Outrighted 2B Keith Luuloa to Edmonton. [6/6]
Recalled IF Danny Klassen from Tucson; optioned RHP Nelson
Figueroa to Tucson. [6/5]
Nelson Figueroa was only up for a single start as the Snakes jumbled their
rotation to compensate for Todd Stottlemyre's trip to the DL and Randy
Johnson's need to skip a start. Right now, the expectation is that
Stottlemyre will be able to come back by the end of next week, just about
in time for Arizona to swing through Colorado. While that's a lousy place
to try to come back from an injury, the Rox are making a fun run at the
Figueroa had a decent start, good enough to encourage Joe Garagiola Jr. and
Buck Showalter to call him back. Between Stottlemyre's bum shoulder and
Armando Reynoso's congenital fragility, chances are that the Snakes are
going to need him down the stretch.
Bringing Danny Klassen back gives Arizona the always-fun situation of
having every possible kind of hitter among their utility infielders:
Klassen right-handed, Craig Counsell bats left-handed and Hanley Frias is a
switch-hitter. Counsell and Klassen would be an outstanding platoon if they
played regularly, probably better than a half-dozen other NL second-base
situations. Of course, considering the minimal production that the Snakes
are getting from Turner Ward and Bernard Gilkey in right field, it wouldn't
be hard for the Cranny Klassell platoon to outhit them.
Optioned LHP John Rocker to Richmond as well as fining him for
inappropriate conduct; recalled RHP Jason Marquis from Greenville
Why is John Rocker struggling? I won't pretend to know. I'll leave the pop
psychology to others, because all that really needs to be said is that
Rocker was pitching badly and shouldn't come back until he's able to pitch
like he did in 1999. As long as he's wilder than Jacob Shumate (and don't
laugh about that because Shumate is almost down to a walk per inning
pitched for the first time in his career now that he's closing in
Greenville), Rocker is not doing anybody any good.
In his absence, the bullpen will continue to thrive with the usual
suspects: Mike Remlinger will get most of the save opportunities, and Kerry
Ligtenberg will also get chances as he rounds back into form and as
situational needs dictate.
The decision to promote Jason Marquis makes for an interesting contrast.
Marquis is an organizational favorite because of a live fastball and a
great attitude towards taking instructions from his coaches. That doesn't
exactly make him the anti-Rocker, but it does make for a clean break with
As a starter at Greenville, Marquis was pitching well: 4-2 with a 3.57 ERA,
with 68 hits and 23 walks allowed in 68 innings. His ERA was lower than
you'd expect, courtesy of eight unearned runs, and he has given up ten home
runs. He's also extremely young at 21, but reserving him for bullpen duties
will be an excellent way of preserving his arm while giving him an
opportunity to flash his heat, a nice curve and changeup. Like Kevin
McGlinchy, he could end up being a star in the Braves rotation starting in
Signed RHPs Brian Williams and Tyler Green to minor-league
Returned RHP Jaret Wright to the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/3
(shoulder inflammation); activated RHP Paul Rigdon from the DL. [6/7]
So Wright's hurt again after being rushed back again, just as he was in
1999. At who should we point the finger? Mike Hargrove is gone and Charlie
Manuel is in his first months on the job. Dick Pole is only the latest
Tribe pitching coach to come in charged with fixing everything at once.
No, the lone constant from among those who can be held accountable is the
architect of Indian greatness as well as weakness, John Hart. This isn't
the first time that Hart has let temporary contingencies dictate roster
management, and not just with Wright. While Wright had been making progress
under Pole's tutelage, he'd probably have been better off getting to
recover fully instead of coming back as soon as he was eligible.
The only positive is that so far the Tribe isn't resurrecting anyone like
Mark Langston or Tom Candiotti or Doc Gooden. Last year's penalties for
last year's mistakes have hopefully conveyed that much of a lesson to Hart.
While using Rigdon and Jim Brower as your fourth and fifth starters doesn't
sound ideal, it's a far sight better than wasting any more time on Bobby Witt.
