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September 22, 2009

Transaction Action

Moving and Shaking in the AL East

by Christina Kahrl

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BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled RHPs Chris Lambert and Bob McCrory and LHP Chris Waters from Norfolk (Triple-A); purchased the contracts of C-R Guillermo Rodriguez and 2B-R Justin Turner from Norfolk; placed CF-R Adam Jones on the 15-day DL (sprained ankle), retroactive to 9/2; transferred RHP Brad Bergesen and OF-R Lou Montanez from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]
Aquired LHP Sean Henn from the Twins; transferred CF-R Adam Jones from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/9]
Placed RHP Kam Mickolio on the 15-day DL (shoulder inflammation), retroactive to 9/7. [9/17]
Placed OF-R Nolan Reimold on the 15-day DL (Achilles tendonitis). [9/18]
Activated OF-R Lou Montanez from the 60-day DL; transferred RHP Koji Uehara from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/19]

Most of this is gearing back down as the season wraps up. Reimold and Bergesen both have realtively clean shots at jobs next spring, so the playing time will just go to people who may or may not even be with the organization next spring, like Jeff Fiorentino in left field or Michael Aubrey at first base, and Mark Hendrickson in the rotation, because you do have to play the games, and who knows, maybe things work out really well and Fiorentino sticks as a fourth outfielder, Aubrey redeems his former prospect status and winds up starting at first, and Hendrickson... well, he goes away.

Acquiring Henn seems a matter of Andy MacPhail and the first team he ran doing one another the most minute of favors, although with Henn's above-average velocity for a lefty, you can imagine he might stick on the 40-man over the winter and get an extended look next spring.


BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted INF-R Chris Woodward to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [9/13]
Activated RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka from the 60-day DL. [9/15]
Re-purchased the contract of INF-R Chris Woodward from Pawtucket; placed RHP Junichi Tazawa on the 60-day DL. [9/21]

Tazawa's mildly strained groin seemed like a nifty bit of timing, what with the youngster's workload maxed out and the likelihood he'll magically appear and then predictably, sadly disappear from the club's post-season roster so that someone they actually intended to use winds up actually playing October baseball. Not that anyone's going to dig around or make any accusations; in this day and age, given the way these things get policed (with the same watchfulness that magically lets Rule 5 picks spend time getting "hurt" and then rehabbing at length), you really have to work at it if you're going to blow your post-season roster assignments. Credit the Red Sox for doing the formulaic de jure manipulations in such matters.


NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Purchased the contract of OF-S Freddy Guzman from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); designated RHP Anthony Claggett for assignment. [9/14]
Recalled 1B-L Juan Miranda from Scranton-Wilkes Barre. [9/18]
Recalled RHP Ian Kennedy from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [9/19]

You should already know the story with Miranda: he's Cuban, which means he could be young enough to be sent back to his parents or old enough to have been a guerrillero fighting alongside Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. Yankees fans being slow to forget, they might be best off resigning him to the same pile that Kennedy's in as a sort-of prospect, in that you could sort of use him if you sort of had to, which the Yankees don't. Miranda's rates at Scranton were solid enough (.290/.369/.498) to translate to a .287 peak Equivalent Average, assuming of course that he's really 26-ish and can't remember regale teammates with stories of the Mariel boatlift. That's employable in the DH role, but not world-beating, so you can figure it doesn't presage a big future for him in pinstripes.

As for Kennedy, he's been working his way back from a shoulder aneurysm, but don't look for him to be an antidote to the club's fifth-starter blues. While Sergio Mitre (one quality start in nine) and Chad Gaudin (one in four) haven't been special, and while the Apple's latest flavor of panic comes Joba-sized, Kennedy's ticket to the Arizona Fall League to continue working his way back appears to already be punched, so his call-up's of the cheering-up variety, as he's made an excellent recovery. At most, he might get some spins in long relief which, given the struggles of Chamberlain and Mitre in particular, could lead to his actually taking the bump before the regular season ends.


TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled RHP Dale Thayer from Durham (Triple-A); purchased the contract of 1B-L Chris Richard from Durham; placed 1B-L Carlos Peņa on the 60-day DL. [9/8]

Did you know that Dale Thayer went to Chico State? Chico State! Ah, when I was a young thing so many years ago, and growing up in Northern California, Chico State was legendary for its reputation as the ultimate party school. In the far-flung California college system, other schools had other reasons for notoriety; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was an attractive destination to some people's way of thinking because, rumor had it, the school supposedly had an eight-to-one ratio of girls to boys.

