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July 21, 2010

Transaction Action

ALtruisms

by Christina Kahrl

LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed LHP Scott Kazmir on the 15-day DL (shoulder), retroactive to 7/11; designated 1B/OF-L Paul McAnulty for assignment; activated INF-S Maicer Izturis from the DL. [7/19]
Optioned OF-L Cory Aldridge to Salt Lake (Triple-A); recalled RHPs Sean O'Sullivan and Trevor Bell from Salt Lake. [7/20]

Using a pitcher's rate of SNLVAR, Kazmir's season has been a disaster of massive proportions, one that rates about 4.8 on the Keough scale, something that for the moment suits my purposes for describing starting pitcher inadequacy, using Matt Keough's appalling 1982 season as a baseline for starting pitcher-related terrors visited upon a team's unhappy fans over a full season. This isn't really especially fair of me, in that Keough doesn't hold the single-season low for a starter with 30 starts in a campaign, but 1982 was a horrifying disappointment, and the man was beaten with a regularity that made me think that he was the drum, and the entire American League was Keith Moon.

That said, your mileage no doubt varies, but using two criteria-30 starts, and a full season with a single victim/team-let's review the all-time trailerboard, the 11 starting pitchers on record who have logged full campaigns in a rotation below replacement level:

Drum
Team
Year
GS
IP
SNLVAR Rate
SNWP
Jose Lima Royals 2005 31 168.2 -0.037 .351
Joe Coleman Tigers 1975 31 201 -0.033 .352
Mike Hampton Rockies 2002 30 178.2 -0.028 .347
Willie Fraser Angels 1988 32 194.2 -0.017 .388
Chuck Stobbs Senators 1957 31 212.1 -0.015 .356
Jim Lonborg Red Sox 1965 31 185.1 -0.011 .379
Pedro Astacio Rockies 1998 34 209.1 -0.009 .364
Scott Olsen Marlins 2007 33 176.2 -0.006 .373
Frank Viola Twins 1983 34 210 -0.006 .388
Dick Drott Cubs 1958 30 161 -0.005 .375
Eric Milton Reds 2005 34 186.1 -0.001 .384

So, there's no Keough '82 on the list; if you piece through the record, he's not even in the top 30, and it wasn't below replacement level. His 1982 entry retains its ignominy as the worst full-season rotation regular in A's history, which is special in its own way, but he's not the standard by which we should judge the horrors Kazmir has visited upon the Angels this season.

Looking at the table, some of this isn't too surprising-a couple of Rockies getting thumped, plus some talented youngsters on bad teams, like Lonborg in his rookie season, or Olsen and Viola in their sophomore campaigns. Also a sophomore, Willie Fraser was a short righty without power stuff sucked into the Angels' rotation as they tried to rebuild quickly after Gene Mauch's run with the ancients in the '80s endured its natural death. The entries from the '50s look like guys broken down by their workloads. Drott was a 21-year-old kid who appeared scragged after a fine rookie season (with 32 starts, 229 IP, and a SNLVAR rate of 0.096); he never made 30 starts again. Similarly, Chuck Stobbs was having a 20-loss season a year after posting career highs in starts (33) and IP (240). So, understandable mitigating circumstances go toward explaining some of these guys.

In contrast, you won't find such excuses for the guys more like Kazmir, the veterans who were just flat-out bad: Lima and Coleman atop this list, in a class all their own, and then Milton as the nearest facsimile of a replacement-level rotation regular that history has given us so far. All three rank as worse than Kazmir, with his 0.004 SNLVAR rate and .390 SNWP, but note that Kazmir's flirting with a bid to become the perfect definition of a replacement-level "contributor." To add some additional spice to what Kazmir's season has involved, he's delivered just four quality starts in his 17 turns, while failing to get through six innings in 11 starts.

Perhaps understandably, Angels won't have to hurry as far as when they'll get him back, which probably blows his shot at 30 turns right out of the water. Even with the retroactive move and Monday's off day, they're leaving their front four in a five-man rotation, slotting O'Sullivan in as the starter last night and giving the other four rotation regulars that additional day off. That could be with an eye toward the future: Kazmir can't come off the DL in time to make the fifth slot's next spin, on July 25, so that's another start for O'Sullivan or Bell. If, from that point on, they exploit an August schedule with four days off, they won't need a fifth starter again until the following week (either against the Orioles or the Tigers), and they could employ a fifth starter just three times in a whole month without asking any of their front four to work on short rest. Considering that the Angels' bid for a title defense is at stake, whatever the state of Kazmir's psyche or his shoulder, they'd be better off placing their bets on the qualities of their four best rotation regulars as much as possible to compensate for the 11th-best lineup in the league.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Recalled 3B-S Josh Bell from Norfolk (Triple-A). [7/16]
Activated DH-L Luke Scott from the 15-day DL; optioned RHP Frank Mata to Norfolk. [7/19]
Optioned RHP Chris Tillman to Norfolk. [7/20]

So, sort of as we discussed last week, the lineup seems like it ought to be better off, but the immediate results aren't appreciably better. You might hope that Bell's return pre-figures a trade that puts Miguel Tejada someplace else for a stretch run, but with Kevin Millwood due back at the end of the week (taking Tillman's place in the rotation), and Brian Roberts potentially returning to the nest this weekend, it seems more likely they'll spin things out with their veterans and option the optionable.


BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned RHP Robert Manuel to Pawtucket (Triple-A); purchased the contract of RHP Fernando Cabrera from Pawtucket; transferred RHP Josh Beckett from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/16]
Optioned LHP Felix Doubront to Pawtucket; designated RHP Fernando Cabrera for assignment; activated RHP Manny Delcarmen from the 15-day DL; recalled C-R Dusty Brown from Pawtucket. [7/17]
Designated C-R Gustavo Molina for assignment; recalled RHP Michael Bowden from Pawtucket. [7/18]
Outrighted C-R Gustavo Molina to Pawtucket. [7/20]

Having gone 4-8 in their last 12, and with three of those wins being one-run victories that could easily have swung the other way and deepened the club's swoon, the Sox are due for good news, but it's about to start coming in now. With Clay Buchholz due to be activated today, Jeremy Hermida looking like he'll be reactivated tomorrow, and Mike Lowell and Victor Martinez both looking likely for returns at the start of next week, the plot thickens, in part because the more recent additions could stick around.

Take Brown, for starters. He's now 28 and in his third year with Pawtucket, so he isn't a prospect, but he can boast an 11 percent walk rate at Triple-A in that time, he's solid against the running game, and he already has exposure to the knuckler, having played with Charlie Zink. So Kevin Cash's primary argument for why he might be the better choice to back up V-Mart doesn't have a lot going for it, meaning that the Sox should be able to break in Brown now and burn Cash later, once Martinez is ready. Once Hermida returns, you might expect they'll ditch Ryan Shealy; next week, we'll see who loses out to Lowell, but it won't be an easy choice.

In the bullpen, Bowden also has a decent shot at sticking, even though figuring out who he shunts aside makes for a tough decision. The highly regarded pitching prospect was bumped to the PawSox pen a couple of weeks ago, and threw six shutout innings with a single hit allowed and five strikeouts. As an adaptation to the fact that they have commitments to six starting pitchers (Buchholz included) for 2011, bumping Bowden might seem like a bad way of maximizing his value as a potential starter, but why not find a way to use him? He remains somebody the Sox harbor high hopes for, and the Sox' pen hasn't been getting great work from anyone beyond Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard. Ramon Ramirez hasn't been trustworthy this season, in light of his struggles to keep right-handed batters from going yard against him. Delcarmen has pitched the least well among the lot, struggling in a high-leverage role, but he's also out of options.

So credit Theo Epstein and company for another good idea, using Bowden instead of shopping for veteran relief help, and setting themselves up to employ him down the stretch. It isn't hard to envision how Bowden could pitch his way past lesser lights like Scott Atchison or Delcarmen, and earn his roost at the back end of Boston's bullpen. After already throwing 92 innings for Pawtucket, it has the additional benefit of keeping the 23-year-old down around his previous seasonal workloads in the 140-IP range.


CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Kerry Wood on the 15-day DL (blistered index finger), retroactive to 7/12; recalled RHP Jensen Lewis from Columbus (Triple-A). [7/17]
Designated MI-S Anderson Hernandez for assignment; recalled RHP Jeanmar Gomez from Columbus. [7/18]
Optioned RHP Jeanmar Gomez to Columbus; recalled RHP Jess Todd from Columbus. [7/19]
Activated SS-S Asdrubal Cabrera from the 60-day DL; designated RHP Jensen Lewis for assignment. [7/20]

Gomez was brought up as a necessary spacer in the wake of Saturday's doubleheader, which didn't have any ripple effect on the rotation because of Thursday's day off. However, after spinning a quality start by allowing just two runs in seven innings, you can bet that he'll get consideration for a return engagement should the Tribe flip (or foist) either Fausto Carmona or Jake Westbrook to a contender. That would be despite a rough campaign in Columbus (6.2 RA/9, 3.5 BB/9, 6.0 K/9), and with a fastball just a tick above 90 on average, the 21-year-old Venezuelan isn't a top prospect as much as someone to consider when your existing options aren't so hot. Looking at Todd now is an example of what they may as well spend the balance of their season on, as he's managed an impressive 46/9 K/UBB ratio in 39 1/3 IP for the Clippers, and with Wood disabled, they can give the former Cardinal farmhand a spin in Chris Perez's set-up role now that the latter's been bumped to closing again.


DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned LHP Daniel Schlereth to Toledo (Triple-A); recalled RHP Rick Porcello from Toledo. [7/17]
Optioned LHP Andrew Oliver to Toledo; recalled RHP Armando Galarraga from Toledo. [7/19]
Placed 3B-R Brandon Inge on the 15-day DL (hand); recalled RHP Casey Fien from Toledo. [7/20]

Sure enough, it only took one good start for Porcello to be back in everyone's good graces and regain his job in the rotation-well, that, plus the decision to rush up Oliver, a 2009 second-round pick, had moved into bad news territory after his fourth straight bad outing. And according to plan, Galarraga has resumed his slot in the rotation, so the Tigers are back to the ideal front five

The worse news by far is losing Inge for four to six weeks, because whether they adapt by giving the at-bats to Ryan Raburn or Danny Worth or Don Kelly, they'll take a hit on defense, but not necessarily a hit on offense. Inge was producing a .270 True Average, and before the season Raburn was projected to deliver a .271, which he's short of (.238) in no small part because he hasn't gotten a clean shot at playing time at any point during the season. (He's started three consecutive games just once all season, for example; good luck on getting a streak going with that usage pattern.)

Naturally, an alternative would be to accrue some defensive value at a more significant defensive position-like moving Carlos Guillen to third base, and slotting Worth or Raburn (or Kelly) at second base. Merely as a matter of pro experience, across all levels Raburn has twice as much pro game experience at the keystone compared to Guillen or Kelly. Of course, another option would be to bring back Scott Sizemore-after almost two months with the Mudhens, he's hitting .329/.392/.515, good for a .278 TAv with Toledo. But even there, Jim Leyland has decided his club's beyond the Rubicon with Guillen-per his public comments, Guillen is his second baseman, leaving the potential defensive benefit of moving the former DH over to third base unrealized, and leaving Sizemore among the rest for their options at the hot corner.

So, while it isn't like the Tigers have no option, it's more a matter of acting on what information they have about the options they're left with. With Guillen on the bench, in last night's action they played all three third-base alternatives on the big-league roster: Raburn at second, Kelly at third, and Worth at short. That plus slumping Alex Avila and Brennan Boesch added up to a shutout at the Rangers' hands , and the Kitties' seventh straight loss. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sizemore was playing third base for the Mudhens, his fourth game at the position.

Looking at their projections for 2010 alone, Raburn remains the best of the bats to stick in the lineup. Absent a decision to move Guillen off second, it really does become a matter of playing their better bat, because the volume at plays at third is such that there will be fewer plays in the field than at-bats at the plate. Perhaps that's to Raburn's advantage as well; it isn't like Worth or Sizemore or Kelly are going to make people forget Aurelio Rodriguez with their footwork around the bag, let alone Travis Fryman at the plate, and regardless of whether they play badly or well, they'll suffer in comparison to Inge's outsized reputation. Perhaps the worst thing they could do is zig-zag between their options-Kelly's track record is established and weak, while Worth hits like a middle infielder. As long as they're making their determination on the basis of who best fills their bill at third base, Raburn should be the choice. Now, let's just see if they make it.


MINNESOTA TWINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed 1B-L Justin Morneau on the 15-day DL (PCS), retroactive to 7/8; recalled RHP Jeff Manship from Rochester (Triple-A). [7/16]
Optioned RHP Alex Burnett to Rochester; purchased the contract of RHP Anthony Slama from Rochester; transferred RHP Clay Condrey from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [7/20]

Losing Morneau is never good news, and as a significant health issue, between the Twins' monitoring his recovery from a concussion and Will Carroll's constancy to the principle of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, I figure we can all just take our places in the queue of watching the watchmen without irony. Regardless of your rooting interest, it's safe to say we all look forward to good news on this front.

As tough a hit a losing Morneau is to take, there is some form of good news, in that this isn't yesteryear's Twins. With Jim Thome to add to a lineup already reaping the benefit of the organization's faith that someday Delmon Young's ship would come in, Ron Gardenhire's simply following up on his initial adaptability with Michael Cuddyer, rotating him from third base over to first from third, with Danny Valencia coming back into the lineup to man the hot corner. Given Valencia's plinky brand of single-riffic heroics, that's obviously a steep drop-off-nearly a half-run per game, per MLVr.