The downside of trusting Brower and Rigdon (and Justin Speier and Mark
Watson and now Jamie Brewington) with roster spots and roles they can
handle is that Buffalo's pitching staff is in tatters. Cleveland, unlike
most major-league teams, tends to make a good effort to let the Rich family
run the Bisons as a competitive franchise, instead of holding them in the
semi-slavery most Triple-A affiliates endure. That has benefits, at least
if you're from Buffalo and care about the International League standings,
and hazards: signing Williams and Green isn't a good idea, but it keeps
Buffalo stocked while the Bisons try to fend off Pawtucket and a surprising
Scranton team. Even after adding Richie Lewis and Andrew Lorraine, the
Bisons are shorthanded. Beyond losing the callups, Tim Drew looks like he's
been rushed to Triple-A, let alone the majors, and Willie Martinez has been
Activated LHP Sean Runyan from the DL and optioned him to Toledo. [6/5]
Where is Sean Runyan's roster spot now that he's healthy? First the
organization frags him in the course of getting him the cachet of holding
the pitching appearances record for a rookie, and now it's "what have
you done for Randy Smith lately?"
The answer is that it isn't really his fault. The Tigers have just bumped
left-hander C.J. Nitkowski from the rotation so that they can take another
exciting spin with that jetstream-generating moundsman, Willie
"Air" Blair. With Nitkowski and Allen McDill in the pen, the
Tigers already have two lefties, which leaves Runyan rehoning his craft. A
couple of good weeks, and he'll be back up at McDill's expense, no doubt
being offered as proof that Randy Smith has been "developing"
talent all along.
Optioned RHP Vladimir Nunez to Calgary; activated OF Mark
Smith from the DL. [6/5]
Vladimir Nunez's struggles this year shouldn't surprise anybody too much.
He struggled terribly as a starter after coming over from the Snakes in the
Matt Mantei trade last year, and he started off 2000 right where he left off.
What's surprising is that they didn't elect to bump him back into the
bullpen, where he was very effective last year while pitching for Arizona.
The bullpen needs the help. Antonio Alfonseca can only aspire to be the
next Matt Karchner for some appropriately stupid and desperate team. Dan
Miceli is on the DL, leaving Braden Looper as the only promising
right-handed reliever in the pen. While I'm sure Dave Dombrowski wishes he
could brag that he got two-fifths of his rotation for Matt Mantei, for the
time being he needs to settle for one good young starter and one good young
In his absence, the Fish can spot either Ron Mahay or Ricky Bones in the
rotation. Alex Fernandez won't be back for a while, but A.J. Burnett may be
ready before the end of the month.
Mark Smith won't even get time at DH now that he's back and the Fish go
into a series against the Devil Rays: that playing time should go to
whichever of Derrek Lee and Kevin Millar is not playing first base.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Placed 2B Carlos Febles on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder);
purchased the contract of IF Ray Holbert from Omaha. [6/5]
Carlos Febles's unfortunate tendency to accumulate little injuries is
becoming a bit of a problem. As a group, second basemen suffer a lot of
damage and lose a good chunk of their prospective careers to these sorts of
nicks. A future research project with some merit would be to see if second
basemen are even more at risk than catchers. I know it's something I've
wondered about over the years.
At any rate, if Febles can keep bouncing back, he'll get to avoid the fates
of guys like Brent Gates.
One of the fun things for us innocent bystanders is to take note of one of
Tony Muser's more amusing idiosyncracies: he likes set lineups. He likes
them so much that when one of his regulars is missing, Muser will usually
slap his replacement into the same spot in the lineup as he'd put the
starter. So when Febles goes to the DL, Jeff Reboulet gets to bat second,
and the Royals offense gets a bit of OBP juice at the top of the order. And
if Rey Sanchez goes down, chances are Reboulet will get to bat ninth,
because that's just where shortstops hit in Muser's world.
Now I know, and most of you know, it generally shouldn't add up to much in
terms of runs scored: it's more important to identify who should play than
it is to sort out what order they should bat in.
Placed RHP Jeff D'Amico on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/6
(shoulder tendinitis). [6/7]
Recalled RHP Allen Levrault from Indianapolis. [6/8]
Losing Jeff D'Amico is conveniently timed, even setting aside D'Amico's
statement that he doesn't feel like his shoulder hurts. It gives the
Brewers the chance to set one poor move aright by getting Steve Woodard
back into the rotation, and it gives them another couple of starts to see
if John Snyder is going to do anything that keeps them from being even more
humiliated about this winter's Jaime Navarro/Cal Eldred trade. Eventually,
the Brewers will have to choose from among their various options for the
rotation behind Woodard, Jamey Wright and Jimmy Haynes; the team is going
to get awfully tired of Snyder and Jason Bere.
