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July 25, 2000

Transaction Analysis

July 21-23, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

Previous Transaction Analysis


Placed LHP Jarrod Washburn on the 15-day DL (strained bicep); recalled IF Justin Baughman from Edmonton. [7/23]

If the Angels had to name their MVP today, would Jarrod Washburn get any votes? Sure, Troy Glaus ought to win handily, and Darin Erstad would probably be the actual winner; among pitchers, Washburn might not even finish ahead of Troy Percival.

That would be unfortunate, because Washburn hasn't just been the Angels' best starter, he's not far from being one of the best starters in the league this year. He's in the running for some kind of Bert Blyleven Award as a result of posting a 3.87 ERA despite allowing 16 home runs in 79 innings. Fortunately, it doesn't look like he'll be gone for long, and Scott Schoeneweis should be activated by the end of the week. That pushes any decision about trading Kent Bottenfield or cutting Ken Hill off until next Monday at the earliest, although they can afford to wait and cut Hill once Washburn heals.

Justin Baughman is up to pinch-run, something he can do (18 steals versus four times caught at Edmonton), instead of hit, something he can't (.226/.308/.256).


Claimed C Paul Bako off waivers from the Marlins; optioned C Fernando Lunar to Greenville (Double-A). [7/21]

Well, it isn't the best possible caddy for Javy Lopez, but you have to like getting Paul Bako for the price of a waiver claim. While he'll never be mistaken for an All-Star or even for Greg Myers, he's a left-handed-hitting catcher who's willing to take a walk now and again. Bako is a good catch-and-throw guy, more than adequate against the running game.

Having at least done something about one of their holes, the Braves still have two more positions to fill. One of the problems will go away if Reggie Sanders goes on a tear and gives some indication that he'll stop having the worst season of his career. He's got one week.

The other problem, a shortage of middle infielders, just got worse. Walt Weiss is probably headed for the DL, joining Quilvio Veras. Unlike Veras, Weiss should be playing again by August. That really puts the Braves in a tight spot. Trade for a middle infielder? Even if they do, there are no guarantees that whoever they get won't be given the cold shoulder, as Jose Hernandez was in last year's playoffs. The best answer may well be to simply call up Marcus Giles, plug him into second base with Rafael Furcal at shortstop and keep Giles around until at least the end of August. Then, if the Braves still feel they need a veteran middle infielder, they'll know who's cleared waivers and be able to nab someone for about what they'll be worth, which is an autographed Glenn Hubbard baseball.

Then there's the fun that comes with realizing that an all-rookie middle infield would undoubtedly lead to howls of protest about how you can't win with young players any more than you can win with no-name bullpens. In the end, the Braves could end up proving another truism untrue.


Placed LHP Pete Schourek on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder); recalled RHP Tomokazu Ohka from Pawtucket. [7/21]

Activated RHP Rod Beck from the DL; purchased the contract of DH/3B Sean Berry from Pawtucket; designated DH Mike Stanley for assignment; optioned DH Morgan Burkhart and RHP John Wasdin to Pawtucket. [7/23]

I'd like to say, "Red Sox Nation, I feel your pain," except it wouldn't be any more true than the first time it was said. Truth be told, during my year or two of living with a Southie native whose childhood had been spent peddling concessions on Fenway's hallowed ground, I teased him unmercifully about his franchise's history, posting notes on the fridge like "How many more World Series rings than Ted Williams does Omar Moreno have?" It was all in good fun, really.

Well, that sort of meanness has nothing on the Duke's latest stunts. Sean Berry? The man has two awful seasons in a row and the Duke wants to chalk it up to Milwaukee malaise on the basis of two nice weeks in Pawtucket? Berry only gives the team another bad temp at third base to alternate with the equally inadequate Ed Sprague. What is the plan, to find people bad enough to let Manny Alexander play?

