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April 25, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Grande Finale

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Optioned RHP Jake Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk. [4/22]
Recalled RHP Alex Burnett from Triple-A Norfolk. [4/22]

After 62 starts spread over parts of four seasons it's time to ask: When do you move Arrieta to the bullpen? The 27-year-old heads to Norfolk as the big-league leader in walks issued, having granted 16 free passes in 19 innings. Arrieta is a big, physical guy with a pair of good fastballs and the ability to maintain his velocity deep into games. Unfortunately, his command and control leave everyone wanting. There's probably a good reason why the O's have abstained from throwing Arrieta in the bullpen—perhaps he can't warm up quick enough, or they can't bring themselves to give up on his starting days—after all, this is the club that moved Brian Matusz to relief in a hurry. For now it's worth asking the question. Starting just isn't working.

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled RHP Daniel Bard from Double-A Portland. [4/24]
Optioned RHP Steven Wright to Triple-A Pawtucket. [4/24]

Wright pitched in the majors, which is more than Charlie Zink can say. Hours later, the Red Sox demoted Wright, who took one for the team over 3 2/3 rough innings, to make room for Bard. Remember when Bard and Jonathan Papelbon formed one of the best relief one-two punches in the game? Two years later, Bard failed to make the Opening Day roster. He has regained some of his past velocity, though there's no telling what the future holds. Expect John Farrell to work him into high-leverage spots over time.

DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Purchased RHP Jose Valverde's contract from Triple-A Toledo. [4/24]
Optioned RHP Bryan Villarreal to Triple-A Toledo. [4/23]

This is a wacky world. Valverde relinquished his position as Tigers closer in the postseason and went unsigned for most of the offseason. Now, just three weeks into the season, he's back in Detroit with a chance to retake the ninth inning by storm.

What changed? Presumably the Tigers' playoff-fueled distaste for Valverde dried out. Or maybe Detroit wants as many ninth-inning options as possible on hand—hence why Bruce Rondon is also in the majors. Expect Valverde to get a few save opportunities. What he does with them will determine how this mess plays out next.

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Placed OF-R Justin Maxwell on the 15-day disabled list. [4/24]
Recalled OF-S Robbie Grossman from Triple-A Oklahoma City. [4/24]

Maxwell's DL stint is precipitated by a broken hand. Unfortunate, as Maxwell is arguably Houston's most exciting player to watch thanks to a strong combination of power, speed, and size. Grossman is his replacement. The switch-hitting outfielder joined Houston last July in the Wandy Rodriguez trade. His on-base skills are good, however, and his tools are average across the board. If Grossman is to become a regular, he needs to stick in center field. Otherwise, he's headed for a life in reserve.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-R Casper Wells from the Blue Jays for cash considerations. [4/22]
Transferred 2B-R Scott Sizemore to the 60-day disabled list. [4/22]
Optioned OF-R Michael Taylor to Triple-A Sacramento. [4/23]

Has Wells found a real home? Let's hope so. The corner outfielder has jumped from the Mariners to the Blue Jays to the A's this season without appearing in a game. It's a sound match in philosophy: Oakland has to platoon to succeed; Wells has to platoon to succeed. Whom amongst Oakland's right-handed hitters will lose their job over this? The odds-on favorite is Rule 5 pick Nathan Freiman. The big man is 3-for-20 with five strikeouts and an unexciting scouting report. He would need to clear waivers before being offered back to the Padres, his original team, for half of the selection fee.

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Placed CF-R Franklin Gutierrez on the 15-day disabled list. [4/23]
Recalled OF-L Carlos Peguero from Triple-A Tacoma. [4/23]

Here's a sad, predictable entry. Gutierrez has not played a full season since 2010. Injuries of various origins spanning various body parts have robbed the world of his prime. This time, the crook is a strained right hamstring. Better than a bizarre stomach ailment, perhaps, though with a higher likelihood of becoming nagging. The free-swinging Peguero is up in Gutierrez's stead. Endy Chavez—yes, that one—should continue to man center field until Gutierrez returns.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated LHP Aaron Laffey for assignment. [4/21]
Recalled LHP Robert Carson from Triple-A Las Vegas. [4/21]

Laffey started two games for the Mets, and failed to last five innings in either of them. Sandy Alderson went ahead and cut bait knowing Shaun Marcum, currently rehabbing nerve inflammation in his neck, should be able to return this weekend. In the interim, Carson gets the call. He's a big southpaw with big heat and nothing else. You figure Carson will return to Las Vegas in the coming days, where he'll work on the three C's that separate pitchers from throwers: command, control, and changeup.

(By the way, Toronto claimed Laffey off waivers.)

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Activated INF-R Brandon Inge from the 15-day disabled list. [4/23]
Demoted OF-L Alex Presley to Triple-A Indianapolis. [4/23]

In Inge's first 12 seasons in the majors, he seldom played a position other than third base or catcher. The Pirates intend to change that, if his Triple-A assignments are any indication. Over an 18-game rehab stint, Inge played every infield position, except catcher, and saw action in left field. Inge will not hit, but he can still field—possibly at various positions—and his clubhouse presence is renowned. Pittsburgh's faithful has plenty of reason to be weary of this predicament, given it already has one no-hit infield sub on the bench. Perhaps sensing the skepticism, Inge hit a double in his second at-bat with the Pirates. What a charmer.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed LHP Xavier Cedeno off waivers from the Astros; optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse. [4/22]

Here's what I wrote about Cedeno after he was designated for assignment:

Cedeno is your stereotypical crafty southpaw. He sits in the high-80s with his fastball and doesn't have anything menacing in his arsenal. Yet he gets by with location and deception. Watch any given outing, or say this clip, and keep an eye on Cedeno's arm slot. See how he dropped it against Bryce Harper? It's just one of the tricks in his book. Given his history of success, however limited, versus same-handed batters, don't be surprised if Cedeno latches onto another roster.

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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