Among their future alternatives, Allen Levrault is somebody they'll look at
as a middle reliever for the time being. After being last year's
minor-league pitcher of the year, Levrault is better suited for relief for
now. He hasn't mastered breaking pitches, which at 22 isn't such a bad
thing. He throws hard and mixes in a nice changeup. Flipping between the
rotation and the pen for Indianapolis, his performance was mixed: he put up
a 4.75 ERA, giving up 43 hits and 19 walks in 41 2/3 innings, with 28
strikeouts. If the Brewers leave him alone as a long reliever for a couple
of years, he could grow into a fine starter.
The Brewers had other choices: Ben Sheets is pitching very well, and
long-time Four-A pitcher Eric Ludwick is having an outstanding season for
Indianapolis (2.67 ERA). Performances like Ludwick's should only make the
Brewers' experience with Navarro, Snyder and Bere all the more bitter.
Finding adequate pitching help isn't that hard, as long as you aren't hung
up on major-league experience.
Activated RHP Anthony Telford from the DL. [6/4]
Placed C Lenny Webster on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis); gave
LHP Jim Poole his outright release. [6/7]
Chris Widger is almost ready to come off of the DL, which creates some
options for the Expos. Brian Schneider is looking like he'd be a good
left-handed-hitting caddy for Widger, which could free up the Expos to
peddle Charlie O'Brien for anything resembling an adequate reliever,
something they desperately need. If their season and their wild-card dreams
go up in smoke before the end of July, they could even turn around and
peddle Widger. That might get them to do the right thing by Michael Barrett
and move him back behind the plate, so that he and Schneider could then
share the job. And if the Expos really are gearing up to leave Montreal
after all, they can let the Quebecois keep le Webster.
NEW YORK METS
Recalled OF Jason Tyner from Norfolk; designated 1B/OF Ryan
McGuire for assignment. [6/5]
Sure enough, Jason Tyner is up to bat leadoff. Is it really that neat an
idea? While the Mets take flak for having one of the worst outfields in
terms of hitting for power, and they could help themselves out on that
front, keep in mind that they're also getting more power than most teams
from second base (Edgardo Alfonzo) and catcher (Mike Piazza). As long as
they find the right players for the right roles (leadoff,
middle-of-the-order hitters, and so on), who cares what positions they play?
As an argument, it all almost adds up, until you come up against players
like Tyner. While he is supposed to be a leadoff hitter on the basis of his
minor-league track record (he was hitting .342/.402/.383 at Norfolk), a
leadoff hitter is somebody who works his way on base. Tyner may yet grow
into being a good on-base guy, but 21 walks in 249 plate appearances with
the Tides doesn't strike me as the makings of a great leadoff hitter.
The current comparison is to Brett Butler, as usual, since Tyner is white,
fast and plays center field. There are shortcomings to the snapshot: he's
probably faster than Butler was without being as good afield or as patient
at the plate.
While Tyner should turn out to be a semi-useful major leaguer, he's going
to have to improve a lot to deserve to be compared to Butler. He isn't
going to hit .340, which means he isn't going to post a nifty OBP, which
means that he isn't going to be doing the Mets any more good than what they
already have or what they'll have again once Darryl Hamilton comes off of
If the Mets had really wanted somebody with patience and some sock, they
could have held on to Ryan McGuire, but at this point, they're just
spinning their wheels to avoid the indignity of being behind the Expos in
Optioned RHP Steve Schrenk to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [6/7]
This is the front half of the expected activation of Scott Rolen from the
DL on Friday. Despite all the turnover, now that it's down to six men, the
Phillies' pen is actually beginning to round into a decent unit. Wayne
Gomes isn't the ideal closer, but he's adequate. Jason Boyd and Chris Brock
have pitched well, and Jeff Brantley hasn't keeled over just yet. Either of
Bryan Ward and Mark Holzemer could turn into a useful left-hander. With the
right pitching coach and/or manager, this could shake down into a
An apology is owed for my taking one report too seriously and jumping to
the wrong conclusion: Cliff Politte is taking Paul Byrd's slot in the
rotation, which is a much more sensible move than asking Brock to return to
starting. Perhaps Politte will finally start showing the promise that made
him a key component of the deal that has Garrett Stephenson embarrassing
the entire Phillies organization as a Cardinal. Then at least Ed Wade will
have something to feel good about after the disasters involving Curt
Schilling, Mike Jackson and Andy Ashby, and the coming disaster of letting
Terry Francona slag Randy Wolf's future.