Mike Stanley may well be close to done, but chances are he'll be in a Yankees or Blue Jays uniform in ten days' time. And why give up on Morgan Burkhart so quickly? The man hit .290/.444/.419 with a .287 Equivalent Average, and the Duke would rather haul in Sean Berry? With that kind of logic, I may not feel Red Sox Nation's pain, but I certainly share their sense of fear, what with the ugly Rico Brogna rumors being bandied about. Fortunately, with Trot Nixon already on a rehab assignment, Red Sox fans may not have to writhe for too long.

In addition to these self-inflicted wounds, the Red Sox have to live with the return of Boom-Boom Beck and the loss of Pete Schourek. While Schourek's 2-9 record doesn't make him look like someone who will be missed, he was putting up a 5.05 ERA--almost the league average--despite pitching in Fenway. According to Michael Wolverton's Support-Neutral stats, the only real difference between Schourek's performance and that of Jeff Fassero has been bullpen support. Fassero has gotten the second-best reliever support in the American League while Schourek's gotten the fourth-worst, all from the same pen. That's plain old bad luck.

While I'm still grimly holding onto the idea that John Wasdin will make a useful starter someday for somebody with a big ballpark, like the Mets or the Tigers, I don't disagree with the idea of replacing Schourek with Tomo Ohka. Ohka has had an outstanding season with the PawSox, going 9-6 with a 3.08 ERA, allowing only 108 hits and 21 walks in 122 2/3 innings while striking out 74 batters. Although he's still a bit tater-prone (15 allowed), he's a good choice to get some time as the fifth starter until (or if) Bret Saberhagen comes back. The Sox are better off using him now, and seeing if he can help them make up any ground on the Yankees, than waiting until the middle of August when they could lose Ramon Martinez or end up coming to realize they can't count on a comeback by Schourek or Saberhagen. Ohka is still very young at 24, and if the Sox are patient with him, they should end up with a good starter.


Traded DH Glenallen Hill to the Yankees for RHP Ben Ford and LHP Oswaldo Mairena; recalled 2B/OF Chad Meyers from Iowa. [7/21]

In terms of value given up and value received, Andy MacPhail's first deal is pretty even. The Yankees needed Glenallen Hill, while the Cubs added two arms who should end up helping out in the big league pen in pretty short order. Ben Ford, who is big and throws hard, was pitching well in the bullpen at Columbus, while Oswaldo Mairena has continued to do an outstanding job of mixing a dandy curve and decent fastball for a left-hander.

The really big potential payoff is if picking up Mairena gives MacPhail the freedom of action to try to flip Felix Heredia for maximum value by the deadline. A few contenders could use a left-hander who can throw in the mid-90s, and the A's, Red Sox and Dodgers should be shopping. MacPhail may yet get something better than Todd Noel out of Heredia, which would be a neat trick.

There's something less happy to take from this, however. Chad Meyers is still only going to be an outfielder, and while he does a decent job of getting on base (.271/.365/.335), he isn't stealing bases well enough to really help (28 steals versus 14 times caught) and he's an outfielder. Few teams can win with this kind of player manning an outfield corner, and fewer still if they happen to play in the bandbox Charlie Weeghman built on the corner of Sheffield and Addison. If this is an example of Don Baylor's potentially larger role in player acquisition and roster decisions now that Ed Lynch is out of the way, then the bad news is that the Cubs could get even worse.


Signed SS Barry Larkin to a three-year contract extension; optioned RHP Scott Winchester to Louisville; activated RHP Manny Aybar from the DL. [7/23]

Alright, so giving Barry Larkin his extension is great for headlines and for generating warm fuzzies in America's Rhineland. After the Ken Griffey trade, Cincinnati should be leading in the all-important Warm Fuzzy statistic. I'm willing to tip my hat to owner Carl Lindner for winning a popularity contest, but I'm going to break ranks with some of my BP compadres on this decision.

While it's nice on a motivational level, and undoubtedly good for the Reds' clubhouse morale as they claw their way back into this season's race, as an organization they're going to end up regretting this move. First, while the Reds do still have an outside shot at sneaking up on the Cardinals, and while this season's postseason should be far more wide open than what we've seen in recent years, are the Reds really strong enough to go far in the playoffs, even if this somehow inspires them to bigger and better things? I'm empathetic towards any effort to keep them as competitive as possible this year, while in theory they gear up for a big free-agent signing for 2001, but can they afford that now that they're locked into a team built around a 31-year-old Griffey and a 37-year-old Larkin in 2001?

