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April 22, 2007

Transaction Analysis

April 19-21, 2007

by Christina Kahrl

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Recalled 1B-S Kendry Morales from Salt Lake (Triple-A). [4/20]

This seems a odd choice for a call-up, because Casey Kotchman's heating up and the Angels seem inclined to use Robb Quinlan as his platoon partner, and with Vladi still handling right just fine, and Shea Hillenbrand playing through his various nicks. Given their depth issues in the infield, glancing at the 40-man you might wonder why they didn't bring up Matt Brown if they preferred to leave Brandon Wood alone for the time being, but Brown isn't hitting at Salt Lake. As for possibly bringing up an outfielder and letting Vlad Guerrero DH (and using Hillenbrand at third with a perhaps-alarming frequency), keep in mind that they've barely gotten Tommy Murphy off of the bench-outfield depth hasn't been the problem, and again, an obvious choice from the 40-man, Nick Gorneault, isn't putting the fear of anything into PCL hurlers. Whoever was going to get the call is only likely to sit around; once Chone Figgins is reactivated, I suspect Mike Scioscia will only then change up his player rotations.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Optioned 1B/OF-R Jon Knott to Norfolk (Triple-A); activated OF-R Jay Payton from the 15-day DL. [4/20]

So, Knott's nifty pair of games avails him nothing, and Payton's back in the fold. What's interesting here is that the guy you might have initially considered in the greatest danger of losing his playing time to a Payton reactivation, Kevin Millar, has been one of the club's hottest hitters. Since Millar can wear a glove and stand around at first or left as needed, the interesting dilemma for Sam Perlozzo is whether he benches either of the cold cornermen, left fielder Jay Gibbons or first baseman Aubry Huff. With lefties Nick Markakis and Corey Patterson and switch-hitter Brian Roberts in the lineup, benching one lefty bat for Payton wouldn't tilt the club too heavily to the right against right-handers, but I suspect the real stimulus here is going to be who's making what, not who's hitting how well. That's great for Payton, but not necessarily a reflection of how Perlozzo might actually be able to use his overlapping lineup options to better effect.

BOSTON RED SOX
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Acquired LHP Daniel Haigwood from the Rangers in exchange for RHP Scott Shoemaker and cash. [4/19]

A decent little pickup for an undrafted organizational soldier picked up in 2004 after pitching for Long Beach State. Haigwood's an interesting arm, not simply because he's a lefty, but because of a sharp curve and changeup that he sets up effectively with the standard-issue high-80s heat most lefties hurl. He's not big-p prospect as much as a potentially better alternative than someone like Kason Gabbard if the Sox suddenly find themselves short of starters, and someone who might someday pan out as a Greg Hibbard type if he improves his command just that little bit. I know, you can say that about a lot of guys, but getting out of Texas isn't a bad thing to happen to a young pitcher.

DETROIT TIGERS
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Transferred LHP Edward Campusano from the 15- to the 60-day DL; placed RHP Jose Mesa on the 15-day DL (pulled groin), retroactive to 4/17; purchased the contract of RHP Aquilino Lopez from Toledo (Triple-A). [4/20]

Lopez is one of those guys I've always had a weak spot for, but he's basically a slider-only pony who, once he's shown you that one trick, doesn't really have anything else up his sleeve. That can be insanely cool when you're talking about knuckleballers or Doug Jones, but Lopez just turned 32, and he doesn't have that of power puffball. Barring getting matched up with the guys who can't hit anything that wiggles, he'll get mauled with alarming regularity (witness last season's 16 homers allowed in 62 innings at Portland), so even if he's "only" replacing Joe Table, this might be one of those losses the Tigers could end up feeling, especially while Fernando Rodney and Jason Grilli are both getting lit up.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Designated RHP Jason Standridge for assignment; recalled LHP Neal Musser from Omaha (Triple-A). [4/20]

As we noted in the Royals' Lineouts segment in Baseball Prospectus 2007, there's reason to believe that Musser might be able to stick as a situational lefty, especially after he impressed in the Arizona Fall League last winter. Considering that Jimmy Gobble has allowed lefties to slug .500 off of him in his career, hocking up Musser up out of the pool of free (and freely available) talent might be exactly what the Royals pen could use.

