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July 26, 2007
American League Roundup
Placed OF-L Garret Anderson on the 15-day DL (hip flexor). [6/16]
Big Move: Dealing belated justice to roster deadweight. Of course, signing Carrasco and Hillenbrand were both bad ideas from day one, but the total money lost on these mistakes isn't the problem. Instead, it's worth asking if the Angels felt any sort of financial pinch during the winter signing seasons in which they made these mistakes, but there again, it isn't like not being able to afford Adam Kennedy's killing them, and it isn't like having Carrasco deterred them from making Gary Matthews Jr. an amply-compensated addition.
Clever Machinations: Skipping around between Saunders emergency starts was a nice bit of roster management, but Stoneman and Scioscia understandably tired of it, and cut to just giving him a job.
Wheel-Spinning: Garret Anderson's sort of the Angels' Angel, but given how slack his bat has been (for years now), isn't it time he was beatified or something? I'm always fascinated by images of assumption, where you see the feet of the happy recipient of heavenly favor disappearing into the clouds like he or she was sucked up by God's Silly Straw. Would a painted image of Anderson's cleats disappearing skyward on the outfield wall put Angels fans on cloud nine, or seventh heaven? Which has better sight lines?
What's Busted, or is that Fixed? Kendrick, all over again. I'm still going to sing his praises for as long as I'm able, in anticipation of that fine day when he lives up to the billing, I wouldn't blame Angels fans if they might just want me to shut up on the subject already, on the off chance that, unburdened by my fulsome praise, he might be spared some new hurt. At least the Angels have Maicer Izturis back to handle most of the workload at the keystone, and with Robb Quinlan still providing value against lefties, they can shuttle Chone Figgins between second and third. That's not so terrible, but that's the virtue of the sort of roster and position flexibility they've had at their disposal for years now, starting with Figgy.
What's Fixed, or is that Busted? The rotation, but only halfway. Scratch one Santana, and that's progress, but they still need to replace a busted Colon. If anything, they've actually got that backwards-Santana did at least deliver ten quality starts in his first 15 (one, the last, was blown in the seventh), but four straight bad starts didn't help his overall numbers, and when the guy's optionable and they have someone as good as Saunders standing around, you can understand why they'd make the exchange. Colon's struggles have been a problem going even further back-after a nice initial run of five quality starts in his first six, the big man's given them two in his last ten. News that his elbow-generated early exit prefigures his being done for the year might be the Angels' cue to have Dustin Moseley step in for a few starts, just to give Santana a brief break from the bigs. Once they feel confident putting Santana back in the rotation, it's all good.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: That one of the flying Molinas is now in pinstripes? Maybe, but for the Angels, it's really just a matter of deciding to go fish with Mathis, the organization's erstwhile fair-haired boy behind the plate. He doesn't really look any less unready now, but he's been a homegrown favorite, and they're still hoping that there's some there there to help him stick. He did hit .264/.326/.460 in June, but that's in Utah, in the Pacific Coast League, and in the end, really just not that impressive. Don't be surprised if he loses his job to another farmhand like Bobby Wilson, but in Mathis' defense, at least he was throwing well, gunning down 21 of 53 aspiring base thieves (just under 40 percent).
Placed C-R Ramon Hernandez on the 15-day DL (groin contusion), retroactive to 6/7; purchased the contract of C-R Alberto Castillo from Norfolk (Triple-A). [6/8]
Big Move: Losing Miguel Tejada for any length of time is a pretty significant setback, but they've also lost Mora and Hernandez for extended periods of time, the rotation has been a bit of a mess with Trachsel joining the workplace casualty list, and the expensive effort to fix the bullpen this past winter obviously isn't doing all that much good with Baez breaking down and Williamson getting discarded. It cripples up their shot at dealing Tejada something fierce. That's without getting into my suspicion that Miggy would probably like to replace memories of his playground petulance moment from the 2003 ALDS as his last appearance on the playoff stage with something more suitably redemptive and heroic.