More practically, Larkin's reflexes at shortstop are significantly slower, and while he'd hardly be pushing aside Mike Schmidt if he moves to third base within a year, he doesn't hit well enough to be a major asset at the position. As an outfielder, he'd be a short-term improvement over somebody like Dante Bichette, but he would end up blocking some of the Reds' better prospects by 2002.

Manny Aybar's return should remind everyone that Jack McKeon talked about how the Reds were going to end up giving him a look-see in the rotation before the end of the year. That should be interesting, considering that they've already moved both Scott Williamson and Elmer Dessens into the rotation, and still need to figure out what to do with Ron Villone and whether or not they should keep Larry Luebbers. All of this is before Osvaldo Fernandez comes off of the DL. While we aren't talking about a group of All-Stars (no, not even Steve Parris), with the exception of Villone all of them have been useful this season. McKeon and Jim Bowden will have a very tough set of decisions on their hands as far as picking the non-Harnisch portions of their rotation for the stretch run. Who they choose will make the difference between making the Cardinals sweat or making Carl Lindner's generosity a little less important.


Optioned RHP Jim Brower to Buffalo; recalled RHP Kane Davis from Buffalo. [7/21]

There's nothing to say here. While nobody from the group of Jim Brower or Kane Davis or Tim Drew or Paul Rigdon has pitched that well, Rigdon and Brower have outpitched Drew and Davis. Nevertheless, Drew and Davis are the guys on the roster. Eventually, both Jaret Wright and Charles Nagy will be back, and the Four Moundsmen of the Indians' Apocalypse will be in Buffalo.

The only unfortunate aspect of it is rushing Drew. You can hope he's picking up a thing or two from Dick Pole, but otherwise it seems strange to have him up when he could be learning in Akron without getting hammered.


Recalled RHP Steve Sparks from Toledo; placed RHP Danny Patterson on the 15-day DL (inflammation - elbow). [7/22]

Recalled RHP Erik Hiljus from Toledo, optioned 1B Eric Munson to Jacksonville (Double-A). [7/23]

One of the things about the Tigers' resurgence this season that they haven't gotten enough credit for is the performance of their bullpen. Not just Todd Jones in the glamour role, although he's having his best season since 1997. Danny Patterson has been outstanding, fronting a group of middle relievers that includes the always-reliable Doug Brocail, a surprising performance from Nelson Cruz, and good jobs by C.J. Nitkowski and Willie Blair. According to Michael Wolverton's Reliever Evaluation Tools, they're currently the third-best bullpen in the American League, behind the two best pens in baseball, those of the Tribe and the D-Rays.

Unfortunately, losing Patterson puts all of that in danger. With Patterson gone and Blair in the rotation, Phil Garner is going to have to rely more heavily on Cruz and Matt Anderson. If they can pitch anywhere as effectively as Patterson and Blair did, the Tigers might finish in third place in the Central, maybe even knock off the Tribe for second. That's no predictor of future greatness, but it is worth a check in the offseason.


Recalled C Ramon Castro from Calgary; waived C Paul Bako. [7/21]

The timing is right for the Marlins to have done this. First, they were never really in the hunt to trade for Charles Johnson. There's little danger of Johnson re-signing with the Orioles: the Orioles were needlessly abrasive in arbitration each of the last two years, so it's unlikely that he'll stick around. Even if the Marlins acquired him, there would be no guarantee of Johnson re-signing with the Marlins after the season, and it isn't as if picking him up is going to propel the Fish into the wild-card race. So why trade for him and dip into that pool of talent Dave Dombrowski has so steadily built up over the last three years? Why not evaluate Ramon Castro now, on the strength of his tremendous season at Calgary (.335/.380/.628)?

