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March 25, 1998

Transaction Analysis

March 20-23

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Placed C Angelo Encarnacion on the 15-day DL. [3/22]

Optioned RHP Geoff Edsell to Vancouver. [3/23]

With Jason Dickson a probable health risk, and Jack McDowell and Omar Olivares being their uninspiring selves, there's a very good chance that Edsell could start some games for the Angels this year. He had a rocky '97 in the PCL, but he had a good camp, and the organization has stuck with him so far. Encarnacion's injury leaves the Angels with the inspiring duo of Matt Walbeck and Phil Nevin as backstops, until Todd Greene comes back sometime in May.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Placed RHPs Ken Robinson and Cory Lidle, and 2B Hanley Frias on the 15-day DL. [3/20]

Losing Robinson and Lidle straightens things out for the D-backs' pen somewhat: Gregg Olson, Barry Manuel, Felix Rodriguez, Hector Carrasco, and maybe Russ Springer or Scott Brow stick around. There's a problem with this: all of them are right-handed, which is another reason to expect Omar Daal to wind up in the pen. Robinson will be out for several months, while Lidle should be back by the end of April.

BOSTON RED SOX

Assigned C Walt McKeel and OF Jimmy Hurst to minor-league camp. [3/22]

Assigned RHP Robinson Checo to minor-league camp; placed LHP Butch Henry and RHP Kerry Lacy on the 15-day DL. [3/23]

With Varitek impressing the Sox in camp, McKeel was a long-shot at best. Henry's injury opens a rotation spot for Derek Lowe, while Checo's demotion is another of those crummy fringe benefits for having a most explosive Eck around.

CHICAGO CUBS

Placed RHP Kevin Foster on the 15-day DL. [3/22]

Assigned RHP Kerry Wood to minor league camp. [3/23]

Wood's demotion was in the cards from day one, and wasn't undeserved, however much he impressed folks with his heat early on. But losing both Foster and Wood creates an important ripple effect on the staff: Mulholland is locked into the fifth spot in the rotation, and that creates two sets of fights for the last two spots in the bullpen: minor league vet Ben VanRyn vs. Rule V pick Popeye Mahaffey for the second lefty role, and a three-way fight for long relief between Amaury Telemaco, Dave Stevens, and Kurt Miller.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Optioned CF Brian Simmons and RHP John Snyder to Calgary, and C Mark Johnson to Birmingham; assigned INF Rene Gonzales to minor-league camp. [3/22]

Signed INF/OF Wil Cordero to a one-year contract with a one-year option; designated LHP Mike Bertotti for assignment. [3/23]

Cordero's addition is, I kid you not, to play first base. That means Frank Thomas will DH, Ruben Sierra hits the bench or the waiver wire, and Jeff Abbott is still effectively screwed as far as playing time or making the roster. His only prayers now involve hoping Jerry Manuel's fascination with Lou Frazier as well as the Bad Bald One wears off, and that Greg Norton's recent bout with chicken pox puts a dent in his opportunity to win a job (which is unlikely). Bertotti will probably get snagged by an organization that has space on its 40-man roster and is short on talent (say, the Mariners or Rangers).

CINCINNATI REDS

Traded UT Eric Owens to Florida for a PTBNL. [3/20]

Owens was out of options, and wasn't related to the Boones or the Roses or the Griffeys or the Perezes.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Assigned RHPs Marcus Moore and Melido Perez, LHP Jason Jacome, and OF David Miller to minor-league camp; optioned RHP Rich Batchelor to Buffalo. [3/21]

The quixotic pursuit of a roster spot by Melido Perez has been temporarily snuffed, although that leaves the Tribe with a grisly rotation of Chuck Nagy, Jaret Wright, Doc Gooden, Steve Karsay, and Bartolo Colon for the time being.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Placed RHPs Kevin Ritz and John Burke on the 15-day DL. [3/20]

Sent INF Terry Shumpert, PH Sherman Obando, and C Ben Petrick to minor-league camp for reassignment. [3/22]

Ritz's injury will keep him out till May, while Burke may not be right for awhile. That leaves the Rox with a rotation of Pedro Astacio, Daryl Kile, Jamie Wright, John Thomson, and Mark Thompson, and that isn't the end of the world for them.