Clever Machinations: Well, I don't know if I'd call it clever, but it's sort of gratifying to see the Orioles show a willingness to plug Aubrey Huff in at third base in the wake of Mora's injury. That in turn creates the opportunity to go with a platoon of Jay Gibbons and Knott at DH which, with the talent on hand, isn't entirely horrid. It's sort of the least-noxious evil in a collection of non-good alternatives, and if you think some piece of furniture escaped any of the big summer sales and planted itself at third base, you might be onto something.
Wheel-Spinning: Picking someone to play shortstop in Tejada's absence has proven especially frustrating. Fahey wasn't hitting in Norfolk (.227/.296/.315), Hernandez can't really hit anywhere (he was at a combined .244/.277/.308 between Bowie and Norfolk), and whatever opportunity there might have been to see if Bynum could hold down the job well enough to give the O's a plausible regular in a post-Tejada trade environment went out the window when he strained his hammy. The results? Chris Gomez is playing a good bit of shortstop, not the end of the world, but that's a constellation of events you might only find in a Manny Alexander kind of altiverse, and only the Orioles and Neifi Perez seem to be living in it.
What's Fixed: The rotation isn't in bad shape, because while Trachsel's brief absence might have handicapped the Orioles' ability to flip him at the deadline, it might also have limited the opportunities for some teams to get disenchanted by having to scout Trachsel in person instead of fast-forwarding through the interminable pace that seems to annoy more than a few. The other happy development that sprang from the injury was that it gave Olson a shot at rotation time. He's still spinning a nifty curve and mixing in decent (for a lefty) velocity, and his debut at Triple-A seems to have gone well this season, as he's struck out 102 in 110 IP, with only 83 hits, 32 walks, and 11 homers allowed. After the Birds make Trachsel somebody else's professional dawdler, Olson should be more than ready to step up as a solid mid-rotation type.
Oh, the humanity! Paul Shuey, Jaret Wright... why didn't these guys try to pick up Jose Mesa and resurrect Danny Graves, and then get Orel Hershiser out of the booth, and, and... they'd be the '97 Indians all together again, on a mission from God! And charged with keeping the Devil Rays in the basement, because that's where they were cast down to when they got a bit too uppity for cartilagenous fish. Seriously, you look at that pitching staff, and would anybody have guessed that Dave Weathers would be the best of the bunch ten years later?
Designated LHP J.C. Romero for assignment; activated RHP Mike Timlin from the 15-day DL. [6/9]
Big Move: Getting Lester back into the rotation, and not just for the emotional high and the admirable comeback it represents. On some level, Julian Tavarez' days in the rotation were already numbered, because Curt Schilling's going to be back shortly, but this battle became less of one where Tavarez was pitching for his job against Gabbard (who has also shone), but one where Tavarez was doomed by his performance, and instead, the Sox have the even more interesting choice of whether or not to leave Gabbard in the fifth slot after Schilling returns, and perhaps bumping Tim Wakefield back into the bullpen. As extreme as that may sound, he's only generated 11 quality starts in 20--decent rates for a guy at the bottom of anybody's rotation--but the Sox can't afford to be just anybody, and if Gabbard and Lester are cranking out quality starts, there's a need on this staff for a better middle reliever than anyone they've had so far
Clever Machinations: No need to be clever. The Sox understand that, past a certain point, relievers are relatively interchangeable. Discarding Pineiro and Romero isn't anything earth-shattering. Swapping out Donnelly for Timlin isn't really a setback, and adding Delcarmen adds a more talented arm than any of the four I just mentioned. Pairing up Delcarmen with Timlin to give them a pair of effective right-handed relievers to join Hideki Okajima in the innings before Papelbon time, and with the probability that they'll get another right-handed veteran or two out of the rotation, they should be more than adequately stocked with quality relief help.
You think you're the only one who can give me that Barton Fink feeling?: So, that special something that they saw in Pineiro this winter, that was his contribution to team chemistry, right?
What's Busted: I'd like to see Wily Mo Pena and Alex Cora get some more playing time, the former because if they don't deal him, they'd be better off getting his bat up to speed so that he'll be better prepped to deliver down the stretch, and the latter because how much more of Julio Lugo's flailing at the plate should they bother with?
