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August 31, 2011

Transaction Analysis Blog

Comings and Goings on Playoff Eligibility Day

by R.J. Anderson

IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Texas Rangers
Acquired C-R Matt Treanor from Royals for cash considerations. [8/31]
Acquired LHP Michael Gonzalez from Orioles for a player to be named later. [8/31]
Designated RHP Tim Wood for assignment. [8/31]
Transferred RHP Wilmer Font to the 60-day disabled list. [8/31]

Jon Daniels acquired a late-inning reliever from the Orioles for the second-straight month. It was Koji Uehara in July, and now Gonzalez will give the Rangers perhaps the most bullpen depth of any American League playoff team. Is there any question that Daniels has his eyes on a playoff series against Boston or New York, wherein the combination of Darren Oliver and Gonzalez could wreak havoc in the middle innings by countering the seemingly endless supply of good left-handed batters between those lineups? Gonzalez has bounced back after a down year versus lefties in 2010 and has a 575 OPS against them this season, within earshot of his career 618 figure. He will qualify for free agency after the season.

Although the Rangers could have used Taylor Teagarden as their third catcher, they instead chose to reacquire Treanor, who finished last season with the team. Snubbing Teagarden isn’t too much of a surprise given how little he played during his recent stint with the big league club. Treanor’s familiarity with the staff will be touted, and it’s probably not a bad idea to have another catcher on the roster given the Texas heat and Mike Napoli’s ability to easily pass as a designated hitter.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Atlanta Braves
Acquired OF-R Matt Diaz from the Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations. [8/31]
Placed LHP George Sherrill on the 15-day disabled list. [8/31]

If nothing else, Diaz provides a nice right-handed pinch-hitting option who is familiar with the Braves way of doing business. From 2006-to-2010 you could find Diaz in Atlanta, hitting .305/.353/.461 as a platoon outfielder. He took his talents to Pittsburgh this offseason and his numbers disappointed, even against lefties, whom he tends to hit. The Braves start two left-handed outfielders most days, so having a righty alternative available can’t hurt. Besides, Atlanta’s best right-handed pinch-hitting option entering the day was David Ross, and everyone knows how hesitant managers are to burn their backup catchers. As an added bonus, perhaps, Diaz is under contract for the 2012 season.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Philadelphia Phillies
Acquired OF-L John Bowker from the Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations. [8/31]
Transferred RHP Jose Contreras to the 60-day disabled list. [8/31]

A former sabermetrics cause célèbre, Bowker has hit .237/.289/.390 over 609 major league plate appearances. His numbers against right-handed pitching (.248/.303/.415) represent the good over the sample size, and it appears the Phillies just want to upgrade over Ross Gload. With Jim Thome in Cleveland and the other intriguing left-handed bat options costing more than Bowker, this is a value deal, and really, the winner of this Bowker-Gload death match just secures the right to carry Ryan Howard’s equipment during the postseason.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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San Francisco Giants
Designated SS-R Miguel Tejada and OF-R Aaron Rowand for assignment. [8/31]
Recalled OF-R Pat Burrell. [8/31]
Purchased UTL -R Brett Pill’s contract from Triple-A Fresno. [8/31]

Nothing warms the soul like veteran bloodletting on the day before rosters expand.

Rowand is the bigger sunk coast to swallow as he still has another full reason remaining on his five-year $60 million dollar deal. The best of Rowand’s slash line offerings during his four seasons in San Francisco produce an aggregate line of .271/.339/.419. Not exactly the .309/.374/.515 performance Rowand gave the Phillies in 2007, but then again, the Giants should not have expected him to continue hitting like that anyways. With a .231/.277/.363 slash line and 132 more strikeouts than walks since the start of the 2010 season, the Giants can bid Rowand adieu without regret.  

There is some thought that the Rangers or another playoff-seeking team will look to acquire Rowand because of his right-handed bat and ability to play center field. Still, Rowand’s numbers versus left-handed pitchers have declined in recent years, and he shouldn’t be considered a starter anymore on any team with contention hopes. It’s possible the Giants chose to designate Rowand (and Tejada, to a lesser extent) for assignment today in order to perhaps ship him to a playoff team and give him playoff eligibility.

As for Tejada, his exit seemed like a foregone conclusion after a recent public spat over receiving the bunt sign. The incident would be patched up in a hurry if this were Tejada in his prime, but it’s not, it’s Tejada in his dusk. An offering of .239/.270/.326 gave Tejada little margin for attitude. Factor in the Giants alternatives (they platooned Orlando Cabrera and Mike Fontenot at shortstop during Tejada’s recent disabled list stint) employing Tejada for another month was no longer a necessity. If this is the end for Tejada, and it could be, he put together a great career over his 15 seasons in the majors.

As for the arrival of Pill, he is a soon-to-be 27-year-old who entered the season with no prospect adulation but has put together a solid season in Triple-A. Strong numbers accumulated from non-prospects in the Pacific Coast League have to be taken with a bucket full of salt and Pill is no different. With career-highs in home runs (24) and ISO (.216) Pill has had a nice season. He still isn’t walking much (4.4 percent); however his strikeout rate also decreased this season (9.5 percent) so who knows, maybe there is some genuine improvement here during his second full season in Triple-A. More likely, though, is that he took advantage of the environment and will be lucky to carve out a career as a utility player should his recent efforts to learn second base prove playable in the majors.


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

Related Content:  Brett Pill

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