However, Valencia's defense at third base might be an equally useful reinforcement for a team that has to carry the weak work of Young and Jason Kubel in the outfield corners. The Twins' D is already a mediocre unit overall, and while SIERA's obviously going to be a bit optimistic about how the Twins' collection of strike-throwers in the rotation should improve, that improvement will depend a lot on the quality of the defensive effort behind them.

Another bit of good news is the addition of Slama to the pen. He's a situational godling in the making in part because of a delivery that makes him especially tough on right-handers, which you can hear more about in David Laurila's interview with him from May. For Rochester, he was living up to that billing by mowing down his fellow righties at a .103/.186/.131 clip, striking out 44 of 118 of them (37 percent) while allowing just two extra-base hits and no homers, but lefties were working him for a .367 OBP. Although he was closing for the Red Wings, he'll be best used as a set-up man in what is now eight-man pen, which suggests that with a lot less offense to work with absent Morneau, Gardy's compensation gesture will be an even more frenetic tempo while playing matchup gambits in-game.


NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned UT-R Kevin Russo to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); recalled 1B-L Juan Miranda from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/16]
Placed LHP Damaso Marte on the 15-day DL (sore shoulder), retroactive to 7/8; recalled LHP Boone Logan from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/17]
Placed LHP Andy Pettitte on the 15-day DL (strained groin), retroactive to 7/19; recalled RHP Jonathan Albaladejo from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [7/20]

There's cause for upset, and there isn't, so let's dispense with what is not. Bringing in Juan Miranda because Francisco Cervelli got hit upside the head with the reality stick since May ended is not a cause for upset. It's a sign of positive development-Joe Girardi has put down his pixie cup of Cervelli-brand Kool-Aid, noticed that his backup backstop is hitting .203/.292/.253 in his last six weeks' worth of play, recognized that Jorge Posada is going to be able to catch, and made room for a better bat to absorb a healthy share of the DH at-bats. Miranda might not even be a poor man's Kevin Maas, but he'll still out-hit Cervelli in whatever formula for playing-time splits between the two positions, and between Miranda and Marcus Thames, and Posada and Cervelli. And in case you didn't notice, losing the team's best starter makes scoring more runs that much more precious a quality in the lineup.

Similarly, shipping off that man, that Damaso Marte, token lefty reliever of the Yankees' bullpen, is again hardly cause to fire up the freak-out klaxons that New York newsrooms apparently operate with. Pick a stat, any stat, and Logan's outperformed the famous former Buccaneer, not unlike Wall Street dwarfing any feat achieved by Blackbeard: better FRA (2.89 to 5.84), better ARP (5.2 to -1.5), a half-win's worth of difference via WXRL in effectively the same amount of playing time (very little). Marte has done a better job of fulfilling the particulars of specialist work, but here again, for as sporadically as Girardi has even turned to him, that may amount to very little going forward, especially if Girardi just decides to avoid using a situational lefty at all because he isn't especially confident in Logan. As far as answers, whether they trust Logan, trade for a disposable veteran southpaw in the next 10 days, or even give Royce Ring a shot on the basis of his .159/.243/.302 performance vs. LHBs at Scranton, this is not cause for panic.

What might be cause is losing Pettitte, because Joltless Joe's first fix is to turn to his former Fishy friend, Sergio Mitre, starting this weekend. Even then, with some judicious skipping (without asking anyone to start on less than four days' rest), the Yankees might be able to make sure that Mitre just sees the Royals twice, the Jays once or twice, the Indians, and the Mariners before they re-enter the period at which Pettitte begins to come back on the radar. In other words, if Girardi is careful, his fifth starter would not have to face a single contender, and not even a single above-average offense. With props to Lou Boudreau on the subject of how good teams beat the bejeebus out of the bad teams, spotting your worst starter against their worse opponents is exactly what the Yanks need to be thinking about. Even on the charitable basis of Mitre's "big year" in 2007, with a .451 SNWP, Mitre is all that and a bag of rancid, post-nuclear holocaust, abandoned-in-an-irradiated-mall chips.

Which might be about as good as A.J. Burnett has been, but here we get into the reasons why they were so heavily invested in getting Cliff Lee, and why they're still going to need to play the market and see about what they can pawn off to the Cubs to get Ted Lilly or the Mariners to rent Erik Bedard, or to get in on Dan Haren, because those are the best remaining examples available on the market of win-now rentals on the one hand, or win-now-and-keep'im-around acquisitions they might find.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RF-L Ryan Sweeney on the 15-day DL (patella tendinitis), retroactive to 7/12; recalled RHP Henry Rodriguez from Sacramento (Triple-A). [7/19]
Activated LHP Dallas Braden from the 15-day DL; optioned LHP Cedrick Bowers to Sacramento. [7/20]

Even if the A's weren't now without Sweeney for the balance of the season, their outfield had come to resemble a remainders table in Wal-Mart. Sure, there might be the odd really good book in there, wedged between the collected wisdom of Mr. Food, or Dr. Laura's berating those she deems stupid, or the odd coffee table confection that you'd never pay list price for. ("Another book on Fresno's historic architecture?!?! Oh man, what a bargain!") You have to root around a bit, but you find some things.