Recalled 2B/SS Abraham Nunez from Nashville; designated 1B Ivan
Cruz for assignment. [6/6]
With both Pat Meares and Warren Morris nursing injuries, Abraham Nunez got
to come up and give the Bucs the nightmarish infield of Nunez, Luis Sojo
and Mike Benjamin, all at the same time. I suppose it could have been worse
if Meares had been playing somewhere. Nunez is still what he's been: a
speed guy who makes contact. He was actually hitting well by his own lights
at Nashville: .291/.357/.366.
The unfortunate thing is that Cam Bonifay doesn't seem to have this
interleague thing sorted out. Ivan Cruz gets sent away before a series in
which the Pirates will have to use the DH? And all so that they can keep
seven relievers, three of whom pitched less than an inning in the last week?
Bonifay and Gene Lamont have to stop letting those preseason whammies,
where several people nominated them as a neato surprise team, get to them.
They've got a great shot at finishing third if a lot of things keep working
out, and that's a rung better than most of us would have had any reason to
expect. If Bonifay axes Lamont because of unrealistic expectations on top
of this season's disappointing handling of the Pirates' prospects, then
there's very little reason to expect any genuine improvements that might
encourage a slightly more appropriate sense of optimism.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Optioned RHP Mark Thompson to Memphis; recalled 1B/OF Larry
Sutton from Memphis. [6/6]
Mark Thompson had already dropped to third-string long reliever and spot
starter with the arrivals of Matt Morris and Alan Benes, so he was
definitely one body too many in the pen. With the Cardinals having to do
without as much as half of their Opening Day lineup on any given night, and
with even benchies like Thomas Howard playing hurt, the Cards needed the
extra bat more than the 12th pitcher.
Larry Sutton is nothing special, but for a little while he will give them
the left-handed bat off the bench that they've been lacking.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Placed RHP Brian Boehringer on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 6/4
(shoulder tendinitis); recalled RHP Domingo Guzman from Las Vegas.
From here on out, Brian Boehringer's only real value to the franchise is as
trade bait. There are several teams looking for experienced right-handed
relief help, and the Pads were basement-bound this year no matter what they
did or tried to do. Unfortunately, Boehringer isn't cooperating, but at the
least the Pads are protecting the investment. If they can get him healthy
for July, he might end up as a nifty throw-in on some sort of deal that
might bring the Pads a real outfield prospect.
Injuries have wiped out a good chunk of the Pads staff, and I suppose it
isn't that surprising how the standings seem to be dictating how little
attention is getting paid to their problems compared to those of the
Indians or Expos. You could argue that the Pads only have three pitchers
left from the staff they would have liked to enter the season with: Matt
Clement, Brian Meadows and Trevor Hoffman.
Generally, I like what looks like progress: Kevin Towers isn't messing
around with Vicente Palacios or any other broken-down old men to stock his
pen. In addition to already having hard-throwing Brandon Kolb on hand,
Domingo Guzman is a good addition on the basis of talent. Guzman is a
power/groundball type with good heat and a list of arm injuries. His
performance this year looks dominating: a 2.57 ERA at Las Vegas and a 2.08
ERA at Mobile. If you total up his numbers from the two levels, he's given
up 18 hits and 18 walks in 31 1/3 innings and racked up 28 strikeouts. I'm
not predicting greatness, but he's got a good arm and this is only relief
pitching. He could be an asset instead of the next Carlos Almanzar.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Activated RHP Joe Nathan from the DL; designated OF Terrell
Lowery for assignment. [6/6]
Joe Nathan's return gives the Giants their original rotation. While Mark
Gardner is going back to the pen, he can take heart, because that
assignment isn't going to last. In classic Dusty fashion, Baker is working
Russ Ortiz, Livan Hernandez and a rehabbing Shawn Estes very hard, all for
the greater glory of fourth place. The question isn't whether Gardner will
get to return to the rotation, but rather whether Brian Sabean is trying to
It should say something about the non-idiot that he'd clone Gardner instead
of somebody good, but this Giants team is starting to resemble the
early-'80s Giants teams that were old and deluded and convinced they were
almost pretty good. Baker ought to remember those teams: when he wasn't
beating them as a Dodger, he was losing with them in 1984.
