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April 10, 2009

Transaction Analysis

AL Roster Roundup

by Christina Kahrl

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | DT Cards | PECOTA Cards | Depth Chart
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Released INF-R Chris Gomez. [4/2]
Outrighted RHP Jim Hoey to Bowie (Double-A). [4/3]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12

Unhappy Roster Situation: Well, I'm assuming we all know what's going on with the Matt Wieters situation, but I don't expect Baltimore to be Zauntown for longer than a month. So, instead, I'll repeat my banging on the rotation, and that's without getting into the eventual addition of Adam Eaton this weekend. Beyond his possession of a decent fastball, Alfredo Simon at least has the element of relative mystery going for him, but Mark Hendrickson and Eaton are both bad news in cleats with plenty of evidence to document their capacity for havoc. However, if there's a silver lining to be found, it might be in seeing how Dave Trembley quickly lifted Koji Uehara after a solid five-inning start against the Yankees; as long as you recognize your rotation's a weakness and you're carrying seven or eight relievers, you may as well get into your pen, especially when the O's have a good group of guys in terms of success and stuff above and beyond resolving how good the bounce-back campaigns of Danys Baez and Chris Ray turn out to be.

BOSTON RED SOX
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Optioned RHP Clay Buchholz to Pawtucket (Triple-A); placed RHPs John Smoltz (shoulder surgery) and Miguel Gonzalez (elbow surgery), SS-R Julio Lugo (knee surgery), and OF-Ls Mark Kotsay (back surgery) and Jonathan Van Every (sprained ankle) on the 15-day DL, all retroactive to 3/27. [4/4]
Purchased the contract of INF-R Nick Green from Pawtucket. [4/5]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, even with Green added in Lugo's place.

Unhappy Roster Situation: Having long since made their choices behind the plate, there isn't that much to be unhappy about. Their bullpen's ridiculously deep, and their Smoltz-less rotation will be interesting in how it gives us an early-season battle between Brad Penny and Tim Wakefield to avoid losing their slots at the tail end. I prefer their having Chris Carter on the bench instead of Kotsay for lefty backup batting, because they really ought to sort out what Carter's for (as they should do with Van Every as well, once he's healthy). If there's an unfortunate tweak, it's that by losing Lugo they really don't have a shortstop-worthy utility infielder on the bench for the time being, so it isn't like they have anywhere to go should Jed Lowrie struggle at the plate or in the field, but since he'll be back before the calendar flips to May, it's a relatively minor matter at the moment. Even so, it'll be interesting to see if this is something that Theo Epstein addresses in-season by keeping an eye on the waiver wire, because losing Lugo or Lowrie for an extended period of time would create a real need, one that guys like Green or Gil Velazquez cannot adequately fill if there's serious playing time involved.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Outrighted OF-L Jerry Owens to Charlotte (Triple-A). [4/1]
Purchased the contracts of RHP Mike MacDougal and C-R Corky Miller; placed 2B-R Jayson Nix on the 15-day DL (strained quadriceps), retroactive to 3/27. [4/4]
Outrighted RHP Ehren Wasserman to Charlotte. [4/6]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, with the rotation already stocked with Bartolo Colon and Jose Contreras. (I'll be more than a little interested to see tomorrow night's contest against the Twins, with Contreras taking the mound against the ubiquitous R.A. Dickey.)

Unhappy Roster Situation: The selection of leadoff hitter, but you can't write out a lineup card without somebody going first. Owens lost not only his bid for a roster spot and a job, he also lost the chore of leading off to DeWayne Wise, but the Owens-eraser has already handed the opportunity over to Chris Getz just two games into the era of Wise-dom after a quick two-game oh-fer-'09. The DeWaynderson platoon in center won't deliver much in the way of OBP, but it'll deliver some modest amount of pop in a park that rewards people who can deliver sock on contact; it also strikes me as unlikely to last the year, but we'll see what sort of in-season solution the White Sox come up with, and Ozzie Guillen's one of the skippers who keeps his reserves busy. The bullpen strikes me as crowded, if only because the only guy you might call a specialist is MacDougal; Clayton Richard and Matt Thornton are a pair of hard-throwing lefties you can use for multiple innings, Scott Linebrink and D.J. Carrasco do likewise from the right side. Octavio Dotel's track record for breaking down could make him more of a wild card in a set-up role in front of Bobby Jenks, but in the broad strokes, that's a good amount of depth that should afford Guillen the opportunity to hook Contreras and Colon early, at least until they prove they can handle normal starting pitcher workloads.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Traded RHP Edward Mujica to the Padres for a PTBNL. [4/1]
Placed INF-R Jamey Carroll on the 15-day DL (broken hand), retroactive to 4/5; purchased the contract of INF-R Tony Graffanino from Columbus (Triple-A). [4/6]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12. It's all the rage these days, donchaknow.