What's Fixed: Coco Crisp, apparently, but apparently all it took was a brief exposure to Jacoby Ellsbury to inspire a sense of professional mortality.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: That Pedroia kid should keep a bounce in Nate Silver's step for the next five or six years.
Senioritis?: Julian Tavarez has three quality starts in three against the Senior Circuit, and two in 15 against the league he's actually in. Seems like a compelling case to make him a Pirate or something.
Placed 3B-R Joe Crede on the 15-day DL (back), retroactive to 6/5; recalled 3B-R Josh Fields from Charlotte (Triple-A). [6/6]
Big Move: Losing Crede for the year might be a major psychological hit, but it doesn't really change this team's particular calculus. They still have to make the same decision to offer Crede arbitration or not for 2008, and if anything, they'll be better off because they'll have the advantage of giving Fields nearly four months on the job. Fields is nowhere close to being-or ever being-the gloveman that Crede is at the hot corner, but he's held his own afield, and that makes things interesting, because if Crede isn't willing to settle for a deal with the Sox no larger than this year's $4.9 million, the Sox don't have to revisit the plan to make Fields the team's left fielder.
Picking up Richar to provide them with their presumable heir apparent at second base once Tadahito Iguchi is bundled off or scrams of his own volition was pretty major, and while my visceral first impression of the deal was that Kenny Williams had made a mistake, there's actually a logic to it. As I pointed out at the time, the real challenge now is for the Sox to acquire talent for Iguchi to make the Cunningham-Richar trade make some greater sense.
Clever Machinations: ... might have to wait until they sort out whether they're going to non-tender Crede or not. In the meantime, it's not about subtleties, it's mostly about freaking out about how badly things are going.
Wheel-Spinning: There comes a point where you have to stop and pick a pen, and actually try to learn something from using the same guys for more than a week or two at a time, isn't there? Near-random reshuffling isn't going to propel this club back into contention, but maybe Don Cooper's as good as we all think he is, and might actually be able to do some good with guys like Aardsma and Masset if you changed gears and focused on using guys where they weren't afraid for their jobs. It isn't like punitive demotions offer some secret path from Bridgeport back to a pennant race.
What's Busted?: The outfield, still, and with very little hope of repair unless they do something bold, like acquire other people's blue-chip outfield prospects, or belated, like take a full spin with guys like Ryan Sweeney and Brian Anderson so that they see how much work's to be done this winter. The pen, still. Juan Uribe, but only in the non-indicted, non-convicted senses of the word.
Who's Fixed?: Whoever Ozzie's pissed at, because he tends to emasculate the guys who get on his bad side, and at this point of the year, with a fifth-place finish looking pretty possible, that may well be everybody.
What's Can Be Done?: Deal a starting pitcher or two, and throw in Rob Mackowiak, because most contenders could use a five- or six-position utilityman who hits lefty well enough to use with some frequency. Make Iguchi a Met, like, yesterday. That, or a Padre, even if it would mean they'd have to stare down a Giles mutiny.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: That Charlie Haeger was up? Probably every knuckleball junkie so jonesing for a fix that they'd take a Steve Sparks start to be named later. He was giving up 5.8 runs per nine for the Charlotte, and while that was only the second-worst mark in a rotation, at least he's logged 92 K's in 101 IP.
Optioned LHP Jeremy Sowers to Buffalo (Triple-A); recalled RHP Matt Miller from Buffalo. [6/10]
Big Move: Losing David Dellucci for the season might normally be described as a setback, but there wasn't really a lot of reason to believe that he was going to get his season turned around, any more than Trot Nixon might or might not. No, instead, the really meaningful big move was in the rotation, as the Indians finally decided they couldn't get Sowers turned around in The Show, and plugged Jake Westbrook into the lineup in his place (with a brief Stanford interlude). How well that works out remains to be seen-Westbrook's been drubbed by the good teams he's faced, and thrown quality starts against the weak ones. That isn't really a formula for helping propel the Tribe past the Tigers.
