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September 6, 2009
Assorted Central Moves
Recalled RHP Jhonny Nuņez from Charlotte (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Daniel Hudson from Charlotte. [9/3]
Hudson's already something of an in-season darling as a coming prospect, having essentially come out of relative anonymity as a fifth-round pick from Old Dominion last summer to become one of the White Sox's top prospects. He's got plus command of a plus fastball, plus a slider, so you can just cue Ralphie Parker's teacher Miss Shields, because where Hudson's concerned, "plus" seems to come up a lot. Already gifted with a power pitcher's frame, he's been dominating all summer, allowing just 2.7 R/9 in 147
So, a rapid and earned promotion is promising enough, what are his immediate prospects like? Since Carlos Torres and Freddy Garcia have both been looking good in their turns in the rotation behind the established front three (and with Jake Peavy still on the DL), Hudson is sort of lined up behind them as opportunities go at present. Nevertheless, September being September, he stands a good chance of getting a spot start as the season winds down, and then figures to be in position to contest the fifth slot with Torres and whatever veteran gets hauled in or retained (in the case of Garcia or Bartolo Colon) next spring. Suffice to say that Hudson's development (as well as that of Torres) certainly made the Peavy trade that much more affordable from the perspective of sheer depth, not to mention it made Jose Contreras entirely disposable. Going into next spring, the Sox certainly have an under-contract crew to staff a quality rotation with.
The question is whether or not they'll also be able to replace the odd free agent to be, say a veteran reliever certain like Octavio Dotel. On that score, Nuņez might be a reasonable fix. Having come over from the Yankees in the Nick Swisher trade, Nuņez already made his debut earlier this season, and has enjoyed a fine first year in the organization. His upside is probably just that of aspiring ROOGY hoping he lands with a skipper willing to carve out that kind of role, but given that Ozzie Guillen's already sort of limited Dotel to that sort of purpose, this might be a relatively clean case of swapping out the old man for a worthwhile cheaper alternative. Nuņez has heat that touches 95 while sitting in the lower 90s, an inconsistent slider, and a lower-angle delivery that might define his limitations as a righty-killer with platoon issues. Happily, between Double- and Triple-A, he's held righties to .176/.245/.301. The stuff's there, but with non-star relief candidates, you never really know, but Nuņez has certainly earned the consideration.
Purchased the contracts of RHP Jose Veras and OF-L Michael Brantley from Columbus (Triple-A); recalled RHP Carlos Carrasco from Columbus. [9/1]
Purchased the contract of LHP Mike Gosling from Columbus; activated OF-S Trevor Crowe from the 15-day DL. [9/4]
Well, for Carrasco, the future starts now, and as I said at the time of the trade that put Cliff Lee in Philly, he really sort of has to be all that. Although rocked in his debut, he was good during his six spins with the Clippers (striking out 36 against seven walks in 42
Activated RHP Jeremy Bonderman from the 15-day DL; recalled RHPs Casey Fien and Eddie Bonine, C-R Dusty Ryan, and OF-R Wilkin Ramirez from Toledo (Triple-A); purchased the contract of SS-R Brent Dlugach from Toledo; recalled INF-S Mike Hollimon from Toledo and placed him on the 60-day DL. [9/1]
Recalled RHP Armando Galarraga and 4C-L Jeff Larish from Toledo; purchased the contract of UT-L Don Kelly from Toledo. [9/5]
Between assorted worries over Jarrod Washburn's knee and Rick Porcello's total workload, Galarraga's back in time to get a turn in the rotation, almost as if he'd never really been bumped in the first place. Happily, Nate Robertson's nice pair of turns helps ease matters some, as Galarraga got rocked yesterday badly enough to give hope to the likes of Bonine should Jim Leyland decide on placeholding and spacing gambits with his starting staff. Decidedly not helping out on that score will be Bonderman, as he'll be left in the pen for the balance of the season, a role in which he might get added to the post-season roster, but not necessarily.
Traded RHP Danny Gutierrez to the Rangers for OF-L Tim Wood and C-R Manuel Piņa. [9/4]
Recalled RHP Carlos Rosa from Omaha (Triple-A); purchased the contracts of RHP Victor Marte and LHP Dusty Hughes from Omaha. [9/5]
The Royals have a brief history of squabbling with Gutierrez (he's also represented by Scott Boras), so while he was one of the organization's best prospects coming into the season, I suppose the trade isn't really surprising; he'd spent most of the year rehabbing his shoulder (and arguing about that) before coming back to pitch effectively the last month in High-A. There, he pitched well enough to remind everyone he still has a power assortment, blending low-90s heat and a nice big-bending curve. They didn't get all that much back for him. Piņa's a 22-year-old Venezuelan catch-and-throw type who's at Double-A and doesn't seem like to transcend a ceiling as somebody's spare catch-and-throw guy, either playing regularly at Triple-A or backing up a big-league starter. Wood's a 23-year-old Canadian corner outfielder with a good eye for contact but little power and not a ton of patience, so he's basically organizational filler as well, although he does come with the cachet of playing for Team Canada in the World Cup. Yippee. As hard-up as the organization is for position-playing prospects, this seems more a matter of ditching a player they got tired of dealing with than the acquisition of any meaningful talent. Add in that the Royals need everything, and this exchange comes across as stranger still.