Naturally, Chico State's reputation later became cause for plenty of pop-culture references in the works of my fellow aging Gen X types, like Mike Judge or Seth McFarlane, and later, predictably, Saturday Night Live; that's where pop references go for their now-traditional ritual shark-jumping moment, after all. Perhaps the only truly unifying element in any conversation about Chico State is that it seems to involve people who didn't go to Chico State, and anybody who brings it up is probably the sort of person who subsequently wonders what might have been, if only they had appropriately wasted some portion of their youth by visiting the hallowed halls of Chico State. Me, I skipped on the latter-day worrying by doing my part to try and bring Chico State to Chicago's South Side; at least that's my semi-official excuse for wasting some portion of my youth by spending my first two years at the University of Chicago majoring in partying, before getting around to the equally impractical field of 19th-century European history.

None of which has much to do with baseball, let alone Thayer, who was born around the time that Chico State's legend was an active growing concern (instead of mere personal artifact), barely a month after Ronald Reagan was elected. Originally drafted by the Cubs out of high school in 1999 as a 47th-rounder, he instead elected to go to-yes indeedy, you got it-Chico State. However well he spent the time, that decision didn't propel him to subsequent draft greatness, as he wound up signed as an undrafted free agent with the Padres in 2002, but after four seasons with the the organization in which his highest full-year ERA was 2.50, he was the PTBNL beyond Evan Meek who came over to the then-Devil'd Rays in the waivers deal that put Russell Branyan in the playoff picture in San Diego. Branyan's gone on to late-career stardom of some sort with Seattle, and Meek was later snagged via the Rule 5 draft by the Pirates (where he's pitched a bit this year), so Thayer represents the last lingering payoff the organization has to show for doing the Pads a good turn in their last post-season appearance.

Thayer has never failed at any level of the minors, with a 2.33 career ERA and a 436/134 K/UBB ratio in 437 1/3 IP, all in relief. Why hasn't he ever gotten an opportunity, you wonder? Velocity, basically, because while he has a plus slider that could play at any level in isolation, he's never going to impress the gun, and subsequently has to deal with understandable doubts from those wielding them. It'd be fun-not Chico State-level fun, but sort of more dorky and fan-oriented fun-to see him stick at the back end of a big-league bullpen; as a guy like Joe Nelson goes to show, you can hang around and help in spots, and it beats the latest Julian Tavarez resurrection as such things go.

Speaking of resurrections, Richard's back in the bigs after a six-year absence at the age of 35. He's far removed from that brief stretch in 2000 and 2001 when some Orioles fans hoped he was a prospect because they'd dealt Mike Timlin to the Cards, and surely they had to have something to show for it. They did, as far as place-holding outfielders go, but shoulder surgery derailed his career as far as it went, then he was dealt to the Rockies for Jack Cust, and he never managed to push his way past the usual thicket of extra relievers to stick in a reserve role. It's nice to see him get some time, but he's not about to live up to getting dealt for Cust, let alone adequately replace Peņa.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled LHP David Purcey and RHP Jeremy Accardo from Las Vegas (Triple-A); purchased the contract of C-L Kyle Phillips from Las Vegas; transferred RHP Shaun Marcum from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [9/8]

With Lord Cecil's workload-related shutdown, Purcey's getting a brief shot at redeeming his prospect status, having handed back his rotation slot earlier in the season after delivering one quality start in five in April. Despite having to pitch in Las Vegas, he did decent work in 24 turns there, although it's interesting to note that his strikeout rate at home, where he'd have to be particularly careful, was 5.6, but only the road, it went up to 8.2 K/9 with a slightly better walk rate as well. Since he did a good job of suppressing homers (seven in 139 1/3 IP) despite the environment and a low ground-ball rate, it's a suggestion of an adaptation, but still leaves open the question of whether that really means he'll ever be more than a fourth or fifth starter. He'll be 28 in 2010, so it isn't like he's made of spare time.

The other interesting call-up is Phillips, not that he's really a prospect, but he bats lefty, and he can catch well enough to at least gun 40 percent of stolen-base attempts this year as well as manage at both infield corners. He can't touch lefties, but that collection of virtues is the sort of blend that gets a guy a shot as somebody's 25th man in today's shorter benches.


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:  The Who,  Dale Thayer,  The Call-up

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