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October 20, 2000

Transaction Analysis

September 28-October 17, 2000

by Christina Kahrl

(The time right after the regular season is a slow one on the transaction wires. Chris Kahrl sums up three weeks of inaction here, and returns next week with biweekly TAs.)

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Activated RHP Jason Dickson, CF-R Mike Colangelo and OF-B Jeff DaVanon from the DL and designated them for assignment. [10/4]

Outrighed LHP Juan Alvarez and OF-B Jeff DaVanon to Salt Lake; announced that LHPs Scott Karl and Bryan Ward and RHP Jason Dickson refused minor league assignments, instead becoming free agents. [10/6]

Claimed LHP Mark Lukasiewicz off of waivers from the Blue Jays. [10/11]

You can reasonably expect every team hunting for a fifth starter to give both Jason Dickson and Scott Karl some consideration. Unless Karl learns a new pitch, I don't think anything or anybody else, even Joe Kerrigan, is going to be able to reclaim a career for him. Dickson throws strikes and gets hit pretty hard, but put him on a team with a good defense and bullpen that can score some runs in a big ballpark (the 1961 Yankees?), and he'd be handy. As a Canadian, he might catch on with the Blue Jays; I doubt that sort of thing is a priority for the Expos any more.

The really valuable guys are Bryan Ward and Mike Colangelo. Colangelo is already a Padre, while Ward should be able to get more than a NRI after pitching well for the Phillies this year.

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BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Released OF-R Trenidad Hubbard. [10/5]

Outrighted C-R Willie Morales to Rochester; announced that OF-L Karim Garcia refused his assignment to Rochester and chose free agency. [10/17]

At 35, Trenidad Hubbard is at the point where he's going to need every break he can catch. I hate to say he's done, because his major-league career got a late start as he struggled to get the attention he deserved coming up through the Astros' organization in the 1980s, but he did not hit particularly well last season for the Braves or Orioles.

Karim Garcia can join the list of guys who should volunteer to take Jeffrey Hammonds's spot on the Rockies for a fifth of the salary. I don't know if Hammonds's agent gets it when he's asking for the sun, the moon and the sky, without counting on the fact that his client would only disappoint 29 alternate employers.

Garcia is an equally tarnished ex-prospect who needs every little boost he can get to jump-start his career. Don't rule it out: how long ago was it that we were consigning David McCarty and Phil Nevin to professional oblivion?

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CHICAGO CUBS

Outrighted C-R Mike Mahoney to Iowa. [10/5]

Mike Mahoney hit much better in about 200 plate appearances at Iowa than anyone would have expected. Considering his reputation as a quality glove man, the Cubs may have to consider bringing him back. Jeff Reed is looking more and more worn out with age and Joe Girardi managed to again be substandard afield and at the plate, although it was a great year by his own standards. There has been some talk of signing Todd Hundley, but it would be to play first base until Hee Seop Choi was ready, which still leaves the catching situation as badly off as it's been since Jody Davis wore out.

In a ballpark like Wrigley, where the running game doesn't pay and therefore isn't as important to worry about, the Cubs ought to be thinking of Hundley as a catcher or kicking around bringing in Dave Nilsson.

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CINCINNATI REDS

Reinstated 3B-R Aaron Boone and C-L Ed Taubensee from the DL; outrighted IF-R Mike Bell, UT-R Chris Sexton, 1B/LF-L Brooks Kieschnick and RHPs Scott Winchester and Larry Luebbers to Louisville. [10/5]

The annual minor-league free-agent exodus from the Reds organization, part and parcel of Jim Bowden's annual exercise in stocking his Triple-A affiliate well. Larry Luebbers would still make a good sixth starter for a team that could use one, like the Cubs or Angels, while Brooks Kieschnick is still trying to get over aging "superscout" Hugh Alexander's indictment of him four years ago. Chris Sexton would be a good utilityman for any team that didn't already have Chris Stynes.

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CLEVELAND INDIANS

Outrighted RHP Chris Nichting and 1B-R Chan Perry to Buffalo. [10/6]

Released LHP Chris Haney. [10/11]

This might look like a bitter reward for Chris Haney after his superb comeback from surgery this year (8-3 with a 2.44 ERA in a half season), but if anything it frees him up to go where he wishes. Getting reunited with the other ex-Expos in Beantown wouldn't be a bad career move.

Chan Perry needs to clear out of the organization that has committed to Wil Cordero a good four or five years after Cordero was useful.