By giving Castro playing time now, they'll have a better sense after the next two months about whether or not they even need to negotiate with Scott Boras for Johnson's services. Considering their upcoming docket of arbitration cases, they probably can't afford him. In the meantime, Dombrowski stands a good chance of having Castro break through right now at less than a twentieth of the cost to sign Johnson financially, and at no cost in terms of talent surrendered. I'm feeling pretty good about my prediction in Baseball Prospectus 1999 that 2001 would be a very good year for the Marlins.


Recalled LHP Wayne Franklin and RHP Jason Green from New Orleans; optioned RHP Jose Cabrera to New Orleans; released LHP Yorkis Perez unconditionally. [7/22]

This is what smart teams do when the wheels fall off: they cut bait and start using the regular season as a casting call. The decision to acquire Yorkis Perez wasn't one of the Astros' better moves in the first place, and Jose Cabrera was pitching almost badly enough to be listed among your usual collection of Orioles, Cubs and Darren Holmes. The Astros' bullpen is currently only better than those of the Cubs, Cardinals and Expos in the NL, so it's for good reason that Gerry Hunsicker is calling up last year's closer tandem at Jackson.

Wayne Franklin has been a slow-growth kind of project, nabbed out of the Dodgers' organization in December 1998 in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The Dodgers had drafted him in the 36th round out of the University of Maryland in 1996, where he'd been a teammate of Eric Milton. That was an interesting draft for the Dodgers: they also picked Ted Lilly and Jeff Kubenka in the late rounds. He's been having a solid year at New Orleans, posting a 3.71 ERA. He'll be better off in situational usage, because he wasn't fooling many right-handed batters in the Pacific Coast League.

Jason Green is a big, hard-throwing Canadian picked out of high school in 1993. He seems to have picked up his command and control this year while splitting time between Jackson and New Orleans, as he's only walked 15 batters in 53 innings while striking out 65 and allowing 45 hits. The first home run he allows in the majors will be his first of the year, and he's posted a 1.87 ERA. They won't turn the season around by themselves, but in terms of improving this year's bullpen, they're a start.


Activated CF Devon White from the DL; optioned RHP Al Reyes to Albuquerque. [7/23]

While Devon White's return will help the Dodgers in that it gives them four outfielders on the roster, don't look for it to save them offensively. Todd Hollandsworth has been poking along with an Equivalent Average in the high .240s, and we projected Devo for a .245 EqA.

Having two guys who can play center field gives Davey Johnson the tactical flexibility to pinch-hit for either of them, and since he's carrying some good pinch-hitters in Dave Hansen and Jim Leyritz and even Chris Donnels, that's a good thing.


Placed RHP Mike Lincoln on the 15-day DL (sore elbow); recalled LHP J.C. Romero from Salt Lake. [7/23]

It won't be much longer before the Twins are being touted as having one of the best rotations in the AL. While their overall performance looks terrible, you can thank Sean Bergman, and to a lesser extent Mike Lincoln, for their poor cumulative ranking. Brad Radke is currently fourth in the American League in Support-Neutral Wins Above Replacement, and that's only if you consider a pinstriped Denny Neagle as an American Leaguer while counting his performance for the Reds. Eric Milton and Mark Redman are both well above-average and, despite his struggles, Joe Mays is turning in a pretty good season.

Currently, Tom Kelly has an interesting decision for his fifth spot. J.C. Romero has been death on left-handed batters in Utah this year, allowing only two doubles and eight flyball outs. While he has put up a nifty-looking 3.44 ERA in Salt Lake, 15 unearned runs are part of the explanation; Romero was averaging 5.5 run allowed per nine innings, which still isn't shabby in the PCL. While he is probably better suited for some relief work right now, the Twins can afford to alternate between him and Jason Ryan in the #5 slot.


Placed RHP Yovanny Lara on the 15-day DL (strained triceps); activated RHP Mike Thurman from the DL. [7/21]

Mike Thurman's return should be shortly followed by Hideki Irabu's, with Carl Pavano a little bit further behind. The danger is the same as it was two months ago. Now that Mike Johnson has done pretty well in the rotation, if everyone comes back, Felipe Alou might again be tempted to send Dustin Hermanson to the bullpen.


