagine a team where the worst player is so
much worse than everyone else it's nothing short of spectacular, and you've
got...well, obviously Rey Ordonez, but Velandia too.
So now they're keeping a spare mopup man (Luis Vizcaino) and a utility
infielder you don't want to use if you can possibly avoid it. All things
considered, I'd rather have Vizcaino, Menechino and Adam Piatt on the
roster, T.J. Mathews on the DL for chronic potateritis, and Velandia
winning the PCL Best Defensive Shortstop award in Baseball America's
annual Tools Survey.
On the happier side of things, the A's decided to go young by bringing up
36-year-old Rich Sauveur. Young at 36? Considering what Ariel Prieto's real
age might be, and how many years older than that the joints in his right
arm are thanks to surgery and years of service for Team Cuba, it looks like
a youth movement to me. Not to mention that Sauveur is one of the game's
great survivors, a quality left-handed reliever who's been consistently
good as a situational man at the Triple-A level for years, usually passed
over because of his age and lack of any long-term affiliations. He's
probably an improvement on Mike Magnante, and gives the pen a handy second
lefty for situational uses.
Placed 1B Rico Brogna on the 15-day DL (fractured forearm);
purchased the contract of 1B Chris Pritchett from
Now here's a conundrum: the Phillies' season is going down the tubes, and
one of the only potentially good things that could happen to them--making
Rico Brogna go away--finally comes up. The obvious move is to call up Pat
Burrell and get acquainted with a better and happier future, right? Wrong.
The Phillies want to avoid letting Burrell become a two-plus year
arbitration-eligible player, which means waiting another couple of months
until they can feel certain Burrell won't qualify. That gives them another
year to ink him to a long-term deal after he does come up, without his
having the hammer of arbitration to hinder negotiations. Sure, the Phillies
are probably being greedy bastards, to the point that it's more important
to avoid this kind of financial risk than it is to do something that might
improve the team.
Chris Pritchett isn't weeping over this sort of thing; this is one of the
only ways he'll even get as much major league playing time as somebody like
Gene Schall or Jon Zuber. But just as I hold the Phillies accountable, I
can't help but blame the Players' Association as well. This is a situation
where the fans of the Phillies are going to end up getting crummier
baseball, all because of the CBA. The idea that the quality of play or
ability to play is not a factor in determining who's on the roster is
something that ought to be unacceptable, especially for the really hopeless
teams like this one.
Placed RHP Francisco Cordova on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/5
(elbow inflammation); recalled LHP Brian O'Connor from Altoona
Optioned LHP Brian O'Connor to Altoona (Double-A). [5/14]
Francisco Cordova's turn in the rotation only comes up once between the 5th
and the 20th, when he should be eligible to be reactivated. Brian O'Connor
came up for that start because he was available and on the 40-man roster.
He took his beating and he went back to the Eastern League.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Placed RHP Rodney Myers on the 60-day DL (torn patellar tendon);
optioned RHP Rodrigo Lopez to Las Vegas; outrighted RHP Vicente
Palacios to Las Vegas; recalled RHP Brandon Kolb and purchased
the contracts of RHP Stan Spencer and RHP Matt Whiteside from
Las Vegas. [5/12]
Who's going to end up being the fifth starter? Now that the Pads have lost
Woody Williams as well as Carlton Loewer as well as Brian Boehringer, and
demoted Rodrigo Lopez, God only knows, but they won't have to pick one
until Saturday. Stan Spencer is already the fourth starter after a good
month at Vegas. I'm one of those goofs who thinks they ought to give Will
Cunnane a shot, or at least Wascar Serrano for the name, but I suspect
Lopez will be back.
In the meantime, the Pads have two extra mop-up men in Matt Whiteside and
Brandon Kolb to back up mop-up man Carlos Almanzar, and with this rotation,
there's been a lot of mopping up to do.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Placed OF Ellis Burks on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 5/9 (strained
quadriceps); purchased the contract of OF Terrell Lowery from
While losing Ellis Burks to an injury is no more extraordinary than losing
Reggie Sanders, it comes at a bad moment for the Giants, as Barry Bonds is
going to be out for the week. In The absence of both of their corner
outfielders going into a series against the Braves, Dusty Baker can at
least take heart that he's got a pretty flexible group of four to pick his
outfield from: Marvin Benard and Armando Rios both hit left-handed with a
bit of sock and patience, and Calvin Murray and Terrell Lowery have shown
plenty of power against left-handed pitching in the minors. All four of
them can play center field, and Felipe Crespo might even get a start or two
in a corner. It isn't as desperate a situation as having to play somebody
like John Mabry.
