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March 27, 1998

Transaction Analysis

March 24-26

by Christina Kahrl

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Waived RHP Hector Carrasco. [3/25]

For all of the hullaballoo about this, Carrasco isn't a unique talent, and that's his problem. Finding relievers who throw moderately hard just isn't very difficult, and if you're not wedded to the belief that situational usages reflect ineffable qualities like "closer's moxie" or whatever, you're left with looking at the guy for what he does. Carrasco is a useful reliever... along with plenty of guys languishing in the minors. He'll be a handy pickup for some team, but he also won't be missed when he's cut loose. Why he was able to fetch Nunnally and Stynes from the Royals is something only Herk Robinson will ever understand.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Waived RHP Brad Clontz. [3/25]

His release was apparently salary-driven, and with cheaper help like Kerry Ligtenberg or Mike Cather around to fill in as right-handed middle relief, there wasn't alot of impetus to keep Clontz, even if he had been having a good camp.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Placed LHP Rick Krivda and OF Tony Tarasco on waivers.

Not being old enough to have voted for Reagan must have hurt them. In strict terms as far as talent or utility, cutting either of them for Doug Johns and/or Ozzie Guillen is astounding. It isn't easy to make your team worse on purpose, but Ray Miller is a man on a mission: to make Davey Johnson's historical legacy even more dramatic than it is.

BOSTON RED SOX

Signed 2B Mark Lemke to a minor-league contract; optioned LHP Ron Mahay and CF Michael Coleman to Pawtucket. [3/26]

Optioned RHP Joe Hudson to Pawtucket. [3/26]

Decisions like bringing in the Polish Lemming should pretty well underscore that the Sox aren't the organization they used to be. Duquette caved into Jimy Williams' request for a familiar face, and the team will be the worse for it. Add that to the decision to stick with both Damon Buford and Darren Lewis, and you've got the birth of a worst-case scenario for the Opening Day lineup. Coleman had to have an outstanding camp, and he didn't, but his track record isn't a litany of failures like those of Buford and Lewis. Ron Mahay's transformation from outfielder to pitcher had a bit of a setback this spring, and he lost the primary LH setup job in the pen to Brian Shouse.

CHICAGO CUBS

Optioned 2B Jason Hardtke to Iowa; assigned RHP Dave Stevens to minor-league camp; placed OF Robin Jennings on the 15-day DL (sprained right wrist). [3/26]

Placed RHP Kurt Miller, C Mike Hubbard, and OF Pedro Valdes on waivers. [3/26]

Stevens had a good camp, but the Cubs are wrestling with whether or not to return Rule Ver Alan Mahaffey to the Twins, and how they're going to keep Amaury Telemaco. Hubbard lost out to both Tyler Houston and Sandy Martinez, which seems gratuitous. Valdes and Jennings have lost out to Brant Brown and Terrell Lowery, which means that nobody from the crop of of Jennings, Valdes, or Kieschnick ever received the same opportunity as Scott Bullett did.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Optioned LHP Jim Parque to Calgary. [3/24]

Traded RHP Jim Bullinger to Seattle for RHP Marty Weymouth. [3/26]

Parque and Bullinger were losers in the rotation battle, but in different senses. Parque will probably be back by July, while Bullinger came in as veteran insurance, didn't pitch particularly well, and will now get to start some fires for the Mariners as a spot starter and long reliever.

CINCINNATI REDS

Claimed OF Tony Tarasco on waivers from Baltimore. [3/24]

Placed OF Melvin Nieves and RHP Jose Rijo on the 15-day DL; assigned OF Guillermo Garcia to their minor-league camp. [3/25]

Acquired LHP Jesus Martinez from Florida as the PTBNL in the March 21st trade for UT Eric Owens; assigned Martinez to Indianapolis. [3/26]

Tarasco will be a fine piece of insurance while playing regularly in Indianapolis, while the fascination with Jesus Martinez is just one of those things, like Brad Pennington, that you just have to put up with from Jim Bowden from time to time. Interesting that both Nieves and Tarasco, once-heralded Braves prospects, will both have to wait for their opportunities with the Reds.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Placed RHP Chad Ogea and LHP John Smiley on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 22nd; claimed LHP Rick Krivda on waivers from Baltimore. [3/24]

Gave 2B Carlos Garcia his unconditional release. [3/25]

Krivda is a well-timed addition; if Hargrove were so inclined, he'd be the #3 starter, especially with Gooden, Karsay, and Colon getting routinely pasted. Signing Garcia was a waste of time in December, and his career may well be over, barring his being signed by the Rangers to stock the perpetually graying roster of Okie City.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Assigned INF Nelson Liriano to minor-league camp. [3/24]

Liriano lost out to Jason Bates in the battle for the utility infield job with the Rockies.