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Optioned RHP Darrell Rasner to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); recalled RHP Colter Bean from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [4/20]
Optioned RHP Chris Britton to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; activated RHP Jeff Karstens from the 15-day DL. [4/21]

It's all about the reshuffle, as Joe Torre's less committed to the other guys in his rotation than he is to placing the returning veterans back once they become available. So Rasner lost out less to Karstens than he did to the question of when Chien-Ming Wang was coming off of the DL, and similarly, I expect Chase Wright and Karstens won't be kept one over the other as much as it's a matter of when Mike Mussina's ready to come back after the rehab stint he should start up towards the end of the week. In the meantime, we can hope that Joe Torre notices that Bean has his uses, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Optioned LHP Jake Woods to Tacoma (Triple-A); recalled RHP Sean Green from Tacoma. [4/19]
Optioned RHP Sean Green to Tacoma; recalled LHP Eric O'Flaherty from Tacoma. [4/20]

None of this resolves who's going to replace Felix Hernandez in the rotation, but that looks to be Cha Seung Baek tomorrow. Presumably, if they'll still hoping to skirt placing King Felix on the DL, it would be O'Flaherty who goes down on the last-here/first-gone philosophy, but that wouldn't be a great idea. In part, because O'Flaherty's got a good enough mix that he'll be a nifty second lefty in the pen, and in part because they need the bodies who can pitch, and the goofing around with having Brandon Morrow and Sean White up but really only getting used in mop-up situations probably isn't the best thing to do to either of them. Admittedly, losing so much of the early schedule to the weather has handicapped Mike Hargrove's ability to employ them all that often in the first place, but they're two guys in something like the same training-wheels role, and with the rotation coming apart at the seams, another reliever who might actually help would come in handy.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Traded LHP Daniel Haigwood to the Red Sox for RHP Scott Shoemaker and cash. [4/19]

The Rangers don't exactly have pitching talent coming out of their ears, so effectively having to discard Haigwood to get one start out of Jamey Wright (before he wound up on the DL) because they're short of space on the 40-man was a pretty expensive proposition. They lose the prospect they got from the Phillies for last year's Rule 5 gamble, Fabio Castro, and both Haigwood and Castro are prospects, while Shoemaker's a nondescript organizational soldier. Here's hoping the cash goes to something worthwhile, because for their time and trouble, the Rangers have gotten very little out of how they've employed this particular roster spot in the last nine months or so.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Optioned RHP Dustin Nippert to Tucson (Triple-A). [4/19]
Placed RHP Micah Owings on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring), retroactive to 4/18; recalled LHP Dana Eveland and RHP Mike Schultz from Tucson. [4/20]
Placed RHP Juan Cruz on the 15-day DL (strained upper triceps); recalled RHP Dustin Nippert from Tucson. [4/21]

This much hyper-activity might seem like a bit overly elaborate, but it's all part of keeping the staff as fully stocked as possible. Losing Owings seems convenient "precautionary move," if only because Randy Johnson's coming off of the DL on Tuesday-it saves for later the decision between Owings and Edgar Gonzalez over who's the club's fifth starter, although if Livan Hernandez's control problems get any worse, perhaps the Snakes need to widen the range of the debate as far as who's in and who's out. Losing Cruz is a bad break, but the club boasts a deep pen in the first place, and both Schultz and Eveland are interesting. Eveland was starting for the Snakelings in Tucson, while Schultz is one of those generic giants who get scouts excited; both have promise, but Eveland has real upside. It makes for an interesting situation as far as who goes down once Johnson comes off of the DL-Eveland and Nippert should both continue to be groomed as starters, and while Schultz is the guy with the lowest ceiling, as a big sinkerballer, it's not like he sucks. If you haven't noticed, the organization has an insane amount of pitching talent lined up behind their frontline pitching.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Signed manager Bobby Cox to a one-year extension covering 2008. [4/18]
Placed 2B/3B-S Willy Aybar on the Suspended List. [4/19]