Unhappy Roster Situation: Vinny Chulk had a great camp as a non-roster invite, but it wasn't good enough to get him past rotation-battle loser Zach Jackson's perceived value as a second lefty in the pen. Losing Carroll early after already losing David Dellucci isn't happy in terms of shedding veteran reserves for the time being, but it also isn't really that much of a setback for a team that has a plus-gloved shortstop starting at second in Asdrubal Cabrera, and an incomparable jack-of-all-trades in Mark DeRosa at third. Basically, they lose anybody in that infield, and they can plug in Graffy wherever he can handle in his age-37 season. Losing Dellucci created a minor opportunity for Trevor Crowe, which he might exploit as a speedy reserve, at least until they go back to Dellucci or invite Matt LaPorta back to the dance. They kept Josh Barfield because he's out of options, but if he can't outplay Graffy or prove to have enough value spotting at second base and the outfield and pinch-running, it won't be long before they're tempted to find other uses for that spot on the 40-man.

DETROIT TIGERS
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Optioned LHP Clay Rapada, C-R Dane Sardinha, and UT-R Ryan Raburn to Toledo (Triple-A); placed 3B-R Mike Hessman on waivers. [4/1]
Outrighted 3B-R Mike Hessman and OF-R Brent Clevlen to Toledo. [4/3]
Purchased the contracts of RHPs Eddie Bonine and Juan Rincon from Toledo; purchased the contract of RHP Ryan Perry from Lakeland (High-A). [4/4]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, with a bench that involves Jeff Larish, Matt Treanor, Josh Anderson, and Ramon Santiago. In a lineup that has three starters who could be pinch-hittable for.

Unhappy Roster Situation: I respect the point of view that says pitchers with talent can set their own timetables, ones that don't involve rung-by-rung clambering up the chain until, their turn waited upon, they get the call. That Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry are on the roster is only a case of the cup half-full, however, because it isn't all good stuff that got them here-there's a triple-deep serving of disappointment in the Tigers' bowl, with Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, and Joel Zumaya already on the Disabled List for their assortment weaknesses of the flesh or whatever, and that's without getting into whether or not Nate Robertson may also have a case of the Motor City heebie-jeebies, or just a simple dose of career-ending ineffectiveness. Regardless, it's now a rotation with the demands of instant greatness pressed upon some of the system's best talent to help sustain an enfeebled bid for relevance in the league's most competitive division. Add in a staff "shored up" by adding Rincon three years too late and Brandon Lyon perhaps only two, and the nightmare in play is that the Tigers have ditched run scoring for run prevention just in time to wind up with a roster that can't deliver either.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Traded 1B/OF-L Ross Gload to the Marlins for a PTBNL; optioned RHP Brian Bannister to Omaha (Triple-A); released RHP Joel Peralta and C-R Kiel Thibault; placed LHP John Bale on the 15-day DL (thyroid surgery), retroactive to 3/27; noted the retirement of RHP Luke Hudson. [4/1]
Outrighted 1B-R Ryan Shealy to Omaha. [4/3]
Optioned CF-L Mitch Maier to Omaha. [4/4]
Purchased the contract of RHP Jamey Wright from Omaha; designated OF-L Shane Costa for assignment. [4/5]
Claimed 3B-R Travis Metcalf off of waivers from the Rangers and optioned him to Omaha. [4/7]