DETROIT TIGERS

Purchased the contracts of INF Billy Ripken and C Joe Oliver; designated C Marcus Jensen for assignment; moved OF Trey Beamon from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [3/24]

Purchased the contract of RHP Doug Bochtler from Oakland. [3/25]

Designated RHP Eddie Gaillard for assignment; assigned RHP Denny Harriger to minor-league camp; waived C Marcus Jensen. [3/25]

Placed RHP Frank Castillo on the 15-day DL. [3/26]

Ripken and Oliver both step into the lineup, as the shortstop and catcher, respectively. Bochtler will be one of the main setup men for Todd Jones, and has that ex-San Diego, hard throwin' pedigree that Randy Smith craves. Castillo's injury temporarily saves him the indignity of continuing to get rocked, while gaining a rotation slot for ex-Padre farmhand Greg Keagle.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Optioned RHPs Rob Stanifer and Manuel Barrios to Charlotte; assigned RHP Nelson Lara to minor-league camp; placed 3B Bobby Bonilla on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 22nd. [3/24]

Optioned CF Todd Dunwoody to Charlotte; outrighted RHP Hector Ramirez to Charlotte. [3/26]

Sold the contract of UT Eric Owens to Milwaukee. [3/26]

Dunwoody lost the CF fight to Kotsay fair and square, although given their track records, you would have hoped the outcome never would have been in doubt. A mitigating factor in Dunwoody's demotion was the Marlins' inability to trade Jim Eisenreich or John Cangelosi so far. Cutting Barrios was a bit of a surprise, since he was enjoying a good camp, and the Marlins will need all the help they can get out of the pen.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Optioned RF Jermaine Dye to Omaha; reassigned 1B/C Carlos Mendez to minor-league camp; gave LHP Chris Hammond his unconditional release. [3/24]

Dye's medical travails may eventually land him on the major league DL instead of Omaha, but it really won't matter to how well the Royals do. The platoon of Larry Sutton and Ernie Young is probably the best thing Muser could have picked.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Outrighted OF Billy Ashley to Albuquerque; signed OF Thomas Howard to a one-year contract. [3/25]

Ashley cleared waivers, and the Dodgers seem determined to go with Howard and Hollandsworth in the outfield until Cedeno recovers. With no-o contributors like Vizcaino and Young already in the lineup, this year's edition of the Boys in Blue could be a woefully inept offensive team.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Purchased the contract of UT Eric Owens from Florida. [3/25]

Sent INFs Eddy Diaz, Pablo Martinez, Eddie Zosky and Antone Williamson, and LHP Brad Woodall to minor-league camp. [3/25]

Owens' travails were amusing, but relatively straightforward. The Reds didn't have room for him, and the Marlins were only interested in him if he could handle third, which he can't really, so now he's a Brewer, and joins Mark Loretta on the big league roster as someone who should start ahead of Fernando Vina.

MINNESOTA TWINS

1B Scott Stahoviak accepted his assignment to the minor leagues. [3/26]

He may regret this, because with Dave Ortiz and Mientkiewicz coming up, and Merced on the major league roster, he should never get another crack at regular major league playing time with the Twins.

NEW YORK METS

Sent RHP Rick Trlicek and OF Rick Parker to minor-league camp; placed RHPs Armando Reynoso and Paul Wilson on the 15-day DL. [3/25]

Optioned C Todd Pratt to Norfolk; assigned UT Shawn Gilbert to minor-league camp; voided the contract of UT Chad Fonville due to a pre-existing physical condition. [3/26]

Sometimes teams get carried away with spring training results. Case in point: cutting Pratt to retain Tim Spehr and Alberto Castillo. Yes, Pratt has had a miserable camp, and doesn't remind anyone of Jim Sundberg behind the plate. Yes, Spehr has had an amazing camp. But Tim Spehr's been a stiff most of his professional life, and Alberto Castillo can only envy Spehr. The Mets aren't a strong offensive team in this period before Hundley's return, so to choose to carry two outs as your backstop alternatives is pretty ugly.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Assigned RHPs Orlando Hernandez and Mike Jerzembeck to Columbus. [3/25]

