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September 10, 2009

Transaction Action

NL Roundup

by Christina Kahrl

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ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled RHP Bryan Augenstein from Reno (Triple-A). [9/2]
Purchased the contract of RHP Daniel Cabrera from Reno. [9/3]
Activated OF-R Eric Byrnes from the 15-day DL. [9/5]
Activated LHP Scott Schoeneweis from the 15-day DL. [9/7]
Recalled OF-L Trent Oeltjen and C-S Luke Carlin from Reno. [9/8]

There's something semi-sad about the attempt to resurrect Cabrera. He put 39 percent of the batters he faced in Reno aboard, and then 100 percent of the five in his D'backs debut before A.J. Hinch mercifully hooked him. In his return, Byrnes isn't guaranteed all that much playing time, no matter how large his contract, with Justin Upton back from the DL already, Chris Young getting the starts in center, and Gerardo Parra deserving consideration. The cost is already being borne, of course, so while Byrnes' best role was perhaps always as a marginal starter or a good fourth outfielder, the Snakes might have to bear the indignity of employing their own iteration of the overpriced outfield reserve, as if they were an honorary Los Angeles-area team.


CINCINNATI REDS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated C-R Ryan Hanigan from the 15-day DL. [9/9]

COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Designated RHP Adam Eaton for assignment; purchased the contracts of RHP Matt Belisle and SS-R Mike McCoy from Colorado Springs (Triple-A); recalled RHP Jhoulys Chacin and OF-R Matt Murton from Colorado Springs; recalled SS-R Chris Nelson from Tulsa (Double-A). [9/8]
Activated CF-S Dexter Fowler from the 15-day DL. [9/9]

Fowler's back and active, but with both Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez swinging hot bats, Jim Tracy initially elected to ride hot hands and put Fowler on the bench. It's a more interesting development than, say, Smith and CarGo pushing Ryan Spilborghs back into his platoon role, but I wouldn't suggest it means that Fowler's future is any less bright or that the Rockies don't still have all sorts of things to look forward to. I think the more interesting proposition is whether having Smith, CarGo, and Fowler will make Brad Hawpe acquirable in any off-season bargaining, but given Todd Helton's age and health concerns, I could also see them settling for keeping all of them as a form of roster reinsurance.


MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed 1B-L Nick Johnson on the 15-day DL (strained hamstring), retroactive to 8/17; recalled OF-R Brett Carroll from New Orleans (Triple-A). [8/26]
Optioned RHP Chris Volstad and 1B/3B-R Gaby Sanchez to New Orleans; recalled RHPs Tim Wood and Luis Ayala from New Orleans. [8/29]
Recalled RHP Rick VandenHurk, C-R Brett Hayes, and CF-R Cameron Maybin from New Orleans; designated RHP Luis Ayala for assignment; activated RHP Burke Badenhop from the 15-day DL. [9/1]
Activated 1B-L Nick Johnson from the 15-day DL; re-purchased the contract of INF-R Andy Gonzalez. [9/3]
Recalled LHP Andrew Miller from New Orleans. [9/6]
Recalled RHP Chris Volstad and 1B/3B-R Gaby Sanchez from New Orleans; activated RHP Brendan Donnelly from the 15-day DL. [9/8]

So, they went 6-11 and averaged 3.8 runs per game during Johnson's absence, pretty much scotching this whole playoffs thing while they tried to get by with Ross Gload and Wes Helms soaking up the at-bats while Jorge Cantu bounced across the infield corners. It could have been worse, of course-the Bonifacio menace was right there in the dugout the entire time, but Fredi Gonzalez successfully resisted falling back into his regrettable springtime temptations. Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez misses two of those games, and Dan Uggla has a cow-where was this noisier brand of leadership when, say, those Bonifacio-benighted lineup cards were being filed, day after day, week after week, month after month? Doesn't Dan Uggla want to win?

Setting aside tempests and teapots, the other good news is the corrected error of ever sending Maybin away for so long after getting down on him so soon. It's come in conjunction with Jeremy Hermida's injury-related inactivity, but given the slack hitting Hermida's put up (again), it's just as well that they're back to playing their center fielder of the future. Six stars and five extra-base hits later, and this should be the way things stay, no matter what's up with Hermida's oblique.

Finally, the other bit of news is that while they have Miller and Volstad back, neither have been slotted into the rotation. For the time being the Fish are sticking with Sean West and Rick VandenHurk behind Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez. VandenHurk's back woes might change that, and West and Sanchez are only managing quality starts half of the time since their reinsertions into the rotation, but neither Volstad or Miller helped themselves any with their work in New Orleans, leaving the proposition about what to do with their still-impressive assemblage of young pitching talent to a matter of picking favorites and sticking with them, which suggests that West and Sanchez will be left to their own devices until renewed curiosity about the others and workload concerns crop up.


LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Sent LHP Victor Garate to the Nationals to complete the Ronnie Belliard deal; activated 1B-L Doug Mientkiewicz from the 60-day DL. [9/2]
Activated RHP Hirkoki Kuroda from the 15-day DL. [9/6]


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Released RHP Jesus Colome. [9/6]
Purchased the contract of RHP John Axford from Nashville (Triple-A). [9/7]
Activated RF-R Corey Hart from the 15-day DL; recalled 4C-L Mat Gamel from Nashville. [9/8]

Axford's a nice little reminder that the relief bush bears enough berries pretty much year-round, so that everyone can snag a few without always having to pick through the more wrinkled-up pickings that have already hit the ground. A big, tall Canadian who was initially scouted as a hard-throwing prospect at Notre Dame, Tommy John surgery in 2004 sort of derailed his trajectory to the majors, so he wound up pitching in Canisius in 2006 to prove that his arm was sound. He wound up in the Yankees' system in 2007, bounced over to the Brewers last year, and has been rewarded for a good year across three levels of the minors, striking out 89 across 68 1/3 while walking 36. The lost time on his career and the slower development which seems associated with Canadian prospects help to give him some benefit of the doubt as a 26-year-old who opened the year in High-A; a fastball that touches 97 (but sits in the lower 90s) and a good sinker/slider combo make him simply interesting instead of a curiosity. He was going to be pitching for Team Canada in the World Cup, but the Brewers decided they'd rather have him on hand since they were going to have to add him to the 40-man anyway. At any rate, having scraped him up instead of shelling out top dollar on your run-of-the-mill ex-famous reliever, he stands a decent chance of sticking around given the arm and the stuff, and if he doesn't pan out, there's always more pickings to be sampled.

Naturally, the more notable name in terms of reinforcements belongs to Gamel, since he's in the picture for the third-base job for next year. While earlier in the year he did have to deal with the distraction of a call-up to spend a lot of time riding pine, it hasn't been a great season for the all-bat prospect. With Nashville, he hit .278/.367/.473, and just .256/.360/.392 in his 237 PA against right-handers. (Even so, he was walked intentionally by them nine times in that span.) Naturally, he has to do better than that for his bat to carry his glove, and add in the performance of Casey McGehee at the plate as well as in the field, and this has all the makings of a job-sharing arrangement next season. Naturally, it's still a step up from Bill Hall, but it's certainly less than what was expected from Gamel coming into the year.

*: Russ Springer or the like might beg to differ, of course, but not everyone likes raisins.


WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Released RHP Jorge Sosa; purchased the contracts of RHPs Logan Kensing and Zack Segovia from Syracuse (Triple-A); recalled RHP Marco Estrada, LHP Ross Detwiler, and SS-R Ian Desmond from Syracuse; transferred LHP Scott Olsen from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]

Desmond's the most noteworthy prospect in this group, although no doubt you may remember Detwiler from such disasters as June's rotation. Otherwise, Segovia and Estrada and Kensing might all have their uses in a big-league bullpen. Kensing still throws hard in the general direction of home plate, after all, while Estrada's been dutifully taking his turns in upper-level rotation work for the organization in a second season after making a brief big-league debut last season. Estrada's not a top prospect as much as someone with a viable bid for a back-end rotation slot, but 26-year-old right-handers with modest velocity and who throw strikes need a break or two to make it, even in this organization, and giving up four runs per nine for the Chiefs isn't exactly a way to turn heads. Segovia was perhaps last remembered during his days as a Phillies prospect; then, he got high marks as a big (read, chunky) kid and a hard worker, but then a 2004 TJS tripped him up, and he never really got back on track since.

So, it's usual suspects territory, except for Desmond. In his long association with the organization since being a teenage third-rounder picked in the 2004 draft, he's been bandied about as a prospect and then labeled a disappointment, only to arrive this fall still only 23 years old for all that. Unlike most shortstop prospects, he has some modest pop that really started showing up in 2007 in High-A; he ripped Double-A at a .306/.372/.494 clip in an initial reassignment to the level, and built on that by hitting .354/.428/.461 in seven weeks at Syracuse. His tools also include good speed on the bases (with 23 steals in 28 attempts this year) and the range and arm to be a good shortstop, but as this year's 28-error tally reflects, the complaint that he can be sloppy still appears to be a going concern. Given that Desmond arrived in the organization with such high expectations, you can't really refer to him as a sleeper, but as shortstop prospects go, he's perhaps somewhat underrated given the relative attention lavished on Alcides Escobar, for example. It certainly contributes to what might be an interesting proposition for Mike Rizzo this winter, since there might be a taker for Cristian Guzman.


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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