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March 31, 1998

Transaction Analysis

March 27-31

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Signed INF Carlos Garcia; optioned OF Orlando Palmeiro to Vancouver; returned C Eric Helfand, INF Steve Scarsone and CF Gary Thurman to Vancouver; outrighted RHP William VanLandingham to Vancouver; acquired INF Craig Shipley from St. Louis for 2B Chip Hale. [3/30]

Ick. Adding Garcia and Shipley give them "options" to Paco Martin at second, but adding a guy who can't outhit DiSarcina and a perpetually unhealthy Aussie isn't really a boon to the club. William "the Copperhead" VanLandingham is thinking about rejecting the assignment and electing to be a free agent. Palmeiro and Thurman lost out to Damon Mashore for the spare outfield spot.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Optioned C Damian Miller, UT Hensley Meulens, and RHP Bob Wolcott to Tucson; released PH Darnell Coles. [3/28]

Placed INF Andy Stankiewicz on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 21. [3/29]

No surprising cuts here, although Wolcott may eventually resurface in the rotation. The only frightening thing here is the notion that Stanky has a guaranteed contract for more than the major league minimum, courtesy of his past connection to Buck Showalter.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Placed LHP Damian Moss on the 15-day DL (strained left elbow), and optioned 1B Randall Simon and RHP Paul Byrd to Richmond. [3/28]

Simon lost out to Curtis Pride for the LH-pinch hitter role, which isn't a bad thing for the Braves. Byrd lost out to the swarm of unknown men (Ligtenberg, Cather, and now Adam Butler) who were part of the stretch-drive internal upgrade of the pen from last season.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Purchased the contract of SS Ozzie Guillen from Rochester; assigned INF P.J. Forbes, Cs Charlie Greene and Melvin Rosario, LHP Doug Johns, RHP Nerio Rodriquez, 3B Ryan Minor, and OF Jesus Tavarez to minor-league camp. [3/29]

Well, Phil Regan had Manny Alexander, so naturally, Ray Miller needs Ozzie Guillen.

BOSTON RED SOX

Optioned LHP Brian Shouse and 2B Lou Merloni to Pawtucket. [3/28]

Agreed to terms with LF Billy Ashley and Korean P Jin Ho Cho on minor league contracts. [3/30]

Merloni has no business sitting behind Mark Lemke at this point of their careers. Ashley could wind up providing some outfield power that this club so desperately needs. Shouse lost out in the bullpen shuffle (essentially to Eckersley), which leaves Steve Avery as the pen's lone lefty.

CHICAGO CUBS

Purchased the contracts of LHPs Terry Mulholland and Ben VanRyn from Iowa; designated CF Terrell Lowery and LHP Alan Mahaffey for assignment; sent the contracts of RHP Kurt Miller and OF Pedro Valdes outright to Iowa. [3/30]

Mulholland's grip on the fifth spot in the rotation was never in doubt, but a month from now, it will be. VanRyn finally gets his chance, and he ought to be a good lefty middle man; the other bullpen spot belongs to Amaury Telemaco, who could wind up surprising people as a long reliever. Cutting Lowery loose to keep both Sandy Martinez and Tyler Houston seems pathetic, and Rule V pick Mahaffey will probably get re-claimed by the Twins. Valdes has his boosters (don't count me among them), but his value to opposing GMs is pretty clear, since he cleared waivers easily enough.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Purchased the contracts of SS Mike Caruso, DH Ruben Sierra, and OF Lou Frazier from Calgary; designated SS Benji Gil, 2B Sergio Nunez and LHP Bryan Ward for assignment. [3/30]

Frazier will join Cordero as the players with past associations with Jerry Manuel; almost any manager is going to want to have a player or two who knows him from a previous employer, and in this situation, Frazier will be more useful to the team as a sounding board and snitch than for anything he does as a glorified pinch-runner. His Bald Badness (Sierra) will apparently not be starting during Cordero's absence; Manuel has said that Greg Norton will start at first, with Frank Thomas DHing. Gil may elect to go to Calgary, where he'll get to work with hitting coach Von Joshua, which would probably be a good thing for him. The Sox may yet elect to trade him.

