February 20, 1998
February 13-18ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Purchased the contract of RHP Ken Robinson from Toronto. [2/17]
Robinson is coming off of an outstanding season as Syracuse's closer. But he's short, so like Jim Corsi, some people don't go ga-ga over him. Given the D-backs' extremely weak bullpen situation, he's as good an option for the team's closer as they've got, other than arguably Todd Erdos. People named Mark Davis or Gregg Olson ought not to apply.
Signed OF Jeffrey Hammonds to a three-year contract. [2/17]
Data point in the ongoing debate about salary arbitration and whether or not it inflates salaries: is Hammonds getting market value or not? Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, if they were anywhere between the figures submitted to the arbitrator, its too high. Hammonds is cashing in on the misconception that labelled him "the next Rickey Henderson," but in concrete terms of what he provides his ballclub, he's crossed over from "useful serf" to "arbitration-eligible menace." Wherever he's at in terms of 500% or more of the salary of a rookie, when Pat Lennon or Adam Hyzdu could be bought for less, I'd go shopping and non-tender the "next Rickey Henderson." The price on controlling the rights to Jeffrey Hammonds is not worth anything near what the Orioles have invested in him.
Signed RHP Melido Perez to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/14]
Signed INF Shawon Dunston to a one-year contract. [2/16]
Dunston is heading into a four-way fight for the second base job, along with Carlos Garcia, Enrique Wilson, and Jeff Branson. Of the lot, Branson is the one who'll probably settle into a spot as the utility infielder, which means Garcia's career should be extinguished by either Dunston's adjustment to turning the deuce from the other side, or the Tribe making a sensible choice to just hand the job to Wilson. Melido Perez' comeback after two years away is, as usual, being derided as "proof" that "expansion dilutes pitching." Let's call it a potentially worthwhile gamble, and leave it at that.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Announced the retirement of RHP Mark Gubicza. [2/13]
Signed RHP Chan Ho Park to a two-year contract. [2/17]
Gubicza's career is a remarkable testament to the miracles of modern surgery, which is the big difference between him and, say, Gary Nolan or Rich Dotson. Certainly, his quitting makes life simpler for the Dodgers, who can get down to the brass tacks of whether Denny Reyes or Darren Dreifort should be the fifth starter.
Announced that RHP Scott Ruffcorn had failed his physical, and that his contract was terminated. [2/16]
Ruffcorn was coming off of surgery, and at this point, couldn't afford something to go wrong in what was a situation where he could have challenged for a major league job. Barring a trip to Montreal, he may be finished, and another example of why there's no such thing as a pitching prospect; there are only survivors who can pitch.
NEW YORK METS
Announced that 3B Mike Bell has cleared waivers, and that they have outrighted his contract to Norfolk and given him a spring training NRI. [2/13]
Its been a Pugh-like winter of business for Mike Bell over the past six months, as he's skipped through four different organizations. If the Mets wanted to do something sensible, they'd let Bell move Alfonzo back over to short so that Rey Ordonez could embark on the Raffy Belliard-style role he's suited for. Of course, you could say that about almost any thirdbaseman at the AA level or higher.
Signed C Mike Lieberthal to a two-year contract. [2/15]
Extended the contract of manager Gene Lamont one year, up to the 2000 season. [2/14]
Agreed to terms on a three-year contract with RHP Jason Schmidt. [2/18]
The Pirates take the "Cleveland" approach, and they do get Schmidt at less than market value. I'd say that even if I didn't believe he's going to improve this season. And its nice to see that Lamont is guaranteed steady work.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Signed RHP Rob Dibble to a minor league contract. [2/15]
Dave Stewart trying to coach Rob Dibble is stronger material than that in any WB sit-com. I hope the good people of San Diego don't have to put up with Dibble for long.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Signed RHP Steve Ontiveros to a minor league contract with a spring training NRI. [2/14]
At this stage, I'm certain Cardinals fans shouldn't be surprised that another guy who used to wear green and gold is showing up as a Cardinal. Rumors of Todd Burns' comeback are greatly exaggerated. Of course, if Onto is healthy, which he is for rougly six working days in every calendar year, he'll be a fine replacement if those are conveniently scheduled to occur right after Donovan Osborne's annual injury woes strike again.