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September 16, 2007
Transaction of the Day
NL East Roundup
Optioned RHP Joey Devine to Richmond (Triple-A); recalled INF-R Pete Orr from Richmond. [8/27]
Who or What Bears Watching? Ring, because he might grow up to be something for the reasons that several of my colleagues and I have enumerated-he's a lefty with power stuff and a tendency to keep the ball in the infield, and put that in front of a sound defense and punt on the situational chicanery, and you've got yourself a pitcher.
I'm also mildly interested in seeing whether or not guys like Pena or Sammons might make a case for why they might be able to fulfill the responsibilities of backing up Brian McCann behind the plate, but they're not going to get much playing time to do so, not when McCann's starting at least nine of every ten games for the last month or so, and not with Corky Miller doing a decent enough job of helping deter the running game. Pena had a nice season with Richmond, hitting .301/.341/.423, obviously a bunch of singles, but still, not a bad performance for a good catch-and-throw type who's 25 years old. That translates to a player who might peak at around a .249 Equivalent Average as a hitter, but given the shortage of quality catching help, that's better than the Ken Huckabay or Alberto Castillo types.
Sammons is a small-f organizational favorite, another homegrown Georgian with solid receiving skills who managed to hit a relatively tepid .249/.317/.364 between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Mississippi. He's a little more than a year younger than Pena, but seemingly much further back developmentally. Still, he's a catcher, and between having him and Pena, it would seem to me the Braves can worry less about finding an expensive veteran to back up McCann, and can instead resort to signing some Quad-A lifer to a split non-roster deal this winter.
Random Niceness: I suppose letting Julio Franco get carried out on his shield instead of leaving under it is generous enough as gestures go. It's also a bit of a waste of time, but it isn't like it's costing them somebody on waivers.
Who Isn't Here? Devine and Chad Paronto, which says something about where they are in the team's near-term planning. Frankly, I'm more disappointed that Phil Stockman didn't get the call, but he missed much of the year with a nagging hamstring problem, and threw only 36 innings this year. Still, he was healthy enough to strike out nine in seven frames during the R-Braves' final week. If he's kept on the 40-man through the winter, he could be the parent club's next no-name reliever to step in and do good work.
Among the position players, the only real missing man is Willy Aybar, but he did get out of his substance abuse program in August, only to endure the setback of a broken hamate bone that shut him down for the year. He still has promise, and here's hoping that a fresh start in a new year gets him back on track; he'll only turn 25 next March, after all.
Recalled RHP Logan Kensing from Albuquerque (Triple-A). [9/1]
Who or What Bears Watching? If you can set your viewing to the qualitative level of 'desultory,' I guess you can watch to see how badly Seddon gets drubbed now that he's been deposited into the rotation as the token fifth man commanded to help the franchise finish off the season. He didn't pitch a whole lot better for the Mudcats after getting picked up on waivers from the Rays in June than he had for the Biscuits beforehand, so his season line of allowing five runs and a dozen baserunners per nine in the Southern League seems representative. However, he had finished the year on a good note, providing Carolina with seven consecutive winnable ballgames (and four quality starts) in his last seven starts, and if you're casting around for somebody to reward in-house, I guess Seddon wasn't the worst candidate. Since he's on the 40-man, this is basically his chance to earn his keep or risk getting reacquainted with the wire.
More interesting is Kensing, who's coming back from Tommy John surgery, and arrives with less than 16 innings thrown this season. Command's going to be an issue with barely more than a month pitched, but he struck out 21 in his 15 2/3 minor league frames, and there's every reason to expect that this is an audition for his winning a job pitching in front of Kevin Gregg and Henry Owens next season. Similarly, it'll be nice to if Pinto's sound enough to make a case for his being the club's second lefty in the pen next year.
Among the position players, Andino's not going to push past either Hanley Ramirez or Dan Uggla, not on the basis of his hitting a home park-aided .278/.322/.428 in the PCL. For him, 39 walks drawn in 644 PA represents improvement, but it's not special, and although rumors of his moving to second got bandied about, he spent the season as Albuquerque's shortstop despite kicking or throwing away 34 balls. He has no real direct value to the parent club, and his value in trade has to be considered limited, even with the shortage of shortstops. Abercrombie wrapped up a great year (.323/.361/.584, 41 steals in 47 attempts) that nevertheless re-exposed his fundamental problem (11 walks in 379 PA), while Carroll had a similar season overall (.304/.361/.572) across both his Double- and Triple-A assignments, but really the only thing that might gain him a job as a major league reserve would be his strong arm, and since he'll be turning 25 this winter, he's on a knife's edge as far as making it.
Random Activity: Carvajal throws in the 90s, so you know that's going to get him claimed every time somebody tries to take him off of their 40-man roster, but it's not really a guarantee that he's ever really going to wind up being a successful big league pitcher. It's sort of like what happened with Mike Adams last season. At any rate, Carvajal struggled in the Eastern League pitching for Binghamton this year, managing only six quality starts in 22, which earned a return to the pen, where he wasn't any better, allowing 7.7 runs per nine and a 1.37 WHIP versus 6.0 and 1.57 as a starter. Still, he's a talent, with talent, and people see the 92 strikeouts in 119 IP. Since these Fish are bottom-feeders anyway, they can't afford to only settle for the really juicy stuff on waivers; they have to take whatever they can get.
Who Isn't Here? Sadly, Dancin' Homer wasn't called up from the Isotopes; it's a pity that isn't within the reach of the Fish's fins, because nothing else is bringing people out to the park. Chalk this up as another proof that threats and anti-marketing are a great way to keep people away from games, and if you remember how well the Lorians did this in Montreal, then the good people of San Antonio, Charlotte, Durham, or wherever ought to take note.
