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September 15, 2000

Transaction Analysis

September 12-13, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Recalled LHP Jesus Pena from Birmingham (Double-A). [9/12]

It seems strange that Jesus Pena was not called up sooner. Kelly Wunsch is the only left-hander on the roster assigned to late-inning relief, what with Mark Buehrle usually having to come in early to help staunch the bleeding whenever one of the starters bombs. With Cal Eldred's elbow looking like a medical disaster, and with the questions surrounding James Baldwin's health on top of worries about the effectiveness of Kip Wells and Jon Garland, the White Sox may have to put Buehrle into the rotation in the postseason.

Since the division is wrapped up at this point, the White Sox might be best off giving Wunsch a well-deserved siesta before the postseason, which means using pistollero Pena to infuriate opponents with his hijinks in situational relief.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Recalled LHP C.C. Sabathia from Team USA. [9/12]

Chalk this up as another reason why Tommy Lasorda and Phil Regan should have never, ever been entrusted with other people's prospects for the Olympics. C.C. Sabathia is basically the best pitching prospect the Indians have, so you can forgive the team if they're more than a little interested in his welfare.

The Indians were very frank and straightforward about how they would allow Sabathia to be used: he absolutely had to be used as a starter or else he would not be allowed to pitch in the Olympics. The concern was that pitching on a near-daily basis out of the pen in the Olympics would be significantly more dangerous than a pair of starts, particularly after a career-high 146 1/3 innings. So what did Lasorda do? He waited until everyone was in Australia before deciding Sabathia would start once and work most of the Olympics out of the pen.

Now, maybe it's all an innocent misunderstanding, but add this on top of the Pastaman's transparent attempt to hurt the Australian team's chances by having his team (the Dodgers) recall the Aussie ace, Luke Prokopec, and the situation begins to stink of the irresponsibility that we've come to associate with Tommy Lasorda. So kudos to the Tribe for braving the inevitable accusations of a lack of patriotism and getting their top prospect out of the great arm-slagger's clutches. Sometimes courage and self-interest are the same thing.

Now that he's taken the long flight home, Sabathia might get to make his major-league debut next week, against the Red Sox in one of the two day-night doubleheaders. I doubt he'll actually pitch (Jim Brower and Charles Nagy seem to be the likely fill-ins), and that instead John Hart is taking advantage of this scheduling difficulty to do the right thing.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Purchased the contract of C-R Kevin Brown from Indianapolis; transferred RHP Rocky Coppinger from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/12]

With Henry Blanco's sore shoulder and Tyler Houston manning third base more often than not, the Brewers needed to bring up somebody to help Papo Casanova carry the catching load. Kevin Brown is one of the better catchers currently marooned in Triple-A.

This year, Brown hit .307/.343/.483, and there has never been much reason to worry about his glovework. After managing to escape from the Rangers and a life of sitting behind Pudge Rodriguez, there was never really a good reason for why Brown had to take a back seat to stiffs like Mike Matheny or Alberto Castillo with the Blue Jays. Now, Brown has a couple of weeks to remind GMs of his existence.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Recalled RHP Danny Mota from Salt Lake. [9/12]

Bringing up Danny Mota gives Terry Ryan a chance to show off the fourth man he got for Chuck Knoblauch, a deal which seems to be more and more to Ryan's credit as time goes on. While Brian Buchanan doesn't look like he's going to be more than a fourth outfielder, the Twins have one of the league's best left-handed starters, a much better shortstop than anyone expected and Mota.

While elbow problems have kept Mota from surfacing sooner, he pitched a full season as a reliever in 2000, starting off in Fort Myers and working his way to the majors. Between A-Ball, Double-A and Triple-A, Mota tossed 82 1/3 innings, allowing only 62 hits, 26 unintentional walks and a lone home run while striking out 97 men. He posted a combined 2.30 ERA. At the very least, he's going to be an improvement on Hector Carrasco once he settles in.

It's easy to give Ryan too much credit, armed as we are with hindsight, because Knoblauch is laboring against the perception that he's a disappointment. He endured the mediocre first season at the plate, the elbow problems that started last year and this year's injury-marred campaign, as well as the widespread anguish over The Boss's promises of future compensation that will have to be kept. It seems remarkable that few people are talking about Knoblauch's resilience, what with his tremendous second season in pinstripes as a hitter, or his attempt to play through what looks like some very serious arm problems. In most arenas, there'd be talk of what a gritty, tough player he is, but instead we've gotten speculative psychobabble about how Knoblauch is under Ed Whitson's spell or something.

Hrm...I seem to have strayed off-topic. Forgive me, it's a light news cycle. Anyway, at the very least, Mota's promotion is a good time to remind ourselves that Terry Ryan got a lot more for Knoblauch than anyone gave him credit for at the time. To my mind, that makes the rumors about replacing Ryan with Bob Gebhard, the man who seems to have accomplished nothing during his time with the Rockies, just a wee bit unhappy.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Recalled C-R Yohanny Valera from Harrisburg (Double-A). [9/12]

There is no joy in Harrisburg. I don't know if losing out at a shot at a five-peat for the Eastern League title really qualifies as the city's blackest day since the warnings that Dick Ewell's Rebs were just over the horizon in June of 1863, but Harrisburg's early exit creates an opportunity for Yohanny Valera to back up Brian Schneider behind the plate in Montreal while Michael Barrett nurses his swollen elbow and Lenny Webster struggles with his career-ending conversion to a publicity stunt. Valera hit only .235/.313/.317, so while he's still only 24, he hasn't exactly played his way to the majors.

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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