Initial Roster Shape: 14-11! Sure, they're carrying three catchers to get there, and none of them are much in the hitting department-and with Willie Bloomquist, Tony Pena Jr., and Alberto Callaspo as the non-catcher alternatives, there aren't any pinch-hitters in play to use in their place-and the Bloomquist scenario where his gamery is supposed to be compelling in such a way that he reminds a group of players not already short of experience how to play the game seems a bit dodgy, but c'mon, it's a team with 14 position players, and glory hallelujah to all that then. Sadly, it'll probably come to an end on Friday night, when Sir Sidney Ponson gets down on bended knee and thanks St. Michael, St. George, and St. Dayton for his happy state of perpetual employment as his contract gets purchased with the accompanying fireworks that inevitably attend a Ponson pitching performance. Then again, as easy as it is to bash on a decision tree that leaves you out on a limb with Ponson and Horacio Ramirez-only six years removed from one more season of value in a big-league rotation than Mark Gubicza's thrown in the last 20-what about a bullpen stocked with the retreaded Wright and Doug Waechter, plus the oft-discarded Robinson Tejeda? Don't get me wrong, Tejeda's worth a look, and Wright has his uses on a staff as a mop-up reliever; it should just be on a stronger staff than one already counting on Ponson and Ramirez.

Unhappy Roster Situation: Well, there is the obvious depth issue, because Mike Aviles is backed up by Pena at short, and there's that ever-present funky brand of genius from Trey Hillman that has Aviles batting ninth. There's the Mark Teahen-is-a-second-baseman experiment that perhaps best reminds me of that wacky White Sox notion with making Steve Lyons a keystone guardian because they didn't have anybody else. (It didn't take.) Maybe learning the real-world lesson in player value that comes with casting Shealy and Costa upon the fates, and finding that the world, armed with the opportunity to have Shealy or Costa for the cost of a waiver claim, said "meh" and moved on. I'd put the retirement of Luke Hudson-briefly a fantasy fling in some quarters because he had an arm, two in fact-and molesting Metcalf on the road to Oklahoma City at roughly that same level, because Hudson wasn't really much of a find once found, while Metcalf's track record as a hitter in the minors has veered from diffident to disastrous. At least they made Gload go away, and might get something in return, but if the palate here hungers for Metcalf and Bloomquist, my concern is that the employer to be named later for Alfredo Amezaga is someplace known for its barbecue.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS
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Optioned C-Rs Bobby Wilson and Ryan Budde, 2B-R Sean Rodriguez, 3B-R Brandon Wood, and OF-S Reggie Willits to Salt Lake (Triple-A). [4/4]

This might look like a clean sweep of the kids among the position players, but with Maicer Izturis healthy enough to resume his role as the team's top utility infielder and the commitment to Robb Quinlan as the four-corners reserve with platoon applications, there went Rodriguez's slot. Wood might command more attention because of his well-worn status as a top prospect, but he can't really play short all that effectively, which leaves third base, which they're leaving to Chone Figgins, which means a return to Utah for Wood. Wood's upside might be Gary Gaetti or Dean Palmer, and his downside Pads '80s unhopefuls like Randy Asadoor and Tim Pyznarski-Assadoor might only be remembered by other Asadoors to be named later, and people who had the '86 set of Strat cards-but there's still enough wiggle in his projection to wonder about as well as dream on, so sending him back to Triple-A while they still have the option isn't the worst thing in the world, unless you're Brandon Wood. If Figgins and Howard/Howie Kendrick stay healthy and productive, the Angels won't mind, but if they get banged up again, the club can always turn back to Wood, as they did down the stretch last season.

No, instead of those guys, I guess what I find more exasperating is the lot of Reggie Willits. There's no reason beyond the lamentable 33 million reasons to go as far as employing the discontented Gary Matthews Jr. over Willits, but then there's the problem: compensation as destiny, and in no small part because the Angels still harbor hope that they can find a taker for more than a pro-rated fraction of the minimum for him. To some extent, I think this is more a matter of stupid media tricks and slow news days aplenty in the early going, but was the lament of Little Sarge one of the more over-reported news items running up to the opening of the season? Not that we can all admire the man for wanting to play, but he's not a clearly better choice than Willits, whatever mistakes the Angels made with their payroll decisions in the past. Think the Angels don't need their best possible reserve in the outfield? I wouldn't, not when you add in the early tendency to slot Vladimir Guerrero at DH and plug Juan Rivera into left field (plus arm or no, because they also want Bobby Abreu's allergy to balls over his head in right instead of left). Now, I know, we project each of them to a .264 EqA, so they're equally valuable in some sense, but Willits is younger, faster, and more patient. Add in his greater defensive value in either corner on a team that has three lead-footed alternatives among its regulars, and from a strict need-bases assessment, there's no reason to have Little Sarge instead of Willits.

