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September 14, 2009

Transaction Action

AL West Moves

by Christina Kahrl

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LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Purchased the contract of LF-R Chris Pettit from Salt Lake (Triple-A); recalled RHP Rafael Rodriguez, C-R Ryan Budde, OF-R Terry Evans, and UT-S Freddy Sandoval from Salt Lake. [9/8]

It's not a meaningless bunch, but there's some disappointment to be found in these ranks. First off, there's Evans, who was briefly a prospect when he busted out big-time in the Cardinals' system in 2006 as a 24-year-old organizational player, belting 22 homers in 81 games to garner enough attention that he brought the Birds back subsequent post-season hero Jeff Weaver in a mid-year deal. Evans hasn't really pushed the agenda any further since, having stalled out at Triple-A as a Juan Rivera Lite type, right down to losing a big chunk of time in 2008 to injury. This year was his age-27 season, and spending it in Utah hitting .291/.341/.520 (and .279/.322/.482 away from the hive in the rest of the still hitter-friendly PCL). To really let the air out of his numbers, his year translates to .234/.282/.425, or somewhere between Mark Brouhard and Dante Bichette on the utility scale for right fielders. Similarly, Freddy Sandoval also recently turned 27 and can't really play an up-the-middle position, so he's being rewarded as the good soldier, not because he has a future. Pettit's younger, having turned 25 in August, and his power was almost entirely a mountain country fiction as well. Rafael Rodriguez? Still live-armed, certainly, but 'non-premium role relief prospect' looks like an oxymoron just after typing it. Which leaves Budde, and not even the odd Claggart would envy a third catcher aspirant unlikely to ever graduate to the Internation Brotherhood of Backup Backstops.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned 1B-R Tommy Everidge to Sacramento (Triple-A); recalled UT-L Eric Patterson from Sacramento. [8/28]
Recalled LHPs Jerry Blevins and Dana Eveland from Sacramento (Triple-A); purchased the contract of LHP Brad Kilby from Sacramento. [9/1]
Activated INF-R Bobby Crosby from the 15-day DL; claimed RHP Jonathan Meloan off of waivers from the Pirates, and assigned him to Sacramento. [9/2]
Recalled RHP Clayton Mortensen from Sacramento. [9/4]
Purchased the contract of 1B/C-L Eric Munson from Sacramento; transferred LHP Dallas Braden from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/11]

Prospect-hungry A's fans waiting and wondering where Chris Carter, Brett Wallace, or even Adrian Cardenas might be have to live with the knowledge that they're all at an entirely disclosed location: the PCL playoffs. The River Cats will be going up against Memphis in the finals, having eliminated Tacoma in four games in the best-of-five series. Less prospect-y is Sacramento's rotation: Chris Gissell, Chad Reineke, Jerome Williams, and Shawn Chacon. Reineke and Williams are the "kids" in the quartet, since they're only 27, while Gissell and Chacon are already over 30. Indeed, Gissell "only" has six almost-full years of service in Triple-A because he spent two years pitching for Seibu in the Japanese leagues. None of which meant as a knock on any member of the foursome; all could be employable fifth starters in a big-league rotation, and Chacon might even rate as a fourth if not for his career-altering run-ins with authority. But all four clearly represent Triple-A's status as the game's great holding tank for big-league filler, and they'll have to settle for seeing if they can run up another PCL pennant for the greater glory of Sacramento before taking their chances as free agents this winter.

In the meantime, there are those who won't get glory on some Triple-A diamond, and will have to instead get by with the season's waning action in the majors. "Lucky Number" Blevins didn't have a great campaign in Sacramento, having struggled to show any kind of the normally anticipated situational value you might expect from a side-arming southpaw; at this point 26-year-old organizational soldier Brad Kilby might be a better bet to stick around, having gotten this far with a nifty slider to power 77 strikeouts against 23 walks in 64 1/3 IP at Sacto. Eveland got more hittable as the summer progressed; hauling him out of Sacramento did more to help the River Cats' post-season chances than help his prospects of coming back. Mortensen has been slotted into the rotation as the A's start throttling back on some of their other kids in the corps of starters, with Braden out for the year, Vin Mazzaro shelved with shoulder woes, and the club already employing fill-in starters such as Edgar Gonzalez and Brett Tomko.

As far as the position players, that's a little more simple, in that Kurt Suzuki's been running out of steam, hitting just .234/.260/.404 since the calendar flipped to August, so Munson gives them a body to turn to if Landon Powell has to come out of one of his starts behind the plate. The decision to bring back Patterson might have been a happy turn on a couple of levels, not just because it was made with an eye towards leaving first base to Daric Barton the rest of the way, but since he's only up to watch Ryan Sweeney get the majority of starts in right field, and without there being any actual fulfillment of the suggestion from a few months back that he might be converted into the A's-flavored alternative to Chone Figgins in a super-utility role, it's just a wasted promise so far.


SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed 1B-L Russell Branyan on the 15-day DL (herniated disk); recalled RHP Chris Jakubauskas from Tacoma (Triple-A). [8/29]
Activated 3B-R Adrian Beltre from the 15-day DL; recalled LHP Jason Vargas and 1B/OF-L Mike Carp from Tacoma. [9/1]
Recalled RHP Brandon Morrow from Tacoma. [9/8]
Released RHP Stephen Kahn; recalled LHP Garrett Olson, C-R Adam Moore, and 3B-R Matt Tuiasosopo from Tacoma. [9/13]

Tacoma went down hard in the PCL playoffs, but then again, they had to make do without Carp or Vargas or Morrow, so it wasn't like the Mariners were really letting the Rainiers be in it to win it. In Branyan's absence, it would be nice to see them give Carp some more time at first base than they have, but they've been bouncing in Jack Hannahan and Josh Wilson and Bill Hall and other such mission-critical luminaries in the lineup, as if September really was nothing more than spring training, leading to frivolous assignments like Jose Lopez's starts at first base. Carp didn't have a tremendous year for Tacoma, hitting .271/.372/.446 (and .272/.382/.477 against right-handers) in his age-23 season, but as a June 30 baby he's the youngest possible age-23 season kid, so it isn't like he's a Triple-A old-timer. Not that the Mariners shouldn't be more interested in re-signing Russell Branyan, but it would be worth reviewing what Carp's capable of right now.

Similarly, Tuiasasopo would stand a good look at third base, especially if the Mariners were out of the market for bringing back Beltre as a free agent; this latest throwin' Samoan managed to hit .281/.395/.518 in the second half after coming back from his early-season elbow surgery, which would suggest he's going to be worth looking at for the starting role next spring at the latest; you already know what myrmidons ranging from Beltre's expense to Hannahan's carbon-based existence will do for you.

The guy who shouldn't be forgotten about in all of this is Morrow, still. He's back and still starting, having done nothing but for the Rainiers. No doubt Mariners fans in attendance were stunned by the complete-game shutout with two strikeouts and a walk he worked against Iowa in Tacoma on August 14, since it didn't involve any of the wild wooliness we've come to associate with the right- hander. He wasn't overworked, not even in that game, throwing just 96 pitches, and never topping 90 in his four subsequent turns (or getting through the sixth inning, for that matter). It remains to be seen what the team does with him, but he's still starting, he's going to keep starting, and given that he's being tasked with pushing past the likes of back-end candidates like Doug Fister, "Mr." Lucas French, and "Alberto" Vargas, it would seem premature to despair overmuch. No, he's not going to be Tim Lincecum, but that doesn't make him useless.


TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated UT-R Esteban German and LHP Eddie Guardado from the 15-day DL; activated RHP Brandon McCarthy from the 60-day DL; recalled RHPs Warner Madrigal and Guillermo Moscoso and OF-S Brandon Boggs from Oklahoma City; purchased the contract of OF-R Craig Gentry from Frisco (Double-A); re-purchased the contract of C-R Kevin Richardson from Oklahoma City (Triple-A); designated RHP Thomas Diamond for assignment. [9/1]
Activated C-S Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the 15-day DL. [9/2]
Lost RHP Thomas Diamond on a waiver claim by the Cubs; recalled RHP Willie Eyre from Oklahoma City; traded OF-L Tim Smith and C-R Manuel Pina to the Royals for RHP Danny Gutierrez. [9/4]
Activated OF-R Andruw Jones from the 15-day DL. [9/8]

Most of these reinforcements aren't here for much more than back-slapping and butt-patting. Sure, Salty's "back," but in more of a witnessing role, having not caught a game since his reactivation, and playing once. Similarly, Jones has a lone start under his belt since being brought back. German's playing a good amount of third since Michael Young's breakdown, and he's been doing his thing by working his way on base, but he's pretty much the exception. Even in the outfield, with Josh Hamilton also shelved, most of the resulting open playing time's just going to Julio Borbon and David Murphy instead of picking between them, while Marlon Byrd plays center every day.

The difference is on the pitching side of the slate, not that relievers like Madrigal or Moscoso will get employed in key roles. No, what's actually up is Brandon McCarthy getting dropped back into the rotation in Dustin Nippert's place. Since both are bobbing around .500 in Support-Neutral Winning Percentage, that's as much a matter of preference as anything else, since it shouldn't necessarily make the difference in the increasingly desperate bid for the wild-card slot.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

Related Content:  Back,  The Who,  Triple-A,  Brandon Morrow,  Year Of The Injury,  Tacoma

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