CINCINNATI REDS

Traded RHP Dave Burba to Cleveland for 1B Sean Casey. [3/30]

Casey may be a slightly more powerful version of Mark Grace, with significantly less ability in the field; in other words, not too similar to Grace. Casey ought to be the team's regular 1B by May, Jack McKeon's stance vis-a-vis Eduardo Perez notwithstanding. As for the rotation, this pushes Mike Remlinger into the Opening Day slot, followed by Brett Tomko, Pete Harnisch, Steve Cooke, and Dave Weathers. I kid you not, Dave Weathers, over Gabe White. That's an unfortunate choice, but it is only the fifth spot in the rotation.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Re-assigned LHP John Cummings and 1B Sean Casey to Buffalo. [3/28]

Traded 1B Sean Casey to Cincinnati for RHP Dave Burba. [3/30]

Announced that C Ron Karkovice had been placed on Buffalo's DL. [3/30]

Optioned RHP Steve Karsay and LHPs Tom Martin and Ron Villone to Buffalo; designated C Einar Diaz for assignment; placed RHP Dwight Gooden on the 15-day DL (right shoulder stiffness); purchased the contract of INF Edwin Perez and optioned him to Columbus (A); purchased the contracts of C Pat Borders and INF Jeff Manto from Akron (AA). [3/30]

The other shoe drops, and the ripple effect of getting one year of Matt Williams and now Travis Fryman, and the extension to Dave Justice, does a little more damage to the Indians' long-term future. Burba isn't a bad pickup to be the team's second starter, but even so, Nagy, Wright, and Colon are health risks, and Gooden, even when he gets healthy, is no prize. Losing Gooden doesn't hurt too badly, since the Indians don't expect to need a fifth starter for two weeks, and they're hoping Chad Ogea will be ready by then. In that light, Karsay's cut is no surprise, although it is surprising that both Martin and Villone lost out to Alvin Morman for the role of second lefty in the pen. All in all, a few days' of surgeries, band-aids, and future-robbing for John Hart in his quest to win now or never.

DETROIT TIGERS

Purchased the contract of DH Pete Incaviglia; placed LHP John Rosengren on the 60-day DL (left elbow sprain). [3/27]

On a team already committed to Luis Gonzalez and Bip Roberts, Inky will fit right in.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Signed LHP Chris Hammond to a minor league contract, and assigned him to Charlotte. [3/27]

Hammond may come up to join the rotation at some point, if/when Brian Meadows struggles.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Placed RHP Chris Holt on the 15-day DL (offseason shoulder surgery); placed RHP Ramon Garcia on the 15-day DL (right elbow strain); placed OF Ray Montgomery on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 22. [3/30]

Holt's still expected back by the end of the month, although the prognosis for Garcia has him out for longer than that. Larry Dierker is already talking about starter either Trever Miller or Jose Lima, and neither should kill the Astros. In a big park, with a potentially great offense, either could have the best year of his career (as Garcia did last year).

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Placed RHP Kevin Appier on the 60-day DL; claimed RHP Danny Rios off waivers from the Yankees. [3/27]

Reassigned RHP Lee Smith to minor league camp. [3/28]

Placed LF Jeff Conine on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 25th; transferred OF Rod Myers from the 15- to the 60-day DL; purchased the contracts of 3B Terry Pendleton and RHP Pat Rapp; optioned C Sal Fasano and RHP Danny Rios to Omaha; optioned RHP Jose Santiago to Wichita (AA); reassigned C Joe Kmak to minor-league camp. [3/30]

Why do people keep bringing Lee Smith back? Like Jeff Reardon before him, there's no magical ability to close games: you can either pitch or you can't, and ol' Lee Arthur Smith can't pitch any more. Anyways, he's sulking, and will probably reject the assignment. As for real baseball, with the injury to Conine the Royals will have first basemen Larry Sutton and Hal Morris manning the outfield corners, which should be creative in terms of runs for both the Royals and their opponents. Luckily for their opponents, they'll be DHing Pendleton until Conine's return. As expected, Pat Rapp won a rotation spot, and if he's going to come back anywhere, it may as well be in the Royals' spacious park.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Optioned LHP Denny Reyes to Albuquerque, and assigned UT Garey Ingram to Albuquerque. [3/30]