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12

Unhappy Roster Situation: The Rotation. Having to deal with some amount of mystery in when Kelvim Escobar's going to be good to go goes with the territory, but then losing John Lackey until May Day or so and Ervin Santana until sometime thereafter stretched the Angels' rotation to it's eighth starting option. Last night's tragic loss of Nick Adenhart pushes them into reviewing Escobar's availability, but not too quickly, because with the combination of tonight's game being rescheduled and next week's offday, the Angels don't have to use a fifth starter before April 18th while still keeping the other four starters on four days' rest, and they may only need to use the slot again once more (on the 25th) before we get into the territory of Lackey's return to action. In the meantime, that puts Dustin Moseley and Shane Loux on the spot, because beyond those two we get into wondering if minor league veteran Matt Palmer could do too much damage, or if they might want to instead give Anthony Ortega a brief spin. It's a bad place for a defending division champion to be, but with Lackey, Santana, and Escobar all due back at some point, it's also transitory.

None of which erases the loss of Adenhart. After a fine camp and a nifty first start, the best young pitcher in the organization seemed ready for the challenge of starting, and he would have been a credit to a fine player development program's effort to support a regular contender. His loss-to family and friends as well as to the team and from their joint future-is incalculable.

MINNESOTA TWINS
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Placed C-L Joe Mauer on the 15-day DL (sacroiliac joint inflammation); placed RHP Scott Baker on the 15-day DL (shoulder stiffness), retroactive to 3/28; placed RHP Boof Bonser on the 15-day DL (shoulder surgery). [4/2]
Optioned INF-S Matt Tolbert to Rochester (Triple-A). [4/3]
Purchased the contract of RHP R.A. Dickey from Rochester; outrighted RHP Jason Jones to Rochester. [4/5]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, but it's not as bad as all that. With Baker on the DL perhaps only into the second week of the season, they'll be able to bump the rest of the rotation down a peg and make Dickey go away. The combination of Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris gives them a better pair of hitters for infield reserves than many teams,

Unhappy Roster Situation: Well, there's the double-secret rehab schedule for Joe Mauer, because all that rides on that is the Twins' shot at the postseason, given their complete dearth of depth when it comes to replacing lost offense should any of their premium players break down. A little thing, perchance.

When I called Dickey ubiquitous earlier, it's because you only need to wait 15 more minutes before he shows up on your roster. Be prepared for refried content belaboring his dabbling unsuccessfully with the knuckleball and his admirable cartilagenous medical freakery, if also a bit of the ixnay on discussing the erformance record-pay; at this point, the man's a walking Learning Channel special, and best avoided when there's hundreds of channels of better stuff elsewhere on the dial. Which makes the decisions to keep both Philip Humber and Brian Duensing on the active roster as long relievers, when both were starters on last year's Rochester squad, and to add Dickey, just that much more odd. If Baker's going to be back shortly, why haul up Dickey at all? If he's starting games for the Twins for any extended period of time, they're dead, and they'll end up having to turn to Humber or Duensing or Anthony Swarzak or Kevin Mulvey or somebody not named R.A. Dickey.

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Received Rule 5 pick MI-S Reegie Corona back from the Mariners. [4/3]
Purchased the contract of SS-S Ramiro Pena; assigned MI-R Angel Berroa to minor league camp; designated RHP Dan Giese for assignment (and lost him on a waiver claim by the A's); placed 3B-R Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day DL (labral hip tear), retroactive to 3/27. [4/4]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, without a worthwhile utility infielder, but at least the world's no longer living under the shadow of an Angel (Berroa). Add that to the crazed commitment to Jose Molina, some promise of less Nick Swisher in the lineup than makes sense, and the tepid excitement attending the triumph of Brett Gardner over Melky Cabrera in that oh-so-exciting fight for possession of center field. At least they do have the courage of their convictions as far as their bullpen, where Mariano, Marte, and the five Mo-buddies should comprise a good relief corps. How well Phil Coke works out as the token second lefty behind Marte is probably more than a bit less interesting than seeing how well Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Brian Bruney, and Jonathan Albaladejo turn out, and you shouldn't be surprised when Alfredo Aceves comes up to replace the first one of the four who fails, but all in all, it's nice to see the Yankees identify a space in which they do not have to spend top dollar to get solid work in support of their bid to return to relevance.

