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October 20, 2009

Transaction Action

Roster Tweaks

by Christina Kahrl

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BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled LHP Hunter Jones from Pawtucket (Triple-A). [9/23]
Designated DH-L Chris Carter for assignment; purchased the contract of LHP Dustin Richardson. [9/28]
Recalled 1B-R Aaron Bates from Pawtucket, and placed him on the 60-day DL; re-purchased the contract of RHP Fernando Cabrera. [9/29]
Traded DH-L Chris Carter and 1B-S Eddie Lora to the Mets as the players TBNL in the Billy Wagner trade. [10/7]


CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted LHP Wes Whisler to Charlotte (Triple-A); lost RHP Jack Egbert on a waivers claim by the Mets. [9/25]
Picked up the club options for 2010 on RHP Freddy Garcia and LHP Matt Thornton. [10/6]
Outrighted OF-L DeWayne Wise to Charlotte. [10/7]

Beyond the price-worthy obviousness of retaining Thornton for just $2.25 million, credit Kenny Williams' crew for making a great call on retaining Chief Garcia. Relative to what free-agent starting pitchers will probably go for, a $1 million base with $2 million in performance bonuses could be one of the winter's great bargains if his late-season run with the club is any indication. While the Sox never let him go further than 100 pitches, after a bad first turn on August 18, he rattled off eight straight quality starts (one blown), and compiled a .550 SNWP.

Since the Sox have Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks all already under club control as well, and an arbitration case with Danks to sort out, you might wonder what this might mean for top prospect Dan Hudson. Aside from this being easily filed in the "nice problems to have" department, given that Hudson's rise through the minors was meteoric while he's also only going to be in his age-23 season, counting on him to be next year's fifth starter might have been overly aggressive for a club that should still harbor hopes of contention in the AL Central. While Peavy and Buehrle will cost $15 million and $14 million, respectively, Floyd will only run them $2.75 million, and Danks' arbitration-generated raise should put him somewhere in that territory as well. That strikes me as a reasonable balance of commitments for quality starting pitching, and this is the unit that remains the platform for any proposition regarding future success in the standings on the South Side.

Naturally, there's going to be speculation that the July 16, 2010 sunset provision on Buehrle's limited no-trade protection might get him moved before then. According to the incomparable Cot's, he gets full no-trade protection as a 10-and-5 player after that point, but if dealt he would get an automatic raise to $15 million for 2010 and 2011 plus an added 2012 contract at $15 million, so trading for Buehrle between now and the middle of July isn't just a matter of getting two seasons, it's a locked-in commitment to a third. Maybe Buehrle would get $45 million for three years on the open market, but I suspect most GMs would prefer to pursue other options this winter. If the Sox were out of the race by July, I could envision scenarios where they might try to work something out to make space in the rotation for Hudson, and as we know, "no-trade" clauses really just mean "no trade without said player's permission." If Buehrle wanted to go to the Cardinals after all, and the Sox were out of it-never say never, but generally speaking-I think we've given this more attention that it really deserves at present; I'm operating on the assumption Buehrle's a Sock, at least through 2011.

Speaking of Buehrle, let's not weep overmuch for DeWayne Wise; he did get considerable service time, not to mention a permanent place in Chicago baseball lore as the man whose perfect-game-saving catch should keep him permanently on Mark Buehrle's Christmas card list. If anything, I feel worse for Wes Whisler, who made his successful big-league debut in the same game as Vin Mazzaro at Sabermetrics Night at the Cell on June 2, an event we hope to repeat (the Sabermetrics night, not the debuts). Not that Whisler isn't much more than an organizational lefty since they drafted him in the second round of the 2004 draft out of UCLA, having already selected southpaws Tyler Lumsden and Gio Gonzalez in the first. That was during the period where the Sox were being a bit cautious and favoring college pitchers, before famously breaking with that tendency by selecting Aaron Poreda in the first round of the 2007 draft. None of which is Whisler's fault, but let's just say that, as a guy without a ton of upside, it probably doesn't help to be a reminder (not to mention evidence) of a rough patch in the organization's history of player development.


DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled LHP Clay Rapada from Toledo (Triple-A). [9/25]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed LHP Bruce Chen on the 60-day DL (torn oblique); activated RHP Juan Cruz from the 15-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Anthony Lerew from Northwest Arkansas (Double-A). [9/23]
Recalled INF-L Tug Hulett from Omaha. [9/29]


NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Lost RHP Anthony Claggett on a waivers claim by the Pirates. [9/24]

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted RHPs Kevin Cameron and Edgar Gonzalez and C/1B-L Eric Munson to Sacramento (Triple-A). [10/8]
Outrighted RHP Dan Giese to Sacramento. [10/9]


SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated 1B-L Russell Branyan from the 15-day DL. [9/30]

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Acquired INF-S Tony Abreu from the Dodgers to complete the complete the Jon Garland deal; designated RHP Bobby Korecky for assignment. [10/9]
Outrighted RHP Bobby Korecky to Reno (Triple-A). [10/13]

So, Arizona really did get something they could use in the Garland deal, so points to them. The Snakes have something of an open spot at second base, so there's nothing wrong with adding an alternative to free-talent journeymen of Ryan Roberts' ilk. Not that there's anything wrong with Roberts' utility, but I think I've already suggested his value with the word. It's also an area where free agency doesn't figure to offer affordable alternatives significantly better than Abreu to justify the price. As is, some of the better options are already familiar to them-Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez, with Placido Polanco, Ron Belliard, Akinori Iwamura (if the Rays don't pick up his $4 million option, and Freddy Sanchez also available on the high end, and David Eckstein closer to affordability. Even then, should this year's market prove to be stingy, bringing some of these players closer to fitting within the D'backs' purported budgetary constraints, there's nothing wrong with have a Snakeling in hand before grabbing at others.