Unfortunately, there's also an awful lot of placeholding junk, the sort of stuff best employed to stock the shelves of a furnished model home or an incurious bed & breakfast, where the appearance of substance matters as much or more than the actual content. It's to this state that it sometimes seems as if the A's outfield has been reduced to. The right fielder who has never hit for power, and never will. The center fielder who rates as a nice knockoff from something found in the always tasteful, rarely exciting Brian McRae collection. A speed guy who gets on base at a .312 clip in left field. If any one of them were your worst outfield regular, you'd be in a better position to celebrate their individual merits, but when there's so little to help you identify an actual best outfield regular, like some condominium's model unit library you're left with a Potemkinized facsimile of a major-league outfield.

Take a look at the collective production at each position of all American League outfields, ranked through Monday's action. At the bottom of the table, you'll see the MLB position averages as a point of reference:

Left Field TAv
Center Field TAv
Right Field TAv
Rangers .308 Angels .287 Tigers .299
Rays .300 White Sox .287 Indians .298
Twins .291 Blue Jays .279 Yankees .291
Tigers .278 Tigers .269 Rangers .290
Yankees .266 Twins .265 Blue Jays .288
Blue Jays .266 Rays .262 Orioles .287
Indians .261 Mariners .261 Royals .282
Royals .260 Yankees .259 Mariners .279
Orioles .254 Athletics .259 White Sox .278
Red Sox .248 Red Sox .252 Twins .275
Angels .245 Royals .250 Rays .273
Athletics .242 Orioles .248 Red Sox .273
Mariners .241 Rangers .245 Angels .267
White Sox .237 Indians .221 Athletics .254
MLB .274
MLB .270
MLB .282

The first thing I'd take from this chart is that outfield production and especially left-field production in the junior circuit has been massively disappointing this season. While some are anointing this the year of the pitcher, I'm wondering if a big part of the problem is sorting out where the game's big boppers went to, because you won't find them playing at the position of Ted Williams and Albert Belle. You can blame injuries in some instances, but a lot of the problem appears to be a matter of design (Juan Pierre, the Mariners' mess).

As for their own lot and their below-average offense at all three spots, the A's have had modest shares of both injuries and bad choices. It would be hard to assert that the A's outfield is the product of unqualified endorsements, a collection composed of the proper facets in a master plan of crystalline perfection. Rajai Davis was just a waiver claim, Coco Crisp an addition made as much via a union-drive guilt trip as any calculated consideration, and Sweeney just one part-arguably the least important part-of the Nick Swisher deal. Although losing Crisp for a significant chunk of the season has hurt them, league-relative it isn't center field that is their worst position.

Keeping in mind that right field is the second-best offensive position in the game today, the A's just lost the man most responsible for their last-place ranking at the spot. So while it's a setback to lose Sweeney, that's because they'll lose runs because of an even worse fall-back option in Gabe Gross. You don't get to rank any lower than last place, but I suppose they'll have the benefit of being even more decisively the worst. Is it any wonder Daric Barton has become an unsupervised bunting fool? 'Offensive indifference' may as well be the lineup's plan of attack, both in how it has been assembled to how it's operating in-game.


TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Placed RHP Dustin Nippert on the 15-day DL (head injury); recalled RHP Doug Mathis from Oklahoma City (Triple-A). [7/20]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Activated OF-L Travis Snider from the 15-day DL, and optioned him to New Hampshire (Double-A). [7/17]
Activated RHP Shaun Marcum from the 15-day DL; designated INF-R Nick Green for assignment. [7/18]

With trading season upon us and the Jays a solid non-contender, they're in a bit of a holding pattern, both in their lineup and in their rotation, reflected in the decisions to activate both Snider and Marcum, but demote the former without doing likewise with another starting pitcher for the latter. They both represent deliberate non-decisions, since there's not a lot at stake, and no reason to be decisive as a result.

Consider the temporary decision to run with a six-man rotation with Marcum back in the fold. Essentially, the Jays decided to not make an immediate choice between Jesse Litsch and Marc Rzepczynski for the fifth slot, affording both pitchers additional spins. As a result, they found themselves rewarded for their indecision once Marcum came up with a blistered middle finger on his throwing hand his first time out. If they end up skipping Marcum (per Jordan Bastian's tweet), Litsch and Rzepczynski get two more turns to settle the matter. Add in how this spaces everyone out, and it helps keep the starters' workloads under control, while giving the team more information-in terms of in-game results-to make their eventual choices.

