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May 2, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Rhymes With Longoria

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Released OF-R Bobby Abreu. [4/28]
Recalled OF-R Mike Trout from Triple-A Salt Lake. [4/28]

Abreu was all but begging for his freedom, so the Angels’ motives—cutting the veteran to shake up a struggling ballclub—won’t bother him. The timing, though, couldn’t be worse for Abreu. Cleveland, who almost acquired Abreu during the spring, chose instead to sign Johnny Damon. Other potential suitors, like the Rays and Red Sox, have added Hideki Matsui and Marlon Byrd in recent days. Abreu is unlikely to accept an offer that sends him to the bench or to the minors, but he may have no choice in an otherwise undefined market. Actually, scratch that—he could choose not to play.

Kevin Goldstein summed up Trout’s arrival by writing:

For the Angels and Trout, the decision was an easy one. The signing of Albert Pujols created a series of roster complications, but this is a team designed to win right now, and it's an offense with a sub-.300 on-base guy in left field, center field and designated hitter. Mike Trout simply makes this team better when he is inserted in the lineup on Saturday.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed 3B-R Brandon Inge. [4/30]
Designated UTL-R Luke Hughes for assignment. [4/30]

Inge’s signing puts the harm done by Scott Sizemore’s injury into perspective. Despite a .400 OPS, Inge is a statistical improvement over the A’s incumbent third basemen. Inge remains a defensive specialist and a liability at the plate, particularly against right-handed pitchers.  He will not be a hit on the field; however, he might become a clubhouse favorite if he brings his professional approach with him. Consider Inge the new Orlando Cabrera: an extension of the coaching staff who helps younger players and his pitching staff alike.

Hughes lasted eight days on the A’s 25-man roster. A club intrigued by Hughes’ power potential and versatility could offer him a bench spot. Teams with multiple middling utility infielders, like the A’s, need not look twice.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Placed 3B-R Evan Longoria on the 15-day disabled list. [5/1]
Transferred RHP Kyle Farnsworth to the 60-day disabled list. [5/1]
Purchased the contract of INF-L Will Rhymes from Triple-A Durham. [5/1]

Longoria suffered a partially torn hamstring on a stolen base attempt Monday night. He should miss four-to-eight weeks, leaving the Rays with a rotating cast at third base. The early favorites for playing time are Jeff Keppinger and Will Rhymes, though the Rays could also use utility man Elliot Johnson and starting shortstop Sean Rodriguez if necessary.

It’s tricky to replace a franchise cornerstone and Rhymes is no match for Longoria. Rhymes is best used as a utility infielder due to his contact, speed, and on-base chops. (Tommy Rancel went so far as to label Rhymes an infield version of Sam Fuld.) He could serve as a good foil to the right-handed Keppinger, but said pair would leave the Rays without the power and all-world defense that Longoria brings to the table. 

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned OF-L Chris Coghlan and LHP Michael Dunn to Triple-A New Orleans. [4/29]
Recalled OF-L Bryan Petersen and LHP Dan Jennings from Triple-A New Orleans. [4/29]

Coghlan continues a slide that started after batting .321/.390/.460 as a rookie in 2009. A meniscus tear in 2010 ended an unspectacular sophomore campaign, and Coghlan’s performance since has underwhelmed. Coghlan never had a true position to begin with. He didn’t field well enough to play up the middle, nor did he hit with enough power to fit a corner spot. Expect Petersen to step into Coghlan’s reserve role without issue.

The Marlins also swapped left-handed relievers, sending the struggling Dunn to Triple-A and recalling Jennings. Nepotism accusations are natural because the Marlins have an executive with the same name, but the two are unrelated. If Jennings is related to anyone in the Miami system, it might be Dunn. Both are lefties with strikeout tendencies with scattershot control. Expect Jennings to be used as the secondary lefty out of the pen. 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled 1B-R Tyler Moore from Triple-A Syracuse. [4/29]
Placed OF-R Mark DeRosa on the 15-day disabled list. [4/29]
Placed 3B-R Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list. [4/28]
Recalled OF-L Bryce Harper from Triple-A Syracuse. [4/28]

Kevin Goldstein also covered the Harper promotion:

Here's why I might just be wrong: makeup. I've written plenty about Harper's cockiness, if not downright abrasive style, but here's the thing, nobody has ever said a bad thing about his work ethic. He busts it as much as anyone on any team he's ever been on, and he is definitely capable of dealing with the expected adversity in a way that won't affect him long term. When people ask me about prospects who exceed scouting expectations, makeup is often a central piece, and Harper has that kind of makeup.

Washington liked Moore’s plus-plus power enough to draft him three times. Blessed with the athleticism and hands of a first baseman, Moore’s transition to the corner outfield is unlikely to be a smooth one. Still, the Nationals lineup needs support and the attempt to fit Moore and Adam LaRoche into the same lineup is commendable. Moore’s poor strike-zone command has not prevented him from hitting 69 home runs since the start of the 2010 season, but he remains a threat to post the worst walk-to-strikeout ratio on the team. There is a chance that advanced pitching will leave Moore as a pinch-hitting option and little more, as is the case with any overage slugging prospect with windmill tendencies.

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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