There are about a dozen teams that ought to put in a claim on Terrell
Lowery right now. He's making chump change and he's a better player than
most fourth or fifth outfielders. The Rangers used to have him, and now
that Ruben Mateo is out, they should claim him. The Expos still don't have
a real fourth outfielder. They ought to nab him and send Terry Jones back
to jumping hurdles or running sprints or delivering packages or wherever it
is he came from.
Optioned RHP Kevin Hodges to Tacoma; recalled UT Charles
Gipson from Tacoma. [6/7]
Charles Gipson is essentially up to paper over the fact that John Mabry
can't play third base, and has already cost the Mariners on several
ocassions while continuing to pretend to be a third baseman. Normally, you
platoon to cover a weakness, but when the choices are Mabry and David Bell,
with Gipson as the defensive replacement, doesn't that instead cry out for
Pat Gillick to get off his duffer and acquire something useful with just a
hint of hot-corner skills?
Optioned OF Scott Podsednik to Tulsa (Double-A); recalled RHP
Ryan Glynn from Oklahoma. [6/5]
Recalled RHP Jonathan Johnson from Oklahoma; optioned RHP Ryan
Glynn to Oklahoma. [6/6]
We all already know about Ryan Glynn's great start, and because of off-days
on the June 8 and the June 12, the Rangers don't have to make up their
minds about calling him up to stay for another week or so. Meanwhile,
Johnny Oates and Doug Melvin get to sift through using the roster spot for
different things on different days: first Glynn for the spot start, then
Jonathan Johnson for a spare arm for long relief, then Gabe Kapler's
presumed activation on Friday.
Glynn is giving every indication that he's ready to stick around. Besides
his great start against the Dodgers, he's tossed two shutouts in the PCL.
He's posted a 3.17 ERA and allowed only three home runs in his 59 2/3
innings, along with 52 hits allowed and a 44-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He has two good pitches (fastball, slider), plus a curve and changeup for
show. Compared to Mark Clark, that looks like somebody the Rangers would be
smart to work into the fifth slot of a good team.
As for Clark's eventual destination, regardless of whether the Rangers
trade him or waive him, I think we could all see him going back to wearing
an Indians' uniform.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Placed RHP Peter Munro on the 15-day DL (strained elbow); placed OF
DeWayne Wise on the 15-day DL (sore toe); activated LHP Lance
Painter and 2B Homer Bush from the DL. [6/6]
Placed DH Todd Greene on the 15-day DL (strained knee); recalled C
Josh Phelps from Knoxville (Double-A). [6/7]
Sore toe? In the history of hokey, phony, invented and silly
"injuries" that befall every Rule 5 pick that a team tries to
keep for the whole season, you're telling me that the best the Jays could
come up with was a sore toe? Talk about a need for some creative license.
They really need something better than whatever comes to Chris Brown's
mind, they need something good and technical-sounding, like a subluxed
mandibular joint or narcoleptic dementia. Anything has to be better than
just "sore toe." Jim Bowden ought to protest this on the basis of
As far as important stuff, the Jays are now on their third or fourth fifth
starter, assuming that they really will give Clayton Andrews a crack at the
job. That will probably last all of two or three starts, before the Jays
have some other new idea that allows them to futz around and avoid getting
serious about pushing the Yankees and Red Sox.
Meanwhile, the great Homer Bush is going to have to fight to get his
full-time job back. Craig Grebeck has looked good in the field, especially
in turning the deuce, and he's always going to have more power than Bush will.
As for calling up Josh Phelps, that's to help paper over another one of the
Jays' wasted roster spots, Alberto Castillo. As long as Darrin Fletcher is
suffering from his shoulder injury, the Jays have to rely on Castillo, who
can't hit. If they're going to be able to pinch-hit for Castillo in the
late innings of a tight game, they're going to have to have somebody around
who can catch.
Of course, if they hadn't bothered with acquiring Castillo in the first
place, they could have muddled along with one of the good-hitting backup
catchers who were available over the winter, and I don't mean Mike Matheny.
Then they wouldn't have to spend three roster spots on one glove, one
hitter and one kid. Considering they've wasted space on Marty Cordova as
well, the Jays are definitely hurting themselves with poor roster selection
when they ought to be making some noise.