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June 10, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Ike Conquered

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Optioned RHP Jose Ortega to Triple-A Toledo. [6/9]

Purchased the contract of LHP Jose Alvarez from Triple-A Toledo. [6/9]

Transferred RHP Octavio Dotel to the 60-day disabled list. [6/9]

Sunday's start was supposed to go to Anibal Sanchez, but shoulder stiffness foiled those plans. Instead the Tigers turned to Alvarez, a small southpaw with his fourth organization. Originally a member of the Red Sox, Alvarez was sent to the Marlins in the Jeremy Hermida trade, with whom he spent three seasons. Miami released him after 200 poor innings in Double-A, and he latched on with Detroit this winter. He's since thrown some of his best ball, including his big-league debut, where he carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Although Alvarez is unlikely to start long-term, he's shown enough savvy and control to project as a reliever.

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed LHP Wade LeBlanc off waivers from the Marlins. [6/8]

Optioned RHP Brad Peacock to Triple-A Oklahoma City. [6/9]

LeBlanc is living on the fringe of the majors in stuff and team of employment. The Astros, though not stressing their bullpen to the extent they did earlier in the season, see LeBlanc as a fungible, versatile arm: whether he starts or relieves makes no difference for their future. That's not so with Peacock, and so he's headed to the minors to resume his starting career. With any luck Bo Porter will deploy LeBlanc in a more creative manner than he has with Houston's other starter-turned-reliever, Travis Blackley, who has recorded four-plus outs three times in his past 16 appearances.

TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Placed RHP Alexi Ogando and LHP Michael Kirkman on the 15-day disabled list. [6/9]

Transferred RHP Joakim Soria from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. [6/9]

Recalled RHP Josh Lindblom from Triple-A Round Rock. [6/9]

Purchased the contract of RHP Kyle McClellan from Double-A Frisco. [6/9]

There aren't many injuries that would make Ogando's shoulder inflammation seem trivial by comparison, but Kirkman's bout with lymphoma in his right triceps is one. As a result the Rangers are calling upon two versatile arms. Lindblom came over in the Michael Young trade this offseason with a history of relieving in the majors. Yet Texas has used him as a starter this season to surprisingly decent results. Meanwhile, McClellan has experience in both roles, though arm issues have kept him from pitching much over the past season. He'll spend some time in the Rangers bullpen for now.

COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated RHP Jon Garland for assignment. [6/8]

Activated LHP Jeff Francis from the 15-day disabled list. [6/8]

Say this about Garland if nothing else: he lived up to his innings-eater reputation. Garland started 12 games for the Rockies and pitched at least five innings in each of them, the drawback being that the quality of his starts varied. Overall he walked too many batters in relation to his strikeout and hit rates, which proved fatal when combined with the highest home-run rate of his career since 2004. Could this be the end of the road for the former 10th-overall pick, or will another team bring him in to soak up sunlight and innings?

By the way, Francis shouldn't get too comfortable. The Rockies have a certain Mr. Roy Oswalt working his way through the system, and doing a fine job of it. Expect to see another move altering the Rockies rotation in the coming weeks.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Placed LHP Ted Lilly on the 15-day disabled list. [6/9]

Recalled RHP Matt Magill from Triple-A Albuquerque. [6/9]

Remember when the Dodgers had too much pitching? Not anymore. Lilly (sprained neck) joins Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, and Chris Capuano on the disabled list, leaving Stephen Fife and Magill in the rotation. Magill isn't a stranger to Dodgers fans at this point. He's started six games, including back-to-back stinkers and another where he lasted 1 1/3 innings. The other three starts ranged from decent to good, which is about what you'd expect from a No. 4 type.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Activated RHP Jim Henderson from the 15-day disabled list. [6/9]

Optioned RHP Tyler Thornburg to Triple-A Nashville. [6/9]

Acquired 3B-L Juan Francisco from the Braves for LHP Thomas Keeling [6/3]

Released INF-R Alex Gonzalez. [6/3]

Recalled 2B-L Scooter Gennett from Triple-A Nashville. [6/3]

Optioned RHP Mike Fiers to Triple-A Nashville. [6/3]

Based on records alone you'd expect the Brewers to receive the minor leaguer in a swap, not the Braves. But this swap transcends records. It's also about more than this season. Sure, the Brewers get an upgrade at first base over the pair of shortstops and catchers they've been forced to use there. They also get a Plan B at third base if they decide to trade Aramis Ramirez, or possibly a Plan B at first base if they trade Corey Hart or allow him to walk in free agency. Francisco is still cheap enough to work as a bench piece, and still young enough—with plenty of raw power—to work as an upside play. At the absolute worst the Brewers get an affordable bat off the bench.

That comes at the cost of Keeling, a left-handed specialist in training who throws from various arm angles and sees his fastball top out in the low 90s. Given Atlanta's depleted depth of left-handed relievers he could find himself in the majors sooner than later.

Keep an eye on the Brewers' second-base situation. Rickie Weeks' prolonged struggles have caused a dilemma. Historically he's proven to be a lot better than this, and financially it's hard to imagine the Brewers sending him and his contract ($11 million due next season) to the bench. Still, Gennett, who may turn into a second-division starter one day, figures to get some playing time while he's up. Whether he'll do enough to force a platoon or an outright swap in roles is to be seen.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Demoted 1B-L Ike Davis, OF-L Mike Baxter, and LHP Robert Carson to Triple-A Las Vegas. [6/9]

Recalled LHP Josh Edgin, OF-R Collin Cowgill, and INF-R Josh Satin from Triple-A Las Vegas. [6/9]

Here's a shakeup for you. Davis heads to the minors after 200 poor plate appearances. There are no positives to report from his season thus far. He struggled to make contact, let alone quality contact. This is the second straight season Davis has slumped into June, which sparks questions about why he starts slow. It also raises questions about his real talent level. Davis won't turn 27 until next March so there's time to put things back together. For now he'll have to do it in the shadows of the minors.

The same goes for Baxter and Carson. Walking and getting on base are great qualities. Unfortunately, they were the only qualities Baxter exhibited. That still gives him one more positive accomplishment than Carson, who didn't miss bats or barrels in his 18 innings of work.

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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