Recalled INF-L Brian Buscher from Rochester (Triple-A). [9/1]
Activated LHP Glen Perkins from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to Rochester. [9/2]
Recalled INF-S Matt Tolbert from Rochester. [9/4]
Although he's now no longer on the DL, Perkins appears to be done for the season, having had a third MRI and clashed with management on the subject of his shoulder. As Brian Duensing and Jeff Manship have demonstrated in their stint of rounding out the rotation behind the veteran front three of Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Carl Pavano, however, that's hardly the end of the world. If the Twins come up short, it won't be because they were shy of starting pitching, but because they didn't have a start-worthy player at second, third, or short, and because Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young keep finding ways to kick the can just over the horizon as far as their ever developing is concerned.
Recalled RHP Justin Berg and 1B/OF-L Micah Hoffpauir from Iowa (Triple-A); activated MI-S Andres Blanco from the 15-day DL. [9/1]
Activated RHP David Patton from the 15-day DL. [9/2]
Claimed RHP Thomas Diamond off of waivers from the Rangers, and optioned him to Iowa; recalled INF-S Bobby Scales from Iowa. [9/4]
Recalled RHP Esmailin Caridad from Iowa. [9/6]
Hoffpauir didn't do anything with his three weeks or so in Iowa as far as getting his stroke back, so there are only really two noteworthy elements here. First, there's the Cubs having the space on the 40-man to claim the oft-injured Diamond. Now 26 years old, and far removed from his days as the tenth overall selection in the 2004 draft (let alone his blue-chip status, but between Tommy John surgery that cost him his 2007 season and an ankle issue which handicapped his comeback in 2008, it's worth recognizing this as a flyer worth taking if you can afford to devote the space. After early-season shoulder soreness and ineffectiveness got Diamond bumped back down to Double-A, Diamond's been moved to the pen and struggled with his command, walking 37 while striking out 50 in 44
The other name of note is the return of Rule 5 pick David Patton from the DL after having spent an extended on/off/on rehab stint to log a few innings and remain on the 40-man while not actually having to be active for almost two months. While the Cubs' season can be written off as an expensive setback for the win-now ballclub, I suppose there's some slender solace to be found in the organization's effective management of the by-now traditional slow-healing injuries that invariably afflict Rule 5 picks in more creative organizations, so that they can afford to kick him back to the minors next season for some more extended work in the upper minors.
Optioned 1B-L Kevin Barker to Louisville (Triple-A); recalled LHP Matt Maloney from Louisville. [8/29]
Optioned LHP Matt Maloney to Carolina (Double-A); optioned RHP Carlos Fisher to Sarasota (High-A); placed OF-L Laynce Nix on the 15-day DL (bulging cervical disc); activated RHP Johnny Cueto from the 15-day DL; recalled RHP Ramon Ramirez and 1B-L Kevin Barker from Louisville. [8/31]
Purchased the contract of LHP Pedro Viola from Louisville; transferred INF-L Danny Richar from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/2]
Starting Cueto in a lost cause seems somewhat nuts, but the Reds appear committed to being careful with his workload, and who knows, maybe they'll get him that all-important '10' in the win column before the year's up. As is, they're starting and surviving with Kip Wells and Panzer Lehr doing entirely adequate work in their turn, and three straight quality starts from Homer Bailey apparently put a candle in the window where his prospect status had formerly been on display.
Still, it's a bit of a risk that's being run with Cueto, and adding that on top of the proposition that they're now "planning" on making Micah Owings a latter-day Brooks Kieschnick, it sort of smacks of creativity as notable for a certain pointlessness as it is for being surprising. Given that the Reds are relying on journeymen like Wells and Lehr-who you know won't take you anywhere you want to go-and running Cueto back out there to very little point, why turn a guy who might be able to contribute as a starting pitcher into a mop-up reliever who pinch-hits? That's a plan? As much as Owings has struggled this season, between pitching in a bandbox, pitching for Dusty Baker, and pitching with a bum shoulder for portions of the program, why write him off as a starter already when you're slumming around already, rotation-wise?