DETROIT TIGERS

Placed SS Deivi Cruz and OFs Trey Beamon and Juan Encarnacion on the 15-day DL. [3/20]

Optioned RHP Mike Drumright and SS Luis Garcia to Toledo; assigned RHP Bill Hurst, C Joe Siddall, 2B Paul Faries, and OF Andy Tomberlin to minor-league camp. [3/23]

Drumright never really had a shot at this year's rotation, and hasn't earned one yet. For the rest, until Cruz or Encarnacion make it back, its hard to see the Tigers going anywhere with Bip Roberts and Luis Gonzalez playing every day.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Optioned RHPs Andy Larkin and Mike Villano, and 2B Luis Castillo to Charlotte; assigned RHPs Matt Mantei and Mike Gardiner, 3B Lou Lucca, 2B Lionel Hastings, and C John Roskos to minor-league camp. [3/20]

Acquired UT Eric Owens from Cincinnati for a PTBNL. [3/21]

Placed RHP Alex Fernandez on the 60-day DL. [3/22]

Optioned OF Fletcher Bates and SS Brandon Cromer to Charlotte; assigned C Randy Knorr to minor-league camp. [3/23]

For whatever reason, Andy Larkin hasn't pleased Jim Leyland as much as Brian Meadows. Meadows has very little to endorse his newfound rotation spot, which he may hand back to Larkin or Kirt Ojala within a month. Picking up Eric Owens is a good addition; ideally, he'd get the lion's share of playing time at third ahead of Josh Booty until Bonilla recovers, with Booty being used in the only role he's really suited for so far, defensive replacement. But that isn't going to happen.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Optioned 3B/SS Russ Johnson to New Orleans; assigned 1B J.R. Phillips, SS Luis Rivera, C Marc Ronan, and RHP Reggie Harris to minor-league camp. [3/23]

Johnson and Phillips had fine camps, but with the Astros' belated decision to bring Sean Berry back on the one hand, and to sign both Dave Clark and Jack Howell on the other, the big league club didn't need either.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Placed CF Roger Cedeno on the 15-day DL. [3/22]

Cedeno's injury, in addition to Eric Karros' expected absence for as much as six weeks, means several things. Most importantly, it means that Paul Konerko is going to play. Unfortunately, it also means that the lineup is going to be weaker. As overrated as Karros is, he's still a more useful offensive player than Todd Hollandsworth or Thomas Howard or Wilton Guerrero, two of whom may be in the lineup unless the rumored pickup of Jim Eisenreich happens in the next week. Another ripple is that it probably secures Billy Ashley's roster spot; he's out of options, and the Dodgers were talking about trading him, but he could get some of the playing time in LF now. And however all of that shakes out, there's a pretty good chance that Cedeno will have to fight to get back to the starting lineup once he gets back, because Bill Russell may have gotten comfortable with the alternatives by then. That, clearly, would be a shame.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned OF Ryan Radmanovich to Salt Lake City, and RHP Jeff Harris to New Britain (AA); assigned LHP Travis Baptist, RHP Shane Bowers, C Chris Turner, and OF Jamie Ogden to minor-league camp. [3/22]

No big surprises in this group of cuts, although sending Turner down means that Jayhawk Owens will probably be Steinbach's caddy behind the plate.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Assigned "SS" Hiram Bocachica to minor-league camp. [3/21]

According to some reports, Bocachica will be converted to center field, which means we won't get to see Hiram's glovework at short make Jose Offerman green with envy.

NEW YORK METS

Re-acquired OF Robert Stratton from Florida for RHP Brandon Villafuerte and a PTBNL. [3/20]

Placed RHP Jason Isringhausen on the 60-day DL; placed C Todd Hundley and LHP Hector Mercado on the 15-day DL; optioned C Vance Wilson to Norfolk; sent C Pedro Grifol to minor-league camp for reassignment. [3/21]

Optioned LHP Bill Pulsipher and 2B Ralph Milliard to Norfolk; sent LHP Efrain Valdez to their minor-league complex for reassignment. [3/22]

Pulsipher didn't take his cut well, but the front office team and the manager have changed since the Young Guns' flameout, and they won't be doing him any favors. The Mets apparently don't want to have to hand Rule V pick Hector Mercado back, so they're already observing the time-honored traditions of how to skirt the rules on how to keep somebody around. Expect a subsequent, lengthy rehab assignment. As for Milliard, don't be surprised if he comes back up shortly; Carlos Baerga is not going to be able to give the Mets everything they need with Hundley out until June (at least).