Unhappy Roster Situation: Now, if only they'd do likewise with some of their bench selections and how they handle their current predicament at third base. Mike Hessman gets dropped onto waivers, and the Yankees do... nothing? Mike Lamb? Dallas McPherson? I'm still trying to figure out which recently buried bodies are the ones that Cody Ransom knows about, because a contender shouldn't be this indifferent to its A-Rodlessness.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Acquired RHP Rocky Roquet from the Cubs for a PTBNL. [4/1]
Optioned LHP Gio Gonzalez, 1B-L Daric Barton, 3B-L Jack Hannahan, INF-S Cliff Pennington, and OF-R Chris Denorfia to Sacramento (Triple-A); placed OF-S Ben Copeland (strained shoulder) and RHP Justin Duchscherer (elbow surgery) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/27; placed RHP Joey Devine on the 60-day DL (sprained elbow); purchased the contract of LHP Brett Anderson from Sacramento; purchased the contracts of RHPs Andrew Bailey and Trevor Cahill from Midland (Double-A). [4/4]
Claimed RHP Dan Giese off of waivers from the Yankees, and optioned him to Sacramento; designated RHP Chris Schroder for assignment. [4/7]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, which makes some sort of sense when the rotation's in a state of flux. Beyond the scrum for rotation spots that barely wound up with enough survivors to round out the unit, there weren't that many surprises, apart from the nearly inevitable dispatch of Barton back to Sacramento. I suppose it's news that Landon Powell won the job of caddying for Kurt Suzuki behind the plate. Rajai Davis earned his shot to stick around as Ryan Sweeney's defensive replacement in center, and as the club's oft-used late-game pinch-runner for one of the lineup's assorted flat feet, and who then stays in for defense. Bobby Crosby showed enough utility in camp to justify a decision to not simply eat the last year of his deal; still, I wouldn't be surprised if Pennington is back in his place at some point this summer. As is, the team's also counting on Eric Chavez's initial health, for however long that lasts.

Unhappy Roster Situation: To go straight for the silver lining, the Opening Day rotation is a reflection of the backlog of talent the team's assembled in recent years; the problem is that Josh Outman and Anderson and Cahill weren't all supposed to be up already, but with Gio Gonzalez's effectiveness moving up and down and with Duchscherer on the DL for more than a month, choices had to be made. If anything, I am perhaps more surprised to see Dallas Braden among the starting five, but here again, those who get the initial shots don't enjoy many guarantees to keep their jobs if they struggle badly. You can interpret the snagging of Giese off of waivers as a straight bid to add a veteran right-handed alternative to the current four-lefties set among the starters.

Between Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi, and Jack Cust, somebody's going to get to sit quite a bit, and somebody's going to be playing in the field. Since Giambi and Cust move with all the grace of refugees from Jenner's seal colony, picking a defensive alignment is going to involve a season-long compromise where something's going to be ugly in a corner to be named later. With the health and productivity of Chavez in doubt, and Nomar's record for fragility to consider, there are very good chances that we'll see Hannahan and Barton back in relatively short order, presuming of course they don't fall into funks over their demotions.

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Optioned LHP Garrett Olson to Tacoma (Triple-A); placed LHP Cesar Jimenez on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/29; outrighted 4C-R Mike Morse to Tacoma; returned Rule 5 pick LHP Jose Lugo to the Twins. [4/1]
Placed OF-L Ichiro Suzuki on the 15-day DL (bleeding ulcer), retroactive to 3/31; returned Rule 5 pick MI-S Reegie Corona to the Yankees. [4/3]
Recalled 3B-R Matt Tuiasosopo from Tacoma; purchased the contracts of RHPs Chris Jakubauskas and Shawn Kelley and 1B-R Mike Sweeney from Tacoma; outrighted RHP Jesus Delgado to Tacoma. [4/4]
Signed RHP Jeff Zimmerman to a minor league contract. [4/7]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, and they sort of had to go the funny way round to get there. It was no surprise that dead wood like Morse wouldn't make it, or that Olson had a prayer of making the rotation, but keeping Rob Johnson as the back-up backstop was interesting in a way, as was keeping Sweeney to be part of a platoon of the ex-famous at DH. As further interesting instances of guys who hadn't caught many breaks getting new looks under new management, survivors like Jakubauskas and Kelley made the club's pen after a number of journeymen couldn't earn favor in camp. Kelley's the younger one with a nice sinker/slider combination that should keep him in the mix for a while. Jakubauskas is a former college hitter who went to the indie leagues and hung around long enough to get a look with the Mariners' organization in '07; already 30, he's fun to root for, but hard to invest a lot of faith in.