Reyes lost out to Dreifort for the fifth spot, and will return to the nasty offensive environment of Albuquerque. Don't be surprised if he blows out his arm this year, straining to get back despite already carrying a large workload last season.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Released RHP Ben McDonald; purchased the contract of 1B Bob Hamelin; placed CF Darrin Jackson on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 23. [3/30]

It isn't a surprise that Hamelin snagged a roster spot; he'll be the insurance for John Jaha that the team lacked last season. McDonald's release must have been less expensive than collecting his insurance; either way, he's still not going to pitch this season, and I suspect it may have even made Sal Bando feel good, just to do it, after last year's chicanery that triggered the incentive clause that enabled Big Ben's big contract for '98.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Optioned LHP Travis Miller, RHP Fred Rath, and 3B Corey Koskie to Salt Lake City; optioned CF Torii Hunter and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz to New Britain (AA); reassigned C Jayhawk Owens and UT Jon Shave to minor league camp. [3/28]

Koskie and Mientkiewicz fought long and hard for roster spots, only to be denied. However, what did happen was that Javy Valentin made it as the backup catcher, and 1B David Arias played his way onto the major league roster. So, amidst the Nixonian dreck and the Merced morass, there are a couple of players with futures to go with Todd Walker.

MONTREAL EXPOS

Signed RHP Ugueth Urbina to a three-year contract with a club option for 2001; signed INF Mike Mordecai to a one-year contract with a club option for 1999. [3/27]

Optioned C Raul Chavez, LHP Steve Kline, RHP Carl Pavano to Ottawa; placed C Bob Henley on the 15-day DL; released CF Chuck Carr; purchased the contracts of PH Derrick May, 3B Scott Livingstone, and RHP Mike Maddux; Claimed C Mike Hubbard off waivers from the Cubs. [3/30]

These moves beg the question: why have both Derrick May and Scott Livingstone? At least Livingstone has been pretty good in the past as a pinch-hitter, while May has only slightly better credentials than radio host Chris Gwynn to still be in a major league uniform. Pavano will certainly be back later on, while Hubbard will be Widger's caddy right now.

NEW YORK METS

Traded RHP Juan Acevedo to St. Louis Cardinals for LHP Rigo Beltran. [3/29]

Reassigned INF Craig Paquette to minor-league camp; purchased the contracts of Cs Tim Spehr and Jim Tatum; moved LHP Hector Mercado from the 15- to the 60-day DL; released PH Joe Orsulak. [3/30]

Well, I would have tried to get more for Acevedo than Beltran, but clearly, Juan was gone. Paquette will probably be back in a month, after the Mets figure out 12 pitchers never makes sense. The catching situation of Spehr, Alberto Castillo, and Jim Tatum to pinch-hit for whichever one starts is ugly, but at least it isn't as bad as, say, Mike Matheny.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Purchased the contracts of Cs A.J. Hinch and Izzy Molina, INF Jason Wood and DH Kevin Mitchell; optioned CF Ryan Christenson to Edmonton; reassigned C Damon Berryhill and UT Jack Voigt to minor-league camp; placed RHP Willie Adams, SS Miguel Tejada, INF Kurt Abbott, and OF Brian Lesher on the 15-day DL, all retroactive to March 22nd; placed C George Williams on the 60-day DL. [3/30]

As expected, Hinch secured the starting job, and as expected, Tejada and Abbott won't be ready on opening day, meaning Raffy Bournigal starts. What's disappointing is that Jason McDonald won the starting centerfield job on the basis of having been on the roster last season, despite Ryan Christenson's outplaying him in every aspect of the game both this year and last. Another "surprise" is that the A's decided to keep Kevin Mitchell around instead of Jack Voigt, when Voigt can play a few positions and pound LHPs as well as Mitchell might as half of a DH platoon with Matt Stairs.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Reassigned OF Manny Martinez to minor-league camp; placed LHP Ricardo Rincon on the 15-day DL (strained right hamstring), retroactive to March 22. [3/27]