It's easy to make light of the fact that what's connecting both of them has been a fondness for John Barleycorn that has created the most embarrassing moments in each of their careers, but assuming that Cox has a handle on his problems, if Aybar's agent is right and his player is having a problem turning to anybody, maybe this is a situation where an older manager and a younger player have something to talk about. I don't know, I'm just trying to find a silver lining, I guess. Here's hoping that Aybar gets his problems ironed out, because I'd still like to see him blossom as somebody's second baseman someday. As for Cox, it would seem his place in Cooperstown is already secure, so if he's still enjoying the job in his age-66 and age-67 seasons (ancient for a major league manager, non-Mack category), more power to him.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Placed RHP Rodrigo Lopez on the 15-day DL (elbow inflammation); purchased the contract of RHP Matt Herges from Colorado Springs (Triple-A); designated RHP Brian Lawrence for assignment. [4/19]
Placed RHP Ramon Ramirez on the 15-day DL (sprained elbow), retroactive to 4/18; designated RHP Matt Herges for assignment; recalled RHP Ryan Speier from Colorado Springs; purchased the contract of RHP Bobby Keppel from Colorado Springs. [4/21]

A twin pair of bad breaks for the staff, in that Lopez was off to an implausibly sweet start, while Ramirez was one of the stalwarts from last season's relief corps. If there's good news, it's that they didn't invest too much faith in Herges' veterandom, and have instead elected to see how well Speier is coming back from the labrum repair that cost him all of 2006. He's struggled in the early going with the Sky Sox, but didn't embarrass himself in camp; we'll have to see how it works out. As for the rotation in Lopez's absence, I suppose that there's a choice, in that Clint Hurdle will probably pick Taylor Buchholz, but might instead take a look at Keppel. I wouldn't-while it's nice to see Keppel get another shot after nearly losing his career on the surgeon's table, he's not an especially hard thrower, and when a guy's 24 and his out pitch is a changeup, it's usually not a good thing. Since Lopez isn't expected to be gone long, this is really Buchholz's opportunity to make a case for why he might belong in the rotation ahead of someone like Josh Fogg. I'm doubtful that he will, but Fogg's the definition of fungible in the fifth slot, and now that Lawrence is off of the 40-man after allowing 32 hits and 19 runs in his first 19.2 innings in Colorado Springs, there aren't a lot of alternatives.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Placed RHP Sergio Mitre on 15-day DL (blistered finger), retroactive to 4/18; recalled RHP Scott Tyler from Carolina (Double-A). [4/20]

This was a definitively temporary move, as Tyler's going down to make way for the immortal Wes Obermueller in this moment of Fish-y need. The real problem isn't losing Mitre himself, it's that his absence comes on top of their having already lost Josh Johnson and the Nolasco Kid. The good news is that Obermueller should be a temporary patch, as Nolasco's almost set for rehab, while Mitre's deposit on the DL reflects a measure of caution. If Tyler jogs some particular part of your memory, he should-at this point, he's the best shot the Fish have at reclaiming any gain from the deal that put Luis Castillo in Minnesota now that it looks like Travis Bowyer will miss the season with shoulder trouble. It's a dicey proposition, because while Tyler's a big guy with a decent fastball and a occasionally impressive curve, command is a weakness for him after issuing 44 in 61 innings at Carolina last season, and another seven in 5 1/3 in the early going.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Optioned RHP Greg Aquino to Nashville (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Chris Spurling from Nashville. [4/21]

If you're one of those few remaining Aquino true believers, just remember that he's already 29, and hasn't really established himself in any of the last three seasons, and as a position player conversion project, he doesn't have an extended track record of success to fall back on. It may well be a case where there's no there there, and that he's a guy who throws as hard as you'd expect an ex-shortstop to, without any of the other things you might need to succeed as a major league pitcher. Spurling might have his moments as a defense-dependent mop-up man, but that's going to depend on the other eight guys on the diamond-he really just doesn't beat that many people at the plate. Jose Capellan would have made a much better call-up on talent alone, but after threatening to retire and demanding a trade after not making the big league club, Capellan decided to not report a couple of nights last week, earning a suspension. I'd give thought to bringing up Dennis Sarfate, but the Brewers have space on their 40-man, and if they preferred to leave Sarfate alone to get used to closing for Nashville as opposed to hauling him up to be the last man in a seven-man pen, I can respect that.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Optioned RHP Mike Thompson to Portland (Triple-A); recalled LHP Justin Hampson from Portland. [4/19]

Well, it was funky while it lasted, but I guess even Bud Black gives in to convention now and again, and with an eight-man pen, figured at least one of them could probably be left-handed.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

Related Content:  A's,  The Who,  Team Age,  Statistics,  Triple-A,  The Call-up,  Jose Lopez,  Call-up,  Team

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