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Assigned RHPs Calvin Maduro and Ryan Brannan to minor-league camp. [3/21]

Released RHP Richie Lewis. [3/22]

Both Maduro and Brannan had good camps, but until the organization sorts out where its going to send Mark Portugal and Mark Leiter, they didn't have the room to really look at either. Particularly in Maduro's case, this is a good thing: in three months, the team will know whether Mike Grace will have consecutive healthy weeks, or if Tyler Green needs to be given up on once and for all, or if Garrett Stephenson is a pumpkin. He'll have the opportunity to sit still and put his career back together again after his setback in '97, and may be much more poised for his eventual return.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Assigned RHP Kris Benson and C Miguel Ojeda to minor-league camp. [3/20]

Assigned LHP Jimmy Anderson, RHP Jeff McCurry, SS Abraham Nunez, 1B Ron Wright, and UT Steve Bieser to minor-league camp. [3/21]

The Buccos cut loose the losers of various spring position battles: Benson and Anderson both lost out to Jose Silva in the fight for the fifth spot in the rotation; Wright lost out to Kevin Young and Freddie Garcia at the infield corners, and Nunez dropped out of the battle at short, leaving Lou Collier as the probable starter and Kevin Polcovich backing up the middle infield.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Claimed CF Luis Saturria off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. [3/20]

The Cardinals get back Saturria, who had been a Rule V draftee by the Jays in December.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Optioned LHP Heath Murray to Las Vegas; assigned 2B Dave Hajek and C Creighton Gubanich to minor-league camp. [3/21]

Its unfortunate Gubanich wasn't taken more seriously as a platoon candidate to go with Greg Myers; Carlos Hernandez will never hit as well as he did in '97, and Mandy Romero might be a nice story, but again, he probably can't outhit Gubanich.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Assigned OF Dante Powell to their minor-league camp. [3/22]

This surprised exactly one person: Powell.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Placed LHP Jeff Fassero on the 15-day DL; assigned 1B/OF Dave McCarty, INF Rico Rossy, RHP Andres Berumen, LHP Andy Lorraine, and C Dusty Wathan to minor-league camp. [3/22]

Losing Fassero puts the Mariners in the unenviable position of having to entrust rotation spots to both Felipe Lira and Billy Swift for the time being. Consider this another reason to consider the AL West as entirely wide open.

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Assigned C Bob Natal, LHP Ryan Karp, RHPs Santos Hernandez and John LeRoy, and OFs Greg Blosser and Carlos Mendoza to minor-league camp. [3/20]

Karp, Hernandez, and LeRoy aren't really surprise losers in the fight for bullpen jobs: Esteban Yan has apparently been moved to the pen, which means that, behind Roberto Hernandez, the Rays have Albie Lopez, Jim Mecir, Josias Manzanillo, Jim Mecir, and either Rick Gorecki or Dan Carlson (whoever doesn't win the fifth slot) from the right side, and Matt Ruebel and Ramon Tatis from the left side.

TEXAS RANGERS

Placed RHP Mark Brandenburg on the 15-day DL. [3/20]

Optioned LHP Matt Perisho and RHP Eric Moody to Oklahoma; assigned C Rick Wrona and OF Les Norman to the minor league camp. [3/21]

Placed RHP Matt Whiteside on irrevocable waivers to give him his unconditional release; placed RHPs Xavier Hernandez and Danny Patterson on the 15-day DL. [3/23]

How badly are the Rangers hurting for bullpen help? As things stand now, you've got Wetteland, and a middle relief crew of lefties Eric Gunderson, Scott Bailes, and Larry Thomas, righties Tim Crabtree and Julio Santana, and whoever doesn't get a rotation spot among Bobby Witt, Roger Pavlik, and Rick Helling. Whiteside was out of options, and had a bad camp, while it doesn't look like Hernandez is ever going to fully recover from how he was used in '92 and '93.

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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