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September 22, 2000

Transaction Analysis

September 19-20, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

BOSTON RED SOX

Acquired LHP Jesus Pena from the White Sox for a PTBNL. [9/20]

I like this move, I really do. The Red Sox have been in need for an effective second left-hander in the pen for most of the last decade, and Jesus Pena is just goofy enough to either outgoof Carl Everett or at least provide a distraction for a Beantown media already overstuffed on a diet of increasingly irrelevant but nonetheless turgid drama.

The problem is when you wonder why the Duke didn't do something about the problem in April? If 40-man roster pressures were the problem, why wait until the end of September instead of the beginning? Why call up Sang-Hoon Lee at all, if as an organization you have to accept Jimy Williams's inflexible determination to avoid using him in any important game situations? Like the attempts to cobble an offense by trying to collect almost all of MLB's most overrated hitters, this is another too-little, too-late, boy-we-ought-to-have-done-this-a-year-ago move.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Purchased the contract of LHP Chris Haney from Buffalo; designated LHP Eric DuBose for assignment. [9/20]

Chris Haney's comeback from his latest collection of injuries is something to have sympathy for. He's coming off of a fine half-season at Buffalo, going 8-3 in 13 starts with a 2.44 ERA. He allowed only 87 hits and 17 walks in 92 1/3 innings, but interestingly enough, led the Bisons in hit batters with eight. He is what he was, a decent alternative as a fifth starter. Considering the problems Charlie Manuel can expect while trying to pick a fourth starter for his playoff rotation between Jason Bere and Steve Woodard, and considering the problems that potential playoff opponents like the Athletics, Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox have with left-handed pitching, it's sort of a shame that Haney is ineligible for the postseason.

The interesting thing will be to see if the Athletics end up snagging DuBose back on waivers, having lost him that way at the start of the month. He still has his believers in the organization.

DETROIT TIGERS

Placed 1B-B Tony Clark on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 9/17 (strained spine). [9/19]

If you're inclined to rally to the defense of Randy Smith's plan to contend this year, then Tony Clark's injury can be one of your bigger points, behind Gonzo, of course. Starting off with the premise that the Tribe wasn't a lock this season (a bold expectation that proved to be true), and your premise is that as long as you're slightly better than .500, you're in it, then all you need is for the White Sox not to exist, Juan Gonzalez to hit on a team that didn't have a leadoff man on Opening Day, and for Tony Clark to hit as well as he did in the 60 games that he did play over the course of an entire season.

OK, that all sounds like a house of cards to me, too, but Smith got part of the equation right, because this was the beginning of the end for the Indians' reign in the AL Central. I'm one of the people who, when pressed, expected the Tribe to still finish ahead of the White Sox one last time, but for Chicago to finish well inside of ten games. It wouldn't be too charitable to say Smith's partially correct thesis was better than mine, except that I'm feeling good about what happened, and I doubt even the perpetually sunny Smith does.

Anyways, to stick to the matter at hand, Clark did not have any problems hitting in Comerica in his limited exposure to it, and if Los Tigres had managed to get a full season of Clark's hitting .274/.349/.529 with a .289 Equivalent Average, they might have been a game or two above .500 instead of a game or two below it. It still wouldn't be worth much more than added "evidence" that things are turning around in Detroit, but flirting with .500 is going to be hailed as a major turnaround, anyway.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Outrighted RHP Paul Stewart to Mudville (A-ball). [9/20]

Paul Stewart was touted by the organization last winter as one of its better pitching prospects, but he ended up struggling horribly in Huntsville (6.13 ERA, more than two baserunners per inning pitched) and had to return to the California League. Because he'll be just 22 next season, he's still young enough to have a career, but he doesn't deserve to get mentioned with guys like Allen Levrault, let alone Ben Sheets or the amazing Nick Neugebauer.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Activated 1B/3B-R Olmedo Saenz from the DL. [9/19]

A sorely missed bit player, Olmedo Saenz's hamstring isn't going to be 100% for the remainder of the season, so it remains to be seen if he'll have much value as anything more than an occasional pinch-hitter. In the meantime, the A's will have to continue to stump along with Mike Stanley.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Activated RF-R Raul Mondesi from the DL. [9/20]

This is good news for the Blue Jays' gloriously improbable and entertaining late-season push. I don't care how well Dave Martinez has hit for Toronto, because the rest of the season counts too and his overall numbers are pretty feeble for an outfielder who can't play center regularly: .284/.357/.385, with a .251 EqA. If he had hit any worse, he would have been on Dan Duquette's shopping list. Raul Mondesi gives the Jays some needed right-handed punch, and I'm sort of glad to see that his determined effort to make it back at all this season has helped to tarnish the malingerer label the Dodgers and their sympathizers were so ready and willing to stick him with.

I'm just wondering if we can now expect to be regaled with as many "those no-good fans suck" stories out of Toronto as we get out of Oakland or Chicago's South Side, because the attendance rates of all three contenders are very similar. I know I'm getting tired of complaints aimed at the fans, because the relationship between attendance jumps and contention has pretty consistently been a year-after effect. I think we can expect improved attendance in all three cities next year, barring major price hikes for seats.

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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