Unhappy Roster Situation: Moving Brandon Morrow back into the bullpen is the big, obvious, controversial move, but Ryan Rowland-Smith's an interesting starting choice as well, up to and until the time that they work up the nerve to cut bait with Jarrod Washburn. It's interesting that, with Ichiro! on the DL, they nevertheless decided to stick with a plan to have Jeff Clement in Tacoma; they just really want to take a long look at Franklin Gutierrez in center and Endy Chavez in left, because nothing beats seeing for yourself that guys who haven't hit well enough to be outfield regulars really can't hit well enough to be outfield regulars. Some statheads will blame the decision to sign Ken Griffey Jr., but that's a case of picking on the one old tree when you've got a full forest's worth of problems in the lineup. Happily, they are keeping Wladimir Balentien in the playing-time mix in the outfield, though.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Acquired RHP Aneury Rodriguez from the Rockies for RHP Jason Hammel; placed RHP Chad Bradford (elbow surgery), CF-R B.J. Upton (shoulder surgery), and OF-S Fernando Perez (wrist surgery) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/27; placed RHP Jason Isringhausen on the 15-day DL (elbow surgery), retroactive to 3/31. [4/5]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, with the wacky development (non-David Price category) being that, with Upton on the DL, Matt Joyce moves into center where he'll be platooned with imported Brewer Gabe Kapler (familiar with this kind of duty last season, when he helped cover for the suspended Mike Cameron), while Gabe Gross holds onto his job in right field. Since Upton's due back at the beginning of next week, something is going to have to give in short order, and Joyce's misfortune is that he's the guy with options, so merely outplaying Gross may not be enough.

Unhappy Roster Situation: The outfield crowd that's about to get one-Upton'd is just the start of it. Dealing away Hammel and handing the fifth slot to Jeff Niemann initially might look OK on paper (pretending David Price doesn't exist, of course), but it reflects the burgeoning problem with having too many useful-enough pitchers around, a roster crunch complicated by the low-cost investments in adding extra relief vets like lefty Brian Shouse and low-velo Joe Nelson. Add in the odd random camp performance-driven retention of Lance Cormier when they had no room for Hammel and will eventually have to bring Price back, and it's an odd mish-mash of moves. It should still add up to a quality pen-the core quartet of Troy Percival, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, and J.P. Howell is still in place, and if your fifth- and sixth-best relievers are Nelson and Shouse, that's not too shabby. The problem is that it didn't leave space for Hammel, let alone a charity case like Cormier, and once the organization gets around to bringing back Price, they'll either be using somebody else's injury as cover, or they'll have to undo something they shouldn't have elected to do in the first place.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Optioned MI-R Joaquin Arias and OF-S Brandon Boggs to Oklahoma City (Triple-A); released DH-L Frank Catalanotto. [4/1]
Noted the departure of recently acquired 1B-L Joe Koshansky via a waiver claim by the Brewers. [4/3]
Signed UT-R Esteban German to a minor league contract and assigned him to Oklahoma City; lost 3B-R Travis Metcalf to the Royals on a waiver claim. [4/7]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, in part because they didn't just hand a rotation spot to Kris Benson, they kept Scott Feldman around as his stalking horse, as well as clearing space for Jason Jennings. I guess the promises made to Feldman didn't add up to much, but that's one of the things about spring training and suckitude-somebody who sucked a little less and was once famous for something at some point can probably get your job by brushing his teeth and wearing matching socks. We'll see what it means now that the Ryan Plan's in place-bad work isn't supposed to be tolerated, but it takes more than a prayer meeting to fix a staff still counting on a few minor miracles.