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COLORADO ROCKIES

Exercised option on UT-R Terry Shumpert; outrighted RHP Giovanni Carrara, LHP David Moraga, OF-B Kevin Gibbs, OF-L Carlos Mendoza and 2B-R Belvani Martinez to Colorado Springs; reinstated LHP Josh Kalinowski, RHP John Thomson and RF-L Larry Walker from the DL. [10/5]

Claimed RHP Jason Green off of waivers from the Astros. [10/13]

I'm glad to see Terry Shumpert get a little security after all the years he spent laboring in relative obscurity. He's a good utilityman with a little bit of sock, even outside of Coors, and both the Padres and Cubs, his last two employers before the Rox, would be lucky to have him nowadays.

Among the guys outrighted to the PCL, David Moraga is a good bet to come back. He has said that he's getting the best pitching instruction he's ever received, now that he's with the Rockies organization after being claimed from the Expos on waivers during the summer. Kevin Gibbs was good for one at-bat in 2000, making this another year in which he couldn't beat the injury bug that's cost him a decent shot at a major-league career. Carlos Mendoza may be back after hitting .354 and drawing 60 walks. He suits Dan O'Dowd's drive to add speed guys with just a little bit of patience.

There's some interesting pitching for 20001 to kick around here. Jason Green is a 30th-round pick from the 1994 draft with a good fastball; he's worth a peek. John Thomson has a long road ahead of him recuperating from shoulder surgery, but after a 1998 season when he was one of baseball's best pitchers before Jim Leyland got hold of him, it's worth the organization's time to wait and see whether he can come back. Giovanni Carrara is coming off of a good season at Colorado Springs: a 3.26 ERA with an 89-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 97 innings. I don't think he's about to go Gil Heredia on us, but he's another one of the people who make the short list for outfits like the Reds or Indians or the Red Sox, where there's a commitment to fielding a good Triple-A team.

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DETROIT TIGERS

Outrighted 1B/OF-R Dusty Allen, OF-R Rod Lindsey and LHP Kevin Tolar to Toledo. [10/9]

Released RHP Keith Law from Oneonta. [10/10]

Ouch! No LABR title, no ToutWars win and now Keith gets cut loose? It has to be because he isn't tall enough to suit Randy Smith. Smith's affinity for tall players has reached the point that you have to believe he has Randy Newman's "Short People" playing in the Tigers' elevators and offices instead of Muzak.

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FLORIDA MARLINS

Outrighted RHP Joe Strong to Calgary; announced that UT-B Chris Clapinski and OF-R Mark Smith refused assignments to the minors and elected for free agency instead. [10/5]

Announced that RHP Brian Edmondson has elected for free agency. [10/9]

Outrighted C-L Sandy Martinez to Calgary; announced that Martinez has elected for free agency instead. [10/11]

Strange but true: Sandy Martinez has been given a better shot at a career than better players like Creighton Gubanich or Tom Wilson. It isn't because he does anything well: he can't hit--he's never hit--and he's not a good catcher, just a guy with a strong arm.

While that might excuse Martinez's continued major-league existence, we're in a time where we have an unprecedented number of guys who can catch and hit well enough to stick around. It's interesting that for all of the progress that has been made in baseball analysis, we're still in the same boat as we were 15 years ago, when Mike Heath would be mistaken for a good catcher because he had a strong arm. At this point, Martinez is a litmus test for major-league teams: if they sign him, they're either the Brewers or they're desperate.

Chris Clapinski and Mark Smith are handy bench players. They need to move carefully as far as where they sign next, because not everyone ends up as lucky as Terry Shumpert. But the right stroke of luck, and either could be the next Keith Lockhart or Clay Bellinger.

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HOUSTON ASTROS

Outrighted RHPs Rusty Meacham and Brian Powell, LHP Jeriome Robertson, C-Rs Frank Charles and Raul Chavez and IF-R Tripp Cromer to New Orleans; announced that IF-R Eddie Zosky cleared waivers and declared free agency. [10/13]

The Astros have a good collection of young talent that needs to be added to the 40-man roster, but that roster pressure is costing them some other useful talent. This fall, it cost them Jason Green and possibly Jeriome Robertson. While neither will turn into an All-Star anytime soon, Green can throw hard and Robertson is a soft-tossing left-hander who has mastered Double-A, although he did get hammered in his first half season at Triple-A.

The Astros are in a tough spot, in that they're going to continue to shed a few useful guys because they have even better young players reaching the point at which they have to be added to the 40-man roster. It isn't a bad problem to have.

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KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Released OF-L Doug Jennings. [10/3]

For those who are curious, Jennings still hits well. Whereas in another age he might have been the new Greg Gross or Steve Braun or Dane Iorg, he's had to wander from organization to organization, from the States to Japan, ever since he was nabbed in the Rule 5 Draft by the Athletics from the Angels in December of 1987 after a monster season in Midland. Sort of the left-handed outfield version of Bobby Rose, he could have helped a team. I know I spent a good amount of time in 1988 wishing he'd get at-bats at Dave Parker's expense, since Parker wasn't good for much after costing the A's Jose Rijo.