Similarly, they had little cause to move aggressively to bring Snider back. Picking between Edwin Encarnacion, Fred Lewis, and Jose Bautista for who plays at third base and the outfield corners isn't a call they need to make before the deadline. With Adam Lind's bat finally coming back from the dead in recent weeks, they don't have an obvious loser in the lineup either. Since all three of Double-E, Lewis, and Bautista are arbitration-eligible after the season, and Encarnacion and Bautista will be heading into their last spins in the process before free agency, Alex Anthopolous has a nice bit of flexibility in terms of matching players at various positions to payrolls and various contenders' needs. Regardless of whether or not he keeps all three, controlling Snider's service time makes sense, potentially pushing his first entry into the process until after the 2012 season.

Indeed, the best solution might not involve any of these guys-not unless the Jays get an offer they can't refuse-but instead involves renting out Lyle Overbay's last two months as a Blue Jay. Even if they have to eat cash to make a decidedly replacement-level first baseman go away via trade by the end of August, there's always the gambit of letting him leave on an outright waiver claim, which would hardly hurts them. Once they've excused Overbay, they'd have lineup space for Snider, all the better to mull their remaining options with, because they could easily bring Bautista back into the infield at third base while moving Encarnacion across the diamond in Overbay's place. Even if Encarnacion subsequently blows it, they'll have cleared the decks for Brett Wallace, assuming he can fulfill his past promise.

So even while seemingly doing next to nothing, and seemingly avoiding any choices, the Jays have wound up in that zen-like state of choosing to not act. If, as Carlyle suggested, man is the architect of circumstance, credit Anthopolous for marking time to create one as effectively as he struck when a remarkable opportunity arose.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

38 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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ejlrafter

Question on your last NL entry.
Why did the Brew Crew bring up L. Cain? Why not wait until they dealt C. Hart? If you bring him up you should play him right? Any thoughts.

Jul 21, 2010 07:13 AM
rating: 0
 
DetroitDale

Worth isn't an option to replace Inge at the hot corner, not just because he hits like an middle infielder, but because he's the leper with the most fingers among the shortstop options. (he's actually the only one who could play short besides Guillen, who's allegedly too old and banged up to do it, but he's covering the same area at 2B, so there's no way to reconcile those two pieces of organizational spin) Clearly the best option is to start Raburn at second and Move Guillen to third, where his range is no longer an issue and his arm never has been. But for some reason Leyland doesn't like Rayburn so they're going to bring back Sizemore instead, to justify their rushing him to the big leagues earlier this year. Now there is a defensible argument that there's still major league potential in Sizemore, that the slow start was attributable to recovery from major ankle surgery, major leak jitters, etc. However, the best way to access this major league potential would be to put him at his natural position and let the old veteran with bad knees and a good arm go to third, but instead they're going to add learning a new position to the stress of learning to hit major league pitching. This is a plan guaranteed to turn Sizemore into an insurance salesman rather than a major league hitter, and there's no apparent reason for it but a manager's stereotypical old-man stubborness and a GM's stubbornness not to admit he made a mistake. All in all this is just a symptom of the long term disease, with or without Inge, with or without making the right moves to replace him, the Tigers have brought a knife to the AL Central gunfight. The only surpise is this year it'll be the Sox and not the Twins winning the right to get killed by the Yanks in the playoffs.

Jul 21, 2010 08:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Not that I disagree with what you're saying, but there's a difference between being an option and being a good option; Worth spent more time at third than any other spot when he was a Mudhen, and you can always be frightened of the possibility that Leyland fetishizes defense to the extent that Worth looks something other than worthless.

As for Sizemore at the hot corner, I wonder if contact highs with the franchise that gave us Don Wert and Marty Castillo starting on winning World Series teams, that gave us Chris Pittaro as an Opening Day starter but made Howard Johnson a Met, the team that adores Inge... it's like the exact opposite of the Santo tradition in Chicago. "Good third basemen? Who needs'em? Travis Fryman was no Don Wert!" Which is true enough.

Jul 21, 2010 09:04 AM
 
David Coonce

My grandmother suffered from major leak jitters. Nasty, nasty condition....

Jul 21, 2010 17:10 PM
rating: 1
 
davehogg

Sizemore's got leg problems and isn't really an option at second base at the moment.

Jul 21, 2010 08:08 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

He's had and may still have them, but he did start and play the whole game at second on Monday, then third base on Tuesday.

Jul 21, 2010 08:51 AM
 
buffum
(458)

Do you think Jensen Lewis is likely to make it through waivers? He reminds me of David Riske in terms of stuff and streakiness. I'd rather have assets than not have them, but I'll probably be able to keep my sobbing to a minimum if Lewis goes elsewhere.

