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May 5, 2010
Odds and Ends
Placed OF-L Rick Ankiel on the 15-day DL (strained quad), retroactive to 5/3. [5/4]
Recalled 1B-L Kila Ka'aihue from Omaha (Triple-A). [5/5]
You might rush to think it's a pity that the plan to convert Alex Gordon to left field couldn't produce instant fruit, but the playing time in the outfield since Ankiel started breaking down has been going to Mitch Maier, who has done just fine (.244/.352/.400, with a .275 TAv), and comes with a great rep as a defender to boot. And while I'm happy to see the Kila Monster get a call-up, Ka'aihue figures to ride pine unless Jose Guillen, Billy Butler, or any of the outfielders (with Guillen taking a corner) gets a day off. So, even after hitting .304/.466/.620 with seven homers and a PCL-leading .334 TAv, the Volcano won't get to erupt, because the organization just doesn't feel the need for a splash of Hawaiian Punch. At this rate, Ka'aihue's going to wind up with more nicknames than at-bats, but I'm hoping he gets a spot start against Freddy Garcia tonight. Mike Aviles did get to start at short last night, and did do the sorts of things he can, ripping three hits and a garbage-time homer after the game was won; if both men are in the lineup, who's to say the infinite monkeys aren't on to something?
On a related subject, as frustrating as it was to see Gordon go down, for once I find myself in agreement with something the Royals are doing if you credit them with some long-term vision. Over in the Texas League, top position-playing prospect Mike Moustakas is hitting like Double-A pitching isn't going to be much of a long-term hurdle, creating a scenario in which there's more than just adding him to the 40-man after the season's over to kick around where 2011 is concerned. While this doesn't do much for Gordon's value in a lot of fantasy leagues, and probably doesn't help him as far as his ever escaping the organization and getting paid as a free agent, but as-is, that's not until after the 2013 season, which we might technically refer to as “a long time from now.”
So Gordon belongs to the Royals for four more years, and anticipating a future in which Moustakas and Gordon and Butler are all in the same lineup almost invariably means somebody's likely to be in the outfield. Why not Gordon? As an antidote to having to employ Scott Podsednik while leaving Alberto Callaspo as the caretaker at third base, that ends up sounding pretty good as a way to solve one big-picture problem, leave the future at third open to Moustakas, and not involve giving up on Butler as a position player. And if they wound up wanting to alternate between Butler and the Kila Monster between first base and DH once Guillen cools off, or after the latter leaves as a free agent next winter, that doesn't just resemble progress, it is progress.
Reactivated RHP Nick Blackburn from the Family Emergency List; optioned RHP Jeff Manship to Rochester (Triple-A). [5/4]
Between the family emergency and a mild forearm issue, Blackburn missed more than just a turn, but last week's day off let Ron Gardenhire move Kevin Slowey up a day while still starting on four days' rest on Friday, then slip Manship into the gap created on Saturday for what was his regular turn as well (he'd started for the Red Wings on the 26th), and all three men did well enough in their turns, with Slowey going five and allowing three, Manship providing a spot quality start, and then Blackburn spun last night's complete-game win over the Tigers on nine days' rest. Put it together, and it was a nice testament to execution, not just on the mound, but in terms of the logistics of in-season roster management. No, they don't hold parades to celebrate such things, but props to Bill Smith and Gardenhire. If Blackburn rolls from this point forward, it'll be a particularly timely if unplanned interruption, and if it provides the added benefit of giving Manship a successful cameo as the designated sixth man, so much the better.
Optioned RHP Mark Melancon to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); recalled OF-R Greg Golson from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [5/4]
Bringing up Golson now appears to be a function of playing wait-and-see with Jorge Posada's injury, with Melancon being a temporary patch after having to rely on the pen plenty in the first two games of last weekend's series against the White Sox. Whether the toolsy fifth outfield type lasts more than a day depends a lot on how Posada feels tomorrow during the Bombers' day off. If Posada's calf is still causing him problems before they start this weekend's series with the other Sox, barring a DL move with Posada, you might expect them to bring up another catcher for the trip to Boston as a precaution, but selecting Golson now can be interpreted as a case of cautious optimism. That's just as well, although it's nice to see Francisco Cervelli pasting singles at a clip to more than reward the faith that he's a fine choice to cure the Yanks of their former fascination with The Least Molina.