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LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Signed C-B Chad Kreuter to a two-year contract with club option for 2003. [10/5]

The read-between-the-lines portion of this transaction is that it pretty much confirms what you already know: Todd Hundley is gone.

We've talked in the past about Davey Johnson and the amazingly coincidental jump in his players' walk rates. Chad Kreuter is an especially spectacular example of that this year (54 walks in 212 at-bats), but with Johnson gone and Kreuter being Kreuter, here's hoping he's only expected to split time with Paul LoDuca or Angel Pena in case Jason Kendall is off-limits, instead of trying to become the new Mike Scioscia or something.

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MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Announced that OF-L Mark Sweeney refused an assignment to the minors and elected for free agency. [10/5]

Signed RHP Chad Fox to a one-year contract. [10/11]

Activated RHPs Rocky Coppinger and Kyle Peterson from the DL; outrighted C-R Robinson Cancel to Indianapolis. [10/16]

If there's one mystery I don't understand, it's the imperative to hype whoever happens to catch for the Brewers as long as it isn't Dave Nilsson. First, it was the execrable Mike Matheny, because he's tough as nails and he throws pretty well. Of course, Matheny has never been able to hit. Last year, some people were buzzing about Robinson Cancel on the basis of the first good month of his career, because he throws pretty well. Of course, he can't hit, either. This year's flavor is Henry Blanco, a converted third baseman who throws very well and has a hard time hitting his way out of wet paper sack.

While Rey Ordonez draws a lot of fire for being a waste of a lineup slot, it would be pretty interesting to see if the production of Brewers' catchers was the least productive offensive position on any team over the last ten years. It was the kind of decade where the Brewers gave Joe Kmak his only real shot at major-league playing time. And that wasn't the low point.

Mark Sweeney has to hope he can put together a Greg Gross career. After the good times with the Cardinals and the Padres, he's effectively lost the last two years. Here's hoping that he winds up in the right place and gets a shot at a couple hundred at-bats, because the man can still get on base.

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MONTREAL EXPOS

Acquired OF-L Terrmel Sledge from the Mariners to complete the Chris Widger deal. [9/28]

Outrighted LHP Scott Forster, RHPs Felipe Lira, Jeremy Powell, Brad Rigby, Julio Santana and Yovanny Lara, C-R Yohanny Valera and IF-R Trace Coquillette to Ottawa. [10/5]

Terrmel Sledge is coming off of a huge season at Lancaster. He hit .339, stole 35 bases and drew 72 walks, but he's already 23, so it isn't like he's the latest Fred McGriff-style throw-in. The Expos' organizational depth in the outfield is poor (the pickings get slim after Brad Wilkerson and Valentino Pascucci), so Sledge will have a chance to move up quickly.

Among the flock of pitchers being discarded, Yovanny Lara and Julio Santana are the pair who have the best shot at being useful at the major-league level in the near future, while somebody ought to consider Trace Coquilette for a utility-infielder job otherwise wasted on the Jeff Husons of the world.

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NEW YORK METS

Claimed RHP Jason Middlebrook off of waivers from the Padres; designated 1B-L Mark Johnson for assignment. [10/5]

Claimed SS-B Desi Relaford off of waivers from the Padres. [10/12]

An interesting pair of picks by Steve Phillips's crew, and proof that they're thinking about the future as well as enjoying themselves in October.

Jason Middlebrook was one of the Padres' top pitching prospects despite a wonky elbow. He's coming off of a ghastly season during which he posted a 6.15 ERA at Mobile. He's still supposed to be able to throw in the low 90s, so a move to the pen might turn him into a waiver steal.

Desi Relaford has his limitations (hitting, fielding), but he's willing to take a walk. If the Mets can't sign A-Rod, don't sign Mike Bordick and are left with a choice between Relaford and Rey Ordonez, they'll be glad they picked up Relaford.

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OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Outrighted RHPs Jon Ratliff and Scott Service to Sacramento. [10/11]

Claimed RHP Marc Wilkins off of waivers from the Pirates. [10/13]

Announced that the option on OF-L Matt Stairs' contract for 2001 will not be exercised. [10/16]

Exercised their option on RHP Gil Heredia for 2001. [10/17]

The big news here is the decision to not pick up Matt Stairs's option. He's still eligible for arbitration, but the A's may cut him loose altogether. This isn't an issue of big market/small market or payroll crunches as much as it's a problem with who plays where in 2001.

John Jaha is under contract, and he'll have to DH, which means Ben Grieve will still have to play left field (shudder), and which leaves right field to Adam Piatt and possibly Eric Byrnes. So where would Stairs play, and should he be paid to play after a miserable 2000 at the age of 31? He's not exactly built to last, so while the wild ride of the Wonder Hamster has been a bundle of fun, Billy Beane is in the position to get out while the getting's good.