Clever Machinations: While I'm disappointed that Shin-Soo Choo failed to cooperate and hit well enough and stay healthy enough to provide the Tribe with an instant Dellucci replacement, I'm impressed that they brought up Francisco and Franklin Gutierrez play their ways into a four-headed job-share for at-bats in the outfield corner slots, splitting time with Jason Michaels and Trot Nixon. Since Michaels is still really just a useful platoon weapon, and Nixon still looks very done, Francisco and Gutierrez might end up being the guys who don't lose spots on the roster should Mark Shapiro decide to add yet another veteran lefty bat to his outfield.
Despite the seemingly equally generic names-isn't that a commentary on the age-Gutierrez and Francisco are very different players. Gutierrez was the toolsy prize from the deal that made Milton Bradley a Dodger, while Francisco's a UCLA product who's been an organizational soldier in the Indians system. Gutierrez has the greater ceiling and might actually turn into somebody's useful center fielder someday, while Francisco's an unkillable tweener whose arrival now seems to be a reward for his avoiding the collapses that seem to have claimed so many Indian outfield prospects with such alarming regularity. Francisco's built on last season's .278/.345/.454 line with the Bisons by hitting .329/.390/.479; that's basically a lot more singles, a little less power, and a similar walk rate, so at 25, I think we have a sense of his level of ability.
Wheel-Spinning: I have to expect that at this point, Ed Mujica knows every single road sign on the highway between Buffalo and Cleveland, the names of most of the waitresses in the Denny's along the way, which service stations offer clean restrooms, and the meaning of frustration.
What's Busted?: Last winter's master plan, where the hired hands in the pen were supposed to help the youngsters. With Keith Foulke retired, Hernandez released, and Fultz disabled, I guess there's really a whole lot of solace that has to be taken out of the improving year that Joe Borowski is having-he now rates 15th in the league in WXRL. For all that winter effort, the Tribe still needs to shore up their pen.
What's Fixed: The rotation, hopefully. The pen's still a bit of an open question.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: Mike Rouse is still on this team. He's even started twenty games this year. Stanford's comeback had that nice story arc that had him making a quality start in his season debut, but then he had to pitch again after the credits rolled, and a shellacking the second time out ended any suggestion that he belongs anywhere but in middle relief and back-rotation patchwork duties.
Placed RHP Zach Miner and LHP Nate Robertson on the 15-day DL; recalled RHPs Yorman Bazardo and Aquilino Lopez from Toledo (Triple-A). [6/7]
Big Move: Righting the rotation with the returns of Robertson and Rogers, although Rogers hasn't really been so hot since that sparkling season debut against the Braves back on June 22nd. In contrast, Robertson seems to be in gear after two shorter initial outings, but his run of three straight quality starts is sort of spoiled by two getting blown in the seventh; that's a symptom of the pen's being short-handed as much as it is a suggestion that Robertson may not be all the way back.
Clever Machinations: I was pretty jazzed about the Tigers getting Capellan for an industry-standard left-handed pitching person type, but I'm a Capellan believer, and that might be a little overly extravagant, considering that there's no reason to automatically expect that he's going to graduate to that small percentage of relievers who have any consistent reliability. Still, the guy has talent, and although he just got demoted, I still like his chances of being-like Bobby Seay-a cheap solution to an immediate problem.
Wheel-Spinning: Not that I'm going to give Hessman a ringing endorsement, but having him here represents a belated realization that what the real problem was with losing Thames isn't that it left them without a real alternative to Craig Monroe in left-more on that in a second-but that it also left them without a right-handed hitting alternative to Sean Casey at first base. Hessman's having his best year as a Mudhen yet in his third year in Toledo, mashing at a .256/.352/.551 clip, but at 29, he's really only a bit part with six years of experience at Triple-A. Still, when you've got no power production at first base, bit parts have their uses.
What's Busted: Production in premium offensive slots. All first basemen have generated a .280 Equivalent Average; Casey's delivered a .260 EqA. All left fielders have delivered a .268 EqA; Craig Monroe's at .220. For Casey, that's about the best you can expect, while for Monroe, however much improvement you might reasonably expect, he's still short of an offensive asset as an everyday player in an outfield corner. A little deal for someone like Brad Wilkerson or Jonny Gomes really wouldn't be such a bad idea, and a serious play for Adam Dunn or Carl Crawford would be pretty tasty, however expensive in blood and treasure.