The other issue with bringing up another catcher is that it would force another move. Since Jesus Montero's not on the 40-man (or, for that matter, his backup in Scranton, Chad Moeller), and the roster's full up, they'd have to move something or somebody around to create space. That might involve calling up oft-injured Christian Garcia and putting him on the 60-day DL, since he's out for the year after TJS (his second such procedure), but they could also elect to outright someone from among the clutter at the back end of the roster, like Reegie Corona or recent waiver claim Chad Huffman. Or they could go that route with Golson, although his wheels and ability to play center should protect him from such considerations. But in the meantime, Golson's employment as anything more than witness and, like Randy Winn until Curtis Granderson's breakdown, pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
Activated RHP Michael Wuertz from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Brad Kilby to Sacramento (Triple-A). [5/3]
Optioned INF-R Steven Tolleson to Sacramento; recalled RHP Vin Mazzaro from Sacramento. [5/4]
Optioned RHP Vin Mazzaro to Sacramento; recalled RHP Henry Rodriguez from Sacramento. [5/5]
There's no really big news here, since this played out pretty much as foreseen on Monday. Mazzaro got clobbered, and they're playing wait-and-see with Justin Duchscherer after a cortisone shot, while hoping the schedule lets them kick Duke's next turn far enough away that they don't have to put him on the Disabled List.
In the meantime, rather than re-add a position player (which, absent a DL move, couldn't have been Tolleson), they went with adding an eighth reliever. Give Hot Rod's triple-digit velocity and wide-bore wildness when it comes to hitting the strike zone, he'll be interesting to watch. Despite a career clip of 408 strikeouts and 232 unintentional freebies in 317
In the meantime, they're basically a man down—a position player, given the demotion of Tolleson and a choice to not haul up either Matt Carson or Chris Carter—their only healthy position players on the 40-man not already active. That basically means that Eric Patterson's their backup infielder for the moment, since he's got plenty of experience at second, some at third, and if something bad happened in-game to Cliff Pennington, Adam Rosales could move over. There's also the notion that Jake Fox or even Eric Chavez could play third base in a pinch, but Fox is terrible at the hot corner, and for all the talk about moving Chavez around back at the start of camp, he got in only a couple of innings at third and short as far as actual game action. Fox is also their fifth outfield option (behind Gabe Gross) as well as their third catcher, so for all that, there is at least some measure of flexibility as far as in-game alternatives if Bob Geren's put in a bad spot with his lineup card.
Outrighted RHP Juan Rincon to Colorado Springs (Triple-A). [5/3]
Optioned RHP Tim Wood to New Orleans (Triple-A); activated RHP Clay Hensley from the Bereavement List; received OF-R John Raynor back from the Pirates, and assigned him to New Orleans. [5/4]
In a month's worth of action, Wood had really only blown it in two of his eight ballgames. The first one came on April 10 against the Dodgers with a one-run lead, when he put the first two men aboard, got a bunt out, and then got hooked against Andre Ethier; Dan Meyer flubbed his shot at situational heroics by allowing the lead-losing single, but Wood created the situation. Ten days later, he was on the hook for a rare Astros victory. Working on six days' rest—not what I'd call the best way to keep a guy sharp, but that's life with expanded pens—he was handed another one-run lead in the seventh, he again allowed the first two men to reach base, he again got a bunt out to put them both in scoring position, but left in to clean up his own mess, a Lance Berkman ground out to second base lost the lead. Even with a relatively full bullpen, Fredi Gonzalez sent Wood back out there for the eighth, and again Wood put the first two men on base, but at least this time he inserted a strikeout before Kaz Matsui plated the run by pushing a bunt up the first-base line. Jason Michaels homered to really ruin Wood's day at the office, and Gonzalez didn't have to use any of his other relievers that day.
Since those were two of the three leads he was handed over a month, you could understand how that didn't exactly engender lasting confidence. Brian Sanches was a successful contributor to last season's cast of castoffs, and Hensley has joined Burke Badenhop to provide Gonzalez with his go-to guys in tight games before passing along the save oppurtunities to Leo Nunez. It doesn't seem as if he's really landed on a solution to losing Dan Meyer, but with Renyel Pinto and Hunter Jones in the pen, he isn't short on southpaws. And with Chris Leroux outpitching Wood, you can understand how a guy gets squeezed out of even a seven-man pen. Even so, Wood has the virtue of velocity, so you know he'll be back at some point once one of the other right-handed relievers breaks down.
Placed RHP Sean Gallagher on the 15-day DL (sprained toe); recalled RHP Ryan Webb from Portland (Triple-A). [5/4]
Since Gallagher was the one Pads reliever really struggling in the league's best bullpen, while Webb avoided allowing any runs for the Beavers in his 10 frames there, this isn't exactly a setback for the staff as much as it represents an opportunity to get Gallagher squared away while taking a look at a worthwhile alternative.