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March 18, 2011

Transaction Analysis

Junior Circuit Jumble

by Christina Kahrl

IN THIS ISSUE

American League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RHP Ysmael Carmona and OF-L Jeremy Moore to Salt Lake (Triple-A); optioned RHP Loek Van Mil to Arkansas (Double-A). [3/15]

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RHPs Brandon Erbe and Chorye Spoone, LHPs Troy Patton and Pedro Viola, and MI-S Pedro Florimon Jr. to Norfolk (Triple-A); optioned RHP Luis Lebron to Bowie (Double-A). [3/11]
Optioned 1B-L Joseph Mahoney to Norfolk. [3/14]

Ambrose Bierce opines: A man is known by the company he organizes.

And make no mistake, Buck Showalter is an organizer. But no matter how he shuffles or reshuffles, he may not be able to get around the fact that, with Chris Tillman struggling and Justin Duchscherer's health still in default mode (“Still broken”), the last spot in the rotation could either be an ugly bit of temping with Ryan Drese, or taking a chance on Zach Britton's readiness in his age-23 season with a single season above A-ball under his belt.

Drese is a former Showalter minion, having labored for the Rangers and briefly looking like something valuable back in 2004, posting a 3.9 WARP. But in the shell game of trying to fool most of the people most of the time that a pitch-to-contact pitcher lives with, he got caught out as well as overvalued by Jim Bowden—always a sucker for somebody else's fourth starter—with inevitable unhappiness resulting. Even if he "wins" the fifth slot, he'll lose it by May.

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RHP Stolmy Pimentel and MI-R Oscar Tejeda to Portland (Double-A); released RHP Jason Bergmann. [3/12]
Optioned INF-R Yamaico Navarro, SS-R Jose Iglesias, and C-R Luis Exposito to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [3/17]
Optioned 1B-L Lars Anderson to Pawtucket. [3/18]

Ambrose Bierce opines: Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is—it is her shadow.

Call it reaction formation, but aren't Red Sox prospects almost automatically damned and doomed to the same lot as Yankee tyros? I'm not talking about Peter Gammons hyping Andy Yount to little good back in the day—we all make our share of mistakes, all wishcast some sort of hope for one kid or another. But you can get to wondering when it starts to resemble something systemic, which is where we're at with the Red Sox. I'll leave it to Professor Parks to get into what could go wrong, but in cases like Lars Anderson, I think we've already seen it—he's good but not great, and merely marking time at first base isn't really enough to cut it.

Then extend that to the hype already attached to the current crop of middle infielders, all of whom got sent down already—not that that represents an indictment. Iglesias may be a tremendous glove, but if he's Rey Ordonez, is that really all that special? Or is it something you can afford if you field one of the best three or four offenses in baseball? There's already talk that Tejeda might have to move to third or right—swell, if his bat can carry either position, but he doesn't walk and his power has been well short of amazing. Navarro has been out of shape and equally sloppy on the field, yet he gets talked about as a potentially good utilityman.

These are top prospects? Maybe within this system, sure, but looked at a certain way, that looks like a left-handed compliment. Not that talking them up is such a terrible thing to do—at some point Theo Epstein is going to have to make a deal or two to embroider this season's bid for world domination, and what better to swap from but from among that list of prospects who have been talked up as prospects? By focusing on what might be, the Sox can profit by swapping away what really isn't.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RHPs Lucas Harrell and Jhonny Nunez to Charlotte (Triple-A). [3/11]
Optioned RHPs Anthony Carter and Freddy Dolsi, SS-R Eduardo Escobar, and OF-R Stefan Gartrell to Charlotte; optioned RHPs Nathan Jones and Kyle Cofield to Birmingham (Double-A). [3/14]

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RHPs Corey Kluber and Hector Rondon and INF-R Jared Goedert to Columbus (Triple-A); optioned RHP Kelvin De La Cruz and LHP Nick Hagadone to Akron (Double-A). [3/11]
Optioned RHP Zach McAllister and OF-L Nick Weglarz to Columbus. [3/14]

DETROIT TIGERS
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Optioned LHPs Andrew Oliver and Duane Below, RHP Lester Oliveros, 1B-R Ryan Strieby, and INF-R Audy Ciriaco to Toledo (Triple-A); optioned RHP Jacob Turner to Erie (Double-A). [3/15]

Ambrose Bierce opines: We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.