Optioned RHP Jim Mann to Norfolk; recalled C/UT Mike Kinkade from Binghamton (Double-A); moved CF Darryl Hamilton from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/21]

It isn't a bad time to bring up Mike Kinkade. While he's made significant progress in learning to catch (he's done a better job of framing pitches), he's still never going to be a good catcher, any more than he's ever going to be a good third baseman. He can still hit, though, pasting the Eastern League at a .366/.440/.555 rate. When the alternative is someone like Lenny Harris, the Mets are better off tanking the 5-4-3 DP and taking whatever offense they can get until Robin Ventura returns.


Acquired DH Glenallen Hill from the Cubs for RHP Ben Ford and LHP Oswaldo Mairena. [7/21]

Designated OF Felix Jose for assignment; added DH Glenallen Hill to the active roster. [7/22]

Another nice little maneuver from Brian Cashman and his band of grim henchmen. Once again, they've managed to snag a useful player without touching their core prospects.

While Glenallen Hill's stats might not grab you (.262/.303/.494), keep in mind that his .262 Equivalent Average is better than Paul O'Neill's (.260) or the departed Shane Spencer's (.254). Hill has absolutely no defensive value, and needs to be kept away from leather in anything except an emergency, but as a regular DH he's very capable of going on one of his titanic hot streaks. The Yankees could still use a good right-handed-hitting outfielder (as opposed to a DH) to platoon with O'Neill, but if the Braves can get their backup catcher on the waiver wire, maybe the Yankees will get lucky as well.


Recalled LHP Barry Zito from Sacramento; outrighted RHP Scott Service to Sacramento. [7/22]

Hallelujah! Not only is Barry Zito up to help solidify the rotation, he's been spared the career-altering clutches of the Pastaman and the Vulture and their Olympic squad. Zito has been enjoying a tremendous season for the River/Battle/Swamp/Tufted/Flying Cats, putting up a record of 8-5 with a 3.19 ERA while allowing 88 hits and 45 walks in 101 2/3 innings and striking out 91 batters. Its also important that he's allowed only four home runs.

Zito has tremendous command of his stuff, pitching coach Rick Peterson knows his assortment and mechanics inside and out from working with him for the last couple of years and he's a much more advanced prospect than Mark Mulder was at this time last year; or right now, for that matter.

This may end up creating a problem, as in "What do we do with Omar?" Once Olivares comes off of the DL, the A's will either have to bump somebody or send Olivares to the pen, which should elicit howls of dismay. If Mulder and Zito manage to push each other while trying to avoid losing one of their jobs to Olivares, the A's will be the better for it.

Until Olivares returns, the A's will be sending Ariel Prieto to the pen as a long reliever. Everyone seems to believe this will be a good thing, and you can't blame the A's for losing patience with Scott Service's failure to develop a breaking pitch to freeze left-handed hitters. They still need to sort out whether or not T.J. Mathews is damaged goods; if he is, the sooner they start breaking in Chad Harville and his tremendous heater, the better.


Placed C Mike Lieberthal on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 7/18 (sprained ankle); activated 1B Rico Brogna from the DL. [7/21]

Activated RHP Robert Person from the DL; optioned RHP Mark Brownson to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/22]

Now that Robert Person is back, the Phillies are one of two teams in the NL to have two pitchers in the top ten in Support-Neutral Wins Above Replacement. No, the other team is not the Mets. Person and Randy Wolf might even match up pretty well against the Braves with Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.

This doesn't mean the Phillies are any good, of course. Coming off Rico Brogna's absence, the Phillies are 13th in the NL in Equivalent Average. Brogna has a .214 EqA. Even if he busts out to his previously established level somewhere in the .250s, he's one of the worst-hitting first basemen in baseball. The Phillies don't need him at all, and the Red Sox need him even less.


Activated CF Emil Brown from the DL; optioned LHP Jeff Wallace to Nashville. [7/21]

Sold RHP Mike Garcia to the Korean League. [7/23]

Emil Brown was having a good season in Nashville, hitting .312/.423/.468, and he'll get to be the center fielder du jour for at least a week.