Jul 21, 2010 08:30 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

I would think that somebody will make a claim (like the Snakes, to shore their infamously bad bullpen), but as the retention of Brian Bocock on a 40-man roster for months on end reminds me, we can't always make assumptions about what constitutes sound decision making.

Jul 21, 2010 09:08 AM
 
Vince Galloro

I was sure that Jaime Navarro's 1997 season with the White Sox would make the Kazmir-inspired list. I guess it just *felt* that bad, as he had a 1.6 SNLVAR.

I had completely forgotten that Doug Drabek was ever with the White Sox. Well, I worked a lot of nights then...

Jul 21, 2010 08:33 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Drabek's spin with the White Sox wound up generating sports page circumlocutions like "he gave the Sox a great game, only giving up three runs in five innings."

Jul 21, 2010 09:05 AM
 
dianagram

CK's Transaction Action . . . the intelligent alternative to "he sucks . . . why did they trade for him?".

Thanks for the Latin phrase throw-in, Christina.

Jul 21, 2010 08:39 AM
rating: -1
 
dianagram

Christina . . . I'd be interested in your take on the "decline" of Joba Chamberlain. How badly have the Yankees messed him up? How much of this is his maturity/smarts/knowing how to pitch, and how much of this is his role getting jerked around? Is he salvageable by the Yanks, or are they better off trying to get some value for him (if not by July 31, then in the off-season?)

Jul 21, 2010 09:20 AM
rating: 0
 
nschaef

I heard stories from people in Tampa that during Spring Training he would go out and drink pretty hard. Given his history with the DUI and so forth, it wouldn't surprise me if his conditioning and attitude aren't in the right place.

Then again, the Major Leagues are hard enough that you don't even need off the field problems as an excuse.

Jul 21, 2010 09:34 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

To some extent I'd be just as interested in your take, or Jay's, or Steven's, or Cliff's, or Alex Belth's. Looking at the incidental data--significantly worse performance at home, and during day games--I wonder if this isn't a matter where the brass can only bear so much responsibility, because there might be more going on here than just bad pitching.

Jul 21, 2010 10:02 AM
 
dianagram

Hmmmm ..... in-ter-esting. I may have to dig a little deeper in the numbers.

Jul 21, 2010 10:05 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

Here's mine: http://www.myyesnetwork.com/12478/blog/2010/07/20/joba-be-gone_not_now

Jul 21, 2010 14:41 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

If Joba reminds me of Carlos Zambrano, is that ominous?

Jul 21, 2010 15:30 PM
rating: 0
 
evo34

There is no evidence that unusual home/away or day/night splits in the past -- esp. mid-season splits -- are predictive of future splits. I.e., it's almost definitely random. Of more relevance is that his velocity has increased over the course of the season from 92-93 mph avg. fastball in April to 95-96 over his last several appearances.

Jul 22, 2010 00:53 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I thought there was some evidence of splits showing people doing better either early season or late season, and even hot/cold weather splits.

Jul 22, 2010 12:54 PM
rating: 1
 
nschaef

RE: Yankees

I think Bedard said today he's probably not going to pitch this year, so that's another option off the table.

Jul 21, 2010 09:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

He did indeed, per Geoff Baker in the Seattle Times in a bit that apparently ran late last night after I'd filed. All the more reason for Theodore Roosevelt Lilly to get a shot at revisiting the pinstriped experience as a way of getting another bid at post-season glory.

Jul 21, 2010 09:38 AM
 
dianagram

Isn't Lilly's velocity creeping downward this season, dangerously close to "better be as smart/crafty as Moyer" levels?

Jul 21, 2010 09:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

It's a risk, but he's a bright guy with experience pitching in NY and for contenders, and NuYankee's settling into being more of a pitcher's park besides. Price wouldn't be a significant stumbling block; he would just be a multi-month rental who wouldn't cost the Yanks one of their top prospects. Whereas alternatives like Sergio Mitre (or even Chad Gaudin) ought to give you the willies.

Jul 21, 2010 10:26 AM
 
greenfrog

Buster Olney recently reported that Bautista could be awarded $10-12M in arbitration after 2010, and therefore might be more easily obtainable in a trade (i.e., because the Jays would be unwilling to pay him that much). Is there a precedent for a career utilityman making $2.4M to receive such a huge salary boost, essentially quadrupling or quintupling his earnings, following a breakout year (even with 40+ HR, 100 RBI, among the league leaders in walks, etc)?

