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September 18, 2000

Transaction Analysis

September 14-16, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Activated RHP Charles Nagy from the DL; placed RHP David Riske on the 60-day DL (torn labrum). [9/14]

In theory, Charles Nagy is healthy, although most reports seem to indicate his velocity is off. His ability to pitch well has to be in doubt. Even then, he might yet crack the Indians' postseason rotation as the fourth starter. The alternatives are the perpetually dubious Jason Bere and a struggling Steve Woodard.

OK, so that doesn't sound that likely, as Bere will almost certainly get handed the assignment, but the losers should not even crack the postseason roster. You have to figure that John Hart and Charlie Manuel will carry seven relievers: right-handers Bob Wickman, Steve Karsay, Paul Shuey, Justin Speier and Steve Reed, and left-handers Ricky Rincon and Tom Martin. That's all for the good, considering that between that fourth starter slot and Bartolo Colon's arm problems, Manuel is going to have to be able to count on some quality long innings from his bullpen if the Tribe is to go anywhere.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Purchased the contracts of 2B-R Keith Ginter and 3B-R Morgan Ensberg from Round Rock (Double-A); transferred 2B-R Craig Biggio and IF-R Tripp Cromer from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/16]

If Craig Biggio's recuperation from knee surgery is slow for any reason whatsoever, they can call on Keith Ginter in short order. While there are questions about whether he'll ever be more than an average glove at second base, he's coming off of an outstanding season the best hitter on Round Rock's inaugural-season championship team, hitting .333/.457/.580. He's already 24, so he's a very good-not-great prospect, but he's a better internal alternative than asking Bill Spiers to play out of position or playing Tim Bogar at all.

Morgan Ensberg's problem is similar to Chris Truby's: he's a useful player (he hit .300/.415/.545), a bit old for the levels of the minors he's spent time at lately and completely blocked by this winter's third-base logjam of Ken Caminiti, Spiers and Truby. All in all, this adds up to Bogar's rendezvous with Darwinian selection at the least, and a potential blockbuster trade over the winter at most.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Recalled RHPs Mike Judd and Al Reyes and C-R Angel Pena from Albuquerque. [9/14]

The callups are belated at best, considering the Dukes were eliminated from the PCL playoffs almost a week ago. The Dodgers need to take Mike Judd seriously as a potential starter in their rotation for 2001. Darren Dreifort will leave, probably followed by Ismael Valdes and, with the team's payroll problems, Judd would represent a cheap solution. He can still throw four pitches for strikes, he's only 25 and he's coming off of a relatively solid season in Albuquerque, posting a 4.51 ERA while allowing only 153 hits and 62 walks in 141 2/3 innings, with 92 strikeouts. Especially nice to see was his allowing only a dozen home runs, no easy feat in the PCL.

The other pair of callups could both be featured on your 2001 Dodgers. Al Reyes can be a useful middle reliever and mop-up man, while Angel Pena is still being hailed as the star catcher of the future. If Kevin Malone is serious about letting Todd Hundley walk, Pena will have to fight his way past Paul LoDuca for the starting job ahead of Chad Kreuter. Pena will still have to tackle his weight problems and the concerns about his attitude that have stalled out his career. He did finally have a good season for Albuquerque, hitting .308/.362/.527, but keep in mind, that's in Albuquerque as a repeater.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Purchased the contract of RHP Mike Buddie from Indianapolis. [9/16]

Mike Buddie will get to play in the last games to take place in Milwaukee County Stadium, a stadium I'll miss terribly, the site of Alan Trammell's last game (which characteristically passed almost without notice or mention), and one of my favorite places to take in a ballgame. I hope he treasures the time.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Recalled 3B-R Casey Blake, 2B-R Luis Rivas, C-R Matt LeCroy and RHPs Joe Mays and Jason Ryan from Salt Lake; purchased the contract of OF-R John Barnes from Salt Lake. [9/16]

For the record, Phil Roof's feel-good Buzz lost to a Memphis team featuring Stubby Clapp, Larry Sutton, Rick Wilkins, Darrell Whitmore and the ageless Bryan Eversgerd. To be fair to Roof, most of Tom Kelly's Doghouse Club had already been traded off of the team by the time the Buzz reached the playoffs, so that the Twins could instead play the guys they plan on using in the future.

It would be a bit of an upset if Luis Rivas does not take over at second base next spring, potentially giving the Twins one of the best defensive middle-infield combos in the league. Matt LeCroy is back up after hitting well at New Britain and Salt Lake, and should be in position to claim the catching job for keeps. Joe Mays won't have much of a direct opportunity to reclaim the fifth spot in the rotation, but if he shows anything at all right now, he'll have a chance to play his way past J.C. Romero.

John Barnes might wind up as next year's fifth outfielder: he has an arm good enough for right field and he's got that eau de scrappy that usually makes a good impression on Tom Kelly. While he hit a superficially impressive .365/.439/.565 for Salt Lake, keep in mind he hit .416 at home versus .319 in the rest of the hitter-friendly PCL. Career-wise, he's cut from the Brent Brede/Brian Buchanan tradition.

Jason Ryan has talent, and remains a likely candidate to be the next young ex-Twins pitcher who finally turns the corner somewhere else.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Recalled RHP Buddy Carlyle from Las Vegas. [9/15]

While I routinely bash the Pad people, if there's one thing they do have, it's a few guys who know how to pitch. I have a weak spot in my head/heart for Will Cunnane, but Buddy Carlyle is a better pitcher and a dandy choice for a fifth starter next year. Carlyle doesn't throw especially hard, but he's 23 and has been a successful pitcher in Las Vegas for two years now. This season, he posted a 4.29 ERA (although 21 unearned runs raise his runs allowed average to 5.5 per nine innings), striking out 127 batters in 151 innings while allowing 165 hits and 44 walks. Courtesy of PCL bandboxes and his flyball tendencies, Carlyle allowed 25 home runs. While I don't hold out visions of stardom for Carlyle, having both him and Wascar Serrano around should give Kevin Towers plenty of freedom of action as far as trying to pull off that oft-rumored Jason Kendall swap.

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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