Oh, the humanity! St. Neifi of the Wounded Wood, a cheater who cheats? Where is the outrage? What's next? The salaciousness of leaked testimony and the betrayal of public institutions for public amusement? The appearance of his cleaning lady in some Page Three-type of publication? An ESPN Ocho crew documenting his life on the comeback trail ("Neifi Perez-he's off of... stuff, and high on life!")? Where's my 24/7 coverage of this indignity?
Designated SS-R Angel Berroa for assignment; recalled CF-L Joey Gathright from Omaha (Triple-A). [6/6]
Big Move: Hrm. Certainly the brief re-commitment to the Gathright option smacked of some sort of boldness, but leave it to the Royals to call a kid up, see him actually hit well enough to earn his keep, and nevertheless have to ship him out because they're still hoping to recoup something from Allard Baird's wacky decision to give Reggie Sanders his last multi-year contract.
Clever Machinations: There might be something uniquely Royal in their snagging Thomson, only to see him break down. Even when they're trying to do the right thing with finding retreads worth trying to retread, though, it doesn't seem to work out.
Wheel-Spinning: The all-hands-on-deck approach to primping up with available veterans seems a bit sad, but let's face it, if they're going to get anything for Sanders or Emil Brown, no time like the present. How Moore handles his deadline deals with a year under his belt should make for interesting tactics, but I don't think we should judge him too harshly however well or poorly he does-given his wares, adding much talent at all would be outstanding. But once we get deep into August, the Royals should really just start cutting bait on some of these guys. The costs are sunk, and there's almost nothing of value to be derived from going through the rigmarole of offering arbitration when you might be reasonably frightened of their accepting it.
What's Busted?: Let's try to not get too critical, okay? This was a ground-up rebuild assignment from the day Dayton Moore moved in. Not too dissimilar from Allard Baird, come to think of it, but we'll have to see how well Moore gets out from under Baird's more lamentable commitments while exploiting and adding to the talent that was already in place when he came aboard. So far, the results can be politely described as 'mixed,' with the additions of Ryan Shealy and Odalis Perez not exactly representing feats of genius, and filler pick-ups like Tony Pena Jr. and Jorge de la Rosa falling flat. However, the decisions to sign up Gil Meche, trade for Brian Bannister, and snag Joakim Soria all seem genuinely inspired.
What's Fixed: David DeJesus has been pretty healthy. Their faith in Alex Gordon and their latest commitment to Billy Butler are definitely marks in their favor. And the bullpen's turned into a pretty good unit. Little steps, people, little steps.
Optioned LHP Jason Miller to Rochester (Triple-A); activated C-L Joe Mauer from the 15-day DL. [6/8]
Big Move: Getting Mauer back, and losing Cuddyer sort of symbolizes the merry-go-round the franchise is on. What's worse: that these things happen, or that people will rush to congratulate the Twins on really impressing everybody by playing .500 ball this season? It's as if the Griffith family never left.
Damnably Consistent: The article of faith that Rondell White is going to help make things better is admirably loyal. It's a couple of other things too, but I guess if you're going to go down in flames, you want everyone to get the full benefit of the doubt for how they can help make it happen.
Wheel-Spinning: You know, you don't pile up pitching talent in a system so that you can make it play spectator to the likes of Sidney Ponson and treasure it too highly to deal any of it for something better than Sidney Ponson. Even with the decision to ditch Slowey, I guess they're sticking to their guns on Scott Baker. For now. That's progress, sort of.
What's Busted: Besides the lineup? Their sense of priorities. Last year's horse-changing in May and June of 2006 seems like a distant memory. How do you wind up with three regular infielders slugging below .350? And go without a DH who can fulfill the 'H' part of the job description? How do you sleep-walk through a season in the face of mounting evidence that you haven't brought in quality veteran help to shore up an outstanding core of mid-career or young talent?
