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September 11, 2000

Transaction Analysis

September 7-9, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated RHP Tim Belcher from the DL; transferred RHP Seth Etherton from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/7]

Now that Seth Etherton's season is over and the Angels will have to waste two starts out of five watching timeservers Tim Belcher and Scott Karl get hammered, I suppose it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to remember how good Tim Belcher was once upon a time.

Long before he was throwing postseason tantrums in Yankee Stadium, he was a top draft pick by the Twins who refused to sign, a Yankee prospect nabbed by the A's in the old compensation pool in exchange for the Orioles' signing of Tom Underwood, and unfortunately dealt for Rick Honeycutt before ever making the majors in an A's uniform. Belcher didn't come up until after his 25th birthday, won a World Series game in his rookie season, then tossed an incredible eight shutouts in his second full season in the majors. Since then he's managed to hang around, year after year after year, until that great season was more than ten years ago, and until Belcher was merely a well-compensated pitcher famous for blowing his stack on national television once.

What went wrong? Add Belcher to the list of people who might have been hurt by Tommy Lasorda, because he went from that pitcher with eight shutouts and close to eight strikeouts per nine innings to having his shoulder scoped in 1990 to just being useful. In terms of his career, using his first dance with free agency to sign with Sparky Anderson's Tigers in their all-DH-lineup years was not the best career move.

I don't think we should consider Belcher's career disappointing: the man has been to the playoffs a couple of times, and he'll always have his World Series ring from 1988. His career is essentially over, but it's for the best that he gets to walk off the field, instead of leaving on a stretcher.

BOSTON RED SOX

Recalled RHP Paxton Crawford from Pawtucket. [9/8]

With the Red Sox's brutal stretch of three doubleheaders in six days coming up, Paxton Crawford will be asked to help take up some of the slack. He is apparently fully recovered from cutting himself on a broken glass in a hotel-room accident. Despite his relative youth at 23, he can throw four pitches for strikes, and managed a pretty respectable partial season with the PawSox, posting a 4.55 ERA while allowing only 47 hits in 61 1/3 innings.

With Bret Saberhagen done for the year, the Sox will probably end up calling up another starter for that stretch. Don't be shocked to see someone like Carlos Koni-shiki Castillo or Kevin "Big Fly" Foster show up in Boston's hour of need.

God go with Bryce Florie in his hour of need. Here's hoping that with the help of his family, his friends and his team, he can reclaim everything that has been put at risk.

CHICAGO CUBS

Signed RHP Jerry Spradlin. [9/8]

Jerry Spradlin has had his good stretches, but his ability to have more of them is literally an issue of faith, more so than it is with your normal workaday reliever.

Spradlin belongs to a church that expects unflagging proselytism from its members, and I can't help but wonder if that hasn't made several of his employers (or his teammates) a wee bit uneasy, or at least less willing to live with his bad stretches. We live in a world where outspoken advocacy of anything can get you labeled a kook, and baseball is hardly noted for its tolerance of anybody being different.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Claimed LHP Eric DuBose off of waivers from the Athletics and optioned him to Buffalo; recalled RHP Sean DePaula from Buffalo and placed him on the 60-day DL (elbow tendinitis). [9/8]

Eric DuBose is a good guy to claim, assuming he has anything left after missing most of the last two years with nagging arm injuries caused by bad mechanics. At his best, he can dial up low-90s heat and a pretty good curve, and it wouldn't be a total surprise if he wound up being an effective major- league reliever. But--and with every pitcher there's always but-- he'll have to prove he can stay healthy first.

Even though DuBose is a worthwhile pickup, the Tribe is at its 40-man roster limit. Between their struggle to keep Bartolo Colon in operating condition and the pair of doubleheaders against the Red Sox on September 20 and 21, they're going to be forced to bring a rehabbed Charles Nagy off of the 60-day DL, and it's going to cost them a player.

It should cost them somebody even if they place Wil Cordero on the 60-day DL now that he's broken his pinky. Now that's bittersweet: not only does picking up Cordero cost them a chunk of change over the next two years, as well as waste time better spent letting Russ Branyan play through August, but now losing him to injury might exacerbate the Tribe's roster crunch. Can you do more to earn a Least Valuable Player Award without playing all year?

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Activated OF-L Jeremy Giambi from the DL; placed 1B-L Mario Valdez on the 15-day DL (fractured hamate). [9/8]

Mario Valdez is just about as unlucky as you can get. He finally winds up in an organization that appreciates his offensive talents and that can use his glove at first base, then he manages to break a bone in his wrist in batting practice, prematurely ending his season.

Jeremy Giambi returns to take up a platoon role with Mike Stanley, playing first base more often than not to keep brother Jason from having to hurt himself too much by taking the field. This is definitely a situation where the A's have been at a disadvantage up to this point, because with Sacramento in the PCL playoffs, the organization could not simply gut the River Cats to stock their own bench. While the A's do have a scheduling advantage from here on out, they aren't without problems of their own.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Recalled C-R Gary Bennett and RHP Cliff Politte from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [9/1]

Purchased the contract of LHP Thomas Jacquez from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; outrighted C-R Cesar King to Scranton. [9/8]

Most of what I'm relating here is secondhand, courtesy of Jeff Hildebrand. Thomas Jacquez's callup is not really that significant in itself: he gives the Phillies a second lefty, and his progress this year as a reliever is apparently a product of minor-league pitching coach Gorman Heimueller's work with him.

Jacquez's callup is the product of a tit-for-tat that Terry Francona and Ed Wade are playing out through the media, a game Francona started by complaining about his need for a second left-hander, with Wade snapping back that "he only has to ask." Phillies fans can take heart that Francona's fuzzy relationship with the media is not going to save him. Between recycling a Lachemann or finally giving Chris Chambliss a long-deserved opportunity, chances are the Phillies will be better off next season.

Gary Bennett should get some playing time now that it appears that Mike Lieberthal's season has ended prematurely.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Recalled OF-R Adam Hyzdu and RHP Brian Smith from Altoona (Double-A). [9/8]

After 11 years in the minors, five different organizations, and a failed attempt to convert to catching, Adam Hyzdu finally made the show. Repeating Altoona (why, considering he's hit well at Triple-A, I don't know, but this is the Bonifay Bucs), he hit .290/.405/.554. He really can't do much more these days than play left field, but he could still have value in a platoon role on a team that doesn't want to blow money on the Wil Corderos of the world.

Brian Smith is a short Tar Heel righty picked by the Blue Jays out of UNC Wilmington. He put in his six years with them as an odd-jobs organizational soldier. Resurfacing as a closer for the Curve, he racked up a quick dozen saves and a 0.99 ERA in less than two months' work.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Activated 1B-R Mark McGwire from the DL. [9/8]

Big Red is going to get the Lou Gehrig treatment for the last three weeks, basically pinch-hitting in the first inning on the road and leaving the game before playing the field, while probably just pinch-hitting at home. He's gone so far as to say that he doubts he'll play the field again for the remainder of the regular season, which is only good news if you're Will Clark. Nothing against the Thrill and his amazing hot streak, but the Cards' postseason chances are going to ride on getting Mark McGwire and both Fernandos, Tatis and Vina, healthy.

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

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

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