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May 24, 2011

Transaction Analysis Blog

De La Rosa Up, Garza Out, and More

by R.J. Anderson

IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

DETROIT TIGERS
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Detroit Tigers
Placed SP Phil Coke on the 15-day disabled list. [5/24]
Designated RP Robbie Weinhardt for assignment. [5/24]
Purchased the contract of SP Adam Wilk from Triple-A Toledo. [5/24]

Coke left his Monday start early with an ankle injury after attempting to field a bunt, creating the opening for Charlie Furbush to make his big league debut and earn the win. Another Tiger farmhand will benefit from Coke’s trip to the disabled list in the person of Wilk.

A quick riser, the 2009 draftee has made all of eight appearances above Double-A and yet Wilk’s peripherals have remained as striking as ever. In 290 minor league innings pitched, Wilk has walked 36 batters (just about one per nine innings pitched). Wilk won’t impress velocity fiends, but the Tigers may as well see if his smoke and mirrors act can work against the world’s finest hitters.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Chicago Cubs
Placed SP Matt Garza on the 15-day disabled list. [5/24]
Purchased the contract of OF Lou Montanez from Triple-A Iowa. [5/24]

The last time Garza went on the disabled list was early 2008. Then, he was suffering from a radial nerve irritation. It cleared up and Garza proved to be a reliable starter in the two-plus seasons since. This time, Garza goes on the disabled list with a right elbow contusion after missing his Sunday night start with elbow soreness.

The Cubs rotation already has the blues, with Andrew Cashner still out and Randy Wells only returning in the coming days. In their wake, the Cubs have allowed James Russell, Casey Coleman, and Doug Davis to make 14 starts and the results have been about as poor as you may expect from that trio.

There is a nice story here with Montanez, as the Cubs drafted him third overall in the 2000 draft (after Adrian Gonzalez and Adam Johnson, but before Mike Stodolka, Justin Wayne, and Rocco Baldelli—okay, only one of those would look better in retrospect).  Montanez did reach the majors, but with the Orioles. He had a nice stretch in 2008, hitting .295/.316/.46 with three homers in a little over 100 at-bats and has since hit .165/.209/.223 in 149 plate appearances.

Regardless of value added (or, perhaps, subtracted), Montanez appearing in blue pinstripes should generate a nice piece of copy and maybe a warm feeling or two.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Florida Marlins
Designated SP Jay Buente for assignment. [5/24]
Recalled RP Steve Cishek from Triple-A New Orleans. [5/24]

With Josh Johnson on the mend, the Marlins turned to Buente for his last scheduled start. Buente lasted just three innings against the Rays and showed why his excellent peripherals don’t translate into a worthwhile big league starter. Even with solid velocity and a good splitter, Buente just doesn’t have the secondary offerings to win enough battles. Some team might be willing to take a chance on Buente as a reliever, but no one raised their hand last October when the Marlins passed him through waivers and off the 40-man roster.

Kevin Goldstein had Cishek as the Marlins 18th best prospect over the offseason, writing that he could become a set-up man if everything goes right.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Los Angeles Dodgers
Designated RP Lance Cormier for assignment. [5/24]
Purchased the contract of SP Rubby De La Rosa from Double-A Chattanooga. [5/24]

For a time there, Cormier was a decent long reliever to have in the pen. In 2007 and 2008 he was able to use a cutter and breaking pitch to break down lefties and righties alike despite below average velocity and stuff. Cormier walked more batters than he struck out in 2009 and his once sound home run rate has fallen by the waist side. Consider that Cormier allowed 13 home runs over the last two seasons (or more than 135 innings of work), yet has allowed four homers in 13 2/3 innings pitched this season.

Oh, and this De La Rosa guy is kind of a big deal. Kevin Goldstein had him as the Dodgers sixth-best prospect with full disclosure that his future could come as a reliever. Sure enough, here he is, in living color and as a potential solution to the Dodgers pen woes. His Double-A performance this season (52 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched) and his stuff looks good (a fastball that can run near triple digits and a power slider) suggests he can handle some more advanced batters at this point in his development.

How Don Mattingly deploys De La Rosa is to be seen, but squinting isn’t required to see a future closer here—and possibly a real good one.


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

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Prospectus Hit and Run... (05/23)
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Transaction Analysis B... (05/20)
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Transaction Analysis B... (05/24)
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