Here's the Pirates' problem in a nutshell: I like Emil Brown and Adrian Brown. I like Chad Hermansen. I like Bruce Aven and John VanderWal, too. I can even understand some circumstances in which Wil Cordero has his uses. The problem is that these guys are all fourth outfielders, with the possible lone exception of Hermansen, the guy they seem to like the least. Worse yet, they're all good fourth outfielders, and all of them can help a team with certain configurations among their front three outfielders. But having all of them doesn't give the Pirates a good outfield, and that's one of the reasons why the team is one of the worst offensive outfits in the NL. The other is an even worse infield.

The only man in the pen who pitched as badly as either Jeff Wallace or Mike Garcia is Rich Loiselle. That's pretty much a clean sweep on that front, although only one of them is going to have to eat dog.


Purchased the contract of C Rick Wilkins; optioned C Keith McDonald to Memphis; transferred LHP Mike Matthews from the 15- to 60-day DL. [7/21]

Yeesh, the Cardinals have no sense of fun whatsoever. How can you send a guy down when he's got a slugging percentage of 1.714? Sure, it's fun in a meaningless amount of playing time, but if they're not going to nab Paul Bako on waivers, why call up Rick Wilkins? Skip the fun seven at-bats, McDonald was outhitting Wilkins at Memphis, too: .244/.324/.322 versus .221/.305/.331. Neither one of them makes for a great alternative to light-hitting Mike Matheny, which means the Cards still have some shopping to do.


Placed RHP Steve Montgomery on the 15-day DL (strained shoulder); purchased the contract of RHP Dave Maurer from Las Vegas; transferred RHP Brian Boehringer from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/21]

Dave Maurer is a nice junkballing left-handed reliever who had earned a promotion from Mobile to Las Vegas. Combined between the two levels, he'd allowed 45 hits and 15 walks in 59 1/3 innings while punching out 59 batters and posting a 2.88 ERA.

It looks like the Pads will get some pretty good work out of the pen from here on out. Now that Kevin Walker is slowly turning into a useful major league left-hander, they could have two useful lefties with Maurer. Donne Wall and Matt Whiteside have both been good in middle relief, and Todd Erdos is a worthwhile project. They aren't goofing around with guys like Vicente Palacios and Carlos Reyes any more. There really isn't going to be a better time to try to trade Trevor Hoffman than in the next week.


Activated SS Alex Gonzalez from the DL; added RHP Esteban Loaiza to the active roster; optioned RHPs Mike DeWitt and Leo Estrella to Syracuse. [7/22]

Alex Gonzalez is back, but the time has come for him to kill Joe Sheehan's "this year for sure, he has to turn it around this year for sure" mantra. Hitting .241/.306/.376 with a .215 EqA doesn't cut it, and it isn't going to be too much longer before the Jays start wondering how good Felipe Lopez might be in 2001. If Gonzalez contributes anything towards a Jays' rally in the AL East, though, he could end up a very rich man.

Chris Kahrl can be reached at ckahrl@baseballprospectus.com.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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The Daily Prospectus: Information Central

2000-08-01 - Transaction Analysis: July 27-31, 2000
2000-07-31 - AL Central Notebook
2000-07-28 - Transaction Analysis: July 24-26, 2000
2000-07-25 - Transaction Analysis: July 21-23, 2000
2000-07-24 - Transaction Analysis: July 17-20, 2000
2000-07-19 - Transaction Analysis: July 13-16, 2000
2000-07-14 - Transaction Analysis: July 10-12, 2000

2000-08-04 - Transaction Analysis: August 1-3, 2000
2000-08-01 - Transaction Analysis: July 27-31, 2000
2000-07-28 - Transaction Analysis: July 24-26, 2000
2000-07-25 - Transaction Analysis: July 21-23, 2000
2000-07-24 - Transaction Analysis: July 17-20, 2000
2000-07-19 - Transaction Analysis: July 13-16, 2000
2000-07-14 - Transaction Analysis: July 10-12, 2000