Having lost most of 2008 to a labrum repair, Abreu slowly worked his way back and bopped at Albuquerque, hitting .353/.385/.615 (which translates to .282/.315/.518 and a .277 EqA), and add in a hitter-friendly future home at Big Banky-Bank Ballpark in Phoenix, and you have to like the potential addition of a switch-hitting contact hitter with sock to the D'backs' lineup. However, as a hitter, with a walk rate barely above three percent, the real question about what Abreu's future value revolves around is that power potential, so a little bit of park-aided pop is something he'll need to help get established. Abreu's also someone who might contribute as an above-average defender if the weight he's added with age hasn't put too much of a dent in his range; he's always had a strong arm, and he used to get high marks for his work with Chin-Lung Hu on the deuce. He wound up with very few meaningful comparables before the season, so the Snakes will be, to some extent, operating on faith that his upside in his age-25 season next year merits the opportunity. It doesn't seem misplaced, but since second base wound up being a net positive in the D'back attack (collectively, their second basemen put up a .271 EqA to a MLB-wide standard of .261), they'll need him to, while ideally also getting a defensive upgrade on Roberts and Felipe Lopez into the bargain.


ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted RHP Buddy Carlyle to Gwinnett (Triple-A); activated CF-L Jordan Schafer from the 60-day DL. [10/9]
Outrighted RHPs Jorge Campillo and Vladimir Nunez and OF-R Reid Gorecki to Gwinnett. [10/12]


CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Released OF-R So Taguchi. [10/16]

Well, he may be So Taguchi, but the Cubs, they just ain't feeling it. That said, they did only started him twice after bringing him up in September, both times against lefties, so it wasn't like they went wild for him in the first place.


MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted RHP Dallas Trahern and INF-R Andy Gonzalez to New Orleans (Triple-A). [10/9]

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted RHPs Chad Paronto and Billy Sadler and INF-R German Duran to Round Rock (Triple-A). [10/9]

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Sent INF-S Tony Abreu to the Diamondbacks to complete the Jon Garland trade. [10/9]
Noted that LHP Will Ohman filed for free agency. [10/16]


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted RHP Mike Burns to Nashville (Triple-A). [10/13]

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Received DH-L Chris Carter and 1B-S Eddie Lora from the Red Sox as the players TBNL from the Billy Wagner trade. [10/7]

Perhaps I'm being unkind in referring to Carter as a DH, but the wrong Chris Carter's no more defensively gifted than the Oakland edition, without being nearly as sluggy at the plate; whether you plant him at first base or either outfield corner, nobody anticipates happiness. He's also coming off of a somewhat disappointing age-26 season with Pawtucket, having hit .294/.358/.465 (good for a .270 EqA), which might look good by Danny Murphy standards (Murphy's EqA was .260), but isn't so hot when the bat's your lone tool. To credit Carter the virtue of his best feature, consider his hitting against right-handers: he hit .297/.355/.502 against Triple-A right-handers. With just 23 unintentional walks, his rate of generating free passes isn't great, just around 6.5 percent, but he's more of a contact guy anyway, striking out just under 13 percent of the time. It's easy to see how he could be a useful fill-in in case of injury and a decent source of power from the bench, but I wouldn't project him to be the next Garrett Jones, let alone an adequate replacement for Carlos Delgado.

Lora's more of a future-minded addition, a big, free-swinging kid who won't be 21 until next year with "raw plus power" according to Kevin Goldstein, and who has spent the last three seasons knocking around short-season leagues, first the Dominican Summer League, and then the GCL. In five years, we might be calling Omar Minaya a genius for having gotten him, if we're still talking about Omar Minaya by then.


SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Waived RHPs Cha Seung Baek and Shawn Hill and DH-L Cliff Floyd; purchased the contract of RHP Eulogio De La Cruz. [10/8]
Outrighted RHP John Geer, C-R Eliezer Alfonzo, INF-S Luis Rodriguez, and OF-L Drew Macias to Portland (Triple-A). [10/12]

I wouldn't read too much into the Pads' decisions to ditch Baek or Hill; free-talent finds aren't always keepers, and the downside risk with bum-armed hurlers you find bobbing around on waivers usually makes them the sorts of guys you don't commit 40-man spots to over the winter. Even before his injury-plagued 2009 season, some folks overrated Baek's limited prospects because he'd had a rotation job with the team at a time when they were especially needy in 2008, and he was briefly adequate, posting a .497 SNWP. With questions about whether he's healthy crowding out the argument over whether or not he's especially valuable as anything other than filler, you can understand the release. Pace Hill, whose brief flashes of excellence seem to get reliably swamped by his time on the DL, and now that he's busy recovering from a second TJS, seems well along the Chad Fox career path of temporary utility.

The other thing to take from these releases is that, just as having these guys in the first place was symptomatic of the club's casting call for starters once upon a time, letting them go reflects their much better situation for 2010. Kevin Correia earned his keep as yet another free-talent add-on, posting a .521 SNWP. Organizational crown jewel Mat Latos will be back after this season's early shutdown, Tim Stauffer, Wade LeBlanc, and Cesar Ramos all made cases of varying merit for rotation jobs next spring, Chris Young should be healthy (for however long), and the additions of Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, and Sean Gallagher via trade make it clear there's now much less concern about simply finding enough bodies to stock a staff with. This isn't to say there won't still be merit in seeing what the sludgier, less attractive parts of the free-agent pool hold, but that's with an eye towards next year's NRI guys, on the off chance that you dig up the next Correia. Or Baek, for fairness' sake.


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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