You may be asking, whatever happened to the Nolasco Kid? After being shipped back to the minors, Ricky Nolasco pitched even worse than before, allowing 35 baserunners and six homers in 15 1/3 innings across four Isotopes starts, all of them disasterpieces. And Anibal Sanchez, still hurt, and the subject of a grievance between the ever-charming Lorians and the MLBPA over whether or not he was hurt before or after his demotion.
Outrighted C-R Sandy Alomar Jr. to Binghamton (Double-A). [8/30]
Who or What Bears Watching? Whether or not Humber or Pelfrey do anything to inspire confidence in their individual capacities to step into next season's rotation. Hernandez had a decent season for the Zephyrs, hitting .301/.339/.397, while stealing 16 bases. He'll only turn 25 during the offseason, but clearly, his horizons are coming up on him if he's going to pan out as anybody's option at second or short at the highest level.
Random Niceness: I guess Alomar gets the token AARPster roster spot that was pried from the mummified claws of Julio Franco. If Alomar wasn't already the recipient of so many other unearned rewards over the course of his career, it might be easier for some to get warm and fuzzy over than others, but let's face it, the man's 41 and playing with permanently bum knees. If there's a guy in baseball whose knees might earn him an honorary Jim Otto badge of courage (for those of you who remember the Raiders' Hall of Fame center), it's Alomar. If he wants to keep playing, and isn't afraid to spend time in the minors and literally catch as catch can, more power to him.
Who Isn't Here? Several pitchers who were called upon earlier in the season, notably Joe Smith and Ambiorix Burgos in the pen, and Jason Vargas and Brian Lawrence in the rotation. Burgos' excuse is Tommy John surgery, but Smith, Lawrence, and Vargas were pitching for the Zephyrs in their losing effort against Sacramento, the perpetual powerhouse of the PCL. They were joined by David Newhan, who was playing some at second base while also hitting a pair of postseason homers. He hit as well as ever during his Triple-A demotions (.347/.413/.572), but at 34, you have to figure that despite his ability as a five- or six-position utilityman and lefty bat off the bench, he's exactly the sort of player who's been crowded out of a more meaningful career by the carousel of twelfth pitcher wannabes.
Traded 4C-L Russell Branyan to the Cardinals for a PTBNL; optioned RHP Geoff Geary to Ottawa (Triple-A); recalled RHP Kane Davis from Ottawa. [8/31]
Who or What Bears Watching? Not a lot, actually. Despite Barajas' return, it looks like the Phillies are happy relying on Chris Coste as Carlos Ruiz's primary reserve. Similarly, while Roberson and Bourn might both now be here, right field belongs to Jayson Werth in Shane Victorino's absence. Charlie Manuel's playing with the deck he decided on weeks ago, so everyone else can just cope with being a bit player or not. With several pitchers on the 60-day DL, should the Phillies make it, they'll have plenty of flexibility in choosing their postseason roster. (Lest we forget, remember that Pat Gillick gave us William Canate on a postseason roster, although you can argue that was the most extreme bit of standing pat in his history; Canate was a Rule 5 pick who wasn't ready, and never would be.)
Random Niceness: Getting Kane Davis postseason-eligible might have actually made sense; you might wonder why it took so long, given the club's dire need for any kind of pitching help, but if nothing else getting the Quad-A reliever with 15 years of pro experience up was a nice gesture. This is after he lost most of 2006 and even a portion of June to health issues, which helps explain some measure of reluctance. At this late date, he's good from the stretch and throws strikes, but there's not a lot there to hang your hat on; like I said, it's a nice thing, not a masterstroke.
Who Isn't Here? If you're surprised that we haven't seen Matt Smith or Julio Mateo get the call, remember that Smith's out after shredding his elbow, and has much of his recovery from Tommy John surgery ahead of him, while Mateo quietly finished up the year pitching well in Reading after coming over in his deal from the Mariners, and might not draw the sort of attention the club wants down the stretch while he's dealing with his being charged with his third-degree assault upon his wife.
Optioned LHP John Lannan to Columbus (Triple-A); activated RHP Jason Bergmann from the 15-day DL. [8/26]
Who or What Bears Watching? Most everyone else has cycled through the roster at one point or another, which is why It's interesting to see Maxwell and Detwiler here, since they're the legitimately new faces, but both are former first-rounders (past and present), with Maxwell being rewarded for a relatively healthy and productive season (.281/.363/.533 between the club's two full-season A-ball affiliates), and Detwiler collecting his due from his major league contract negotiated after being the team's top pick this past June. Albaladejo's yet another product of the organization's winter fishing expeditions, a former Pirates farmhand out of Puerto Rico; his 8.3 K/9 are the product of his nice breaking stuff, not pure power, but there's nothing wrong with scaring up talent out potentially overlooked by a badly-run organization.
The Pickup: Lefave's not really a prospect, just a first baseman with a slightly more slender keggy shape than King, and short for a first baseman after not really panning out as a left fielder. Still, after hitting .345/.432/.525 in his full-season debut, the undrafted free agent has a Sally League batting title to his credit. It's a decent little pickup of an organizational guy in the making, where the only troubling note is that Lefave says his favorite food is Italian, and his favorite restaurant is the Olive Garden. Napoletana that I am, that just ain't right.
Who Isn't Here? Chris Booker, but he was used pretty sparingly by Columbus during the last month; I'm not sure if there's some other issue there, health or just a healthy concern about his fastball's lack of movement. What was initially seen as a possible rehab stint for Michael O'Connor at Harrisburg wound up becoming a permanent assignment once it became clear that he wasn't in full command of his stuff. Similarly, it's interesting that Kory Casto and Billy Traber didn't get called up, but that's a reflection of where their years wound up in terms of performance.