That's not to say Owings won't be fun to follow in this "planned" (or perhaps "resorted to") role, since he can still hit as well as a few people starting in the team's outfield, but why belatedly laud the merits of the man as a long reliever you don't have to pinch-hit for when you might instead double your pleasure by getting a fifth starter who bats seventh or so in the lineup? Kieschnick wound up in his "role" as two-way playing-time sponge because that's what was left to him after initially trying to be made into an everyday outfielder after starring as a two-way player in college; he didn't really take up pitching again until his age-30 season. Owings isn't even 27 yet, and while he hasn't managed to build on his fine rookie season in '07, his '08 fell apart after he got hurt halfway in. Given that the Reds aren't going to contend anyways, why write a guy off after less than a season's worth of starts?
Placed RHP Alberto Arias on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring), retroactive to 8/24; recalled RHP Wilton Lopez from Corpus Christi (Double-A). [8/28]
Activated 3B-R Aaron Boone from the 60-day DL; activated RHP Doug Brocail and LHP Wesley Wright from the 15-day DL. [9/1]
Recalled C-R J.R. Towles from Round Rock (Triple-A). [9/4]
Outrighted UT-S Matt Kata to Round Rock. [9/5]
Recalled RHP Chris Smith and SS-R J.J. Hardy from Nashville (Triple-A). [9/1]
Purchased the contract of OF-L Corey Patterson from Nashville; activated RHP Jesus Colome from Nashville. [9/4]
In the desultory "mission accomplished" moments file, I suppose the Brewers can take absolute satisfaction in that they've successfully extended contractual control over Hardy another season, gave him the chance to bop four unimportant home runs for the greater glory of Nashville, and got three weeks of nearly identical production at the plate from Alcides Escobar in the meantime. Such feats are far from herculean, of course, but if they're going to peddle one of the two for the best available pitcher (probably Hardy, having manipulated his service time so transparently), but let's face it, a better Brewers ballclub can't happen overnight. Credit Doug Melvin for doing what he had to from a Realpolitik perspective to maxmimize Hardy's value to a future trading partner. As easy as it is to be sympathetic on the subject, if Hardy really wants to get upset about it, keep in mind that he had a 2009 season bad enough to provide the fig leaf that made such a thing remotely possible.
Optioned INF-R Brian Bixler to Indianapolis (Triple-A); recalled RHP Daniel McCutchen from Indianapolis; designated RHP Jon Meloan for assignment (and lost him on a waivers claim by the Athletics). [8/31]
Recalled RHP Virgil Vasquez and 3B-S Neil Walker from Indianapolis. [9/1]
Traded RHP Joel Collins to the Giants. [9/2]
Walker's been something of a disappointment as prospects go, certainly, but there's still something worth watching here, as he did manage to paste right-handers in Triple-A at a .278/.319/.527 clip, and given that this was his age-23 season, I don't think we need to hold a pity party or simply give up just yet. He's not going to be a great third baseman, but that sort of hitting usually gets some sort of opportunity somewhere, and if Walker winds up playing third, being a useful four-corners part-timer, or even moving back behind the plate (with Ryan Doumit being a case in point of never saying never), I'd think Walker's worth having around. The real problem for him is that he's got to best Andy LaRoche now (although that might be next year's platoon) with Pedro Alvarez coming up behind, but I guess I would expect a guy some have written off already to be doing a lot worse before I'd throw in the towel.
Activated 3B-R Troy Glaus from the 15-day DL. [9/1]
Activated RHP Todd Wellemeyer from the 15-day DL. [9/3]
In a nice bit of timing, beyond adding John Smoltz and getting pretty good work from him in August, Mitchell Boggs managed consecutive quality starts against bad teams after being reinserted into the rotation, so Wellemeyer's bid for a spot on the post-season roster may have more to do with what he shows the team in middle relief in the next four weeks. He may also get a chance to start as the season winds down and should Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan, and the club's brass elect to rest anyone (especially Chris Carpenter) and line up their playoff rotation-there's still that choice between Smoltz and Kyle Lohse for who gets to be fourth starter in the postseason, after all-but such assignments are more meaningful for Wellemeyer's impending free agency than it should be for the Cardinals in anything other than a logistical sense. In that vein, their aggressiveness in getting Glaus onto the field is equal parts getting Mark DeRosa and Albert Pujols some rest as it is a fact-finding exercise to see if Glaus can contribute in the postseason. Since they similarly don't know what to expect from Khalil Greene, there's certainly reasons to watch Cardinals ballgames, but in that light, not whether they wind up more or less than 10 games up on the Cubs when regular-season play comes to an end.