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Traded LHP Rigo Beltran to the Mets for RHP Juan Acevedo. [3/29]

Traded INF Craig Shipley to Anaheim for 2B Chip Hale. [3/30]

Optioned RHP Curtis King to Memphis; waived OF Vince Coleman. [3/30]

King's demotion may surprise people who got all excited about him last fall, but he isn't really a good prospect, and he pitched like crap in camp. He earned the cut, and he doesn't necessarily deserve a recall, especially now that real prospects like Cliff Politte and Braden Looper will make the opening day roster, let alone Mike Busby. Shipley was squeezed out by the perplexing decision to sign Dave Howard for the Wasted Gallego Roster Spot.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Optioned RF Jacob Cruz, SS Wilson Delgado, and INF Matt Howard to Fresno. [3/30]

Cruz lost out to Alex Diaz of all people. Heck, I'm glad its not my team. Delgado had a reasonably good camp, but they're going to have to actually take live action to sort out that Rey Sanchez is still a stiff, and that Rich Aurilia can play, so this can't be considered too surprising.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Purchased the contracts of C John Marzano and OF Glenallen Hill from Tacoma; placed INF Giomar Guevara on the 60-day DL; claimed OF Ryan Radmanovich on waivers from Minnesota and optioned him to Tacoma; designated RHP Jose Paniagua for assignment. [3/27]

Claimed OF Robert Perez off waivers from Toronto and added him to their major league roster; recalled OF Charles Gipson from Tacoma; optioned RHP Felipe Lira to Tacoma; placed OF Rob Ducey on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 27; placed RHP Rafael Carmona on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 22nd; placed LHP Tim Davis and OF Raul Ibanez on the 60-day DL. [3/30]

Fun with the waiver wire for the talent-starved Mariners. Because the bottom half of their 40-man roster is junk, they can afford to claim Perez, Paniagua, and Radmanovich; they may be castoffs, but they're better than anyone on the Rainiers. Radmanovich is actually in a perfect situation, in that he may get to push for some playing time in LF with the Mariners, since Glenallen Hill will be an ugly spectacle in left.

TEXAS RANGERS

Acquired C Chris Tremie from Philadelphia, and assigned him to Oklahoma City. [3/27]

Optioned INF Scott Sheldon and UT Joe Hall to Oklahoma City. [3/29]

Assigned OF Warren Newson to Oklahoma City; purchased the contract of OF Mike Simms from Oklahoma City; announced they will reassign LHP Larry Thomas on March 30; announced the retirement of RHP Jose Guzman. [3/29]

I'm a bit surprised that Simms won the fight for the final roster spot, but he offers right-handed power, and I guess Oates felt that was what he needed from his bench instead of the Deacon's solid offensive contributions or Sheldon's ability to push Elster or Hall's versatility. Now that Gil's been cut from the Sox, and Thomas and Levine have been cut by the Rangers, does anyone want to venture what anyone got out of the deal? Well, besides a better bullpen in Okie City...

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Placed RHP Erik Hanson on the 15-day DL (right shoulder soreness), retroactive to March 26; optioned 3B Tom Evans to Syracuse; announced 2B Pat Kelly refused a minor-league assignment and opted for free agency. [3/30]

Hanson has basically lost out in the fight for the last rotation spot to Woody Williams (Chris Carpenter has been considered a lock in the fifth spot), and the team also felt more comfortable with keeping Robert Person up as a long reliever. Look for him to be dealt or spend an extended rehab assignment in the minors. Tom Evans is the victim of one of Ed Sprague's patented hot streaks that have kept him in the majors this long. Unfortunately for Sprague, it was when the games didn't count, so when he starts his usual long, ugly, o-fer streaks, Tim Johnson will have the choice between a bad defender with Jim Presley's offensive skills, or a good defender with moderate power and a good eye at the plate. If the Jays want to help themselves, they'll wind up picking Evans.

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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