Jul 21, 2010 09:47 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Don't know about getting $1-12 a year in arbitration, but barring a great offer-in-trade for him, I could see AA offering Jose Bautista a two year deal worth in the neighbourhood of $15-17. I think his bat this year is year. He is more or less the same guy he's always been but with extra power. And a great beard. He's very athletic and can play a credible RF (a great throwing arm) and a solid 3B (at least as good as EE5).

Jul 21, 2010 18:14 PM
rating: 0
 
etothepiiplus43

Pixie cup or Dixie cup?

Jul 21, 2010 10:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Erf. You know, my grandmother still keeps her bathroom stocked with the waxy little things to this day, but it's been years since I've really given them much thought. My apologies to the purveyors of hardened-paper drinking vessels everywhere.

Jul 21, 2010 10:13 AM
 
Ogremace

No matter what the numbers say, Logan is terrible. I simply have no confidence in his ability on the mound. It should be noted that part of the reason for the disparity statistically is that Girardi continues to use Marte in spots against righties. He has somehow accumulated 31 PA against righties, whom he has walked 8 times and struck out only once. Yes, that's right, ONCE.

Logan is truly pathetic, as his career K/BB rate of 1.67 and WHIP of 1.693 demonstrate, and the numbers aren't really better against lefties.

Jul 21, 2010 11:04 AM
rating: -1
 
amacrae

I mentioned to a friend a few weeks ago that I think Jeff Larish could be Detroit's Casey McGehee.

I understand that McGehee had WAY more time at third in the minors than Larish does but that hasn't really made him proficient at the position.

Is Larish really not an option, at least not in tandem with Raburn?

Don't get me wrong, I like Raburn. But it seems as if this site's continued support of his abilities has more to do with PECOTA than actually watching him hit this season. While I don't think he's as bad as he's been I don't think he's good enough to hold down 3B on his own in a (fingers crossed) pennant race.

Jul 21, 2010 11:19 AM
rating: 0
 
toanstrom

I tend to agree with this. It strikes me that a Larish, Raburn platoon - with Kelly as a defensive replacement/starter when Porcello pitches, might be the way to go.

Jul 21, 2010 12:02 PM
rating: 0
 
amacrae

Well, that didn't last long. Apparently the organization believes that Sizemore can learn 3B faster in the majors than Larish can. They also seem to believe they don't need a RHB.

(Sigh)

Jul 21, 2010 13:25 PM
rating: 0
 
amacrae

I meant LHB.

Jul 21, 2010 13:25 PM
rating: 0
 
69wildcat

"made me think that he was the drum, and the entire American League was Keith Moon."

This is why I continue to read BP on a daily basis; other baseball sites just give you the numbers, Christina adds life. I can still remember seeing The Who at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the man certainly played the drums with intensity. RIP.

Jul 21, 2010 12:17 PM
rating: 3
 
jake726

In regards to Boston, Shealy is out now that Lowrie is back. One of Nava or Patterson is probably the casualty of the Hermida call up. Nava makes the most sense as they essentially fill the same role and he has options.

I hope you are right that they stick with Dusty Brown rather than Cash until Varitek gets back. I am not optimistic about this though.

I also think Ramon Ramirez is the most logical guy to cut off the back of the bullpen to make space for Bowden. Wakefield going to the DL or Atchison getting optioned are other options. Manny Delcarmen still has the best stuff out of the the guys in the back of the bullpen and its unclear if his struggles this year were injury related. Giving up on him would be a mistake.

Hopefully they can figure out a way to trade Lowell during his rehab so he doesn't have to clog space on the 25-man roster once healthy.

Jul 21, 2010 12:18 PM
rating: 0
 
rbrianc

You pretty much nailed one major Halo issue-Kaz. in my mind, the other big disappointment has been Wood, so I ask, which has had the greater negative impact on the Halo season?

Jul 21, 2010 14:09 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

I've got to go with Kazmir here, because Wood has spent so much time riding pine.

Jul 21, 2010 17:07 PM
 
John Collins
(110)

I'm surprised that there have been so few rotation regulars much below replacement level, when there are many regular position players who sink to that level each year. I wonder why that is, and I also wonder if, were the cutoff to be lowered to 25 starts, the numbers would get really ugly.

Jul 21, 2010 14:58 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

If you click on this link you can see the full sort using 154 IP as the cutoff I decided to use (basically, old schedule ERA title qualifiers). At that cutoff, you wind up with exactly 25 below-replacement starters, with Jim Hughes' spiritless '76 with the Twins, Jack Armstrong's '92 with the Tribe, and Bob Heffner's '64 season with the Red Sox out/underpacing Lima Time's all-time low. It also adds a pair of Cubs as the closest approximations of replacement-level starters: Joe Niekro in '68, and Ray Fontenot in '85.

Jul 21, 2010 17:13 PM
 
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