What's Fixed: To be fair, sprinking Matt Garza with a little bit of seasoning after last fall's hasty promotion made some sense, at the start. But after a while, the oregano heaps up enough that a guy starts looking like someone doing a leaf pile-dive in your front yard in October. Garza's where he should be now. Even though he logged only eight quality starts in 16 in Rochester, he struck out 95 while walking only 31 in 92 IP, and allowed only five balls to leave the yard. Come the day that the Twins have Santana, Garza, and Francisco Liriano all in the rotation at the same time, you can imagine the sort of fear that might inspire, within the division and around the league. And while this is probably premature, at least Jason Kubel seems to be heating up at the plate lately. If he can earn his keep, the lineup just has four holes instead of five.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: ...that Luis Castillo is a below-average player for second base. While they didn't have to give up anything that will really haunt them, even their win-now moves haven't really helped them win now. That is, unless you consider the very real possibility that where the Twins are concerned, they might just be able to find the worst possible sinkhole in the absence of acquiring someone like Castillo.
Optioned RHP Chris Britton to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Roger Clemens from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; transferred RHP Philip Hughes from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/9]
Big Move: Well, there's that Clemens character, of course, and that's a pretty solid Beantown Monster-slayer sort of move. The Rocket rattled off six quality starts in nine like he was built by Wernher Von Braun, perhaps lending some credence to the franchise's old reputation for machine-like efficiency. Once Hughes is ready to come off of the DL and bump Kei Igawa (Igawa so almost had a quality start against the A's, which would have been his first since his recall), and you start to have a rotation that might really put the fear of Jeebus in Red Sox Nation.
Clever Machinations: Getting an adequate backup catcher isn't such a bad thing; now if only the team would show a similar commitment to the concept of employing a first baseman. On that score, you can always hope that Durazo has something left in the tank. He hasn't done much at Scranton yet, but he did have a nice run in the Mexican League earlier on, hitting .354/.446/.582. The real question isn't just whether Durazo has something to contribute, unfortunately; there's also the problem with not knowing whether or not they're going to be able to identify that Durazo can help them, regardless of what he does. After all, they had Carlos Pena in their clutches last year, and scouting didn't signal that he was ready to contribute and more than his slack performance did; if they'd simply had a bit of faith that the guy who mashed in 2005 was still wearing Pena's cleats, they wouldn't have this problem.
The New Shane Spencer?: Shelley Duncan's been a Yankee farmhand all the way along since his coming out of the University of Arizona, and it's the slowest of boats as boat rides go, as he spent a full season in the Sally League, two more in the Florida State League, plus most of two more beyond that in the Eastern League. So he'll be 28 by season's end, but here he is on the strength of a .296/.380/.577 season with Scranton, and that obviously precludes much upside-he will not be the new Hank Sauer, gentlemen-but with this lineup needing every kind of help, it seems crazy to suggest that somebody with righty sock couldn't help this club.
What's Fixed: Well, first base, sorta kinda, in that Phillips has started 23 of the last 25 games there, and he's hitting .301/.350/.419, or leaps and bounds better than the unlamented A-Rod Sidekick Experiment. That's not great output for first base, but with so many people complaining about Robinson Cano's hitting, he's been more valuable than the team's first basemen, not to mention Johnny Damon or Bobby Abreu.
Oh, the humanity! So, not only do the Yankees forego my spring candidate for backup backstop (Raul Chavez) and Jay Jaffe's (Todd Pratt), they ditch what was behind Door Number Three-the execrable Nieves-and resort to getting a Molina to be named later? That just ain't fair, but I guess my ambitions for winning my buck bet on this score late in the year aren't just sunk, they're now probably not even resurrectable.
Released RHP Jay Witasick. [6/7]
Big Moves: Discarding one virtually limb-less scratched-up Kendall because they've wisely decided to throw something more exotic-like Suzuki-on the barbie. Jiggling and re-jiggering the bullpen. Getting Piazza back in time to hopefully showcase him as a plausible DH type for somebody who still has ambitions where contention is concerned.
Wheel-Spinning: The service time being distributed to non-Scutaro infield reserves borders on random. Melillo's having a decent season with Sacto, hitting .266/.361/.461, and .282/.373/.500 against RHPs... if someone wanted Mark Ellis instead of making a Jack Wilson-sized mistake, I guess there are possibilities for Oakland in a post-Ellis environment. Murphy's hitting an inconceivable .511/.556/.851 in more than 50 PCL at-bats against lefties, and while sample size issues and the relative quality of Triple-A southpaw filler and major league lefties both need to be taken into account, that's got the makings of an interesting platoon.