What can I say, I know Oliver was rushed, and I know Armando Galarraga wasn't really that good—his bid for perfection ranking more in the Mike Warren category of unlikely greatness than in Len Barker's brief bid for lasting greatness—but I'm still not wild about a proposition that considers Brad Penny a contention-minded pickup. As I said in back in January, "There just isn't that much starting pitching left in play, so throwing a big pile of pennies at one of their own wasn't just one of the best things left to them, it was one of the only things."

At least Penny has managed to avoid hurting himself, and has resembled a useful pitcher in camp, and if he reacquaints himself with any of his past, transient associations with effectiveness, then so much the better. The more genuine good news is that Phil Coke has looked very good, which means that if he does become the new C.J. Wilson, we might see more clubs start to give some thought to whether situational mania is really the best way to allocate resources. Because if enough left-handed pitchers are allowed to get right-handed people out, and do that over five or six or seven innings, then who's to say a few more of them might also be allowed to do so in one or two? I know, this acorn probably won't grow, but why not dream of a world where lefties with talent no longer have to live under the shadow of the threat of being shoe-horned into the Rick Honeycutt role?

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Optioned LHP Noel Arguelles to Wilmington (High-A). [3/7]
Optioned RHP Kevin Pucetas and LHP Everett Teaford to Omaha (Triple-A). [3/12]
Claimed Rule 5 pick LHP Robert Fish off waivers from the Yankees; placed RHP Henry Barrrera on the 60-day DL (sprained elbow). [3/13]
Optioned LHP David Lough and 1B-L Clint Robinson to Omaha; optioned MI-R Jeff Bianchi and OF-L Derrick Robinson to Northwest Arkansas (Double-A). [3/14]
Optioned RHP Jesse Chavez to Omaha. [3/17]

MINNESOTA TWINS
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Optioned RHPs Eric Hacker, David Bromberg, and Anthony Swarzak and OF-L Rene Tosoni to Rochester (Triple-A); optioned RHP Deolis Guerra, 1B-L Chris Parmelee, and OF-R Joe Benson to New Britain (Double-A). [3/14]

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Optioned RHP Hector Noesi to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); returned Rule 5 pick Daniel Turpen to the Red Sox; lost Rule 5 pick LHP Robert Fish on a waiver claim by the Royals. [3/13]
Optioned RHP Andrew Brackman, UT-R Kevin Russo, OF-R Melky Mesa, and 3B-R Brandon Laird to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; optioned LHP Steve Garrison and RHP Ryan Pope to Trenton (Double-A). [3/16]

Ambrose Bierce opines: Incompatibility. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for domination.

The Red Sox might have their plans for total victory, but that doesn't mean the Yankees will willingly yield their own ambitions. Futzing around with Rule 5 picks was a matter of keeping roster spots open for whoever survives the cutdown process from among Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, and even Eric Chavez and/or Mark Prior if you're feeling especially optimistic. The surprise isn't that Brackman is been sent down, it's that Dellin Betances and especially Manny Banuelos got to stick around this long.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Optioned RHP Fautino De Los Santos, INF-L Adrian Cardenas, and 1B/OF-L Sean Doolittle to Sacramento (Triple-A); optioned LHP Pedro Figueroa to Midland (Double-A). [3/13]

SEATTLE MARINERS
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Optioned LHP Mauricio Robles, OF-L Carlos Peguero, and 3B-R Alex Liddi to Tacoma (Triple-A); optioned OF-R Johermyn Chavez to Jackson (Double-A). [3/12]
Optioned RHP Yoervis Medina to High Desert (High-A). [3/13]
Optioned RHP Chaz Roe, LHP Edward Paredes, 1B-L Mike Carp, and OF-R Greg Halman to Tacoma. [3/14]
Optioned RHP Dan Cortes to Tacoma. [3/17]

TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Optioned LHP Alexander Torres and OF-R Brandon Guyer to Durham (Triple-A); optioned RHP Matt Bush to Montgomery (Double-A); optioned RHP Albert Suarez to Charlotte (High-A). [3/11]
Noted the loss of LHP Cesar Cabral on a waiver claim by the Blue Jays. [3/12]
Reclaimed LHP Cesar Cabral on a waiver claim from the Blue Jays. [3/14]
Optioned RHPs Christopher Archer, Dane De La Rosa, Brandon Gomes, Alex Cobb, C-Rs Robinson Chirinos and Nevin Ashley, and OF-L Desmond Jennings to Durham. [3/15]

Ambrose Bierce opines: Optimism - the doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.