'El Duque' got smacked around in his brief audition with the club, while Jerzembeck impressed. Expect to see both in pinstripes later on this summer.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Sold the contract of RHP Doug Bochtler to the Detroit Tigers. [3/25]

Announced that minor-league pitching instructor Rick Peterson has replaced Bob Cluck as pitching coach. [3/26]

There's something here we haven't heard about yet, because firing Cluck now for last season's disastrously bad pitching staff just doesn't make sense as far as timing. Bochtler had sort of lost out to Aaron Small (both were terrible) for the sixth spot in the bullpen, and was out of options.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Optioned OF Billy McMillon to Scranton. [3/25]

Signed RHP Matt Whiteside to a major league contract. [3/26]

McMillon's down to play every day, and as long as the organization doesn't just take its lumps and make Gregg Jefferies go away, that's the way it'll have to be. Whiteside is expected to be one of Bottalico's main setup men, giving the Phillies time to develop Brannan and Gomes.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Assigned RHP Mike Williams to minor league camp. [3/26]

Williams' shot at the team was essentially dependent on Jon Lieber's health. Routine shellackings or no, it would appear Lieber's healthy enough.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Placed LHP Ed Vosberg on the 15-day DL; optioned 3B George Arias and RHP Donne Wall to Las Vegas; assigned RHP Archie Corbin to minor-league camp. [3/25]

No surprise cuts in this group; Vosberg's injury has the Padres worried about LH relief help, so don't be surprised if they trade for someone at the last minute.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned RHP Russell Ortiz to Fresno; waived RHP Cory Bailey. [3/26]

The Giants are hoping Bailey makes it through waivers so that he can be assigned to Fresno; Ortiz was named the best rookie in camp, but with the commitment to Danny Darwin as the fifth starter, thus returning Tavarez to the pen, there weren't going to be many innings for him with the Giants.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Waived C Danny Sheaffer, giving him his unconditional release. [3/25]

This is only, what, about three years too late? He can hang out with Jamie Quirk and Mike Gallego, waiting for LaRussa's inevitable phonecall that all is forgiven...

SEATTLE MARINERS

Assigned LHP Greg McCarthy to minor league camp. [3/24]

Claimed RHP Jose Paniagua on waivers from Tampa Bay; announced that INF Aaron Holbert has cleared waivers and was sent outright to Tacoma. [3/26]

Designated UT Pat Listach for assignment. [3/26]

Paniagua may yet turn into a useful major league pitcher, but the chances of that happening during Lou Piniella's watch are slim and none. The Mariners made a big stink in the offseason about how they needed to find a good utility infielder: they cut loose Brent Gates, signed Holbert and Listach, and drafted Jeff Huson via Rule V. It seemed like wasted effort at the time, especially when none of the players in question are good options, but hey, nobody has to worry about Jeff Huson's being on the streets...

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Assigned 1B Russ Morman, C Darron Cox, OF Jerome Walton, INF Dave Silvestri, RHP Josias Manzanillo, and LHP Scott Aldred to minor league camp. [3/26]

Assigned OF Luis Polonia to the Mexico City Tigers of the Mexican League. [3/26]

No surprises among this list of cuts, although Manzanillo and Aldred both had good camps and made strong pushes to wind up in the big league pen.

TEXAS RANGERS

Announced that 3B Scott Cooper has been released from his contract with Oklahoma City. [3/24]

Its sort of mystifying that they kept him around in the first place; since leaving Fenway, he hasn't hit in St. Louis or Japan or Kansas City or the Moon. He's done.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Released OF Jacob Brumfield; assigned RHP Luis Andujar to minor league camp. [3/24]

Signed ex-prospect Juan Bell to a contract with Syracuse. [3/25]

Brumfield went out like a lion, raging about how life isn't fair. Since he owed his continuing professional existence to Cito's fancying him in the first place, he might have been a wee bit more grateful that he got two more years out of his career as a Blue Jay. In the meantime, this means that Felipe Crespo will, at long last, finally get a major league job. His willingness to play wherever asked certainly didn't hurt. As for signing Bell, this may be a favor to Jorge's kid brother, since he hasn't done anything to earn this. He's turning 30 this weekend, which seems much younger than you'd think.

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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