What's Busted: Any immediate sense of hope, now that we've found out that the store policy on both Harden and Crosby is "No Returns, No Refunds, and No Redemption." Sounds like something straight out of Dan O'Neill's announcement of National Bummer Week ages ago. This just ain't the year, and while seeing Jack Cust deliver might give us all an echo of that Moneyball feeling, it won't be enough. So now we have to ask, what happens when the magic's gone, and you're just another one of the smart kids? I feel like it might be 1993 all over again, and that's not a good thing.
What's Fixed: Next year's outfield looks pretty interesting-Nick Swisher, Buck, Snelling, and Chris Denorfia? There's some upside in that quartet, and if Cust is the DH, and with Daric Barton at first... it won't be a great team, but it would be an interesting one.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: With Kielty's DFA, another in the pantheon of Beane babies takes a fall from the performance analysis pedestal. Nevertheless, I think he'll land on his feet as some poor man's Mitch Webster type, mashing lefties, filling in at the corners, and keeping alive the question of whether or not he's one of those switch-hitters who shouldn't.
Placed RHP Jon Huber on the 15-day DL (forearm stiffness), retroactive to 6/7; activated RHP Jeff Weaver from the 15-day DL. [6/9]
Big Move: There really haven't been any. Or notable moves. Or moves that inspire a certain joie de vivre. For a team on the make, it was a pretty flat month as far as roster moves go. Feierabend isn't ready to help a contender, but his numbers look insanely bad because of two Weaver-style disasterpieces (19 runs allowed in four innings total), so in his defense, individual losses don't get any more lost than once. I like that Rowland-Smith got taken out for a spin, because it still looks to me like he'd make a good lefty specialist in somebody's pen, and having him strike out 14 big leaguers in 10 2/3 innings can't hurt as far as showcasing the big Aussie. Getting Lowe back is interesting, because it seems that he's back to throwing in the mid-90s, and his rehab stint didn't go badly.
If there's any one area of concern, it's the rotation. Jeff Weaver's the ultimate Jekyll/Hyde hurler, while there has to come a point where even Bill Bavasi acknowledges that Horacio Ramirez isn't going to help propel the club to postseason greatness. Even if the staff is really sort of King Felix and three veteran workhorses, and you'd like to add somebody with a little more pizzazz for the front end, even just a fourth workmanlike vet would represent an upgrade.
Optioned RHPs Chad Orvella and Tim Corcoran to Durham (Triple-A). [6/10]
Big Move: Towards the basement, although I do like the suggestion that they might just keep Al Reyes. It isn't like the organization needs to add prospects anywhere save perhaps shortstop or catcher. Even that's arguable, and there aren't exactly overripe blue chip shortstop and catcher prospects falling off of trees or out of anybody's organization. If he's amenable to re-signing with the Rays, and/or willing to accept arbitration, this might be a nice little match between a retread and a needy team.
Clever Machinations: Can lurching involve its own brand of cleverness? Or are the Devil Rays just going to be like Gerry Fleck, and simply not have a good foot to get off on? Well, not exactly-I do like that they basically ran a four-man rotation for a good chunk of the month, taking advantage of off days to skip the fifth slot. That isn't genius, but it's a nice bit of tacking and roster management
Wheel-Spinning: There's a difference between having a wealth of choices, making a choice, and trying to make all of them. Use Howell, or don't, use Hammel, or don't. Pick a rotation, and stick with it for a month or two, and maybe you'll see if you have something you can use, instead of another enigma like Edwin Jackson-perhaps the perfect modern recipient of Bismarck's withering observation of Napoleon III as a sphinx without a riddle.
What's Busted: Nothing against Brendan Harris, quality utility infielder, and a guy finally catching a long-deserved break, but he's not a shortstop. I think it's going to be hard to expect the rotation to get its kinks worked out and for any of the kids to develop when they simply aren't getting a standard level of defensive support. Add in that Ty Wigginton is playing out of position at second, and B.J. Upton doing OTJ training in center, and you wind up with the worst defense in baseball.