Ugly is the necessity of sending people down, but beauty lies not in the eye of the beholder, but in this farm system. That's an insane swag of good stuff getting sent down, from the prizes from Chicago received in the Matt Garza trade, or Torres, the best of what they got from the Angels in the Scott Kazmir trade, or Jennings, their best position-playing prospect. Almost all of them are close to ready or ready, and yet there's no space. In another organization, sending down a prospect like Alex Cobb would be front-page news, but in St. Pete, it's a fait accompli, a face in the crowd necessarily chucked after due consideration.

I know we're projecting the Rays to finish in third with 85 wins, but that just seems low, not because the Rays aren't restructuring, but because they don't need to rebuild—they're already reloaded, assuming they've ever run out of bullets in the first place. Even pegging their post-season odds at 17.5 percent seems low to me, but that's because that Yankees team looks so very combustible if a rotation half-staffed by Kelly Girl works about as badly as so many temp solutions do. Contrast that to a Rays team crammed with ready-now talent, and you might buy into my optimism that this is far from being a club locked in on a third-place finish.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Optioned LHP Zachary Phillips to Round Rock (Triple-A); optioned LHP Fabio Castillo and OF-L Engel Beltre to Frisco (Double-A); optioned RHP Wilmer Font to Myrtle Beach (High-A). [3/12]
Optioned RHP Yoshinori Tateyama to Round Rock; optioned RHP Miguel De Los Santos to Frisco (Double-A). [3/15]

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Optioned LHP Brad Mills, RHP Alan Farina, and OF-R Darin Mastroianni to Las Vegas (Triple-A); optioned RHP Joel Carreno to New Hampshire (Double-A). [3/11]
Placed RHP Dustin McGowan on the 60-day DL (recovery from 6/10 shoulder surgery); claimed LHP Cesar Cabral off waivers from the Rays. [3/12]
Optioned RHPs Robert Ray and Josh Roenicke, LHP Luis Perez, and C-L Brian Jeroloman to Las Vegas; optioned INF-R Adeiny Hechavarria and OF-R Moises Sierra to New Britain (Double-A). [3/13] Noted the loss of LHP Cesar Cabral on a waiver claim by the Rays. [3/14]

Ambrose Bierce opines: Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends.

It's a tough thing to be cut by the Blue Jays, not because they don't have talent or because they have a crowded staff, but because for Mills and Perez, Roenicke and Ray, all have cause to lament their lots. They're all 26 or older, effectively at mid-career, and they're early cuts from a team gunning for third place, more realistically fourth. I know, that's reductionist, and all four could wind up being useful big-league pitchers, but they're all about as ready as they're likely to ever get, so now they're stuck marking time until free agency of any form sets them free, or until they become moving pieces in Alex Anthopoulos' endless machinations to deliver a better ballclub.

As for Jeroloman's dispatch, as much as that was a sure thing—they're already committed to Jose Molina, and seem content with employing him as the designated handler for Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek—the shame of the thing is that this latest incarnation of Mark Johnson, the Squat Walker or Walking Squatter or whatever you'd care to nickname him, won't be in the majors just yet. There are of course reasonable concerns over how much of Jeroloman's 18 percent walk rate would translate into major-league performance, hitting against people who would recognize at some point that he can't really unleash any pain on something left over the plate, not with a career .111 ISO.

But if you like variety in a world overstuffed with right-handed backups who contribute the occasional homer against lefties and little else, then you can comfortably root for Jeroloman's eventual surfacing, if not with the Jays, then hopefully somewhere, with somebody, because even these days, there may never be enough catching to go around.

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:  Depth,  The Who,  Triple-A,  Player Cards,  Alex Cobb,  Depth Chart

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