Unhappy Roster Situation: Starting with the good, they did at least elect to cut bait with Catalanotto, and instead build a left-field platoon of David Murphy and Marlon Byrd (Davlon Murphyrd?), keep Andruw Jones, and stick with their plan to DH Hank Blalock. All they lost on this was money; however far he's fallen, it's worth seeing if there's something left of the old Andruw, just as it's worthwhile to take one more spin with Nelson Cruz and calculate that this time, this year, as he turns 29, he'll finally pan out. They also stuck with their commitment to keep Omar Vizquel as resident elder shortstop, to have the future Hall of Famer mentor Elvis Andrus-another honored commitment.

While there's plenty of good news, there is still that bullpen to worry about. Like Feldman, Josh Rupe wasn't much good last season, but he's still here too, as are Jason Jennings and Eddie Guardado. At least initially, shaking things up on this staff seems to be limited to making room for Kris Benson, but Dustin Nippert should heal up in plenty of time to give them a better alternative, and if the pressure's on anyone, it's on Matt Harrison and Brandon McCarthy to make the deals that brought them in look better by doing worthy deeds in the rotation.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Released RHP Matt Bush; optioned UT-L Joe Inglett to Las Vegas (Triple-A). [4/1]

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, but it's probably a necessary adaptation to their counting on Scott Richmond and Ricky Romero at the back end of the rotation. Happily, their three non-catcher reserves-John McDonald in the middle infield, Jose Bautista at third base and the outfield, and Kevin Millar at first base-at least notionally offer enough flexibility to keep them covered across the seven fielding positions beyond the battery. Unfortunately, McDonald's fielding numbers went through the floor last year, and he has no offensive value, while Millar's value as even a platoon partner for Adam Lind at DH or Lyle Overbay at first base is a desperate memory of the player he was several season ago. I don't think there's anything novel about the development that a team that might overpay an Overbay would also wind up with Millar.

Unhappy Roster Situation: Well, first let's start with the good news: Aaron Hill is back and Travis Snider is up, and whether you want to talk about reality or the fantasy world, that is good news. Besides the depth issues in the rotation and among their position players, and a few lamentable contracts solidifying their limited aspirations for mediocrity, I guess we can also look forward to the fact that they'll have J.P. Arencibia behind the plate at some point this season. To some extent, this season's ambitions were limited to keeping the Orioles in their rear-view mirror as soon as they realized they'd be without three-fifths of last year's rotation this year. They may still be able to pull it off, but if they get Snider, Romero, and Arencibia seasoned while Hill resumes his career as an effective regular, they'll be able to take some pride in the time spent.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Acquired RHP Jason Hammel from the Rays for RHP Aneury Rodriguez. [4/5]
Optioned LHP Franklin Morales to Colorado Springs (Triple-A); added Hammel to the active roster. [4/8]

Getting Hammel was a solid enough bit of shopping for a team that needs big league-ready pitching on its 40-man, but try to keep in mind that Rodriguez is a worthwhile prospect as well, and that Hammel's upside is the same as every fifth-starter type-a few things go right, and he might someday graduate to the better job security of being a fourth starter. He's big, he's healthy, and he throws hard; naturally, people want a small piece of that, but if his strikeout rates can't be sustained in a starting role, it'll be because his mediocre secondary stuff beyond that fastball might damn him in Denver to a future in the pen every bit as much as it already had in St. Petersburg.

The question was who Hammel would bounce from the big-league roster; they were already planning on optioning Franklin Morales to the SkySox to keep the fifth starter on turn after running him out onto the mound in Phoenix on Wednesday, but the planned bring-back was the execrable Matt Belisle on a ballclub already employing Jason Marquis, so opting out of that simply reflects the good sense to go with the new guy for the reason you traded for him in the first place. Even so, Morales should be back to resume his starting slot once the Rockies need to go back to a quintet in the rotation, at which point Juan Morillo's probably pre-booked for a trip back to Colorado Springs, triple-digit velocity or no.

Initial Roster Shape: 13-12, but with Clint Barmes, Ian Stewart, and Jeff Baker all sporting some amount of experience in the outfield, it's actually a five-man bench with a good amount of flexibility going for it. Add in that Omar Quintanilla can handle both spots in the middle infield, and you almost forget that they'll need the help to cover for DH-worthy glove work from Garrett Atkins at third and Brad Hawpe in right.

Unhappy Roster Situation: The unique agonies of employing Marquis de Sad in the rotation won't be alleviated nearly enough by the patent pleasure of letting him hit in Coors, but at least his days at the office should be exciting in all phases of the game.


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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