What's Fixed: Moral rectitude, but it took a while for the club to finally come to terms with Dukes' essential reprehensibility. Here's hoping the club gets him straightened out, and recognizes that there's not a lot of middle ground on death threats.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: Can Orvella get any more broken, or does he really just need to escape this particular funhouse? At least they've got Salas back and in working order; he might represent their third reliever (beyond Reyes and Gary Glover) who doesn't hurt them just by coming into a game.
Optioned LHP John Rheinecker to Oklahoma (Triple-A); recalled RHP Scott Feldman from Oklahoma. [6/7]
Big Move: They're almost starting to look like they have a consistent rotation, with Jamey Wright becoming one of unfeared five, and McCarthy coming back off of the DL and more closely approximating adequacy. Both Kevin Millwood and Kameron Loe even rattled off five straight quality starts apiece, and if there's understandable disappointment that John Rheinecker's the fifth man instead of Rob Tejeda, it isn't like Tejeda didn't do everything in his power to make it so. Somebody's going to have to come out once Vicente Padilla finishes his rehab in another ten days or so, but that's just the money talking.
Clever Machinations: I do like the decision to get Adam Melhuse and use him as Gerald Laird's caddy, but then I'd probably rather still have Melhuse in Oakland, instead of Rob Bowen. That's not really something to get worked up about, in pretty much any direction or in anybody's favor.
Wheel-Spinning: Picking a second baseman between Ramon Vazquez, an undead Desi Relaford, and stiffening Jerry Hairston Jr. must be the highlight of Ron Washington's day. At what point does Wash just say 'screw it,' and just decide to suit up?
What's Busted: There's just something sort of off about a ballclub that has as many problems as the Rangers, yet seems to be doing so little to evaluate some of the kids. Beyond that, Brad Wilkerson's sort of degenerating into a jokey performance act of a Three True Outcomes variety.
What's Fixed: Well, Teixeira's back in the lineup. Can't say that too many times, I suspect.
Optioned RHP Brian Wolfe to Syracuse (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Jordan De Jong from Syracuse; designated RHP Ismael Ramirez for assignment. [6/6]
Big Moves: Well, to try and stay positive, I guess it's peachy that they're giving Thigpen a shot, and they're turning more and more of the staff over to their homegrown kids. Litsch has given them three quality starts in four since returning to the rotation, Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum both seem to be settling in nicely, so absent some pointed criticism about A.J. Burnett-his deal, his usage pattern, and his future-the rotation's actually sort of a source of good news.
Clever Machinations: There's a special prize associated with being the last to figure out that a pitcher's done, right? That might go a long way towards explaining Zambrano.
Wheel-Spinning: Doesn't it say something about Royce Clayton's value if he can't plausibly hold a job in front of John McDonald? If performance analysis already suggested as much, and scouting reports would tell you McDonald's a plus defender, why again was this necessary?
What's Busted: Adam Lind's bat, and unfortunately it doesn't look like Reed Johnson was really ready to come off of the DL, not when he's hitting .204/.283/.315 since reactivation. Where's Rob Ducey when you really need him?
What's Fixed: Getting Overbay back is a nice bit of news; if they'd rewarded him with an overly generous extension that will pay him almost $20 million for the next three seasons, the Jays might even have been able to shop him around in what should have been a pretty nice market to barter using a first baseman. I've been an Overbay skeptic for more than a little while now, but it's probably more widely understood that a comparison to Bruce Bochte is not a good thing.
Somebody Besides Mom Noticed: Matt Stairs has been simply awesome. If they're not going to flip him to a contender, could they at least play him a little more regularly, say, at the expense of Overbay and Johnson? The money's already spent, Stairs is a Canadian anyway, so why not just give in to the good vibrations and offensive prowess that goes with playing the Wonder Hamster?
Oh, the humanity! Jason Phillips gunned down only four of 47 stolen base attempts. Thigpen arrives with a reputation for not being especially strong-armed. Since Gregg Zaun really hasn't been one to deter the running game in recent years, I guess the good news is that it's almost impossible for matters to get any worse.