Recalled RHP Kevin Hodges from Tacoma; optioned UT Charles
Gipson to Tacoma. [5/11]
Activated OF/1B John Mabry from the DL; optioned C Joe Oliver
to Tacoma. [5/12]
In case anyone's noticing, this means the Mariners are effectively going
without a utility infielder; they can flip Mark McLemore and David Bell
between second base and third base and sort of use Carlos Guillen as the
utility infielder when he isn't starting. Meanwhile, the M's will continue
to pretend that John Mabry can play third base because he has stood in that
area of the field before.
The payoff is that Piniella gets to carry a third right-handed long
reliever, Kevin Hodges, behind Frankie Rodriguez and Jose Paniagua. He's
losing faith in Paniagua, one of his few success stories, which you had to
expect given Piniella's history of staff mismanagement.
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Acquired LHP Mark Guthrie and cash from the Cubs for OF Dave
Martinez; recalled OF Jose Guillen from Durham. [5/12]
Added LHP Mark Guthrie to the 25-man roster; recalled OF Quinton
McCracken from Durham; optioned LHP Jim Morris to Durham;
designated IF Tony Graffanino for assignment. [5/13]
Jim Morris wasn't working out that badly as a situational left-hander, so
it seems strange that the D-Rays would cash in on their relative wealth of
fourth outfielders just to nab a different one.
It makes even less sense given that they decided to shake up the roster to
bring up two replacements for Dave Martinez at the expense of Tony
Graffanino, who probably deserves to be starting ahead of Miguel Cairo and
certainly has more use than the gloveless, legless and hitless Ozzie
Guillen. What having Guillen and Quinton McCracken around probably means is
that Bubba Trammell isn't going to be handed the right-field job he earned
years ago, and that Steve Cox will continue to rot on the bench, watching
the moldering senescence of Fred McGriff that somebody in the Tampa-St.
Pete metropolitan area is supposed to want to pay to see.
Signed C Randy Knorr to a minor-league contract. [5/12]
A nice depth-related pickup. While Bill Haselman is the better defensive
player, the Rangers could swap him and Randy Knorr for little appreciable
difference in performance. Courtesy of Pudge Rodriguez playing 95% of the
time, of course.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Activated OF Shannon Stewart from the 15-day DL; optioned OF Andy
Thompson to Syracuse. [5/14]
While the Red Sox ought to envy the Jays for having had to briefly keep
Gary Gaetti instead of retaining Marty Cordova, the Jays managed to get a
brief reminder that Andy Thompson is ready to be a better player than
Cordova ever will be again. But remember, this team's problems aren't with
talent, it's all that weak Canadian dollar that must have just recently
snuck up on a franchise that seemed to have forgotten at some point that it was
north of the border.
Snide comments aside, the really good news is that Shannon Stewart is back.
The Jays aren't really that far behind either the Yankees and Red Sox, and
arguably have better internal options as far as self-improvement if they
The easiest patch is going to be fifth starter. Lance Painter can't last
and Frank Castillo is a scar, so barring a trade, the Jays have to hope one
of Peter Munro, Gary Glover or John Sneed suddenly turns the corner.
We'll conclude with a pair of kudos to alert readers. First, to Phil
Ponebshek and Rick Diamant, for reminding me that when it comes to bad
trades and the Snakes, I shouldn't have left out last spring's big-time
turkey move of trading Tony Batista and John Frascatore for Dan Plesac.
That should be the easy winner in the brief history of the franchise, and
shame on me for forgetting it.
Second, a thank you to reader Tim Sadenwasser for pointing out that I
failed to give credit where credit was due: Eric Plunk wasn't slagged last
September by Phil Garner, but by interim manager Jim Lefebvre. In case
anyone else is as unhappy about Tommy Lasorda being named manager of Team
USA (what right-thinking team is going to let one of their prospects pitch
for the great-arm slagger himself?), keep in mind that one of the chief
alternatives was none other than Jim Lefebvre, an untalented mismanager of
a pitching staff himself.
Always feel free to write in with your comments, responses or reminders of
my fallibility, because I appreciate the lot.