Stairs still has some value, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him return to the Red Sox or sign a one-year contract with the Tigers or Indians if the A's decide to non-tender him. He'd also have value coming off the bench as a part-time caddy for Piatt in right, but that probably depends on his willingness to accept a pay cut.

Much as we need to tip our caps to Billy Beane's creativity as a GM, if there's one thing that can be maddening it's his penchant for crummy relievers with major-league experience. Marc Wilkins fits right in with other pickups like Mike Magnante, Doug Bochtler and Scott Service. Of course, Jeff Tam had to come from somewhere, so sometimes stocking your bullpen at Wal-Mart lands you a bargain now and again. Nevertheless, Wilkins is not worth the space on the 40-man roster.

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PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Released RHP Brad Clontz; outrighted OF-R Adam Hyzdu, RHPs Matt Skrmetta and Brian Smith and UT-R John Wehner to Nashville. [10/11]

The only imperative here is to re-sign John Wehner so that he's playing in PNC Park on Opening Day 2001. Dale Berra is unavailable, after all.

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SAN DIEGO PADRES

Outrighted DH-R Gabe Alvarez, IF-R Greg LaRocca and 1B-R Joe Vitiello, OF-R Pete Tucci and RHP Todd Erdos to Portland. [10/4]

Outrighted DH-R John Roskos and RHPs Stan Spencer and Domingo Guzman outright to Portland. [10/5]

Purchased the contract of LHP Sean Lawrence from Schaumburg of the Northern League (Independent). [10/6]

Outrighted RHP Brian Boehringer to Portland. [10/12]

Claimed CF-R Mike Colangelo off of waivers. [10/17]

The steal here was nabbing Mike Colangelo. It doesn't look like Ruben Rivera is ever going to turn the corner and become a good regular, which creates the opportunity for the oft-injured Colangelo to step in next spring and win the job in center field. There will be plenty of incentive to hand the job to Eric Owens, but Colangelo can do everthing that everything Owens does, plus actually play center field well.

That isn't an indictment of Owens: he's a good little fourth outfielder and spot-starter at second base or third base, but he's stretched as an offensive regular. If healthy for any length of time (and that's a big "if" after missing most of the last two seasons to injury), Colangelo would be the leadoff hitter this team desperately needs. It's worth a spot on the 40-man roster and a waiver claim.

No more Las Vegas references for the Pad people; the Padres Triple-A affiliate is now Portland, Oregon, which will be part of the subject of an article I'm working on about the affiliation reshuffling this offseason.

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SEATTLE MARINERS

Purchased the contract of OF-R Anthony Sanders from Tacoma. [9/29]

One of the nice things Pat Gillick achieved when he wasn't building a pretty good ballclub was that he guaranteed the availability of certain players for the Olympics by signing them last winter and putting them in Tacoma. Whether it was Todd Williams or Mike Neill or Anthony Sanders, he signed useful minor-league veterans who could play.

Sanders is an outstanding fielder and useful enough offensively that he ought to be playing in the majors instead of people like Jacob Brumfield or Brian L. Hunter or Chris Jones or Wilton Guerrero. While Gillick is reaping congratulations for the big things, I'm glad to see he gave Sanders a weekend in the big leagues, too.

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TEXAS RANGERS

Claimed OF-R Bo Porter off of waivers from the Athletics. [10/11]

Like Scott Sheldon and Jason McDonald before him, Bo Porter is another nice snag from the Athletics by Doug Melvin. Whether Ruben Mateo will be 100% next spring is a question, and while there are all sorts of reasons to have Gabe Kapler around, his play in center field isn't one of them. Porter may have to go back on waivers with all of the juggling of the 40-man rosters we can expect between now and November, but if the Rangers still have him next spring, he and Pedro Valdes could provide the team with an outstanding low-budget combo to man the DH slot and back up Mateo, Kapler, Rusty Greer and Ricky Ledee in the outfield. Unfortunately, Chad Curtis is under contract; moving him will be one of Melvin's more difficult challenges this winter.

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TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Claimed RHP John Sneed off of waivers from the Phillies; designated DH-R Marty Cordova for assignment. [10/3]

John Sneed was the only payoff the Phillies had gotten out of all the time Ed Wade spent on the phone with Gord Ash from mid-July to mid-August, and the Jays got him back anyways. What's even sillier is that Sneed, who's big and throws hard and we all know how much everyone likes those things, managed to slip all the way to the Jays on waivers.

So effectively, for loaning Rob Ducey for a couple of weeks and dumping Mickey Morandini, the Phillies got nothing more than a thank-you note and some air kisses, instead of pulling off a heist of the small-potatoes variety. Unless there's some long con angle going on here where Wade is just doing Ash favors so that he scores big someday, this was an enormous waste of time for all parties concerned.

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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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